“Find the joy in your life, Edward.” ~ Carter Chambers, The Bucket List

                   

Carter Chambers: Forty-five years goes by pretty fast.
Edward Cole: Like smoke through a keyhole. ~ From The Bucket List (Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson)

So one of my newest compatriots over at Sweet Mother sent some blog love my way in the form of an award:

The rules are to use all 26 letters of the alphabet to say something about yourself. She made a list of 26 things that annoy her, which was hilarious, by the way. I talk about things that annoy me all day long, so I thought that for a change of pace, I’d make a list of 26 things that I want to put on my bucket list, places I want to see, people I want to meet, things I want to do. Can’t wait to get to Z.

Here goes:

Old Typewriter by rahego (FCC)

A: I won’t cheat by using the letter as the article that it is. In this case, I would have to say that it stands for Athens. I know that Greece is pretty much in the toilet right now, but I have long-held a desire to visit Greece for two reasons: to see if it really as is blue and white as all of the travel photos depict it and to visit the ancient ruins before they erode away completely. I’ll be you thought it would be Australia . . . that’s a different entry.

B: Is is too obvious to say that this stands for book, as in the one that I’m writing in my head, the one that I want to compose on an old IBM Selectric, the one that will probably never be published? The other b is Belgium. I wonder how much longer this little country will be around? I want to go. Something about the old architecture of Europe really calls to me.

Cardiff, Wales (Wikimedia Commons)

C: Hands down, Cardiff, Wales. Dr. Who. Torchwood. It’s Wales. It’s old. Did I say that it’s Wales? A close second would be cosmetic surgery, as in having the fat in my stomach moved around and redistributed to my tatas and my buttocks. But since I know the value of a dollar, this is not going to happen, so I’m sticking with Cardiff. The other c you’ve heard about time and again: a cottage by the sea with Adirondack chairs and a sprawling garden. One or the other or both, preferably,

D: Diving, as in scuba. I know. There is very little chance that with my lung capacity that this will ever happen, but the idea first occurred to me in the 10th grade when I opened a book and saw the incredible blue waters of some island, can’t even remember which one now. But I used to sit my butt down and watch every single Jacques Cousteau show that came on television before the days of 2,000 channels, and I always wanted to dive, to go far enough under the water to see the sea. Still want to do this.

E: Obviously, Ewoks are out of the question, but it’s such a great sounding word that I just had to throw it into the mix. Actually, there are two places in the world that I would love to see: Edewecht, Germany and Egypt. The first is where my German relatives live, and one day I’m going to make the trip across the water to see them. I don’t know if Egypt will ever happen, but wouldn’t it be cool to see all of the ancient architecture there?

F: As in Fitzgerald, F. Scott. I know that I cannot meet him, but I would love to live as an expat as he did, living on the edge, writing books and stories. Okay, to make it more realistic, let’s say France and Fitzgerald. The French are, admittedly, xenophobes who don’t much like anyone who isn’t French, but the museums, the cuisine, the wine . . . definitely on my want-to-do list.

Skydiving instructor: Okay, let’s deploy
Edward Cole: [singing] I’ve got a feeling I’m falling!
Skydiving instructor: We’re in the red zone, pull the cord!
Edward Cole: [singing] I’ve got a feeling I’m falling in love
Skydiving instructor: PULL THE DAMN CORD!
Edward Cole: [pause] I was in love once… ~ The Bucket List

G: This one has been on my list for years: glider. I want to feel the freedom of floating in a glider, which I imagine is as close to flying as a human can come (other than those bat suit thingies which look both intriguing and scary as hell), And no, hang-gliding would not be enough. I do have one other g: the Great Wall, which I want to see for my dad, who traveled the world but never saw this structure. I know that it was on his bucket list, even though he never really had one of those.

Silent Glider

H: Hammersmith, England, which is where I spent several years as a child. I would like to go back and see everything now as an adult, visit the pubs, go to all of the places that I saw as a child and appreciate them with adult eyes—Oxford Street and all the rest. Another h: hot air balloon. The idea of going up in something like this excites me, enthralls me. I had two chances previously, but did not do so. There was a boy in the very first composition class that I taught at Virginia Tech, and he was an avid ballooner (term?). He would write about it in detail, and ever since, I have wanted to do this.

I: Do I need to say it? Ireland. I’m going there one day, and I may never come back. It’s so built up in my head that I’m truly hoping that the reality doesn’t pale in comparison to my idea, but I don’t think so. So much history, so many writers and poets, so much green.

