“Sometimes nations should pray for amnesia.” ~ Anna Kamieńska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook
In honor of the country’s birthday . . . nope, sorry, in honor of 45’s belief that the world revolves around him, he held a ‘Merica celebration on the National Mall in which he praised our country’s history, especially the Revolutionary War in which the country gained its independence. All went well until it got to the airplaines . . .
“Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over airports, it did everything it had to do.”
Donald J. Trump, noted historian and purveyor of fine facts of the fake kind……
“Then I sit down at my desk and can’t remember how it’s done. Only now and then the lines attack like birds of prey, any time, any place. And demand to be written.” ~ Anna Kamieńska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook
Hello out there. The sun is blazingly bright today, and not a day too soon. Earlier, when I was outside with the animals, I realized that I could actually hear the horses walking in the pasture, and that just blew me away. I mean, it was quiet enough that I could hear horses walking on the grass . . . no cars, no sirens, no loud obnoxious mopeds roaring through the neighborhood . . . nothing. Just the sky, the sun, the birds, and the animals. It was lovely.
So enough about me—how was your Christmas? Peaceful? Uneventful? Rowdy? Good food and good friends? However you like it, I hope that you had it just that way.
As for us, well, it was a bit eventful. Corey came home with two puppies that someone had left on our driveway. They could only be about four weeks old. Yes, they are adorable as all get out, and I know that I had said that I planned to rescue dogs once we moved here, but, well, it’s a bit soon, especially as I just stole a puppy from Dallas a few weeks ago. Did I mention that our house is small?
“To be a poet is to surface plainly
from the wound of sleep. To observe how thickly feathered the heart, how small & bright the planet of human thought.” ~ Kiki Petrosino, from “Cygnus Cygnus”
Nevertheless, Corey couldn’t exactly leave them where he found them, and so now they have a home. We’ll deal with it just as we deal with everything else: as it comes.
Truthfully, him coming home with the puppies is probably the only thing that saved me yesterday. I was doing poorly with the prospect of making it through the whole day. I heard from neither son, and only from my daughter in the evening. And Corey and I had decided to wait a few days before exchanging presents, for various reasons. About the only thing that I had to look forward to yesterday was the ham that I had in the oven.
That sounds absolutely pathetic, doesn’t it?
I realize that I’m a bit of a broken record lately, going on and on about my kids. I just never envisioned myself in this place—living each day without hearing a word from any of them. Marking holidays, birthdays without a call, or text, or email. As they were growing up, I took such great joy in watching every aspect of their lives; I believed that my relationship with each of them was inviolable. Until it wasn’t.
I would not wish this kind of pain for anyone, and I’ve wished pain for people before, so that’s quite a statement.
“Everything was a broken line for me in those days. I was slipped into the empty spaces between words.” ~ Betsy Cornwell, from Mechanica
You know how you do something in your youth, and your mother hits you for the first time with the words, “I hope you have a daughter/son/child just like you one day. You’ll see”? (Note on the punctuation: A question mark goes outside the quotation mark when the question is about the entire sentence; just thought that I should point that out, you know, to stay in practice.) And you look at her as if she has taken leave of her senses because you are so certain in your own heart of hearts that you will never make the same missteps that she has made with you, that you will be so much closer with your own children . . .
Mothers. Always. Know.
I know that I gave my mother fits when I was around 14 or 15. And 16 and 17 weren’t terribly better. But then I got into college and decided to become a productive adult, and from that point on, I was a model daughter . . . No. Wait. I wasn’t, was I? I wish that I could say that it was true, that I straightened up and never gave my mother another day of heartburn or heartache, but I gave her plenty of both.
I tried so many times to get it right, and now looking back, I see that I probably erred more than I soared. But I never stopped talking to my mom, at least not for months and months at a time. She gave me the silent treatment for weeks at a time because that’s how my mother was: she was vindictive. Where do you think that I learned it? But still, I really tried, honestly tried not to hurt her.
