“We are little flames poorly sheltered by frail walls against the storm of dissolution and madness, in which we flicker and sometimes almost go out.” ~ Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

Morning in the Forest by Paulo FLOP (35photo.ru)

                   

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday evening. Gradually clearing, low 70’s.

Beginning by bachkatov (35photo.ru)

A slow day. I stayed up quite late and got up quite late, so I’m feeling more than a bit discombobulated, that, and the omnipresent headache that is thrumming in my temples.

I should mention off the bat that this post’s images all come from 35photo.ru, a site that I found through tumblr. I apologize if I have inadvertently infringed on someone’s copyright, but I looked carefully at the images that I downloaded and did not see a copyright, part of the problem of using a foreign site.

Last night (early this morning?) Corey and I had a heart-to-heart talk about what we are facing. He has very mixed feelings about the job with the sheriff’s office, which has caught him off-guard, and he is considering trying to pick up a hitch with the shipping company that approached him right after he had enrolled in school. If he does a few hitches with them next year, he can make as much money as he would make in a year with the other job, and he can still go to school.

I really don’t want him to have to postpone school for two years because he has already waited so long on this particular dream—a dream deferred, if you will—and, truth be told, I am not to keen on the idea of him having to work in the city jail, just too many possible bad scenarios there. But ultimately, I will leave it up to him.

The downside of going back to sea is that we have to come up with the money to renew his licenses, and he would probably not be able to go out until the beginning of 2012, so a few more months of this.

“You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.” ~ Philip Levine, “Our Valley”

Into the Mist by kicik (35photo.ru)

He also admitted that he does not think the idea of me giving up my disability coverage is the best idea. When he asked if I wanted to go back to work because of the money or because I wanted to go back to work, I immediately said that it was the money, and that’s the truth.

I have agreed to postpone submitting my application package a few days (as the deadline is not for another five days) until I can give the issue some more thought. Of course, having said that, I must admit that today I feel worse than I’ve felt in weeks, what with my back and my head, and I realize that the stress is probably a factor in that. So the question is, how would I do with the stress of a full-time job?

I have no idea.

Any type of job that I would take would be a high stress situation as that is the nature of marketing and publishing—constant deadlines and budgetary factors. Client whims and needs. All of that. I must approach this with my mind fully aware of all of the mitigating factors, not the least of which is the disputation of my graduate school loans. If I stay on disability, my loans are phased out. If I go back to work, they are reinstated, as they should be, but that’s a big chunk of change. Getting a graduate degree from a private university, even one for which you work, is not inexpensive.

More to consider.

“This body, which has become a sarcophagus with stone handles, lies perfectly motionless; the dreamer rises out of it, like a vapor, to circumnavigate the world . . . he tries on one body after another, but they are all misfits. Finally he is obliged to return to his own body, to reassume the leaden mold, to become a prisoner of the flesh, to carry on in torpor, pain and ennui.” ~ Henry Miller in Sexus

Untitled by Philip Peynerdjiev (35photo.ru)

I want to pause to acknowledge that some beautiful verse has been showing up on my tumblr dash lately. As I’ve mentioned before, I garner most of my quotes and poems from my tumblr, which I find to be an inspiring resource. I had never heard of Matthew Harvey or Lucian Blaga, both of which I have included in this post.

Corey had a chat with Eamonn today in which he reminded eldest son that missing classes is unacceptable as we footed the bill for his last ditch effort to do something with his college career. The proposition was that he would work his hardest and make A’s, B’s at the very least, so that he can bring up his GPA and possibly be accepted into the radiation technology program.

In the last week, Eamonn missed one session of each class, and he is carrying a low B in his biology class. He admitted to me that he did not study for his recent test.

Why doesn’t he get it? Why doesn’t he understand that we invested this money in him (money that we could ill afford) because we want him to succeed, because we want him to have a career and not to have to work in some low-paying job for the rest of his life?

Corey told him that he (Eamonn) is acting like this is still high school, which is exactly what the problem is. I could go on ad nauseum about how this isn’t how he was brought up, how my family has a strong work ethic and a deep belief in higher education, but the truth is that Eamonn is spoiled, and that fact lands squarely back in my lap.

It’s hard to be a single parent. The desire to give your children everything, to be everything, to make things seem as normal as possible—these things can cause a sense of unbelievable guilt, and Eamonn is good for piling on the guilt, telling me more than once that he blames me for the divorce. It’s an argument that I cannot win and have long since abandoned trying to gain any ground with, so admittedly, I spoiled my children as much as I could.

Still, this sense of entitlement makes me want to scream.

Same old song and dance, I suppose . . .

“If there is no fog on the day you come home I will build a bonfire
So the smoke will make the cedars look the way you like them” ~ Matthea Harvey, from “In Defense of Our Overgrown Garden

Foggy Night 3 by dimitri bogachuk (35photo.ru)

In other news . . . Brett is still sick today, so he’s been quiet and resting. Em went shopping with her aunt, which is always a good distraction for her. She has developed a nice relationship with both her aunt and uncle in the past few months, and I know that fact means a lot to her.

Alexis has spent the fast week or so in Maryland with Mike, who is due to finish his hitch there soon. He makes good money while he’s there, and I think that the time that she spends up there with him is good for their relationship. Plus it means that she’s not just staying in her apartment alone sleeping. I know that she’s been incredibly depressed since losing her grandmother.

Yesterday was Ann’s birthday. I called and texted but never got to speak to her, so I left a voice mail in which I sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” á la Marilyn Monroe. I’m hoping that she wasn’t too depressed. The first holidays, birthdays, anniversaries after losing a parent are so hard. It still bothers me to be on the card aisle before Father’s Day. I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas without my m-in-law, which is probably why I dreamed that she was decorating for Christmas. It will be so strange for her not to be here.

I’ve been borrowing my m-in-law’s car to drive back and forth to ODU when Corey is working. We’re hoping that our neighbor who is supposed to be working on Corey’s truck will finish the job soon. He’s been paid in full, and we have the parts. We’re just waiting on the labor now. I still need to make arrangements to have my uncle’s Explorer shipped from Florida. And Brett still needs to get off his butt and take his DMV test to get his learner’s permit, which he has to keep for 30 days before getting his license now that he’s over 19.

Always something.

“Such a deep silence surrounds me, that I think I hear
moonbeams striking on the windows.

In my chest,
a strange voice awakens
and a song plays inside me
a longing that is not mine.” ~ Lucian Blaga, from “Silence” (trans. by MariGoes)

Cape Fiolet by Dimitry Tokar (35photo.ru)

Yesterday, while I was on my way to ODU to pick up Brett and Em, I had the local classical station on, and some symphony was playing. Forgive me, but I did not get the name. It was not one with which I was already familiar. But I turned up the tinny car radio, and listened to the beautiful music, which ended perfectly just as I pulled up.

I remember when I was teaching at ODU, fall would always be the time that I would switch my car stereo to classical, and one day Mari walked in and said, “Geez, how many times are they going to play “The Emperor’s Concerto” (Beethoven’s fifth concerto)? I had to laugh because I had just been thinking the same thing as I walked into the office.

It’s funny how Mari and I were so synchronized in our likes and dislikes, how we changed with the seasons, how our moods were affected by the weather and by what we wore. I remember one day when we were out, and I made her go to what was then Hecht’s department store so that I could buy a blouse to change into because what I was wearing made me feel so ugly. She completely understood.

God I miss having that in a female friend. But mostly, I still miss Mari. When I was going through my files before updating my resume, I came across a resume that I had put together for Mari back in 2005 when she was trying to get a job down here. I hadn’t realized that it had been that long. We were both working so hard to get her down here, but it never happened. That’s over six years ago.

It seems like last year. Does time pass faster the older that you are? Or does it just seem to fly away on the wind when you are running so fast to catch up?

More later. Peace.

Music by Jeff Beal, “Waltz for Mary,” perfect day for some keyboard

                   

Fall

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer’s
Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

~ Edward Hirsch

Because I Said So . . .

I Promise Never Say To My Children Some of The Bizarre Things My Mother Said To Me

“Someday you’ll have a daughter, and I hope that she’s just like you” (mom)

How many of us remember swearing when we were younger that we would not be like our parents? That we would never ever answer a questions with the completely nonsensical words “because I said so”? How many of us have used those exact words out of complete and utter exasperation only to realize two seconds later, ‘I’ve become my mother/father’? I’ll admit to doing worse. I’ve actually used the mother’s curse: I’ve said, “I can’t wait for you to grow up and have children of your own some day so that you can see what it’s like to have an ungrateful child.”

Yep. I have gone there. More than once. Even when I swore in my oh so holier than thou youthful twenties that I would never say that to my children, that I wouldn’t resort to the same tactics that my mother used. But of course, that was before . . . before my daughter went through her teens, decided to use her bedroom window as a door to the world, decided to run up $500 in long distance charges on our phone bill because we didn’t get her a cell phone, to name but a few. But that was nothing as compared to my oldest son, who really was supposed to be born to very rich parents because his sense of entitlement is beyond astounding.

However, I am told that this is not a phenomenon belonging to him alone. If all is to be believed, his entire generation is rich in its sense of entitlement and completely lacking in a sense of sexual morality. Okay. Let me stop here. I know, you will say that this is a generational thing, that each generation believes that its younger counterpart has no morals when it comes to sex. Our parents were astounded with the whole idea of “free love,” and then living together before marriage and then living together with no intentions of getting married. Admittedly, each generation breaks boundaries of the generation before.

