“The essential thing is to etch movements in the sky, movements so still they leave no trace. The essential thing is simplicity. That is why the long path to perfection is horizontal.” ~ Philippe Petit

Sailing Port Stephens by NSW Maritime (FCC)

                   

“Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play… I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wednesday, early evening. Drizzly and cool, mid 40’s.

Well yesterday was kind of a strange post. I was feeling very scattered and restless, and it came through in my writing. I realized this morning that I haven’t been taking my Cymbalta regularly in the past week or so as I’ve been stretching out the capsules to make them last until payday. This is not the healthiest way to use antidepressants, but sometimes, you just have to make do, but as a result, my moods have been marked by manic periods of energy (all of the cleaning), followed by spells of inertia.

Sunrise in Formentor, Mallorca by meironke (FCC)

Today when I drove Brett to school, traffic was just plain stupid. It’s as if the people on the road turned off their brains when they turned on their wipers. And then I was stopped at a crosswalk on campus, and as it was during change of classes, large groups of students were making their way across the road. To my amazement, some douche-bag in a Mercedes behind me blew the horn for me to move. Was I supposed to run over the kids in the road?

Brett and I had the same reaction: we both flipped him off. Brett was grouchy because he closed his hand in the door (ouch), and I was over the whole stupid driver while raining fiasco.

Consequently, the headache is omnipresent, not quite morphing into migraine territory, but painful enough that I just realized that I’m squinting at the screen.

“You have to let things
Be as they are.
Who knows which of us
Deserves the world more?” ~ Robert Bly, from “What Things Want

I had to drive Eamonn’s car today as Corey had the Rodeo at work, and the truck is still . . . not working . . . The neighbor bought (supposedly) the brake lines to replace the rusted lines, but has yet to make his way all the way across the street to install them. Never again. Neighbor sure, but mechanic, no, no, no.

Sailing by ricardodiaz11 (FCC)

Anyway, Eamonn is bent because I used his gas, and he needed to go to a meeting. As I have no money, I told him that Corey would give him cash for gas when he got home, but I forgot that Corey was working until 4 and not 3, so lots of stomping and huffing about by eldest son. Oh well, it’s not like he hasn’t driven our vehicles down below the big red E.

So in more of my latest cleaning binge in which I am trying to declutter one thing at a time, I took everything down from the top shelf in the glass cabinet to see what could be thrown out or donated, and I found a martini glass (??? only one ???), a set of four tall, thin shot glasses whose origins I am unsure of (probably a leftover from the Dillard’s Homestore days), a chipped souvenir glass from the Spirit of Norfolk, which I am quite sure belongs to Alexis, and two goblets from our wedding reception (I made the table centerpieces in oversized goblets).

Another thing to check of my to-do list. My life is so full . . .

“That is why the better part of our memory exists outside ourselves, in a blatter of rain, in the smell of an unaired room or of the first crackling brushwood fire in a cold grate: wherever, in short, we happen upon what our mind, having no use for it, had rejected, the last treasure that the past has in store, the richest, that which when all our flow of tears seems to have dried at the source can make us weep again.” ~ Marcel Proust

So these are things that I’ve been pondering:

Sunset Sell by Nick Chill Photography (FCC)
  • While Eamonn’s car is a junker, it still reminds me of how easy it is to drive a little car and zip in and out of lanes, which I miss; however, getting out of the car reminds me of why I will never again own a low-to-the-ground vehicle. Awkward and uncomfortable.
  • I have nothing in my wallet, absolutely nothing—no bills, no coins, nothing. Sad, really.
  • People in the south tend to add extra syllables to words, which I rarely notice, but this manner of speaking can become quite humorous in curse words, as in when damn becomes diy-um (pronounced as written).
  • I remember my father, with his Filipino accent, always said shee-et, kind of a blend of southern and Tagalog, I guess.
  • A favorite line from a song: “Your best friend in life is not your mirror.” Apropros of nothing . . .
  • I dreamed that Corey, Alexis and I were in some store buying Christmas decorations, and the store stocked candle tops (just the top part of the candle and nothing else), and really cheap ornaments.
  • I also had a dream in which a friend’s father had died, and a group of us were (for some strange reason) taking a shortcut through the dead man’s backyard. The oddest part is that this house has been in many of my dreams, but in this dream, a fence now stood where no fence had been before, and I declared that I was not climbing a chain link fence in heels.
  • I have rerun dreams in which the action may be different, but the settings have been in other dreams. One particular recurring dream involves me coming into a lot of old furniture and antiques, sometimes a piano, but not always. Sometimes the antiques have been given to me by a museum board member, and sometimes not.
  • My dream life is much more interesting than my real life.

