“You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons.” ~ Nina LaCour, from Hold Still

Emil Nolde, Landschaft, Nordfriesland, 1920 (I have always found that the art of Nolde completely encompasses what I’m feeling, regardless of the emotion)

“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.” ~ Charles Dickens, from Great Expectations

Thursday, late afternoon, cloudy and humid, thunderstorms on the horizon, 85 degrees.

So . . . Thursday thoughts . . .

I’ve been pondering regret, all kinds of regret, and I decided that instead of just mulling over all of this in my head that I would try to get some of these thoughts down here. I have no idea as to just how successful I’ll be in doing this, as lately, each time I begin to type, all of the myriad of ideas racing through my head suddenly disappear, and I am left with nothing, no words, no well-constructed lines of thought and logic.

Simply nothing.

So perhaps rather than trying to write well-constructed sentences, I’ll just type the thoughts as they come, much like my dream post of a few days ago. So here goes, in no particular order or priority:

  • I regret that I was not more patient with my mother, that I was not more forthcoming with her, but it always seemed so hard, seemed as if she just wouldn’t understand, and honestly, I don’t know if she would have wanted to hear what I had to say. My mother was not one for warm and fuzzy, not one for hugs, not one for saying “I love you,” and I never really found out why. I had my theories, but no real confirmation.
  • I regret that I do not have regular contact with my dad’s last living sibling, my Uncle Ely in Florida. He’s old and sick, and I doubt that I’ll see him again while he still lives. It’s the last tie on that side.
  • I regret not going back to the hospital in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning to be with my dad; instead, I fell asleep, and he died alone.
“The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

More:

  • I really wish that we had painted this whole house before we moved in, but we had no electricity, and we were dealing with closing up things in Norfolk while simultaneously trying to set up things here. But I wonder if we’ll ever have this house straightened out.
  • I wish that I had been more proactive in taking care of the house on Benjamin. I hated that house for several reasons, but still, it was my home, and my children were raised there.
  • I really, really regret not applying to a low-residence MFA program when it would have made more sense. An MFA is considered a terminal degree, which means that having one allows you to apply to tenure track positions at colleges and universities. I’ve found one that I’d still love to attend, but that costs money. There is no money
  • I regret that I was never better with finances. I’ve reached an age that I was totally unprepared for, and my financial situation is no better than it was 20 years ago. How does that happen?
“I had buried too much too deeply inside me. And here I am, instead of there.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Then there are these:

  • I regret the break up of my first marriage, not because of the relationship, but because of what it did to my kids. I don’t know if Eamonn will ever forgive me for it, even though his father fell in love with another person less than two months after leaving.
  • I really regret letting certain friendships fall by the wayside when spouse #1 and I split, especially my very long friendship with Pat and the one I had with Becky from the museum. They were two incredible women. For a weird reason, there was a rift between spouse #1 and I, and our relationship with our closest friends, Pat and Winn, a rift I’ll never fully understand, and now I’ll never be able to see or talk to Pat again; I did not even know that she had died until almost a year later.
  • I regret feeling too tired to drive out to see Alan after work that afternoon. His sister said that he waited for me.  He died soon after.
  • I regret that I did not see Dallas one more time before he died. I don’t know that it would have been a good visit, but once someone dies, you always think of things that you wish you had said. It’s still weird for me, his death. There has been no service, no closure, just texts, messages, and rumors. I don’t know how to handle that.

“Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself—that comes too late—a crop of inextinguishable regrets.” ~ Joseph Conrad, from Heart of Darkness

  • I wish that I was in touch with more of my mom’s family. That everything with her family in Great Bridge ended so abruptly still pains me deeply. That I don’t know the status of her sister in Winston Salem shames me.
  • I am so embarrassed that I have not paid to have the dates put on my mom’s grave marker. It was something that I was going to get around to doing, but then never did. I just don’t understand how things like that happen, or rather, how I let things like that happen.
  • Sometimes I still regret not moving to New York and actually trying to make it in the theater. I know that I probably don’t have the guts to do such a thing, yet I also know that I do. Does that make sense?
  • I regret trying to teach Heart of Darkness to a bunch of freshmen at Tech.

