“Sometimes we suffer too much reality in the space of a single night.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”

Image from Elephant’s Dream (cc)*

” . . .they would walk home in
the evenings when the light was soft, anything bad sliding
off them, and they would feel owned, completely owned,
in a good way, by the air, which would touch them constantly,
sometimes urgently, sometimes lightly, just to let them know
it was there, and they would think maybe this is what being
alive is” ~ Emily Berry, from “No Name”

Saturday afternoon, cloudy, 74 degrees.

I think that today would be a good day for a walk with the dogs mostly because I was walking everywhere in my dreams last night. I frequently walk in my dreams—to my imaginary jobs, to school, to the doctor’s office—it’s weird. Last night I was walking home (in Norfolk) down Shore Drive, which is definitely not a street for pedestrians. I was walking when I realized that it was getting dark, and there was no one around. I started to pick up my pace until I was running, but then I found myself running on all fours, but it felt completely natural, and I was able to run quickly, like some kind of animal.

I’ve had the being on all fours dreams before, but last night’s was one of the first times in which I felt myself moving. I’ve dreamt that I’ve been walking to and from a primary school in which I was teaching, but my walk takes me through a sketchy part of town, and I have to keep looking down alleys. Those are always strange as I’ve never really lived anywhere that had a lot of alleys.

I remember that in part of last night’s dream I was trying to remember if I had ever gone walking completely naked, and my dream mind remembered a time in which I went to school completely naked. I know—the naked dreams are all about being vulnerable—but in this particular naked dream I didn’t feel at all vulnerable, just incredibly free. I sent to school (college), but no one was especially surprised or concerned, and I felt very at home in my naked body. Go figure that one out because I’ve never been able to translate that one.

“Night opens itself only once. It’s enough . . . And I am well aware what night is made of.” ~ Alejandra Piznarik, from “Sex, Night”

Lately my dad has been making many appearances in my dreams. Last night he was bailing some of us out of jail (unsure as to who exactly was there), and it cost him $1500, and I was worried about how I would ever be able to pay him back. Funnily enough, though, he wasn’t mad; he was smiling. If you ever met my dad  you would know that he was not a big smiler, which is probably where my antipathy towards smiling comes from.

But last night he was smiling, and it unnerved the me in the dream because I couldn’t quite figure out if it was a happy smile or a mad smile, if that makes sense. I have a vague memory of him appearing in my dreams the night before last as well, but now I cannot quite grab the thread of the dream, even though I awoke from it thinking that it was so powerful that I would definitely remember everything, but of course, I cannot. The only part that I can remember is that I was in the military, which is very, very weird.

For some strange reason, Brad Pitt was in part of my dream: I was sitting across from him in some kind of restaurant, and he was telling me why his marriage failed, and it was the most natural scenario, which it definitely would not be. I was also back at my old pain management doctor’s office so that I could get trigger point injections, but instead of the neurologist, it was another doctor that I saw for a while before him, and I was very confused. Oh, and Jennifer Aniston made an appearance as well.

I don’t have many celebrity dreams, and if any do appear, it’s not usually in a casual setting, but last night, this dream seemed to be populated with famous people. In another part I was in a movie theater, and I was watching a documentary. The strangest part was that I knew that the person sitting next to me was not who he claimed to be, and I knew that the scene involving the primates (?) would reveal who he really was, and I knew that Brad Pitt would be angry at the charade.

When the truth was revealed on the screen, a loud argument erupted, and we were all asked to leave the theater, which meant going up an aisle filled with chaise lounges because those are always in theaters .  . .The whole sequence was truly bizarre.

“. . . each of us
joins night’s ongoing story” ~ Li-Young Lee, from “Black Petal”

Sorry to go on so much about my dreams, but I always find them fascinating. I’ve never actually bothered to try that whole lucid dreaming thing, mostly because my dreams are already to full. I’ve found over the years that not everyone dreams like this, though, which is definitely a shame for those people because dreams that are so vivid are actually pretty cool, that is, until they aren’t, like the ones in which I awake screaming or yelling or crying.

I have wondered if my vivid dreaming is part of what makes my sleep so fractured. Apparently, not everyone awakens two to three times a night. That whole seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep only happened in my youth. Once I got married (the first time) and began to worry about adult problems like bills and rent and everything else, my ability to sleep uninterrupted ceased, and then with the birth of babies, sleep at night became even more fractured.

I suppose the dogs replaced the children at some point because I now awaken instantly when I sense a dog stirring and moving towards the front door. When my children were babies, the same thing would happen: Something in me would cause me to awaken instantly when a baby or child stirred, even once they were in their own rooms. Maybe that’s just an innate mother thing because I did it with Olivia as well.

“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy.” ~ Henri Frédéric Amiel

In other news . . .

I’ve been reading the Mueller report because, well, democracy you know. Amazingly, it’s  not filled with a lot of legalese, making it fairly easy to go through, but I’ve been taking my time, going back and forth so that I don’t end up giving myself an aneurysm from being so angry.

Trust me. It’s better this way, well, better for my blood pressure, plus, I really don’t need yet another thing to keep me from being able to sleep. I’m really trying not to allow the state of the union to move to the top of my worry list.

I’d really like to print the report, but I think that I’ll wait until we see an unredacted version. Overall, though, I really want to hear from Mueller himself. His letters to and interactions with the pseudo attorney general only confirmed my initial suspicions about the entire Mueller investigation and the blatant bullshit of the administration’s declaration of total exoneration.

I’m so tired of all of this, the constant breaking news because there’s never a day in which something else stupid or illegal or evil happens. How did our country get to this point? But more importantly, why aren’t more people upset? I truly don’t understand. No, not everyone out there gives a whit about politics, but this is our entire system of government, people. This is our Constitution being blatantly ignored, and need I remind everyone that democracies die in countries all of the time, and the U.S. is not immune, no matter how superior we all feel to the rest of the world.

