I thought that I’d add something a little different to today’s leftovers post. I was trying to fall asleep when I thought of this list of firsts:
word that pops into your head: palimpsest
song that pops into your head: “House of the Rising Sun”
TV theme show you think of: “Gilligan’s Island”
smell that reaches your nose: freshly mown grass
sound you hear: a rooster crowing
name of first person you think of (not a relative): Sarah
name of first person you think of (relative): Alexis
artist you think of: Van Gogh
classical composer that comes to mind: Chopin
author you think of: Tolkien
poet you think of: Anne Sexton
kind of food that comes to mind: peanut butter cup
drink that pops into your head: chocolate milkshake
movie title you think of: Legends of the Fall
fictional character that comes to mind: Sherlock Holmes
Vintage newspaper articles:
Lone females retreated to isolated nesting boxes on penthouse levels. Other males, a group Calhoun termed “the beautiful ones,” never sought sex and never fought—they just ate, slept, and groomed, wrapped in narcissistic introspection. Elsewhere, cannibalism, and violence became endemic. Mouse society had collapsed.
Beneath the surface of Japan’s Tateyama Bay stands a shrine called a torii, sacred to the Shinto religion. But more than being a place of spiritual importance, the underwater site is host to something else that’s remarkable — a unique friendship between a man and a fish.
For more than two decades, a local diver named Hiroyuki Arakawa has been entrusted with overseeing the shrine and being a guide to others who wish to visit it. In that time, he’s become well-acquainted with the local marine animals who live in the area — including one friendly Asian sheepshead wrasse named Yoriko.
Over the course of 25 years, the pair have forged an incredible bond based on trust and respect.
Perhaps the sweetest testament to their friendship can be seen in Arakawa’s custom of greeting Yoriko with a kiss.
I used to have a beautiful Samoyed named Sasha. I’d love to have another one:
“Closed Eyes” (c1894, oil on panel) by Odilon Redon
“The Death of Ophelia” (1905, oil on canvas) by Odilon Redon
“Lady Macbeth” (c1898, pastel on paper) by Odilon Redon
“Beatrice” (1885, pastel on paper) by Odilon Redon
“Closed Eyes” (c1895, pastel on paper) by Odilon Redon
“Closed Eyes” (1899, oil on paper) by Odilon Redon
“Sita” (1893, pastel over charcoals on paper) by Odilon Redon
“Mystery” (nd, oil on canvas) by Odilon Redon
“Woman in Profile under a Gothic Arch” (nd) by Odilon Redon
“Mystical Conversation” (c1896, oil on canvas) by Odilon Redon
“The Golden Cell” (1892, Oil and metallic gold paint on paper prepared with white grind) by Odilon Redon
“Reflection” (c1900-05, pastel on paper) by Odilon Redon
“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, fromInvisible Monsters
It’s supposed to be “Two for Tuesday,” but I’m pushing Tuesday to Wednesday because I was up until almost 6 a.m., thinking about words, words that I wanted to say, but I kept myself away from the keyboard because I knew that once I began, it might be days before I stopped. Days, hours, it matters not.
This is what kept me awake: My mother was the one who realized that something was wrong with Caitlin. Not me. She did. She took one look at her and said, “What’s wrong with her eyes?” She said they were bulging. I didn’t really see it, didn’t want to see it, shrugged it off as my mother being overprotective of her granddaughters in the same way that she was overprotective of me.
She was right.
That phone call I received at my very first faculty meeting? That one? It was because my mother had put Caitlin in the car and had taken her to the pediatrician’s office and made them look at her eyes. You see, after the ER doctor had said that she had a virus, I had taken Caitlin to the pediatrician and said that my mother thought her eyes looked funny. The one doctor, the one I never really liked, poo pooed the comment.
My mother was right. I was wrong. The ER resident was wrong. The pediatrician was wrong. It took my mother taking Caitlin to see the other pediatrician in the practice, the gentle one who listened to every word you said—it took that for someone to finally pay attention and send Caitlin to the Children’s Hospital, the hospital that found the brain tumor.
My mother was right.
