“How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.” ~ David Foster Wallace, from The Pale King

bird and owl

                   

Saturday weirdness . . .

A flaky end to an off-kilter week. Corey came home yesterday. Had Olivia on Wednesday and Thursday. Kept thinking yesterday was Saturday, so today is Friday? Didn’t check my e-mail for two days, so missed the one from Corey saying he would be in port on Friday. Kept thinking he would be here Sunday. Mother’s Day and anniversary quickly approaching and haven’t gotten cards. Very, very weird dreams about a plague outbreak in Corey’s hometown which turned into a cruise ship. Got kicked off the cruise ship because the captain didn’t like us. Woke up coughing. Couldn’t find my regular green tea mochi at the international market. Think I have an off-batch of Corona; that ever happen to you that the beer tastes slightly off? Olivia’s first tooth is almost through, and she pulled herself to a stand this morning, which means everything on tables is now up for grabs. One of Brett’s best friends is graduating college today, and I’ve known this kid since he was born, so I’m feeling incredibly old. Got a letter from health insurance that they consider trigger shots experimental. What the? I’ve been getting trigger shots for almost a decade to great positive effect. Hate health insurance. Neither of my sons will be home for Mother’s Day. What did I expect?  Anyway, here’s a little collection of weirdness from me to you:

First, Jimmy Fallon and John Krasinski have a lip-sync competition, and the results are epic.

Robin Williams still rocks . . .

BBC show “Vicious”

Banana bunkers?
banana bunkers
Remember this?

A little Fry

and finally . . . time for a nap . . .

                   

The Bouquet

Between me and the world
you are a bay, a sail
the faithful ends of a rope
you are a fountain, a wind,
a shrill childhood cry.

Between me and the world
you are a picture frame, a window
a field covered in wildflowers
you are a breath, a bed,
a night that keeps the stars company.

Between me and the world,
you are a calendar, a compass
a ray of light that slips through the gloom
you are a biographical sketch, a book mark
a preface that comes at the end.

between me and the world
you are a gauze curtain, a mist
a lamp shining in my dreams
you are a bamboo flute, a song without words
a closed eyelid carved in stone.

Between me and the world
you are a chasm, a pool
an abyss plunging down
you are a balustrade, a wall
a shield’s eternal pattern.

~ Bei Dao

“Some nights stay up till dawn, as the moon sometimes does for the sun. Be a full bucket pulled up the dark way of a well, then lifted out into the light.” ~ Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Irish Cob Horse (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“Time is constantly passing. If you really consider this fact, you will be simultaneously amazed and terrified . . . As soon as it arises, it is gone. You cannot find any duration. Arising and passing away are simultaneous. That is why there is no seeing nor hearing. That is why we are both sentient beings and insentient beings.” ~ Norman Fischer

Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and low 50’s.

Four days since my last post, more if you count real posts with words. Have kind of hit a wall again when it comes to posting. Hoping that after the holidays I can get back into the swing. Who knows. Actually, I had really wanted to post yesterday, but the computer was non-cooperative. I had to shut down completely twice, and after all of that, I just thought, bugger it, and stopped trying.

Chilly Christmas on Colton Hills, Wolverhampton, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

The tree is up, as are the stockings, but the house is still half-way done. I need to clear off the dining room table and decorate in that room, and of course, everything needs a good dusting. The living room is still full of boxes from the tree decorations. I would put them back in the garage myself, but you know how that goes. Corey has been called into work last minute the past few days, so he hasn’t had much time around here. Of course, there are my two sons . . .

Hoping to finish shopping this weekend—stocking stuff, underwear, socks, the not-s0-glam presents. I still haven’t done my Christmas cards (we’ve only received two cards so far this year; how sad). I’m thinking that if I get the dining room done today, perhaps I can do the cards tonight, but the past few days have been limited to one project.

The nasty cough is mostly gone, but the wheezing remains, as does the lethargy. I’m just bloody thankful that I did not get the usual accompanying bad migraine from the cough, which always used to happen when I got my annual bronchitis bout. I am fast becoming a true believer in migraine botox. Of course I say that now, but I’ll have to pay out of pocket for the next dose as it will come in 2012 with new my new copayment. Oh well . . .

“You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

When I selected these quotes, I think that I had something else in mind, but I can’t quite be certain. But I have found over the years that it’s hard to go astray with Rilke and Rumi, two of my favorites, obviously.

