“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” ~ Edith Wharton, “Vesalius in Zante (1564)”

Hgnging Bridge Hussaini, Borit Lake, Pakistan

                   

“Let me be, was all I wanted. Be what I am, no matter how I am.” ~ Henry Miller, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird

Friday afternoon. Partly cloudy and very warm, 80s. Impending storms.

So where do I begin?

Corey arrived home on Wednesday night. The company chose not to wait for his documents to arrive, instead sending him home. I couldn’t reach him on Wednesday because his cell phone battery died, but he managed to call me once he made it to La Guardia after having one leg of his flight cancelled, being rerouted to Toronto, having his luggage lost, having a plane held, and having another plane arrive late.

Hanging Bridge at Trift Glacier, Switzerland

If this sounds exhausting, trust me when I say that it was. He slept fourteen hours straight into Thursday afternoon, and who could blame him?

The good news, though—or at least the news that makes all of this bearable is that while he was on the ship for those four days, he found out a lot of information about the company, and most of it wasn’t good. It seems that they’ve lost a major contract because their ships keep breaking down, which means that they aren’t able to fulfill the runs between countries. One of the guys in charge on the ship said that in the first two hitches that he served, he was sent home after four days the first time, and after two weeks the second time.

Another guy said that the company is not above telling the crew one thing and telling the Coast Guard another, in attempts to get the ships back at sea. As it turns out now, everyone who was sent to crew the ship along with Corey will be sent home sometime in the next few weeks because that particular ship has a blown engine, which means one to three months in the yard. The Coast Guard is reluctant to pass on the inspections because the company has made half-attempts at fixing problems before, which, obviously, is unsafe.

“If you go to the window, perhaps you’ll still catch
the dying of the last light.

Madness. The madness of March.” ~ Eugénio de Andrade, from “White on White” (translated by Alexis Levitin)

So the long and short of it is that Corey would have been coming home anyway, but not this soon, but definitely not after three months. He has worked for a really dysfunctional shipping company before, and it made life very tenuous. That particular company routinely did patch jobs on their boats, and the boats were always breaking down as a result. I told Corey that I think that in the end it’s probably better that he didn’t invest too much time in this company only to be jerked around constantly.

Loboc Hanging Bridge, Philippines

The management at the security company was glad to have him back, and he plans to contact several other companies that were interested in him before, but he didn’t have his paperwork updated at the time. I think that things will work out for the better; at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

In the meantime, I’m in an ongoing battle with UPS, having recently learned that the package was not held up by customs but rather because the store didn’t sent out the package until yesterday, this after being assured that everything that could have been done to get the package there within the two days for which I paid handsomely had, in fact, been done. I really hate people who lie to my face, well over the phone.

You can bet that someone, somewhere in the UPS food chain is going to refund me that money.

“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened.” ~ T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton” from Four Quartets

Yesterday, I waited on campus for Brett as he only had two classes, and I didn’t want to waste the gas making four trips. I spent the time reading more of Game of Thrones. It was a beautiful day, and I was quite relaxed. I had big plans to walk Tillie when I got home, but by the time I did get home, I found that I was just exhausted. I know that it was the after-effects of the past four days finally catching up with me. I may try to take her for a walk when I finish this post, though, as I felt really good after she took me for a walk the other day, although, she did jump in the pool when we got home. She’s such a funny dog.

Hanging Bridge in Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Anyway, yesterday was my mother’s birthday; she’s 80. She would absolutely kill me for telling people how old she is. Corey and I gave her one of his beautiful sunflower pictures, and she actually seemed to like it, rare thing when my mother likes a gift.

Today is Eamonn’s 21st birthday. We don’t have his actual gift yet as it’s going to be Rosetta Stone for French, and the plan was to pay for that with Corey’s first big check . . . yep, well, that’s how that goes, for now at least. He has big plans to go out with his friends tonight. Here’s hoping that he’s careful and has a designated driver.

It’s really strange in some ways to see your children grow into adults. I still have the most vivid memories of Eamonn as a small boy, and boy was he cute. Even then he was quite a flirt, shades of things to come. But it’s funny that when I have dreams that involve a young child, it’s almost always Brett as a baby or toddler. I suppose that’s because he’s still the baby in my mind. By the way, Brett corrected me: It wasn’t a toss up between New Zealand and Australia, rather between New Zealand and Canada or Sweden. My mistake.