“We heard of nights lit
with lightning bugs and cigarettes. With rumflame
and tonguefire. We needed none of it. The nights were
black puzzleboxes and we solved them. It was easy—
in the darkness, our minds sparked like flint.” ~ Catherine Pierce, from “The Geek Girls”

And now for something completely different . . . (I really miss Monty Python).

Last night Bill Maher made a Carpenters’ reference, and very few people in the audience got it. As the Dump would say, “sad.” You know that you are aging when you make cultural references that no one else in the room understand and/or appreciates.

Anyway . . . Corey bought me a small bottle of Maker’s Mark a few weeks ago, and I’ve been parceling it out like it’s gold, which it is actually akin to, considering the cost. I’ve just been having a weird craving for bourbon the last few months; it’s especially weird as I rarely drink any more, probably more as a reaction to being around a drunken Dallas.

Who knows. Certainly not I. But there really was a point to this: Even though the driveway is still in precarious shape because of the section that washed out, Corey met Dallas coming up the driveway yesterday pulling the horse trailer with the tractor. He (Dallas, not Corey) was sloppy drunk and talking about loading Sassy in the trailer and what he’d do to her if she wouldn’t get inside. Corey reminded him that the driveway was damaged, and actually convinced Dallas to turn around.

There was a lot more to the episode, but I just don’t want to get into it. Suffice it to say that Corey locked on of the gates on the driveway, which is good as Dallas actually came back up the drive after Corey left, and if Dallas had made it all the way here and tried to scare Sassy into the trailer, I’m really not sure how I would have reacted. As it was, Corey’s retelling of everything left me shaken. I’m really beginning to hate a lot of what is going on around here, the constant threats of lawsuits, and jail and violence, even though we’re not actually in the midst of it. But we’re close enough that it’s affecting us.

I had wanted to get away from people, away from neighbors, but I suppose you truly cannot get away from such things unless you are physically unreachable. I mean, we’re pretty isolated on our property, but these people can still reach us. Several years ago I wrote a post about hermits and hermitages; I remember it fondly. The irony is that when Corey first met Dallas, we thought that it was so great to have a contact who knew everyone and knew a lot about our property. That boon has become my bane.

Ah me . . . I just need to spend more time writing and practicing my piano, more said than done.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the short movie Elephant’s Dream, which is the world’s first open movie, made entirely using open source graphics software and presented under a Creative Commons license. To see more images or to watch the movie, go to Blender Foundation | www.blender.org

Music by Disturbed (yes, again), “Sound of Silence”


Falling Water (section one)

I drove to Oak Park, took two tours,
And looked at some of the houses.
I took the long way back along the lake.
The place that I came home to—a cavernous
Apartment on the East Side of Milwaukee—
Seems basically a part of that tradition,
With the same admixture of expansion and restraint:
The space takes off, yet leaves behind a nagging
Feeling of confinement, with the disconcerting sense
That while the superficial conflicts got resolved,
The underlying tensions brought to equilibrium,
It isn’t yet a place in which I feel that I can live.
Imagine someone reading. Contemplate a man
Oblivious to his settings, and then a distant person
Standing in an ordinary room, hemmed in by limitations,
Yet possessed by the illusion of an individual life
That blooms within its own mysterious enclosure,
In a solitary space in which the soul can breathe
And where the heart can stay—not by discovering it,
But by creating it, by giving it a self-sustaining
Atmosphere of depth, both in the architecture,
And in the unconstructed life that it contains.
In a late and very brief remark, Freud speculates
That space is the projection of a “psychic apparatus”
Which remains almost entirely oblivious to itself;
And Wright extols “that primitive sense of shelter”
Which can turn a house into a refuge from despair.
I wish that time could bring the future back again
And let me see things as they used to seem to me
Before I found myself alone, in an emancipated state—
Alone and free and filled with cares about tomorrow.
There used to be a logic in the way time passed
That made it flow directly towards an underlying space
Where all the minor, individual lives converged.
The moments borrowed their perceptions from the past
And bathed the future in a soft, familiar light
I remembered from home, and which has faded.
And the voices get supplanted by the rain,
The nights seem colder, and the angel in the mind
That used to sing to me beneath the wide suburban sky
Turns into dreamwork and dissolves into the air,
While in its place a kind of monument appears,
Magnificent in isolation, compromised by proximity
And standing in a small and singular expanse—
As though the years had been a pretext for reflection,
And my life had been a phase of disenchantment—
As the faces that I cherished gradually withdraw,
The reassuring settings slowly melt away,
And what remains is just a sense of getting older.
In a variation of the parable, the pure of heart
Descend into a kingdom that they never wanted
And refused to see. The homely notions of the good,
The quaint ideas of perfection swept away like
Adolescent fictions as the real forms of life
Deteriorate with manically increasing speed,
The kind man wakes into a quiet dream of shelter,
And the serenity it brings—not in reflection,
But in the paralyzing fear of being mistaken,
Of losing everything, of acquiescing in the
Obvious approach (the house shaped like a box;
The life that can’t accommodate another’s)—
As the heart shrinks down to tiny, local things.

~ John Koethe (rest of the poem here)

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Two for Tuesday: Kate Daniels

Old Abandoned House by sallads on deviantART cc
Old Abandoned House
by sallads (deviantART cc)

                   

“I am
a witness of living storm—
someone who sees shadows” ~ Marina Tsvetaeva, from “On a Red Horse”

Abandoned House Daniel STL FCC
Abandoned House
by danielSTL (FCC)

Crowns

for Philip Levine

Around the time I first read the poetry of Philip Levine,
my teeth were fixed. Two or three hundred bucks
(I’ve forgotten now) purchased a brand new me,
two porcelain crowns. In the dentist’s chair, my midget
canines were filed down to sharp, bright points
hardly larger than the bronzed end of a Bic
pen, then crammed in the black-backed caps
of two hardened, china fakes. No more
covering my mouth to obscure the evidence
of faulty genes. No more tears at images
embezzled from graduation picnics
when Darrell Dodson picked me up and slung me
in the pool, and someone took a picture
of my lips slacking back to reveal my gums
in what appeared to be a scream. No more breezes
winding through the gappy pickets of my ill-grown
teeth and down my throat. No more worrying
some boy would snag his tongue in the zigzagged bulkhead
of my upper row, and bring us both to blood.

