“The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” ~ C. S. Lewis, from The Screwtape Letters

                   

“The hippies wanted peace and love. We wanted Ferraris, blondes and switchblades.” ~ Alice Cooper

Sunday evening. Cloudy and cool, 51 degrees.

Today marks my 1500th post. I was considering just posting the images with no words and just letting that stand as my milestone marker. Truthfully, I’m still considering it. I mean, yep, I’ve hit a milestone, but is the doing worthy of the words? It seems more than a bit self-congratulatory, and I don’t know if surviving merits congratulations.

I’ve been doing this blog since February 26, 2008. That first year was spotty, and the posts had yet to take on any kind of form or format. In many ways, it was still like a continuation of the few posts I had written when I had a MySpace page years and years ago.

Actually, this blog was not the first attempt. The first one was called The Poem Makers, and I had great goals of creating an online poem that anyone could contribute a line towards. I would monitor submissions, etc. It was a dismal failure—for many reasons. First, I knew nothing about blogging, and blogging was still relatively new. Second, I actually built the site, with html coding and everything. Third, go back to first.

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

After enduring the headache of html for several months, I came upon WordPress, and it was like manna from heaven. All of the work was already done for you. Just plug in words and go.

I killed Poem Makers, and no one noticed, not even me. It was an assignment for one of my publishing classes. I had the degree. What was the point in prolonging the agony?

And so I began this adventure. Finding a name was the hardest part in the beginning. I looked around and it seemed that everyone else had names with deep meaning, or names that were symbolic of something, or names that were amusing and witty. In the end, I gave in to my wordy tendencies, and went with what I knew: Lola was a given, just because. And I knew that I was a curmudgeon, and I also knew that I would never just write about one thing, one topic. And so musings came into play, because what were they if not musings from a tortured brain?

“Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.” ~ Flannery O’Connor, from Letters of Flannery O’Connor

Initially I did not include music or poems, and I included images in a kind of scattershot way. The idea of doing a theme kind of grew on its own.

I actually spent a lot of that first year writing about politics. I mean it was such a ripe subject: Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, John McCain. The content practically wrote itself.

I began to use the “More later. Peace” closing sometime that first year. The more later came from a former colleague I used to work with in the English department. The Peace was mine since forever. The combination just felt right, so it took hold and has never left.

I wrote my first random thoughts post in January of 2009, and my first Friday leftovers in that same month. And if you are a regular reader, you know that those two categories remain today.

“Even a snail will eventually reach its destination.” ~ Gail Tsukiyama, from The Street of a Thousand Blossoms 

I think that I began the practice of using quotes as my header and as subheaders sometime in February of 2009. The first post in which I implemented quotes was about beauty, our notions of beauty, society’s unrealistic expectations of what makes a woman beautiful. It wasn’t a post that I was particularly married to in content; I was just saying how I felt. What blows my mind is that post continues to be one of my most-read posts, and I fear it’s because I mentioned Kim Kardashian. If I could go back and make that post go away, I might just do it.

(I know I can delete it, but that wouldn’t erase it from my memory banks…)

Anyway, that people read that particular post is very, very weird because it’s not representative of me or of this blog.

For a while, I did “Grace in Small Things” posts, in which I would find five things for that day’s topic, but I found that those posts were taking over my blog, so I stopped doing them; it felt forced. Another type of post that I did more of in those days was the “Now for Something Totally Different” posts, which were a throwback to my great fondness for Monty Python.

Truthfully, though, I think that I was funnier in the early days. Witness my rules of etiquette post or anything I said about Sarah Palin.

“If you have a painting in you, paint. If you have a song to sing, sing. Don’t judge your creation. Just create it. Banish doubt and fear and step out of your own way if you have to. Write if you’re a writer and invent if you’re an inventor. Do what you were born to do.” ~ Toni Sorenson

In early 2009 I wrote a series of posts called “Vale et Memini,” which were about friendship, loss, and pain. I still think those posts rank among my best.

I think that I began to make music videos a regular part of my posts around May or June of 2009. At first, I just used songs and artists I already knew, but as I began to get into more of a rhythm here, I spread my wings, found lots and lots of artists with whom I had been previously unfamiliar.

In the early days, I would go weeks between posts. It’s only been in the last three years that I have made an effort to post something every day, and I try to be selective in material that is reblogged from somewhere else, try to make it relate to things that I talk about when I talk about things.

I do know that in 2009 we (the family) were going through some major tough times, and I wrote about those tough times because writing about things is what I do. Writing about things helps me to gain perspective, helps me to separate the wheat from the chaff. My family, whether they wanted to or not, has become a part of this blog. I write about them, and I talk about them, but I always try to do it with a view to balance. In other words, anything that I say in this blog, I would say in real life, and to the person to whom I am referring.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I don’t really know what I had in mind when I started all of this 1500 posts ago, but I do know that I never thought that it would go on this long. I never thought that I would dedicate so much of myself and so much of my time to this experience, which has sometimes been an exercise in pain and sometimes been a little slice of heaven.

Those of you who follow along and comment along the way make it all worthwhile. I mean, I’m not in it for the fame or glory (obviously, because that ain’t happening), but it really does help to know that there are people out there who care about what I have to say, people who care if I had a bad day. It’s affirmation, pure and simple.

But truth be told, I would continue to write and post even if there were no one out there in the ether. This blog has become my lifeblood in so many ways. It is an extension of myself, good and bad, and I have no plans to end any time soon, so I hope you’ll stay along for the ride.