Ireland (from Trip Originator)

J: Jackson, as in Peter Jackson. I know that this might seem like a really bizarre fixation, but I think that this man is a genius, and I would love to meet him, work for him, fetch his tea, whatever. This man took my favorite series and made it a reality without butchering it, and considering the complexity of Tolkien’s vision, that’s nothing to sneeze at in derision.

K: Kiwi, as in New Zealand (see Peter Jackson above). I want to go to New Zealand as much as I want to go to Australia, and this isn’t a new want, and it didn’t even arise with Jackson. A lifetime ago, my ex and I actually talked seriously about moving across the world and starting over. The other big K is kayaking. I did this once, and I really loved it.

L: Not a person and not a place, but an animal: Labrador Retrievers. I have decided that I will always own at least one. They are the most loving of dogs, intelligent and loyal, and more importantly, they make me laugh, which is not something that I can say about many things. The other l is library, as in a personal library, as in I want.

M: Manola Blahniks or something in that vein, Louboutin, Gucci, whatever. Yes, I would probably fall off them and break something, but just once, to have a really expensive pair of shoes, even second-hand. I don’t know why. This is a bucket list, after all. It doesn’t have to be reasonable. The other really extravagant item that has been on my list for a very long time is a Mercedes SL. I know that I’ll never own one of the sports line of this driving machine, but as with the shoes, I can dream.

Louboutin Classic Pumps

N: New York. I know that it sounds trite, but I want to go back to New York with Corey and show him all of the museums, enjoy the bustle and flow, be a tourist. The other place in this category is New Orleans. I haven’t been in many years, and definitely not since Hurricane Katrina. I want to go back and have hot beignets and rich coffee.

O: Another one that I have long had on the list: the Orient Express. Yes, in part because of Agatha Christie, but also because I think that it would be a remarkable way to tour several countries, do the entire line, all the way to Istanbul. Expensive, possibly prohibitively so, but a woman can still dream, can’t she? Oh, another o: Oregon. Don’t know why, but think I would like it.

P: A poesy ring.This speaks to the very heart of my Medieval nature. These rings are based on ancient designs in which the inscribed phrase is Latin, Greek, ancient Gaelic, or French, among others, and I have wanted one for years and years. And of course, Ph.D., as in still want one.

Orient Expressman Pullman by Dick Penn (FCC)

Q: Queensland, Australia. My blogger friend Maureen has instilled in me an appreciation for Australia, and I really want to see the Great Barrier Reef.

R: Rowing. Sounds strange, yes, but I actually enjoyed the act of rowing when I owned a rowing machine, and I used to think that I would like to translate the act to the water itself. If not full on rowing, then kayaking. Ideally, I would kayak in Australia and then fly over to New Zealand to visit Peter Jackson . . .

S: Selectric, vintage (see B above). Red or black. Good working order. Will pay for shipping . . .

T: Tri-gold interlocked ring, preferably antique. Again, another long-held desire of mine. A friend of mine at the newspaper had one as her wedding band, and it was an antique, and I coveted it from the moment I first laid eyes on it. Such a simple design but so beautiful. When Corey and I first talked about getting married, I had told him that I wanted one, but we never found one.

Carter Chambers: [to Edward, of the two questions asked of the dead by the gods at the entrance to heaven] Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others? ~ The Bucket List

U: Not a country, not an item, not a person, but a feeling: unburdened, unencumbered, as in no more outstanding debt. No more calls from creditors. No more bills that cannot be paid. To feel the weight of such a state lifted from our collective shoulders—achieving this one would be pure bliss. Truly.

Buick Enclave

V: Vehicle of my own, mine, just mine. I know that this is an American thing, that Europeans don’t possess this car-love, but it’s been so long since Izzie, my Trooper, and I haven’t had my own vehicle, and gosh darnit, I want one. I only have a few specifications: small SUV, hybrid would be nice, color must be black or charcoal grey, leather seats so that I can have heat for my back, a good stereo system, and plenty of cup holder space. The vehicle doesn’t have to be new, but it has to be mine.

W: A walkabout. I don’t know where, perhaps the Appalachian Trail, but I love the concept. Not a Forrest Gump kind of walkabout, but a Crocodile Dundee kind of walkabout, without the hamminess. I used to love to go hiking in the Virginia foothills, and always fancied going further. Men can do walkabouts, but a woman setting off on her own in an unknown direction for an unspecified amount of time? Still not possible, really, is it? For now, I’ll fill this dream with simply getting back to walking. Soon. Really.