I’ll love Levine forever for confessing his own struggles
with orthodontia, his rot-plagued “Depression mouth,”
a dentist called it, his cavities and root canals, his occipital pain,
for his photograph in Antaeus, the summer of ’78,
the stained and crooked slabs parked compellingly
behind his grin. Our teeth connected us before the poetry,
he, from the immigrant onion-eaters and temperate tipplers
of Manischiewtz. I, from a long line of tannin-stained
Irish Catholics who smoked themselves to fragile
states of calcium depletion, and a recent run of Carolina
gritballs, too poor to brush, too ignorant to care their teeth
retired in early middle age. I can see them now, perplexed
before an apple’s crispy rind, frustrated by a succulent, stringy rack
of pork ribs barbequed in the side lot of Earlene Worsham’s
gas station south of town. Levine would have understood my uncles,
enthroned on plastic-covered kitchen chairs patched with tape,
their work boots kicking up mucky clouds of chiggery dirt,
their pick ups parked nearby, shotguns in the rack,
sucking on cheap beers and harsh cigarettes,
their nails starved by nicotine to yellow curls, the car grease
embedded permanently in the creases of their hands.

When I met him, he was such a mensch, massive
in my mind, but in the flesh, something touching
about his shoulders in the worn tweed jacket, something
vulnerable in his feet in an ordinary pair of soiled, white sneakers.
He opened his mouth to laugh, one side rising up
like it does, in that derisive gesture that seems, at first, a sneer,
and I remembered my mother flexing back her lips to remove
delicately, with two stained fingers, just so, a fleck of tobacco
lodged between her teeth, and saw again my father flossing at the table
with the torn off cover of a paper book of matches,
then stubbing out his butt in the yellowed, oily pod of broken yolk
that was hemorrhaging across his breakfast plate.

I can face those images now without the shame
I carried in the days before the poetry of Phil Levine
liberated me. I can look at anything now, because I keep
his picture in my mind and his poems in my pocket.
I can stand my life because I wear the crown he constructed
for people like me — grocery checkers, lube jobbers, truck drivers,
waitresses — all of us crowned with the junkyard diadems
of shattered windshields and rusty chains, old pots
with spit tobacco congealing inside, torn screen doors
and gravestones in the front yard, just five short steps from life to death…

So there is my family with their broken beer bottles
and patched shoes, their mutts chained in a back yard
carved from a stingy pine woods, on cheap land
out near the county dump where the air swells with the perfume
of trash, a circle of them playing poker in a trailer somewhere
in the woods, or razoring the state decal from the windowshield
of a ransacked wreck to transfer to my brother’s car.
Or cleaning fish on the back porch and throwing the guts
to the tick-clogged dogs, or frying venison in a cast-iron pan
and stinking up the house with that heavy smell, showing
the buck’s big balls in a plastic cannister that once held salt.
Or burning tires in a field some autumn, scumming
the sky with a smoky, cursive black they can’t even read
but inhale poisonously again and again.

And there I am, walking along tolerantly now, with Phil Levine,
his poems in my pocket, his good rage gathered in my heart
and I can love them again, the way I did in the years before
I saw what they were and how the world would use them
and accepted the fact they were incapable of change.
We’re in a field I used to love, a redbone coonhound running ahead
her ears dragging the edges of the goldenrod till they are tipped
in pollen, like twin paintbrushes dipped in gilt. And the world
is hunting dogs and country music and unschooled voices
bending vowels and modest kitchen gardens where late tomatoes
are tied up with brownish streamers of old nylon hose.
The vast way your chest expands when the sun gradually sets
in mid-fall in central Virginia. The tobacco barns glimmering
in last light, the chinks darkening now, the slats solidifying at the close of day
and your mind opening up like the pine forest swishing fragrantly overhead
way up in the dark that is coming, but remains, for the moment, beautifully at bay.

                   

Chemainus House by molajen FCC
Chemainus House
by molajen (FCC)

                   

Photo by William Christenberry

Akron, Alabama, circa 1960

This is what it was like to grow up
down there, then. A pretty place
but desolate. The signs that are supposed
to tell you what to do, or be, or buy
are faded to the point of inarticulation.
You surmise people used to talk
about everything you need to know
but have grown silent for some reason.
A black man sat down in a soda shop
to eat a bite, and terrified, it seemed, the patrons.
I was there in that tense silence,
licking my strawberry cone, and it was
just like this picture of kudzu in winter,
the prettiness all covered over
with something growing too fast,
enshrouding the landscape with a sinewy
fabric that lives off the lives of others.
Or this next one of the house and car
in Akron, Alabama. The house is beat-up
and rusty, but habitable. You could live there
fine until something happens – a cross
flaming on the uncut lawn, or your housegirl’s husband
with his foot shot off. That blue car’s
been in the yard forever just waiting
for you to need it, and now you do.
So you head out, past the washer on the porch
and down the walk. You get in and realize
you’re not going anywhere: it’s up on blocks,
overrun by families of mice and birds. Why
did you never notice that before? How stuck here
you are with the blank sky and the fallen fences, the awful
unexplained silences of the South.

                    

Music by The Heavy, “Long Way from Home”

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

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

                   

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

Saturday, late afternoon. Overcast and 50 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where has that woman gone?

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

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

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

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

Is this just a phase?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More later. Peace.