So this is payback, then?
“But you remain with me as a winter sky shot through with swans of iron, swans of steel.
Let no harm come to the dark you have made.” ~ Kiki Petrosino, from “Cygnus Cygnus”
I would like to say that I never hurt my mother or broke her heart, but I’m trying to be honest here. I know that I did both. More than once.
I know that I could be surly, and nasty, and darned unpleasant when I was a teen. And later, as a married adult, I was never good with money, and when I lost Caitlin, I spent my way into oblivion rather than drank like my first husband. But they were both escapes, and neither much better than the other once they became an addiction. And unfortunately, my mother had to bail me out more than once.
I wonder if that’s part of how I did my kids wrong, that I bailed them out too many times and made them weak . . . We can love too much, make the landings too soft sometimes, when an abrupt encounter with the cold, hard earth might be better. But that wasn’t how I was raised—for better or worse. I was raised, and in turn I raised with love and a soft cushion, most of the time. Oh, don’t think for a moment that I wasn’t punished (I have vivid memories of a flyswatter on my bare legs), or that I did not punish when called for, but it was never a matter of whether or not there was love. There was always love, and when I used to see Alexis with her own daughter, I saw how tender she could be.
So much love there.
“Motherhood means doing penance not only for your own sins, but for your children’s too . . . Niobe. Niobe—that’s me. That’s every abandoned mother.” ~ Anna Kamieńska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook
I think that this is the loss that I feel most acutely: They are not near me so that I can give them love. Do they still know how much I love them, regardless? Can they possibly believe that I do not care? How do they not realize what their absence costs me every single minute of every single day? How is it possible that they move through their days without me?
So many freaking questions. Absolutely no answers.
It’s now many hours since I first began this post, and the sun is long gone. I apologize, dear reader. I was supposed to be asking after your own holiday, not gazing morosely into the empty glass upon my table. But then, you must have known that I couldn’t go for very many sentences without falling back into old patterns. You see, it’s what I do, and I do it very well: I have supreme confidence in my ability to, or rather, my inability to let go. I just cannot do it, even when I should, even when I have been given every single reason to let go and move on—I simply cannot.
Apparently, I am immune to betrayals of the heart, of any kind. My loyalty tends to be complete, blind, and perhaps dumb. I just never realized from whence such betrayals could come. And perhaps betrayal is not the best word choice, but at the moment, it is the one that seems most apt. Then again, perhaps that is what my sons think about me.
Tomorrow may be different. Who knows? Certainly not I.
More later. Peace.
Music by Billie Marten, “Winter Song”
The Abundant Little
We have seen the population of Heaven
in frescoes. Dominions and unsmiling saints
crowded together as though the rooms were small.
We think of the grand forests of Pennsylvania,
oaks and maples, when we see the miniatures
of blue Krishna with farm girls awkwardly
beside a pond in a glade of scrub trees.
The Japanese scrolls show mostly Hell.
When we read about the Christian paradise,
it is made of gold and pearls, built on
a foundation of emeralds. Nothing soft
and rarely trees, except in the canvases
of Italians where they slip in bits of Tuscany
and Perugino’s Umbria. All things
are taken away. Indeed, indeed.
But we secretly think of our bodies
in the heart’s storm and just after.
And the sound of careless happiness.
We touch finally only a little.
Like the shy tongue that comes fleetingly
in the dark. The acute little that is there.
“Go down to the place in you where fire and silence dwell—the place of power . . .” ~ Anne Powell, from Going Deeper
Saturday late afternoon. Sunny and cold, 34 degrees.
Hello. Once again, a bit of a break between posts. I can only say that for some reason, my cough has returned, and for the past two days, I have been little more than a blob. It could be the drastically falling temperatures, or it could be anything. I hate so much to be sick while Corey is home because it seems like such a waste of our measured time together. Having said that, there is little than I can do when my body rebels.
