“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” ~ Tom Robbins

An Evening in Berkley by Vagelisf (deviantart)

                                      

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

Autumn Mirror by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

It’s been a week of perfect autumn weather: brilliant skies, mild temperatures, and vivid colors everywhere. I love days like these as they tend to fill me with a sense of calm, a rare and delightful treat for my psyche.

Fall used to herald boots-and-sweaters season for me, but not so much any more as I no longer need to get dressed for work, the one aspect of a full-time job that I can sincerely say that I miss terribly (probably the only aspect)

I’m back home full-time now. I stop in on my mother after taking Brett to school each day. She is slowly retaking her house, which is to be expected, and she spends more time sitting than lying down, a sure sign that she feels better. The next big step is driving, which she says that she is ready to do; I know that she is eager to be out of the house on her own, but I don’t think that she’s considering what might happen if she has to slam on her brakes. Just saying.

“Our world—don’t you just feel we’re becoming more fragmented? I used to think that when I got older, the world would make so much more sense. But you know what? The older I get, the more confusing it is to me. The more complicated it is. Harder. You’d think we’d be getting better at it. But there’s just more and more chaos. The pieces—they’re everywhere. And nobody knows what to do about it.” ~ Rachel Cohn, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

This Fall (Part II) by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Corey and I are working on the house (in the house?). For several weeks he has been shampooing the remaining living and dining room carpet (as in the carpet yet to be ripped up, revealing the hardwood floors that need to be refinished). I’m not sure how cleaning the carpets could turn into a month-long endeavor, but somehow my charming spouse has managed to do just that. I’ve made him vow to have all of the furniture back in place by the end of the weekend as I cannot begin a holiday week with everything in such disarray.

In the meantime, I need to switch t-shirts for sweaters, and summer night shirts for winter pj’s,  and sandals for boots, which (of course) involves several other steps and lots of shifting as our home has 1950’s closets, i.e., not even close to walk-in. And when I came back from my mother’s house, I pitched a pile of hanging clothes on one of the dining room chairs that is currently sitting in the middle of the living room, and I have yet to sort through that morass as just walking through the obstacle course that is my house is too daunting.

In other words, our house is completely wrecked, and it’s making me very stressed and a wee bit testy. While I was at mom’s, I got in the habit of keeping everything very clean and tidy, which is easier in her house as she is not in the midst of a major home remodeling project that had to be abandoned when Corey lost his lucrative tugboating job—over two years ago. So I have become accustomed to neat and tidy, and the return to chaos is more than a bit unnerving.

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”  ~ Lemony Snicket

Yellow by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Of course, the complaints about chaos are completely gratuitous as I would not recognize my life if it were not constantly imbued with chaos, disorder, and entropy.

But speaking of Corey and jobs, he is still waiting for his contact at Company X to get back to him. I know that we’ve heard this story before, but this time, there actually seems to be a hint of truth to it. Company X did buy a new boat and land a new contract, so we’ve moved beyond the this may happen stage into the we’re definitely interested in having you on one of our boats stage.

The best aspect—the one that makes this situation so much better than the Vane Brothers wait-and-see situation—is that Corey went from the introduction phase to the two-hour interview phase in a matter of weeks.

No hope-pinning, but hopeful waiting, at least.

“Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it’s time for you to become someone else’s past time, and then time folds again.” ~ Margaret Atwood

A Moment in Time 2 by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

                  

So here we are: Brett’s first semester of college will be ending in a month. Eamonn is thinking about joining the Peace Corps (I know. Surprised the hell out of me too). Alexis is still not working and does not appear to be ready to return to work anytime soon, something I try not to ponder too much as my mother is doing enough fretting over the situation for the both of us.

I am approaching December without fulfilling the one goal that I set for myself for 2010, and I am totally unsurprised by that. I am trying to get back into my habit of writing daily and hope to have my own computer back in working order before 2011. Of course, having said that, Corey’s computer is now dying, and we are unsure as to what it needs to be healed. Could be something as simple as a graphics card, or could be something more . . .

We are hoping to have Corey’s truck fixed as soon as Ford gets back to us with the Windstar recall package (don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but the Windstar was found to be hazardous because of an axle problem, so Ford had to buy it back from us). Meanwhile, they are paying for a rental and we are pricing rebuilt transmissions.

And so it goes. More waiting and hoping and hoping and waiting. Meanwhile, the world spins madly on; the seasons creep into each other relentlessly, and time morphs from second to second, seemingly dragging its heels one moment only to metamorphose in the next instant into a nimble-footed fellow, fleeing from invisible fire.

The only constants remain my unflinching capacity for seeing only the bad in myself, the deep love of my dysfunctional family, the continued delight I receive from my dogs, and my surprising ability to still be moved to tears by nature’s breathtaking beauty.

More later. Peace.