And as always, there will be more later. Peace.

Music by Christina Grimmie, “With Love”

                   

Annunciation

Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does —And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.

~ Marie Howe

“He did not remember when everything began to remind him of something else.” ~ Tobias Wolff, from “Bullet in the Brain”

"Cloister Cemetery in the Snow (1817-19, oil on canvas)by Caspar David Friedrich
“Cloister Cemetery in the Snow” (1817-19, oil on canvas)
by Caspar David Friedrich

“I never change, I simply become more myself.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates,  from Solstice

Wednesday late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 40’s.

I spent a lot of time today editing photos that Corey downloaded from the camera, starting with last Christmas. Yes, I am remiss. I changed my header image and my gravatar. What do you think?

My thoughts are meandering, so I thought that I’d create an appropriate post. Here are rambling thoughts, just because I can:

  • I really like eggnog with bourbon. It’s such an appropriately winter drink. Just saying.
"Hut in Snow" (1827, oil on canvas)by Caspar David Friedrich
“Hut in Snow” (1827, oil on canvas)
by Caspar David Friedrich
  • No one sends Christmas cards any more. To date, we have received a whopping two. That won’t stop me from sending them, though.
  • Corey thinks I’m silly for sending out cards after Christmas, but I contend that my cards bear good wishes for the coming year, which makes them pretty timeless. Anyway, I hope to get them out in the next few days.
  • I need to make Olivia’s Christmas stocking, but so far I am uninspired. Nothing is really striking me, so I think that I just need to go to the fabric store and meander.
  • I’m not really feeling this whole Christmas season yet, and it’s almost the middle of the month. Perhaps my vacation threw off my whole timing?
  • When Corey and I were on the bus that took us from the airport to the pier, we passed this expansive wetland, and this is what I thought: That would be a great place to hide a body. Does this make me stranger than I already think that I am?

“You, clamped in your Depths,
climb out of yourself
for ever.” ~ Paul Celan, from “Illegibility”

Things that wish were different:

  • I wish that I was as secure about my physical being as Corey is about his. He gladly poses for pictures and then actually allows people to see those pictures. I reluctantly pose for pictures, and then—if and only if I Photoshop them into an acceptable state—chances are great that no one will ever see them.
"Winter Landscape with Church" (1811, oil on canvas)Caspar David Friedrich
“Winter Landscape with Church” (1811, oil on canvas)
Caspar David Friedrich
  • I wish that I could live more in the present and future instead of so much in the past, but I realize that at this point in my life, I am unlikely to change.
  • I wish that my children did not inherit my insecurities and inanities. Alexis is way too OCD; Eamonn overcompensates because he is insecure; and Brett views the world through a cynical lens. All me.
  • I wish that I were better at maintaining friendships, but I realize that having been burned badly in my last significant friendship that I am very, very gun-shy.
  • I wish that I could go back and change my decision not to pursue my doctorate decades ago.
  • I wish that I knew what made my mother such a hard person. I mean, what happened to her? There had to be something. When I told her that my ex and Ann were flying to Germany for Patrick’s memorial service, she said, “Why?” As in, she really couldn’t fathom what the point was. I just don’t understand.

Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it?” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Things I genuinely don’t like about myself:

  • I don’t really think that I’m a good soul, you know, the kind of person who people will say, “She was a good person.”
Caspar David Friedrich, Graveyard under Snow 1826 oil on canvas
“Graveyard Under Snow” (1826, oil on canvas)
Caspar David Friedrich
  • I acknowledge that I’m an intellectual snob, and it’s not an exactly endearing quality, but at least I am aware that it’s true.
  • I have to force myself to make small-talk. Idle conversation is not my forte, but engross me in a political discussion or a discussion on the disparities in society, and I can talk forever.
  • I have one of those mouths that turns down at the corners. I realized this when I was about 14, and it has bothered me ever since. I mean, how can you go about with a cheerful disposition if your mouth cannot even physically reflect this?
  • When did I get thighs? I’ve never had thighs, but, well, there they are. Getting older is hard enough without gaining bodily sections that you never had. I used to like my legs, really like them as in not be ashamed to show them, but now? Geez.

“That’s why I speak
In a voice so soft it sounds like writing
Night writing. A structure of feeling
Broken by hand.” ~ Ben Lerner, from “Mean Free Path”

Things that creep into my thoughts in the middle of the night:

  • I am not middle aged. I am older than middle aged, unless I’m going to live much longer than anyone in my family. This is a brutal reality.
Caspar David Friedrich, Dolmen in the Snow oil on canvas
“Dolmen in the Snow” (1807, oil on canvas)
by Caspar David Friedrich
  • It’s strange to realize that more of your life is past you than before you.
  • In the last 15 months, I have lost three people and one canine friend. And people wonder why I am so fixated on loss.
  • At this stage of my life, I am probably going to be dealing with the loss of more people from my life, and I wish with all of my heart that this were not so.
  • Maybe I really am too old to embark upon a whole new chapter. How does one know this? Who decides what is too old?
  • Ernest Hemingway wrote when he was just a child that he was going to be a writer and go on adventures. When I was just a child, I said that I was going to be a poet. He did exactly what he said he was going to do. Why didn’t I?

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” ~ Franz Kafka

Idle remnants:

  • The name of the book that I was going to write years ago was White Moon on Black Water: Writings on Loss and Resolution. I still think it’s a good title.
  • I really wish that I could be working in the publishing industry in some capacity.