Music by Ane Brun, “The Light From One”

                   

Walking North

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No matter how I turn
the magnificence follows.

~ Mark Nepo

“I am half agony, half hope.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion

Aurora over Grøtfjorden, Norway
by Tor Even Mathisen

                   

“But for pain words are lacking. There should be cries, cracks, fissures, whiteness passing over chintz covers, interference with the sense of time, of space; the sense also of extreme fixity in passing objects; and sounds very remote and then very close; flesh being gashed and blood spurting, a joint suddenly twisted—beneath all of which appears something very important, yet remote, to be just held in solitude.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

Tuesday, late afternoon. A bit warmer, low 50’s.

Northern Lights over Murphy Dome, Alaska, by Taro Nakai CC
Northern Lights over Murphy Dome, Alaska
by Taro Nakai (CC)

So the past two days have been spent in lots of cleaning. On Sunday, Corey helped me to take down Christmas, which included the tree, my Santa collection, my snowman collection, and various other decorations. Each time we thought we’d gotten everything, we found one more piece. Everything is finally packed and ready to go to storage. What I wouldn’t give for a large attic or basement.

After, the house was quite dusty, and glitter was in odd places, which meant furniture polishing, sweeping, and various other things. Corey still needs to vacuum the carpeted places, and I need to clean the fish bowls, but everything else is done. I even did my desk, sorted the junk mail, and cleaned out some files.

I got a label maker as one of my Christmas presents, which might sound odd, but I asked for it, and if you knew my penchant for office supplies, you wouldn’t find this weird at all. So last night I was still in full-blown OCD clean mode, so I used my label maker to create some new files and to condense others. Sweet. I now have a nice, small pile of things needing attention, and Corey, even thought he didn’t really want one, now has a to-do file and a list next to his laptop.

“Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

By the time I forced myself to stop, I hurt all over. I woke up with very sore legs in addition to the expected back aches and knots. But at least I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Northern Lights over Finland by timo_w2s CC
Northern Lights over Finland
by timo_w2s (CC)

Night before last Corey got very sick. He had told me that he felt like he had a rock in his stomach; then he threw up all over the kitchen floor. I didn’t know until after, which is silly. It’s not like I haven’t cleaned up other people’s puke a thousand other times. Anyway, afterwards, we decided to watch something calming, so I suggested Pride and Prejudice, with Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. It’s such a good movie. If you like period dramas and haven’t seen this, you should watch it.

He was just fine by yesterday, and he made a delicious pot of homemade vegetable soup, which made everyone feel better.

The two of us have been trying to catch up on all of the shows I recorded for him while he was gone. Most recently we’ve been watching “Luther,” with Idris Elba, who I love. The show is on BBC America as part of their Dramaville series. It’s such a well-written and well-acted show. I have realized that I could pretty much live with just two television channels: BBC America and ID. Oh, wait. There’s PBS, of course. Kind of sad, really, to define my life through television channels, not that I actually do.

Once we finish “Luther,” the only thing left on the queue is “Copper,” another BBC America show.

“I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Olivia was officially six months old on the 6th. Wow. She has changed so much from the tiny little thing with dark hair when she was born. She truly is the happiest baby I’ve ever been around. None of my babies were like that. I’m really hoping that she stays that way—happy.  I am amazed by how easily she laughs and smiles with her whole face. Being around her really calms me.

Northern Lightsby Varjisakka (CC)
Northern Lights
by Varjisakka (CC)

Smiling has never come easily to me. Always so serious, even now. I wonder, is it genetics? Socialization? What defines a person’s disposition? Actually, I would imagine that people can be born happy and easy-going and then something happens to change them to make them morose and dispirited, but I wonder if the reverse is true, if an individual who is born very serious can have something happen that then changes the entire outlook on life, makes it easy to laugh and smile and remain upbeat? I just don’t see that happening.

I mean, I’m not serious all of the time, and I can laugh and smile and be happy, but I don’t see anything happening to make me be easy with life. Easy I guess is the best word. Easy as in comfortable, carefree, better able to let things roll and to roll with things.

Yes, I have definitely mellowed as I have grown older. I am not nearly so quick to anger, and I actually do avoid some confrontations. I don’t dwell as much on the major slights that have happened along the way. All of this is good. But still, I am not easy-going, and I am not easy with life.

“I’ve cried, and you’d think I’d be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine the rest of my life.” ~ Conor Oberst

I don’t often use song lyrics for my section header quotes, but this one? This one is spot on. Seriously.

Northern Lights, Tromso, Norway by GuideGunnar Arctic Norway FCC
Northern Lights, Tromso, Norway
by GuideGunnar Arctic Norway (FCC)

I know that I’ve mentioned more than once ancient theories about illness and medicine, the humours, etc., but if I were living hundred of years ago, well, for one thing, I’d probably be dead. But aside from that, my back pain? Does it not make sense that I carry around this constant back pain because I have sadness in my spine? Because I carry around all of the sadness of my life inside, and then outside, it manifests itself as actual pain?

Waxing a bit philosophic, I know, but when I came across this lyric from a Bright Eyes’ song, it really struck home. Perhaps I’m just rationalizing again, but I don’t think so. I know that I have an ancient sensibility in a lot of ways, that the ways in which I view various things doesn’t exactly scream contemporary. Yet, I am a walking contradiction. I live in the past and the present. I crave the past, some of the past, and yet other parts I would not reclaim for anything.

How do we end up here? I have no answers.

“…throw roses into the abyss.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

I also do not use a lot of quotes by Nietzsche because he was such a misogynist. However, if I were to apply that logic to all of the people I quote here, I would not be able to use most of them, because as is the case with just about anyone, everyone has his or her bad parts; it’s just that some bad parts are easier to overlook than others.