Music by Chris Mills, “Such a Beautiful Thing”

“Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“Tree Shadows in the Park Wall, Roundhay, Leeds” by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1872)

                   

“Life goes on grinding up 
glass, wearing out clothes 
making fragments 
breaking down 
forms 
and what lasts through time 
is like an island on a ship in the sea, 
perishable 
surrounded by dangerous fragility 
by merciless waters and threats.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Ode to Broken Things” 

"October Gold," by John Atkinson Grimshaw (ca 1880s, oil on canvas)

Saturday afternoon in my mother’s living room.

Another entire week has passed between posts, and the only thing that I wanted to do this week was to write. In the small interludes between television and other things, I have had no signal, so I sit here and play Spider Solitaire for a few minutes, hoping that the small icon in the bottom right of my screen will change from a big red X to a globe.

So this is the latest: My mother is much better; she is bitching at everyone about everything, so I know that she is feeling close to normal. She is even thinking about going to bingo. Therefore, I will begin gathering my possessions and making the physical and mental move two miles to my own home where my exceedingly patient spouse, son, and not-so-patient dogs are awaiting me.

The time is right for everyone. My back is pretty much fried from sleeping on couches and attempting to lift things that I should not lift. Each time a knot makes its way into the small of my back, I cannot help but flash on the face of the judge who ruled that I’m just fine, that I could go back to a job similar to one I previously held. Need I say my hankering to accost him verbally simmers close to the surface frequently these days . . .

“Meaning is not in things
but in between them.” ~ Norman O. Brown

"November Moonlight," by John Atkinson Grimshaw

Instead of measuring my days in coffee spoons, I find myself measuring the day by what my mother has on the tv: If it’s “The Price is Right,” it must be 11 a.m. I know that I have been here too long as I find myself shouting out answers to game show questions on the television, and immediately afterward I think, “who is this person?”

Today, though, I am taking advantage of this small break in predictability, hoping against hope that I can at least finish the written part of this post before my mother wakes from her nap and/or before I lose the signal I am pirating.

Truthfully, the past four or five days I have really felt the totality of what the past two months have brought. Not only is my back killing me all of the time, but I spent three days on the precipice of a tearful meltdown. The only thing standing between me and incipient darkness was the realization that I did not have the time or the luxury to wallow. That is not to say that I was pleasant, though, as I know that I was as prickly as a wasp.

I must say that this Oreo generation crap is more tiresome than people might think but for reasons that are not obvious: If I cough, my mother immediately says that I am getting a cold. I get out of the shower, and she relentlessly harps that I must dry my hair immediately lest I die of consumption (okay, a bit of an exaggeration, there). I made the mistake of grabbing my head in pain when a migraine seized me suddenly while I was in the living room, so now she is looking for migraine remedies on television medical shows.

I have not lived in my parents’ house for many, many years, so this return to parent/child communication in which I am the latter and not the former is quite grating. But I bite my tongue as much as possible. Speaking of which, the stress has found yet another route in my body: my mouth. I have ulcers in my mouth, and this current bout of thrush does no seem willing to abate anytime soon. Both conditions make food taste odd. No big loss there.

“So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being,
The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
And inspirations, that we deem our own,
Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
Of things beyond our reason or control.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Sound of the Sea”

"Whitby Harbour at Moonlight," by John Atkinson Grimshaw (oil on canvas)

I can identify at least one source of my continuing melancholy: Everywhere I look, I see things that remind me of the past, of my father, of my childhood, of days that were good and days that were bitter. I mean, it’s different from visiting your parents and coming across something from the past, and recalling a memory here or there.

Having all of my past infused into every waking hour has definitely culminated in oversaturation. For example, I have taken to hiding in the den, which is more removed from the living room and the television than my old bedroom. The den was actually not added to my parents’ house until the year that I married my ex, so that means eons ago. But the den has always been one of my favorite places in this house, and it was the room in which my father would take his long afternoon naps after his back prevented him from lying on the floor in the warm rays of the afternoon sun that seeps into my parents’ living room (a habit that I used to emulate).

Anyway, in the den is one of those tables that is made from an actual tree, knots and all. This table was brought over from the Philippines many years ago. On this table is a keep-all box that is also made from a tree; the outer edges are varnished bark. I was sitting in the den one evening, and these two objects caught my eye. I ran my hands over the gnarls of the table, and a shiver went down my spine. It’s that tactile influence on memory.

“Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony.” ~ Lou Reed

"In the Golden Olden Time," John Atkinson Grimshaw (oil on canvas)

This house is so full of memory—memory of anger and raised voices, discontent and disquietude. Most of the happiness that resides within these walls comes from the years in which my children were young and spent so much time here with my mom and dad while I was working full-time. Only with their grandchildren did my parents reach a kind of stasis in the long battle that was their uneasy marriage. 

The memories from my own childhood in this house are a confused jumble of both joy and sadness. It probably would not surprise you at all to know that I was a solitary child, not just an only child but a solitary one—a child quite content to spend long periods of time alone. I did have close friends with whom I would spend hours and hours on a Saturday just doing the things that kids do, but I also had many hours alone, and I don’t remember being particularly bothered by that, save for the few times in which I longed for a sibling.