    Caspar David Friedrich Tree of Crows, oil on canvas, ca 1822
    “Tree of Crows” (ca 1822, oil on canvas)
    Caspar David Friedrich
  • I really wish that I were working.
  • It’s hard for me to answer the question posed by strangers, “So, what do you do?” Do? Nothing?
  • I am of that generation that equates self-worth with careers. That old Puritan work ethic: Hard work brings success. Interestingly, though, I have never equated money with success, as in the more I made, the more successful I was. My goal was always that I like what I was doing, whatever it was.
  • Do you know that well before the scrapbooking fad I was making books for people, and these books were filled with pictures and poems and quotes that I thought suited the individual. My therapist asked me if this wouldn’t be a good business idea, and I told her that I didn’t really think so. That right there shows you how my mind does not work in a capitalist fashion. I could only see the books as creative outlets, not as a money-making venture. This is why I will never be rich.

(All images by Caspar David Friedrich, 19th century German Romantic painter)

Music by Efterklang (a recent discovery), “Natural Tune”

                   

Abyss

You’ve left a hole
the size of the sky
in the chair across the table

in the chasm of the closet
your shoes hold the shape
of every step we took

through the seven rooms
of a world with no language
but that of moving

on macadam and the miles
of velvet earth before rainfall
between rows of corn

and up the curving drive
until they landed beside
the bed a black hole

you disappeared through
as I look for a sign
of you slivered with stars

your body without borders
nowhere and everywhere
in the wind moving through trees

on its way down the hall
to the back of my neck
in the chill you still send through me

and so I slip into the deep
abyss of your shoes
standing where you were last

pointing in two directions
trusting the way forward
is also the way back

~ Wyatt Townley

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

“(Art as Idea as Idea) (Water),” (1966)
by Joseph Kosuth

“The heart’s the eye
we cry
the body through.” ~ Graham Foust, from “Poem”

Sunday, early afternoon. Overcast, high 70’s, but still humid.

Let’s subtitle this post, “Cleaning One’s Floors the Hard Way,” or perhaps, “Avoiding the Realization that Your Homeowner’s Insurance Has a Ridiculously High Deductible,” shall we?

“Flood Water” (1896)
by Claude Monet

Yesterday was, well, strange is the only word that fits.

I awoke and looked at the clock, and squinting to decipher the time, thought that I had slept until 3 in the afternoon, which didn’t make any sense. Then I squinted harder and realized that the 3 was a 9 and that when I had reset the clock, I had mixed up the am/pm setting. I felt a bit better that I hadn’t slept so late, and was just relaxing when I heard the unmistakable sound of water suddenly gushing. The sound was coming from the bathroom.

That’s how I began my day.

Oddly enough, the dream that I was having just before I awoke was about Corey’s very old washing machine, the one that he had in his apartment. It was an archaic affair, with a very small bin for washing, and then you had to move the clothes to the other side for the rinse cycle. Anyway, in the dream, this washer is sitting in the middle of the living room, and Corey is mad because he told me not to use it because it would flood. I did, and it did.

Then there was the real flood.

“It always takes a long time
to decipher where you are.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “The Ottawa River by Night”

It took me few minutes to realize that I wouldn’t be able to recap the water source and that I needed to turn off the main water valve in the front yard post haste. By the time I had done so, water was puddling on the hard wood floor in the hall and running into the master bedroom and under the bed. I grabbed towels from everywhere (fortunately, we keep a large stack of old towels for the dogs), and then I waded towards the water source.

“Finale (Sonata of the Sea)” (1908, tempera on paper)
by Mikalojus Ciurlionis

Apparently, the washer or rubber gasket within the connecting PVC that runs from the water source to the toilet decided to fray, hence allowing the entire assembly to be propelled from the wall with a lot of force.

Ah yes, plumbing on a Saturday morning.

I cursed the fact that I was home alone, and then I called the only person who I knew would be available: Alexis. What could she do? At least she could help me to clean up the sopping towels and vacuum the water. I will admit I got a bit hysterical with her, but she finally made it over, with Olivia in tow, crying loudly at having her routine disturbed, and so began the plumbing repairs and the ensuant clean-up. While waiting for her to arrive, I thought that I should at least make myself some coffee, so I turned on the faucet in the kitchen and got . . . nothing, of course. Thank the gods for bottled water.

All in all, I will admit that it wasn’t pretty, and that it took two trips to the local hardware (which were a complete waste of time as I knew more about plumbing than the supercilious man who attempted to help me), and then two trips to a nearby plumbing supply store that was open until 3 on Saturday (thank goodness as most local business owners close early on Saturday) before I was able to finish the repair. In between were two ill-fated attempts to turn the water main back on and more flooding.

“Loneliness clarifies.  Here silence stands
Like heat.  Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
Luminously-peopled air ascends;” ~ Philip Larkin, from “Here”

So six hours later . . .

I was left with two full loads of wet towels, rags and rugs. Alexis used the Shop Vac on as much as possible. The dusty objects beneath my bed were removed to dry.

“Ocean Waves” (nd)
by Katsushika Hokusai

Dryness restored in the bathroom, I set about cleaning the floors, first the tile in the bathroom, and then some Murphy’s Oil Soap on the hardwood. There is no apparent warping or bowing, which I am eternally grateful for as I don’t think that I could take one more thing in this house that is out-of-whack.

Alexis went by Ann’s house, my s-in-law, and borrowed her big Shop Vac, as ours (which I know that we own) is buried somewhere in the garage. This realization led me to a not-so-kind epiphany: When Corey gets home, the first thing on his major list of things to do is to clean out the garage, even if we have to rent a storage space. I cannot take not being able to find anything when I need it. Ever. Not ever. (My dad, who was obsessive about keeping his tools and garage in order, would shudder at the sight.)

So I did laundry until 1 in the morning. In between, I managed to shower and eat some rather bad fast food. I also downed two Coronas. Two! (I do like to drink beer in the summer as I find it very refreshing, but should I be concerned that I drink one a day? Seriously? Is this a sign of some kind?) Of course that was over the span of seven hours, but still I felt somewhat guilty as I took the two empty bottles into the kitchen to rinse for recycling.

“I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us.” ~ Hermann Hesse, from Peter Camenzind

Late last night, as the muscle pain really began to take over, I made the mistake of applying too much topical pain ointment, which resulted in a terrible burning feeling on my neck. I didn’t realize that I had applied too much until I was lying on my bed, which I had stripped of all linens, and I began to feel this horrible sensation. Truly, it felt as if I were on fire. I found the aloe (in the hall closet, the bottom of which is newly cleaned and organized) and applied it liberally, which helped a bit. I probably should have taken another shower, but I was just too damned tired.

“Water” (nd)
by Erte

This morning, I’m sore, but I can move—slowly.

So far, my repairs are holding, no drips, no leaks. So glad that my dad taught me some things about plumbing. Can you imagine if I were some helpless female type?

Nah, I can’t imagine it either, so why bother to go there? Except that too many females still don’t take the initiative to learn as much about as many things as possible, preferring to think that someone will come to their rescue. That bothers me. Knowledge, any kind of knowledge, is power. Who would willingly choose not to have a taste of that? It’s not a mindset to which I can relate at all.

As I was walking back to the main turn-off valve, I thought to myself, “It’s all just a matter of logic, really. If this part does this, then this part does that, and to connect them I need . . . ” No, I don’t have Brett’s mathematical mind, but I can employ linear thought fairly well when I need to. Of course, such intense thinking takes its toll on my brain, and later, all I want to do is find a chocolate source and ingest it quickly, which I did, only to feel first horribly guilty and then smugly satisfied.

“That summer I did not go crazy
but I wore
very close
very close
to the bone.” ~ Dorothy Allison,  from “To the Bone”

“After the Water, the Clouds” (1926)
Rene Magritte

This post has taken a bit longer than normal as I’ve been stopping between sections to search for songs that I’ve heard recently so as to add them to my various playlists. I’ve surprised myself with the realization that I actually like a Carrie Underwood song, “Blown Away,” the subject of which is what led me to post the Patrick Stewart quote about violence against women and girls (there’s a connection there). If I ever get a new-old car, I must be sure that it has auxiliary input so that I can plug in my non-existent MP3 player and listen to all of these playlists that I’ve been compiling over the past few years.

Anyway, today I’m trying to go slowly. I still need to do the kitchen floor and finish cleaning beneath the bed—a chore that will require much bending, hence, the drawing out of the post so as to postpone the last bit of cleaning.

Just realized that my head is actually quite tight, something of which I was unaware until I noticed that I’m squinting terribly at the screen, and I paused to figure out why. Hate that—pain that creeps up like that—but I suppose it signals a good time to wrap this up. I hope to be a bit more regular in posting this week. I actually did have three posts written for this past week, but forgot to set them up to publish—another thing I hate (okay, hate is a strong word, but you know what I mean).

Hoping for an extremely quiet week. I should know better.

More later. Peace.

All images taken from wikipaintings.org, water-related, what else?

Music by Ron Pope, “Reason to Hope”

                   

I Don’t Miss It

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.

Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light

Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.

And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke

Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,

Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,

As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir

Of something other than waiting.

We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,

And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,

It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you

Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.

~ Tracy K. Smith

“The universe lies before you on the floor, in the air, in the mysterious bodies of your dancers, in your mind. From this voyage no one returns poor or weary.” ~ Agnes De Mille

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia (Wikimedia Commons)

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, early evening. Cloudy and quite chilly, low 50’s.

Lighthouse, Sälskär in Hammarland, Finland WC

Corey left port today, 11 a.m. our time, 6 p.m. his time. I am posting pictures of lighthouses that I imagine he might see along his route home. Of course, I have no way of knowing if he will be able to see any lighthouses once they leave the Baltic Sea. But I would like to think that the beams from these beacons will shine upon their bow if only ever so lightly.

We will be out of touch for approximately 19 days. I don’t know why this did not occur to me sooner, the fact that he will be out of touch. I think that I am so used to living in this technology-driven society, that I never stopped to think that in the middle of the ocean, there is no signal, no one can hear you now because cell towers are not scattered along the Atlantic Ocean at strategic outposts.

The idea of not being able to contact him, even via text, is a bit jarring; how often, any more, are we actually out of touch, we as a society in this supposedly advanced world? I  mean, if I ever do go live on that remote island somewhere, there will be no cell tower nearby, and that appeals to me, that is if I have my loved ones with me.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” ~ St. Augustine

The lighthouse at Skansin, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, Denmark

When I was a little girl, I loved the idea of lighthouses to make the path clear for my father while he was at sea. I suppose I imagined that he was standing on the deck somewhere, and the rotating light cast its beam upon him, and he felt safe. Of course, he was actually below deck, in the engine room, and because of his seniority, he never had to stand watch. He absolutely hated to stand watch, and the ship captains for whom he worked knew this, and they agreed to his requests because he was that good at his job.

Corey is also very good at his job. The crew with whom he works (several of whom are Filipino and have taken him under their collective wings) has already given him the responsibility of being helm watch. He says that working on big ships is nothing like working on tugs, and not nearly as labor-intensive, but in spite of that, he misses being on tugs.

Oh my. Just had quite a scare. The whole post disappeared, and when it came back, it appeared to have only the quotes and nothing else. Luckily, I reopened Firefox, and it was here. I really hate it when that happens in the middle of writing.

“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” ~ William Least Heat Moon

Aside: I love Native American names: Least Heat Moon got his name from his father, who called himself Heat Moon; as William came after his brother, he was Least. If I had a Native American name, I think it would be something along the lines of Troubled Heart or Broken Path.

Väderöbods Lighthouse, Sweden, by Lars Reidar (Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway, back to the whole idea of journeys, voyages, travels.

So while Corey is making his way from the North Atlantic to the upper lower Atlantic (?)—or whatever Florida is considered in relation to the Atlantic Ocean—I’m hoping that he gets rid of the cold/sinus troubles that he has had ever since arriving in Lithuania. He said that the weather there has really been beastly; it snowed on Easter. I have not told him how temperate it is here, except for today, that is.

The cold was one of the things that my father absolutely hated about Europe, especially when he was doing the run from Rotterdam to New York. I imagine that working on the cold on the water is doubly fierce: the wind and the spray from the water.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware” ~ Martin Buber

I’m also hoping that this trip brings Corey a certain measure of self-satisfaction, something that has been missing from his life in many ways since he was laid off.

Lighthouse at Carraig Aonair, Ireland by Richard Webb (Wikimedia Commons)

He has been so unsure of so many things for so long. Going back to school was great for him, and I know that he really enjoyed it, but he still felt restless because he wasn’t working at a job in which he could make any kind of money or that had any room for advancement. So with any luck, he will finish this hitch feeling better about himself, about his abilities, about his training. He needs the kind of validation that I simply cannot give him, regardless of how much I care or how much I respect his abilities.

And with any luck, he’ll be able to find something afterwards that still allows him to take some classes. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly;” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, early evening. Sunny and low 60’s.

Penmon Lighthouse at the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK, by Alistair Young (Wikimedia Commons)

Well, this has to set a record for the post taking the longest to finish. What I started on Wednesday I was unable to finish that evening as Eamonn came home from work and wanted his room. Can you imagine? And I couldn’t use Brett’s computer as I had to pick him up from school early that evening as he wasn’t feeling well. So no Wednesday night writing for me.

Then yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment to get the shots in my back, and I had to take Brett to school. That only left the evening, and once again, Eamonn was home. Add to this that the time that I do have access to this computer is almost useless as this particular computer is definitely on its last legs. More often than not, I get the Not Responding message. May I say once more how happy I will be to get my computer up and running. Just imagine, 24-hour access to a computer that works! In my room! Oh happy day . . .

So my good intentions about sending beacons out into the universe for Corey are a little late, but the sentiment remains. Do I back post this to the 11th? the 12th? today? I guess I’ll go for the one in between.

I suppose I’ll close for now so that I might still be able to do a current post.

More later. Peace.

Music by Beth Thornley, “Everyone Falls”

Love at Thirty-two Degrees (section III of IV sections)

III

Then, there is the astronomer’s wife
ascending stairs to her bed.

The astronomer gazes out,
one eye at a time,

to a sky that expands
even as it falls apart

like a paper boat dissolving in bilge.
Furious, fuming stars.

When his migraine builds &
lodges its dark anchor behind

the eyes, he fastens the wooden buttons
of his jacket, & walks

outside with a flashlight
to keep company with the barn owl

who stares back at him with eyes
that are no greater or less than

a spiral galaxy.
The snow outside

is white & quiet
as a woman’s slip

against cracked floorboards.
So he walks to the house

inflamed by moonlight, & slips
into the bed with his wife

her hair & arms all
in disarray

like fish confused by waves.

~ Katherine Larson

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” ~ Langston Hughes

Anemone in Seventeen Parts by Oslo in the Summertime (FCC)

                   

“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” ~ William Stafford 

Friday afternoon. Way too warm for winter, 80’s.

That’s right, 80’s. Ugh. What’s so bad about this is that I’m certain that next week it will probably be in the 40’s. How is a person with sinus problems supposed to thrive in such an environment? It’s hot. No wait, it’s cold. No, it’s hot. The natural immunity that I have gets so confused that it runs and hides.

Kaleidoscope by ark (FCC)

As it is, I’m out of my Singulair, so my lungs are beginning to crackle again, and because of the hiccup in Corey’s job, I cannot get refills until this coming Thursday. By then, with the temperature changes, this gunk that had taken up temporary residence in my lungs may have come back for an extended visit.

Last night, the progress I had made in getting to sleep earlier vanished as I was unable to fall asleep until 5 a.m., and then I had very bad dreams about dead babies. So not cool.

Corey is working all weekend, which is actually good as it keeps his mind busy so that he doesn’t dwell on the still-unannounced departure date. His truck is finally working; of course, it needs gas, which isn’t going to happen, so while he’s excited that his truck has been fixed, he’s depressed that he cannot drive it anywhere. Of course, there are still a few other things that need to be done, not the least of which is to put new tires on it, but we’re planning to wait until he gets back from his hitch before that expenditure.

Meanwhile, life carries on, as it were.

“Fortune is like glass—the brighter the glitter, the more easily broken.” ~ Publius Syrus

So I’ve been thinking about things that break—real and imagined, literal and figurative. Not really sure why. What follows is stream of consciousness and random association, so be forewarned:

  • Crystal (too much)
  • Hearts (too many)
  • Promises (promises to keep . . .)
  • Words (is this the same thing as promises?)
  • Glass (looking glass? walking on broken glass?)
  • Eggs (secrets and treasurer inside a fragile box)
  • Families (far too many of these)
  • Concentration (too easily done)
The Twist by sebilden (FCC)
  • Fevers (hallucinations or reality)
  • Negotiations (power struggles)
  • Wings (fear of flying)
  • Codes (more secrets?)
  • Locks (the way in or keeping something out?)
  • Bones (corporeal fragility)
  • Habits (bad? broken enough?)
  • Contracts (see words and promises above)
  • Records (as in over and over, or in something to surmount?)
  • Speed of sound (can we travel this far this fast?)
  • Barriers (all of my life)
  • Rules (meant to be broken)
  • Spirits (see wings and hearts)
  • Glass ceilings (barriers for women)
  • Systems (this country)
  • Waves (crash down)
  • Deadlines (as in promises?)
  • Bodies (feel this too acutely)
  • Ties (promises? hearts? families? All of these?)
  • Covenants (more than a promise)

“I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken—and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.” ~ Margaret Mitchell

So what does all of this mean? In no particular order . . .

I spent a great deal of time in my 20’s trying to break the glass ceiling. I felt that it was my duty, to myself, to the women who looked up to me and those I mentored, and to women in general to take on the very systems that promoted inequity. I had indoctrinated myself in the whole system of feminism, the idea that there should be no inequality between the sexes, that people were people, regardless of sex, creed, color.

Kaleidoscope VI by fdecomite (FCC)

I have learned in recent years that feminism has taken on a new meaning, that the rules by which I lived may no longer apply. All of the unspoken promises that those of us on the frontline made to the cause, those ideologies have been overshadowed by something that is no better than the patriarchy that we fought so hard to replace. Feminism should not be about women being better; it should not be about lesbians being better. The whole point of the covenant that we made was that no one should be considered better or treated better or made to feel inferior.

I am sadly disheartened on several fronts: the young women who see feminism as a dirty word, associating it with women who don’t like men (not sexual preference, just in general), defining it as women who hate marriage, family, children. That’s not what it’s about, or at least what it used to be about. I also hate that so many of the young women who are enrolled in women’s studies curricula have made it an uncomfortable place for men. When I was seeking my women’s studies certificate as an undergraduate, the classes were filled with men and women, all who sought equity, more parity between the sexes, all of whom were dedicated to an idea that women could be whatever they wanted and that men could actively support this. It was a curricula that welcomed everyone, and it still should, but I fear that that is no longer the case.

So many barriers that used to hold women back—in government, in society, in all aspects—these barriers have been broken. They should not be replaced with new barriers, reverse sexism, if you will.

People. We are people, and as such, we can embrace our difference and similarities without building more walls.

“It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.” ~ Chief Joseph

Someone once said that a broken promise is better than no promise. I heartily disagree. A promise reflects the individual. One who is willing to make a promise is giving his or her word. To toss that aside thoughtlessly is to be careless with the essence of what makes us who we are.

Starspheres by Song_Sing (FCC)

When we marry someone, we make all kinds of promises, sometimes in front of large groups of people and sometimes in front of no one more than an official. In so doing, we bind ourselves, create a tie. When Corey and I wrote our vows, we promised to do things for each other, with each other. Time and circumstance should not change those promises. I don’t believe that either of us said those words lightly. Nevertheless, I would not be telling the truth if I did not admit that we have each broken pieces of the other’s heart, have each chipped away at that unspoken code to do no harm to those we love best. We are only human, after all.

Admittedly, I made promises to my ex, or we made promises to one another. In the end, our words ended up on the scrap heap of broken promises; our marriage on the pile of rocks where broken marriages go to die. Years later, I no longer feel the seething anger or intense heartbreak that I once felt, and time and distance have allowed me to see how much we were both at fault, how we broke each other’s spirits, and broke our covenant, which resulted in a broken and fractured family that has slowly rebuilt itself..

We move through time, salve our wounds, fix some things, but are unable to repair completely others. Too often we walk about in a fog, as if in a fevered ague, and only awaken when necessity forces us to confront what is before us.

“The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears.” ~ Charles Simeon

Years ago, when I was still teaching at ODU, I was standing on the kitchen counter, reaching for something, and I dropped a glass on the floor, which immediately broke into pieces. I looked down, saw the glass. This fact registered in my brain, but I still stepped down onto the floor in my bare feet and immediately cut a deep gash on the sole of my foot that required stitches.

Daisy Kaleidoscope by srqpix (FCC)

Why do I mention this? Because even with knowledge, foresight, we still take steps that are foolhardy; we still knowingly step into a pile of sharp edges, and then we are surprised when we are wounded. We enter into frays knowing that we might exit with wounds, yet still we do it, perhaps because we think that if we make it through to the other side, we have outpaced our own limitations, we have approached the speed of sound, come close to shattering yet another barrier. Or perhaps it is something much more simple: We are not careful enough, not mindful enough. We do not treat our hearts and our souls like the fragile eggs that they are, always believing that we can go just one step further, take one more chance.