“How children think of death is how the shadows
gather between trees: a hiding place
for everything the grown-ups cannot name.” ~ John Burnside, from “The Hunt in the Forest”
Look, you’re probably wondering why I’m going over this yet again, but all I can say in way of explanation is one word: fall. Autumn is my best and worst of times. I love every natural aspect of the season, yet the way in which my emotional well-being goes into free fall more often than not leaves me tortured. Nietzsche said it best when he said that autumn was “more the season of the soul than the season of nature.”
Example: Yesterday, after getting my fasting labs done in the early morning, and then having my six-month checkup with my PCP, all I could think about were curly fries. Weird, I know. So I had to maneuver the hell that is a major thoroughfare that it still under construction to get to the nearest Arby’s. My timing was lousy as the nearby grade school was getting out at the same time. Parents in their cars lined both sides of the streets. No one would let me turn into the narrow street. The resultant snafu left me in tears.
Yes, tears, as in crying in the car, which, if you’ve ever been in the car with me, is completely uncharaceristic. Crying over curly fries, crying over curly fries that I couldn’t eat once I had ordered them. Then yesterday evening as I was trying to force myself to post something, I came across the story about a journalist who was beheaded by ISIS, and again, I cried.
Bed. Yes, bed would make it better. But bed, not so much. No sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about my mother and Caitlin’s eyes, which leads me to this moment.
“. . . how come sorrow is as heavy, lumpen and impenetrably black as an anvil?” ~ Agnès Desarthe, from Chez Moi
November will rear its ugly head in just a few days, and with it I have to confront once again the losses of my daughter, my father, my friend, and yes, even my dog. Isn’t it time to let go, past time, you ask?
Beh. Of course it is. But that’s for normal people, people who do not obsess and obsess and obsess over perceived failings. Example: I did not clean the portal lines that had been inserted into Caitlin’s chest the day that I had taken her in for a follow-up MRI. Why do I remember this? Who knows, but I remember vividly doing a haphazard job of inserting the flushing material in the waiting room at CHKD before they took her into the MRI suite because I wanted to make sure that I had done this one thing for my daughter that I was tasked to do on a daily basis.
Did that failure to use a one-inch square of alcohol on a gauze pad lead to infection? Who knows? Possibly? Probably? Probably not?
The point is that I REMEMBER. I cannot forget. Just as I cannot forget that I did not go back to the hospital that night before my father died even though I had promised his unconscious body that I would come back and spend the night at the hospital. Exhaustion and relief at being away from the white noise of the ICU gave me a false sense of relief, and so I went to bed, and he died in the middle of the night alone.
“How long it takes me to climb into grief! Fifty years old, and still held in the dark, in the unfinished, the hopeful, what longs for solution.” ~ Robert Bly, from “A Ramage for the Star Man, Mourning”
Enough, you say. Stop this madness, you say. No, not nearly . . .
When I left my mother’s room that Thursday afternoon, I secretly congratulated myself on making such a speedy getaway, leaving my mother to talk the ear off the social worker. I had work to do. I needed to get her house ready for her to come home. There was snow to be removed. And so I had a brief visit, long enough for her to bitch at me, and then I left, and then she died the next morning, sometime, they are guessing around 9, alone.
And did I mention that that best friend I lovingly wrote about years ago in my Vale et Memini series, the one who had a brain tumor and survived? Her? Did I mention that she died and I didn’t find out until a few years later, that I never even went to the funeral because I didn’t know that there was a funeral, and the other night it suddenly came to me that hell, I was her eldest daughter’s godmother, a sacred honor that I had completely washed from my memory.
And that other anamchara friend, the one who I always thought I’d be bonded to in perpetuity? I haven’t corresponded with her in years, other than an obligatory Christmas card. Yes, I am a careless friend, the kind of person who withdraws so completely that the only interactions I still have with friends occur in the midst of troubled sleep.
And then there is the nagging curse I imposed upon myself when Corey and I first got together: I had been so certain that he wouldn’t have to be burdened with me for years and years because I never wanted him to see me get old, and so I had this feeling, this sense, that I would die when I was 56. And you hear of people who have feelings that they will die young, in their teens, who do, and people who have a feeling that they will not live to be old, and they do not, and so what have I done to myself.
