“Can I never escape this interminable mourning for myself?” ~ Susan Sontag, from Reborn: Journals & Notebooks

Valentine Cameron Prinsep Il Barbagianni aka The Owl 1863 oil on canvas
“Il Barbagianni (The Owl)” (1863, oil on canvas)
by Valentine Cameron Prinsep

 

“. . . it is best to leave some things unsaid, or else I shall get confused again. Within this irreparable little crack decay has set in – ah, I think I shall yet be able to express it all—the dreams, the coalescence, the disintegration—All my best words are deserters and do not answer the trumpet call, and the remainder are cripples.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, from Invitation to a Beheading

Saturday afternoon. Partly cloudy and cooler, 56 degrees.

This dream went on and on: My staff has turned against me and is spreading slanderous rumors. They are unaware that I am in the process of transitioning to a different department to a new position. I have a meeting with the deputy head, during which we are interrupted constantly by members of my staff who want to make themselves heard. I find the whole thing both sad and amusing. At some point, the deputy remembers that he needs to find a physicist, and I remember someone who has been overlooked. There is a meeting with legal. One of the staff members is someone with whom I was friends in high school. I have not seen her in years and years, so why is she in my dream spreading lies about me? Another staff member is the boss’s daughter, but she is not trustworthy. At some point, Laurence Fishburne appears in character as Morpheus. There is a large-fanged tiger that is ripping the faces off people. There is an escape pod from a shuttle. The dogs awaken me mid-dream, and I am completely discombobulated . . .

“But the heart has its own memory and I have forgotten nothing . . .” ~ Albert Camus, from The Fall

So I wrote a poem, or a sequence of poems. As with all of my poems, I am reluctant to share, but my need to voice overcomes my need to hide. The words were burning my fingers, a hard scrabble to release them. I have written them as a sequence, but I am unsure if they belong together, yet when I reread, I cannot imagine them individually.

I am hovering above Nietzsche’s abyss, as it were. Be kind . . .

Notes from November 7

I.
The Bitter Taste of Love

Be with me now great warrior
whose strength depends solely
on the favours of a woman. ~ Leonard Cohen, “The Next One”

He smells like leftover whiskey
and salt, sweet with a hint of fire
and tears and I would lay bare
every inch of my soul
to be near him once more,
would offer up my heart
to a ravenous raven
ignoring the deep fissures left
by its hooked beak,
all—all of it,
again and again,
if only to taste
the barest hint,
the memory of salt’s coarse grains
that he leaves on my lips
after he is done with me

II.
Baying at the moon

And when they tell you
that it’s done,
finished,
you will leave by the door from which
you entered,
step away from their insistent pandering
And when you have at last found
a silent hall,
you will unfurl a howl
like the savage animal within you,
the one that bites and rends and
leaves nothing for no one
After, much later,
you will walk back through the door,
untroubled, as if their sobering words
never touched you

III.
Calendar Girl

One-inch square on the page,
red-encircled,
within it, a single name
Year after year you turn the pages
knowing this number awaits you
as another year nears its end,
poised like a beast
who has caught the scent of fear,
and smirking through jagged teeth,
anticipates the moment of the kill.
And though you try to contain it,
make it but a caesura,
the space around it widens
like a crack in the walkway
rent by incessant pounding rain.
Would that you could rub it out of existence
this infernal remembrance,
but it lingers like the blood on Lady Macbeth’s hands,
thick and viscous—
impermeable to desire
or prayer.

IV.
Dogs of War

…and my need for closeness outweighs my sense of self-preservation. ~ Virginia Woolf

“well, what do you think it means,” she asks, just a hint of a smile on her lips
and you know, know,
this woman has seen inside you, senses your lies before they leave your tongue,
is not fooled by the ways you try to steady your breathing
in your failed attempts to appear calm,
and anyway,
what harm could it do now
to let the lie leave your lips,
utter the three words
you have come to associate with your truth,
for how can you know, really, what any of this means
the wicked ways of the world,
how you have been left stranded
in a café somewhere on the east side of town
with just enough coins for a cup of their burned coffee,
but no money for the sweet roll you so desperately crave,
the sweetness that is so lacking in your veins,
and so you look down and give life to the lie
because it is all you have left
“i don’t know”

V.
The Weight of all Things

ad pondus omnium

You find yourself thinking of the man who is gone,
the one who stood in the room next to you,
the one who left for truer love,
and you wonder how he has greeted the day,
but you must never ask,
never let on that he is anything more than memory.
After all, the sliver of your soul that he erased
has been remade by another,
one who does not leave you gasping
on the cold white tiles
of your bathroom floor,
multi-colored pills spilled around you
like perverse tic tacs, ready to freshen
your final breaths.
So you do not call, and instead
let your fingers slide across the letters,
spelling out three words so banal
they make you blink in shame:
how are you
when what you want to ask
is if he remembers the sterility of the room,
the constant hum of the white noise,
if the memory still slips into his consciousness,
if his pain is as present as yours
if he ever thinks about death, about dying
about her.
You let your fingers hover but a second
before you obliterate the words,
go back to pretending
his existence, like the past,
was merely a handful of ashes.