For example, Rilke was an unconscionable human being, an anti-Semite, a philanderer, and many other less-than-flattering things, but his poetry seems almost ethereal in its stark beauty. So do I shun quotes from Rilke’s works because I truly cannot abide the person he was? Obviously, I haven’t as my posts are peopled with Rilke’s words and worlds.

Kattovouma Northern Lights by apgroner FCC
Northern Lights, Kattovuoma, Sweden
by apgroner (FCC)

Other examples include Gandhi and Mother Theresa, both of whom could be particularly cruel. But their writings? Seemingly from saints.

This is the crux, essentially, in using other people’s words. What do we ignore, and what do we highlight? Personally, I choose to use the products of most of these people. Who am I to judge, yet judge, I do. Constantly. Scrupulously. Yet I pick and choose from this and that and place it here as some kind of totem for my words that follow.

Look. I only know this. If someone were ever to analyze my life (and I find the prospect highly unlikely), the person revealed would be a mixture of bad and good. No, no one could claim that I’m anti-Semitic, or racist, or sexist. But they could say that I have been cruel, that I have hurt people, that I have been judgmental, that I have curried favor, and on and on and on and on.

I don’t like the historical Nietzsche. I don’t like the histories of many, many people. But in most cases, I overlook that because their words, even though the speakers themselves were not always true to them, their words touch me, move me, rally me, comfort me, and so I pass them along to you, hoping that you might have the same reaction.

We are, all of us, fate’s fools, simply balancing on the edge as best we can.

More later. Peace.

(Images today of Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis  (another thing on my bucket list, can’t remember if I included), are all creative commons works.)

Music by Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

                    

II, 11 (The Book of Hours)

No one lives his life.

Disguised since childhood,
haphazardly assembled
from voices and fears and little pleasures,
we come of age as masks.

Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away
like suits of armor or old carriages
or clothes hanging limply on the walls.

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“I have not, nor will I ever, completely lose the longing for that something, that thing that I believe will fill an emptiness inside me. I do believe that the emptiness was made greater by the things that I did to myself.” ~ Marya Hornbacher

haizearen orrazia-1 by orkatz go (orkatz_go) on 500px.com
Haizearen Orrazia
by orkatz go on 500px (cc license)*

                   

“Ah, the sun will catch me, in my disturbing transparency.
What am I but an awareness of the dark, forever?” ~ Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions I, (trans. Rosmarie Waldrop)

Monday early evening, low 70’s, a bit humid.

No offside by Sergio Tudela Romero (sergiotudela) on 500px.com
No Offside
by Sergio Tudela Romero on 500px (cc license)

Once again WordPress thwarted me. I had all of my quotes, hit save, got an error message, and the post frame was gone. I spend a lot of time in choosing my quotes and images, sometimes more time than the actual writing. I see all three parts as integral and important to the message that I want to convey. To say that I was highly perturbed is a vast understatement.

It really does no good to tell an inanimate object to do biologically impossible things . . . but it makes me feel better. Actually Eamonn’s computer was well nigh impossible to deal with earlier, so I stopped, did a few chores, and took Brett to campus. He only has two more classes after this session, and his next session (Pre Calculus II) begins next Wednesday, so no break for him. I remember all to well how exhausting summer sessions can be—both to take and to teach.

Anyway, now I’m on his computer, and it feels akin to magic, just how fast this computer reacts. I guess I am so used to working on the dying POS that I forget that most functioning computers do not take several minutes to perform an action. Seconds rather than minutes, what a concept.

“I will wait and you can follow alone
and between us the night has come and gone” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “To Lili’s Walk”

In the past 24 hours, Corey and I have had an argument via e-mail. How utterly stupid. I freely admit that it was my fault. I read one of his e-mails while I was exhausted, had a migraine and was near to tears. Hence, I took offense when none was there. I feel terrible. The last thing he needs to be dealing with is my moodiness across an ocean. I have tried very hard not to let him know how down I am as I do not want him to concentrate on anything but his job while he is on the ship. I have succeeded in that goal until yesterday.

ilunabarra luarcan by orkatz go (orkatz_go) on 500px.com
Ilunabarra Luarcan
by orkatz go on 500px (cc license)

Damn.

I feel so bad about the whole thing, and an apology e-mail is kind of lame, don’t you think? I suppose that it’s better than nothing, but it just doesn’t really encompass all of the emotions. Hence the Doctor Who apology gifs for yesterday. Seemed appropriate, even if no one else knew what the hell was going on with it.

Anyway, the ship is supposed to hit Brooklyn around June 22, and a Coast Guard inspection is scheduled for June 25. I’m not sure if he’s staying on for the inspection or beyond; that is entirely up to the company. He needs to come home and have a break, though. Everyone misses him, especially Tillie.

“I keep remembering—I keep remembering. My heart has no pity on me.” ~ Henri Barbusse

Last night I watched the finale to “The Killing” on AMC. It was a really good show, but I was disappointed in the ending. It seemed kind of rushed and anticlimactic. I stopped in reading “The Executioner’s Song” long enough to watch that and a show on Discovery ID. Then felt tired so I turned off the television. My sleeping time has crept back towards 2 a.m., and I don’t want to get into that habit again.

zurriola ilunabarrean-II by orkatz go (orkatz_go) on 500px.com
Zurriola Ilunabarrean
by orkatz go on 500px (cc license)

Unfortunately, while awaiting sleep, memories of Caitlin suddenly popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I am resolved to the fate that I will never be rid of these memories and the accompanying emotions, but I wasn’t prepared last night. I actually had to take a Xanax to calm myself down. My doctor prescribed them to me for my anxiety attacks, which, luckily, abated just as soon as she prescribed the Xanax, so I have probably only taken three pills since getting the prescription. Believe it or not, I really try to be conservative with my medication. I have no desire to be hooked on anything.