Attaka in Winter Pasture (Wikimedia Commons)

A blogger friend of mine mentioned a site to me (I Write Like) on which you can paste a sample of your writing, and a program will do a quick analysis and spit out the name of a famous writer whose style is similar to yours (or vice versa). I’ve put in several different samples, and this is what I’ve gotten: I write like E. L. Doctorow, Anne Rice (?), H. P. Lovecraft (haven’t read anything by), David Foster Wallace (well, that’s not bad, I suppose), and one other person that I can’t remember.

What does this tell me? Not a lot, other than I don’t write like Fitzgerald or Woolf, which would have been too much to ask for, I suppose.

It’s interesting though in that I’m certain the program looks at things like sentence length, word choices, phrasing, etc., and from the various results that I’ve gotten it tells me that I don’t write like the same person on any given day. What does that say about me? That’s I’m just as fragmented as I’ve always believed myself to be? That my style depends upon my mood? That I don’t have a style, per se?

Quite honestly, I think that what it says most of all is that—as I’ve long suspected—the interwebs have a brain and wicked sense of humor.

“Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence.” ~ Paracelsus, Swiss Alchemist, Philosopher

Last night I dreamt of my uncle, the one who wasn’t really my uncle but was one of my dad’s lifelong best friends, so in the Filipino way, I called him uncle and have always thought of his family as relatives. He died two years after my father died. That I still dream of him says a lot about what a presence he was in my life. I dreamed that he was a jewelry maker and that he had designed these incredible necklaces with beautiful stones. I picked out one that had lovely aquamarine stones.

German Winter: Horses in Snow (Wikimedi Commons)

Then my dreams carried me back into the classroom, and I was teaching math (me? please) to grade school children during summer school. I was with some of the people I had taught with at the middle school, and they did not try to hide their displeasure at my appearance. No one was prepared with any kind of lesson plans, and I was serving the kids cake. Make of that what you will.

Why must I dream of people I would much rather never see again, let alone give a thought to? Why cannot my dreams be more populated with the faces of those I love and have loved? Why does my mind go to such strange places sometimes: math and cake? And why, oh why, whenever I dream about working in some way, do I always have this sudden realization that I cannot be working and that I will have to repay the government thousands of dollars?

I know. There are no answers for such futile questions.

“Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind’s
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.” ~ Wendell Berry, Stanza VI, “Sabbaths 2001”

A woman with whom I worked once asked me why I used the word dreamt instead of dreamed. I think that it’s probably just an offshoot of my literary training. Shakespeare. You know. But dreamt just comes naturally to me, and seems a bit more poetic somehow.

Non sequitur. Or maybe not.

Horse at Moulzie, Upper Glen Cova, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

I mean, I have been thinking about why I use the words that I use. I have been very, very fortunate throughout my life to have worked with and encountered people with a real command of the English language, not just in college and graduate school, but at the newspaper and even at the government contracting firm for whom I worked years ago. There I worked with two men who were both very erudite and articulate. Then there was the museum director for whom I worked.

Dipping my toes into so many different pools has shaped me in so many ways, has afforded me continuous growth. I miss that as I do not believe that we should never stop growing. I miss the garrulous banter of the newsroom that nurtured me when I was an undergraduate. I miss the deep, rich voice of the man who walked into my office, hand outstretched, and said, “I’m from corporate. I’m here to help,” with just the faintest trace of irony beneath his words.

Sitting here, I do not have the same opportunities to hear the rich pageantry that is still churning somewhere out there without me. I mean, I know that in general, our society is in a period of decline culturally and socially, but I know that there are still people out there who love the word, love the sound of words, love the essence of words, and I’m not speaking of politicians, who use and abuse words.

They exist still, perhaps not those same individuals, but those individuals who just by their very essence enrich those around them with their everyday verse, the verse of Walt Whitman’s common man.

“The time has come to turn your heart into a temple of fire. Your essence is gold hidden in dust. To reveal its splendor, you need to burn in the fire of Love.” ~ Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

I supposed the point at which I have arrived is the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart” of which W. B. Yeats spoke in “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”—searching for a theme in vain, “What can I enumerate but old themes?”

Winter in Westphalia, Germany (Wikimedia Commons)

You know the rag and bone man. He lives still today, with his shopping cart with the wobbly wheel, his trash bags filled with aluminum cans and other things that the world has deemed as refuse. He (and she) walks along, collects, and most of us have no concept of what might be of value to him.

The traditional rag and bone man, who amassed household refuse and resold it to make a living, the rags and bones of life, what we castoff in search of . . . something. I think that as writers we are all rag and bone men at some point: gathering, sifting, getting rid of what we can, keeping some, always looking for more. And more often than not, we are looking for a theme, a theme that eludes us.