                   

Music by Mree, “You Are” (featuring Jared Foldy)

 

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“For if I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers.” ~ Albert Camus, from “An Absurd Reasoning”

Fremont Ellis The Summer Rain acrylic on canvas
“The Summer Rain” (nd, acrylic on canvas)
by Fremont Ellis

Two for Tuesday: Kevin Hart

Armin Hansen Monterey Bay and El Toro Mountain 1921
“Monterey Bay and El Toro Mountain” (1921)
by Armin Hansen

The Word

Say wood and everything is clean again.
The word is all around you, like the night,
Impossible to grasp. Your mouth is dark.

A splinter found its way into your quick.
That old tree slit by lightning won’t be moved.
Last year’s thin rain froze hard inside a trunk

And now a honey flesh shines through cracked bark.
Your mouth is dark. Go far into yourself,
Let quietness gather there, then say the word.

                   

Emil Nolde Still Sea 1936
“Still Sea” (1936)
by Emil Nolde

Here

In a bare room where light pours in from the ocean
You are still sleeping
You are still here

And nothing more happens except the sound
Of a page turning
While you sleep on

The sound of a story turning and the ocean stirring
Near our thin room
With you asleep

Perhaps with the thought of a storm much later on
When you awake
In this bruised room

Two people still here perhaps with ocean light
Fragile and turning
Dark as your voice

That lives in the air and mirrors here. But look,
You are awake;
I am still here.

Music by Michael Giacchino, “London Calling” (extended version, from Star Trek: Into Darkness)

 

“She loved the sea only for the sake of its storms, and the green only when it was scattered among ruins.” ~ Gustave Flaubert, from Madame Bovary

I didn’t notice until today that the system posted this in April. I knew that something funky happened when the power went out, but didn’t realize it had moved it…..

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1909 oil on canvas Promenade by the Sea
“Promenade by the Sea” (1909, oil on canvas)
by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

                   

“All we are is representation, what we appear to be & are, & are not,
And representation is all we remember,
……….
We go without a trace, I am thinking. We go & there’s no one there,
No one to meet us on the long drive lined with orange trees,
Cypresses, the bleaching fronds of palm trees” ~ Larry Levis, from “Elegy For Whatever Had A Pattern In It”

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida GIrl with Flowers nd
“Girl with Flowers” (nd, oil)

First, let me apologize for the dearth of original material. It’s just not flowing from my fingertips. Second, thanks if you’re still sticking with me in the hopes that I do something interesting soon.

In that vein, I’ve decided to do this list of questions that I copied and modified from tumblr a few weeks ago in the hopes that it will jump start my juices. So here goes . . .

  • The last five songs you listened to on whichever device:
    • Birdy, “Not About Angels”
    • M83, “I Need You”
    • Elenowen, “No Such Thing as Time”
    • Ed Sheeran, “All of the Stars”
    • Lily Kershaw, “Maybe”
    • Ólafur Arnalds, “Beth’s Theme” (Broadchurch OST)
  • If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be? Neil deGrasse Tyson, just because he seems like he’d be fascinating to spend some time with.
  • Turn to page 23 in the book closest to you; what is line 17? “I still wasn’t looking at him, but I felt him tighten to hold back a wince.” (Tana French’s Broken Harbor)
  • What do you think about most? How my life is slipping by so quickly, and I still haven’t done anything purposeful.
  • Ever had a poem or song written about you? Two poems and one song
  • Do you have any strange phobias? Centipedes freak me out; I cannot take crowded elevators (claustrophobia), and I fear that someone will stab me in the eye.

“She had studied the universe all her life, but had overlooked its clearest message: For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” ~ Carl Sagan

  • What’s your religion? I’m a pantheist if I’m anything.
  • What/who are you missing right at this moment? That’s actually a list: talking to Corey, sleeping with my dog Shakes, arguing with my mother, and having friendship on a daily basis.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Rose Bush at the Sorolla House 1918 oil on canvas
“Rose Bush at the Sorolla House” (1918, oil on canvas)
  • What is the last book that you read? Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight. I didn’t like the ending. It felt rushed and staid.
  • What was the last lie you told? I really don’t remember because I try very hard not to lie to my loved ones. Strangers are up for grabs.
  • Do you believe in karma? Hmm….I think so. I would like to think that the ills that we do people will come back to us threefold, but I don’t think that it actually happens nearly enough to nasty people, like the guy in the red car who followed me.
  • What does your URL mean? It’s the moniker that I have been using for years, and it’s an ancient Greek word for poet or maker.

“A thick frenzy of blossoms shrouding the riverside,
I stroll, listing dangerously, in full fear of spring.” ~ Tu Fu, from Alone, Looking for Blossoms Along the River

  • What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength? My greatest weakness is my lack of self-confidence, and my greatest strength is my undying loyalty.
  • Which of the five senses affects you the most? That’s a hard one—a tossup between smell (fresh flowers and herbs) and sound (songs closely associated with certain memories can absolutely slay me in an instant).