X: I always think of Coleridge when confronted with x, and a place that no longer exists: “In  Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree.” I’m going to cheat on this one because I really cannot think of anything x-specific, so instead, I’ll do math: a+b=x, with a being the equivalent of a room, and b being the equivalent of ample space, which makes x the equivalent of a room with enough space to have my writing area, my books, and a comfy seat to curl up with a book.

Window Seat (from Coastal Living)

Y: Yoga. I miss yoga. I loved the way that it made me feel. These past few years when the money has been so tight and extras have been out of the question, I’ve put the idea of yoga classes on the back burner. I’m hoping that by this summer I might be able to start taking them again.

Z: This was a toss-up. Should I choose zenzizenzizenzic, which everyone knows is the eighth power of a number? Or how about zho, the cross between a yak and a cow? Or perhaps zoanthropy, the delusion that one is an animal? I do happen to like zydeco, Louisiana Creole music, and I have eaten zwieback, a toasted biscuit. I’m not particularly fond of ziti, finding it too thick. I could go on for days; the Internet is a wonderful place for nonsense. In other words, I don’t have a z place or a z person. I suppose I have arrived at zeroable—able to be removed from a sentence without any loss of meaning.

Runners-up: A hedgehog, anything leather by Kenneth Cole, Iceland, white-water rafting, a 5K, built-in bookcases, room of my own, a comfortable couch, the Venice opera house, and the means to buy any book that I want.

Thanks again, Sweet Mother.

More later. Peace.

                   

Late addition:

ABC

I’ll never find out now
What A. thought of me.
If B. ever forgave me in the end.
Why C. pretended everything was fine.
What part D. played in E’s silence.
What F. had been expecting, if anything.
Why G. forgot when she knew perfectly well.
What H. had to hide.
What I. wanted to add.
If my being around
meant anything
to J. and K.
and the rest of the alphabet.

~ Wislawa Sz;ymborska 

“If the earth needs night as well as day, wouldn’t it follow that the soul requires endarkenment to balance enlightenment?” ~ Tom Robbins from Jitterbut Perfume

Abstract: Branching Dream in Blues, by russell.tomlin
                   

“Where do colors go at night, before they are returned to us at dawn?” ~ Lorenzo

Sunday evening. Clear and chilly.

"Un Parc la nuit," by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai (ca. 1892-1895, Musee d’Orsay)

Last night I dreamed that I was fighting a dragon, a huge, purple dragon that swooped down over the meadow I happened to be in, and somehow, I escaped, only to fight a wolf with my bare hands. Weird, huh?

I love my husband; he shares everything me. For instance, his winter cold—clogged ears, cough, aches, and all. His symptoms began about four or five days ago. Mine hit their high point yesterday, so another day in bed for me. How does one repay such generosity of spirit? I’ll find a way. Trust me.

 I didn’t come near the computer yesterday, which should give you an idea as to how low I felt. Instead, I read another book, this one by James Rollins. Please don’t ask me the title as I haven’t the foggiest idea. I just breezed through it in between napping. It possessed my little grey cells only for as long as I was actively reading. Sometimes those are the best kinds of books: formulaic plots that don’t tax the mind too much but manage to pass the time suitably, i.e., smart, independent woman, strong man, mad scientist/curator/military leader, possible end of the world scenario.

In other news, I think that I have finally, finally gotten my health insurance fiasco fixed. My last e-mail exchange with the HR rep at GW seems to confirm this, which makes it less fantasy and more possible reality. I know. Stupid isn’t it when wishing that you had health insurance that you are paying for actually worked? So if everything goes as hoped, I can make appointments with all of the specialists that I need to see: the neurologist, the gastro guy, the gyn, the eye doctor, and the mood doctor. Oh, and the breast smashing-people.

I have so much to look forward to.

“. . . Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”~ John F. Kennedy 

Tunisian Demonstrators Place Flowers in the Barrels of Soldiers' Guns from the majalla.com

On to other things . . . Corey has an aunt and uncle in Egypt. I’m not exactly sure as to their location, but I do know that they live in an American compound. Still, it’s a situation fraught with dangers. I will admit that I am not as up on the background that led to the current uprisings. My ongoing headache has greatly affected my usual perusal of news sites. But I did come across the following on my tumblr dash:

“The current popular unrest in the Arab world has a lot of lessons for Washington. Undoubtedly one of the most jarring is this: The leak of a simple series of cables from a U.S. ambassador in an obscure country — officially condemned by Washington — may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.”