“Endlessness runs in you like leaves on the tree of night.” ~ Anne Carson, from “TV Men: The Sleeper”
Listen, if you recently subscribed to this blog because you found it amusing and slightly entertaining, or if you enjoyed the art or the poetry or the music, if that was your reason? Well I’m sorry. Because this post is really what this blog is about. This endless cacophony of doubt, and blame, and grief, and sorrow, and pain.
That other person, the one who offers up stuff from Takei’s tumblr or other such sites? She’s a phony. She is neither glib nor witty. She masks all of the pain behind little ditties about animals and absurd abuses of the English language because to do otherwise would be peering far too keenly in Nietzsche’s abyss, and we all know what happens when you do that.
The only good thing about this post is that I did not get out of bed at 4 a.m. to begin it. Had I done so, I am completely certain that the maudlin factor would have been even worse, if you can imagine that.
I always, always know when the words are going to come fast and furious, when there is no stemming of the onslaught. It has always been this way, since I was but a child, hiding in my room, trying not to let my mother see that yet another book had reduced me to tears and heartache because her solution, of course, was to think happy thoughts, and for a soul such as mine, one might as well say something along the line of “you could be happy if you just tried.”
Oh, but if you only knew the truth of my esse, my life force, that tortured, tormented, and torrid do not begin to encompass the four corners of my heart.
More later. Peace.
All images by French artist Odilon Redon (1840-1916). I am intrigued by how many of the subjects in his paintings have closed eyes or eyes narrowly opened, to which I can relate: going through life with eyes closed, surrounded by beauty . . .
Music by Will Hoge, “When I Get My Wings”
Consider the Space Between Stars
Consider the white space
between words on a page, not just
the margins around them.
Or the space between thoughts:
instants when the mind is inventing
exactly what it thinks
and the mouth waits
to be filled with language.
Consider the space
between lovers after a quarrel,
the white sheet a cold metaphor
Now picture the brief space
before death enters, hat in hand:
vanishing years, filled with light.
“The difference between how you look and how you see yourself is enough to kill most people.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, from Haunted
What a wake-up call: Dove Real Beauty Sketches
From the Dove About section:
Women are their own worst beauty critics. Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. At Dove, we are committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. So, we decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.
“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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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”
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.
“—O remember In your narrowing dark hours That more things move Than blood in the heart.” ~ Louise Bogan, from “Night”
Wednesday evening. Cloudy and much cooler, low 60’s.
Not sure how far I’ll get with this particular post. I’ve been fighting this headache for days, and today seems to be the worst yet. I thought I’d try to write in between waves of pain. Pictures are of Iceland, which is actually very green, so why is Greenland so not green?
I have laundry going (Alexis’s), and I’ve already taken Tillie outside for her daily playtime. Brett is at school, and Eamonn is on his way out of the house. I’m supposed to be finding a link to a diaper bag for Alexis, but just not in the mood to look at diaper bags. Maybe tomorrow. I finally did the FAFSAs for Brett and Corey. I had completely forgotten about doing those, which is a shame because the earlier they are completed, the better the chance for grant money. It’s my fault, but what can you do?
I also noticed that I made a mistake on our federal tax returns when I was looking at them to complete the FAFSAs. Great. Just what we need, undue attention from the IRS; although, I have the past ten years of tax returns and receipts all sorted neatly into expanding folders in the top of the living room closet. I’m not saying this to be smug; rather, they are there solely because to get rid of five years worth requires an indecent amount of shredding, and again, I don’t want to do it.
We haven’t heard anything back from the IRS, and I have no idea how long this will take as we had to submit by mail this year instead of online—too many supplemental forms or something like that. And I just realized that we need to submit our state taxes by the end of this month. We owe a little over $100, so I’m waiting until the last possible minute on those.
“Sometimes the drawers of the earth close; Sometimes our stories keep on and on. So listen—” ~ David St. John, from “Elegy”
I’m working on Brett’s computer today, but I’m counting the days until I can take my CPU in to have the new hard drive installed. Oh happy day . . . simply agog with anticipation.
Agog is a good word, sounds like what it is. I love words like that.