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Coast at San Sebastian 1918 oil on canvas
    “Coast at San Sebastian” (1918, oil on canvas)
  • How do you vent your anger? I’m a door slammer, but I don’t resort to it very often. When I was young and immature, I threw things, like teacups, and there was that one vase, all directed at my ex. Now, I mostly write it out of my system.
  • Do you have a collection of anything? Hmmm….booksbooksbooks, nail polish and DVDs
  • Are you happy with the person you’ve become? Not really because I don’t feel that I’ve become anything tangible. I feel unfinished, if that makes any sense.
  • What’s a sound that you hate; a sound that you love? I hate the sound of loud machines, especially jackhammers and leaf blowers, but in the spring, the sound I hate the most is the ice cream truck that plays Christmas carols loud enough to shatter glass. I love listening to thunderstorms and pre-dawn birdsong.

“If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience and creation.” ~ Anaïs Nin

  • Most sensitive spot on your body? Nape of my neck
  • Earth, air, fire, or water? Water and air. I love looking at the sky, and I love hearing the water. I cannot imagine ever living somewhere without some kind of water, and one of my biggest goals is to live somewhere where I can really see the night sky.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Esmeradas de la Cala San Vicente
“Esmeradas de la Cala San Vicente” (
  • What’s your biggest “what if”? What if I had gotten my doctorate way back when when I had planned to do so . . . what if I hadn’t had to go out on disability . . . what if I had been able to have another baby . . . I could do this one all day . . .
  • Your five favorite movies, in descending order:
    • Lord of the Rings (I know it’s three, but I count it as one)
    • The English Patient
    • Silence of the Lambs
    • Braveheart (I can ignore Mel Gibson’s horribleness for this one)
    • Gladiator
    • (five runners up: Henry V, Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightly/Matthew McFadyen version), Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, The Usual Suspects, and all the Harry Potters)
  • Favorite movie or television genre? I’m not big on comedies; I prefer action or fantasy or sci fi. I’ve also developed a renewed interest in horror movies thanks to my spouse, and I really, really have an obsession (probably unhealthy) with true crime.
  • What’s the worst place you have ever been? Stuck on an overcrowded city bus in Mexico. My claustrophobia kicked in big time.

“I carry deserts in my chest,
the hot sand of silence.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from The Book of Questions: Volume I

  • Do you participate in social media? Although I have this blog and my tumblr, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. No one needs to know that I’m in line at Target, and I think that Zuckerberg is an ass.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida The Yellow Rosebush of the Sorolla House c1920 oil on canvas
    “The Yellow Rosebush of the Sorolla House” (c1920, oil on canvas)
  • Truth or justice? There is no justice without truth.
  • What’s the last thing you downloaded? Helmer Ossland’s “Torne Träsk”
  • What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it? Divergence, and I liked it a lot more than Noah.
  • What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had? The one I keep doing to myself: wrenching my back
  • Do you have any obsessions right now? Finding the perfect mascara (lame, I know)

“Overflow gently — don’t drown.” ~ Albert Camus, from Notebooks

  • Have you ever had a rumor spread about you? I’m sure that most everyone falls victim to this at one time or another, but I did work with one colleague who took great liberties with the truth, especially when speaking with my boss.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida On San Sebastian Beach circa 1895-1900 oil on canvas
    “On San Sebastian Beach” (c1895-1900, oil on canvas)
  • Do you tend to hold grudges against people who have done you wrong? See above . . . Seriously, though, I’ve mellowed quite a bit over the years, but I will admit that I still hold grudges against three people who caused me great pain, and I honestly don’t know what I would do if I ran into one of them.
  • Do you and your significant other have a special song and/or place? “Amazed” by Lonestar, and anyplace in which we can spend quality time together, like a beach on an island with an umbrella drink.
  • What’s the last thing you purchased? Besides groceries and prescriptions, nail polish.
  • Love or lust? Lusting after the one I love
  • Paper or pixels? I’m a purist—paper all the way.

“Make a name for the dark parts of you.” ~ Lisa Marie Basile, from “Paz”

  • If you could move anywhere in the country, where would it be?  I would love to move to Oregon or Vermont, but don’t ask me why; they just seem like they would be so different from where I am now, and that appeals to me greatly. I do not want to spend another decade in this house in this city.
  • If you could move anywhere in the world, where would it be? If I could move anywhere in the world, it’s a tossup between Ireland and New Zealand.
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Storm over Peñalara, Segovia 1906 oil on canvas
” Storm over Peñalara, Segovia” (1906, oil on canvas)
  • Where is your best friend? My best friend from high school lives in the same city; my best friend with whom I have kept in touch the most lives outside of Richmond, and my soul compatriot lives in Massachusetts.
  • What were you doing last night at 12 AM? Watching the remake of “Rosemary’s Baby”
  • Are you the kind of friend you would want to have as a friend? I believe so because I am loyal to a fault.
  • You are walking down the street on your way to work. There is a dog drowning in the canal on the side of the street. Your boss has told you if you are late one more time you get fired. What do you do? This is a stupid question.

“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul de sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadows under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar

  • You are told that you have approximately one month to live. Do you tell anyone/everyone you are going to die? What do you do with your remaining days? Would you be afraid? I would only tell my family. I would travel to as many places as I could in the time I had left. And of course I would be afraid.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Playa 1906 oil on cardboard
    “Playa” (1960, oil on cardboard)
  • Which song always makes you happy when you hear it? “Across the Universe”
  • Which song always tugs at your heart strings? That’s hard to narrow to just one: “Colorblind,” by Counting Crows; “I’m Already There,” by Lonestar; and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” by Bonnie Raitt. Those three always, always get to me.
  • What does it take to make a lasting relationship? Trust, loyalty, friendship, and passion
  • Can a lie ever be justified? No.
  • Do you believe in revenge? See grudges above . . . well, actually, I do believe in revenge in theory, but not sure about in practice.

