“. . . Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.” ~ Snow Falling on Cedars movie

  

Cardinal in the Snow, New Hampshire

“The snowfall, which he witnessed out of the corners of his eye . . . struck him as infinitely beautiful.” ~ David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Bare Limbs on Snow by L. Liwag

Well, I was wrong. Put one down for the record books. Apparently the meteorologists called this one accurately: Hampton Roads got snow—a lot of snow. And it’s still coming down. Actually, at the moment, ice is coming down, but another band of snow is right behind the ice.  

We haven’t had snow like this for many years, and just think, it’s even more snow than what we saw in Ohio in December, but not more snow than we saw on that fateful trip to Ohio in the December blizzard.  

I hear a few brave souls outside, and earlier, before the ice, a few of the younger neighborhood kids were rollicking, but funnily enough, Tillie, the Lab, wouldn’t set foot outside until Brett bundled himself in layers and went outside with her. A couple of times, she stuck her snout outside the door, and then brought it back in and looked at me balefully as if to say, “you’re kidding, right?” The only dog brave enough to go outside by himself initially was Alfie, the smallest Jack Russell, who promptly sank and became covered in snow up to his flanks. The fat one went out a few steps and then turned around and came back inside. Now that Tillie has braved the unknown, she wants to go back out, but no one is up for playing in the ice.  

“The heart of any other, because it had a will, would remain forever mysterious.” ~ David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Fosso Innevato (Snowy Ditch), Italy

Another benefit of the snow is that I slept, really slept. That wonderful muffling effect that a heavy snowfall has on all ambient noise must have allowed my body to achieve a state of complete restfulness, because I got a great night’s sleep, even though I didn’t fall asleep until about 4:45 a.m. My body feels cold but not tired.  

Corey is about to build a fire in the fireplace so that we can contribute to the Greenhouse Effect. Unfortunately, it’s that or walk around the house in coats because it’s damned cold in here, but at least we haven’t lost electricity as so many others affected by the storm have. So we take the bad with the good, but hey, I slept . . .  

I’ve had a few new readers stop by and leave comments, which is always nice. Just wanted to take a minute to express my thanks as comments let me know that someone is reading.  

Last night, I dreamt of hats, straw hats, straw hats with big brims specifically. I was trying them on in some kind of rest stop store, kind of like the old Stuckey’s restaurants that used to dot the highways. I also dreamt of bow ties, Jack Nicholson as a military officer, and learning that Corey had spoken to his commanding officer in French.  

Strange, most strange. In another part of the dream, I was speaking to a woman who was putting together the program for the Opera House, and I was giving her printing tips. I told her that I used to do this kind of thing for the Museum. Also most strange. I don’t discern any great meaning behind these snippets, just found them interesting.  

“When they looked out into the whiteness of the world the wind flung it sharply at their narrowed eyes and foreshortened their view of everything.” ~ David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Kiosque du Jardin de Ville (Kiosk in City Garden), France

I plan to spend the rest of the day wrapped up in a blanket, reading a book. It’s the perfect day for it.  

Since I began this post, the wind has begun to blow quite hard outside, making the wind chimes clang repeatedly. It’s kind of haunting, actually: just the wind and the chimes. No sounds of traffic, people, dogs. Nothing. I guess everyone who was feeling adventurous has had enough of the snow and ice and gone inside. That and the fact that it is darkening rather quickly may be the reason for the seeming silence.  

When I saw the snow in the middle of the night, I began to think of songs that would be appropriate. Oddly enough, Samuel Barber’s “Adagio in G” popped into my head, but it’s such a solemn song that I don’t want to use it with today’s post. I think that I thought of that particular song because of a movie that I saw years ago starring a younger Ethan Hawke. Barber’s Adagio was featured in the movie previews, but not in the movie itself.  

The film, A Midnight Clear, was the story about two WWII units stranded in a snowstorm, one American and one German. The units reach an unspoken truce, but ultimately, the film ends tragically. I don’t think that the movie was very popular, but I remember seeing it with my friend Mari during one of our regular weekend movie outings.  

If I remember correctly, Hawke also starred in Snow Falling on Cedars, a weak adaptation of David Guterson’s beautiful novel of the same. I really don’t remember that much about the movie, but I vividly remember the cover of the book, which was a black and white picture of fog draping the cliffs surrounding Puget Sound. Odd how memory serves us.  

The book was beautiful, almost lyrical, in its portrayal of the complexities of the human heart, love, betrayal, and truth. The movie was beautiful in its cinematography, but hard-placed to convey the depth of the novel’s characters. However, with few exceptions, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings being a prime example, that is almost always what happens when adapting a book to a movie.  

Today’s post feature photographs of snowy images from different places: Italy, France, New Hampshire, and Ohio.  

