To take us Lands away” ~ Emily Dickinson, from 1286
Ugh. Just ugh. Complete lack of energy and numb headache make for a very blah day. I did complete my book bingo, though. At first I was going for the first things that popped into my head, but then that got really hard as nothing was popping into my head; I’d remember a plot, but not the title . . . remember a title, but not the author. Goodreads to the rescue again.
Not sure why resolution is off or why some words appear to be in bold. Let me know if it’s unreadable. Enjoy.
More later. Peace.
Music by Patrick Watson, “Turn into the Noise”
Ode to the Book
When I close a book
I open life.
slide down sand-pits
Among the islands
throbs with fish,
touches the feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar.
The ocean’s surge is calling.
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio–
I got a telegram
from the “Mine” Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won’t let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.
No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to fill me up
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes,
I come out of books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won’t go clothed
I don’t come out
of collected works,
have not eaten poems–
feed on rough weather,
and dig their food
out of earth and men.
I’m on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I’m going down into the streets.
I learned about life
from life itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach no one anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.
In the forest of Chiapas, in thatched huts without walls, in hammocks barely rocking, they sleep. There it is said: If you dream of a donkey, there will be a strong wind. If you dreams of tacos, you will see an anteater. If you dream of an anteater, people are coming. If you dream of a termite, you will see a jaguar. If you dream of a jaguar, people are coming. If the jaguar bites you, they are not people. If you dream you are waking, you’ll be frightened in the forest. If you dream of a mirror, you will see white stones. If you dream of your tongue, beware. All birds mean fever; all fish mean pain in your stomach. If you dream you’re worrying about the cost of things, you’ll not have to worry about the cost of things. If you dream of a party, for a long time you’ll be bored A gourd is a jaguar’s head; the old canoe an alligator. If you dream of a house, you’ll see a wild boar. If you dream of a beard, you’ll see a wild boar. If you dream of a broom, you’ll see a wild boar. If you dream of a radio, you’ll see a wild boar. If you dream of a poet, someone will cry. A shotgun is the tooth of an animal. Beans are maggots and maggots are beans, If you dream you are writing, you’ll be bitten by a snake. If you dream of a lake, it is nothing. If you dream of a frog, it is nothing. If you dream of a flower, it is nothing. If you dream of heaven, it is nothing. If you dream of leaves, it is nothing, but if the leaves are shaking in the wind, grasshoppers will eat the corn. If you dream of fog, people are coming who are sad and ill. If you dream you know something, you do not know it. If you dream of a halo around the moon, the end of the world is coming. That which is thin in a dream will be thick. That which is certain in a dream won’t happen.
~ Eliot Weinberger
All song is formal, and you
Maybe felt this and decided
You’d be formal too. (The eyeliner, the beehive: formal.)
When a desire to escape becomes formal,
It’s dangerous. Then escape requires
Nullity, rather than a walk in the park or a movie.
Eventually, nullity gets harder and
Harder to achieve. After surgery, I had
Opiates. I pushed the button as often as I could.
Understood by music was how I felt. An escape
So complete it became a song. After that,
Elegy’s the only necessary form.
Say you lost all your money, or turned against your ambition.
Then you would be at peace, or
Else why does the mind punish the body?
Vengeance is mind, says the body.
Ever after, you’re a mirror, “silver and exact.”
Just like the bug in a string of code, the body defies the mind
Or looks in the mirror of the mind and shudders.
Better instruments are better because they’re
Silverish but intact.
The clock is obdurate,
Random, and definite.
Obdurate the calendar.
You thump on the cot: another signature.
Did it didn’t do it would do it again.
And if a deferred dream dies? Please sign the petition.
Very good. Let’s hunt for a pen.
If you thump, there’s another signature and
Signatures are given freely by the signer’s hand.
Relics — an
Discourse that night concerned the warm-blooded love we felt.
On the divan and in the ballroom and on the terrace, we felt it.
Now virtue meant liking the look of the face we lay next to.
Never mind the sting of the winter solstice.
All discourse that night concerned the warm-blooded love we felt.
Something lifted us higher. Her little finger told her so,
Untangling, with careless skill, the flora of the sexual grove.
Master physician with a masterly joy in wrapping up
Mud-spattered, coke-dusted wounds at midnight, when it’s too
Early to stop dancing and go home. Our lily-minds soothed by her
Royalty concealed in the synthesizers in the flora of the sexual grove.