Anyway, I was finally able to get to sleep somewhere after 3, but it was uncomfortable, and I awoke more times than I can remember. Chalk up another bad night, but hey, what’s one more in the infinite trail of bad nights?

“I’ll always be the one who wasn’t born for that;
I’ll always be the one who had qualities;
I’ll always be the one who waited for a door to open in a wall without doors” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from “The Tobacco Shop” (trans. Richard Zenith)

I debated shortening the quote above by removing the second line, but then I thought that it was too true, and Pessoa doesn’t say good qualities, just qualities, and I think that that’s deliberate on his part.

Reflection Of A Golden Sky by Garry Knight (garryknight) on 500px.com
Reflection of a Golden Sky
by Garry Knight on 500px (cc license)

In the past week or so, I’ve gotten more paper work from the Social Security administration, and a couple of voice mails from my long-term disability provider. Bear with me. This is connected.

Social Security wants me to fill out yet another description of my daily life. The disability provider wants to touch base to see if there is any change in my status. Really? Seriously? Do you really want to know how I feel?

I feel like taking a really thick Sharpie and writing all over the questionnaire:

I’ve completed this thing at least four times. Leave me alone.

But I can’t because it’s a bureaucracy, and they don’t remember what they do from one day to the next.

So instead, I feel like completing the questions in a more ethereal tone. For example, tell us about how you spend your day . . . My answer could be more of a description of my quality of life: Well, I spend a great deal of my day contemplating my existence, its worth or worthlessness, depending upon where I am on the continuum of my mental state. I consider my successes as compared to my failures, and I realize that the scale tips depending upon who is looking at it. I often spend a few minutes each day just staring at the sky and my dogs in amazement that such things exist, and then, more often than not, I have sleep filled with tormenting dreams. The next day I get up and do it all over again.

What do you think? Would they accept that?

“We do compose a soul for ourselves, I think, an inner biography that has this grace of selection—the poem of ourself, if you like.” ~ Les Murray, The Art of Poetry No. 89  (The Paris Review)

If you like to read about poets or like interviews with writers, click on the Paris Review link above. Yet again, tumblr has introduced me to another poet with whom I was unfamiliar—Les Murray, who is from Australia. It’s a good interview.

Puzzle by Sergio Tudela Romero (sergiotudela) on 500px.com
Puzzle
by Sergio Tudela Romero on 500px (cc license)

If I ordered every poetry book that I have put on my wish list, every new poet I have discovered through the poetry lovers at tumblr, I think that I would increase my poetry collection by about 50 percent, and that’s saying something.

My friend over at Titirangi Storyteller and I were discussing Charles Bukowski. I adore him, especially his attitude towards life, yet like so many of the writers of the 20th century, he had a major drinking problem. So many of the writers that I adore had some kind of drinking or drug problem, or even better, some kind of mental illness: Bukowski, Sexton, Carver, Plath, Fitzgerald, McCullers.

What does that say about me? Do I even need to ask? But interestingly enough, I have a real distaste for people who imbibe too much. I don’t like being around drunks, and I know that comes directly from my ex. So why am I perversely attracted to the writings of those who drank themselves to death?

I do not have an answer to that question.

“I dream of perfect concentration; if I found it
I’d surely stop breathing.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “The Room I Work In”

I’m considering calling my psychiatrist who prescribes my medications for my disorders, but I’m afraid that she’ll want to add another medication, and damn, I just don’t want that. I’m hoping that this pervasive cloud of despair will dissipate once Corey comes home. At the same time, I do not want to be one of those women who depends upon the man in her life for happiness.

Passing Storm by James Wheeler (JamesWheeler) on 500px.com
Passing Storm
by James Wheeler on 500px (cc license)

Don’t misunderstand. I love how Corey makes me happy, but I also want my inner joy to come from . . . well . . . inner. You know? I never want him to have the burden of thinking that he must provide me with peace of mind. I know that one of the reasons that I feel that way is because both of my parents (surprisingly) drilled into me that I should be self-sufficient, never depend on a man for support.

I know that they were talking about financial support, but over the years I expanded that. Having been married to an individual who was emotionally bereft, I needed to be self-sufficient emotionally. It was not always possible, and it is still not always possible. Yet I still feel that way. I want Corey to be my partner, my lover, my friend, but not my emotional crutch.

I’m going to have to think over whether or not to call the doctor because this black mood does not seem to be lessening, or it lessens but then rears its ugly head even more pervasively than its previous incarnation.

Things to ponder.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from the creative commons section of 500px.com. Clicking on the image should take you to the page on which it appears.

Music by Thurston Moore, “Benediction”

                   

The Room I Work In

To Derek Walcott

The room I work in is as foursquare
as half a pair of dice.
It holds a wooden table
with a stubborn peasant’s profile,
a sluggish armchair, and a teapot’s
pouting Hapsburg lip.
From the window I see a few skinny trees,
wispy clouds, and toddlers,
always happy and loud.
Sometimes a windshield glints in the distance
or, higher up, an airplane’s silver husk.
Clearly others aren’t wasting time
while I work, seeking adventures
on earth or in the air.
The room I work in is a camera obscura.
And what is my work—
waiting motionless,
flipping pages, patient meditation,
passivities not pleasing
to that judge with the greedy gaze.
I write as slowly as if I’ll live two hundred years.
I seek images that don’t exist,
and if they do they’re crumpled and concealed
like summer clothes in winter,
when frost stings the mouth.
I dream of perfect concentration; if I found it
I’d surely stop breathing.
Maybe after all, I hear the first snow hissing,
the frail melody of daylight,
and the city’s gloomy rumble.
I drink from a small spring,
my thirst exceeds the ocean.

~ Adam Zagajewski

“I feel as though I have lived many lives, experienced the heights and depths of each and like the waves of the ocean, never known rest. Throughout the years, I looked always for the unusual, for the wonderful, for the mysteries at the heart of life.” ~ Leni Riefenstahl

Maria Mikhalskaya, Children’s Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

                   

“I’m tired of facts, I’m tired of speculations, I want to be consumed by unreason.” ~ Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers

Wednesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, mid 50’s.

