“There are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst or drowning.” ~ Craig Childs, The Secret Knowledge of Water

Banned Books Week Banner by DML East Branch

                   

“Because we cannot fly we are condemned to do things that do not agree with us. Because we have no wings we are pushed into struggles and abominations which we did not seek, and then, after that, the years go by, the mountains are leveled, the valleys rise, the rivers are blocked by the sand and the cliffs fall into the sea.” ~ Louis de Bernières, from Birds Without Wings 

Saturday afternoon. Cool and cloudy, low 60’s. Smells like fall.

Banned Books Week (Last Week of September)

Now Corey is sick. Whatever it is, it has pretty much made the rounds in the house. Brett and Corey seem to have gotten the worse of it—the body aches, the hurting chest.

Another bad night with very strange dreams, something about being a participant in “Project Runway,” even though I don’t sew, taking care of someone else’s baby, but with not enough diapers, and a massive asthma attack in my dream that turned into a real attack and had me fumbling for my inhaler in a half-sleep state. It’s always disconcerting when something happens in a dream that carries over into real life, for me, it’s almost always a headache that starts in a dream and then wakes me because of the pain. Very rarely is it my asthma.

Even though everyone is home today except for Eamonn, the house is very quiet. Since I began this post, the clouds have passed, and the sky is blue with just a few clouds. You see, I took a break between paragraphs to go wash the dishes, so enough time has passed for the weather to change. Still lovely and cool, though.

“Every journey is played out between standstill and flight.” ~ Claudio Magris, Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea

Etta James is singing “At Last” in the background. Such a wonderful song. Such a strong, sultry voice. Love those old torch songs.

It still slays me to think that the women of color of that era had to go in the back door and could not even frequent the nightclubs in which they performed. I suppose that it was okay to listen to them just as long as they weren’t treated like real human beings.

Supposed civilized societies . . .

Tonight is the season finale of “Doctor Who,” series 6. Supposedly, we are going to have answers to questions that were raised in “The Impossible Astronaut” episode. Right. Moffat never explains everything; something is always held back.

I’m still trying to cope with the concept that no new Who episodes, save for the Christmas special, will be aired for a year. That’s just not right, to draw in people, get their undying devotion, and then leave them hanging for a year. Who does that?

Steven Moffat, that’s who.

Yes, I know. My Whovian obsession is quirky, but it brings me pleasure, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s important, at least for now.

“We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out.” ~ Richard Rohr, from “Everything Belongs”

So I’ve been thinking about things, you know, little things. Like life.

  • Death.
  • Money.
  • Wall Street.
  • Books.
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Children.
  • Parents.
  • Blogs.
  • Body image.
  • Aging.
  • Republicans.
  • Democrats.
  • Liars.
  • Alchemy.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Physicians.
  • Censorship.

Strange list, no? Bear with me as I attempt to elucidate . . .

Life, death, money: The relative from whom we borrowed the money for the mortgage is the son of someone I called uncle my whole life. This man was a very important fixture in my life, and he died one year after my father. I still dream of him, that’s what a fixture he and his family have been in my life. When I was young, I babysat his five children during the summer.  I attended almost all of his children’s weddings, and have been to baby showers for their children.

Children, parents: This week, Ann packed up her mother’s home because her father is putting it on the market. We had to pick up the crib and cradle that I’ve had in storage in her attic for years. I’ve saved the crib all of these years for Alexis. When I told her that we had to move the crib and asked her if it could go into her storage unit, she informed me quite matter-of-factly that she did not want the crib. You could have knocked me over as I was so astounded by her complete disinterest.

Wall Street, liars: I read an interesting comment directed to the protestors in New York. It suggested that they all wear polo shirts and khakis when they protest, and you know, that makes complete sense. If the protestors look like young Republicans, then the country will be horrified that they are being sprayed in the face with pepper spray. As long as these protestors look like throw-back hippies, no one cares what happens to them. Witness the complete lack of coverage by the mainstream media. Polo shirts + khakis = pseudo respectability. Unfortunately, true.

Republicans, Democrats: I also read a blip that said during one of his recent speeches, President Obama referenced the Bible story about Meshach,  Shadrach, and Abednego, the devout guys who were supposed to be burned alive but who survived because Jesus was with them in the fire. I love this particular story mostly because I love the names of the men, very cool names. But what is interesting is that Obama frequently makes biblical  references in his speeches, but he’s still referred to as a heathen, called a Muslim as if it’s a horrendous thing. He cannot win. Whatever.

