“This is Dr. Reality´s office calling, you´re way overdue for your checkup . . . ” ~ Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice

Amble Pier by Jim Donnelly (FCC)

                    

“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.

Pier by dendroica cerulea (FCC)

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

Man on Tynemouth Pier by smlp.co.uk (FCC)

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

Craigendoran Pier B&W by baaker2009 (FCC)

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

Old Pier, Lobos Buenos Aires, AR by Irargerich (FCC)

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.

~ Antonio Machado (Trans. Robert Bly)

“The wind lashes the surface of the sea and makes it rough and turbulent, but in the deep there is calm.” ~ Cardinal Basil Hume

   

Weeping Willow   

 

“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.” ~ Karl Von Clausewitz
Japanese Red Maple

It is April 30. That’s incredible to me. One quarter of the year has passed, and I have nothing to show for it. Do you have any idea how depressing that is? I have no reliable method of tracking time any more—no scheduled meetings, no deadlines, no appointments with students. I am loathe to admit that I measure time by evening television shows: If CSI is on, then it’s Tuesday.   

I have calendars everywhere: on my desktop, on the wall next to the desk, in the kitchen, in my purse, but I never have any idea as to the date, which is why I was so surprised to see that today is April 30.   

Perhaps one of these days the fog will lift, and I will see things clearly again. Until then, I will continue to measure out my life “in coffee spoons,” as Eliot put it.   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning.   

ARGHH. I went to save, and WordPress kicked me back to the sign in page, which means that I just lost THREE PARAGRAPHS. NOOOOOOOOOO………..   

“Life is not an easy matter . . . You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” ~ Leon Trotsky

Let’s try this again, shall we?   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning. Then the guy who makes the schedule called him at 11 and asked if he could come in until 3. Apparently, they have several people out today. It’s now 4:45 and he isn’t home yet; he’s running on about three hours of sleep, and he was tired before he went in last night. I just hope that he doesn’t have to work too long.   

Eastern Redbud Tree

Of course, the more hours that he works, the bigger the paycheck. I just wish that the schedule could be more even, not 30 hours in three days, and then nothing for five days in a row. Of course, who am I to complain?   

Speaking of jobs, Alexis began her new job with a manufacturing company in Virginia Beach. When I asked her what they build, she said that she didn’t know; all she knows is that she adds wires to some kind of component. It’s a job. She is working with a large group of Filipino women, so I told her that at least she’ll eat well. Filipino people love their food, at home or at work.   

Of course, my mother is beside herself over Alexis losing her job. When Alexis told her about it, my mother proceeded to rant about how I had lost a few jobs—almost a decade ago. Mom told Alexis that she didn’t want her to turn out like me. Lovely, just lovely. Then, without fail, my mother called me to complain about Alexis. When she asked me how much money Mike makes, I told her that truthfully I didn’t know because it wasn’t any of my business, and it’s not any of my business. My mother is of the belief that anything and everything in my life and the lives of my children is her business. It’s more of that privacy issue that I was talking about before, as in, there is none with my mother.    

Today she called and started to talk about the same things all over again. I reminded her that we had already had this conversation, so she turned it around to be a commentary on the relationship between Alexis and Mike. She just doesn’t understand it. Has he ever asked her to marry him? I don’t know, not my business. And so it goes once again. I know that if Mike had proposed, Alexis would tell me, but by the same token, should I be asking her constantly when/if they are going to get married? As I told my mother, they’ve been together for seven years, and it seems to be working for them.   

“Be gentle with yourself. You are the truth unfolding.” ~  Joseph Goldstein

I just made a shocking discovery: We are out of Pepsi. How do I go on?   

Eastern Hemlock Tree

Truths for Friday:   

  • Oprah is on a toot to eliminate texting while driving. I absolutely agree. Is anything that important? Just remember the train engineer who caused that fatal crash because he was texting—25 people died, including the texting engineer
  • Is it weird that I still miss Izzie the Trooper? I loved that vehicle, and even though SUV sales are declining, I would own another Trooper.
  • Have you heard about “Marysville, OH, 43040”? It’s a Facebook group that is praying for the death of President Obama. Call me crazy, and I probably am, but I was never taught to pray for someone else’s misfortune, let alone death. The group has over one million members.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the legislators in Arizona are on crack? I mean, that is the only logical explanation for their recent blatant racist, xenophobic legislation. An article in the Huffington Post reveals that the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that “teachers with ‘heavy’ or ‘ungrammatical’ accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes, this after the state spent 10 years recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.
  • As the pictures continue to pour in revealing the devastation caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf, Rush Limbaugh lets loose with his latest conspiracy theory: “Environmentalist whackos” may have blown up oil rig to “head off more oil drilling.” Really Rush? Gave that one a lot of thought, didn’t you?
  • And finally, on Gawker.com I found one of the best blogs ever about the Real Housewives of New York. Richard Lawson’s post, “Everyone Kills the Messenger,” is so much more entertaining than the show. To wit: “Meanwhile over in Bitchington Acres, everyone couldn’t believe what had just happened. Naturally when one is confused about a situation one turns to the very sage Kelly Bensimon, who is always good at unpacking an issue and making it understandable to the common laypeople below her.” To paraphrase the article would not do it justice, so I will leave you the link. Anyone who is interested in excruciatingly funny sarcasm and incisive wit, especially when it comes to the vacuous Housewives, should take a few minutes to peruse this post. Truly. The only bad thing I have to say is that I cannot believe that I didn’t find Lawson sooner.