But I remember months on end during which my father was at sea, and it was just my mother and myself. I remember going to the movies with her, before the days of multiplexes, and occasionally we would travel to North Carolina to visit one of her sisters and my cousins. Mostly, though, I remember being alone, reading.

Do not misunderstand, I was neither abused nor neglected, but I sought my own escapes from the constant thread of tension that existed in any situation involving prolonged interaction between my parents. Having spent nearly two months here as an adult, far removed from those days, I still sense that tension. Perhaps I bring it with me as it is permanently interwoven into memory. I really don’t know. I only know that I have reached the point at which I sense its omnipresence, and I long for freedom, much in the same way that I did as a young woman.

Thomas Wolfe was, of course, correct: You cannot go home again.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sarah McLachlan, “My Skin”

                   

Ode To Broken Things

Things get broken 
at home 
like they were pushed 
by an invisible, deliberate smasher. 
It’s not my hands 
or yours 
It wasn’t the girls 
with their hard fingernails 
or the motion of the planet. 
It wasn’t anything or anybody 
It wasn’t the wind 
It wasn’t the orange-colored noontime 
Or night over the earth 
It wasn’t even the nose or the elbow 
Or the hips getting bigger 
or the ankle 
or the air. 
The plate broke, the lamp fell 
All the flower pots tumbled over 
one by one. That pot 
which overflowed with scarlet 
in the middle of October, 
it got tired from all the violets 
and another empty one 
rolled round and round and round 
all through winter 
until it was only the powder 
of a flowerpot, 
a broken memory, shining dust. 

And that clock 
whose sound 
was 
the voice of our lives, 
the secret 
thread of our weeks, 
which released 
one by one, so many hours 
for honey and silence 
for so many births and jobs, 
that clock also 
fell 
and its delicate blue guts 
vibrated 
among the broken glass 
its wide heart 
unsprung. 

Life goes on grinding up 
glass, wearing out clothes 
making fragments 
breaking down 
forms 
and what lasts through time 
is like an island on a ship in the sea, 
perishable 
surrounded by dangerous fragility 
by merciless waters and threats. 

Let’s put all our treasures together 
— the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold —
into a sack and carry them 
to the sea 
and let our possessions sink 
into one alarming breaker 
that sounds like a river. 
May whatever breaks 
be reconstructed by the sea 
with the long labor of its tides. 
So many useless things 
which nobody broke 
but which got broken anyway

~ Pablo Neruda

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

U of AK campus October 2009

Another photograph from Janson Jones’s blog: Floridana Alaskiana: University of Alaska Campus, 10/09

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” ~ A. A. Milne 

Warmer today than it has been. From the pictures, it looks like autumn in Alaska is beautiful.

 I spent an hour scrubbing down the kitchen this afternoon, and then another few hours downloading music for my computer playlists. The result is that both my neck and my lower back hurt. How tedious.

I don’t really have much to say today. My mind is filled with music instead of words, which is just fine with me. Sometimes the words running through my head become too heavy with an unexplainable weight, and I wish that I could just tilt my head and let everything sift out, like fine grains of sand. Empty head, start over—kind of an appealing idea.

I received another letter from Social Security today. We’re currently doing this dance in which my long-term disability insurer is passing me along to the Social Security administration (which, if approved, would relieve the insurance carrier, of course). The SS administration is kind of like DMV, no, make that very much like the DMV: bureaucracy, forms, endless forms, requests for mor information, requests for clarification.

My long-time disability insurer assures me that the SS administration denies everyone the first time, and so I should be prepared to file an appeal, which they did on my behalf. Quite frankly, I just don’t care. Or at least I don’t care at this moment. I’m tired of forms. Tired of explaining the same thing over and over to different people. Tired of telling people about my health problems. More tedium.

So for now, tonight anyway, I’m going to ignore the forms, requests for information, etc. I’ll tackle that and the pile of stuff from my closet tomorrow, or at least, some of it, as much as my back allows.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~ A. A. Milne

That being said, I don’t have much more to add. I think that basically I’m just weary to the bone. Bone-weary. Eyes blurry. Not in much of a hurry to take care of the details. I don’t want to tackle the horrible topic of the high school student being who was beaten to death with railroad ties in Chicago. It’s too heinous.

I cannot even begin to ponder the implications of a healthcare systems that denies care to prior victims of abuse, something that has come to light during this great, supposed debate in which our country’s political leaders are involved. Don’t believe this could happen? Read this article , “Abused Then Denied Care: 8 States Allow Practice,” on MSNBC.

I just had to take a minute to have a play fight with Tillie as she placed herself on the middle of the bed and began thrashing around—a clear signal that a play fight is called for. She is pretty strong, though, so my fights only last a couple of minutes. She is such a bratsky of a dog. One of the best presents that I have ever gotten in my life. She has the ability to make me smile no matter how bad I feel.

Anyway, as I was saying, I don’t have much to contribute in the way of thoughtful prose, which I will take as a sign that I should add a nice video and call it a night. So here is a video created by Janson Jones on the Matanuska Glacier. I hope that you enjoy it.

 

More tomorrow with any luck. Peace.