“we bury the ashes
of our wording
and sift
the silences.” ~ Joy Kogawa, from Offerings

Had to take a break while Brett removed that strange adware program called Text Enhance from the computer. It seems that I’m not the only person that had the appearance of strange underlining and links to suddenly appear on their copy. Brett said that it’s adware/spyware, and he recommended that I download Ghostery, an application the prevents scripts from detecting your presence online, which stops the scripts from running on your computer.

Carricki-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

The following is from my tech savvy son: The program installs itself onto the computer and creates ads in relation to the text that is on screen. Enhance’s website removal instructions only harm the computer further. Do not go to the website as it will install Enhance to your computer without your knowledge or consent. To delete it, simply uninstall it from the add/remove program menu in the control panel, or scan for it with an anti spyware program.

Thanks for the assistance, Brett.

That’s one less thing to worry about today, and trust me when I say that today has been one for the records as far as dealing with things. In between writing this post, I’ve been back and forth with UPS in six separate telephone calls, cut off once after holding for almost eight minutes, and told three different things as far as getting a reimbursement. Oh, and did I mention that one woman said that they had no idea as to when the package might be sent back from Germany; funny thing is that it wasn’t sent until 10:20 this morning, two hours after I talked to the UPS store manager, who assured me that she would see that it was returned to sender—but it hadn’t even left the country at that point!

Argh. I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick that damned football.

“Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.” ~ Galway Kinnell from “Wait”

Since I began this post over four hours ago, the temperature has dropped 21 degrees, and rumbles of thunder can be heard in the distance. The rain is coming down hard now. There will be no walk today, for obvious reasons. The headache that was dull is back full force, and Eamonn came home from work to find green streamers all over his bedroom (I didn’t have balloons, so the streamers are almost as obnoxious).

Oh, and to add to the growing miasma of unmitigated crap that comprises our lives over the past six days, Corey got his paycheck from the Lithuania trip, and of course, because nothing is going right at the moment, it’s short. Can I just say that this whole week would be better if erased with permanent white-out from the book of life, auto-corrected and eliminated, as it were.

I plan to spend the rest of this evening watching Investigation ID on cable, get my fill of psychopaths and people who kill for revenge. As Aristotle said, tragedy allows the audience to purge itself of pity and fear and other negative emotions. I firmly believe that watching real-life stories of murder and mayhem and watching dramatic stories of the same ilk, as in “Law & Order,” allows me to release all of these pent up feelings of needing to throttle someone because of their incompetence and stupidity.

Purging the emotions without actually taking action. That’s a good thing. If only it really worked.

Okay, enough already. Between the telephone calls, computer malware, computer freezes, and all of the other bull, it’s now 9:10 p.m. I began this post half a day ago . . .

More later. Peace.

*I can think of no better image to represent how I feel than today’s selection of hanging bridges . . .

Music by Alex Clare, “Relax My Beloved” (Corey found this one for me)

                   

Rachmaninoff on the Mass Pike

It calls the heart, this music, to a place
more intimate than home, than self, that face
aging in the hall mirror. This is not
music to age by—no sprightly gavotte
or orderly pavane, counting each beat,
confining motion to the pointed feet
and sagely nodding head; not Chopin, wise
enough to keep some distance in his eyes
between perceiver and the thing perceived.
No, this is song that means to be believed,
that quite believes itself, each rising wave
of passionate crescendo wild and brave.
The silly girl who lived inside my skin
once loved this music; its melodic din
was like the voice she dreamed in, sad, intense.
She didn’t know a thing, she had no sense;
she scorned—and needed—calendar and clock,
the rules, the steps, the lines, Sebastian Bach;
she wanted life to break her like a tide,
but not too painfully. On either side
the turnpike trundles by, nurseries, farms,
small towns with schools and markets in their arms,
small industry, green spaces now and then.
All the heart wants is to be called again.

~ Rhina P. Espaillat

“Yesterday was blue, like smoke.” ~ Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Tree in Field before the Storm (Pixdaus)

                   

“That is why the bird sings its songs into the world as though it were singing into its inner self, that’s why we take a birdsong into our own inner selves so easily, it seems to us that we translate it fully, with no remainder, into our feelings; a birdsong can even, for a moment, make the whole world into a sky within us, because we feel that the bird does not distinguish between its heart and the world’s.” ~ Rainer Marie Rilke, “Notes on Birds”

Friday evening. Warm, not too humid. Possibility of storms.