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” ~ Charles Péguy

Blogs, writing: I also read an article that said that tumblr is one of the fastest-growing social mediums because of what it does: it allows users to present stream of consciousness postings, as opposed to long posts (as in WordPress), or keep track of friends (as in Facebook), or limits the number of characters (as in Twitter). Apparently, tumblr’s retention rate—that is the number of people who sign up and then actually actively use the site—is higher than any of the other sites. I can understand this, but it made me wonder if the whole idea of blogs is becoming passé, and if this is true, what does that mean for me?

Books, reading: Then there was the quote that said something along the lines that failed writers make the best publishers because they recognize good writing. It made me pause. Is that why I got a degree in publishing, because I consider myself to be a failed writer? Probably.

Peanut butter, body image, aging: I’ve been craving peanut butter a lot lately. I have no idea why. I know that the protein is good for me, but the fat is bad for me. And yesterday in the car, somehow Brett and Em started talking about plastic surgery and how it looks terrible, and I thought about how I declared years ago that I would never get plastic surgery, and I still would never get a face lift because the results are just weird, but I would have my neck and arms tightened, and I would love to melt the fat in my belly. And none of this is ever going to happen because it’s a waste of money.

“There is a pain so utter
It swallows Being up.
Then covers the abyss with trance,
So memory can step
Around, across, upon it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Physicians, alchemy: Thursday, I received a telephone call from the neurologist’s office; it was the nurse that I’ve been going back and forth on regarding getting botox shots for my migraines. She told me this time that she’s having a hard time getting approval for the shots because there is nothing in my file about having migraines that last longer than four hours or for 15 days out of the month. I got pissed. I told her that that was the whole reason that I was seeing a neurologist as my pain management doctor for my migraines, who I had been seeing since 2003, could no longer do anything to help with my headaches, and he was the one who sent me to them. I also reminded her that during my first visit, I signed a release form for the neurologist’s office to get my files from the pain management people.

She was a real bitch and incredibly snotty. I don’t know why this woman is fighting me. I’ve never even met her. She said something along the lines of, “so you are refusing to come in and see Dr. R.” I said, no, I’m not refusing to do that, but Dr. R is the one who told me that she couldn’t do anything for me and told me to see her partner for the shots, so what is the point. Then she called me back and said that Dr. R wanted to know if I’ve ever had a migraine that has lasted longer than four hours. I said, “I’ve had a migraine that lasted for three weeks.” She said, and this is verbatim, “So that’s a yes?”

Did I have a mouthful of marbles when I was talking? If a migraine lasts for three weeks, isn’t that indicative that it lasted longer than four hours? In the middle ages, medical treatment was sometimes handled by alchemists, those people who claimed that they could change the chemical properties of things, such as lead into gold. My feeling is that at this point, I would be better served by an alchemist.

My life is  Dr. Seuss book.

“It is inner luxury, of golden figures
that breathe like mountains do

            and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about, what this mind of mine has been pondering.

Of course, there are many other things, like the fact that my dogs think that peanut butter is doggie crack, or that I really, really wish that I could take a long, hot bath, but the hole in my bathtub makes that impossible.

As soon as the temperature outside dips into the 60’s,  my spirit is ready for hot baths. Ah well. At least there is running water, which is more than what a majority of the world’s population has access to, right?

Oh. One last thing.

Censorship: In honor of the last day of Banned Books Week, I’ll close with the following passage by Aldous Huxley, an author whose novel Brave New World (1932) is perpetually selected to be banned by those who cannot abide thinking that goes beyond what their tiny little minds comprehend:

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them . . . Lightly, lightly . . . When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”

~ Aldous Huxley, Island

Music by the Eagles, “Wasted Time”


                   

You Can’t Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.

~ Barbara Ras

Advertisements

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

Cosmos by Arapy

                   

“I’m not a girl—I’m a woman. I want things. Shall I ever have them? To write all the morning and then to get lunch over quickly and to write again in the afternoon and have supper and one cigarette together and then to be alone again till bedtime—and all this love and joy that fights for outlet, and all this life drying up, like milk, in an old breast. Oh, I want life! I  want friends and people and a house. I want to give and to spend.” ~ Katherine Mansfield,  May 15, 1915

Tuesday late afternoon. Sunny and very warm.

