“I really think I write about everyday life. I don’t think I’m quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.” ~ Edward Gorey

cc by-nc-nd Bruno Monginoux www.photo-paysage.com & www.landscape-photo.net
Paris in the Fog
by Bruno Monginoux (cc)

                   

“I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted, or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored.” ~ Bill Bryson, from Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America

Saturday, late afternoon. Overcast and 50 degrees.

Well, guess what. No, really. Go on. Guess who has come to visit me again . . . My old friend Insomnia. Got to sleep somewhere around 5:30 this morning only to be awakened a few minutes later by Tillie the Lab who deemed it time to go out. When I was finally able to roll out of bed, my head felt as it if was contained in a vise. Still sitting here squinting, so I’m not sure how far I’ll actually get today.

Hot shower and lots of steam loosened the tightness a bit, but not enough for full relief.

Early Morning Fog, Audubon Park by Paul Couroux CC
Early Morning Fog, Audubon Park
by Paul Couroux (cc)

So I’ve been pondering some odd things lately, like life, in general and my life here, specifically. Quality of life, as in how would I describe the quality of my life. And more specifically, temperament of life, as in how would I define the essence of my life.

For one thing, Corey asked me how I can stand it not to have left the house in weeks, and I really had to think about that. On the one hand, it bothers me a great deal, much more than it did say two years ago. I miss getting in the Rodeo and driving. I miss seeing Olivia on a regular basis, but do I miss those things enough to cross the threshold to venture into the open air, the wide world beyond my doors?

I’m not sure. I know that’s a cop-out answer, but for now, it will have to do.

“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” ~ Donald Miller, from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Two days ago I had big plans to take Tillie for a walk, only to find it raining when I looked outside. I’m not made of the kind of stuff to begin a regimen in the rain, at least not a walking regimen. So that’s on hold, and unfortunately, I may have already lost the momentum. Sad, really.

But these things lead me to my real question: Am I a boring person? I know that I certainly wasn’t boring when I was younger. And I also know that growing older does not necessitate a move into boring land. So what gives?

Chicago Fog at Night by Emily Barney FCC
Chicago Fog at Night
by Emily Barney (FCC)

Have I lost that ineffable spark, that je ne sais quoi that made me the kind of person around whom people gathered. I’m not talking about popularity, the kind that makes everyone want to be your friend, as I was never that person. But I remember those days during which I always had a circle of friends, and we were doing—talking, arguing, laughing, pontificating, whatever. And we seemed to end up in my car or in my office or at my table.

I’m not sure if I am describing this accurately, so let me back up here. I was never ever mainstream, never ever the girl who attracted all the boys because I was pretty and sweet, never ever the Homecoming Queen. Instead, I was interesting, which is such a nothing vapid word, really. Mysterious, maybe? One of my former teachers wrote something about me being the woman of mystery. I liked that. It fit.

So where has that woman gone?

“Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.” ~ Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes”

Has that woman become so sedentary, so sedate, so tedious? Am I now just humdrum?

It pains me even to consider this, but I think that I must. And if the answer is yes, what do I do? Do I do anything? Do I simply keep this to myself and hope that no one else notices? Surely other people have noticed, say, my family, my spouse? Am I the last to know?

Manhattan Bridge in Fog by merlune FCC
Manhattan Bridge in Fog
by merlune (FCC)

Is this just a phase?

Or, and she pauses here for dramatic effect, is it life that’s boring and not me? Are we both boring? Am I bored with life? Is life bored with me?

I have to tell you that until a couple of days ago, I really didn’t think of myself as boring, nor did I believe that I lead a boring life, but now, I have to admit that perhaps both are true: I am boring, and my life is boring. Of course, I must also admit that this is how a racing mind works, tricking itself into believing things that may or may not be true.