I have no idea as to where in the Atlantic Corey is at the moment, but maybe he’s made it into somewhat warmer climes. Well, I suppose that anything is better than northern Europe as far as being warmer.
I hope that if you get a chance, you’ll click on the First Books link that I provided in the post a few days ago. They are a great organization, and their goal is to provide books for children who otherwise would have no books in their house, which, unfortunately, is so much of the population. As for me, I cannot wait to start reading books to the coming addition to our family. It’s never too early to begin reading.
As for First Books, I really like what they are doing, and I’m trying to support them however I can.
“Maybe the only thing each of us can see is our own shadow.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, from Diary
Last night I woke up facing the opposite direction in my bed, as in my head was at the footboard, and my feet were at the headboard. I’m fairly certain that I moved around in an attempt to gain more room. It’s odd how a queen-sized bed still isn’t enough for one human and three dogs, two of which are Jack Russells. How does that happen?
Then I woke up with a really bad migraine, but didn’t feel well enough to make it to the kitchen to fill a bag with crushed ice. That just sucks, you know? I really like how it was on the Star Trek shows—a little portal that you just speak to, and voila—whatever you desired, Earl Grey tea with lemon (Capt. Picard), a bag of ice for my head . . . why isn’t the 21st century like all the movies said it would be? You know, flying cars, personalized robots, all of the technological accoutrements?
Actually, I should hush my mouth as I’m always the one complaining about how we rely too much on technology. Okay, so I’m a selective technophile—I like it and want it when it can help to make me feel better. I don’t know what made me think of those little portals, let alone remember that Captain Jean-Luc Picard liked Earl Grey tea.
“It’s too late to be unwritten, and I’m much too scrawled to ever be erased.” ~ Mark Doty, from “My Tattoo”
Brett has signed up for a poetry workshop in the fall, and I have to admit that I am more than a little envious of him. Wouldn’t it be grand (in my world) to be in a poetry workshop, feeding off that collective energy, the kind of energy that you can only find in a workshop. It’s impossible to find that kind of energy anywhere else. It doesn’t matter how varied the talent level is in a writing workshop as long as the person conducting it knows what he or she is doing. Being around like-minded people who are in the process of creating is a guaranteed way to creative inspiration.
Brett has had a great introduction to creative writing workshop this semester, and I’m really impressed with the caliber of assignments that his professor has given them.
Mari and I always said that we were going to go away to a workshop, but we never did. It’s an idea that I haven’t let go of, though. I still want to go to a five-day (seven days? ten?) retreat somewhere, work on my craft, get feedback from peers and professionals. I also haven’t given up on the idea of the Warren Wilson low-residency MFA. It’s one of the most acclaimed MFAs in the country, and its faculty has included Raymond Carver, Louise Glück, Stephen Dobyns, Marie Howe, and Gregory Orr, to name only a few.
I know, I know. I need another degree like I need another physical disorder, but you have to understand: I have wanted to get that WW MFA for over 20 years. My ex had said that I should go for it, but when I looked into it seriously, I got the usual spiel about not being able to afford it, and ya da ya da ya da. It’s not a cheap degree, but the people who run it are phenomenal, and they always have a staff that is noteworthy.
More pipe dreams, I suppose.
“Words say simultaneously too much and too little. This is why they are perfect for communication, most people’s lives operating in the uncomfortable balance between too much and too little. Nothing more precise.” ~ B.K. Loren, from “Word Hoard” in Parabola, v.28, no.3, August 2003
I looked for the Loren essay (quote above) online as it seemed like it would be quite interesting, but I couldn’t find it unless I order a back issues of Parabola, which I’m not opposed to doing, but getting the essay for free is far more appealing. But I think that anything that’s titled “Word Hoard” would probably be a good read.
But getting back to the idea of school, more school for me, my loans will be discharged as of October of this year due to my disability. It’s the one good thing to come of being disabled, having my school loans forgiven.
Frankly, I’m all for forgiveness of school loans. I don’t believe that people should have to decide between rent and paying back their school loans. I’m not saying that people should default on loans; rather I’m saying that there are definite situations in which individuals who have taken out school loans find themselves in positions in which they are unable to repay those loans upon completion of their educations.
How does one repay a school loan if one doesn’t have a job? Another Sisyphean challenge.