Whether that’s words, or even the perfect turn of the phrase, we wander, perhaps not down streets and alleyways with our rag bags or our carts, but we wander, and we pick up, and sometimes out of what we collect, we are able to make something worth more than the parts alone.

But only sometimes.

More later. Peace.

Music by Diana Krall, “White Christmas’

                   

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

“My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.” ~ Philip K. Dick

Highland Ancient Arch 

                   

“I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had.” ~ Margaret Mead 

Sunday afternoon. Mid 60’s, sunny.

Stone Arch, Ayshire, Scotland (Pixdaus)

I had wanted to write yesterday, but I kept putting it off because I just couldn’t muster the energy. Eventually I found out that Corey had spiked my coffee with unleaded. Crap. Apparently, I have a caffeine addiction, and the neurologist I consulted this past week wants me to get caffeine out of my diet as she believes that it is the primary cause for my daily headaches.

No caffeine? Seriously? Haven’t I given up enough? You want to take away my coffee and Pepsi too? Beh. Beh, I say. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling Corey, so now he’s mixing the deliciously bold Italian roast with decaf coffee. I think that I may have to take a stand here: You can make me cut back on carbs even though an Asian without rice is like Bill Cosby without pudding. You can take away most of the sugar in my diet. You can tell me not to eat chocolate (notice the wording, tell me?), but caffeine? No. Hell no.

We’ll see.

I asked the neurologist about Botox shots for my migraines, and she said that she had already thought about it, but would have to refer me to one of her partners who apparently handles Botox injections. I’m just glad that they’ve finally been approved for migraines. Actually, in looking back on the appointment, I’m not sure that much of anything happened: a new prescription, a prescription for a drug I already take, lots of hammering on my joints to test my reflexes, lots of questions. She was a humorless woman with sausage fingers (wouldn’t that make a great first line), and she kept asking me about other medicines that I’ve taken. I had to tell her that I couldn’t remember the names as they had all affected my cognitive processes negatively.

But forward progress, as in something might actually happen? Well, I suppose the sleep apnea study might fall into that category, but I left feeling a bit muddled, as in, what was the point exactly?

Please do not mention the caffeine as I will only refer you back to the previous paragraph. I mean, I’ve been told to go off caffeine before. I did. Not much difference. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t having migraines as severe as the ones I’m having now. I did let this new doctor know that on that happy face pain scale that they always show you in the ER (the one that makes me want to rip it out of their hands and tear it into a thousand pieces), my pain level is never ever below a two, as in, pain is always present to some extent.

(How foolish is it to shove a paper on which someone has printed a smiley face and the numeral one and a progression of faces until it reaches Mr. Grimace face with a number 10  in front of someone who is enduring excruciating pain? Just saying . . .)

“When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Archway Leading to Chateau de Jumilhac-le-Grand, Perigord, France

My dreams of late have been very disturbing again: In one, my mother is holding an infant who is very ill. For two nights in a row I’ve been trying to call someone (an unknown male), but cannot seem to get my fingers to work on the keyboard of my phone. I do remember thinking that the number that I should be calling was X, only to realize that X number was my doctor’s office. How strange. And as is almost always the case with my strange sequential dreams, they begin at my old apartment that I had when I was an undergrad.

I do seem to be sleeping a bit sounder now that I’m taking an additional med that my new psychiatrist prescribed. Have I mentioned that I really like this one? I’ve been seeing so many doctors for so many things that I’m losing track. In fact, I cancelled a virtual colonoscopy (virtual?) that my gastro guy ordered because, of course, my insurance is not keeping up with the claims, and I’m starting to get bills for all of these treatments. I’d like to get the premiums up-to-date so that I don’t have to worry about calling to have things refiled.

The concept of a virtual colonoscopy intrigues me. Once I finally have the procedure, I’ll let you know what’s involved. As long as no more probes are inserted into orifices, I can handle it, which reminds me of another part of my dream which I will not discuss in any detail except to say that it was really and truly disgusting.

Corey and I were talking about how his dreams usually seem to be prophetic in some way, that, or he dreams about zombies (don’t ever get him started on his entire theory about the possibility of zombies and how our house is not zombie-proof); whereas my own dreams are filled with conflict. I wonder what normal people dream about?