Michael Hirsch of The National Journal was referencing Tunisia in the above passage, which many feel has a direct link to what is happening now in Egypt. According to The Daily Mail, “A 2008 diplomatic cable leaked by the WikiLeaks site outlines how the U.S. State Department supported a pro-democracy activist and lobbied for the release of dissidents from custody.” The article goes on to state that “the protests were triggered by the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Al Ben Ali. Street protests in Tunis focused on similar issues, including poverty and political repression.”

I must take the time to research the situation more thoroughly. If anyone has any good links, I’d appreciate the info.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” ~ Guatama Buddha

Grass on Water by Russell.Tomlin

In less world-shattering news, I have decided to enter an informal poetry contest that one of my fellow tmblrs is holding (A Poet Reflects).

Now, I should probably explain a few things here for those of you who think that entering such a contest is old hat for me. First, and probably most importantly, to enter the contest, I must submit my work. This means that someone other than my computer and occasionally a few family members will see my poetic attempts. The idea of such a thing scares the ever-loving bejeezus out of me.

Second, I don’t practice my poetry often; dabbling might be stretching the reality a bit. I am much more comfortable in prose. But occasionally, a poem comes to me out of the blue. You would think (well, most logical people would think) that such flashes would inspire me to hasten to some writing utensil to put down the words that are bouncing around in my head so that I can work with them more. Nope. Don’t do it. Too scared.

Too convinced that my poems are hack. Too certain that there is no point. So after reading about this contest, that night in bed the opening of a poem came to me. I went over it several times, rearranging words, deleting some, inserting others. By the time I was finished with my musings, I probably had eight or ten lines. Now anyone else might get out of bed and write these lines down so that they could be revisited in the morning. Did I do that? No. I told myself, ‘self, surely you will remember all of this mental gymnastics in the morning. Go to sleep.’

And so I did.

“So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.”~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Chinese Lanterns at Night," by Thomas Watson Ball

 Of course I did not remember. This is the third thing in the list of things you should know about my poetry, and/or writing in general: I am my own worst enemy.

The next day, after bemoaning the fact that I could remember not even one line, I took a pad of paper and pen and sat on the bed to begin again. (I prefer to draft poems with pen rather than computer—probably the only kind of writing that I do with pen any more.) I was rather pleased when I drafted eight quatrains, rapid-fire. Rather surprised, too. Then I reread them and promptly put down the pen and paper and thought to myself, “Crap. Crap. Crap.” A few hours later, a totally new opening came to me, and having learned my lesson somewhat, I wrote down the new opening. Then I left everything alone so that I could mull and stew a bit (I view poems a lot like my homemade spaghetti sauce: it needs to simmer to reach its optimum flavor).

Okay, now here is the kicker: I put the three pages of pen-written draft in my book basket next to my side of the bed. At some point during the evening, I knocked over my cup of tea. Where did most of it land?

Do I really need to tell you? On my draft. I spread the soaked sheets of paper on plain white paper (one was written on both the front and back, something I rarely do) and left them to dry. It’s been two days. Have I looked at the pages to see if they are readable?

Of course not. Will I finish this poem in time to submit by the deadline? Who knows.

Perhaps the more interesting aspect is the journey that I have taken to write the poem rather than the poem itself. Then again, that just might be more of my self-justification for not doing what I need to do. Did I mention that a book of Pessoa’s poetry is the prize? That alone should motivate me to enter the contest.

I’ll let you know what I do when I know what I’m going to do.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

                   

From “Silence,” by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man with a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick,
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities—
We cannot speak.

“Life is a spell so exquisite, that everything conspires to break it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

 

Virginia Woolf’s Writing Table, Monk’s House, by Gisele Freund

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson

Poets' Walk, Central Park, NY

I woke up speaking French again. Very disconcerting. However, as Corey pointed out, what would be more disconcerting is if I did not actually know French, but I was speaking it in my dreams. Granted, my conversational abilities are very limited, but for some reason, I dream in French occasionally.