Field Storm by Maria (Pixdaus)

Last night I dreamed of a vast field, green and yellow and a storm approaching from the distance.

Today I spent the longest time in the pool so far this season. Tillie and Shakes joined me, which meant that splashing ensued, but it was still quite peaceful. Everyone else was in the house, so it was just me, the dogs, and lots of birds. It’s nice when it’s just the dogs because when I fall off the raft or talk to myself about my belly, they just look and listen as if I’m talking about cookies.

The mockingbirds are back. As I floated, I watched two small mockingbirds attack a much larger crow. I love mockingbirds, not just for their songs, but also for their fearlessness. They are the rebel songbirds; I like that about them.

The blue sky was dotted with puffy cumulus clouds, and thankfully, no leaf blowers or chain saws were in earshot, so overall, it was a peaceful few hours, except for the hole in my raft. I bought two rafts at the discount store, and one has a hole in it already—it’s never been used. You get what you pay for, I suppose, but these will have to do for now.

As a result, I got the beginnings of a nice tan on my front, and nothing on my back. I’m not too fussed about it, though. It’s not as if anyone ever sees me.

“Has it ever struck you . . . that life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going? It’s really all memory . . . except for each passing moment.” ~ Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

Flight Before the Storm (Pixdaus)

Well, I had two doctors’ appointments this week. Have you ever had one of those doctors who just loves to do tests? My gastro guy has turned into one of those. He wasn’t always like that. We talked about the results from my last two tests, which essentially show the same things—my digestive system is whacked—and then he mentioned another test. I told him that I really didn’t think that it was necessary.

I think that I need to find a new gastro doctor. I mean, now that I’ve been poked and prodded from both ends, perhaps I can find someone who will now discuss treatment options with me instead of talking about more tests and referrals. This particular visit was part of the cause for my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day; that, and more peripheral drama.

My other doctor’s visit was with my PCP, who is also starting to sound like a broken record: It would be nice if we could get you off some of these medications . . .

Really? That never occurred to me. Which ones do you think I can do without? The pain medicine for my back? The cholesterol medicine? The headache medicine?

Exactly.

So she sent me to the lab to have more vials of my life blood sucked out, and I’m certain that she will not be happy with the results because I have yet to begin my exercise regimen. I know. I know. I really do need to at least walk, but it’s mighty hard to steel the self for three or four miles when the vision is impaired from squinting as a result of the jack hammer that is at work on the skull.

Just saying . . .

“I thought how true it was that the world was a delightful place if it were not for the people, and how more than true it was that people were not worth troubling about . . .” ~ Katherine Mansfield, Violet

Red Stormy Skies (Pixdaus)

The ongoing drama at my house is not really something that I feel comfortable talking about as it does not directly involve me. Rather, Corey and I are on the periphery of events that are unfolding, and our role is pretty much relegated to support. I’m fine with this, especially in this particular situation.

I’ve been pondering the concept of people in the past few days. You might find that a bit odd, but not really. I mean, so many people come and go in our lives, and I firmly believe that each person leaves a little something behind, even if it is only a brief memory of an afternoon, or a remembered line from a conversation, or a sense of keen dread when remembering certain individuals.

I will admit that I am one of those people who usually causes one of two reactions in people: either strong dislike or undying loyalty. I’ve wondered what it is about me that causes this, and most probably, it is because I tend to speak my mind. I have found that, especially in a certain types of men, this is not a trait that is welcomed in a woman, which only makes me more vocal.

But at the same time, I know that in the past, I got along better with men than with women. I have found—at least in the workplace—that a group of women always has a very specific dynamic: one of extreme competitiveness, either for real power or perceived power. It’s that whole clique formation thing, perhaps a carryover from high school and the concept of mean girls. I know that it’s one thing that I do not miss at all about working full time.

Women can be absolutely brutal to one another, and that saddens me. It truly does. When I was an undergraduate taking Women’s Studies courses, I remember a lot of discussions about the sociology and psychology of females and the unspoken need to one-up another woman who may or may not be a competitor. As in, for example, the Queen Bee Syndrome: the woman who reaches a position of power who then does everything she can to make sure that no other women get promoted (there is only room at the top for one).