“This enormous, murky river with its deep current, this is the familiar river, but familiar from where.” ~ Péter Nádas, from Parallel Stories (trans. Imre Goldstein)
Thursday afternoon. Cloudy, warmer, and very humid.
I got up early to get my fasting lab work done (finally) before Alexis’s ultrasound appointment. Of course there was a backup at the lab, so I left so that I wouldn’t be late for the appointment only to arrive before Alexis and to find out that her appointment was 15 minutes later than she told me. I had forgotten that she does that—writes down her appointments as being 15 minutes before the scheduled time so that she won’t be late.
So anyway . . . went back to the lab after her appointment only to have the lab technician tell me that I needed to register because I wasn’t in the system. Luckily, Alexis noticed that the lab tech had called me by the wrong name. I was still in the system because it hadn’t been that long.
When I got home, Tillie wouldn’t leave me alone until I took her outside to play, which distracted me and made me lose my train of thought, so when I got back to the computer, I looked up songs from the “Revenge” soundtrack, but I’m back now.
My back is killing me, by the way. I could chalk it up to just about anything: the barometric pressure, the rain, the heat . . . whatever.
“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor”
Corey texted me this afternoon. He’s in Suriname (I was unaware that the country was spelled with an e on the end, but it is, which is odd as certain things from the country do not have an e on the end, like the Surinam Toad, or Surinam Airways).
Anyway, he’s just 1 degree above the equator, and it’s hot. From there they will go to the Ascension Islands, which are in the South Atlantic, between the Horn of South America and Africa. Then from there they go back to Suriname for fuel, and then he’s not sure, maybe back to the U.S. or possibly Columbia, SA, wherever the ship is going into the yard, so about another 31 days or so.
He had shore leave for a few hours, and he wandered around Paramaribo (a former Dutch Colonial town), which is the capital and the largest city in the small country. He said that there were lots of open air markets. I read that shrimp are supposed to be wonderful there. Most of the population lives in the north, and there is a rainforest in the south that covers up to 80 percent of the country.
“There are ways of naming the wound.
There are ways of entering the dream. The way a painter enters a studio:
To spill.” ~ Tracy K. Smith, from “History”
Friday afternoon. Sunny and humid.
I just couldn’t finish yesterday. For some reason, I was quite weepy, and a song came on my playlist, and I got that feeling, and then I couldn’t write any more. Just as well, probably. Who knows what I would have said.
Very bad night. I dreamt that Tillie ran through plate-glass and was blinded in one eye, and Corey renamed her Joe, and I didn’t understand why, and I walked out of the house and didn’t lock the front door, so I turned around and went back inside, but it was a different house, and before I could lock the door, a man pushed his way inside, and he tried to grab me but I pushed him, so he pushed me back, and I thought to myself, “this is very weird.”
Corey called last night, and we tried to keep the conversation short so that we do not owe our carrier a second mortgage. He sounded tired as he had just come off watch and had to be back on at 4 in the morning. He’s still liking this job very much and is getting along well with his co-workers. That’s a really good thing, especially when you’re confined with people 24/7.
“Wherever I am I am what is missing.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Keeping Things Whole”
I do want to take a moment to apologize to my followers whose own blogs appear on my blogroll. I have not been a regular visitor of late, but not by choice. This computer in Eamonn’s room is truly on its last leg, and I am very limited in what I can do. Sometimes as I’m writing, the letters appear on the screen one at a time very slowly, much like a typewriter. I had planned to put my CPU in for repairs this paycheck, but then we had that huge hiccup with T-mobile, and well, more of the same.
Once I get my computer up and running, I can get back into my regular mode of visiting people and commenting, something that I truly enjoy doing. It seems that I’m always apologizing for something not being the way that it should . . .
Did I mention that eldest son truly believes that I’m lazy? He (who is very, very much like his father) has never accepted that I am on disability. Whenever we’ve had money issues, he’s said things like, “Well why don’t you just go back to work?” And he’s serious. Not matter how many times Corey or I have tried to break down the realities for him, he still thinks that I’m not working because I’m lazy. This is a very bitter pill to swallow, I have to tell you. It always makes me question myself.
His father could never accept any kind of illness or physical impairment, always believing that the individual affected was just faking. Funny, the things that are ingrained in the DNA.