Oh don’t even get me started on the whole idea of political hot buttons (school loans being one of them). I’m quite sick of politics at the moment, quite sick of all of the crap from the right about women’s health and women in the workplace. A rich woman who stay home to take care of her children is doing the hardest job in the world, but a poor one who stays home to take care of her children is living off the system, is abusing the welfare system. Geez. Not going to go there, refuse to go there, well, perhaps a post at a later date.
“Literature, the most seductive, the most deceiving, the most dangerous of professions.” ~ John Morley
Let’s see, in other aspects of my mundane life . . .
I watched the first part of Titanic (yet another one) on ABC the other night. Didn’t bother watching the second part. I watched because of some of the people who were featured in it, like Linus Roache, but even he couldn’t save the overblown script. Titanic has been written about by so many people in so many ways. There have been movies, documentaries, conspiracy-theory driven stories. The whole gamut.
I watched “Real Housewives of Orange County” last night, and I have to tell you, I am really sick of those women. A group of them went glamping, which is supposedly camping for the pampered without the camping stuff, like tents, sleeping bags, etc. They ordered their food and found out that they would have to cook it themselves over a fire pit, and you would have thought that someone had told them that they had to give back their fake boobs and hair extensions. Pul-eez. Definitely over the whole Real Housewives franchise.
I also watched “Fashion Star” last night, and thought that I had found a bathing suit that I really liked. It looked good on the runway, but when I looked at it later online, not so much. That show isn’t “Project Runway,” but it will do until the real thing comes back on. So sue me, I like fashion even though it’s not really a part of my real world.
Wow. I’m even boring myself with this blathering about nothing. Time to stop.
Medieval City of Albarracín, Spain, by Jose Luis Mieza (Wikimedia Commons)
“Nouns, verbs do not exist for what I feel.” ~ John Berryman, from “Epilogue”
Sunday afternoon. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, mid 70’s.
Corey is coming off three shifts, each with less than eight hours in between, which means that he’s exhausted. But he can’t complain. At least he might actually get 40 hours this week, a rarity lately.
I’m still on the residual effects of this last headache. I’ve tried not to take anything for the last day and a half as sometimes a migraine can actually be caused by pain medicine. Go figure. Logical, huh?
But because I haven’t taken anything, I’m sitting here, with these beautiful blue skies outside, squinting my eyes at the daylight. Perhaps I was a vampire bat in another life. I won’t even go into the throbbing in my temples. What’s the point?
Since I was home alone last night, I spent hours catching up on my “Law & Order Criminal Intent” backlog on the DVR. I’ve seen all of these episodes before, but they’re the good ones with either Goren or Logan, two of my favorite detectives, Lenny Briscoe being the all-time best, of course. Corey and I need to catch up on our backlog of “Luther,” which I’ve been taping off BBC America, another really great show. Perhaps we’ll be able to watch tonight.
I know, sad commentary on my life that the thing that I’m currently looking forward to is watching more crime dramas . . .
“We live in a system that espouses merit, equality, and a level playing field, but exalts those with wealth, power, and celebrity, however gained.” ~ Derrick Bell
So, my last post was a bit of a downer, eh? Sorry about that, but that’s just how I roll . . . as in not too well or too lightly.
I’ve started to follow a blog on tumblr called “We are the 99 percent” (I’ve added the link to my blogroll on the right if you’re interested). Talk about depressing. The stories on there are so heart-wrenching, and completely relatable—people who were laid off in 2008 who still haven’t found jobs, people who have lost their homes, people who were living on their savings that has long since run out, and on and on.
It actually makes me ashamed to complain. As I’ve said, I know that while we are definitely within that 99 percent, we are still lucky. We haven’t lost our house, and we manage to keep food in the house and the utilities on. And while I’m on disability, at least it’s more than a few hundred dollars a month.
So many of these stories involve people who have worked hard all of their lives only to now find themselves without anything, and then there are the young adults who pursued the so-called American Dream: went to college only now to find that there are no jobs or that jobs in their fields pay the bare minimum and don’t offer any benefits.