“Listen to me. I am telling you
a true thing. This is the only kingdom.
The kingdom of touching;
the touches of the disappearing, things.” ~ Aracelis Girmay, from “Elegy”

  • What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far? To allow myself to love again after hurting for so long
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida Rocks and white boat, Javea 1905 oil on canvas
”Rocks and White Boat, Javea” (1905, oil on canvas)
  • What would you want to be written on your tombstone? I’m going to be cremated, but if I were to have a tombstone, I would want a quote by Woolf or Fitzgerald
  • Name the one thing that has been on your bucket list the longest. Riding in a hot air balloon.
  • What is your current desktop picture? “Rocks and white boat, Javea” by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
  • If you could press a button and make anyone in the world instantaneously explode, who would it be? Well obviously Pol Pot or Hitler, but they’re both dead. I wouldn’t mind giving a serious jolt to the Koch brothers, Fox Noise, and most of Congress.
  • What is the first childhood memory that pops into your mind? A marketplace in Morocco

I have the sluggish inertia of a great big ship. When the port’s in sight there’s no point aiming for the harbour, I’ll pile straight into the sea wall. Even though it’s slow and unremarkable, my existence has caused terrible damage. And yet I did see the lighthouse flashing its anxious message in the distance. I got its warnings and said, yes, yes, I know, I’m going to break everything; but it was too late.” ~ Agnès Desarthe, from Chez Moi

  • Superpower of your choice? Flying
  • If you could relive any half-hour period in your life, what would it be? The first half hour I held each of my children
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida The Waves at San Sebastian 1915 oil on canvas
“The Waves at San Sebastian” (1915, oil on canvas)
  • If you could erase one horrible experience in your life, what would it be? The suffering and death of Caitlin
  • If you had a TARDIS, where and when would you go? I’d go to France in the 1880’s and buy a van Gogh.
  • If you were offered a free plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go? And if you had to leave in half an hour, would you still take the ticket? I’d go to Ireland, and of course I would still go.
  • If you could choose anyone in the world to be your mentor for a year, who would it be? Tana French because I love the way that she writes; her prose is so lyrical that I often find myself pausing after passages just to drink them in. I would choose her because she has become successful in writing the kinds of fiction that I would love to write myself.

All images are by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923)

Music by Birdy, “Not About Angels”

                   

May Day

I’ve decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,

Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,

Be a cell where a struggling tendril
Utters a few spare syllables at dawn.
I’ve decided to waste my life
In a new way, to forget whoever

Touched a hair on my head, because
It doesn’t matter what came to pass,
Only that it passed, because we repeat
Ourselves, we repeat ourselves.

I’ve decided to walk a long way
Out of the way, to allow something
Dreaded to waken for no good reason,
Let it go without saying,

Let it go as it will to the place
It will go without saying: a wall
Against which a body was pressed
For no good reason, other than this.

~ Phillip Levine

“I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Stranger

Swarming Birds at Dusk by Hunter Desportes FCC
Swarming Birds at Dusk by Hunter Desportes (FCC)

                   

Two for Tuesday: In the Singular

Black Bird by Barbara Willi FCC
Black Bird by Barbara Willi (FCC)

Dust

Someone spoke to me last night,
told me the truth. Just a few words,
but I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
write it down, but it was late,
and I was exhausted from working
all day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor—
not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn’t elated or frightened,
but simply rapt, aware.
That’s how it is sometimes—
God comes to your window,
all bright light and black wings,
and you’re just too tired to open it.

~ Dorianne Laux

                     

Black Wing Stilt Footprints in the Sand by Shankar S FCC
Black Wing Stilt Footprints in the Sand by Shankar S (FCC)

Sand

I have a tone inside me
that has not been sounded. Or only once
or twice. Once she went straight to the center
of me, once she could have walked through me
like a tunnel. She could have seen sky
on the other side of me.
I could have washed my hands in sand,
then touched her, turned her to sand.
I’m the opposite of Midas: I want to touch
what’s returning to earth.

~ Jane Hilberry 

“Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Here I Love You”

Eugene Fredrik Jansson Vinternatt over Kajen Winter Night on the Quai 1901 oil on canvas
“Vinternatt over Kajen (Winter Night on the Quai)” (1901, oil on canvas)
by Eugène Fredrik Jansson

                   

“Mind you, sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw the cigarettes away: that’s when you get shooting stars.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov, letter to his wife

Tuesday afternoon. Cold and rainy, 39 degrees.

Well, I slept a bit better last night but still awoke with a migraine. I wonder if the Botox will ever kick in, or if my body will continue to do what it will regardless of treatment.

It’s a beastly day outside, the kind of day that causes the dogs to peer out the door and then turn around, choosing instead to wait and wait and wait. I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my head about so many different things that I thought I might just do a random thoughts post today. So here we go . . .

