“Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.” ~ Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Honister Pass Stone Bridge, Cumbria, UK (WC)

                   

“My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “Clown in the Moon”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 60’s.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter Caitlin’s death. The weather this week is very much as it was 23 years ago: sunny and mild, and the entire time I thought that there should be storms, massive gales and torrential downpours. But no, sun. I remember standing at the cemetery after the service in just my long-sleeved dress, thinking that it should be cold, but it wasn’t.

Old Stone Bridge at Twizell, UK (WC)

The little things that come back to you.

I had very intense dreams last night, quite a detailed one in which I was having a conversation with my deceased m-in-law in her dining room, and she was talking about the treatment that she had received in the first long-term facility, and she commented that they managed to neglect her until it was too late. I told her that I had tried to help, but I knew that I hadn’t done enough.

Then she told me that she had an envelope full of checks for $10 each, all made out to the grandchildren for when they won things at school or had recitals. But she couldn’t remember where she had put them, and asked me to find them for her.

At some point I got in Corey’s truck to drive to school to  take an exam, but I couldn’t see over the dash.

The dream switched, and I was in a big room that turned into a nursery, and I was showing the babies to my friend Sarah, and I pointed out a little girl, and I told Sarah that no one had been in to feed the baby girl all day, and I just didn’t understand how people could act that way. Then I was showing Sarah pictures of the kids, and there was one of me standing in front of my m-in-law’s house, which was decorated for Christmas, and I was holding a baby. Then the nursery turned into one of my old offices, and I was alone, but I was supposed to be at the other location.

I hadn’t called in, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that I was in trouble, but my speech kept coming out garbled. I had a meeting with someone from a company that I was supposed to be reviewing a proposal for, and she pulled away from me even though I told her that I wasn’t contagious, but I couldn’t get my words out straight, and I’m certain that she thought that I was drunk.

Then a runner from the newspaper brought me proof pages for a Christmas ad, and I knew that he had been looking for me earlier in the day.

“I am a part of all whom I have met.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Ulysses”

So much of my past in these dreams, so many people, too many to name. So many things left undone, responsibilities that I had shirked, that I knew that I had shirked. So much like life itself.

Old Stone Bridge over the Allt Shuas in Fin Glen, UK, (WC)

I had very much wanted to write yesterday, but Eamonn came home and wanted his room. C’est la vie, I suppose. So I read instead, Stephen King’s The Shining, a book that I read a lifetime ago. It holds up fairly well, one of his better books, before he began churning them out like cookies. But I didn’t really find it scar.y. Perhaps I’ve read so much true crime in the years between that the tale of a man possessed by a hotel full of ghosts pales somewhat in comparison.

Or perhaps there is no going back. More likely, the latter.

I did not make it to the floral warehouse to buy new silk flowers, nor did I make it to the cemetery as I had no vehicle. Perhaps that’s why I was trying so earnestly to drive a vehicle in my dreams.

As I sit here, I have a huge pile of dishes awaiting me in the kitchen. But the smell of last night’s scrapings is making me feel rather ill. I haven’t had a migraine since the botox, but I awoke with a killer sinus headache today. You know the kind: when you touch your eyeballs, they sound crunchy from all of the built-up fluid. I’m telling myself that I’m waiting for the Sudafed and Ibuprofen to kick in before I tackle the kitchen, but the truth is that I simply do not want to do it.

I’ve gone out to the kitchen three times to survey the wreck, if you will, and each time, I walk out and come back here.

“And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself—

Surely you see that.” ~ Bertolt Brecht, “And I Always Thought”

Random thoughts:

  • I should have used yesterday afternoon to write a few cards, but it seemed too hard.
  • I greatly fear for the future of this country, that we will see more of the bad times before it gets better.
  • I need a haircut.
  • We will probably not make a trip to the mountains again this fall.
  • The spider in the corner of the bathroom is still there, and I have decided to see just how long he survives if left alone.
  • I can go an entire day without speaking to another human being as long as the dogs are around to listen to me babble.
Stone Bridge at Wycoller, Lancashire, UK (WC)
  • I’m moving towards another birthday, and I have yet to do anything substantial with my life.
  • I do not want to die without having lived, as Thoreau said, but the marrow of life eludes me.
  • I miss friendship on a daily basis.
  • Oreos are actually soul food.
  • Tillie thinks that peanut butter is doggie crack, and it probably is.
  • I have to stop snacking in the middle of the night when the dogs awaken me.
  • It would be nice if the dogs did not awaken me in the middle of the night.
  • I wonder if I could be one of those women who looks stylish with grey hair . . .
  • I’ve decided to name my fancy-tailed Beta (if I ever get him) Captain Jack after Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood,” not Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, although either captain would do.

“Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.” ~ Gabrielle Zevin from Elsewhere

More random thoughts:

  • Some of my personalized ringtones include “No one said it would be easy,” “Wreck of the day,” and “Why?” Do you sense a theme?
  • When I lived in my small apartment near ODU, I would put Janis Ian on my record player, and sing “Seventeen” at the top of my voice without any inhibitions.
  • I just remembered that both my dad and my Uncle Nick were in my dreams last night.
  • I wish that I knew someone who had all of the answers because I would go up to that person and say, “Get over it. No one has all of the answers.”
  • Not really.
Stone Bridge at Low Crag, UK (WC)
  • I stack the dishes at our table when we eat in a restaurant. I’ve always done this.
  • Eldest son is taking dance lessons. I’ve always wanted to take dance lessons, to dance a real waltz at a real ball.
  • My bucket list is overflowing.
  • I want so much and so little.
  • Are my expectations too high?
  • I had a strand of purple love beads that are long since lost. I loved them because everyone else had grey love beads.
  • I used to climb trees every chance that I got.
  • The more stories I read on the 99 percent, the luckier I feel.
  • I shouldn’t have to feel lucky because I have healthcare and a house.
  • My father, who traveled the world, never go to see the Great Wall of China.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere—on water and land.” ~ Walt Whitman,  from Leaves of Grass

Just a few more:

Stone Bridge, Clare Glen, Tanderagee, Ireland, UK (WC)
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the wrong side of the fork in the road . . .
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the right side . . .
  • How can you ever know?
  • I once had an English professor tell me that Emily Dickinson was the only female poet worth anything.
  • He pronounced the w in my last name as a Germanic v, and I despised him.
  • I once had an English teacher tell me that my poem wasn’t a poem because it didn’t have a da-duh da-duh da-duh rhythm.
  • He had dandruff and smelled.
  • If I had listened to every man who ever told me that I couldn’t, I would have never.
  • What happened to that fortitude that I used to possess?
  • I should have bought that catamaran when I had the chance.
  • Few of us realize how much our lives shift permanently because of the decisions we make between 18 and 22.
  • I was never 18 mentally or emotionally.
  • Exactly what constitutes a marketable degree any more when no one is hiring in any field?
  • Four o’clock in the morning is a very lonely hour.
  • Some people are born evil, others good, and then the rest of us struggle to figure out the difference.
  • I’m afraid it’s all been wasted time.

Enough navel-gazing for today. Dirty dishes await, and the sky has turned white.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve” from City of Angels OST

                   

Solitude

The changing seasons, sunlight and darkness,
alter the world, which, in its sunny aspect
comforts us, and with its clouds brings sadness.

And I, who have looked with infinite
tenderness at so many of its guises,
don’t know whether I ought to be sad today

or gladly go on as if a test had been passed;
I’m sad, and yet the day is so beautiful;
only in my heart is there sun and rain.

I can transform a long winter into spring;
where the pathway in the sun is a ribbon
of gold, I bid myself  ”good evening.”

In me alone are my mists and fine weather,
as in me alone is that perfect love
for which I suffered so much and no longer mourn,

let my eyes suffice me, and my heart.

~ Umberto Saba, (Trans. by George Hochfield and Leonard Nathan)

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” . . . When light spreads over the pastures like wings, and fans a secret color into everything, and beats the trees senseless with beauty, so that you can’t tell whether the beauty is in the trees—dazzling in cells like yellow sparks or green flashing waters—or on them . . .” ~ Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

 

Night by Burlacu Lurie (Pixdaus)

                

“We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related . . . We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fall (Pixdaus)

It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday . . . no wait . . . that’s a song. It’s eleven o’clock on Saturday, no crowd rushing in. My mother’s house is finally, thankfully, quiet. Earlier today when the television was actually turned off, I managed to sit down and actually get a signal. I turned on the music, opened a new page, and just as I prepared to write, my mother awoke on the couch and said, “You don’t mind if I turn on the television, do you?”