What kills me are the people who comment about how the Wall Street protestors and others are whiners. I mean, come on. This country bailed out Wall Street when it could ill afford to do so, and how much of that money has been paid back? How many on Wall Street still receive multimillion dollar bonuses? How many of those large corporations are paying taxes at unbelievably low rates while so many of us pay at 25 percent or more? If this is whining, then hell yes, I’m whining.
“I lie in the dark wondering if this quiet in me now is a beginning or an end.” ~ Jack Gilbert
What kind of brings me up short is the realization that even if I had applied for that job, the chances of my getting hired, even with my experience and background, were slim at best.
Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .
Almost every job I’ve ever had I kind of fell into, wasn’t necessarily looking, or only submitted an application on an off-chance. I guess that kind of thing doesn’t happen any more. I mean, my first real job after graduate school I had applied for an admin job, but the guy who interviewed me said, hey, we’re going to be needing an editor soon. Wouldn’t you rather have that? Bingo.
I went to work at the museum part time, and within three months it had turned into a full-time writing position. I took the retail job as a fill-in to get me back on my feet, and within three months I had been promoted to manager. After my dad died, I was so depressed and out of work. I applied for the marketing director’s job with the realtor never even thinking I’d get an interview, and I got hired. I applied to GW on day because I happened to be cruising the want ads on a slow day at work. Bingo again.
That’s not to say that it’s always been that easy, as I’ve lost a few jobs, for reasons I never really understood, within that probationary period, two back-to-back. Losing a job sucks, big time. The crushing blow to the self-esteem, the complete loss of faith in your own abilities, and then the running commentary from my mother about how this will go on my permanent record . . .
“Natures of your kind, with strong, delicate senses, the soul-oriented, the dreamers, poets, lovers are always superior to us creatures of the mind. You take your being from your mothers. You live fully . . . Whereas we creatures of reason, we don’t live fully; we live in an arid land, even though we often seem to guide and rule you. Yours is the plentitude of life, the sap of the fruit, the garden of passion, the beautiful landscape of art. Your home is the earth; ours is the world of ideas. You are in danger of drowning in the world of the senses; ours is the danger of suffocating in an airless void . . . You sleep at your mother’s breast; I wake in the desert. For me the sun shines; for you the moon and the stars.” ~ Hermann Hesse
Anyway, moving along . . .
Van Morrison is singing “Into the Mystic,” one of my favorite songs. Such a wonderful singer and songwriter, and his voice has only gotten better with age.
So an acquaintance, if that even, referred to me as “that fat woman.” Whoa. Talk about being brought up short. I mean, I know that I’m carrying extra pounds, and I would certainly not describe myself as svelte, but fat?
This from a man with a terrible short-man’s complex. I know. Consider the source . . . but how many of us can really do that, put something into perspective to see it for what it really means or reflects?
Not me. I’ll admit it. It’s easy enough to say, consider the source, but sheesh. So I dreamed that I was getting liposuction on my belly, which is pillowy. And in my dream, the doctor told me that I would only lost 15 pounds with the procedure. So I had to think about that. Was it worth it to undergo this surgery only to lose 15 pounds?
The reality is no. But would I like to get rid of my pillowy belly? You bet. Do sit-ups, right? Negits. Can’t do them any more. Used to do 100 crunches every morning of my life. That was when I had a waist. That ice pick that I have stuck in the base of my spine kind of prevents crunches. But I have do to something because I know that I can’t just take that remark in passing and not do anything about it no matter what I think of the source, so I’m going to try to give up my daily can of caffeine-free Pepsi.
We don’t really keep cookies or ice cream in the house, and there is my emergency stash of chocolate, of which I have not even finished the first bar. But it’s not enough.
That fat woman. Wow. No matter how much I try to negate it, the first time someone actually refers to you as being fat is painful.
“Even as you lean over this page, late and alone, it shines: even now in the moment before it disappears.” ~ Mark Strand, from “The Garden”
So here I am, bemoaning my fate once again. Sometimes I really get so sick of myself. Sometimes I feel as if this page, these words are not doing me any favors. I mean, what am I doing here really?
Bitch, bitch, bitch.
Poor pitiful me.