“And so when all the time had leaked, Without external sound Each bound the Other’s Crucifix—” ~ Emily Dickinson, from “”
So, well, I’m still weepy. I’m taking my medication, but I did miss one day when I ran out, but that’s been days ago. Truth is I would hate to see how bad I’d really be without the meds. And as always, I am reminded of my mother’s mantra: think happy thoughts . . .
At times such as these I really feel for the people who suffered from some kind of mental illness in generations past, how they had to try to hide it, how if it came to light, they were forever marked as being crazy. The Scarlet A, except it would be a Scarlet C (for crazy?). I mean, there was a time when any political candidate who had ever sought mental health counseling would immediately be out of contention for a race, and even now, few in the public arena are willing to admit that they may have had to seek help.
It’s as if mental health is still in that category of the unspoken verboten: sex scandals, counseling, depression, homosexuality. It’s okay if you ran a company or two into the ground, if you caused thousands of people to lose their retirement, but say that you once had to get help for depression? Nope. Not so much.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), in any given 12-month period, 26.2 percent of the adult U.S. population will suffer from some kind of mental disorder, and contrary to popular belief, women do not suffer more than men. That’s one-quarter of our population.
Chew on that for a moment, and think happy thoughts while you do it.
“I see my life go drifting like a river From change to change; I have been many things —” ~ W. B. Yeats, from “Fergus and the Druid”
I have a vivid memory of being 14 and sitting on the floor of my bedroom just weeping buckets. The family down the road had moved to Tennessee, and the daughters were two of my best friends since we had moved back to the area. I spent all of my time with them. Their moving left me hollow. My mother told me that nothing was really wrong, that I just had my period.
Right. But you know, I have to say that it’s not really her fault. She’s a product of her generation, one in which such things were not acknowledged, that to admit that someone in the family was frail (euphemism) was cause for shame. Still, at 14 all I knew was that it felt as if my insides were being torn apart.
Another time when I was really in a bad state a neighbor said that I had “growing pains,” that seemingly innocuous phrase that so many adults use to categorize youthful angst. I remember being so pissed. I just wanted to scream at her that she didn’t know what she was talking about, but I didn’t. I remembered my manners and kept my mouth shut.
Those growing pains produced some of the most angst-filled, emotional bad poetry probably ever written, but at least I sought a way to unburden myself. I don’t know how I got off on this tangent, and now that I’m here, I don’t really want to pursue it any more.
“The red balloon outside rose up to an unsuspected sky, its chains strained by the certainty that the nearer the inferno the greater the paradise, the nearer the prison cell the greater the freedom. Cantabit vacuus coran latrone viator.” ~ Miroslav Holub, from “Interferon” (trans. Dana Habova and David Young)
The penniless traveler will sing in the presence of the highwayman . . .
In spite of my current state of mind, I can still be amazed by the serendipitous nature of life, how I can come across the perfect quote, a new poet, a new poem—something that says exactly what I’m feeling—when I’m not even looking. I had never heard of Holub, never read this poem, but this section of the poem (quote above) is apt for today. I especially like the Latin phrase at the end of the section.
A penniless traveler has nothing to lose, some would say, and on the surface, that is true. But we all have something to lose, even if it’s hidden deep within, so deep that we have forgotten about it. We all have something to lose, even if it is ourselves.
More later. Peace.
Music by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors (from the very last episode of “House” ever and the song that keeps making me weepy), “Live Forever”
Poems in Braille
all your hands are verbs,
now you touch worlds and feel their names—
thru the thing to the name
not the other way thru (in winter
I am Midas, I name gold)
the chair and table and book
extend from your fingers;
all your movements
command these things back to their
places; a fight against familiarity
makes me resume my distance
they knew what it meant,
those egyptian scribes who drew
eyes right into their hieroglyphs,
you read them dispassionate until
the eye stumbles upon itself
blinking back from the papyrus
outside, the articulate wind
annotates this; I read carefully
lest I go blind in both eyes, reading with
that other eye the final hieroglyph
the shortest distance between 2 points
on a revolving circumference
is a curved line; O let me follow you,
with legs and arms I make alphabets
like in those children’s books
where people bend into letters and signs,
yet I do not read the long cabbala of my bones
truthfully; I need only to move to alter the design
I name all things in my room
and they rehearse their names,
gather in groups, form tesseracts,
discussing their names among themselves
I will not say the cast is less than the print
I will not say the curve is longer than the line,
I should read all things like braille in this season
with my fingers I should read them
lest I go blind in both eyes reading with
that other eye the final hieroglyph
~ Gwendolyn MacEwen, from A Breakfeast for Barbarians
“The dead have no sense of tact, no manners, they enter doors without knocking, but I continue to deal with them . . . They pack their bodies into my dreams, they eat my feelings . . . but I cannot shake them and do not want to. Their story, being part of mine, refuses to reach an end.” ~ Thom Gunn, from “Postscript: The Panel
Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and cool.