The Botox injections that I was supposed to get earlier in the week did not happen, and I cannot say that I am surprised. Yet another glitch on the provider’s end, and now to complicate matters, since it is the new year, my old insurance with my former employer is going away, and Corey’s insurance is now my primary, at least until my Medicare kicks in in conjunction with my SS disability.
It’s all just to much folderol. The nurse at my pain management practice has been working tirelessly since October to get my Botox approved, and now she has to start all over with a new insurance. I feel terrible about putting her through this, but I am also less than happy with my former insurance as I paid for that Botox already, and they are not sending it.
Of course, the ensuing migraine was predictable . . .
“Words or wax, no end to our self-shaping, our forlorn awareness at the end of which is only more awareness. Was ever truth so malleable? Arid, inadhesive bits of matter.” ~ C. K. Williams, from “Lost Wax”
So it is January 10, ten days into the new year, and I already find myself in that time loop in which I seem to exist most of the time. Ever since my mother’s death last January, all of 2014 was a blur, and I never quite knew what day it was, let alone what month. And then finishing the year with a truly brutal bout of bronchitis left me floundering so much that I now find myself in the second week of January, and I have yet to write 2015 on anything.
I did get many, many trigger point injections in lieu of the Botox, and I was left with lumps in weird places where the muscles had seized. The best thing for it, though, is a hot bath, which, in my view, is one of the best things for just about anything that ails one.
So each night, I force my body into a bath as hot as I can bear, and then I soak until the water begins to cool. It’s that whole affinity for water that Aquarians have. It has always been there. I have pleasant memories of soaking in the tub in my mother’s house while my friend Sarah sat and talked to me. It never struck me as a strange way to have a conversation.
Have no idea where that memory came from.
“I can remember looking at the stars in the summertime, for instance, and feeling a tremendous sorrow from simply knowing that they are not permanent; the stars can blow up, can crumple, go away. And somehow that idea of the end of things, the changeability of things entered my mind, and my psyche, and my imagination at a very early stage. It was connected with a kind of universal sorrow that I perceived in nature everywhere, and in human nature everywhere.” ~ Anna Kamienska, from “In That Great River,” trans. Clare Cavanagh
Last night I dreamed of the department store and doing massive markdowns, the bane of any manager’s existence in retail, and one of the other managers with whom I had a shaky relationship at best kept showing up in the dream, making the whole sequence yet another painful reminder of another close chapter in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to reopen that particular chapter of my life as the entire thing was a pure accident in the first place.
Alexis was out of school with a very bad case of mono and a secondary virus, and once she went back to school, I decided to pick up an interim job until I could find something in my field. So I applied at the new big mall downtown, and landed a retail job, something I never wanted. Anyway, I ended up overstaying my time there, and the entire situation became riddled with bad memories, with the sole good thing to arise from that period being finding Corey.
Looking at it philosophically, I suppose that was the whole reason I was there as had I never accepted the position, we would never have crossed paths, and that, in my estimation, would have been tragic.
“Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals, of things half given away, half withheld, of joys with a dark hemisphere. Nights act that way, I tell you.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “Two English Poems”
So we have spent our fourteenth Christmas together. The first one we spent in Ohio, and boy was that a scary proposition—meeting his family, in particular, his father, who I was quite certain would not like me at all. I remember just about every aspect of that visit, but what stands out in my memory the most, and you’ll pardon me if this sounds strange, is New Year’s Eve, which Corey and I spent in his brother’s hot tub.
The air was cold, and the water was hot, and it was a lovely night, and ever since, I have yearned to have a hot tub that we could sit in and look at the night sky together. Perhaps one day if we do finally make it to the mountains and build our house. I can hope . . .
Anyway, our years together have ebbed and flowed as with any relationship, yet I still adore the man I married, still have a strong desire to have him all to myself when he is home for his three weeks, and I suppose that’s a good thing, albeit selfish, yet my feelings have only strengthened through the years, and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself of just how much time has actually passed.