Well I hope that everyone who celebrates it had a very Merry Christmas. My family had a lovely one. Everyone seemed to get that one special gift, and so far, only Alexis needs to exchange sizes. Many thanks to those of you who sent good wishes.

Maria Mikhalskaya, Children's Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Christmas dinner was, shall we say, interesting. My mother was in true form, which means that she wasn’t nearly as nice as she was at Thanksgiving. She started eating before everyone was seated at the table, and justified it by saying that we should have begun dinner an hour earlier. Lovely. It was that kind of night.

Several drama scenes, one of which involved my s-in-law Ann, who was quite touchy, but as I reminded everyone, this was her first Christmas without her mother, and that first holiday season after losing a parent or child is pure hell. Ann left but then came back and sat around with us for a few more hours, so everything was smoothed over on that front.

Other drama involved my mother and her tactless comments, none of which are really worth repeating here. What I am amazed by is that I really wasn’t bothered by her comments as I usually am. They just rolled off my back, and I was (thankfully) able to help smooth the ruffled feathers of those who actually took her comments to heart.

That I was unaffected this time is unusual, and that I can write about it without being the least bit upset is also unusual, but good, good for me, at least.

“The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low. Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log
covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.” ~ Anne Coray, The Art of Being

My in-laws in Ohio sent gift cards to everyone for Christmas, and I got one for Barnes and Noble and one for Amazon. I am so excited because it means that I can order some of the books that have been on my wish list. For me, that’s the absolute perfect gift. Eamonn already used his gift card to Vans to buy a pair of shoes. Alexis and Mike got a gift card to Olive Garden, one of Lex’s favorite places to eat, and Brett got a gift card to Best Buy, one of his favorite places to shop.

Maria Mikhalskaya, The Red House Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Corey got two new fleece shirts from his parents. I wrapped them and put them under the tree for them, so he opened them on Christmas morning and had a little piece of Ohio in his morning.

By the way, Tillie got a new squeaky toy from Santa (23 squeakers total), and she’s already operated on it and removed two of the squeakers. She is such a funny dog. All of the dogs always get excited on Christmas morning because so much is going on, but this year I noticed that Shakes slept through most of it. I guess my fluffy guy is getting old, which makes me sad.

Speaking of sad, I really could have gone the entire holiday season without Sarah McLachlan’s gut-wrenching commercial for the ASPCA—all of those images of starving and abused cats and dogs, and even a horse, all with her haunting voice singing “Silent Night” in the background. I mean please. I carry around enough guilt for fifty people, I really don’t need more guilt about animal suffering . . . of course, I still watch and tear-up because hey, it’s better than self-flagellation or a hair shirt, I suppose.

“Perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.” ~ Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

So Corey is waiting for the call telling him when he will fly out. I’m hoping that we get more than just a couple of days warning before he has to go. I’d really like to have one night out with him, maybe sushi and a movie. I guess it’s all up in the air right now.

Maria Mikhalskaya, Children's Magazine Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

The guy across the street finished the work on the truck, but there’s a twist: the truck won’t start. We’re not sure exactly what the problem is other than no power is going to the coil or the spark plug wires. I’m really hoping that it’s not some kind of major computer problem. So even though the major repair has been finished, the truck is still not on the road yet.

And to further complicate matters, the starter on the Rodeo finally died. Corey spent yesterday afternoon changing that; unfortunately, it was raining, so he ended up soaked to the bone by the time he was finished. I’m just glad that it was a repair that he could do and a part that we could afford. I mean, we knew that the starter was going, which meant that each time we got into the Rodeo, we were driving on a wing and a prayer. That it lasted until after Christmas was good.

We know that we have other repairs pending on the rodeo: the brakes, the O2 sensors, and we need new tires. If everything can just hang on for another month, we might be okay, but the thought that we would be without either vehicle was so depressing. I must say.

“ . . . spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks . . .” ~ T. S. Eliot, from “Ash Wednesday

Anyway, now that we’ve made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas, the only big thing pending on my schedule is taking down the decorations, which I never do before the New Year. I know that some people take everything down the day after Christmas, and some people do it on New Year’s Day, but I like to wait a few days after, no particular reason other than I like to look at everything.

Maria Mikhalskaya, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Other than that, the other big thing is that my Botox has stopped working, and it’s as if it effectiveness stopped all at once. I’ve had three massive migraines in the past four days, the kind in which the pain is so intense that it wakes me up. On Monday, I was just sitting on the side of the bed holding ice to my forehead and rocking back and forth. I even had to ask Corey to take off Tillie’s jingle bell collar as the sound was killing me.

You know how people say that you never remember the pain of childbirth, that if you actually remembered it, you’d never have another child? Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that I had kind of put out of my memory the pain of a really bad migraine, wishful thinking I suppose, and then when that first one hit, I felt as if someone had hit me in the head with an iron skillet. No lie.

So now I have to make an appointment with the neurologist who gave me the Botox shots, but first I have to find out if I’m going to have to pay $650 out of pocket since it’s the beginning of the year, and my co-pay kicks in. I can’t get the shots until the end of January because it has to be three months in between shots.

When I get migraines like these, I always think about that stupid, stupid Social Security judge who said that I could work with my migraines. What an idiot. Obviously, he’s never had a migraine. Oh well, that’s an entirely different saga, one that I’ll probably be facing sometime in 2012.

“For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not until they have turned to blood within us, to glance, to gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves—not until then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,

Maria Mikhalskaya. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Anyway, I’ve spent the last 48 hours, give or take, in bed with ice on my head. I’ve used to much ice that the automatic ice maker hasn’t been able to keep pace. Sad really.