The first of November, the beginning of my worst month, the onset of my deep melancholy. Remembrance of those gone before me, memories of moments, snippets in time. Longings for what was and will never be again.
November 1st, the bane of my year.
Kathleen’s birthday on November 1st. I fear she is gone from my life for good. Mari’s birthday on October 1st. I fear I have lost her. Alan’s birthday November 23, gone much too young, and I never made that last visit. And then there are the anniversaries of the deaths. It’s all too much.
I saw my father once after he had died. He was sitting in the chair in my mother’s living room. That was the longest sighting. I’ve probably not mentioned that as it seems more than a bit off-kilter. But I have seen him in a few other glimpses since. Not in dreams, but in waking. I wonder about that.
I hate this time of year, and I love it. The dichotomy eats at me. I embrace the colors, the smells, the cool wind on my face. I have always loved autumn more than any other season, since I was young and old enough to remember. Yet I wish that the losses I have suffered were not so acutely present in autumn.
“Besides the autumn poets sing, A few prosaic days A little this side of the snow And that side of the haze.” ~ Emily Dickinson
Friday afternoon. Overcast, low 60’s and windy. Storm brewing.
I had wanted to write a full post on Tuesday, to continue on my melancholic journey, but Eamonn had the day off from work, which meant that access to the working computer in his room was limited. It is hard to write about grief and loss when the movie Troy is playing in the background (Brad P.’t buffness kept distracting me). And so I abandoned the post, hoping to return on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, only to find myself now finally sitting here, wondering where I was going with all of this.
On Wednesday, I had to download a presentation program for Eamonn’s project, which led to the computer crashing and freezing. Corey and I took turns deleting unnecessary programs. I say that we took turns because it took so long to delete just one program that the process—which should have taken no more than 30 minutes tops—ended up taking hours. Deleting just one program under 40 MG took a good 20 to 30 minutes. This hard drive is essentially hanging on with a wing and a prayer.
Then Thursday, yesterday, I had two doctor’s appointments, one of which was to get the Botox for my migraines. I was mistaken in thinking that the shots would go into my scalp. Instead, I got shots between my eyebrows. on the top of my forehead, at my temples, behind my ears, and down my neck. Now we are in wait and see mode: wait to see if it takes effect, and see if it actually makes any difference.
So here I am, three days later, trying to remember what I had to say on Monday.
“a wind has blown the rain away & the sky away & all the leaves away, & the trees stand. i think i, too, have known autumn too long.” ~ E.E. Cummings
The house is very quiet. Corey is at work, as is Eamonn. Em and Brett are away for their conference this weekend, so it’s just the dogs and me. I had the saddest dream before I awoke: I was in a children’s hospital ICU, and I was visiting a baby girl who was quite ill. Her mother was also very ill. Somewhere in my dream, the mother had been bitten by a child vampire, so she was dying and had to be isolated from her baby. I told the nurses that I wanted to adopt the baby,who they had named Emma.
The social services people came and started asking me questions, and then they went away. I found out that my mother had sent them away and had told them that I wasn’t interested in adopting the baby. I became furious and tracked down the people who would be deciding and plead my case, and just as they were about to make a decision, I woke up.
Hate, hate, hate dreams like that, especially when a baby girl is just within my reach but not quite.
I remember thinking in the dream that the baby was quite ill and that it was possible that she would die, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to give her a loving home. Of course, she was olive-skinned with dark hair and brown eyes. My soul tortures me even in my sleep.
“Listen . . . With faint dry sound, Like steps of passing ghosts, The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees And fall.” ~ Adelaide Crapsey, from “November Night”
So the pain level today? Head about a 2, back about an 8. It’s a trade-off. I consider myself lucky when it’s just one or the other and not both.
Last night I helped Brett with an annotated bibliography for his technical writing class. Hate those things, especially in APA style, which I do not know by heart as I do MLA style. In fact, all styles are quite arbitrary. I mean, index numbers, no index numbers, date order, list of authors using an ampersand or the word and . . . and on and on ad nauseum. Reminded me of one of the aspects of research that I truly hate.
But it also reminded me of how much I miss doing research of my own. Of course, nothing is stopping me from doing research. Only myself. The very nature of research has changed so much in the last decade, with sources available with a few key search terms. It’s possible to find ten or twenty good sources within a half hour if you know what you’re doing.
Anyway, my next school project is to help Eamonn with his Power Point presentation for medical terminology. He chose Parkinson’s Disease as his topic. I was surprised that he did so, but then, not really. All of the kids are grieving their grandmother in their own way. Eamonn internalizes, Brett talks, Alexis cries.
As for me, I truly dread the upcoming holidays. My mind keeps flashing this picture of my m-in-law sitting at the end of the table in her dining room, wearing one of those silly paper hats that come out of a Christmas cracker. I cannot get the image out of my head.
“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
I read something recently, cannot remember where (sorry), that discussed the downside to having personal blogs, to putting so much personal information out there into the ether where it will remain forever and ever, amen.
Of course, I have considered this, but quite frankly, I do not care. I try to respect other people’s privacy and not use full names, but what I put out here about myself is my responsibility, no one else’s, and unlike some teenager who is craving social acceptance, I am an adult who has made this decision fully aware of the potential pitfalls. I chose this forum; I use this forum to talk about life, my dreams and desires, and sometimes I venture into other territories, like politics, but I do not sit here at this keyboard expecting my words to be taken as anything more than what I intend: my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I do not claim to be a news blog, but those who do, should abide by the rules.
I mean, I have had people leave really nasty comments when I was posting about politics during the 2008 presidential election; that’s the expected price one pays for opining in an online forum And I have had my stalker, who picks and chooses what he/she wants to use against me, but in spite of this, I do not worry. I mean, I have no employer who is policing what I write to see if I slander the company or my managers. I’ve never written anything deliberately libelous against a former employer.
But I must admit that I am bothered by the very nature of the Internet that allows anyone to say anything about anyone. There exists no type of safe-hold. In some ways, it’s the first amendment run amok. Personal blogs and chat rooms have no managing editor to nix content. So things go out there, and people who are not as discerning as they should be, accept these words whole cloth.
I think that the maxim that just because you can do something does not mean that you should do something should be considered more carefully. But of course, that’s just my two cents. Not sure what took me off on that tangent. Apologies.
“There is starlight drifting on the black water. There are stones in the sea no one has seen. There is a shore and people are waiting. And nothing comes back. Because it is over. Because there is silence instead of a name.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Elegy for my Father”
Outside, the sky is darkening quickly, and the wind is gusting. Sounds like a nor’easter is coming. The various wind chimes surrounding the house are clanging in the background. On days such as this, I wish that I could take a hot bath, soak in the water with the candles lit, a cup of hot Constant Comment, or Typhoo, or Darjeeling on the ledge. But our old tub has a few rust holes in it which prevents it from holding water. Another thing on our list of home repairs needing attending to . . .
I have yet to buy flowers for Caitlin’s grave for the fall and winter. I have memories of walking the aisles at the big florist wholesale place in downtown Norfolk, looking for just the right combination of silk flowers to place on my daughter’s grave, a bi-annual ritual that I have since abandoned. This year, though, I feel a need to do this again, to look for temporary beauty to take to a place that is both beautiful and horrible, the infant cemetery.
But it is a place that has brought me comfort in an odd sort of way, a place that I used to frequent daily, and then weekly, and then intermittently. It is the place that used to anchor me to this city, this region, the thought of not being nearby was actually impossible to fathom.
She has not come to me in dreams in a very long time. If I had to, I could leave this place now, knowing that she is in my heart and not in that place of parents’ worst nightmare made true. I suppose I have reached some sort of resolution in my own small way.
“Because we cannot fly we are condemned to do things that do not agree with us. Because we have no wings we are pushed into struggles and abominations which we did not seek, and then, after that, the years go by, the mountains are leveled, the valleys rise, the rivers are blocked by the sand and the cliffs fall into the sea.” ~ Louis de Bernières, from Birds Without Wings
Saturday afternoon. Cool and cloudy, low 60’s. Smells like fall.