What could I say?

She is much better, though. Much more mobile, even took a shower on her own today. I think that we may have conquered the stomach problems (hope beyond hope), and I am preparing to make the gradual move back to my own home. Tonight after I finish this post, I am going to go home to sleep. Corey has a shift, and Brett is away at a conference, so it seems to be perfect timing as far as going home to my own bed.

I know that I am hesitating, and I realize why: Each time I have thought that things may be getting better, getting well enough that I could go home—at least at night—something has happened, so I am reluctant to think that the situation may actually be stable enough for the transition, that, and I would feel horribly guilty should something happen if I were not here.

It’s actually the same logic that kept me at the hospital for 20 hours out of each day when Caitlin was ill. Oddly enough, it was one of the times when I had actually gone home for a nap and a shower when the hospital actually called to ask me to come back as soon as possible.

Such has always been my luck.

“Not yesterday I learned to know
   The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow
But it were vain to tell her so,
   And they are better for her praise.” ~ Robert Frost, “My November Guest”

Autumn in Chairi Lake (Pixdaus)

Many thanks to those of you who have sent well wishes and have asked about my mother. Thanks also for the reminders to take care of myself as I do tend to ignore my own signals when someone close to me is in need.

Sleeping on the couch hasn’t been too bad for my back, but lately I have awoken with a very sore neck. I could sleep in my old bedroom, but it just doesn’t seem right somehow. Since my mother has come home from the rehab facility, she makes her way to the living room couch by 8 a.m., and the television goes on shortly after, so I head to my old bedroom to try to catch a few hours of morning sleep, this after making her coffee, getting her breakfast and meds, and feeding the cat and dog.

I have planned to set the alarm at home so that I can get here in the morning to take care of things and then perhaps play the rest of the day as it comes. As tomorrow is November 7, a particularly painful day of the year for me, I don’t want to set any kind of schedule for myself.

To be honest, the melancholy crept up on me this year. Being so prepossessed with my mother’s health issues, I have had little time for great introspection. Then I found another envelope of photographs containing pictures of all of my children when they were quite young. Within these was a picture of me in the hospital holding a newborn, and I had to think for a moment to identify which birth it was. The telltale sign was the gown that I was wearing—sleeveless, white cotton. Brett was born during a record heat wave, but for just a moment, my heart had tricked my memory into believing that I was holding Caitlin.

That was all that it took: a photograph, one second in time, recovered accidentally while dusting a box on a shelf.

“Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have once called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.” ~ Dorianne Laux, “For the Sake of Strangers”

Autumn Leaves (Pixdaus)

Truthfully, I don’t really know what to call this state of being, how to classify it, how to give it a name. Is something real if it is unnamable? Does something truly exist if it cannot be molded and shaped to fit into a specific niche?

Perhaps, then, this state is the actual grey area, or twilight zone—the fictive terminator between night and day. This state of existence does not bear scrutiny since it does not in fact exist, or it exists only in that nanosecond the comprises the movement from night into day.

Do I even know what I’m saying here?

I only know that a few days ago my mind was wholly unoccupied of anything of consequence, and then today I woke with weight on my chest so heavy that I felt as if rocks were being piled onto my body, like the “wedge-shaped core of darkness” that Virginia Woolf spoke of in To the Lighthouse. It is invisible to everyone else, but it is there, nonetheless.

“Once more
Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.” ~ Philip Larkin, “Best Society”

Solitary Swan on Lake in Autumn (Pixdaus)

I want only solitude and quiet, to be alone and to be left alone, to have no demands made of me so that I do not have to force to the surface the persona of a normal person, do not have to cloak this ache with the mask of normalcy.

I want mountains and trees and the sweet, sweet smell of cold, fresh spring water running over mossy rocks. I want to feel the chill of air on my face and to smell the earth, to inhale the natural descent into decay that is autumn and to walk beneath a tarpaulin of the burnished reds and golds that precede the naked limbs of winter.

I crave a retreat from sound, a respite from the everyday clicks and hums that fill my immediate environs. At this very moment, this is what I hear: the ticking of the living room clock, the annoying click of an anti-bug device in the kitchen, my mother coughing, the gunfire rapidity of the keys on the keyboard, and an insistent, low hum from somewhere indiscernible.

