“I feel all shadows of the universe multiplied deep inside my skin.” ~ Virginia Woolf

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Carnival Port Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

                  

“I am subject to wind, the perambulations of the moon, the constellations, and anxiety.” ~ Rikki Ducornet, from The Complete Butcher’s Tales

Monday, late afternoon. Partly cloudy and warm, low 70’s.

Captain Corey
Captain Corey Relaxing on the Beach
L. Liwag

Well, here we are, fifteen days until Christmas. We got back from vacation Saturday night. I spent all day yesterday unpacking, organizing and doing tons of laundry. Alexis and Eamonn both denied agreeing to pick us up at the airport on Saturday, much in the same way they both denied agreeing to take us to the airport last Sunday. Neither of us were surprised; we took a taxi the few miles home.

Vacation was absolutely heaven, just the two of us, warm temperatures, blue water, sunny skies (except for one day). My lungs cleared; my cough disappeared; I had no headaches. I’ve been home two days and the nastiness in my chest is back; I awoke with a migraine, and the cough is making a full comeback. Mind over matter? The air? The temperature changes? Who knows . . .

Corey and I gave each other our vacation to the Bahamas as our Christmas present for the last five years. Actually, it’s been almost seven years since we went anywhere together, a very long time. We did a whole lot of nothing besides eating, relaxing, and being tourists. I cannot begin to tell you how much my mind and body needed the recharge before embarking upon another new year.

“How many years have slipped through our hands? 
At least as many as the constellations we still can identify. 
The quarter moon, like a light skiff,
 floats out of the mist-remnants
 Of last night’s hard rain. 
It, too, will slip through our fingers
 with no ripple, without us in it.” ~ Charles Wright

I will admit, though, that it took me a full 48 hours before I began to relax, well and truly relax. I kept thinking about things that needed to be done, bills, money, you name it. I kept feeling guilty for allowing us to do this. That old Puritan guilt that has shaped my life in oh so many ways. Now that we’re back, I still feel a bit guilty, but not nearly as much. Corey and I do and do and do for everyone else, mostly the kids, but we never do for ourselves. This past year was filled with family obligations, and I’m not complaining, but it’s nice to remember that we’re a couple who truly enjoys one another’s company, far away from the daily demands of family and life.

Carnival Ecstasy
Carnival Ecstasy at Anchor
L. Liwag

Unfortunately, I got a telephone call once we were back letting me know that my brother-in-law Patrick died on Wednesday. Patrick is my ex’s brother, but I have always been close to him; we’ve had a special relationship. Patrick is the one who was in a car accident years ago that left him a paraplegic who could not speak. He kept his mental faculties and his exceptional mind, but he was trapped in a body that no longer functioned on its own. Patrick was married to my German sis-in-law Helma.

He contracted bronchitis and went downhill quickly. Ann says that he went peacefully in his sleep, and for that I am so thankful.

To be honest, Patrick lived a much, much longer life than any of us ever thought that he would. After the accident, because he was so susceptible to illness and because he has had a couple of life-threatening bouts, we (the family) weren’t so sure he would even last a decade. The accident was in 1983. He lived almost three decades after.

“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating.” ~ Louis Aragon, from Paris Peasant

So our homecoming was bittersweet. My ex and Ann will be flying to Germany for the memorial. I would like to go, but that’s not possible.

Swimming with the Fishes, Bahamas by cdorobek FCC
Swimming with the Fishes, Bahamas
by cdorobek (FCC)

Some of you may find my continued relationship with my ex’s family a bit strange, but truthfully, I was probably much closer to his mom and siblings than he was, and in my mind, I divorced him, not his family. Anyway, I feel fortunate to have such an extended family, the losses of the past 15 months notwithstanding.

So I am moving into this Christmas season filled with mixed emotions—not all that different from any other year, I suppose.

Last night my dreams included my dad, who was dressed up to go to some big government function, and I was a visitor staying at someone’s home, but the teenaged girls who lived in the home resented all of the company. I tried to talk to one of the young girls, to ask her who her heroes were, but she told me that she didn’t have any. I told her that everyone needs heroes. And in the dream, I was doing laundry . . .

“I go through phases. Somedays I feel like the person I’m supposed to be, and then somedays, I turn into no one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope that on the days you find me and all I am are darkened lines, you still are willing to be near me.” ~ Mary Kate Teske

I will finish 2012 short of my reading goal of 60 books, even though in the past month I’ve read quite a few, and I will finish well short of my writing goal. I did not work on my stories at all while we were gone, even though I had plans to do so. I did finish two books, and I worked on my tan, obviously not as artistically productive, but hey, I didn’t get any sun this past summer.