Let’s back up, once again. I know that there are many things that I want to do; many, many things that I want to see; many, many, many places that I want to experience. The bucket list, remember? I also know that on any given day, I have many, many things to say, to share, to impart. So perhaps I now find myself in one of those valleys, one of those expected but unwelcome forays into—shudder—normalcy, and because it is normalcy, I am thoroughly at sea . . .

“There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life.” ~ Kurt Cobain

I know that my children must find me boring. After all, what do I do, really? Do I go out and greet the day with a smile and open arms? Hardly. Do I saunter about, full of self-assurance and charisma? Once upon a time maybe. Do I sit around in black yoga pants and white cotton sweaters and pour my life out onto a screen for anyone to see?

Yep. That would be me. Is this boring? Admittedly, some days it really is, but more days than not, it isn’t.

Flight in Fog by Christmatos FCC
Flight in Fog
by Christmatos (FCC)

I think we get bored with life when we are hating life, and there were many times in the past when I hated life, hated my life, but this isn’t one of those time. I do not hate life. I do wish that some things were different, that, for instance, I were sitting in my office pretending to work but instead writing this blog, that I had on real clothes, that I had people in the offices next to me, some of whom I liked and others of whom I detested. You know, real life.

If I could change just one thing, just one, it would be that I still had a career. But wait. If I were smart (and we know that there are many times in which I am not), should I not embrace the freedom of not having a career and all that is entailed by the supposed free time? Of course I should. But one thing they don’t tell you is that freedom is so much more interesting when you have money.

“We must never, ever be boring.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, from Invisible Monsters

By money, I don’t mean rich. I just mean enough money to go places, see things. Enough money to sit in a coffee shop and read a book.

So I suppose what this lull boils down to is the essence of my life at present: Our income has been cut quite a bit, we are in the post-holiday monetary slump, Corey is between hitches, our utilities are in jeopardy. Oh, and add one other thing: I’ve been stretching out my anti-depressant to make it last until payday. That little detail there.

Bodiam Castle in the Fog by Dean Thorpe FCC
Bodiam Castle (UK) in the Fog
by Dean Thorpe (FCC)
*replaced to include watermark on original

But all of that aside, one thing I have never ever wanted to be is boring. I have never wanted to bore those around me, but I think that I am, and this concerns me. How do I fix this? I’m going to have to ponder this whole thing a bit more, preferably once the headache is gone, and I’m not squinting, and my serotonin levels are back to what they need to be.

Perhaps I should just trash this entire post, but because I like to keep just about everything, I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to put it out there so that I can share my boringness with the world.

I think that I need some dragons to slay. Heh.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ane Brun, “The Light From One”

                   

Walking North

No matter how I turn
the magnificent light follows.
Background to my sadness.

No matter how I lift my heart
my shadow creeps in wait behind.
Background to my joy.

No matter how fast I run
a stillness without thought is where I end.

No matter how long I sit
there is a river of motion I must rejoin.

And when I can’t hold my head up
it always falls in the lap of one
who has just opened.

When I finally free myself of burden
there is always someone’s heavy head
landing in my arms.

The reasons of the heart
are leaves in wind.
Stand up tall and everything
will nest in you.

We all lose and we all gain.
Dark crowds the light.
Light fills the pain.

It is a conversation with no end
a dance with no steps
a song with no words
a reason too big for any mind.

No matter how I turn
the magnificence follows.

~ Mark Nepo

“I am like a book, with pages that have stuck together for want of use: my mind needs unpacking and the truths stored within must be turned over from time to time, to be ready when occasion demands” ~ Seneca

San Carlos Wildflowers

  

“The problem about the future is that it keeps turning into the present.” ~ Bill Watterson
Lake Elsinore Wildflowers

I planned to write about something else today, but after sitting here for a while, I realized that I’m just not interested in that particular topic at the moment, which is always a sign that I won’t have much to say. So I’ll just backtrack a bit and start over. 