I need to get over myself . . . if I only knew how. Solitude is both wonderful and awful. It allows time for reflection, introspection, deep thought, but does it not also engender a sense of belly-button gazing? Yet I love my solitude, my self-imposed isolation, love it until I don’t.
People who knew me in that time period after my ex and I split would not recognize the person I have become. Not because of physical changes, but more because of my complete lack of involvement in most things. I mean, how does a person go from working 12 to 16 hours a day, exercising every day, to doing nothing physical, nothing more physical than laundry?
Okay, if I were going to cut myself a break, which I am loathe to do, those 16 hour days? That constant movement that involved using my entire body to haul and move things (while in heels)? That’s probably what finally killed my back. I know that, deep inside. And yet again, I need to consider the source, the source of where I am now as opposed to where I was then.
As a single mother of three, I had to be on the go all of the time. That was my life. Humans are incredibly adaptable, whether it’s to activity or inactivity. I just know that no one ever referred to that fat woman.
From the heart of an old box of letters
I lift a small water-stained envelope.
Inside, a note card as thin and brittle as a frozen leaf
bears a message written fifty years ago
by a woman who shares my name.
She delivers no greeting, no sorry to have been away so long.
She leaves no record of visitors, rationed cigarettes,
group art, or the barren iceberg of treatment.
I imagine her listening to the ping of the radiator
on a snowy morning, seated in her nightgown and socks
by an open window. A bell rings in the hallway
but she doesn’t move toward her robe or her slippers or her brush.
I see myself sitting beside her, reaching
toward her dull pencil to place my fingers over hers,
hand on hand, gliding over the words, moving
like two skaters on a lake tracing the solitary line— Please come get me.
“I wish you could live in my brain for a week. It is washed with the most violent waves of emotion . . . And you think it all fixed and settled. Do we then know nobody?—only our own version of them, which, as likely as not, are emanations from ourselves.” ~ Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville West,1926
Wednesday afternoon. Hazy but not quite as hot.
I had very vivid dreams last night. In the first, I was in the midst of a CSI episode, one in which the main character was Gil Grissom. I stopped watching the show after William Peterson left as he made the show (in my opinion). Anyway, the entire cast was there, and the earth was literally cracking—massive waves, the ground opening up and swallowing large masses of people. We were moving quickly, trying to stay ahead of the devastation. At one point, we got on an escalator, which in my mind in the dream did not make sense since the electricity should not have been working. Lots of running and screaming all around me, but I was fairly calm. Weird, very weird.
The other dream involved my dad. He told my mom that he was going to the grocery store, and I jumped in the car with him. It was our old VW bug. But he wasn’t really going to the grocery store; instead, he was going to visit his friend who owned a gas station/small convenience store. He wanted to have a beer with him, and I ruined his plan by jumping in the car. He went anyway and left me in the car for a few minutes while he visited with all of his friends at the convenience store.
He left the car running, and it began to roll backwards. I pulled up the emergency brake, and it stopped rolling. My dad came out and asked me what happened, and I told him. He asked me to go into the store with him to help him carry something. He had bought two large glass containers that were etched on the outside. They were both over two feet tall. I was certain that my mother would hate them. On the way home, he told me that he really wanted to open a gas station with a small convenience store.
Suddenly, my mother was in the car, and she and I were arguing because I told her that I wanted to go home. My dad was in the passenger’s seat, and he had his old machete. He waved it in the air and told both of us to stop fighting. We didn’t.
I wanted to go home because I suddenly realized that I hadn’t turned in the last two assignments in one of my classes, and I hadn’t asked for an incomplete, so I was going to fail the class. I really needed to call my professor to tell her what had happened. My mother kept bitching at me.
Strangely enough, I did not wake up with a headache.
“We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk
Dreaming about my dad is a very bittersweet experience. Almost always, the dreams are fairly realistic, as in he’s acting like my dad, and he looks and sounds like my dad. You know how sometimes in dreams people take on different voices or mannerisms? This never happens with my dad. But one thing that I have noticed is that in the most recent dreams, my mother is almost always with my dad. I’m not sure why that is.
I haven’t spent much time with my mother lately, and I feel guilty about that. I also haven’t visited my other m-in-law in a while, and I feel guilty about that as well. My ability to heap guilt upon myself is limitless and always has been. I probably would have made a great Puritan during the colonial period: hard work and guilt being my primary driving forces.