It’s absolutely beautiful here today, a perfect spring day. That is, everything would be perfect if not for one thing: yesterday was opening day at the park that our house abuts. Opening day is exactly what it sounds like: the baseball season opening, which means lots of cars beeping their horns, the loudspeaker blaring at 9 in the morning, car alarms, and litter.  Every year, people park illegally in front of our house. I say illegally because of the no-parking signs and the fire hydrant, not because I don’t want them to park there. I try to warn people if I see them parking that they will get a ticket if the police happen by, but they usually just look at me as if I am being the neighborhood bitch.

Hello. Fire hydrant. Blocking it is a bad thing, remember? Oh well.

I’m very excited because season 4 of The Tudors premieres tonight. This will be the last season for the Showtime series, starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII. In this season, Henry will marry his last two wives (Katherine Howard and Catherine), get old and fat, and go to war. So far, season 2 has been my favorite.

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.” ~ T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Poets' Walk, Clevedon, UK

The news is full of sad things: the death of the Polish president and his contingent while en route to Smolensk, Russia for a memorial. According to news reports, the visit to the Katyn forest was to mark the 70th anniversary of the killing of thousands of Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviet secret security during World War II, an action that led to a huge rift between Poles and Russians.

In Comfort, West Virginia, the bodies of the four missing miners were found, bringing the total number of those killed to 29. The Upper Big Branch mine disaster is the worst in U.S. history since the 1970 disaster in Kentucky. Apparently, the rescue crews walked past the four bodies that first day, but could not see them because the air was so smoky and dusty.

A Tennessee woman put her seven-year-old adopted Russian son on a plane by himself. The plane was going to Russia, and the ticket was one-way. The mother claims that the boy, renamed Justin, terrified her family by threatening to burn down the house with everyone inside. Now the woman’s family is claiming that the Russian orphanage lied to her about the boy’s behavior problems. So many things wrong with this story, not the least of which is the fact that the woman wasn’t returning a broken vacuum to Wal Mart. The adoptive grandmother bought the ticket, and the family arranged to pay a man in Russia $200 to take Justin from the airport and leave him at the Russian education ministry. A note was sent with the boy that read in part, “After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.”

And on another sad note, Dixie Carter, star of television series “Designing Women” has died at the age of 70. I loved wise-cracking Julia Sugerbaker. Like the woman who portrayed her, she was smart, attractive, and took no guff from anyone. Funnily enough, some of my friends used to compare me to Julia Sugerbaker, can’t understand why. Carter was married to actor Hal Holbrook.

“your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose” ~ e. e. cummings, “somewhere i have never travelled”

Poets' Walk, Red Hook (Hudson River Valley), NY

One of my blog friends is packing some books to ship to me. I cannot wait. For me, nothing is better than a box of books, not even a squishy black leather Kenneth Cole purse, if that gives you any idea as to how much I love books. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a Kenneth Cole purse, but since no one is offering . . . Anyway, Kelly is a bibliophile like myself, so she understands just how dispiriting it is not to have books to read, hence her very generous offer to send me some books. In the future, I hope to participate in the Goodreads Book Swap, which is a wonderful idea.

If you love books but have yet to visit the Goodreads site, I suggest you do so soon. Goodreads is a great resource for readers in so many ways. Go to http://www.goodreads.com/. You’ll be glad that you did.

My ex called me last night, just to talk. Wow. I don’t remember seeing the news that hell had frozen over. No really, it’s been a long time since we’ve had a conversation that did not quickly escalate into an argument. He even sounded relatively sober, another first. I did suggest, very gently, that he might want to try to spend a bit more time with his mother as there is no way of knowing how much longer she will be around. I am one of the few people who can get away with saying something like that to him. His sister has tried, but he sees that as her way of trying to tell him how to live his life. I had heard that his girlfriend is moving here from Chicago. He confirmed that she will be here in July. That should be interesting. His last two serious relationships went up in flames. I hope this one works for him.

Now don’t be that way. I’m being sincere. As much as we have our problems—and boy, do we have our problems—I do wish him well. If for no other reason than the fact that when he’s happy, we get along better and can actually have adult conversations that don’t devolve into name-calling. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how Eamonn gets along with a new stepmom.

On that note, I think that I’ll close for today with an appropriate quote from Barbara Kingsolver:

“April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can’t keep, all passion is really a setup, and we’re doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally . . . Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I’m nuts. “

More later. Peace.

The one and only Ray Charles singing “Georgia on My Mind.” Classic.

And for those of you who loved “Designing Women,” here is a classic Julia Sugerbaker moment: