“To hell, to hell with balance! I break glasses; I want to burn, even if I break myself. I want to live only for ecstasy . . . I’m neurotic, perverted, destructive, fiery, dangerous—lava, inflammable, unrestrained.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from a 1933 diary entry

Image result for kate chopin quotes


“Turn on the dream you lived
through the unwavering gaze.
It is as you thought: the living burn.
In the floating days
may you discover grace.” ~ Galway Kinnell, from “Easter”

Wednesday afternoon, overcast, 52 degrees.

It’s not a wordless Wednesday; actually, it’s a Wednesday full of words. I usually check my birthday sites before beginning a post to see if I want to include something about a particular writer or just mention a birthday worth nothing. But as February is almost over—a fact that I’m having a real problem wrapping my head around—and as the month happens to include birthdays of so many authors/poets/essayists whose work I love and admire (for whatever reason), I thought that I’d share a brief list. Each name is linked to a bio for that person. I’ve also included just a few of my favorite quotes and/or selections from works.

So, yeah. Lots of words for what is usually a wordless day . . . Enjoy.


  • Galway Kinnell, Rhode Island-born poet and 1983 Pulitzer prize winner  (February 1, 1927-October 28, 2014). Aside: favorite poem by him is “The Olive Wood Fire”
  • Langston Hugues, African-American poet and translator, leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance (February 1, 1902-May 22, 1967):

“Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor —
Bare.” ~ Langston Hughes, from “Mother to Son”

  • James Joyce, Irish novelist, poet, and stream-of-consciousness pioneer, author of Ulysses (1922), which was banned in the U.S until 1933 (February 2, 1882-January 13, 1941)
  • Christopher Marlowe, English poet and dramatist (February 6, 1564-May 30, 1593)
  • Charles Dickens, English novelist (February 7, 1812-June 9, 1870)
  • Elizabeth Bishop, Massachusetts-born poet, 1956 Pulitzer Prize winner (February 8, 1911-October 6, 1979):

“It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn” ~ Elizabeth Bishop, from “At the Fishhouses”

  • Kate Chopin, St. Louis, Missouri-born writer of The Awakening and numerous short stories (February 8, 1850-August 22, 1904)
  • Alice Walker, Georgia-born novelist, poet, and political activist who won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for The Color Purple (February 9, 1944)
  • Boris Pasternak, Russian-born poet and author of Doctor Zhivago; he won the Nobel Prize in literature (1958) but was forced by the Soviet government to decline (February 10, 1890-May 30, 1960)
  • Toni Morrison, Ohio-born African American novelist, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1987 and the first African American woman to be selected for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 (February 18, 1931-August 5, 2019):

“And I am all the things I have ever loved:

scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water,
dream books and number playing. I am the sound of
my own voice singing . . .

I am not complete here; there is much more,

but there is no more time and no more space . . . and I
have journeys to take, ships to name and crews.” ~ Toni Morrison, from the jacket of The Black Book

  • Anaïs Nin, novelist and diarist, ground-breaking The Diary of Anaïs Nin published in 1966 (February 21-1903-January 14, 1977)
  • W. H.  Auden, U.S. poet, winner of 1948 Pulitzer (February 21, 1907-September 28, 1973)
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay, Maine poet and playwright, 1923 Pulitzer prize winner for The Ballad of the Harp Weaver (February 22, 1892-October 19, 1950)
  • Samuel PepysEnglish diarist (February 23, 1633-May 26, 1703)
  • Anthony Burgess, English essayist, novelist, and musician, author of 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange (February 25, 1917-November 22, 1993)
  • John Steinbeck, American novelist and Pulitzer prize winner in 1940 for The Grapes of Wrath, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, an award that few, including the author, believed he deserved (February 27, 1902-December 20, 1968):

“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” ~ John Steinbeck, from Of Mice and Men

Personally, I always liked Steinbeck more than Faulkner, and Fitzgerald more than both, and Carson McCullers more than all of them.

More later. Peace.


Music by Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro, “Goodnight Irene”

“October is a symphony of permanence and change.” ~ Bonaro W. Overstreet

Toward the Storm (Pixdaus)

 

                    

“There are many windows through
which we can look out into the
world, searching for meaning . . . ” ~ Jane Goodall

Field Storm 1 (Pixdaus)

To my credit, the header for this post was applicable when I first began writing it; that it is now almost an entire week later does not negate the sentiment behind the header, so I opted to keep it.

The previous post, abandoned in midstream and never quite returned to in any creative fashion probably is the best example of what life has been like: starts and stops, wrong turns, lost threads, and unfinished thoughts. It is almost 11 p.m. on Wednesday evening. That I last had the opportunity to write was almost seven days ago simply blows my mind.

How did it get to be November? Where was I? How can Thanksgiving be in a few weeks? How did Gretchen win “Project Runway”? Oops, that last one just sort of slipped in when I wasn’t paying attention.

If you could see this draft, you would definitely question my grip on reality. I have about ten different quotes on this page relating to three, possibly four themes. Rather than try to sort through and pare beforehand, I have decided to just write and see what fits. Very revealing actually in that I have no idea what my life will be like from one moment to the next, so how could I possibly know which quote will fit and which quote will be irrelevant?

You see my predicament . . .

“For me there is only the traveling on the paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart.There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge for me is to traverse its full length. And there I travel—looking, looking, breathlessly.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

Before the Storm by Joel Le Montagner (Pixdaus)

I’m still camping out at my mother’s house. Her broken tibia is mending quite well (according to the orthopaedic surgeon who saw her this morning), but her stomach ailments remain mysterious and unresponsive (according to the urgent care physician we saw after the visit to the orthopaedist). Four and a half hours later, my mother felt slightly better as she had accomplished one major goal in getting her rather large and bulky immobilizing brace changed to something smaller and more comfortable.

I, however, felt that eating glass might actually be a comforting alternative to the morning’s events. I suppose it had been building for a while, but today was my breaking point. I knew that if I did not get away, get away from my mother, get away from this house, get away from the various medications and ailments and problems and prognoses that Corey might have to have me fitted for a full-body immobilizing brace.

I texted my daughter to ask her to please spot me today by coming over and staying with my mother as I was nearing a breaking point. Her reply text only reinforced that aspect of my life that is in and of itself a large part of the problem: she would be over in a “bit” as she still had to eat lunch, wash the dishes, takes a shower . . . essentially, in her sweet time, my request be damned. That she finally deigned to make an appearance at 5:30 did not amuse me in the least.

Nevertheless, after returning from the doctors’ visits I settled my mother in with lunch, several doses of pepto tablets measured out to chew each hour in an aggressive move by the urgent care physician to calm her stomach, a cup of tea, a glass of 7-up, her reading glasses, and the television remote control. Then I left. Ostensibly to pick up Brett at school, but the destination could have been the grocery store. Anywhere was better than here, and I did not want to have my meltdown in front of my mother only to have her retreat into her poor, pitiful me persona, which would, in turn, reduce me to a large puddle of guilt.

“So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea” ~ Elizabeth Bishop, “Insomnia”

Field Storm 2 (Pixdaus)

Moving along . . . I spent some time this afternoon with Brett and my three dogs; I believe that I can attest that all involved—human and canine—benefitted from the quality time. Brett and I talked about nothing of any great importance as we took turns rubbing bellies and ears and heaping attention on dogs that quite obviously never receive a kind word, a small treat, or any love at all . . .

So here I am, sitting here with my music playing quietly in a house that is finally, thankfully, quiet. If  you were to ask me what my aversion to noise is, I might be hard-pressed to answer you, especially as I can engage in as much inane chatter as the next person. But having moved from my parents’ home a long time ago, having left a home that subsists on a backdrop of television during every waking moment, I have become much accustomed to having my silence when I want it and if I need it, that and the fact that I no longer possess the ability to tune out that which I do not want to hear, such as how much the showcase is on “The Price is Right” or the screech of the wheel as it turns on “Wheel of Fortune.”

When my mother first fell, I never dreamt that I would still be here full-time six weeks later. Truthfully, though, I don’t really know what I thought or believed at the time, but as the small collection of necessities that I had initially spread about my old bedroom began to grow into might-need items, I realized that life had shifted at some point and had caught me unawares and was taking me along for the ride.

Perhaps that is what troubles me the most about this entire situation: the fact that nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, is controllable. What works on day is completely useless 24 hours later. Signs of improvement can morph into a life-threatening circumstance in less than half a day. And not since the days of Caitlin’s hospitalization has my life been this out of control.

And I find that I cannot even turn to one of my most inviting avenues for comfort: I cannot get on the computer, find answers to my questions, dig for facts. Knowledge is not a mouse click away, and that barrier only adds to my feelings of frustration. I use my knowledge as a shield. Give me facts and I can fight the fears. Medicine X has what side effects? I’ll look that up. No wait. No connection. Can’t leave mom alone to go use a computer at my house. Too many ifs in play. Perhaps I’ll twiddle my thumbs a bit more.

And as each day passes, I am mindful of the calendar, fitfully attuned to the days passing into the beginning of November, nearing the anniversary of Caitlin’s death, the anniversary of my father’s death. Each year from September through November, I hold the incipient crash at bay, never knowing if it will be a bad year or a good year, never able to predict how my psyche will assimilate the events of the days, whether I will feel the emotional pain keenly or merely sense subconsciously the loss.

“And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.” ~ Ezra Pound, Poems of Lustra 

Field Storm 3 by Dmitry Shirkov (Pixdaus)

So what is the theme of this post? Is it time, that it passes too quickly and leaves us confused in its wake? Is it silence, like the air in a field right before a storm, so sweet and still, a moment suspended? Is it my endless search for meaning and answers in a time in which, perhaps, no true answers exist? Or is it simply this:

That in the end, we are all so much dross, not nearly as valuable as we hope, that we are buffeted about like miniscule, insignificant creatures caught in life’s maelstrom, and if, if we are to move beyond, if we are to achieve each our own significance, then we must remain constantly attuned to our personal mainspring lest we become too taughtly wound.

The trick, my friends, is to know exactly how much torsion our psyches can tolerate—that ideal balance between energy and inertia—so that life, the days, the hours, the minutes—unwind as we would hope. For the alternative, to be sprung all at once, leaves nothing for the next time fate decides to hurl us headlong into chaos.

Remember, the temporal slingshot only works in the cinema, and life can slip by like a field mouse.

Music by Matthew Ryan, “The World Is . . . ”