  • I have realized that my ideas about art have changed significantly from how I used to feel decades ago.
  • Thinking about art always makes me think about Mari, who loved art. When she was still with her husband Buddy, her house was filled with original works of art. I was so jealous.
  • I used to love only the Impressionists with their milky colors all blurring together, Monet in particular.

    Edvard Munch Thawing Snow 1919
    “Thawing Snow” (1919, oil on canvas)
    by Edvard Munch
  • Then I was really into the pre-Raphaelites, especially John William Waterhouse.
  • Lately though, I find that I am much more drawn to the Realists (and all of the associated offshoots) who worked right around the late 19th century into the first part of the 20th century.
  • I like the clearer depictions of landscapes, the richer, more defined colors.
  • I am particularly drawn to Emil Nolde, Leon Spilliaert, Edvard Munch, and Edward Hopper.
  • I have never understood or particularly cared for Andy Warhol.
  • Regardless of movement or school, however, I find that I am almost exclusively drawn to landscapes, or in the case of Hopper, his lonely people.

“You never realise where you are going until you get there,
where nothing is planned, nothing is known,
and you’re drawn back into the heart’s old orbits,
tiny as a grain, massive as a moon.” ~ Pat Boran, from “Moon Street”

A few personal things:

  • I haven’t read a book in almost three months; I go through these phases in which I simply cannot read, cannot concentrate, but this has turned into a long dry spell.

    John Fabian Carlson Brooding Silence
    “Brooding Silence” (nd, oil on canvas)
    by John Fabian Carlson
  • Even though I’m not reading it doesn’t keep me from wanting more books, adding books to my wish list, obsessing over new releases or old titles that I haven’t read yet.
  • Even as a teenager I used to wish that I could work for a publishing company, but I never did a damned thing about it.
  • I have this publishing degree that is pretty much wasted.
  • I used to dream of moving to New York and working for a big publishing house. I never even tried to make this a reality.
  • I also used to dream of moving to New York and trying to find work as an actor. Never did that either.
  • So little action for such big dreams, and now I wonder if I’m too old to have dreams.

“Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed underneath a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then.” ~ Albert Camus

Family news:

  • Corey and I talked for almost an hour and a half last night. He has so much to tell me about his new job. I hear an excitement in his voice that I haven’t heard in a while. I’m so relieved.
  • Sometimes I think that Corey only works as a merchant marine to support our family, but I really think that he likes being on the water, and he’s very good at what he does.

    Zinaida Serebriakova Winter Landscape period Neskuchnoye 1910
    “Winter Landscape. Nekuchnoye” (1910)
    by Zinaida Serebriakova
  • When we first got married, his big dream was to own his own landscaping company, and he worked at it for over a year. I was actually surprised when he told me that he realized that he really didn’t like it.
  • Olivia’s new word is no . . .
  • The Christmas tree still has no ornaments on it, and I haven’t addressed any cards yet. This is the most unprepared I have been for the holidays in a very long time.
  • Eamonn called Corey yesterday morning to tell him the phones were off. We were both stupefied by eldest son’s complete lack of context, as in Corey might be a bit busy, you know, with the new job thing. Amazing.
  • I did do some online shopping yesterday, but I don’t even feel like leaving the house to finish the shopping.

“Look up . . . and see them.
The teaching stars,
beyond worship
and commonplace tongues.” ~ Dorothy Dunnett

On time marching inexorably on:

  • Mari and I have gotten lax in our writing project. I started it when I got side-tracked while working on the bathroom. I’m hoping that we can get our rhythm back and really get back to it by the beginning of the year.
  • Speaking of beginning of the year, I have a milestone birthday coming up—not going to say which one, so don’t even ask—and I’m kind of in shock. I mean, how does this happen?
  • Of course I know how it happens, duh, the whole space time continuum, earth rotating around the sun and all of that, but still . . .

    Tom Thomson Frost-Laden Cedars, Big Cauchon Lake 1916 oil on canvas
    “Frost-Laden Cedars, Big Cauchon Lake” (1916, oil on canvas)
    by Tom Thomson
  • I still don’t feel my age. I’ve never felt my age. When I was young, I felt older, and when I got older, I felt younger.
  • I think that I’m doing this whole age thing wrong, but I can’t figure out how to do it right.
  • Still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up, which used to be funny, but I realize that it’s kind of lost its charm at this point.
  • Am I going to live the rest of my days not knowing what in the hell I’m doing, where in the hell I’m going, when in the hell I’m finally going to figure something out? Anything?
  • At this point, really, I’d settle for anything.
  • Speaking of time and things, I find that a lot of people fear the future. I don’t fear the future for being the future or for what it may bring. I just fear being unprepared for life.
  • For me, time that has passed is far weightier than time to come.
  • Days gone by contain so many pieces of our selves, of other people, of the world. The past is heavy just from all that it bears and how it is continually resurrected.

