“Who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Room Of One’s Own

Emil Nolde Autumn Sea IX 1910
“Autumn Sea IX” (1910, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

                   

“It was the in-between time, before day leaves and night comes, a time I’ve never been partial to because of the sadness that lingers in the space between going and coming.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd, from The Secret Life of Bees

Saturday afternoon. Rainy and mild, 68 degrees.

Strange dreams last night. Something about living in Iceland. It was going to be possible to live there because the entire family was relocating there. I just remember being terribly excited by the prospect.

Emil Nolde Evening Sea at Autumn
“Evening Sea at Autumn” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

This morning I awoke with an Alison Krauss song running through my head: “Killing the Blues.” It’s a rare morning when I don’t wake up with an internal playlist running through my head. I have never been able to figure out if the song appears in my dreams or it’s just there, like a random egg. I wonder if other people wake up with a song?

Things that make you go hmm . . . . . . . .

Anyway, I just spent almost two hours perusing a blog by poet Paul Guest, with whom I was unfamiliar until the closing lines of his poem “Practice” appeared on my tumblr dash. As is often the case when I come across snatches of poems that I really like, I went on an internet scavenger hunt to try to track down the entire poem. I found it on Guest’s blog, Almost I rushed from home to tell you this. Good stuff there. I have added him to my blogroll, in case you are interested.

“’All my life, my heart has sought
a thing I cannot name.’
—Remembered line from
a long-forgotten poem.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson, from Hell’s Angels

Corey’s ship docked this morning, but I cannot pick him up until 5. He’s only here until Monday, so it will be a very short stay at home, barely enough time to say hello and to play with the dogs. But any chance to see him, for however long, is always a good thing.

Emil Nolde Autumn Sea XIX 1911 oil on canvas
“Autumn Sea XIX (1911, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

Yesterday I cleaned (of course), including the ceiling fans, something I do at the end of seasons. Tillie hair was everywhere—on the walls, baseboards, lampshades. It’s strange the places it lands. Bailey doesn’t shed, or if she does, I haven’t been able to see it for the Tillie hair.

The five days of rain and counting have not been good as far as the dogs going outside. They go to the door, take one look, and turn around. Are they holding it in? The rain is supposed to last through tomorrow, but at least temperatures will be cooler this week. I hope we’ve seen the last of the 80’s for a while.

So I cleaned, and Brett cleaned, and today my back has knots in places I cannot reach. Always a lovely side-effect. Beh, I say.

“Perhaps my life is nothing but an image of this kind; perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I simply should recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.” ~ André Breton

Brett missed an opportunity to go to Floyd, Virginia this weekend with friends. Floyd is in the western part of the state, off I-81, near Roanoke. I know that I’ve passed it many times, but I’ve never stopped. It’s supposed to be a lovely place; the population is in the hundreds.

Emil Nolde Autumn Glow
“Autumn Glow” (1925, oil on canvas)
by Emil Nolde

I expect it’s the kind of place I’d probably like to live: mountains, small population, interesting things nearby. I’m so tired of living in the city, but my dream of living away is probably just that. I mean, I wonder how I would really do without the conveniences of living just a few minutes from anything I need. One adjusts, I imagine. Still, the idea of living in the mountains, even the foothills of Virginia, appeals to me.

I know that I’ve said this before, probably many times, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here, in this brick rancher. It just seems to pointless, or perhaps it is my life that has become pointless, well, perhaps not pointless, but rudderless.

Oh, who the hell knows.

“The time of harvest and the time of poems is passing
……….
Light glitters in patches on mowed field
This hour too will be more lovely in recollection.” ~ Anna Kamienska

I’m really hoping that I’ll get to make a trip to the mountains this fall. I haven’t been in years, and I feel as if there is a big hole where those days should be. The last trip I can remember was when the boys were still young. Has it really been that long?

Emil NOlde Autumn Evening ca1930
“Autumn Evening” (ca 1930)
by Emil Nolde

This month marks the sixth anniversary since I left full-time work and began long-term disability. At the time, I never dreamed it would last this long, that I would go so many months and years without any kind of career. Another hole. So many holes in the fabric of my quilt. So many bare patches where other things should be. How did I get here? But more importantly, will I ever find my way back? Back to work? Back to days filled with more than housework and blogging, pretending I’m some kind of writer.

Obviously, I’m feeling off today, but then, when am I not feeling this way? Like French author Houellebecq (below), I feel as if things are “falling apart within me.”

“The days slip by indifferently, leaving neither trace nor memory; and then all of a sudden they stop.” ~ Michel Houellebecq, from Whatever

I don’t think I’m as much of a nihilist as Houellebecq, who was quite vocal about hating the world and the nothingness of everything. I don’t hate the world. I don’t hate life. I just sometimes feel out of place and time.

Emil Nolde Autumn Sky at Sea ca1940 watercolor on Japan paper
“Autumn Sky at Sea” (ca1940, watercolor on Japan paper)
by Emil Nolde

I mean, shouldn’t I know by now? You know, know?