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton

Storm Clouds, South Dakota (Pixdaus)

I know that I’ve talked about these things before in this forum, but when I think back on some of the women I have left by the wayside in my own quest for fire, I am, most certainly, abashed. For example, I remember years ago when I managed the document production department for a government contractor. The art department was particularly troublesome.

The first graphic artist I hired was a seemingly nice woman. What I didn’t realize, even at the time, was that she was so insecure that anyone else I hired had to be willing to be subservient to her.

In my way of apology, it was my first time supervising so many people, and they were all female, until I hired a guy who had been in graduate school with me to work as an editor. Anyway, the senior graphic artist took a strong dislike to another artist I hired, and as a result, she (the first) took every opportunity to plant little tidbits of doubt in my ear. I was just naive enough to fall for it, and the end result was that the second graphic artist lost her job.

Now in my defense, she was habitually late and/or absent, so that was reason enough, but I never should have fallen prey to the constant brainwashing that X was really a terrible person, a bad artist, unproductive, ya da ya da ya da . . .

My point is this: I was stupid. The woman who reveled in spreading seeds of discontent was insecure, petty, and immature, and as a result, everyone lost.

“What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.” ~Sylvia Plath

Field Before the Storm (Pixdaus)

I would like to think that such things would not happen now. I’m older, wiser, more patient, and less prone to be swayed by idle gossip and venomous rancor. I wish that I had had these traits when I was in my 20’s, but of course, hindsight proves to be the greatest teacher of all. I think back on myself at that time and how certain I was of everything, how unwilling I was to bend for fear it would be seen as weakness.

I love it when young women declare to the world, I am not a feminist. I would never want to be that kind of woman.

What is the old saying? Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too (I’m paraphrasing). So many women of my daughter’s generation view feminists as men-haters, as lesbians, as hairy-arm-pitted radicals.

If only they knew. I was in the second wave, after the bra-burners. But if not for women like me who did not allow men on the staff to pat my bum or to call me sweetie, women in their 20’s would not have half the gains they have in the workplace. Fifty-one percent of the population is female. The number of women on corporate letterhead is still growing.

Women are in politics, in the boardroom, in private practice; they are partners in prestigious firms, and they are chief of staff. No longer are women in the service confined to bedpans and bandages. They can fly fighter jets.

At the same time, feminism is all about choices: those women who choose to stay home and raise their children, those women who choose not to get married, those women who choose to have careers and families. And all of this is because of the radicals of the 60’s and early 70’s, and those of us who came after and picked up the baton.

“’How does distance look?’ is a simple direct question. It extends from a spaceless
within to the edge
of what can be loved. It depends on light.” ~ Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red

Storm Clouds Over the Canola Field

I remember that sometimes it really did feel as if we were fighting in the trenches, with our power suits, pumps and briefcases. Take us seriously—the unwritten banner across our chests.

I remember the male general manager who did not want to promote a woman on staff because he did not like her laugh. I remember the male executive who asked me to microwave his lunch. I remember the teacher who told me that I should seriously consider a career in politics. I remember wondering if it would ever get better.

It did. And I did.

What seemed so far in the distance to me when I was just beginning my career is no longer unattainable simply because of gender. Yet for all of it, women still seem to be hardest on other women, and I’m not talking about in the insane vernacular of real housewives women. For every male who stood in my way in the workplace, there was a female who did the same.

I wonder if it will always be that way. I wonder if that is an American socialization thing, or if it spreads throughout countries all over the world.

Curious.

The computer is beginning to misbehave, and I haven’t even inserted my graphics yet, so let me close with this: A man asked Cher is she wasn’t a bit old to still be rocking. Cher replied, “You’d better ask Mick Jagger.”

More later. Peace.

Music by Grace Griffith, “My Life.” (Thanks, Leah in NC)

                   

When I Am Asked

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.
It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
everything blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.
Nothing was black or broken
and not a leaf fell
and the sun blared endless commercials
for summer holidays.

I sat on a gray stone bench
ringed with the ingenue faces
of pink and white impatiens
and placed my grief
in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me.

~ Lisel Mueller