“We were approaching winter like an object which cannot be put between words. Behavior became simpler since we had dislocated our memories . . . Though the clouds could be uttered in a variety of tones, the stars formed constellations analyzed completely. You cried for the moon, which had started to wane in agreement with constant and variable.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Curves to the Apples

Things I still want to do, see, experience:

  • My wish for our next big vacation: Ireland, England, France. I know, almost prohibitive.
  • The northern lights, Aurora Borealis, a comet—I ache to be somewhere without light pollution, to stand on a hill and drink in the complex beauty of the night sky.
  • A Canon Rebel camera so that I can get back into photography (I guess this belongs more on a want to have list)

    Petr Nilus Snowy Landscape
    “Snowy Landscape” (1928, oil on canvas)
    by Petr Nilus
  • The west coast—Oregon, Washington, Northern California. Absolutely no desire to be anywhere near LA
  • A long weekend to New York to go to nothing but museums
  • Speaking of museums, still, always will want to go to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. Also the Art Institute of Chicago and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
  • An extended train trip across Europe. I have never traveled any distance on a train, only inner city. I understand that it can be quite cramped, but what I would like to do is go to a country, get off and see things, and then travel to another country.
  • Alaska.
  • A train trip in the northwest of the US and Canada.
  • A home that sits on a cliff near the sea, just like in the movies.

Enough of that. Today’s image theme is . . . cold, as in I am.

More later. Peace.

Music by Thriving Ivory, “Angels on the Moon”

                   

A Good Sky

I show you a good sky.
It could hold a fleet of geese
above a kite, sipping in a breeze,
or foliate the wind
with leaves of cherry wood
and hedge.

It will blanket your sleep
with mirrors of stars
in the soft undressing of night.

It will love you, soley,
through the Venus dawn,
rubbing your eyes awake
a moment before the day’s
light hangs its spars.

I show you a good sky.
It will rain its reflection
on your one troubled eye,
the one that blinks
each time a hawk rants by.

I am no one’s romantic.
No. I am the sky’s shadow-wish
writing this only
to breathe its light.

I show you a falling sun,
passing like a lover,
to be near you, allowing
no star, no bulb on a corner lamp
to possess you as you are.

Look. Here I am, the sky’s moon
down. I will shave
a horizon out of peaks
like none your memory
has ever carved.

I show you a good sky.
Its broad blue ribbon will wrap
its mind around your eyes’ imagination
and tease you into smiles—
Now, be patient,
let your grieving rest awhile.

~ James Ragan

“I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless.” ~ Albert Camus

George Bellows Churn and Break oil on panel 1913
“Churn and Break” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

                    

“Why walk in the eye of a private tornado,
looking as if your life depended on taking cover
sooner rather than later?” ~ Rachel Wetzsteon, from “Questions and Answers”

Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, sixty-two degrees.

A very bad night, restless, a creeping headache. Then this morning the pain medication caught up with me, and my body began to itch all over. Why am I telling you this? Who knows. A preamble to what is to come? Perhaps.

George Bellows Tang of the Sea 1913
“Tang of the Sea” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Burrows

You see, my mother is driving me crazy. For the past few weeks she has been calling me, nearly hysterical over her car. Right after she broke her leg she bought a new Honda. I tried to talk her out of it, but she would not hear of it. I think she felt she needed a new Honda mostly because Lex and Mike had bought one. Anyway, I was not involved in the financing of it; why would I be? But she had a balloon payment at the end of three years. Ever since the Honda finance people contacted her about said payment and her options my world has turned to crap.

At one point I intervened and spoke with the general manager of the dealership that sold her the car. We had things straightened out. Then my mother got back on the phone, and chaos ensued again. Now she is calling me, telling me that the stress of this is making her heart race, saying that she just can’t take it.

Which leads me to this: Does the woman ever stop to think that perhaps someone else is having a really bad day? That the person on the other end of the telephone my be a tad overwhelmed with stress?

Short answer: No. Never.

“And somewhat as in blind night, on a mild sea, a sailor may be made aware of an iceberg, fanged and mortal, bearing invisibly near, by the unwarned charm of its breath, nothingness now revealed itself . . . that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.” ~ James Agee, from A Death in the Family

So today there have been at least two calls and two messages, during which she yells at me and tells me not to argue with her. This when I am only trying to get a telephone number from her.

George Bellows The Gulls, Monhegan
“The Gulls, Monhegan” (c1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

In the meanwhile, I’m stressed beyond belief over Corey leaving Sunday for his training. The trip is open-ended. He may or may not be back at the end of the week. He may or may not go straight to a ship. He may or may not be here for Christmas . . .

Unfortunately, at the moment we are existing on two paychecks from Louisiana unemployment, which is at least $100 less/week than Virginia unemployment, and we just had to drop almost all of that on the plane ticket for him to attend new hire orientation and training. I’m stressed because I hate for him to leave without having sufficient money in the bank for him to fall back on. Who knows what circumstances may arise. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to pay the utilities, phone, cable, etc. with imaginary money.

“My stoic, unconvinced world,
world of the paper heart,
is it that you don’t know grief
or haven’t had enough of it
that you let yourself
be governed so?” ~ Katie Ford, from “Overture”

Now that everything is set, and Corey is definitely going to begin a new job next week, it’s time for me to worry. While he was worrying about his medical tests, I was fine. I mean, I wasn’t worried because I just knew that everything was fine (I had that feeling, you know?), and it was. The urine test showed a false positive on his bilirubin levels, but the blood test showed that it was fine. That being said, now that he’s beginning to allow himself to become adjusted to this new phase in our lives, I am becoming less adjusted.