I’m not exactly certain how I ended up on this tangent. Perhaps it’s that whole memory time loop thing I was trying to describe in the first section.
“With the silky hands of longing you tame distance as you make borrowed stars the roof of your sky . . . .” ~ Mahmoud Darwish, from “In the Presence of Absence,” trans. Sinan Antoon
So anyway, I’m hoping that since I feel better today that I am not relapsing. Would that I could get back to some kind of rhythm with this blog and with my tumblr and not least of which, with writing poems again.
I haven’t had any words come to me in several weeks, and that is quite disheartening as I was so beginning to enjoy the creative spurts that have eluded me for years. With any luck, once I have kicked this illness-generated ennui, I might be able to make a foray into 2015 with a little more creativity.
Wishing and hoping . . . wasn’t that a song?
So Corey leave on Monday, a day earlier than usual because he came home a day early because of Christmas. I’ll have to try to get back into some kind of routine in helping out with Olivia and helping out with ferrying Em to campus and just generally muddling through the next 21 days. It’s not as if there aren’t hundreds of little things that need to be taken care of around here, not the last of which are taxes . . . insert audible groan here. Not even going to expound on that for now.
But chances are good that instead of taking care of things, I’ll spend at least half of my time immersed in more books and more binge-watching of the backlog on the cable DVR. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty about that because it’s what keeps me somewhat sane.
Here’s hoping your year has begun with more productivity than mine.
More later. Peace.
All images are by Polish painter and printmaker Ferdynand Ruszczyc (1870–1936), because, well, snow. It should snow . . .
Music by Mecca Kalani, “Feel Me”
Snowshoe to Otter Creek
love lasts by not lasting
~ Jack Gilbert
I’m mapping this new year’s vanishings:
lover, yellow house, the knowledge of surfaces.
This is not a story of return.
There are times I wish I could erase
the mind’s lucidity, the difficulty of Sundays,
my fervor to be touched
by a woman two Februarys gone. What brings the body
back, grieved and cloven, tromping these woods
with nothing to confide in? New snow reassumes
the circleting trees, the bridge above the creek
where I stand like a stranger to my life.
There is no single moment of loss, there is
an amassing. The disbeliever sleeps at an angle
in the bed. The orchard is a graveyard.
Is this the real end? Someone shoveling her way out
with cold intention? Someone naming her missing?
“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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
More later. Peace.
All images are by Emil Nolde (German, 1867 – 1956), my current favorite artist
Music by Sleeping at Last, “Embers”
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.
“Above, clouds like dyed cotton wool hang low, so low I feel I can reach out and squeeze the moisture from them. The new rains will come down soon.” ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, from Purple Hibiscus
Wednesday afternoon. Rainy, cool, and humid.
We are feeling the effects of the tropical depression making its way off the coast. It’s been raining steadily since early this morning, which means the dogs go to the door, look outside, and turn around and walk away. The frequent opening and closing of the sliding door has finally taken its toll: the cracked glass on the bottom half fell out onto the steps sometime during the night, which may have been why part of my dream involved the sounds of shattering glass.
The good news is that the glass was taped, so it fell out as almost one piece. The bad news is that I now no longer have the bottom half to the sliding door. The good news is that the wood that Corey put up is still there. The bad news is that its a piece of plywood.
Yes, I can assure you that I am freaking more than a bit over being so exposed. I mean, what good does an alarm system do you if you have plywood for half of the door? Unfortunately, I can do nothing about this until Corey gets home. I haven’t the vaguest idea as to how to begin to fix this problem.
Speaking of fixing problems, I had another long encounter with our cell provider yesterday, which culminated in me telling them that I was taking my business elsewhere because I was so tired of being told something different each time I called. I was completely serious. You would not believe how fast I was transferred to someone who then had magical powers that allowed our account to receive a hefty credit and then just as magically made our monthly bill come down by a nice chunk.