More later. Peace.  

Annie Lennox’s version of “Whiter Shade of Pale” seemed like a good fit.  

Reflections on Hope (part 2)

 Reynard 8-2009

 Fox by Brett Sutcliffe (August 18, 2009)

The Possibility of Hope

Maybe im still searchin
But I dont know what it means
All the fires of destruction are still
Burnin’ in my dreams*
 

Corn Queue Henry County Indiana Julayne
Corn Queue, Henry County, Indiana, by Julayne from When Worlds Collide

I’ve sat down at this “add new post” page for the past four nights. I’ve sat, waited, and then closed the page. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say; more, it’s that my mind seems to be in recovery mode still after so long away from this forum that gives me a voice, as if I’m in the same room with a long lost friend, and we are still in those first few moments of awkardness, when there are a million things to say, but none of them seem to be the right way in which to begin again.

I love this blog. I appreciate the people who stop by just to read and even more, those who leave comments and words of encouragement. I love being part of a bigger blogging community, filled with people who sent me messages over the past three weeks, letting me know that they were out there if I needed them, that they would wait for me to come back.

But my last post was so full of despair that it actually left a physical pain in my heart. To put into words all of the bigger things that have happened over the last two to three years somehow makes it more real, and therefore, that much harder to reconcile.

That post also did something else to me: It made me a bit nauseous. It smacked of poor, pitiful me, and far too much navel-gazing. So let me just pause here to apologize for being so maudlin. Admittedly, though, wearing a virtual hairshirt every once in a while does seem to help.

But time to move on.

I wanna come in from the cold

Tree Frog at Rest
Tree Frog at Rest by L. Liwag

Last night, as I sat here, I heard the wonderful chirrups of the tree frogs in the backyard, and then as I was walking through the dining room, I looked out in the backyard and noticed that a strap on the pool was vibrating. A tree frog was inside the little tunnel, and every time he sang, the strap vibrated.

He was too far inside his shelter to get a picture, but I could see his small green body peeking out. Unfortunately, my invasion of his space made him cease his calls for a bit, but in about half an hour, I could hear him again.

And make myself renewed again

Uncle Melchors Trumpet Flower
Uncle Melchor's Trumpet Flowers

My uncle’s funeral was Saturday. He never regained consciousness. I wanted badly to go to the funeral, but the family lives almost 800 miles away in Florida, and this just isn’t the best time to rent a vehicle and get a hotel room.

So I stayed in touch by telephone. My aunt, who retired only last year, told me that all of the people who used to be in her department came over one day and did her yard. What a wonderful gesture. My uncle loved his yard and would send me pictures of his flower gardens when they came into bloom.

To hear about people who cared, taking the time to care for one of the things that he so enjoyed made me smile. A happy remembrance.

It takes strength to live this way

Tillie Happiness b&w
Tillie Happiness

Today, I braved the brightness of the sun to play ball with Tillie and Shakes in the pool. I think that I must have done a good job because both of them are sound asleep.

Tillie is a ball hog. The only way that I could get her to release the ball in her mouth was to tease her with the other tennis ball. Wanting both, she would drop one while I threw the other ball, and then I would throw the ball that Tillie dropped for Shakes to retrieve. Quite a complicated system for a simple game of water tennis.

I found myself relaxing, though, and just enjoying the moment—something that I do too rarely. I didn’t think about anything of consequence, and I just focused on exercising the dogs and looking at the birds flying overhead.

The same old madness every day

Captain Corey
Happy Birthday Corey

Tomorrow is Corey’s birthday. He is none too happy. It’s all well and good for me to try to point out to him that he is hardly old, but he doesn’t hear me. I know old. He isn’t old.

When I told him to go ahead and flirt with someone while he was at Costco, he said that he couldn’t because he was losing his hair. What bollocks. He has a head of beautiful, healthy hair, and he is losing a few hairs a day in the shower, undoubtedly because of the stress. My husband is too funny.

We won’t be doing too much of anything to celebrate this week, but with any luck, maybe we can have sushi sometime soon.

I wanna kick these blues away  

On other fronts, Brett is trying to gear up mentally for the school year. It looks as if they have set up his schedule for him to go every other day, which is wonderful.

I’m hoping the day off between class days will allow him to rejuvenate and to feel less pressure. If this works out well, he should miss less school and be able to stay more caught up with his work.

I’m very grateful that the head of the program at his school, as well as his guidance counselor are working with us and trying to come up with a way in which Brett can succeed this year.

Unfortunately, Eamonn was not able to start fall semester, as I had feared. Even if we had come up with the funds, we don’t have a second vehicle at the moment, and the fate of Izziethe Trooper is uncertain at best.

I feel really terrible that we weren’t able to get everything together in time, and to make matters worse, my ex called me up last week and cursed at me for three minutes for not getting the financial aid taken care of. It was a short conversation that ended with me saying something along the likes of, “If you’re so freaking concerned, why don’t you do something about it.”

Talking to a brick wallHis (my ex’s) reasoning that I needed to take care of everything and was falling down on the job was that his schedule is so full, and if that my computer was broken, why didn’t I go to library or something to use a computer? My pointing out that the financial aid was just one part of the equation didn’t matter. When I tried to tell him that even with the tuition taken care of, there was still no vehicle.

He actually asked me what happened to the Trooper, this after I had a conversation with him over two weeks ago about the Trooper dying on the way to Ohio. That’s the problem with trying to have rational conversations with someone who has an alcohol problem: You never know their condition when you tell them something important, and then they claim they were “never informed.”

Of course, I thought of a really good rejoinder after the nasty conversation ended: He lost the right to speak to me when he moved out of the house . . . This from the man who never took a day off to take any of the kids to the doctor. I did it because somehow I let him drill into me that it was easier for me to take a day from work.

Then I thought about it for a minute. He should have never had the right to speak to me that way. Why did I give him that right? Too often, verbal abuse isn’t recognized, even by its victims.

I wanna learn to live again . . . 

Butch Edentons Sunset
Sunset by Butch Edenton

Which brings me back to the subject of this post: the possibility of hope. I won’t pretend that Corey and I have a perfect relationship, but we have a really good relationship, and he doesn’t verbally abuse me. He doesn’t belittle me for my weird habits, and he loves me, imperfections and all. As do I him. Immensely.

Life has sucked lately, a lot. We run into walls, and we seem just cannot seem to get a break. But as I have been reminded of all too much with the loss of my uncle, we live in minutes and hours, not days and years.

I will make certain that Eamonn is ready for college next semester. I will take extra care to watch out for Brett’s signals that he is overwhelmed. I will enjoy the joy that my animals bring me.

I will remember to tell Corey that I really do appreciate everything that he does for me, even something as small but caring as making sure that I have Pepsi in the house. And I will appreciate the fact that I have a partner in life who could belittle me if that were his way, but it is not. His way is to tell me that he loves me every day of my life, to lie to me when I ask if I look fat, to tell me the truth when I ask about my writing, and to love and care for Eamonn and Brett unstintingly, including taking both of them to the doctor more times than I can count.

They are my shelter, my comfort, my great joy, and my peace of mind. With them, I really need nothing more.

Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.

Thank you for allowing me to be self-absorbed and for your kind words. But thank you more for continuing to visit here, for reading my words, and through your own words and beautiful images, for reminding me of all of the good and wonderful things in this world, one of which is this poem by one of my favorite writers, Langston Hughes.

Goodbye Uncle Melchor.

More later. Peace.

*Lyrics from “Dark Road,” by Annie Lennox

Mother to Son

by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” ~ Henry Miller

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Massive thunderstorms this afternoon. Loud thunder booms, but no major downpours in our area. The flower garden could use a good dousing. Corey was out doing errands and said that it was raining hard in other parts of the city, but nothing here.

Eamonn is disgustedly happy to have the Trooper back in his possession, even though I told him that we still need to do a few things to it. I’m hoping that the smoke coming out of it is leftover from the problems that we just had fixed and that once it gets a good drive on the Interstate, she’ll start to run like her old self again. Corey said something about the rings, which sounds expensive. I’m ignoring that pronouncement in favor of bad gas (for the Trooper, not me).

I’ve been pricing tires, and of course, what we need won’t be cheap. Nothing ever is. Moving right along . . .

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison  

CharacterDumbledore Half-Blood Prince
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tomorrow night Corey, Brett, and I are going to eat sushi and then go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is part of Brett’s birthday present. He is the only one of the kids who actually likes sushi, so that gives us something to look forward to this weekend.

On other fronts, I happen to know that Janson and his wife are currently in the hospital awaiting the birth of their daughter Aurelia. He has been Twittering about the progress most of the afternoon. I love the name Aurelia. It lilts on the tongue and sounds like a fairy.

My friend Maureen who lives in Australia is awaiting news from her doctor, so I’m keeping a good thought for her as well. And David Bridger’s wife Janette is scheduled for surgery at the end of July. Finally.

Even though the medical system in this country needs fixing, I have found from hearing from people in other places that national healthcare does have some major drawbacks—like waiting for operations that are necessary or having some doctors refuse to do procedures that must be performed by other doctors. However, I still believe that this country needs a healthcare system that is available to all, and not just to those who can afford to pay the premiums.

As usual, the blogging community is awash with action. My best to everyone. I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts.

“It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

Okay, this topic is from David Bridger as well: You are stranded on a desert island, and you can only take ten things. You are one of the ten things. Who or what would you take with you? I’m assuming that food will be on the island so we don’t have to worry about that.

I’m thinking that I need a few different versions of this because, as you know, I have such a hard time making up my mind.

List One: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am not alone in the world, that I have family and pets.

  1. Corey, Alexis (and her significant other), Eamonn, and Brett plus myself. That’s six right there. Must have family with me on this desert island.
  2. Tillie, Alfie and Shakes. Another three. Must have the dogs, even though they take up three spots.
  3. My Lord of the Rings (three books but one story so it only counts as one. I know. I cheat). Must have reading material. But I would give up the books, I suppose, if my sons had companions.

List Two: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am alone in the world, no pets or familydeserted island 1

  1. Myself (1)
  2. My Lord of the Rings (1)
  3. A copy of The Odyssey (because I’ve never made it all of the way through) (1)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A fully-loaded MP3 player and back-up solar batteries (3) (Do solar batteries exist?)
  6. A huge bottle of 4711 cologne to remind me of civilization (odd choice, I know) (1)
  7. A dog for companionship (1)

List Three: This one is compiled with the understanding that I must take that which I need to survive and gather food

  1. Myself (1)
  2. A machete (1)
  3. Two dogs, male and female (2)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A spade (1)
  6. Something reflective (1)
  7. A bottle of 5,000 Ibuprofen (since I cannot have all of my meds) (1)
  8. A bucket
cast-away-tom-hanks-2
Tom Hanks and Fed Ex boxes in Castaway

Now the reality is that if I were to be stranded on a desert island a la Castaway, I would hope that some things washed up on shore with me, one of which should be my carryall bag. I could survive months with just the contents of my carryall bag as it contains meds, scissors, a mirror, candy, a pocket knife, my inhaler, a notebook and lots of pens, a mini screwdriver, and sunglasses.

In Lola’s system of counting, the carryall bag counts as one thing just as the Lord of the Rings counts as one thing.

And if I had my purse as well as my carryall bag, I would be in fine shape. Also, if I washed up on a desert island wearing the things that I usually leave the house with, I would have a watch, my glasses, my cross, some earrings (okay, those I can do without), and probably a book and/or notebook.

Look, I’ve always been a pack rat, ever since grade school when I decided that I needed to take a satchel to school filled with things that I might need. Alexis inherited this tendency, so if she were with me and we got stranded, you can bet that we’d have a lot of things one might need just in case.

I’m not sure about the whole ice skate as dental tools as in Castaway, but the blades would be handy as would the laces. Don’t know if I have it in me to use an ice skate as a dental tool. But unlike Tom Hanks’s character in the movie, I wouldn’t be waiting to open all of the Fed Ex boxes. He was being honorable.

I say that if you are stranded, sealed Fed Ex boxes are fair game. Although given that attitude, the boxes that would wash up on shore with me would probably be things like government proposals, mortgage payments, and car parts. I’m not sure that side steps for a truck would come in that handy on an island  . . .

 “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

deserted island 3I wish that my lists were more creative, but I think that they actually reflect more about me than at first glance. For example, I could survive without another person with me as long as I had a dog to keep me company. Implements with which to write and record things are very important to me. My choice of a machete instead of just a plain knife show that I am my father’s daughter.

Granted, wanting to take along a bottle of cologne might seem crazy, but if I had nothing else on this island to remind me of home, a smell would suffice. Smells are very important to humans: they conjure happy thoughts, trigger memories, even help with digesting food. The German cologne 4711 would do that for me. It would allow me to remember that piece of me that once belonged to society.

And if possible, having an MP3 player that is full of my personal music choices would serve as a connection to the world. I would have Chopin and Beethoven, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, Sarah McLachlan and Annie Lennox, Pavoratti and Broadway musicals. Music, in its varied forms, is communication, and it is something that is universal.

Having music with me would help to alleviate the loneliness, even if there were no chocolate to be found anywhere.

I wonder what other members of my family would choose to take: How Brett would survive without electronics . . . How Eamonn would survive without his cell phone . . . What Alexis would choose of her multitude of things that she must have . . . What Corey would want with him for the rest of his life . . .

Each list would be very different. Of that, I am certain. What and who we value as people is as varied as the sunrises. Not surprisingly. After all, it is that which makes us individuals, unique and the same, as unpredictable as the tides.

More later. Peace.

An Exploration into The Enneagram

Brand New Topic: The Enneagram

Background and History

enneagram
Sun Enneagram

One of the great things about belonging to a blogging community is that you find some really interesting sites. Lately, I’ve been enjoying another wonderful bout of insomnia, which has led to my blog perusing into the very wee hours of the morning. I came across a really beautiful site called “View Pacific”  (viewpacific.wordpress.com/), which is now included in my Interesting Sites category on the left hand of the page. While I was exploring this site, I read a very informative entry about Enneagrams, something about which I was totally uninformed. So, I left a thank you to the author for the great info, and after leaving the site, I did what I always do in such situations: I went exploring.

Enneagrams have been around for quite a while, just how long depends upon which source you read. Their usage and their meaning are also dependent upon which sources you consult. As best as I can summarize, one researcher, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar Ph.D, traces the origins of the Enneagram to the 13th Century Islamic Sufi traditions of Central Asia based on the belief in the oneness of God. Bakhtiar claims that the nine-pointed symbol represents “the presence of God”  (http://www.sufienneagram.com/overview.html).

Other researchers claim that the Enneagram is a personality typing system used in psychology that was first developed in the 1950s by Oscar Ichazo of Brazil. Common knowledge is that one of Ichazo’s student’s, Claudio Naranjo further developed and refined the system in the 1970’s.

Purportedly, the most recent refinements to the Enneagram psychological personality system have come from D.R. Riso and R. Hudson, who have developed and entire industry on the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator, or RHETI, which is a modern synthesis of the nine personality types based on a number of ancient wisdom traditions. If you do a search on the Internet, Riso-Hudson will be your first hit. You can purchase tests, follow-up tests, test guides, interpretations of test results, books, seminars, etc. Apparently, assessing the personalities of your employees is a rather large, rather profitable business.

Then there is an entirely separate branch of Enneagram history that supposedly dates back to the Fourth Way, or can be tied to Kabbalah. G. I. Gurdjieff, writing in Russia in WWI, claimed that the nine-pointed Enneagram is:

“a symbol that represents the ‘law of seven’ and the ‘law of three’ (the two fundamental universal laws) and, therefore, the figure can be used to describe any natural whole phenomenon, cosmos, process in life or any other piece of knowledge. The basic use of the enneagram is to explain why nothing in nature and in life constantly occurs in a straight line, that is to say that there are always ups and downs in life which occur lawfully.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way_Enneagram)

And if I had had another few days, I probably would have found another few theories on the Enneagram, its nine points, its ties to the Catholics, mysticism, and probably coral calcium.

And This Has What To Do With Lola, Pepsi, and Dogs, You Might Ask? 

So after all of this background reading, which, quite frankly, started to piss me off more than anything, I decided to just look at it in the way that View Pacific had intended: as an interesting insight into personality types. I mean, all of these different people claiming that it came from all of these different places, and then these two people in particular branding it and turning it into a form of screening potential employees, all the while hedging everything they said with sentences such as (I’m making these up): keep in mind that all personality types are blends of pieces of this and that, a 1 could also have pieces of a 4, and a 7 isn’t necessarily a serial killer (I’M MAKING THIS UP—REMEMBER? I don’t know if these people have a sense of humor or if they’re like Tom Cruise and the Scientologists . . .it’s the lack of sleep, it’s making me particularly snarky tonight).

So anyway, the first read that I did squarely placed me in the Number 4 category, which says (and again, I’ll summarize): I’m a dreamer (really?). I tend to keep things inside or to pour them out in a creative outlet (hmmm . . .). I can be reclusive and I can get depressed (what? you’re kidding me, right?).  I grieve longer than most people (did someone put a camera in my bedroom?). Number 4 Enneagrams have old souls (I swear I didn’t write these descriptions). Just to prove it, I’ll actually quote from a #4 description taken from Enneagram Explorations by Katherine Chernick Fauvre and David W. Fauvre :

Overview
You want to be gifted, intuitive, original and unique. More importantly, you want to be passionate, true to your feelings and uniquely authentic. You see yourself as sensitive, expressive and spiritual. You would like others to see you as idealistic, emotionally deep and compassionate. Your idealized image is that you are accomplished and special.

Motivated by the need to understand and to be understood, you desire experiences that are rich with feeling and meaning. You may find it easier to deal with painful emotions than to deal with the tedium of daily routine. You have the temperament of an artist and long to freely express yourself. You feel your emotions deeply and are not afraid to go emotionally where others fear to tread. This includes having an exquisite, intuitive ability to distinguish between subtle emotions that others often miss. Painfully self-conscious, you are often overly focused on how different you are from others. A true humanitarian, you have a natural passion for protest. At times intense and contrary, you are not afraid to think for yourself and voice your point of view.

Nostalgic by nature, you often focus on past experiences. This can lead you to deeper insights or to downward spirals of melancholy and/or painful unresolved feelings. Craving ideal circumstances or love, you often ruminate on what is missing and perceived to be important. Your tendency towards self-absorption is both an asset and liability. It can lead you to deep personal insights that can benefit everyone while feeding your self-deprecating sense of humor; but it can also make you appear to be self centered and disinterested in others. Feeling your own inner world so powerfully, it is good to remember that others’ experiences are just as real for them as yours are for you.

When you step out of the river of your emotions, you can bring forth your many talents into the world and express them in a way that is extraordinary and original. You are like the lotus flower growing in the mud that is able to transform emotionally painful experiences into fertilizer for personal growth. Attuned to feelings, you have an uncommon sensitivity when it comes to dealing with suffering. You are not afraid to hear about someone else’s troubles, and you can be a great friend to anyone in emotional pain. (emphasis added mine)

Famous 4s
Francis Bacon, John Barrymore, Ingmar Bergman, Peter Bogdanovich, Marlon Brando, Jackson Browne, Raymond Burr, Kate Bush, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Prince Charles, Eric Clapton, Kurt Cobain, Judy Collins, James Dean, Johnny Depp, Neil Diamond, Isak Dinesen, Bob Dylan, Judy Garland, Martha Graham, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne, Julio Iglesias, Jeremy Irons, Michael Jackson, Jewel, Angelina Jolie, Janis Joplin, Harvey Keitel, Charles Laughton, T. E. Lawrence, Vivien Leigh, Rod McKuen, Thomas Merton, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Morrissey, Edvard Munch, Liam Neeson, Stevie Nicks, Anais Nin, Nick Nolte, Laurence Olivier, Paris, Edith Piaf, Pink Floyd, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Prince, Anne Rice, Percy Shelley, Simone Signoret, Paul Simon, Meryl Streep, James Taylor, Spencer Tracy, Vincent Van Gogh, Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams, Kate Winslet, Virginia Woolf. (I can’t believe how many of these people I admire and adore, and ooh ooh, Annie Lennox is a 4 as well.)

I Know I am But What Are You

enneagram_alltypes
Enneagram Personality Types in Groups of 3

 

So now that we all know what I am . . . I think that I’ve figured out what everyone in my family is, but I haven’t told them. Here are a couple of links to sites that I thought were the most straight-forward in figuring out what number Enneagram you are without a whole lot of test-taking: http://www.enneagrambook.com/, which also offers links to other sites, or http://www.enneagram.net/types.html, which is where I found the description with the long list of 4’s to whom I can so closely relate.

I’m certain that I made the whole thing harder than it needed to be, but I have to do my research first. I like the idea of the the Enneagram being 2500 years old. That adds an air of mysticism to it, which, of course, appeals to me. What I don’t like is how it has become so commercialized. Isn’t that always what happens, though? One of these days, they’ll put a portable Enneagram in Happy Meals with a secret Ronald McDonald decoder ring. I can’t stand it.

Enough already. More later. Peace.

Music as Muse

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Euterpe: Giver of Delight

For as long as I can remember, music has played a large part in my life. I remember being in the chorus in the sixth grade and getting one of the coveted solo spots in the big end of the year pageant. I was such a ham. Then all through junior high I took chorus until I had to choose between chorus and foreign language, and I picked French because it was what I needed for my academic diploma. But it didn’t really matter because by that time, I was already well into formal piano lessons. I took lessons for 14 years.

Many people asked me why I didn’t major in music in college. To put it simply, I wasn’t that good, and I knew it. I loved playing the piano, but it didn’t come second nature to me, not like reading and writing. I knew that if I were going to be a classical pianist, then playing should be as natural to me as breathing, and it wasn’t. I tried to explain that to my mother, but she didn’t understand that. My piano teacher did, though. It’s just one of those things. Either you have it, or you don’t, and I knew early that I didn’t. I loved it. I loved the instrument, loved the music, loved learning, especially Chopin, even Bach’s two and three-part inventions, but they were not extensions of myself. I had to fight hard to win them. And so I did not go to Julliard as I once had dreamed of attempting.

However, that never diminished my love of music. When I write, I always have music playing in the background. I create play lists for everything. When I worked, I always had music playing in my office. I once had a job that did not allow music to be played, even for those individuals with private offices. It was like working in a tomb. I did not stay at that job for very long, not just because of the music. That was just a symptom of the larger issues, namely complete control over the employees.

But as usual, I digress . . . To me, music is a reflection of a person’s soul, a soundtrack of your life. My tastes are very eclectic. I love classical music—symphonies, operas, string quartets, piano solos, the cello, all of it. But I also love classic rock ‘n roll, pop, country, soundtracks, reggae, salsa, blues, alternative, even some metal once in a while. Most of the time, I’m mellow, but driving with all of the windows down, I want rock, loud. In the islands, I want reggae and Buffet. Sunday afternoon, I might want an opera. Saturday afternoon, some blues would be good. Right now, I have my mellow mix on because I’m writing.

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Music of the Sphere by Michail Spiridonov

Artists who inspire me tends to be writers themselves: Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan, Sting, Van Morrison, Jamie O’Neal, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Springsteen, Melissa Etheridge. Of those, my favorites are probably Lennox, McLachlan and Etheridge, probably because they tend to write in my key, and their songs are so intimate and moving. Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” is one of my all-time favorite songs because it feels as if it were written just for me.

I still love to sing, and I’ll admit to being a karaoke junkie. I used to go to a favorite karaoke bar at least once a week back in the day. I would take my journal, and sit and write, people watch, and wait for my turn to sing. Then when Corey came into my life, I got him hooked on the karaoke habit, and we would go together, but when money is tight, you give up things, and that’s one of them. We haven’t been in over a year. It’s good for grins if you’ve never been. Lets out your inner star, the one that’s been hiding inside.

When I was still living at home, I would put on soundtracks and go around the house and sing at the top of my lungs when I was the only one home. Then when I got my first apartment, I would do the same thing. My poor neighbors. Every Saturday when I cleaned, I would sing and dust. Lemon pledge and “A Little Night Music.” Yes sirree. Pine Sol and “Grease.” Let no one be spared.

So now that I can’t clean every Saturday, the Broadway musicals are left unsung, and since I don’t go on long drives too often, Springsteen doesn’t get rocked out. But I still listen everyday to my tunes, and anytime I hear something new that I think might touch a chord in my creative muse, I download it and add it to my play list. I go on my friends’ MySpace pages and check out their play lists occasionally and steal from them as well, because, well, they get out more. And there is always my oldest son, who loves music as much as I do. I steal from him as well. So from all of these sources, I manage to stay fairly relevant.

But some songs still have a way of moving me to tears. Right now, the one that is wrenching my heart is Annie Lennox’s “Lost.” For a while, it was Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullabye.” Undoubtedly, though, one of the most beautiful songs ever written is David Lanz’s “Cristofori’s Dream.” Bartolomeo Cristofori is generally regarded as the inventor of the piano, and this song is a beautiful homage to the instrument. The soaring chords are reminiscent of a cathedral, and the song itself paints a picture in my mind of many vibrant colors and hues.

That is what the best music does: transports the listener to a different place and time, removes the here and now, if only for three or four minutes, so as to allow that transcendence beyond the mundane, the dripping faucet, the leaf blower, the blare of the television, the neighbor’s mulcher. Instead, all that you hear are the notes of pure beauty and power and timelessness.david-lanz-cristoforis-dream

More later. Peace.

The Endless Cycle of the Domino Effect

These Are The Words I Never Said 

blue-domino-effectOne of my earlier entries was entitled “The Domino Effect of Small Things,” and apparently this entry struck home with many people because it has been one of my more popular entries; however, I tend to think that’s because I mentioned “event horizon” in the entry, which in and of itself is an interesting topic for an entry. But I have already begun to digress from today’s topic: The Endless Cycle of the Domino Effect.

I was trying to classify the effect as eternal, but then I found myself delving into the whole realm of eternal time as ontological versus the entire nature of time as a space-time continuum and the entire aspect of physics and linear versus cyclical versus simultaneous, and it was beginning to make me dizzy, so I just decided to classify domino effects as being endless cycles and hope that you would allow me this little liberty and go with it.

What actually took me back to the whole idea of Domino Effects were two very disparate things, well more actually, but I’ll begin with the two main things: the thirtieth anniversary of Jonestown, and Annie Lennox’s song “Why.” I’ll try to break it down for you.

Why Don’t You Ever Learn To Keep Your Big Mouth Shut

I had honestly forgotten what it was like to grow up in a daily newsroom when real, earth-shattering news happened. I mean, I learned so much about what it is to write at The Ledger-Star. I learned how to hone, how to write on a deadline, how to discard, how to listen, how to edit. But I was also there for the beginning of a few great careers and for a few truly momentous new stories. Jonestown in Guyana was one of them.

When the number of bodies first started to come over the wire (and it was still wire then), we were all horrified. No one left the newsroom. The numbers kept getting higher. The details came in. There were sick jokes about Kool-ade at first. Then we heard about the children, the infants, the gunshots to the heads. There were no more jokes. It was one of the first times in my life when I was there as new was truly breaking; I was still a teenager, but I did my job like everyone else, with the gravity and respect that the news deserved. And then I cried all of the way home.