Field of Wild Flowers by Valeri Simov (Pixdaus)

I’ve spent several hours online looking for a transmission for the Dodge. Vic, our neighbor, is ready to start work on the truck. We need to buy a transmission and a transfer case. I’m tired of speaking to men who talk too quickly, mumble, then get agitated if I ask them to repeat what they said. You know the kind of person of whom I am speaking—they don’t like speaking on the phone, so they rush to try to get off as soon as possible.

As a result, I have a dull headache in the back of my skull.

Speaking of which, I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but my lumbar puncture came back normal, no fungus, no infection. So now what?

I rescheduled my appointment with my gastro guy, which was supposed to be yesterday. I rescheduled for next Monday, and I must keep this one as I really need to know the results of my last two tests, that and tell him that the new medication that he gave me has stopped working. I wake up every morning with my mouth tasting like acid. I can’t keep eating Tums all day long to supplement the new medicine, which is supposed to be so much better than Nexium, but for me at least, it’s not.

Last night I dreamed that I had taken up smoking again, which is so far-fetched. I’ve been trying to get Corey to stop for years, to no avail. I’ve never been hooked, but I used to smoke in college during exams, and I tend to want to smoke if I’m in a bar or singing karaoke (neither of which has happened in quite a while).

Yesterday I decided to sweep the doggy hair tumbleweeds that were all over the wood flooring. After I did that, I decided that the floors really needed to be cleaned, so I mopped the kitchen, bathroom, and entry way, and cleaned the wood floors with Murphy’s oil wax, all of this on top of keeping the laundry going all day. By 9 p.m. I was hot, hurting, and exhausted, so no posting for me even though I had already picked out my quotes.

“You want to live—but do you know how to live? You are  scared of dying—and, tell me, is the kind of life you lead really any different from being dead?” ~ Seneca

VIctorian Walled Garden, Bellahouston Park, Glascow, Scotland by dalbera (FCC)

Last night, Eamonn picked up Brett, and the two of them went with Alexis to see their grandfather in the hospital. Once again, I did not see Alexis. Brett said that his grandpa looks bad and that he was really tired, but he did recognize everyone. I know that for Brett anyway, having his grandfather be more cognizant helped to make the visit a bit more bearable.

I’m going to try to go with Ann later in the week if possible. I’m hoping that I don’t run into my ex or my step-m-in-law while I’m there. The prospect of seeing either or both makes me cringe, but it won’t keep me from visiting

My gardenia bush is in bloom, so perhaps I’ll cut some blooms to take when I go. My f-in-law got into raising roses when he married his second/current wife. Ann told me that when she went to see him, he mentioned that he needed to cut some roses for her mother because she would like that. I’m thinking that in his final days, he may be feeling a bit of guilt about how he left my m-in-law for the other woman, but I am only surmising. Who knows how the brain works when the body begins to shut down.

I would imagine that the past and the present begin to comingle, that time ceases to be linear and reverts to being circular, that things long forgotten come back to the forefront and that the most recent memories fade most easily. It’s all part of the mystery.

“Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given the door will open.” ~ Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Wildflowers, Oro Valley, Arizona

Our brains are such interesting organs. They are the seat of our emotions and the housing for our logic. Everything that we know, that we feel, that we think—it all comes from our brains. Our very consciousness arises from the little grey cells. Our dreams, passions, likes, and dislikes all reside within this three-pound organ, give or take a few ounces. We are born with the capacity for such emotions as joy, happiness, fear, and shyness, but the nurturing we receive affects how these emotions are developed.

Our brains are almost full-sized when we are born, and a newborn’s brain contains most of the brain cells for life. Interestingly, our brains stop growing around age 18. Does this explain why teenagers act they way that they do?

Some disorders originate from the brain, like my m-in-law’s Parkinson’s Disease. Psychiatric conditions such as my depression are thought to arise from a brain dysfunction. My brother-in-law’s brain damage from the car accident has resulted in his impaired vision, and cerebral cortex damage means that he cannot speak. My daughter Caitlin’s malignant ependymoma was located in the fourth ventricle of her brain.

Because the human brain is about 75 percent water, it is very susceptible to damage from alcohol and drugs, something my ex should probably consider when he’s on his sixth beer. Alcohol also weakens the connections between neurons. Also consider that smoking is bad for the brain as it causes brain cells to die and stops neurogenesis, the process of creating new brain cells.