Tugboat, Freeport Bahamas
Tugboat Water Spray, Freeport, Bahamas
C. Fickel

While we were on the ship, we did a little bit of karaoke, and boy, did I find out how out of shape my vocal chords are. Yikes. It was fun, and one night, I even sang with a band, but my performances were, shall we say, tepid at best. Who cares? I’m never going to see anyone on that ship again (although we did meet some people from the area). Singing again did make me hanker to get my voice back in shape We shall see, I suppose.

Let’s see, what else? A book I really want to read comes out tomorrow, and Peter Jackson’s new movie The Hobbit releases this week. I am anticipating the first and absolutely quivering with anticipation over the second. I still contend that I would be Peter Jackson’s gopher given the chance.

This week I hope to do holiday cards and perhaps to begin to decorate the house, although the warm temperatures do not exactly make me feel all wintery wonderland inside. Lex and Mike leave this weekend to visit his family in Mississippi for the holidays, which means that I will not see Olivia for 12 days. I have missed her tremendously in the past week and a half; I had hoped that Alexis would come by before we left, but alas, no.

“This morning, waking to unaccustomed calmness,
I write these words to stay in that silent, unfevered existence,
to delay the other words that are waiting.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “I Write These Words to Delay”

Before we left, I was looking through photographs for some reason, and I came across a photo of Shakes that we took before the family vacation in 2007. My suitcase was on the couch, and Shakes crawled inside and went to sleep. Obviously, he wanted to go with us. It was weird coming home to just the two dogs, no smelly fat boy to curl up against me my first night home.

Parasailing Half Moon Cay
Parasailing in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

I did not take a lot of photographs while we were gone. In truth, there just wasn’t that much to shoot. We didn’t venture beyond the ports. Our afternoon on the private Half Moon Cay was delightful, though, and I got some nice shots of Corey and the water. Speaking of water, it was so clear that I watched schools of fish swim around me. It was heavenly just spending some leisurely moments doing nothing but idly paddling as the sun beat down. The air was clean and there were no sounds of traffic or sirens or whatever. I was able to shut out pretty much everything and just chill. I did kind of wish that I could go parasailing, though.

I think I had forgotten how to do that. Chilling is an art form that comes naturally to some people, and then for people like me who are wrapped too tightly most of the time, it is an acquired state of being. I wonder if I could live like that all of the time . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Julie Roberts, “Wake Up Older”

                

A Momentary Creed

I believe in the ordinary day
that is here at this moment and is me

I do not see it going its own way
but I never saw how it came to me

it extends beyond whatever I may
think I know and all that is real to me

it is the present that it bears away
where has it gone when it has gone from me

there is no place I know outside today
except for the unknown all around me

the only presence that appears to stay
everything that I call mine it lent me

even the way that I believe the day
for as long as it is here and is me

~ W. S. Merwin

 

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

Tonight I Wanna Cry

System Failure

red-green-mms-on-clear-background1So, I’m sure that most of you have heard Keith Urban’s song “Tonight I Wanna Cry.” And if you haven’t, it doesn’t really matter because it’s the title that’s relevant. I’m sitting here in my sweats, new Christmas socks (gingerbread men), a bag of Christmas peanut M&M’s (red and green only), and I’m feeling completely sorry for myself. It’s colder than a witch’s tit outside (have no idea where that completely nonsensical saying came from), my toes are cold, and my neck won’t turn to the right.

But none of these things are what’s causing me to be down. It’s more of a global kind of down, one of those system failures, you know, like when your computer just isn’t acting right but you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong with it? That would be me tonight. I wonder why they don’t have a Symantec scan for people, one that you could plug into your ear and run to find out what’s wrong: A few beeps and knocks later, and then a message appears on the screen: system infected with rhino virus, aka common cold. Take an ibuprofen, orange juice, and get eight hours of sleep. Or system screwed . . . too much information to process. Suggest shut down for 24 hours. Microsoft or Symantec could make another billion.

It’s not a holiday letdown because I never really went into a holiday high this year, too much stress from losing the wallet and its contents prevented that. In fact, it just never really felt like Christmas at all this year, just another day, too weird. I sent out the cards; the tree was decorated, packages wrapped; dining room table was put together, but none of it seemed to permeate me.

I think that I can attribute this low partially to two things: Sarah McLachlan and Carnival Cruises.  It seems that whenever I turned around, there was Sarah Mac on late night television singing “Angel,” and if I didn’t turn away quickly enough, I would see pictures of dogs and cats with one paw wrapped up, one eye missing, clawing to get out of a cage, a beagle shivering in the cold, a beagle of all things. Sarah Mac is evil I tell you. She has this angelic voice, and that’s what sucks you in, but then she shows you these pictures of these poor animals, and  you want to run to the nearest shelter and bring all of them home, especially the beagle and the old golden retriever who is trying to get under the gate.