Corey is at work until 11 tonight. It’s one of only two shifts for which he is scheduled this week, which really bites, but what can you do? I mean, it’s mid 2010, and shipping has not picked up at all, except for in the Gulf. Corey keeps sending out applications, but no one seems to be ready to hire yet. I never would have imagined when all of this began that he would be off boats for two and a half years. I know that he never imagined that either. 

Brett’s graduation rehearsal is this Friday, and graduation is Monday. I am also having a hard time coming to terms with the reality that my youngest child is leaving high school and going to college in the fall. 

“Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all.” ~ Herodotus
Feverfew Plant

So I was reading about feverfew being a possible preventive for migraines. Feverfew (a member of the sunflower family), also known as bachelor’s buttons, was originally believed to help alleviate fevers, one possible derivation of the name, although, some sources attribute the name to the hot taste of the plant’s root. Although it does not help with fevers, feverfew is an anti-inflammatory, which means that it works much like ibuprofen. Feverfew has been used medicinally for years. In fact, a reference to the plant was found in the works of ancient Greek physicians. 

One article I read stated that feverfew may inhibit chemicals that cause constriction of the blood vessels in the brain; feverfew is also purported to relieve smooth muscle spasms. The chemical in feverfew that is believed to help is called parthenolide. Recommended doses of feverfew as a preventive should contain .2 percent or more of parthenolide. 

Apparently, the feverfew plant is easy to grow, and it spreads quickly. I also read that planting feverfew near roses helps to keep aphids off rose bushes. Another bonus is that one source says that chewing leaves from the feverfew plan offers instant headache relief. I’m all in favor of instant relief. 

Since I am just now coming off the most recent migraine, I suppose this is the next thing that I will try as a supplement in addition to the 1200 milligrams of magnesium that I am currently taking. All I know is that the prescription medication is still a crap shoot: I never know whether or not I will get relief. 

“Self-examination is usually a half-hearted, spontaneous thing we do when we’re either scared or bored. As a result, whatever conclusions we reach are distorted either by a clumsy urgency or a listless sigh . . . ” ~ Jonathan Carroll
Sunflowers in Bulgaria

I got an e-mail from my German sister-in-law: they will be here for eleven days starting on June 6. This now gives me an end date for everyone in the house to accomplish his or her goals in getting the house cleaned. Corey must clean off the dining room table. Brett needs to clean his room and find a place to put the gerbil tank. I need to do some work in Eamonn’s room. These are all attainable goals. We’ll see how that goes. 

It will nice when the Germans get here, especially since the whole family is coming this year. 

Speaking of flowers (feverfew), and I was, Corey’s sunflowers are huge. The tallest one is about nine feet tall. He planted three different kinds, but none are in bloom yet. That corner of the yard is going to be beautiful when the sunflowers bloom. He started planting sunflowers in the yard a few years ago, but this year he went crazy. I don’t even know the total number of plants that he has, and I don’t think that he does either, especially since the slugs kept attacking his seedlings, so he kept planting replacements. 

The only other bit of news is that I’ve launched my tumblr site. I decided to call it Slow Dancing in Quicksand. It will feature the same quotes and images as this site, along with some additional quotes and musical selections. I’m still learning how to use the site, and there’s this whole thing called reblogging that I don’t quite understand yet, but I believe it involves clicking on links of items posted on other tumblr sites, which automatically copies the image or quote or whatever onto your tumblr site. I’ve tried it a couple of times, but I still don’t think that I’m doing it correctly. 

Anyway, I don’t know what possessed me to start another site other than I convinced myself that it won’t involve a lot of extra work as I will already found the information for this site. I suppose I thought that it might get me more exposure on the web, which can be a good thing one day . . . I think. 

To visit my new tumblr site, click here 

More later. Peace.