But there are a few significant differences between the generation that grew up having sex from the 90’s on, and the biggest one, of course, is that no other generation before could literally die from having sex. You could catch some nasty diseases, but they were all curable. Herpes came along, and that one, we found out, stayed around forever, but no one died from it. It could cause birth defects if a baby delivered vaginally while the mother had an outbreak. But with AIDS, we were moving onto a new playing field.

“Babies comes from mommy’s tummies, but don’t tell anyone” (mom)teens-sex

So when you gave the lectures on sex and birth control and being responsible, you also told your kids about AIDS and what it was and what it could do, and you told them that birth control was not AIDS control, and you prayed that they listened and you hoped that they would be a little less free with their love than maybe you were and that they would wait a little longer than you did.

Turns out you were wrong. The average age at which teens lose their virginity today is 15, and more young girls are shooting for 14. I’m not using the phrase “shooting for” lightly. That whole peer pressure thing is a bitch. Only about one in seven uses birth control, often because the male pressures against condom usage, and the girl is afraid that if she pressures for a condom, he will find another willing partner. From the statistics, it seems that he probably will. A new study from the Kaiser Foundation shows that more than a third of new HIV infections in the U.S. occur among young people between the ages of 13 and 29, those very people who do not believe in their own fallibility, the ones who are not using condoms religiously like their older counterparts.

May I just pause here to say, What In The Hell Is Wrong With This Picture??? If you just read the paragraph above and are thinking that those statistics only apply to a certain ethnic group or only apply to urban high schools, well I hate to burst your great big bubble of unreality, but WRONG. In one of the surveys I read, 14 percent of the 10,000 participants said that they are having sex at school (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/27706917/). Something even scarier: one in five girls claimed that she wanted to be a teenage mom. Teen pregnancies already occur in about three quarter of a million girls a year. Whoa!

What a lot of these young women, (using the term loosely) do not realize about frequent sexual activity at such a young age is the risk that they are taking with their bodies and how it might affect their ability to have children later in life. Their cervixes aren’t fully formed and are at greater risk for diseases such as chlamydia. Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to cervical cancer. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease often goes undiagnosed and untreated and can also lead to infertility. Undiagnosed STDs are passed from partner to partner, and male partners are not invulnerable.

“Women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex” (mom)

But what about intimacy? What about saving yourself for that special someone? That does not even seem to come into play with this generation. Sex is truly casual, referred to as hooking up; oral sex is seen as non-sexual, which, pardon the expression, blows me away. Something that we used to save for special relationships, fiancés even, these kids perform in the gym on people they aren’t even dating.  I found the following statistics from the The Guttmacher Institute staggering, and as you know, I’m pretty liberal:

  • More than 75 percent of teens have had sex by the time they are 19 years old.
  • Some 25 percent of virgins over 15 have had oral sex; of those who’ve had intercourse, almost all have also engaged in oral sex
  • Eleven percent have engaged in anal sex.
  • Of kids under 15, about 14 percent have had sexual intercourse
  • One quarter of teenagers have had at least one sexually transmitted disease
  • Young people account for half of the 19 million new STD cases each year.

holding-handsThe problem—as far as I can determine from reading about it in article after article—is that young people who are sexually active with partner after partner, treat sex like a party favor. They don’t understand the concept of intimacy, of finding closeness with one person and how that intimacy actually changes the whole sexual experience, transforms it. In an age of entitlement, in which the man-child wants what he wants when he wants it when he wants it and sees no need to wait for it, how does society convey intimacy against a backdrop of video games, movies, and comedians in which the badass refers to women as hoes and bitches, demeans them to non-entity status? How or why should one seek intimacy with an inanimate object? Bros before hoes, right?

How does a young female with limited self-worth thrive against such a backdrop? Bros before hoes—it’s the mantra she hears, and she grows accustomed to it unless someone tells her no, that’s not how it should be. You are worth something. And you hope that she hears you, actually hears you.

No matter what our teenagers are told at home, no matter what kind of loving, respectful relationship they might see between their parents at home, how can that compete with what happens when they walk out the front door? You talk and you talk and you talk, and then you read about how camera phones allow teens to send each other explicit pictures of each other that end up on the internet, and they may have just been playing around, but never thought about the consequences of a wired in world.

Being a good role model, taking the time to have those special talks, showing respect to one another within the family unit, reinforcing treatment of women as people not objects . . . how much more can you do? It tends to make me want to crawl back under the covers and never come out again, just when I was beginning to think that it was safe out here.

Too much to think about. Peace.