Now Corey is sick. Whatever it is, it has pretty much made the rounds in the house. Brett and Corey seem to have gotten the worse of it—the body aches, the hurting chest.
Another bad night with very strange dreams, something about being a participant in “Project Runway,” even though I don’t sew, taking care of someone else’s baby, but with not enough diapers, and a massive asthma attack in my dream that turned into a real attack and had me fumbling for my inhaler in a half-sleep state. It’s always disconcerting when something happens in a dream that carries over into real life, for me, it’s almost always a headache that starts in a dream and then wakes me because of the pain. Very rarely is it my asthma.
Even though everyone is home today except for Eamonn, the house is very quiet. Since I began this post, the clouds have passed, and the sky is blue with just a few clouds. You see, I took a break between paragraphs to go wash the dishes, so enough time has passed for the weather to change. Still lovely and cool, though.
“Every journey is played out between standstill and flight.” ~ Claudio Magris,Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea
Etta James is singing “At Last” in the background. Such a wonderful song. Such a strong, sultry voice. Love those old torch songs.
It still slays me to think that the women of color of that era had to go in the back door and could not even frequent the nightclubs in which they performed. I suppose that it was okay to listen to them just as long as they weren’t treated like real human beings.
Supposed civilized societies . . .
Tonight is the season finale of “Doctor Who,” series 6. Supposedly, we are going to have answers to questions that were raised in “The Impossible Astronaut” episode. Right. Moffat never explains everything; something is always held back.
I’m still trying to cope with the concept that no new Who episodes, save for the Christmas special, will be aired for a year. That’s just not right, to draw in people, get their undying devotion, and then leave them hanging for a year. Who does that?
Steven Moffat, that’s who.
Yes, I know. My Whovian obsession is quirky, but it brings me pleasure, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s important, at least for now.
So I’ve been thinking about things, you know, little things. Like life.
Strange list, no? Bear with me as I attempt to elucidate . . .
Life, death, money: The relative from whom we borrowed the money for the mortgage is the son of someone I called uncle my whole life. This man was a very important fixture in my life, and he died one year after my father. I still dream of him, that’s what a fixture he and his family have been in my life. When I was young, I babysat his five children during the summer. I attended almost all of his children’s weddings, and have been to baby showers for their children.
Children, parents: This week, Ann packed up her mother’s home because her father is putting it on the market. We had to pick up the crib and cradle that I’ve had in storage in her attic for years. I’ve saved the crib all of these years for Alexis. When I told her that we had to move the crib and asked her if it could go into her storage unit, she informed me quite matter-of-factly that she did not want the crib. You could have knocked me over as I was so astounded by her complete disinterest.
Wall Street, liars: I read an interesting comment directed to the protestors in New York. It suggested that they all wear polo shirts and khakis when they protest, and you know, that makes complete sense. If the protestors look like young Republicans, then the country will be horrified that they are being sprayed in the face with pepper spray. As long as these protestors look like throw-back hippies, no one cares what happens to them. Witness the complete lack of coverage by the mainstream media. Polo shirts + khakis = pseudo respectability. Unfortunately, true.
Republicans, Democrats: I also read a blip that said during one of his recent speeches, President Obama referenced the Bible story about Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, the devout guys who were supposed to be burned alive but who survived because Jesus was with them in the fire. I love this particular story mostly because I love the names of the men, very cool names. But what is interesting is that Obama frequently makes biblical references in his speeches, but he’s still referred to as a heathen, called a Muslim as if it’s a horrendous thing. He cannot win. Whatever.
“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” ~ Charles Péguy
Blogs, writing: I also read an article that said that tumblr is one of the fastest-growing social mediums because of what it does: it allows users to present stream of consciousness postings, as opposed to long posts (as in WordPress), or keep track of friends (as in Facebook), or limits the number of characters (as in Twitter). Apparently, tumblr’s retention rate—that is the number of people who sign up and then actually actively use the site—is higher than any of the other sites. I can understand this, but it made me wonder if the whole idea of blogs is becoming passé, and if this is true, what does that mean for me?
Books, reading: Then there was the quote that said something along the lines that failed writers make the best publishers because they recognize good writing. It made me pause. Is that why I got a degree in publishing, because I consider myself to be a failed writer? Probably.