All would have been well, that is until I spoke my mind, and then I probably would have been burned as a witch. That whole timid female thing? Definitely not me.
I do wonder why I still have dreams about school. Usually, my stress dreams involve an algebra class that I have forgotten to go to all semester, and suddenly, it’s time for the final exam. But this time it was a sociology class, and I even recalled the name of my old professor in the dream—Dr. Dixie Dickinson. Isn’t that a strange detail to recall after all of these years?
I remember that she was one of my favorite professors, and that I took two classes that she taught because I enjoyed her so much.
“But when we reach the end of the pier of everything we know, we find that it only takes us part of the way. Beyond that all we see is uncharted water. Past the end of the pier lies all the mystery about our deeply strange existence . . .” ~ David Eagleman
The quote? New author. Hence the pier theme. Seemed appropriate.
You know how yesterday I was so proud of the fact that we had no car trouble during our Ohio road trip? I should have known not to brag. The Rodeo broke down on Corey on his way home from school last night. Seems it wasn’t just the battery that went, but the alternator as well. Mike and Alexis brought Corey home, and surprise! Alexis let Corey borrow her new car to get to work last night for his second shift.
I felt so sorry for my poor hubbie yesterday. It was an endless parade of crappola in which he was the major participant: First shift his relief arrives an hour and a half late. He gets home with just enough time to change clothes and go to school. On the way home from school, the car dies. He has to be back at work at 11 p.m. This morning he woke me around 8:30 just to talk. He had been up over 24 hours, this after driving 12 hours on Sunday night/Monday morning.
At the moment, he is sound asleep, waiting for Mike to get home from work. Thankfully, Mike offered to help Corey change the alternator, which saves us the labor charge. Then tonight Corey has to go back to work at 11 p.m.
So all of my boasting about this being the best road trip ever came back to bite me in the ass. Fate has a very warped sense of humor. The rental car was a dream, but the Rodeo is another story. At least we didn’t try to drive the Rodeo to Ohio and have these breakdowns happen on the way there or on the way home. Just saying . . .
“Stripped of words, untamed, the universe pours in on me from every direction. I become what I see. I am earth, I am air. I am all. My eyes are suns. My hair streams among the galaxies.” ~Steven Millhauser, Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories
I have come to a few conclusions. Let me share:
Our house is very crowded when filled with five people. I don’t remember it feeling this crowded before.
I’m very fortunate to be married to a man who still has dreams about the future.
In this country, the rich are now referred to as “job creators” (per Jon Stewart). Are we supposed to be able to swallow the bitter pill that allows the rich more tax breaks than the middle class if they aren’t called rich?
I do not want to live to be so old that I merely exist. That is not living.
I’m chewing my fingers again, which is a sure sign that I’m stressed without even realizing it.
I have felt old since I was young.
I try not to make fun of Mormons, but it’s so hard.
Coffee should always be served hot and strong.
When I was younger, I gave my heart to people who did not deserve it, but in so doing, I gradually learned to be more discerning.
Given the choice, I would choose more land and a smaller house as opposed to a bigger house and less land.
Salt air holds magical powers of rejuvenation.
I would prefer wall-to-wall bookcases over expensive furniture.
Something about Oregon is appealing.
My life has an omnipresent soundtrack, real and imagined.
I am still very self-conscious and feel like an ugly duckling when I am in large groups of people.
I have gotten to a point in my life in which a self-propelling vacuum is on my list of things I desire.
I still desire sunlight, moon glow, cool winds, the heady scent of gardenias, lilac, and fresh rosemary, sweet fresh peaches, hot tea at dusk, beautiful books, and the sound of waves hitting the shore.
I lost myself somewhere along the way, but I am slowly finding my way to a different state of being, one that trusts in myself more and harbors less resentment for past ills.
I am ageless—simultaneously old and young—and this I can accept.
When I run out of things to say, I can always find the perfect words from someone else:
“We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.”
~ T.S. Eliot
More later. Peace.
Music by Cee Lo Green, “What Part of Forever”
Last night as I was sleeping
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.
Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.