But the migraines have kept me from posting, from putting away the silver we used for Christmas dinner, from doing laundry. Consequently, I’m behind in everything. But since the house was cleaned before Christmas, it doesn’t look terribly messy, unless you look at the piles of clothes in the garage.

Oh yes. That’s another thing: our washer is dying. It sometimes doesn’t agitate during the wash cycle, and sometimes doesn’t spin during the spin cycle, so finishing one load of laundry may take twice as long depending on whether or not I’m babysitting the washer. Oh what fun . . .

Enough for now. I’m starting to see lots of spots in my eyes, which is a sure sign that I need to stop.

More later. Peace.

Today’s post features the illustrations of Maria Mikhalskaya, a Russian illustrator and designer. I don’t remember how I came across her work, but it was probably on tumblr. Mikhalskaya attended the Moscow University of Printing Arts, and her illustrations to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which were published by Arbor Publishers in 2007, seemed perfect for a holiday post.

Music by Barlow Girl, “Never Alone”

                   

First Chaldaic Oracle

There is something you should know.
And the right way to know it
is by a cherrying of your mind.

Because if you press your mind towards it
and try to know
that thing

as you know a thing,
you will not know it.
It comes out of red

with kills on both sides,
it is scrap, it is nightly,
it kings your mind.

No. Scorch is not the way
to know
that thing you must know.

But use the hum
of your wound
and flamepit out everything

right to the edge
of that thing you should know.
The way to know it

is not by staring hard.
But keep chiselled,
keeping Praguing the eye

of your soul and reach—
mind empty
towards that thing you should know

until you get it.
that thing you should know.
Because it is out there (orchid) outside your and, it is

~ Anne Carson

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Sea Star from Bunaken Marine Park, Indonesia, from The Right Blue 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Colors from The Right Blue

I’ve been meaning to comment on a beautiful site that I stumbled across: The Right Blue. According to the site’s about page, the title “refers to the goal of a lifelong pursuit. Sea water viewed from beneath the surface comes in many hues and shades. Surfers wait for the perfect wave; divers seek the right blue.” The blog contains beautiful pictures from dives, information about the ocean, and many other ocean-related topics. 

The writers, who live in Hawaii, decided that instead of letting their beautiful photographs and slides get dusty in binders and boxes they would scan and post them. What joy, especially for those of us who love all things related to the sea. The images are incredible, and Bobbie and Jerry have generously posted their work under a Creative Commons license, which means that their images can be reposted non-commercially with proper attribution. 

So today’s post features images from The Right Blue. Please give them a visit. 

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle by The Right Blue

Another restless night, in fact, one of the worse in a while. For some reason, Tillie was very restless last night, which meant that she kept asking to go out just about every hour. At one point, I had put my eye mask on, which I wear sometimes if I have a headache, and Tillie nudged me. Need I say that she scared the crap out of me? Anyway, I slept in fits and starts, and I don’t know if I ever achieved REM as my head is ringing today. 

Anyway, a holiday today celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I have used quotes from King in my post before, often with quotes by Gandhi, one of King’s major influences. 

I think that it is worth noting that King was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights’ efforts. When you think about what King did and when he did it, it really is an amazing thing: organizing non-violent protests in the South at a time when most of the white population view minorities  as second class citizens who needed to use separate bathrooms and separate drinking fountains so as not to contaminate them. It was a time in which minorities could not eat wherever they wanted, stay in any hotel they wished to stay in, or even perform in any venue. 

That the United States was once such a country is mind-boggling to generations who never saw these things first-hand. That there are still those in this country who believe that things were better before King, Thurman, and the civil rights movements is what boggles my mind. But then, as I have been the victim of discrimination myself and have had people call me names just because my skin is darker, or my eyes a different shape, or my last name is not Smith, I am not surprised, just saddened. 

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Lunar Fusiliers, Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia, from The Right Blue

In keeping with my recent stroll down memory lane, I got a friend request on Facebook from another person from my past, this time a former student who worked for me at Old Dominion University. While I was in the English Department there, I managed the two computer labs for a couple of years. This person was one of the twelve student workers I supervised in the labs. 

She was extremely intelligent and very likable, with a cutting wit and insight well beyond her years. For the most part, all the students who worked for me were really terrific, a good blend of personalities. I remember them in a very positive way as that was a very good period for me. Of course, not all of it was good, but nothing has ever topped teaching college as being my favorite profession. 

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Feather Stars from The Right Blue

Other than that, not much going on today. I thought that I might give the Harry Potter books my annual read. It usually takes a week to read all seven, and I like to start with book one and read my way through. Yep. My exciting plans for the week: reading the Harry Potter books. I tell you I just don’t know how much more excitement I can take. 

Last night was the season premiere of 24, one of my favorite shows. I am hoping that this season is better than last season. Last season was better than the very weak season 6, but I’m not sure that the show will ever be able to recapture the frenzied storylines that involved Presidents Palmer and Logan. Those were the best. And last year’s season tested the boundaries of believability (of course, the entire show does that) by bringing back Tony. That being said, I taped last night’s two-hour premiere, and I’m going to watch that tonight while the next two hours are taping. 

Personally, I am not bothered by the character of Jack Bauer. He is single-minded, and he serves a purpose. What I love about him is his Aristotelian tragic mien: He is the tragic hero, fallen from grace, torn apart by his own hubris. Like Hamlet, he knows that he is flawed but cannot stop himself. Like Othello, he is caught up in webs of deceit. Bauer represents all that is good and evil in a post-September 11 society. I just wish that his daughter wasn’t such a whiny wimp. 

I have always loved Kiefer Sutherland, though, all the way back to The Lost Boys, one of my favorite camp vampire flicks. And much like his father, I think that Kiefer just gets better with age. Too bad his personal life is always such a mess. 

That’s all for today. More later. Peace

Music from Karl Jenkins, “Adiemus”