I had heard that if you told a provider that you were seriously thinking of going elsewhere that things might happen, but I never believed it. I do now.
“How many years have slipped through our hands? At least as many as the constellations we still can identify. The quarter moon, like a light skiff, floats out of the mist-remnants Of last night’s hard rain. It, too, will slip through our fingers with no ripple, without us in it.” ~ Charles Wright, from “11”
The unrelenting rain means that the backyard will not be mowed again today. Eldest son has put of doing this part of his assigned chores for days, excuse after excuse, which means that the grass is starting to come up past Alfie’s haunches (he’s the shortest one). I am less than happy about this, but there is nothing to be done as it really is impossible to mow in the rain.
But last night—granted, it was a very strange night of ups and downs and very disturbing dreams—last night before the rain I am positive that I heard someone riding down the street on a drive-on lawn mower. The sound went into the park and dissipated and then came back about half an hour later. I wonder if it was someone whose vehicle access has been curbed by a driving infraction? I’ve heard of people who travel by mower, and I’ve seen many people travel by motorized chair, but the sound of a ride-on is unmistakable, and it was one in the morning.
It would be funny if the field next door ended up with crop circles . . . just saying . . .
Anyway, I dreamed a whole host of strange things—that I was working in retail again and my office had glass walls, which bothered me, and then there were crime families involved somehow, and then a man who was following me who submerged himself in mud to hide(???), and I followed him on a bicycle, and then someone shot him, and I wondered how he could still be walking without a head, then there was a basketball game, and a younger woman who lived with us who accused me of starting arguments all of the time and who said that she wouldn’t pay rent because she did too much, and I told her that I wasn’t arguing, that I was just trying to tell Corey about the man, and my mother showed up unannounced and I went into my bedroom and raked everything off the dresser with my arm . . .
Yep . . . busy . . .
“Perhaps it’s true, my happiest moments are the anticipation of other moments still to come.” ~ Susan Mitchell, from “Bird: A Memoir”
Well Brett just helped me to clean up as much glass as possible from the falling half pane. He was quite persnickety, as if I had somehow designed this whole task to annoy him. Yes, it’s glass. Yes, big raindrops were falling on our head and down our backs. But no, the magic fairies had no plans to take care of this chore for us, so, what? This is my fault?
Of course, the 17 degree drop in temperatures and the barometric shift are wreaking havoc on my sinuses, which feel like someone has pushed pixie straws up my nose and stuck them there with super glue. Like that image?
I was hoping to bathe the dogs today so that I could put the cone that I bought on Alfie. I bought this dog medicine (recommended by César Milan, dog whisperer, love that guy) that’s supposed to help with hot spots, yeast, wounds, the black plague, no wait, not that one. Anyway, I decided that the price of the medicine was cheaper than a vet’s visit, so I bought that and a cone so that maybe, just maybe, I can get that sore on Alfie’s face to heal. Every time it looks better, he scratches it, and we have to start all over.
I’m hoping this wonder spray also works on Shakes’s hot spots and his ear, but no baths today, or maybe baths later. Who knows. What else is there to do on a rainy day?
“All of our actions take their hue from the complexion of the heart, as landscapes their variety from light.” ~ Francis Bacon
I have a question for you? What is it with people today who no longer feel a need to respond to RSVPs? As far as I know, only three people are coming to the shower. If I planned the menu based on this, I’d just go out and buy a half a dozen cupcakes and a two-liter of soda. I mean, what’s the point?
I have a really nice shower planned; I even looked up stupid games to play that were a little different from the ordinary games. I have the stuff for the gift bags. I’ve been picking up pastel serving dishes at Target and WalMart as I come across good buys. So will it be Lex, my mother, and me sitting there looking at each other?
I know that more people are coming, but that contact info on the invitation? It’s not just there so that I can remember my telephone number.