And then, of course, there is love, which does not reside in the heart as the ancients believed, but rather in the brain. Specifically, fight, flight, anger, and love all reside in the most primitive part of the brain, the brain stem, or the lizard brain, so called because it resembles the entire brain of reptiles. This area of the brain, located near the base of the skull, hearkens back to the dinosaur brain, interestingly enough.

“The silence one hopes for, no echoes of recrimination. Dreams reside there.” ~ Robert Gibbons, from “XI,” Rhythm of Desire and Resistance

Field of Poppies

I read a mind-blowing article (pun intended) called “Humans Have Three Brains,” by James Thornton. According to Thornton, human have three brains: the lizard brain, the dog brain, and the human brain.

The lizard brain, which developed first, is the smallest. It controls “breathing, vision, bodily movement” and also allows “fierce territorial fights, lusty bouts of mating, and displays of anger.” Thornton also contends that lizard brains do not allow for complex states such as loyalty, which is why an alligator mother will leave her eggs. Loyalty comes from the dog brain.

Mammals came into being about 100 million years ago. The mammalian or dog brain that resides atop the lizard brain is the complex limbic system. Thornton says that the dog brain accounts for the richer experiences, such as love and loyalty.

Then there is the human brain, the neo-cortex, which developed a few hundred thousand years ago with the appearance of the apes. This brain  gives rise to poetry, art, language, and reason: “It is inside this human brain that mathematics and music, deception and politics, religion and racism live. It is the Machiavelli as well as the Mozart brain, the Eichman as well as the Einstein brain.”

Thornton posits that these brains work inter-dependently; the human brain contains language, but the separate dog and lizard brains contain emotions:

The older brains cannot speak. They can only feel and act. This is where the self-contradictory nature of so much human behavior comes from. It explains why we can cheat on someone we love: each of our brains is pursuing different kinds of satisfaction.

The lizard brain is moved to lust. The dog brain is moved to love and loyalty. The human brain is moved to the idea of romance and a dream of ethics. (The human brain is also moved to sadomasochism and premeditated murder.)

Apparently, humans have different kinds of memory also. According to Thornton, there are “independent memory systems in the neo-cortex and the limbic system. The big human brain has the intellectual memory where we remember facts and phone numbers. The dog brain has an emotion-based memory. It is slower to learn but retains memories longer. In fact it never forgets your experiences. As we age the neo-cortical memory degrades and we have senior moments. This doesn’t happen to the limbic brain.”

“Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world,
pierced by a ray of sunlight,
and suddenly it’s evening.” ~ Salvatore Quasimodo

Echoes by KarolZ

Our brains are soft and fatty. They create enough wattage to illuminate a light bulb. They are the actual seat of power in the human body, but they are also fragile even though the organ itself can feel no pain. A stroke can do irreparable harm to a brain, as can bruising of the brain and oxygen deprivation.

We can choose to enhance our brain’s capabilities by reading more and learning other languages, and we can stint the growth of another’s brains through sensory deprivation and abuse. Eating seafood regularly can decrease our susceptibility to dementia. Oxytocin can make us feel love and be more receptive to sex; it can make us feel content and reduce anxiety. Endorphins can relieve pain and control our appetites, and our brains produce both of these hormones.

The brain is an enigma. It is wiredrawn like a finely spun web: intricate, beautiful, strong and simultaneously fragile. I knew a woman who worked at Old Dominion, seemingly healthy, in her 30’s, who died in an instant from a brain aneuryism. There was no warning. She was in the kitchen, and her husband heard her say, ‘Oh.” By the time he got there from the bedroom, she was dead.

What it boils down to for me is the mystery, how the scope of emotions can reside in something that only makes up about 2 percent of our total body weight.  How misery and elation can both come from the same place. How our ability to reason logically is in proximity to our ability to be devious. How the invisible, the intangible, and the immeasurable—love, loyalty, hate, and happiness—are manifest along with the tangible—blinking, yawning, talking, and seeing.

I will tell you this: Of all the parts of my body, I think my brain is the sexiest, and it’s the part that I like the best.

More later. Peace.

Music by Michelle Branch, “Are You Happy Now?”