“I am grateful for all those dark years, even though in retrospect they seem like a long, bitter prayer that was answered finally.” ~ Marilynne Robinson, from Gilead

And finally, a few more:

  • I regret accruing student debt for Brett that still looms out there, haunting me and him. College should not break people financially.
  • I regret everything bad that happened with Mari, still.
  • I regret the how the last two years played out.
  • I regret never having another child.

Ultimately, I regret far too many things to list here, far too many thing to try to enumerate in any kind of cogent way. People I have wronged. Relationships better left unpursued. Arguments. Words spoken and unspoken. Decisions made and those put off and then forgotten. Stupid things like something I left undone at Dillard’s, or a night that would have been better never happening, the wrong outfit at a wedding . . .

Who can live with such things and not go crazy? Is it any wonder that I never feel adequate or whole?  Any wonder that my entire sense of self is controlled by guilt? Such self-loathing. Such would-have, should-have recriminations. Such bullshit obsessing. I cannot emphasize enough how much I hate being like this.

Enough already.


Music by Angus Powell, “Monsters”


Wind in a Box

—after Lorca

I want to always sleep beneath a bright red blanket
of leaves. I want to never wear a coat of ice.
I want to learn to walk without blinking.

I want to outlive the turtle and the turtle’s father,
the stone. I want a mouth full of permissions

and a pink glistening bud. If the wildflower and ant hill
can return after sleeping each season, I want to walk
out of this house wearing nothing but wind.

I want to greet you, I want to wait for the bus with you
weighing less than a chill. I want to fight off the bolts

of gray lighting the alcoves and winding paths
of your hair. I want to fight off the damp nudgings
of snow. I want to fight off the wind.

I want to be the wind and I want to fight off the wind
with its sagging banner of isolation, its swinging

screen doors, its gilded boxes, and neatly folded pamphlets
of noise. I want to fight off the dull straight lines
of two by fours and endings, your disapprovals,

your doubts and regulations, your carbon copies.
If the locust can abandon its suit,

I want a brand new name. I want the pepper’s fury
and the salt’s tenderness. I want the virtue
of the evening rain, but not its gossip.

I want the moon’s intuition, but not its questions.
I want the malice of nothing on earth. I want to enter

every room in a strange electrified city
and find you there. I want your lips around the bell of flesh

at the bottom of my ear. I want to be the mirror,
but not the nightstand. I do not want to be the light switch.
I do not want to be the yellow photograph

or book of poems. When I leave this body, Woman,
I want to be pure flame. I want to be your song.

~ Terrance Hayes (found on Poetry Foundation)

“Put high walls around the part of you that dreams . . . ” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from “Advice” (trans. Edwin Honig and Susan M. Brown)

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Friday evening, misty and milder, 52 degrees.

Yesterday’s post took more out of me than I had anticipated, so today, I’m falling back on one of my favorite kinds of posts. I don’t have too  many in my collection yet, obviously, but I like these. Enjoy.


I will never not love “The West Wing,” and CJ most of all:

Irony in light of the recent movie:

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Love this:

Source: [x] Click HERE for more facts!

Music by Mansionair, “Easier”

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” ~ William Styron, from Conversations with William Styron

Literary circles of influence

“Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.” ~ Cassandra Clare, from Clockwork Angel

Thirty Day Book Challenge

For this meme, I’m only going to talk about fiction, no poetry or drama. So here goes . . .

Day 01: Best book you read last year

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, which I began reading as an ARC; however, I dropped the ARC in the pool, so I had to grab a new copy as soon as the book hit the market. Actually, that was probably a couple of years ago. Last year’s favorite was predictably The Fault in our Stars, which was luminous.

Day 02: A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. For a while, I read this series once a year. I haven’t done so in the last four or five years, but I plan to bring back this annual pilgrimage to Middle Earth. Coming in at a close second are all of the Harry Potter books, and books 1-6 of the Dune Series.

Day 03: Your favorite series

You would think that it would be #2 above, but it’s not. My favorite series is actually the Harry Potter series. I was a little late in coming to the series as I mistakenly believed that they were children’s books, but once I had read the first, I devoured books one through three and then had to wait for the next one.

Day 04: Favorite book of your favorite series

This one would is hard as I really love books 3 and 5. The Prisoner of Azkaban introduced Sirius Black, one of my favorite characters. The Order of the Pheonix killed Sirius Black. I believe that these two books represent Harry’s headlong rush into maturity as he was buoyed along by circumstances not of his choosing.