We have no fear of flying, convincing ourselves that it cannot possibly happen to us, that is until it does, until our wings are broken, or at the very least, clipped. And what then? Does the reflection looking back at us become unrecognizable, distorted as if reflected from broken glass?

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Ultimately, this is a world of broken people, fragmented lives, and no matter what system we depend upon for support, we are all still imperfect beings. How we seek to attain perfection varies as widely as there are people on this planet. How we attempt to reach that state of grace is limitless.

And as I sit here now, contemplating the mutability of life, I am brought back to the corporeal as a stabbing pain shoots down my spine. And I know that even though my body is broken in so many ways, that I often do not recognize the person in the mirror as I glance quickly and then turn away, I also know with just as much conviction that the places in me that are broken have been stitched together with things that I have borrowed and stolen from everyone I have ever encountered:

Mushroom Flower by sebilden (FCC)

A bone of contention here, a sliver of spine there. I have amassed fragments and pieces, facets and slivers.

Sitting atop my jewelry box is a rather small Waterford crystal salt cellar, an individual dish for salt. My m-in-law gave it to me years ago, and it was my first piece of Waterford. She had received it as a present from an elderly woman to whom she delivered Mobile Meals. This vessel contains three small pins that I no longer wear as I have few occasions to wear suits. This tiny crystal container is perhaps one of my most treasured belongings, so I handle it with great care, probably more care than I take with my life as a whole.

Why do I mention it here? Because it is one of those things that I have amassed that is as much a piece of me as anything else. It does not serve the purpose for which it is intended, but if I were to  employ it for salt, it could hold my tears. Or I could stand at the edge of the shore as the waves break onto the sand and collect sea spray that would dry as salt, and fill it wave by wave.

For now, I allow it to contain memories, and I protect it and everything that it symbolizes, which, in the end, is all that we can do really—protect that which can be broken or mend that which has already fractured.

More later. Peace.

Music by Livingston, “Broken”

                   

The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out
I knew then as I have before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages of a great book
waiting to be read

It is the opening of eyes long closed
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold
It is the heart after years of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air

It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees
before the lit bush
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished
opened at last
fallen in love
with Solid Ground

~ David Whyte

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

“Northeaster,” by Winslow Homer (1895)

                   

“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.

"Northeaster," by William Beaubre (nd, watercolor on paper)

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.

"Capul Caliacra pe Furtună" (Cape Kaliakra on the Storm), by Eugen Voinescu (oil on canvas)

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

"L'orage" (The Storm), by Georges Michel (1843)

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.

"The Wave," by Gustave Courbet (1870, oil on canvas)

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.

"Between the Waves," by Ivan Aivazovsky (1898)

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”

"The Northeaster, Cape Ann," by Ted Kautzky (1945, watercolor on paper)

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.

More later. Peace.

Music by David Gray, “As I’m Leaving”

                   

In November

Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.

~ Lisel Mueller, from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

“The world breaks us all. Afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, Farewell To Arms

Where does this road lead? (photographer unknown, Pixdaus)

                   

“I speak to you over cities
I speak to you over plains
My mouth is against your ear
The two sides of the walls face
my voice which acknowledges you.
I speak to you of eternity.” ~ Paul Éluard from “Absence”

Kusugawa Trail, Yakushima Island by caseyyee (Flckr Creative Commons)

Thursday, late afternoon. Thunder storms approaching.

I want to write, but then when I sit down at these keys, nothing happens. So much to say but seemingly unsayable, as if rooting around in my head trying to find words that I know, words that I know I know, but words that have become lost or have taken to hiding in the small creases in my brain.

Here is what I know:

The warmer temperatures are muddling my brain, making me dream of buying air conditioners with my mother and ex-father-in-law. But I become distracted in the dream, and look at plants instead—purple and pink plants in black pots. And I fill my cart with plants and Christmas place mats that are on clearance. This is better than the dream before of a killer chasing me down a yellow stairwell.

I awake sweaty and tired, feeling as if I have slept much too long, and I have, but I cannot get out of my bed. For days now, I cannot get out of the damned bed. Yesterday, I had another medical test done, then came home and went back to bed. I barely remembered the drive to and from the facility. Out-of-body driving?

My body feels spent and heavy with heat, and I long for tall glasses of umbrella drinks with rivulets of sweat running down the side of the glass. Not the alcohol, just the idea of the tall glass, the fruit, the paper umbrella—as the collection of these things would mean that I am not at home. I am somewhere else, anywhere but here.

It seems that the coming storm has taken days to get here. The air has been still, and yesterday evening thunder rumbled in the distance for hours, but nothing materialized. Then suddenly, just a few moments ago, rain began to fall, hard rain, hard enough to drive out the ants that have laid claim to the dirt mounds in the garden, the mounds that have been taken over as ant castles, forbidding the shoots of flowers and vegetables from breaking through. Now the mounds are mud puddles, and I can see green.

A tornado warning south of here. More tornadoes encroaching on this area of hurricanes. More proof that the earth is in turmoil.

“If you can read and understand this poem
send something back: a burning strand of hair
a still-warm, still-liquid drop of blood
a shell
thickened from being battered year on year
send something back.” ~ Adrienne Rich, from “Coast to Coast”

Tree Tunnel, Shirebrook, UK, by James Hill (Wikimedia Commons)

I slip through virtual pages on this screen, looking for the source of a line I cannot get out of my head. “Jesus Love You” pops up right above a line advertising Mexican food and good prices on gold.