I feel as if my life is one long line of I don’t knows—I don’t know if I’m a writer . . . I don’t know if I should go back to school . . . I don’t know if I should try to go back to work . . . I don’t know where I want to live . . . I don’t know.

Questions. So man frigging questions. A brain could explode from the preponderance of ponderings.

Ah, me.

More later. Peace.

All images are by Emil Nolde (German, 1867 – 1956), my current favorite artist

Music by Sleeping at Last, “Embers”

                   

Practice

Love, my faith is vague. When others speak
of how they practice it, I think of kung fu
and plywood split by pajamed banshees,
how they always say you learn
such force through practice, pain repeated until
pain isn’t pain. It’s the piccolo
with its reed humming slivers
of sound that won’t ever be music
no matter the fervor of practice,
no matter the pursed poise
of your lips. When I write you, when I peel
away the stamps one no longer
need lick, I’m careful. Careful
for ounces of ink and pulp
and minutes shaved from time
if it exists at all and these words
I strung together beyond needful elaboration
only to say I thought of you
today beside the humming fountain
and had no change to wish
you some better life,
some cloud of shade to be
at your infinite beck, your always and immediate
call. A form of faith I follow
is the sky because it never falls,
despite the testimony of chickens
snuffed by hail, ragdolled by the rain
and through my window
I’m watching the last of summer
as the leaves begin to curl
in invisible fire
and I want to tell you
one thing which has within it no urgency at all
over and over again.

~ Paul Guest

 

“I shrink and grow in cycles, dazzled at the small cup that is my life.” ~ Terresa Wellborn

     

“All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.” ~ André Breton
Vintage Fence by Francoise Rachez

So where do I go now? I mean, now that I’ve reached a milestone of sorts, do I keep doing what I’ve been doing? I suppose so as this platform seems to be working for me. Somewhat. The writing, the posting—both continue to offer me a great outlet. By writing about so many different things, I am able to feel a sense of immediacy as opposed to growing stale. But there is still something that is not quite right, still an element that remains elusive.

After all, I still haven’t gotten around to starting the book. I do have three concrete ideas that could be developed. One is a fact-based story. The other is a mystery, and the other is a memoir/tribute.

Time for total truth, I think: I will never be happy until my unwritten book has been put to page. That is the one thing that I have yearned for all my life, and it is nameable. It is as tangible in my desire as it is intangible in its reality. 

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath
We Held Gold Dust in Our Hands

I realize that I’ve probably used this Sylvia Plath quote before, but it speaks to me; it is so close to what I feel—each minute of each hour of each day. In fact, all of today’s quotes are quite personal.

I suppose what got me on this reflective tack is that I received two comments recently about my writing, more precisely, about me being a writer, a good writer. Both comments made me pause. Wow. Someone actually thinks of me as a writer, someone other than me. When I list who and what I am for other people, though, I don’t usually put writer first.

By that I mean that I usually describe myself personally as a wife and mother, professionally as a writer/editor. But is my essence, the essence that I have been trying to define my entire life, that of a writer? Is that who and what I am? Thinking of myself as a writer does not negate being a wife and mother, but it does change my perspective. Consider the difference between saying “I like to write” as opposed to “I am a writer.” The first places the emphasis not on the writing, whereas the second shifts the emphasis.

For a long time I thought of myself as a poet, but I’m not a poet. What has helped me to come to this realization is this blog. I can write poetically; my phrasing can by lyrical, sometimes musical, but what I do best is not poetry even though I have written some poems of which I am quite proud. But for me, my forte seems to be this genre called creative non-fiction, for lack of a better category.

“Will secrets fly out of me
when I break open?” ~ Mary Oliver
Vintage Cameo

I know that I will probably continue to have periods in which I feel that I have nothing else to say in this blog, that what I am saying just doesn’t matter any more. Thankfully, when that has happened in the past, I have been able to get past it after a brief respite and some cheering up from friends.

But what concerns me a bit, what is wiggling around in the back of my brain is the idea that perhaps I am using this blog as yet another means of delaying sitting down to write the manuscript that I compose in my head as I lay awake at 4 in the morning, the sentences that I form in my head as I float around in the pool, staring at nothing in particular.

Am I using this so that I don’t have to do that? By turning all of my creative energies to these posts, am I negating my ability to create something else? I don’t believe that that is the case, at least I hope that’s not the case. This is something that I am really going to have to ponder. I know that I do have a tendency to set myself up for failure at those times when I am most afraid of succeeding.

It’s not fear of failure; it’s fear of success, if you can believe that.

I know that I have joked before about my head exploding and the contents running out. I also know that I tend to over think things, to go through all of the ifs, and whys again and again and again, beating the proverbial horse that is already dead (where did such a perverse saying come from anyway . . .).  But once again, am I doing this, employing these methods for avoidance?

Ah me, ah life, as Walt Whitman said. It’s enough to make a sane person crazy, and to make a crazy person absolutely batshit. I think that I had better stop for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Gary Jules, “Mad World”

Photographs with links can be found on my tumblr, Slow Dancing in Quicksand