Day 05 : A book that makes you happy

Another hard category for me because I rarely read anything with a happy ending, but after giving it some thought, I would have to say Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss. Timeless, the inherent silliness of the wordplay in this book inspires a smile. I once used this particular book in a literature class to illustrate dramatic effect: rising action, falling action, dilemma/conflict, denouement, etc.

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates

Day 06: A book that makes you sad

Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. The three women in this book all face life-changing decisions, but the way in which Cunningham weaves together the three different streams of consciousness is remarkable. A close second would be Tuesdays with Morrie, but it’s not fiction.

Day 07: Most underrated book

Josephine Humphreys Rich in Love. I loved everything about this book, and it left me thinking for days.

Day 08: Most overrated book

Ulysses, by James Joyce. Oh, I know, I’m supposed to love this book because of the whole English literature thing, and at one point I really did love it, but as time has passed, I have realized that only English majors and professors could really love this book.

Second is Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I just can’t get past the whole cockroach thing. I know that it’s a metaphor about life and alienation and comformity, but still, a bug.

Day 09: A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Before I read The Hour I First Believed, I hadn’t touched anything by Wally Lamb. I kept hearing about the book, but didn’t buy it, probably because of the title; it just sounded too uplifting. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth, and equally surprised by just how much this book touched me.

Day 10: Favorite classic book

I am actually very partial to Charles Dickens, especially David Copperfield more than Great Expectations; I still haven’t been able to make myself like Moby Dick. And of course, pretty much anything by Fitzgerald or Woolf is on my top list.

“Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

Day 11: A book you hated

Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. That’s a few hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

Day 12: A book you used to love but don’t anymore

This would be almost anything by Patricia Cornwell written after book five in her Kay Scarpetta series. Initially, I loved Scarpetta, a tough, intelligent woman, but as the series continued, Cornwell became so formulaic that Scarpetta turned into a whiny shell of her former self.

Day 13: Your favorite writer

This one is impossible. I have a favorite writer for each genre, for example, P. D. James for mystery; J. R. R. Tolkien for fantasy; Frank Herbert for science fiction; Anne Rule for true crime; F. Scott Fitzgerald & Virginia Woolf for classics; J. K. Rowling for young adult; Thomas Harris for thrillers; Ian Rankin for detective stories. Actually, I could probably come up with more, but I think that I’ve completely missed this one.

Day 14: Favorite book of your favorite writer

I love The Great Gatsby. I still believe that it’s wasted on juniors in high school. You need some adult experience and perspective to appreciate all of the nuances of this book.

Day 15: Favorite male character

At the moment, I am completely enamored of Tyrion Lannister (Song of Fire and Ice series). I love everything about him, his wit, his wisdom, his perspective on life and family. Everything.

“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.” ~ Carl Sagan

Day 16: Favorite female character

This is so hard, so very very hard, but if I must narrow it to one, I think it would have to be Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander from The Millenium Trilogy. Lisbeth is incredibly smart but terribly flawed. She is seemingly unafraid and simultaneously uncomfortable and ill at ease.

Day 17: Favorite quote from your favorite book

“There are betrayals in war that are childlike compared with our human betrayals during peace. The new lovers enter the habits of the other. Things are smashed, revealed in a new light. This is done with nervous or tender sentences, although the heart is an organ of fire,” from Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient

Day 18: A book that disappointed you

This may sound strange, but I was disappointed in Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. I saw the original movie when I was just a girl, but I fell in love with the characters, the story, and especially, the scenery. So years later when I read the book, I just couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that I didn’t come away with the same feelings that the movie inspired in me.

Day 19: Favorite book turned into a movie

Sorry, but this has to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I know that I’ve already mentioned this, but truly, Peter Jackson’s interpretation was brilliant. But a close runner-up would be A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess. The eye scene still haunts me. And third would be The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink. Honorable mention: Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence.

Day 20: Favorite romance book

Oh this would have to be Wuthering Heights. I don’t read romance in the vein of Harlequin romance, but as far as a love story, this one wins. Heathcliffe.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Day 21: Favorite book from your childhood

Another tie, this time between A Secret Garden and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Both books featured adventurous female protagonists, and I read and reread each of them many times between the ages of 8 and 14.