“ . . . and you look at the things in the room, offscreen, unwebbed, the tissued grain of the deskwood alive in light, the thick lived tenor of things, the argument of things to be seen and eaten, the apple core going sepia in the lunch tray, and the dense measures of experience in a random glance, the monk’s candle reflected in the slope of the phone, hours marked in Roman numerals, and the glaze of the wax, and the curl of the braided wick, and the chipped rim of the mug that holds your yellow pencils, skewed all crazy, and the plied lives of the simplest surface, the slabbed butter melting on the crumbled bun, and the yellow of the yellow of the pencils . . .” ~ Don DeLillo, from Underworld

This DeLillo quote is actually quite apt for my state of mind. When I’m writing, I often find myself looking around at various objects in the different light of the waning day. Sometimes my eyes are drawn to the grain of the wood; other times, a smell catches my attention. Everything becomes significant, even the most insignificant of things. It’s a matter of heightened senses.

Into the Blue by Daniel John Buchanan (FCC)

I much prefer ambling through life with heightened senses as opposed to an innocuous sense of numbness—the light outside my window, the sound of raindrops falling from the eaves, the occasional bird call, the unwelcome sound of someone’s engine—these things reside in my subconscious all of the time, but occasionally, they surge to the forefront, demand my attention.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that while I may protest that I am moving through life without any purpose, moving as if on auto-pilot, the truth is that this it not true, and I must remind myself of this. While my goals may not be the ones I had at another stage of my life, that does not mean that these goals are not important, that my dreams and desires do not bear witness to my life’s purpose.

What I care about, all of the many, many things that I care about, while they may be insignificant to some, these things keep me grounded, help me to move through my days with my own sense of grace.

“Hope: the following page. Do not close the book.” ~ Edmond Jabès, From the Book to the Book (trans. Rosmarie Waldrop)

With that in mind, I thought that I’d spell out just a few of the items still on my bucket list, if you will. These are the things that I want to do and see and have before I die:

Sailing to Sunset by Mike GL (FCC)
  • To see Ireland and Wales
  • To witness the Northern lights
  • To ride in a hot air balloon (even though I’ve given up on the idea of skydiving, the balloon still remains)
  • To have a writing hut that is all my own
  • To own an old IBM Selectric, preferably red or black
  • To go to the Louvre and the Musée D’Orsay
  • To ride the Orient Express (yes, this one is pricey, but one day I will do this, even if I’m 82)
  • To have a claw-footed bathtub in which I will take many, many hot baths, submerged in lavender water up to my chin and surrounded by candles, while Beethoven plays in the background
  • To have a view of the sea and a pair of Adirondack chairs in which to recline
  • To finish a 5k, even if I have to walk it
  • To have a really good camera that I can use to shoot pictures of the night sky
  • To publish a book, a real book, not one that I’ve written under contract for an institution
  • To see every episode of Dr. Who
  • To read Proust in the original French
  • To visit Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef
  • To go to Weta Studios in New Zealand and meet Peter Jackson
  • To own a sailboat (Corey and I once spoke of owning a charter service in the Caribbean, which I think that I would still like to do)
  • To make a difference in just one life.

More later. Peace.

Music by Foy Vance, “Be the Song”

                   

You Can’t Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.