Peanut butter, body image, aging: I’ve been craving peanut butter a lot lately. I have no idea why. I know that the protein is good for me, but the fat is bad for me. And yesterday in the car, somehow Brett and Em started talking about plastic surgery and how it looks terrible, and I thought about how I declared years ago that I would never get plastic surgery, and I still would never get a face lift because the results are just weird, but I would have my neck and arms tightened, and I would love to melt the fat in my belly. And none of this is ever going to happen because it’s a waste of money.
“There is a pain so utter It swallows Being up. Then covers the abyss with trance, So memory can step Around, across, upon it.” ~ Emily Dickinson
Physicians, alchemy: Thursday, I received a telephone call from the neurologist’s office; it was the nurse that I’ve been going back and forth on regarding getting botox shots for my migraines. She told me this time that she’s having a hard time getting approval for the shots because there is nothing in my file about having migraines that last longer than four hours or for 15 days out of the month. I got pissed. I told her that that was the whole reason that I was seeing a neurologist as my pain management doctor for my migraines, who I had been seeing since 2003, could no longer do anything to help with my headaches, and he was the one who sent me to them. I also reminded her that during my first visit, I signed a release form for the neurologist’s office to get my files from the pain management people.
She was a real bitch and incredibly snotty. I don’t know why this woman is fighting me. I’ve never even met her. She said something along the lines of, “so you are refusing to come in and see Dr. R.” I said, no, I’m not refusing to do that, but Dr. R is the one who told me that she couldn’t do anything for me and told me to see her partner for the shots, so what is the point. Then she called me back and said that Dr. R wanted to know if I’ve ever had a migraine that has lasted longer than four hours. I said, “I’ve had a migraine that lasted for three weeks.” She said, and this is verbatim, “So that’s a yes?”
Did I have a mouthful of marbles when I was talking? If a migraine lasts for three weeks, isn’t that indicative that it lasted longer than four hours? In the middle ages, medical treatment was sometimes handled by alchemists, those people who claimed that they could change the chemical properties of things, such as lead into gold. My feeling is that at this point, I would be better served by an alchemist.
My life is Dr. Seuss book.
“It is inner luxury, of golden figures that breathe like mountains do
and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”
So that’s what I’ve been thinking about, what this mind of mine has been pondering.
Of course, there are many other things, like the fact that my dogs think that peanut butter is doggie crack, or that I really, really wish that I could take a long, hot bath, but the hole in my bathtub makes that impossible.
As soon as the temperature outside dips into the 60’s, my spirit is ready for hot baths. Ah well. At least there is running water, which is more than what a majority of the world’s population has access to, right?
Oh. One last thing.
Censorship: In honor of the last day of Banned Books Week, I’ll close with the following passage by Aldous Huxley, an author whose novel Brave New World (1932) is perpetually selected to be banned by those who cannot abide thinking that goes beyond what their tiny little minds comprehend:
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them . . . Lightly, lightly . . . When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”
~ Aldous Huxley, Island
Music by the Eagles, “Wasted Time”
You Can’t Have It All
But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.
“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.” ~ Vincent van Gogh
Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy, hot and very humid.
The house is quiet. The dogs are all hiding in cool spots, so it’s just Brett and me. Corey had a medical transport today, which means a road trip to Dulles Airport and back, long day, but good hours for him.
Some welcome news for a change: After my, shall we say, less-than-friendly letter to the president of the Ford dealership, we have resolution at last. The dealer is going to honor the buy-back and try to recoup the money from Ford Motor Company, which will pull us out of the dispute. I mailed the letter on Monday and received a call from a vice president on Tuesday. We’re set to turn in the rental and pick up the check this coming Tuesday, so after seven months, resolution in two days.
Isn’t it amazing what carefully chosen words can do? My friend Mari once suggested that I go into business writing letters of complaint for people.
Another avenue unexplored . . .
No rental means we go back to one vehicle temporarily, but with the check from the dealer, we can finally get Corey’s truck fixed (transmission, transfer case, etc.). I know that he’ll be glad to have his truck working again; the only drawback is what it will cost to fill the truck with gas versus what we’ve been paying to fill these little economy-class cars from the rental company. Big difference there.
“It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” ~ Frederick Douglass
Well, I had my lumbar puncture on Thursday, which brought on an instantaneous migraine and laid me low all day Friday and partially yesterday. Hence, no post. I did try to write last night, but my wrists and hands were still tingling. Don’t ask me why . . .