                   

Gradual Clearing

Late in the day the fog
wrung itself out like a sponge
in glades of rain,
sieving the half-invisible
cove with speartips;
then, in a lifting
of wisps and scarves, of smoke-rings
from about the islands, disclosing
what had been wavering
fishnet plissé as a smoothness
of peau-de-soie or just-ironed
percale, with a tatting
of foam out where the rocks are,
the sheened no-color of it,
the bandings of platinum
and magnesium suffusing,
minute by minute, with clandestine
rose and violet, with opaline
nuance of milkweed, a texture
not to be spoken of above a whisper,
began, all along the horizon,
gradually to unseal
like the lip of a cave
or of a cavernous,
single, pearl-
engendering seashell.

~ Amy Clampitt

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little . . . ” ~ Tom Stoppard

Law and Order Optical Illusion Billboard

   

“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.” ~ W. S. Merwin
Berger Paints Billboard Illusion

Watched Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead last night (1990 starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman); hence, the Stoppard quote. Thought that it would be a good movie to watch before going to sleep. Good movie, yes. Sleep, no. 

Speaking of sleep . . . I haven’t been getting much—yet again. The past two mornings have seen me sitting at this computer at 7 a.m. and not because I’m an early riser. Au contraire. I am having a hard time falling asleep again. Who knows the whys or wherefores of my body, why I can sleep for 10 hours one night and four hours on another, why I can fall asleep without any pharmaceutical assistance one night but not so on another. Regardless, I am watching dawn break, morning rise, and everything else in between. 

I do know the heat really affects me—headaches, mood swings, appetite—and it has been hotter than hades here for several days. I suppose, though, that we are quite fortunate considering the bizarre weather patterns to the north: a tornado in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a major twister in Eagle, Wisconsin that damaged or destroyed 125 homes and killed one person, flooding in the midwest after severe thunderstorms, a 5.0 earthquake that struck in the Quebec/Ontario border region with tremors felt as far away as Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Toronto. 

A good rain here would be nice, but nothing too drastic. 

“When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep, and you’re never really awake.” ~ From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Maker's Mark Billboard Illusion

 One of the things that I did when I couldn’t sleep was to organize my music on my YouTube channel, break it down into more categories as I had reached my 200-song-limit in my main category. One of these days I’m going to follow progress and get an MP3 player. Of course, those are really better for people who actually leave the house, go places in cars, or maybe even on walks. 

Yep. We’ll see about that. 

I’m actually a bit hungry today, craving chocolate and salt. Unfortunately, slim pickings in the house at the moment, so I don’t anticipate that carving being sated anytime soon. Just read an article that states that adults should not ingest more than one teaspoon of salt a day. I’m so busy worrying about sugar and fat; now I have to worry about salt? Sometimes I think that existing on crackers or cereal is really the best way to go. 

I’ve been counting calories recently, and Corey asked me how I’m going about determining calories. I told him that I’m estimating what I think something might be and then doubling it. I watched some show about Americans and food, and it was actually quite revealing. This university professor (cannot remember who or where, sorry) studies food habits. He had this study group divided into two subgroups. Each group was served the exact same meal, but their reactions were very different. The meal was a taco salad from Taco Bell. 

The first group was served the meal on the plastic plate, and they were told that it was fast food. When asked their opinions, most of the individuals said that the taste was mediocre, and they were pretty accurate in estimating the calories at around 1,000. Group two was served the exact same meal, but it was placed on nice dishes, and they were told that it was from a bistro that served health-conscious food. These people claimed that the food tasted great, and they estimated the calories between 300 and 450. 

So interesting how presentation can affect perceptions. But of course, being in marketing, I knew that. 

It’s the same thinking that advises people not to eat standing up over the kitchen sink (Corey does this), and to set the table for at least one meal a day. The mind affects the enjoyment of a meal as much as the meal itself. 

“I’ll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time.” ~ Emily Dickinson
Mini Cooper Underpass Advertisement Optical Illusion

Aside from those tidbits, not much seems to be stirring in my right brain at the moment. I suppose it’s because I know that Corey is in the dining room trying to make less than three hundred dollars cover about one thousand dollars worth of stuff. Alchemy. That must be the answer because working 11 hours a week certainly isn’t creating optimum cash flow. 

I’m not disparaging. On the contrary. If not for Corey’s creative right-brained abilities with the minimal income we have, we would have been out in the cold (or heat, as it were), a long time ago. Just knowing that he is doing this always brings about two diametrically opposing emotions in me: awe and sadness. 

In keeping with the whole concept of creating something out of nothing, the images are optical illusion billboards from around the world. Enjoy. 

More later. Peace

Music by The Pretenders, “I’ll Stand by You”