Why is that evil, you might ask? She is only trying to do a community service ad. Oh, but you don’t understand the evil intent behind it. You take Sarah Mac’s beautiful voice and these helpless, beautiful animals, and then try to look away. You can’t, you simply can’t, and that’s the point, and she knows it. At Christmas, she changed the song to “Silent Night.”  How much can one person take?

Corey had to put the television on mute for my own good. If not, I’d be coming home with about six more dogs, and the reality is that this home is way too small for six more dogs. We’re pushing it with three. I cannot go to a shelter and leave without an animal. I simply can’t. They are all calling my name and wondering why I’m not taking them home. It’s much too painful.

And as far as Carnival Cruise Lines go, the economy is obviously hurting them because they are sending me e-mails every other day offering me wonderful prices on 5, 6, and 7 day cruises as a return guest. Belize is calling my name, they claim. And you know what, I can hear Belize calling my name. I can hear fruity drinks with umbrellas and white sand calling my name. I can hear total irresponsibility calling my name. I can hear a suite upgrade calling my name. And boy does it sound good.

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Wednesday's Child by Maureen Mahoney

I’ve had 365 days of pure crap, and 7 days of cruising around the Caribbean sounds like bliss to me. But it isn’t going to happen any more than I’m going to win the Lotto, so I’m sitting here shoving M&Ms into my mouth and wondering how it got to be 2009 with no major changes happening.

Wednesday’s Child

An old friend of mine used to jokingly say that if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. I know that’s from an old country song, but damned if it isn’t true still. Then another person said that you make your own luck. I thought about that, and I wondered how exactly you make your own luck. Is it the thinking happy thoughts, looking on the bright side of life kind of thing?

Well, what if I were born on a Wednesday? Remember that, Wednesday’s child is full of woe? I used to think that that was the most unfair rhyme ever. Only Wednesday got the short end of the stick because someone couldn’t figure out a better way to fit the rhyme scheme. Great. I’m given woe because of some bastard’s laziness. Figures. At least I have a beautiful portrait to look at by Maureen Mahoney.

But as usual, I digress . . .

Why so blue, you might ask? as if there were one thing in particular bringing down the Lola, the Carlotta, woman of many guises but no single self. Well, it’s the new year, so new things should be on the horizon, but nothing is looming, no Fata Morgana, no signs of change, and I do not think that I can take months and months more of this sameness. 

I feel as if something bad is waiting on the periphery, but I cannot see it yet; I can only begin to feel it, and it does not feel friendly. Attribute it to my signs, if you will. I have no way of holding it at bay any longer. Too many signs are pointing in bad directions. My empty wallet never turned up with just my pictures in it as I had hoped; who would need the picture of Caitlin that I had carried around for 20 years? I know that they just trashed it, and that breaks my heart.

No signs yet that Corey is going to get the Coast Guard approval that he needs for his upgrade, and until he gets that, he cannot apply for the jobs that he wants, and near-coastal jobs are at a standstill. Everyone has boats tied up in the yard for lack of work. No signs that Eamonn is going to come around any time soon, and I am just numb to that situation because I simply don’t have anything else to give at the moment.

I had hopes that we would do more on the house after Christmas, but that momentum seems to have died already, and I can’t really say anything about it because I don’t have any momentum left in me. I can’t even get out of bed in the afternoons, and I honestly don’t know what is wrong with me. I want to get up. I want to do things. But I simply, physically cannot. I am drained to my last corpuscle.

Hence the need for a system diagnostics and reboot. I wish that humans could do what computers do when they go off track. I don’t even have the energy to read one of my new books or to watch a DVD. And this pity party is starting to wear on me. Even the dogs are looking at me cock-eyed as if to say, “Hey. Enough. We haven’t played in days. What’s your problem?” And I can’t say that I blame them. Being this run down makes you more tired than you should be, and even a dog can only sleep 22 hours a day.

Snap Out of It

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Versace Red Snap-Out-Of-It Bag (I So Would If I Could)

I know that it’s bad when my new Christmas socks don’t really make me happy. I’m hoping that this down time doesn’t last too long. I don’t handle them as well as I used to, and Corey isn’t as empathetic when he is already down himself. My mother is no help. Remember, she’s the one who used to say, “snap out of it. Watch something happy on television. You just make yourself sad.”

Her latest thing is that my antiques make me sad, keeping things from the past, like some of my Dad’s old things, make me sad. If she had her way, she would throw out anything old and buy new everything. No nostalgia for her. No sir. Why have memories. They only make you sad. “That’s why they’re called memories, Ma. Because you remember.”

“Who the hell says I want to remember anyone or anything. Get rid of it. That’s what I say.” She kind of reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker in an oddly strange way: “Why so sad?” Neither of them can understand why people might want to feel things.

Oh well, enough of the pity party. Maybe I’ll try going to be early and see if that helps. Yep. Whatever. More later. Peace.