These things I want; these things I need; these things I crave like a balm for my soul. These things will continue to elude me for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Starsailor, “Some of Us”

 

“All I am is the trick of words writing themselves.” ~ Anne Sexton

 

 

“It is impossible to talk or to write without apparently throwing oneself helplessly open.” ~ Herman Melville
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Okay, I know. I’ve been cheating by plugging in short little posts the past few days, and back-dating them to fill in the blank spaces that were formed by a lack of Internet access. But really, even if I had been able to access the Internet, it just wasn’t in me—the introspection, the soul-searching, the creating. I mean, if I just wrote to fill some space on the page, then it wouldn’t really matter how much of myself I invest, but that’s not how or why I write. Sure, the small blurbs serve a purpose, a sort of checking-in note that I’m still around but have nothing to say, but mostly, I have to delve into myself if I am going to write a real post. Long way of saying I write, therefore I am.

Today is our anniversary—nine years. It’s funny, but it seems that we have been together so much longer. It’s hard to think of a time when Corey was not in my life, and that’s a good thing. We made no plans to go out tonight as Corey had originally been scheduled to work, but his shift was cancelled. It’s been like that all week. He went in on Monday only to work for two hours. He probably spent half of what he earned for those two hours in gas, but the ship pulled out. That’s just how it goes.

Last week he met with someone from the last maritime school that he attended who gave him the names of three places to contact about jobs. They may or may not be hiring, but hey, it’s worth a shot. Still no word from Vane Brothers. I’m beginning to think that that particular job will never become a reality, unfortunately.

So it’s been a bad week for Corey emotionally and for me physically (still with the whole chills thing), which doesn’t make for the best circumstances in which to celebrate our anniversary. That’s okay, though, as we’ll celebrate later.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~ Jawaharal Nehru
Ruins at Tulum, Mexico

For our honeymoon, we actually stayed in Puerto Aventuras, which is about 45 miles from Cancun. We didn’t know this when we booked our hotel, but it turned out to be better, not as crowded or commercial. Puerto Aventuras is a collection of hotels, villas, and homes right on the beach, and it is strategically located near Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and other places to see in the area.

We stayed in a small hotel that provided breakfast and lunch, neither of which were great, but hey, it worked for us. The hotel provided bicycles for the short ride into the main part where the shops and restaurants were located. I just remember riding back one night, and it was so dark—no streetlights. The other thing we had to remember when bike riding was to watch out for speed bumps—large coils of rope that were placed along the narrow roads.

Each room had a small porch with a hammock. It was very comfortable. Somewhere in all of the boxes are our pictures from our Mexican honeymoon. As with most other things, I have yet to organize the pictures and put them into albums.  One day, perhaps.

I remember that we came back from our honeymoon very, very tanned. And cold. When we left Mexico, the temperature was hovering around 110°, but when we arrived in Norfolk, it was in the 60’s. That was a bit of a shock as we had spent a week wearing as little as possible only to need jackets and long pants when we returned. I would love to return to Mexico for a stay one day, and it’s easy enough to get package rates on accommodations, but the airfare is outrageous, which is one of the reasons why we like cruises so much.

“Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.” ~ Amy Bloom
 

Sunset Over Cancun, Mexico

If I had to pinpoint the one thing I like the most about being married to Corey it’s that we enjoy doing things together. We truly like spending time with each other, seeing new things, going to new places. That’s why we’ve always had so much fun, no matter where we’ve gone, whether it was a plane trip to Mexico or a few hours down the road to Chincoteague. I think that at heart, we are both loners, people who do not crave the company of large groups of people; we are individuals who are comfortable being alone. That we are comfortable in our solitude makes us equally comfortable together.

In part, I think that because we are two people who can function alone, we have taken that ability and melded it quite well into an intimate companionship, one that continues to grow and evolve as we spend time together, while at the same time allows us to maintain that perfect space alone.  By that I mean that to build a fire, the pieces of wood must be placed strategically: they must be close enough to pass along the heat, but have just a bit of distance between them to let the air in. When everything is placed in its optimum position, when the spaces of togetherness and separateness are perfect, the fire burns brighter, hotter, and longer.

That’s how I view my relationship, my marriage to Corey. 

So this year, no big celebrations, no voyages to other countries. Just us, here, together. No complaints. None at all.

More later. Peace.

Music by Bob Seger and Martina McBride, “Chances Are”