George Bellows Sunlit Surf, 1913
“Sunlit Surf” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Bellows

It’s the yin/yang thing, I suppose.

Mostly, though, it’s worry over bills. With the transition to any new job there is always a hiccup in income, waiting for the new pay period to kick in. For him, the first one is going to be December 20. My disability comes in at the middle of the month, but that is always spent before it ever hits the bank.

Add to this the fact that I am completely unprepared for the holidays, have done absolutely no shopping, and I’m getting that sinking feeling. So let’s just make this state of affairs completely unmanageable by adding my mother’s drama because, gee, why not?

“My soul is so heavy that no thought can carry it any longer, no wing beat can lift it up into the ether any more. If it is moved, it merely skims along the ground, just as birds fly low when a thunderstorm is blowing up. Over my inner being broods an oppressiveness, an anxiety, that forebodes an earthquake.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard, from Either/Or, Part I: Kierkegaard’s Writings, vol. 3

I feel the need to scream, silently, of course because of the head thing. Loud noise = migraine . . . (by the way, did you know that sensitivity to smells is called osmophobia? I didn’t until my pain doctor used the term, but I digress . . .) And then whenever I think about screaming, I think about Edvard Munch, and then I forget because the painting is too good.

George Bellows Rock Bound 1913
“Rock Bound” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

Nevertheless, a scream might release some of this pent up anxiety, or barring a scream pounding my fist into something, but it would do nothing about my mother, and I would be left with more stupid pain.

In the back of my mind I have a song refrain playing: “Leave me alone, oh leave me alone, oh leave me alone, oh leave me alone. Won’t you leave me, leave me alone?” So of course I had to hunt it down. It’s an old Helen Redding song called “Ruby Red Dress” (that’s Redding of the “I Am Woman” song), and the actual lyrics are these:

Leave me alone, won’t you leave me alone
Please leave me alone, now leave me alone
Oh leave me alone, please leave me alone, yes leave me
Leave me alone, won’t you leave me alone
Please leave me alone, now leave me alone
God leave me alone, just leave me alone, oh leave me . . .

But while I was looking that up, my mother called again, yelled a lot more, and then ended the conversation by saying to me, “I can’t talk to you. You’re just like your father.”
Have I ever mentioned that my mother has perfected the art of hanging up on people? It’s quite obnoxious.

“This is what it feels like to split the shell of a woman.
Shards of her everywhere. Animal light spread across

the walls.” ~ Raven Jackson, from “My First Lover Speaks to Me as I Sleep With Her”

Sorry this whole post has been a rant. I actually do not feel as if I am in rant mode. Rather, I feel particularly heavy—heavy heart, heavy mind. All of my thoughts feel too heavy for my head. The air feels too heavy to breathe. My neck feels to heavy to hold up my head, and my eyelids are too heavy for consciousness.

George Bellows Green Breaker 1913
“Green Breaker” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

At times like these, I wish that I could breathe under water. How wonderful it must be to dwell beneath the sea—stippled sunlight, brilliant colors, muted sound, as dark as you care to go deep, or as light as the space just beneath the surface.

Unfortunately, not a possibility, gill-less that I am. Still, it’s my whole love affair with the sea that holds sway with my thoughts. To that end, today’s images are by American Realist George Wesley Bellows (August 12 or August 19, 1882 – January 8, 1925), who died at the age of 42 from  ruptured appendix. Bellows was well known for his boxing paintings, but I prefer his land and seascapes, particularly the churning sea depictions as they match my mood today. As a bonus, I created a gallery to go along with this post. (Playing with art soothes me.)

I need a vacation from my life.

More later. Peace.

                    

Music by Lucie Silvas, “Cry a Little More”

                   

Untitled

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoyevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward us
impossibly.

~ Charles Bukowski

“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims . . .” ~ Arundhati Roy, from The God of Small Things

Emil Nolde Sunflowers c1925-30 watercolor on paper
“Sunflowers” (c1925-30, watercolor on paper)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“Here was a flower (the daisy reflected) strangely like itself and yet utterly unlike itself too. Such a paradox has often been the basis for the most impassioned love.” ~ Thomas M. Disch, from The Brave Little Toaster

Emil Nolde Flower Still Life with Orchids c1923-24 watercolor
“Flower Still Lifew tih Orchids” (c1923-24, watercolor)
by Emil Nolde

Questions from Flowers (found on tumblr):

  • Daisy: How old were you when you had your first kiss? I was 12.
  • Carnation: If I handed you a concert ticket right now, who would you want to be the performer? Believe it or not I would like it to be country singer Luke Bryan; I think he’d be great in concert. Second choice would be Alison Krauss.
  • Jasmine: What color looks best on you? Red. Then black. Then purple.
  • Foxglove: Name three facts about your family? First, we have Filipino blood. Second, my father was a guerilla during the second world war. Third, there is a strong strain of military service throughout.
  • Allium: What’s the best thing you can cook? Brunswick Stew.
  • Orange Blossom: If you could pick the gender and appearance of your child, would you? No. Are you crazy?  Life should be full of happy surprises, your children most of all.