Music by Los Lobos, “Spanish Guitar”

“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“Spring Rain,” by John Sloan (1912, oil on canvas)

“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Pink Peony with Drops from Night Rain (Wikimedia Commons)

I’m back. Had a brief hiatus while waiting for our Internet to be restored. Usual problem. Anyway, as a result, I am behind on posting as well as reading my favorite blogs, which I plan to do after writing this post. I did spend a bit of my time experimenting with making a couple of videos with Windows Movie Maker. Interesting. Now I just need to figure out how to grab clips from existing movies . . . 

My life is so full. 

Today is my mother’s birthday; tomorrow is Eamonn’s birthday, and tomorrow is my other mother-in-law’s birthday. Speaking of which, yesterday, my other mother-in-law dropped by the house. I was mortified, of course, because the house is in its usual disarray, but what can you do? My o-m-i-l has Parkinson’s Disease, so I was actually quite surprised that she drove over to our house. Surprised, and a bit scared. Her condition has been worsening, and I’m not sure that she should really be driving, but I truly understand how having driving privileges taken away is one of the last vestiges of independence. 

She realizes that she is getting worse, and it really consumes and frustrates her when she is talking and forgets in the middle of a sentence. Parkinson’s is a relentless, unsympathetic condition that gradually eats away the brain. I have known one other person who had it. For those of you who don’t believe in stem cell research, I give you brain tumors and Parkinson’s—two medical conditions that definitely benefit from such research. 

The weather here has been chilly and rainy the last few days, but it is supposed to get warmer towards the end of the week. Spring would be nice. It usually arrives in this area suddenly, and lasts less than a month before becoming hot and humid. 

“Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting.” ~ Audrey Niffenegger, The  Time Traveler’s Wife

Rain on Silene Flower (Wikimedia Commons)

In other news: Brett’s two gerbils, Ben and Jerry, both died within one week of each other. They were brothers, and Brett had them for more than three years. Of course he is saddened by the loss, as am I. They were actually pretty adorable. Fortunately, both Corey and I were around when Brett discovered Jerry, and then later, Ben. I know that made it a bit easier for him as opposed to finding out by himself. 

On Saturday, Brett took his SATs (college board examination). It’s late in the year to be taking them, but he really wasn’t sure what he was going to do this fall. Now he is thinking that he wants to go to Old Dominion for a year. With any luck, he’ll get credit for some of the freshman classes that he has taken in high school, which will save us some money. No point in asking the ex if he plans to help pay for college as he wouldn’t even cough up half of the co-pay for Brett’s medicine. Such a loser. Such a disappointment. 

Alexis had her appointment with the neurologist last Thursday, who confirmed that her seizure was a grand mal seizure, also known as a tonic-clonic seizure. This kind of seizure features a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. Since Alexis has been on a medication that also functions as an anti-seizure medicine, the neurologist thinks that perhaps she may have had seizures before that were prevented by the medication but that this one was particularly bad. She is scheduled for an EEG on Thursday, and an MRI soon. 

The neurologist says that after seeing the results of those two tests he will have a much better idea as to whether or not she has developed epilepsy, which usually presents between the ages of 17 and 21 when not caused by an injury. That I know of, there is no history of epilepsy in our family, but the doctor says that it is not always genetic. I had a cousin on my mother’s side who had epilepsy, but it developed after she was in a serious car accident and suffered a head injury. Other than that, I know of no one else in the family on either side, but then again, I do not know everyone on my father’s side in the Philippines. 

The neurologist also said that he thinks it unlikely that her Wellbutrin caused the seizure since she has been on it for more than four years. All of this is worrisome, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t her medication. Now it’s more waiting until after the tests for some definitive news. 

Corey still hasn’t heard from the port security firm, which is so disappointing. They had told him that they hoped to make a decision by mid week last week. He plans to calls them tomorrow. More waiting. 