~ Barbara Ras

“There are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst or drowning.” ~ Craig Childs, The Secret Knowledge of Water

Banned Books Week Banner by DML East Branch

                   

“Because we cannot fly we are condemned to do things that do not agree with us. Because we have no wings we are pushed into struggles and abominations which we did not seek, and then, after that, the years go by, the mountains are leveled, the valleys rise, the rivers are blocked by the sand and the cliffs fall into the sea.” ~ Louis de Bernières, from Birds Without Wings 

Saturday afternoon. Cool and cloudy, low 60’s. Smells like fall.

Banned Books Week (Last Week of September)

Now Corey is sick. Whatever it is, it has pretty much made the rounds in the house. Brett and Corey seem to have gotten the worse of it—the body aches, the hurting chest.

Another bad night with very strange dreams, something about being a participant in “Project Runway,” even though I don’t sew, taking care of someone else’s baby, but with not enough diapers, and a massive asthma attack in my dream that turned into a real attack and had me fumbling for my inhaler in a half-sleep state. It’s always disconcerting when something happens in a dream that carries over into real life, for me, it’s almost always a headache that starts in a dream and then wakes me because of the pain. Very rarely is it my asthma.

Even though everyone is home today except for Eamonn, the house is very quiet. Since I began this post, the clouds have passed, and the sky is blue with just a few clouds. You see, I took a break between paragraphs to go wash the dishes, so enough time has passed for the weather to change. Still lovely and cool, though.

“Every journey is played out between standstill and flight.” ~ Claudio Magris, Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea

Etta James is singing “At Last” in the background. Such a wonderful song. Such a strong, sultry voice. Love those old torch songs.

It still slays me to think that the women of color of that era had to go in the back door and could not even frequent the nightclubs in which they performed. I suppose that it was okay to listen to them just as long as they weren’t treated like real human beings.

Supposed civilized societies . . .

Tonight is the season finale of “Doctor Who,” series 6. Supposedly, we are going to have answers to questions that were raised in “The Impossible Astronaut” episode. Right. Moffat never explains everything; something is always held back.

I’m still trying to cope with the concept that no new Who episodes, save for the Christmas special, will be aired for a year. That’s just not right, to draw in people, get their undying devotion, and then leave them hanging for a year. Who does that?

Steven Moffat, that’s who.

Yes, I know. My Whovian obsession is quirky, but it brings me pleasure, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s important, at least for now.

“We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out.” ~ Richard Rohr, from “Everything Belongs”

So I’ve been thinking about things, you know, little things. Like life.

  • Death.
  • Money.
  • Wall Street.
  • Books.
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Children.
  • Parents.
  • Blogs.
  • Body image.
  • Aging.
  • Republicans.
  • Democrats.
  • Liars.
  • Alchemy.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Physicians.
  • Censorship.

Strange list, no? Bear with me as I attempt to elucidate . . .

Life, death, money: The relative from whom we borrowed the money for the mortgage is the son of someone I called uncle my whole life. This man was a very important fixture in my life, and he died one year after my father. I still dream of him, that’s what a fixture he and his family have been in my life. When I was young, I babysat his five children during the summer.  I attended almost all of his children’s weddings, and have been to baby showers for their children.

Children, parents: This week, Ann packed up her mother’s home because her father is putting it on the market. We had to pick up the crib and cradle that I’ve had in storage in her attic for years. I’ve saved the crib all of these years for Alexis. When I told her that we had to move the crib and asked her if it could go into her storage unit, she informed me quite matter-of-factly that she did not want the crib. You could have knocked me over as I was so astounded by her complete disinterest.

Wall Street, liars: I read an interesting comment directed to the protestors in New York. It suggested that they all wear polo shirts and khakis when they protest, and you know, that makes complete sense. If the protestors look like young Republicans, then the country will be horrified that they are being sprayed in the face with pepper spray. As long as these protestors look like throw-back hippies, no one cares what happens to them. Witness the complete lack of coverage by the mainstream media. Polo shirts + khakis = pseudo respectability. Unfortunately, true.