The Interwebs have a warped sense of humor.

My body is still in recovery from the preparation needed for Wednesday’s test. A purge, if you will. I find myself craving fresh fruit: peaches and red pears. The orange juice Corey bought me is not enough. My body wants vitamins from the source. I feel as if everything has been leached from my system, not just impurities, but the good cells as well, the ones that make me who I am.

I think constantly of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. I have no idea why.

Speaking of the Fitzgeralds, I read an article that said that the mansion that may have been his inspiration for The Great Gatsby had been demolished to make way for several mcmansions on the same plot of waterfront land in Long Island. I shudder to think about the former grandeur being reduced to rubble so that some developer can erect those paeans to conspicuous consumption that I abhorred even when I was in real estate.

Progress is not always better.

I remember the dark enclosure in my grandmother’s house in the Philippines. In the kitchen. Water from the well in the backyard. Coffee tins filled with this water, and how this was the only space in the house in which to find relief from the heat. I think of my father. I do not want to think of my father, not right now. The loss is acute today.

“I sing the wind around
 And hear myself return
To nothingness, alone.
The loneliest thing I know
 Is my own mind at play.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “His Foreboding”

The Gate To . . . UK (Wikimedia Commons)

I read other people’s words, wonder how it is they are so talented, wonder where my words have gone, wonder if there are any new poems left to write, any new stories left to tell.

I have been collecting phrases as possible book titles. I don’t know why. I think I have six or seven. This is a recent event in my life; it means that I am acknowledging that the book is there. I think. Maybe not. But why need a title? I love book titles, book jackets. Clever book designs remind me of studying for my publishing degree. I still owe the university a fee. They are holding my diploma hostage until I pay this fee. I wonder if I will ever bother to pay the ransom.

In all of the medical tests that I have had done in the past six weeks or so, this is what I have learned: I do not have sleep apnea. I have a digestive system that does not work at the top or the bottom, and is sluggish in the middle. To learn these things, my body has been assaulted with tubes in various orifices. I think I already knew all of these things about my body and probably could have saved myself the insult of the tubes and the associated costs which will soon begin to turn up in the mail.

I have stopped reading about politics again. It has become too weighty and unbearable once more, and my minds needs a break from the madness, not just in this country, but all over the world. I prefer to live in ignorance for a bit, that is until I begin to seethe in righteous indignation over some maligning phrase out of some politician’s mouth. Then I fear it will be once more into the fray for me.

The wind outside is whipping the trees about as if they are being tugged on by giants. I like that image.

“The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking
into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind.” ~ Jorie Graham, from “Mind”

Lane by Derek Harper (Wikimedia Commons)

As the moveable slab upon which I lay slides into the scanner, I look up and am surprised to see the image of cherry blossoms on branches reaching across the faux-skylight above me—a vertical trompe l’oeil, and the technician tells me to hold my breath, and I do and do and do, and wait for her to say breathe, but the word does not come, and my lungs fill to bursting, and then she says breathe, and I do, and I realize that it has been mere seconds, and I think to myself that I have absolutely no stamina left.

I’ve been trying to learn Adele’s “Someone Like You,” but her voice is so powerful and the song so complicated, that it’s just not working. As with almost everything else, my voice is not what it used to be.

But the cherry blossom branches make me think of how wonderful it would be to have a real skylight, preferably above a bathtub, so that I could soak beneath the stars and ponder words, only to forget them as I dry myself with a towel.

I remember when I was about to graduate with my bachelor’s, and I had an interview with a small local paper in Maryland. An editor at the paper for which I worked arranged the interview for me. I stayed with a nice couple who owned a large old house that they were refurbishing. In one bathroom, they had built a wooden bathtub directly beneath a skylight. I had forgotten about that until just this minute.

I turned down the job, or more accurately, withdrew my name from consideration as I was in love, could not bear to continue my long-distance relationship with my ex. I wonder where life would have taken me if I had opened myself to that possibility.

Possibilities . . .

Studying abroad, visiting Greece, seeing the Great Wall, taking hundreds and hundreds of photographs of verdant Ireland and windswept Wales. Drinking wine at a small restaurant in Basque country.

Walking on a beach in Queensland with my flannel trousers rolled. Eating a peach. T. S. Eliot wondered if he dared, as do I.

Will I ever hear the mermaids singing, each to each? And how should I presume?

More later. Peace.

Music by Lanterns on the Lake, “You Need Better”

                   

My Life by Someone Else

I have done what I could but you avoid me.
I left a bowl of milk on the desk to tempt you.
Nothing happened. I left my wallet there, full of money.
You must have hated me for that. You never came.

I sat at my typewriter naked, hoping you would wrestle me
to the floor. I played with myself just to arouse you.
Boredom drove me to sleep. I offered you my wife.
I sat her on the desk and spread her legs. I waited.

The days drag on. The exhausted light falls like a bandage
over my eyes. Is it because I am ugly? Was anyone
ever so sad? It is pointless to slash my wrists. My hands
would fall off. And then what hope would I have?

Why do you never come? Must I have you by being
somebody else? Must I write My Life by somebody else?
My Death by somebody else? Are you listening?
Somebody else has arrived. Somebody else is writing.

~ Mark Strand