“I’m killing time while I wait for life to shower me with meaning and happiness.” ~ Bill Watterson

Last night I had a very strange dream in which it was Fashion Week, but it was here and not in New York. Bizarre. Equally bizarre was the portion of the dream in which I was on the run from someone and wanted to change my appearance, so I went into a hair salon and asked a woman to cut and dye my hair. She recommended a color, which I agreed to, but then she said that my hair would be several different colors, including bleached blonde, and the colors wouldn’t be blended but in horizontal stripes. I told the woman that I really didn’t want striped hair, especially not blonde. She told me that that was what I had agreed to, so she was going to do it. 

Very weird.

Other than that, the long wait continues: the wait for decisions, decisions about jobs, decisions about funds, decisions about school; the wait for warmer weather and spring blossoms; the wait for better sleep and less anxiety; the wait for things to fall into place, or not. I spend so much time waiting, that I am forgetting to live, forgetting to experience, forgetting sometimes, even to breathe deeply. The wait is interminable. The interminable is vexing. 

I am reminded of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”—the wait for what, exactly? The unknown continuing to rule the minutes, the hours, the days . . . until, what? It is March 15, the ides of March. One quarter of the year has passed. The changes I predicted are no nearer now than they were last December. Corey and I were watching something last night, and the ending was too perfect. And I suddenly said, this had better not be a dream, and sure enough, it was a dream, and when the man dreaming awoke, he was still in the same place, still facing the same uncertainties, still pining for change. 

This had better not be a dream. 

More later. Peace. 

                                                                                                                                  

So here is my first YouTube video, Jann Arden and Jackson Browne singing “Unloved.” Most of the images are mine. Hope you like it. 

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all.” ~ Ayn Rand

I miss Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes

 “Were you born this infuriating?”
“It’s taken me years of practice.” ~ Misty Massey from Mad Kestrel

A bit better today. It’s still bone-chillingly cold outside, and pretty chilly inside, but at least I feel able to get out of bed for a bit. You know that you are truly sick when you take a shower and then have to get back into bed to recover from the exertion.

Last night Corey and I watched more of the NCIS backlog on the DVR. One of the best aspects of our cable company is that they supply a DVR with the cable bundle service to which we subscribe. This means that I have the poor man’s version of TiVo, but it works really well. I have all of my favorite shows set up to tape, and I can rank them so that if there happens to be a conflict, the higher-ranked shows will tape.

Anyway, I have this incredible backlog of NCIS (my very favorite show) because Corey asked me to tape it for him, but it’s hard to get him to watch them. So we’ve been making a concerted effort to get caught up. I’ve been picking out the most important story arcs, but there is one problem with that: When a show is a repeat, it does not necessarily have the same name as the original. As a result, we’ve watched some shows out of order, and we are missing a few key shows.

Corey thinks that it’s a subversive plot on my part to drive him crazy: Let’s watch the shows about La Grenouile . . . Oh wait, that one is missing. Only to find the show under a different name later. Personally, the back and forth doesn’t bother me at all as that is the way in which my mind works—all over the place at once—and even though it isn’t a conscience plot, perhaps I am trying to make Corey less rigid in wanting things to be linear . . .

Oh well. At least it sort of sounded good.

“One of ennui’s most terrible components is the overwhelming feeling of ennui that comes over you whenever you try to explain it.” ~ Ingmar Bergman

We’re back to the very strange dreams again. Apparently, I’m waking up not screaming, but arguing, and then when Corey tries to calm me, I get angry with him, and I am so loud that Brett hears me from the other room. I hate that because when I wake up for good, I’m in a foul mood, which makes absolutely no sense. How very strange.

The dreams that I remember are strange as well. In one of them, I found out that Brett had shot someone, but my mother told everyone to lie to me about it. Obviously, I was distressed by this news, and then my dad (always disconcerting when dad appears) told me that he would take care of it and talk to my mom and Brett. The strangest part about this dream was that after the main dream, I then dreamed that I was awake and that I was going to write a book about what had happened. I even came up with the title of the book and the first chapter. Of course when I actually awoke, there was no book, and the title made no sense at all. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I did that automatic writing thing in my sleep and woke up to find a chapter written?