The other night I watched the special on MSNBC. I heard the words of the survivors, and then I heard something I had never heard before: Jim Jones’ laugh. I swear if you have never heard his laugh, don’t. It isn’t human. It is like a hyena, almost. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and this was a recording from thirty years ago.

What does this have to do with the Domino Effect? People like Jim Jones are still collecting people and still effecting people. Still amassing people and still getting them to do their will, all over the world. We have cults, and we have people all over the world who are convincing people to give their lives for insane causes. They fall like dominoes, as if they are nothing more than playing pieces in some madman’s game.

Why Can’t You See This Boat Is Sinking?

“I may be mad
I may be blind
I may be viciously unkind
But I can still read what you’re thinking
And I’ve heard it said too many times
That you’d be better off
Besides…
Why can’t you see this boat is sinking . . .”

Someone once told me that Annie Lennox’s song “Why” was written for me. Now some of you out there might think that I would have been insulted by this, but actually, I knew that they were right. I chose this particular passage of the song because this is the passage that was playing when he told me that the song was a perfect description of me, and I actually had to agree with him.

I have been accused of being vicious once or twice, but I have mellowed considerably in recent years. I used to abide by the rule that “revenge was a dish best served cold,” and for those of you who think that Khan made up that line in the second Star Trek movie, sorry, it’s from Moby Dick. And I’ve never denied that I’m madder than I god damned hatter, but that’s what gives me my je ne sais quois. Comprends tu?

So when I am feeling terribly down, put upon and just plain as if “Some things [would have been] better left unsaid/But they still turn[ed] me inside out, I wail out “Why,” either at home or at karaoke, although not at karaoke so much any more since our favorite place has changed so much and doesn’t feel like home any more.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid, But They Still Turn Me Inside Out

So in the past two weeks, I have experienced an unparalleled nirvana on November 4th when Barack Obama took Virginia and won the election to the highest office in the land. And then I hit reality smack in the face when I found out the tickets to the inauguration speech were unobtainable and not a single hotel anywhere within 50 miles had an available room. Every single newspaper was sold out by 10 a.m. I knew that the week wasn’t going to get any better.

“This is the path I’ll never tread
These are the dreams I’ll dream instead . . .”

circular-domino-effectI spent the twentieth anniversary of my daughter’s death in a hospital because I had to take my mother for an outpatient surgery, which only reinforces the cyclical patterns of life. Then I came home and had a major crash only to have a disastrous encounter with my eldest son who seems to have lost any kind of ability to feel anything for anyone besides himself, and I’m not sure if I can continue to chalk it all up to the fact that he is 17 or if he has become so self-absorbed and egocentric that I truly don’t know him any more. Said son informed me on this day that I am one of the most selfish people that he knows for divorcing his father. Thank you for that information. I’ll file it away with the hairshirt that I’ve been wearing for the past nine years. Thank you very much. There is not nearly enough guilt in my life, and feeling like a failure as a parent hasn’t entered my head in oh, nearly at least a day.

“How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I’m sorry for the things I’ve done . . .”

My health insurance will be completely restored once I manage to go out in the backyard and grow $1200 and pay it all by the end of January, only to start the whole cycle all over again, not to take into account the increase in premiums that will begin in the new year, which I have not been informed of, but have read about on the website. I have not been informed of this increase because I cannot get anyone from the oxymoronic entitled Human Resources department to return my calls.

They are playing Christmas music in the stores and Christmas commercials on television. I haven’t made it through Thanksgiving yet, which is a tremendously hard holiday for me because it is the anniversary of my father’s death. I have to go out in the backyard and dig up the buried treasure for holiday money because that’s the only way there’s going to be any ho ho ho in this house house house. I told Corey that I’d be happy with some new Christmas socks, and I meant it. That’s another thing that I’m addicted to like black boots: socks with penguins and snowmen on them. I’ll wear them all winter. Matters not to me. A box with a few new pairs of Christmas/holiday socks, and I’m good.

Can we skip Thanksgiving this year?

“This is the joy that’s seldom spread
These are the tears…
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread . . .”

These Are the Contents of My Head

I looked in several places for a picture of glass panes that had been lined up like dominocolored-glass-paneses because that’s really the kind of domino effect that I’m feeling: one little push, and everything doesn’t just fall over, it falls over and explodes, shatters. I thought that colored glass panes would be more effective. A different color to represent each heartache, each trouble, each worry, each thing that consumes me, that tears at my soul, that keeps me up at night, that causes Corey to spend more and more time of each and every day fretting—a color for each of those things—and then, possibly, as they fell and shattered, the curse that each bore would be broken and carried away with the wind.

But that only happens in the movies, or in songs.

“And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel
’cause i don’t think you know how I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
I don’t think you know what I fear
You don’t know what I fear.”

There will be more later. There always is. Peace.