“For me it is sufficient to have a corner by my hearth, a book and a friend, and a nap undisturbed by creditors or grief.” ~ Fernandez de Andrada

Moon Bridge, Japanese Tea Garden

Let’s see . . . what other interesting and intriguing things have been going on in my little world? I finally got the FAFSA’s done for both sons; so easy, don’t know why I put it off for so long, must be that procrastination gene I carry. Also, I’m in an ongoing battle with the local Ford dealer over the Windstar recall. Apparently, at some point during this process (which began on November 1 last year), Ford decided that they would not pay us the amount they had settled upon but would rebuild the minivan instead.

When Corey told me this, I went into full-on curmudgeon mode, got on the phone, and told the customer service person that they were sadly mistaken if they believed for one second that we were going to wait over six months only to be given back a vehicle that their company had deemed too dangerous to drive off the lot. In lots and lots of words, I said that we absolutely refused to take back the minivan and that we would only settle for what we had been offered. I hung up the phone, and Corey said very quietly that I was actually very scary sometimes.

Really? Had no idea.

That was a week ago. The guy from the dealership calls me everyday to tell me that it’s (our claim) working its way up the chain. I tell him that’s all well and good, but I want results.

Still have not received our federal tax refund, and we both have the feeling that the refund is once again going to be absorbed by some creditor as it has been for the past two years. We really need that money as our sliding glass door is still being held together by duct tape (wonderful thing), which makes it completely useless against zombies. That, and the fact that a new door and installation will cost a cool thousand at least. Plus I need to get caught up on health insurance payments.

And my foray into selling AVON doesn’t seem to be going all that well. My only customers have been Corey and my mom. I suppose people still don’t have disposable income for buying things. My regional rep says that we (AVON) has a new policy that if a rep doesn’t produce, they are kicked out (my words). I suppose I will be banish-ed (say it with two syllables as in Shakespearean) from the ding-dong brigade.

It’s weird how our lives can be rolling along fairly well for a few weeks, and then BAM. We’re screwed to holy hell all over again. Cut off notices, and past due bills, and relentless telephone calls from people wanting money we still don’t have. This is the part of the cycle that, quite frankly, I could really do without.

“Acceptance is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else.” ~ David Foster Wallace

Piscina Mirabilis, Napoli by laura.foto (Flckr Creative Commons)

Just so you don’t start to believe that my life is a lovely little bit of paradise, I’ll mention that I did visit the rehab place in which my m-in-law is residing. I went on Monday (Tuesday)? after my gastro appointment in which the doctor said that I essentially don’t have good working plumbing. Big surprise. More tests. Another big surprise.

But I digress . . .

When I got there, she was in speech therapy, which consisted of the therapist helping her to hold a small plastic cup of water and taking sips. I don’t pretend to know the value of such a thing. When I asked about the peanut butter that seems to be all over my m-in-law’s face and on her shirt, I was told that licking the peanut butter from around her mouth was an exercise. That actually makes sense to me.

Anyway, I rolled her back to her room, and we had a kind of conversation. She was very tired, and wanted to get in bed, but I couldn’t get anyone to come into the room to help put her into bed. Also, she was very shaky, and kept thinking that she was falling out of the wheelchair, so I pushed my chair right up to her so that our knees were touching, and I told here that I wouldn’t go anywhere until she was put into bed.

It was quite unnerving as she would drift off and then awaken with a start and stiffen her entire body as she thought she was falling. I would hold her and assure her that she was not falling and that I wasn’t going anywhere. The strangest part is that the way in which she stiffened her body is exactly the same as the way that Patrick (her son/my b-in-law in Germany who is a paraplegic) stiffens his body when he is in pain or is upset. I did not mention that, of course, as any mention of Patrick would have upset her.

The doctors have concluded (big surprise here) that she will never be able to live alone again. I can’t stand the idea of her being in that place, so I mentioned to my sis-in-law Ann that perhaps she could get a reverse mortgage which would allow her to stay in her home and possibly afford full-time in-home care. I just think that if she were around her own things, around her cat, she would probably respond better. Unfortunately, none of this is up to me, so I make suggestions and let it go at that.

At 4:50 (hours later), someone finally came into the room to get her ready for bed. I gathered all of her dirty clothes and took them home to be washed, feeling as if it were such a small gesture, one not nearly enough for this woman who has been so integral to my life.

This, I cannot write about any more, so I’ll sign off for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Mazzy Star, “”Fade Into You” (Live)

                   

Men at Forty*

‘Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it moving
Beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices tying
His father’s tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.

~ Donald Justice

*I love this poem and have always wanted to write a companion piece about women at forty . . .