The procedure itself is uncomfortable, mostly because of the position in which I had to place my body. The only thing that I felt at the puncture site was some pressure. So glad that LPs have come a long way from the frightful spinal taps of the past. I cannot imagine having the puncture done without numbing medicine first. However, because the doctor had to go through scar tissue from my operation, it took a few tries before she was in, which produced a bonus sensation: a shooting pain from my back all the way down my right leg.
Nothing is ever easy or straightforward when it comes to my body and doctors.
It would be nice if she actually gets some kind of results from the tests, if only because it will help to explain some of the constant headaches. They are such a part of my life now that I only notice when I don’t have a headache.
“There is a place where time stands still . . . illuminated by only the most feeble red light, for light is diminished to almost nothing at the center of time, its vibrations slowed to echoes in vast canyons, its intensity reduced to the faint glow of fireflies.” ~ Alan Lightman
I’ve been thinking about people again, in the general sense. Remember I had mentioned people who are cheerful, who smile easily and how I am not one of those kinds of people? Well, what about those individuals in whom you can sense a burning, an internal fire?
These are the people who will not be bound by the shackles of an ordinary life. I’m not talking about the Donald Trumps of the world; those are the people who climb upon the backs of others to get what they want (no idea what made me think of Trump, who I truly despise). I’m talking about people like Beethoven, van Gogh, Emily Dickinson—the ones in whom the passion inside was so great that they just had to find a way to release it.
Beethoven composed, created great beauty that he could not hear. When his hearing began to fail, he did not stop composing; rather, he composed more fervently. The music that he heard inside was such a primal force that the composer put his ear to the floor to feel the vibrations. I don’t know that I believe that Beethoven was writing for the world. Instead, I think that he was writing to set himself free. Unless he made the notes real, they would haunt him.
Vincent van Gogh was mad and brilliant, and that combination brought forth yellow stars that are instantly recognizable throughout the world. The artist had so much to say, even if no one around him wanted to hear the words. Imagine what it must have felt like for van Gogh, alone with only his mind, never quite knowing what was real, and then transferring those emotions into vivid swirls in hues brilliant to behold. Imagine the force that drove van Gogh to paint himself over and over—his attempt to make himself real? Solid?
The reclusive Emily Dickinson alone, fragile, writing page after page of verse that the world would know nothing of until after her death. Dickinson dared to stray from the conventions of her time—no titles, extensive use of dashes, odd capitalization, short lines with internal rhyme— and wrote instead what her heart spoke to her. I wonder if she had any inkling of how much her writing would change the landscape of poetry.
“Never let go of that fiery sadness called desire.” ~ Patti Smith
I suppose what I am pondering is how each of these creative individuals possessed a spark that urged them onward, regardless of circumstances. Each burned within, consumed with passion and desire. Each garnered more attention after death than during life. Did each die thinking him or herself a failure?
How we judge ourselves is very telling indeed.
Burning desire. Creative passion. clichés? Perhaps, but that fire does exist, and it does not exist in everyone. This I know for certain. But is this internal fire a partner to madness, the madness that comes from wanting something so much that everything else is left by the wayside? What else but mad desire would have driven Michelangelo to lie on his back for four years to paint the Sistine Chapel?
To be clear, I know the difference between mad desire and psychotic desire: The first gives the world Michelangelo’s frescoes; the second gives the world Hitler’s death camps. Creative madness eats at the soul of the individual who harbors it; it does not harbor a desire to destroy those who look on. That is not to say that the person who gives rise to such passion does not take prisoners along the way. Just consider the siblings and spouses left behind to pick up the pieces. Ted Hughes was still trying to come to terms with Sylvia Plath in his last published work, in spite of his own poetic genius.
Perhaps what I am really contemplating is whether or not that spark still resides somewhere in my soul. Do I still possess the same passion for words that I once felt, or worse, did I never really feel it? No, I should not dissemble: I have felt it all my life—the it that separates those of us who are different, not of the mainstream. And I know the price that we pay, know how many will subsume the desire in order to fit in, to be like everyone else.
It’s like walking a tightrope backwards: a constant balancing act without any clear idea of where it’s all going. It’s as if we are constantly moving into the sunset, blinded by the fire in the sky, but unwilling to give up the quest beyond the horizon because to attain it, the elusive it, would mean peace at last, at least, that’s what we convince ourselves. As Henry James once said, “We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
Music by Right the Stars, “You Know the Way to Go”