Yep. I’m, being bitchy, but hey, the pixie stick sinus thing, the wet dog smell, the bad dreams, the glass, and no RSVPS ten days before the shower are all combining to vex me mightily. Where are the manners, people? Common courtesy passé, perhaps? Admittedly, my mother was not a social butterfly who passed along those hoity-toity (aside: from the French, haut toit, trans. high roof, as in looking down on) social graces, but she did school me fairly well in the basics—thank you notes, get well cards, RSVPs . .
If she could do it, anyone can.
“I am alone here in my own mind. There is no map and there is no road.” ~ Anne Sexton, from “January 24th”
Eamonn got The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in his NetFlix, so I’m looking forward to watching that. Unfortunately, most of my regular shows have had their season endings, which means that the months ahead will be filled with lots of Real Housewives shows and their knockoffs.
I really want to see Snow White and the Huntsman, but I’ll wait for Corey to get home. I’ve never been a go to the movies by myself kind of person. I don’t think that I’ve ever done that. Corey said that when he was stationed in Michigan on the ice breaker, he used to go to the movies by himself and buy a large popcorn. I think, unfortunately, it’s one of those gender things—not many women feel comfortable sitting in a dark theater by themselves. I could be wrong, but I’m betting not.
When I was a kid, my mom took me to see all kinds of movies, and we always had a great time. First we went in London, and that was when they still had cigarette girls walking the aisles, and I could get one of those orange sodas. Then here there used to be this really nice theater less than three miles from her house. It was called The Garden Theater, and it was close enough that my friends and I would ride our bikes to see movies there. It was big, and they had first-run movies. Now it’s a really dingy thriftstore.
They don’t have theaters like that any more: freestanding, single, large auditoriums. They’re all cineplexes, and most of the time you can hear the movie next door. I miss the big old theaters. I miss drive-ins, too. That was one of the few things we did regularly as a family—Mom, Dad, me, maybe Cathy Weaver, and probably some friends of theirs. Those were good times.
Oh well, time passes, and everything changes, and not necessarily for the better.
More later. Peace.
It’s a Genesis/Phil Collins kind of day, “I Don’t Care Anymore”
You know for sure you are lucky.
Luck fills you like the shape of your breath.
Then one day as you are reading it leaves.
It lifts up like the shadow of wings,
With the clean ease of smoke on a cold day.
Your luck is gone. You watch it fly away
Over the tracks, beyond Providence Road
Until it is out of sight. Your luck is gone.
Still somehow you trust tenderness
And all its romance, the fine caress,
The salt on your hands wearing away what they touch.
That is not part of the story.
If I should die, you said in the prayer
You said each night. If I should die before I wake.
You woke and listened again to the bent apple tree,
To the wind work the sweet ache of its load,
To the wren and the air it shivered through.
Luck, like hope, is always hollow-boned. Always
There is an updraft to carry what it can.
What it cannot falls upon your head like a blessing.
Well, I finally got the invitations printed and mailed. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Setting up the invitations was easy as they came with an online template; however, there was no template for the envelope, so that was a bit of trial and error. Still, no worries . . . right?
Print cartridges arrived on Friday evening. Test envelopes printed just fine. Real envelopes, not so much. Paper jam. And with this printer a paper jam can only be cleared by unplugging, deleting the printer, reinstalling . . . Who knew? Certainly not me? I never dreamt that there wasn’t a reset button on the printer. This was Saturday.
On Sunday, Mother’s Day, my day of planned reading and resting? Decided to try again. More begging and pleading of the inanimate object that was ruling my life. Finally decided to print addresses on clear mailing labels and skip trying to send the envelopes through the printer, especially as I had no extras.
On Monday everything looked like a go. Print properties set up correctly. Just a matter of feeding the invitations into the printer. Then the printer decided to stop accepting the invitation stock. This after it had printed about eight of them. Then no more. Not. Another. One. Reset, reboot, begging and pleading, all to no avail. I walked away. Played a little Spider Solitaire. Then got a brainstorm: Why not use the extra printer that Brett’s dad had given him. Got ready to go, only to discover that a) could not download drivers, and b) it’s a photo printer.