Looking Skyward by Janson Jones   

Happy Arbor day, the annual celebration of trees. In honor of this holiday, I am featuring pictures of some of my favorite trees: Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Red Bud, Weeping Willow, Japanese Red Maple, Flowering Crabapple. I also love Yoshino Cherry and Weeping Cherry trees, but I just featured pictures of those in a recent post.   

More later. Peace.  

Mazzy Star, “Into Dust”  

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein

Lake scene 

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” ~ Albert Einstein 

“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” ~ Albert Einstein

It has been overcast here for days, which is not exactly helping my spirits. On days like today, I wish that I were at Peaks of Otter, sitting by the lake, looking out across the mountains, sipping a cup of tea as the day moves into the gloaming. Ah well, another day.

Cluttered Office Desk
My Last Office Desk at GWU

I’m sitting here at my desk, and to the left of me, there is a stack of papers about eight inches high on my printer. I’ve just grabbed everything that was scattered across my desk and moved it to the left.  Of course, if I were to be completely truthful, I would have to admit that I have always had a cluttered desk, in every job that I have ever had. In fact, someone once bought me a desk sign that read “A Cluttered Desk is a Sign of Genius.” I wish that I knew what happened to that sign, probably lost in some clutter . . . But this is not clutter: This is mess.

To the right of my chair is the stack of shoes that I commented about last night. I’m still pondering them. To the right of the shoes are two baskets of clean clothes that Alfie has been nesting in, thereby making the top layer no longer clean and in need of a rewash. Behind the two baskets of clothes are things. I can’t be more specific because I cannot get behind the two baskets without killing myself by falling. I see a cardboard box, some bubble wrap, a bag from Target, a belt, and a shoe (which probably belongs to the pile by my feet).

Why such disarray? I don’t know about you people, but when I’m sick, as in bedridden sick, I simply cannot be bothered with the minutiae of hangers, closets, and file folders. Granted, even at the best of times, I have become very lax about such things, but the current situation has reached new heights in combustible clutter.

An upcoming trip to Ohio necessitates that I make my way through the clutter to find presents for Corey’s mom and dad that never made it into the mail. Don’t ask me when these presents were purchased because I really don’t remember. I only know that they are inside the right side of my closet, which is currently completely cutoff from human accessibility.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” ~ Albert Einstein 

csi-gil-grissom
"I don't know what it is. We found it under a two-foot pile of shoes."

Now this is the bizarre way in which my mind works: What if something happened to me, say I died in my sleep or choked on a cashew, and the crime scene techs had to go through my bedroom?

I would be mortified. Of course, I would be dead, so I couldn’t actually be mortified, but I know that I’m too damned nosey to leave immediately, so I’d be hanging around in some non-corporeal form looking down at the strangers in my bedroom who would be commenting on how messy and cluttered my house is.

Just imagine for a moment:

CSI Tech 1: Omigawd. Something truly horrible must have happened in this room.

CSI Tech 2: You think?

CSI Tech 1: Well just look. Everything is torn apart, clothes everywhere, shoes! Shoes and more shoes! Do you think she may have been killed by these stilletos?

CSI Tech 2: I’m not sure. But that’s not blood. That’s red nail polish.

CSI Tech 1: I think I found something here, under this pile of jeans. It looks like a leg.

CSI Tech 2: Dear god. She was killed by denim. But it will take weeks to determine which pair of jeans actually smothered her.

CSI Tech 1: You’re forgetting the stuffed animals. It looks like they made a run for it, and she may have been caught in the stampede.

CSI Tech 2: This is definitely one for the record books: Death by denim and a large stuffed black bear. Poor woman.

CSI Tech 1: But why is she grinning?

I have actually had this conversation with Corey:

Me: If there were ever a crime committed in this house, the CSI techs would never be able to find any evidence, and they would think that I’m a really bad housekeeper.

Corey: You’d be dead. It wouldn’t matter.

Trust me when I tell you that this is not the first time that I have used that scenario as a motivator to clean my bedroom. But it is rather sad, isn’t it, that I resort to non-existent crime scene techs entering my home to make myself clean up some of the clutter?

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein 

I comfort myself with the fact that at some point, Corey will be able to go back to work, and my bedroom will get painted, and I will be able to move the new bedroom furniture into the bedroom and out of the living room, thereby creating more drawer space for the clothes that are currently in baskets on the floor.

Truth be told, drawer and closet space does actually exist for these clothes, but it is at a premium. I long for the day when this house will finally be finished, as in, all of the renovations have been done, and then we can put it on the market and buy a home into which we can actually fit.

This was a great starter home: a three bedroom, one-bath brick ranch with a small eat-in kitchen and a nice lot. Three kids and several dogs later, the attraction has dimmed considerably, although, I still love the fact that it’s a real brick home with a yard that’s big enough so that we don’t see into our neighbor’s bedroom.

New-housing-development-774279When I was working for the real estate firm as a marketing director, I couldn’t get over the way new homes were built: brick fronts, siding around the rest, almost abutting the homes next door. Yards were non-existent.  These homes always looked unfinished somehow. And to upgrade to all brick usually meant a hefty premium of somewhere around $40k. Blew my mind, but then I got used to these new versions of the American dream and the incredibly high asking prices that people were fighting to pay.

Now, as we come out of the eastbound Hampton Tunnel, a huge billboard advertises a homesite that was initially being marketed as upscale condos in a pristine environment. The asking price for the smallest units was about $425k when the company first began to take reservations. The prices went as high as $1.2 million, depending upon view, size, etc. The billboard is advertising the units from $350k, which means that a bunch of people lost their shirts on this premium property.

I am so glad that I’m no longer trying to market new homes in this economy. I imagine that it would be tantamount to trying to sell dead people dirt, if you’ll pardon the expression.

I have no idea how much our own home’s value has decreased, but in this particular neighborhood of old brick ranches with the same basic layout, I don’t imagine that it has dropped that much. After all, our neighborhood isn’t considered up and coming, as it were.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” ~ Albert Einstein 

Have no idea how I even got onto that subject. Moving along . . .

I could have started on the piles of clothes before sitting down to write, but somehow, that didn’t seem quite as appealing. I mean, use my energy to clean? Use my energy to write? Writing wins, hands down. I’ll find my brown bra later. Not going anywhere.

So I’ve also been thinking about that long post that I lost that began my tailspin into non-productivity, which, of course, was coupled with my recent bout of illness. Upon reflection, I’m kind of glad that the post didn’t make it  onto my blog. I had spent a great deal of energy and emotion taking to task someone who had made a horribly vitriolic comment on another blog. The writer’s comment truly upset me and had me feeling dirty all over, if that makes any sense.

he man woman haters club b&wIt was the kind of comment that was so full of hatred and venom, that just the reading of it left me feeling as if I had been accosted. I penned a long, thoughtful response to this person’s comment as I believed that I needed to respond, not in kind, but with logic and facts.

And then the entire post disappeared, which has happened to me two other times. But this time, I’m glad that it disappeared because I’ve had some time to think about the situation, and I realize that by giving a forum to such bile, I was only allowing the writer to continue to have an effect on me. I realize that I tend to do that—dwell on the negative.

For example, when I used to teach at ODU and end of the semester student evaluations came in, I would always dwell on the one or two negative ones, rather than savoring the positive ones. But when I left teaching, it was the folder full of positive comments, cards, and letters from students thanking me that I took with me, so I suppose that I do eventually let go of the negative. It just takes too much time.

But getting back to the blog comment, I’m pretty happy with myself for letting it go now. That’s a good thing. Granted, I hadn’t planned to let it go, but fate stepped in, and obliterated that righteous indignation with which I often find myself coasting along. Of course, that’s not to say that I won’t want to strike back again at some time in the future because I probably will. My righteous indignation at social injustices, political deception, pretentious moral superiority, to name but a few, is not going to fade away. I would not be the person that I am if I did not stand up for that in which I believe.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” ~ Albert Einstein

Yet sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor, or at least, the road best taken. If I had posted my response, I would have been allowing an individual to continue to hold sway on my emotions, and trust me when I say that this particular individual did not deserve such power.

So, for now, I will wax about nothing in particular until the next time my ire is affronted. And maybe I’ll even put away the clean laundry so that I can get a clear path to my closet. Or perhaps, I’ll just watch NCIS or CSI, drink some tea, and ponder more of life’s minutiae.

More later. Peace.