In another one, I someone was shooting me, not near me but at me. I don’t remember a lot about this one except for the fact that I was being shot and that I was screaming at the person who was shooting me. Last night, I had a very, very weird dream in which there was some small-town high school event, and I was going to disrupt it somehow.

I know. Weird. Why can’t I have dreams about lying on a white sandy beach with an umbrella drink in my hands? Just that, nothing else, no confrontations, no conflict, just the ocean, the sand, blue skies. Probably too much to expect of a dream.

“Give me detached existentialist ennui . . . Give me rampant intellectualism as a coping mechanism.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
Flash.”

Okay, so the quotes about ennui? The word popped into my head while I was sitting here trying to figure out the best way to describe the past few days. Ennui: a feeling of listlessness for lack of activity or excitement . . . voila! My past few days. I have been so listless that I cannot even read, which is a very big deal, especially as I am in the middle of a book, but as I said, I am starting to feel a bit better, a little more energy.

I have an embarrassing story to tell about the word ennui: Many years ago I was playing Scrabble with my ex and some friends (for some reason, my ex always won when we played together, which really pissed me off as he was the scientist and I was the lit major). Someone put down the word ennui. Now, I should have recognized the word, but to give me credit, her pronunciation really threw me. She said en-noo-ee, not on-we, so I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, and I challenged her. Of course, I was wrong, but shouldn’t she have lost points for her dreadful mispronunciation?

I know. Poor sport. But I hate to lose at Scrabble, which is probably why no one will play with me any more. I think that it has something to do with my rampant intellectualism as a coping mechanism . . .

“Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure.” ~ Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

I do miss Calvin and Hobbes, as witnessed by today’s images. It was a genius comic strip, written for both the child and adult from a child’s point of view but with infusions of adult wisdom from the stuffed tiger Hobbes. I always viewed Calvin’s perpetual energy, zeal for life, and unabashed talent for reducing things to bare bones as being such a refreshing commentary on life. Watterson did with his strip what Shulz had done with Peanuts years before: used a popular medium to entertain on the one level and enlighten on a more subliminal level. I’m hoping that I can get the collection that hit the market a few months ago, perhaps for my birthday.

I want to share with you a wonderful passage I recently came across. It’s from Simon Rich’s Ant Farm: and Other Desperate Situations, and I think that it is absolutely priceless in summing up frustration:

“I still remember the day I got my first calculator

Teacher: All right, children, welcome to fourth grade math. Everyone take a calculator out of the bin.
Me: What are these?
Teacher: From now on we’ll be using calculators.
Me: What do these things do?
Teacher: Simple operations, like multiplication and division.
Me: You mean this device just…does them? By itself?
Teacher: Yes. You enter in the problem and press equal.
Me: You…you knew about this machine all along, didn’t you? This whole time, while we were going through this…this charade with the pencils and the line paper and the stupid multiplication tables!…I’m sorry for shouting…It’s just…I’m a little blown away.
Teacher: Okay, everyone, today we’re going to go over some word problems.
Me: What the hell else do you have back there? A magical pen that writes book reports by itself? Some kind of automatic social studies worksheet that…that fills itself out? What the hell is going on?
Teacher: If a farmer farms five acres of land a day–
Me: So that’s it, then. The past three years have been a total farce. All this time I’ve been thinking, “Well, this is pretty hard and frustrating but I guess these are useful skills to have.” Meanwhile, there was a whole bin of these things in your desk. We could have jumped straight to graphing. Unless, of course, there’s some kind of graphing calculator!
Teacher: There is. You get one in ninth grade.
Me: Is this…Am I on TV? Is this a prank show?
Teacher: No.”

More later. Peace.

Moby’s “One of these Mornings,” just because it is so beautiful. Actually, couldn’t decide between two videos, so posting both. Let me know if you have a preference . . .