Republicans, Democrats: I also read a blip that said during one of his recent speeches, President Obama referenced the Bible story about Meshach,  Shadrach, and Abednego, the devout guys who were supposed to be burned alive but who survived because Jesus was with them in the fire. I love this particular story mostly because I love the names of the men, very cool names. But what is interesting is that Obama frequently makes biblical  references in his speeches, but he’s still referred to as a heathen, called a Muslim as if it’s a horrendous thing. He cannot win. Whatever.

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” ~ Charles Péguy

Blogs, writing: I also read an article that said that tumblr is one of the fastest-growing social mediums because of what it does: it allows users to present stream of consciousness postings, as opposed to long posts (as in WordPress), or keep track of friends (as in Facebook), or limits the number of characters (as in Twitter). Apparently, tumblr’s retention rate—that is the number of people who sign up and then actually actively use the site—is higher than any of the other sites. I can understand this, but it made me wonder if the whole idea of blogs is becoming passé, and if this is true, what does that mean for me?

Books, reading: Then there was the quote that said something along the lines that failed writers make the best publishers because they recognize good writing. It made me pause. Is that why I got a degree in publishing, because I consider myself to be a failed writer? Probably.

Peanut butter, body image, aging: I’ve been craving peanut butter a lot lately. I have no idea why. I know that the protein is good for me, but the fat is bad for me. And yesterday in the car, somehow Brett and Em started talking about plastic surgery and how it looks terrible, and I thought about how I declared years ago that I would never get plastic surgery, and I still would never get a face lift because the results are just weird, but I would have my neck and arms tightened, and I would love to melt the fat in my belly. And none of this is ever going to happen because it’s a waste of money.

“There is a pain so utter
It swallows Being up.
Then covers the abyss with trance,
So memory can step
Around, across, upon it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Physicians, alchemy: Thursday, I received a telephone call from the neurologist’s office; it was the nurse that I’ve been going back and forth on regarding getting botox shots for my migraines. She told me this time that she’s having a hard time getting approval for the shots because there is nothing in my file about having migraines that last longer than four hours or for 15 days out of the month. I got pissed. I told her that that was the whole reason that I was seeing a neurologist as my pain management doctor for my migraines, who I had been seeing since 2003, could no longer do anything to help with my headaches, and he was the one who sent me to them. I also reminded her that during my first visit, I signed a release form for the neurologist’s office to get my files from the pain management people.

She was a real bitch and incredibly snotty. I don’t know why this woman is fighting me. I’ve never even met her. She said something along the lines of, “so you are refusing to come in and see Dr. R.” I said, no, I’m not refusing to do that, but Dr. R is the one who told me that she couldn’t do anything for me and told me to see her partner for the shots, so what is the point. Then she called me back and said that Dr. R wanted to know if I’ve ever had a migraine that has lasted longer than four hours. I said, “I’ve had a migraine that lasted for three weeks.” She said, and this is verbatim, “So that’s a yes?”

Did I have a mouthful of marbles when I was talking? If a migraine lasts for three weeks, isn’t that indicative that it lasted longer than four hours? In the middle ages, medical treatment was sometimes handled by alchemists, those people who claimed that they could change the chemical properties of things, such as lead into gold. My feeling is that at this point, I would be better served by an alchemist.

My life is  Dr. Seuss book.

“It is inner luxury, of golden figures
that breathe like mountains do

            and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about, what this mind of mine has been pondering.

Of course, there are many other things, like the fact that my dogs think that peanut butter is doggie crack, or that I really, really wish that I could take a long, hot bath, but the hole in my bathtub makes that impossible.

As soon as the temperature outside dips into the 60’s,  my spirit is ready for hot baths. Ah well. At least there is running water, which is more than what a majority of the world’s population has access to, right?

Oh. One last thing.

Censorship: In honor of the last day of Banned Books Week, I’ll close with the following passage by Aldous Huxley, an author whose novel Brave New World (1932) is perpetually selected to be banned by those who cannot abide thinking that goes beyond what their tiny little minds comprehend:

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them . . . Lightly, lightly . . . When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”

~ Aldous Huxley, Island

Music by the Eagles, “Wasted Time”


                   

You Can’t Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.

~ Barbara Ras