Finally I decided to use the copy function to get the text onto the invitations, which didn’t need any drivers. Luckily I had a good template from my test runs. Situated it on the scanner bed, and ran color copies. Unfortunately, as I was home by myself I had to get on my hands and knees to unplug old dysfunctional printer to plug in new/used photo printer. Nothing should be this hard.
“nothing can be taken back, not the leaves by the trees, the rain by the clouds.” ~ Dean Young, from “Poem Without Forgiveness”
Took those suckers to the post office yesterday and sent them off. I never even made it out of my pajamas yesterday. Good thing I didn’t get stopped on the way to the post office, but at that point, I did not care. I just wanted the invitations out of my house, out of my sight. (By the way, the poets stamps that I had wanted to use? No one has them. Apparently, they did not sell well in this area. Phht. Talk about your unwashed masses.)
So today Brett and I helped Alexis to transport the gifts that she received from her first shower to my mother’s house as Alexis has no storage space. I threw on some shorts and a workout top, put my hair in a ponytail, didn’t take a shower as I knew that I would be grungy by the time we finished. The first thing my mother says when I get out of the car? “What in the world is she wearing? What in the world is that?” (My mom’s a what-in-the-world person. Uses it as her standby modifier)
Sorry. Didn’t know that I needed real clothes to move stuff. Next time I’ll remember . . .
And you wonder why I have such a crappy self-image . Again with the phht.
“I hadn’t gotten old enough yet to realize that living sends a person not into the future but back into the past, to childhood and before birth, finally, to commune with the dead. You get older . . . and then before you know it you’re time-traveling. In this life we grow backwards.” ~ Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
The stress from four days of trying to execute a project that should have taken a couple of hours at the most has taken its toll. The night before last I didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m., and last night was 2 a.m., which means backsliding on my goal of 1 a.m. at the latest. Oh well. Couldn’t be helped. We won’t discuss the massive muscle knot between my shoulder blades. What’s the point?
So I brought home the newborn and three-month sizes of clothes to wash for Alexis. She really got some cute clothes, and probably enough so that le bébé can wear a different outfit each day for the next six months. I remember with Alexis that I didn’t buy her any clothes for the first year. I never had to, between my mom and my m-in-law, she was outfitted quite well. In fact, the woman who watched her while I was at work asked me if I could please not dress Alexis in such nice clothes when I brought her for the day. I had to explain that all she had were nice clothes.
Of course my mom had to comment that Alexis got entirely too many clothes for the baby, and that it was “ridiculous.” It’s not like the clothes are going to waste, and I’m certain that they’ll be recycled along the way among all of the friends that she has.
It was funny though, while we were at my mom’s house, Alexis said under her breath, “Boy, she doesn’t even give you room to breathe, does she?” Which is so true. I knew that mom would have to pick up each item of clothing and comment on it, so we went over there with a schedule—I couldn’t stay for hours and hours because I needed to take Brett to school. Still, I know that in spite of her running commentary that my mom is just excited. Don’t think that I don’t understand, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bitch about it any more than my mother wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t have several negative things to say.
Family dynamics . . . oi.
“The medicine of words—medicina verbi.” ~ Anna Kamienska, from “A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook”
Since I first began this post, two storms have rolled through, which has really helped the humidity. I feel as though I spend half of my day wiping my face—things you don’t realize about getting older. I mean, I never used to sweat. Just didn’t do it. Never had to worry about my makeup running (when I wore it on a regular basis), never really worried about wet underarms (well, that still is true).
But this constant facial sweat? What is this? Where did it come from? I wonder if this happens to all Filipina women as they get older. These days I’m not around any so that I can ask.
But all of these things you really don’t think about when you’re in your twenties or even thirties: inconvenient sweating, putting on moisturizer only to have it run in your eyes, being unable to find your glasses without your glasses (actually, that’s always been true for very nearsighted me). This aging crap is, well, crap. I don’t want to be the person that I was along with all of the incumbent short-sightedness (not vision), but then again, I’m not entirely certain that I want to be this person either.