“Creating is living doubly. The groping, anxious quest of a Proust, his meticulous collecting of flowers, of wallpapers, and of anxieties, signifies nothing else.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

  • Calla Lily: If you died right now, what song would you want to play at your funeral? “Where the River Meets the Sea,” and of course, “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes.

    Pierre Bonnard Daffodils in a Green Pot 1887
    “Daffodils in a Green Pot” (c1887, oil on canvas)
    by Pierre Bonnard
  • Poinsettia: Favorite holiday dish? Cranberry Relish followed by Pecan Pie.
  • Oxlip: Would you ever get into a long distance relationship? I have. They’re very hard.
  • Primrose: Favorite kind of soup? Homemade beef vegetable soup.
  • Daffodil: What’s the most thoughtful present you’ve ever received? Anytime I am given a book or a gift card to buy books, but thoughtful is not romantic, and the most romantic present I’ve ever received was a string of pearls from my husband when we were dating.
  • Rose: Are you currently in love with someone? Yes, very much so.

“Yes, just like those flowers. There’s something strained, but there’s beauty in that. Something like that” ~ Koushun Takami, from Battle Royale

  •   Amsonia: Would you ever become a vegan? Probably not even though it would be better for me in some many ways.

    Emil Nolde Red Hawthorns with Green an dYellow Leaves and Brown Grass c1930
    “Red Hawthorns with Green and Yellow Leaves and Brown Grass” (c1930, watercolor on paper)
    by Emil Nolde
  • Peony: What’s your favorite hot beverage? It’s a tie between Hot Tea (preferably Darjeeling) and Southern Comfort served warm with honey and lemon.
  • Tulip: For your birthday, what kind of cake do you ask for? I like apple pie, or if not, homemade cheesecake.
  • Myrtle: Do you like going on airplanes? I used to, but lately I find them so cramped.
  • Hibiscus: Did you ever play an instrument? If so what? Piano, classically trained for 14 years.
  • Zinnia: Who was your best friend when you were six years old? Creighton Firth.

He knew the plants by name and took a few minutes with each of them: ageratum, coreopsis, echinacea, rudbeckia. The yarrow, he said, had rose-red flowers on two-foot stems. Achillea millefolium, the plant Achilles used to heal wounds.” ~ Frederick Weisel, from Teller

  • Poppy: What color was your childhood home? Brick.

    Only One by Georgia O'Keeffe 1959
    “Only One” (1959, oil on canvas)
    by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Hydrangea: Starbucks order? Venti latte (no bells or whistles)
  • Violet: Do you like where you’re from? Do you mean where I was born (yes), or my heritage (yes), or where I’m currently living? The answer to the last is probably sometimes. It’s a nice area, but it’s not where I want to spend my life.
  • Locust: What was your favorite book as a child? A Secret Garden
  • Rhododendron: What’s the scariest dream you’ve ever had? I have lots of scary dreams, usually involving some kind of killing.
  • Queen Anne’s Lace: Would you rather carve pumpkins or wrap presents? Wrap presents.

Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, from The Little Prince

  • Magnolia: Favorite kind of candy? It varies. Right now it’s Starburst berries. Last year it was gummi bears. A few years ago it was Twizzlers . . . so chewy stuff.

    Odilon Redon Three Vases of Flowers  1908-1910 oil
    “Three Vases of Flowers” (1908-10, oil on canvas?)
    by Odilon Redon
  • Aster: Would you rather be cold or hot? Cold. You can always add more clothes or blankets.
  • Marigold: Do you listen to what’s on the radio? Not usually.
  • Heliconia: Do you like when it rains? Yes, if it’s storming with lightning. Just cold rain, not so much.
  • Azalea: What’s a movie you cried while watching? So many: Return of the King is the first one that comes to mind. But I remember I wept during The English Patient.
  • Dandelion: Do you think you’re important? Not nearly as important as I think I am.

                   

Music by Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”

                   

Findings

Found what I think are the breast feathers
of a flicker lying in the melting snow
in front of the house. Found a crow feather
in Bozeman one spring and have kept it
in a vase on top of the dresser. Yarrow grows
where my son planted a root last summer,
and hyssop seeds have sprouted
with the wildflowers. Found spearmint
growing under the outside faucet
and tiny blue snails in the fallen apples
and black and white hornets stumbling drunk
around the rotting apples in August. The columbine
had eight inches of new growth in January,
and two summers ago found a red-shafted flicker
lying in the alley behind my house
with grass in its throat and wasps
crawling in and out of its mouth.
Its wing feathers were dazzling
and I took them, buried its body
in tall weeds, saved the feathers
in checkbook boxes in the dresser
beside a Norwegian pewter cake server,
a twenty dollar bill, some old ribbons
and a flat rock from the Marias.
His mate remained in the neighborhood until fall,
and this February a pair or flickers returned
to eat last year’s sunflower seeds
at the side of the garage.
One spring, hundreds of crows filled a single tree,
their black wings shifting against dense bodies
and air, their voices calling across leaves
then reeling into space.
Saw flickers in the park last spring,
a male calling with such racket
my son covered his ears, and
from across the park, through twigs
and leaves pushing out from resinous shells,
a female approached, blended into bark
and clouds, and for an instant, opened to the sound.

~ Tami Haaland