“It might interest you to know, speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, that I am the sound of rain on the roof.” ~ Billy Collins, from “Litany”
So all is quiet. Eamonn is at his girlfriend’s house. Brett is at school until 9 p.m. (summer school started this week). The dogs are asleep. The laundry is going.
I cannot believe that it’s midweek already. The past few days have really run together because of the invitation fiasco. I hate it when that happens, when I just lose days. I mean, I have a hard enough time keeping my tenuous grip on reality without brutal reality rearing its ugly head.
I’ll tell you what, though. I’m finding comfort in the following: Milkshakes are half price at Sonic after 8 p.m.
Yep. I’m going there, figuratively and literally. After all of this crap, and especially after my mother’s assessment of my wardrobe, I’m going to have a milkshake. I figure if that’s my dinner, then it’s a fair calorie exchange. No, it’s not healthy. No, it goes against my whole no sugar regimen. But I’m not telling anyone, and neither are you.
More later. Peace.
Music by Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”
Tag (part one)
Insatiable April, trees in place,
in their scraped-out place,
Their red branch areas,
green shoot areas (shock),
river, that one.
I surprised a goose and she hissed.
I walk and walk with cold hands.
Back at the house it is filled with longing,
nothing to carry longing away.
I look back over my life.
I try to find analogies.
There are none.
I have longed for people before, I have loved people before.
Not like this.
It was not this.
I now exist on the principle of shortsightedness, which demands enhanced attention to the moment. Late wisdom, but close to the wisdom of childhood. A lovely summer day. Color, taste, scent. A squirrel. Cherries. Good tiredness. Cauliflower for supper. Clean house. And always darkness, darkness that spreads around all of it. Everything submerged in awful darkness.
The inscription rings with a poetry much older than its date.
I escape into sleep. Sleep is what I’ll miss most when I die.
I’ve learned to value failed conversations, missed connections, confusions. What remains is what’s unsaid, what’s underneath. Understanding on another level of being.
The sun came out today. But I still ache all over. It made me think of Waclaw Gralewski’s theory: every tumble, bruise, broken leg or arm is the price for disrupting some hidden order. Instant punishment.
I have no talent. I’m not talking about the literary marketplace: I mean how I see myself. I write poems for myself, like these notebooks, to think things through, that’s all.
The soul has two distinct layers. One is the “I”—capricious, fickle, uncertain, it hops from joy to despair. The other, the “soul,” is steady, sure, unwavering, watchful, ready, aware.
I received the grace of shadows. The grace of remaining in the dark.
In the human world everything is mixed. No pure states. Even death is life in some sense. Archaeology—eschatology?
I walk around disguised as an overweight old lady.
Deafness has seized even my dreams. They’re voiceless, like silent movies. Or when the machine breaks in the theater and the audience suddenly starts stomping.
We recognize things, as in poetry, through resemblances. Through metaphors. This way we gather them into wider systems so that they don’t dangle alone.
Never. Never. Never. I could fill a whole notebook with that word.
there can be no return.
To hide from old age. To crawl into a crack in the floor.
Sorrow—that’s the noblest thing linking us to animals. The sorrow of existence.
When I woke up this morning, I didn’t have a face. Just a mask of pain. I wanted to be more than a mother, I wanted to be a friend. But the director calls us to order. You don’t get to pick the role.
During the sleepless hours of the night a thought came to me that seemed important. I got up in the dark and wrote it down. In the morning I read: “I went looking for loneliness. But it found me.”
Letters of the condemned. Last words scratched on a cell’s wall. To write like that.
Niobe. Niobe—that’s me. That’s every abandoned mother.
This morning I suddenly catch myself: I’m not there, I’m so lost in thought, I don’t know what’s going on around me. Can you think yourself to death?