Day 22: Favorite book you own

You might as well ask me who my favorite child is, or who my favorite dog is because this one is completely impossible to answer.

Day 23: A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

I feel that I should read something by David Foster Wallace, like Infinite Jest, yet I can’t help but feel that he’s highly overrated, which is purely a gut feeling and probably unfair. And I’m also shocked to say this, but I haven’t read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Day 24: A book that you wish more people would’ve read

Carson McCullers’ Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I know that it shows up as required reading in some college courses, but still, the characterizations alone make this simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking.

Day 25: A character who you can relate to the most

I’m basing this on a book that I just read, Chez Moi, by Agnes Desarthe. The protagonist in this book is a woman who is in the middle of trying to figure out her life. She has made mistakes, has suffered losses, but throughout, she survives, and eventually thrives.

“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.” ~ Edith Sitwell

Day 26: A book that changed your opinion about something

Sho-Gun by James Clavell. I first read this book while I was an undergraduate. It wasn’t the length that made me wary, but the things that I had heard. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted a historical novel. I was so wrong. This book was a sweeping epic of feudal Japan, and I’m heartbroken that I cannot find my original two-volume hardbound set.

Day 27: The most surprising plot twist or ending

I hated what happened at the end of Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. McMurphy is erased as a human being; however, the redemption comes through Chief Bromden, who finally releases himself. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Griffin & Sabine trilogy, by Nick Bantock; everything about these books is surprising.

Day 28: Favorite title

Their Eyes were Watching God. I love everything about this book.

Day 29: A book everyone hated but you liked

I’m actually going to switch this around to a book everyone liked but I hated: Gone with the Wind . . . boring . . . Second would be Catcher in the Rye . . . seriously?

Day 30: Your favorite book of all time

Heart of Darkness Catch22 The Shining The Handmaid’s Tale Kafka on the Shore The World According to Garp Lolita Member of the Wedding The Alchemist Silence of the Lambs The Bone Collector The Naming of the Dead A Game of Thrones The Hunger Games The Golden Notebook A Wrinkle in Time Gorky Park Ethan Frome Remorseful Day The Weight of Water The Godfather Red Dragon The Blind Assassin Snow Falling on Cedars…………………………………..

Music by Jackie Greene, “I Don’t Live in a Dream”


 

Sections in the bookstore

– Books You Haven’t Read
– Books You Needn’t Read
– Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
– Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
– Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
– Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
– Books Too Expensive Now and You’ll Wait ‘Til They’re Remaindered
– Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
– Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
– Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too
– Books You’ve Been Planning to Read for Ages
– Books You’ve Been Hunting for Years Without Success
– Books Dealing with Something You’re Working on at the Moment
– Books You Want to Own So They’ll Be Handy Just in Case
– Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
– Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
– Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
– Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time to Re-read
– Books You’ve Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them

~ Italo Calvino, from If on a winter’s night a traveler

 

 

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” ~ Sylvia Plath

Felice Casorati, Il sogno del melograno The Dream of the Pomegranate 1912 oil on canvas
“Il sogno del Melograno” (The Dream of the Pomegranate), (1912, oil on canvas)
by Felice Casorati

                   

“Having experienced both, I am not sure which is worse: intense feeling, or the absence of it.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

Monday afternoon, Labor Day. Partly cloudy and humid, 80 degrees.

Well hello. Many thanks for holding on during my dry spell, brought on by the complete and total distraction of gutting and renovating the sole bathroom in our 1950s rancher. I’m hoping that now that most of the work has been completed, I can sit here for a few hours without feeling guilty that I am not tiling or grouting or whatever.

We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Galileo Chini 1922Terme Berzieri  Frescos
From Terme Berzieri Frescoes (1922)
by Galileo Chini

In the past few weeks my creativity has been limited to finding content that might be somewhat interesting to post here as well as rapid skimming of my tumblr dash. Several times I have sat here, thinking about all of the things that I want to say, and then I would think about all of the things left undone, and I would stop. Now that I’m here, I can’t think of a damned thing to say. I guess I’ll just keep going and hope that I arrive somewhere along the way.

Corey is on his way to the Azores. His departure was abrupt but necessary as he had exhausted his unemployment benefits, and unfortunately, the gulf companies in which he is interested prefer that applicants come in person. Since it’s not exactly a short hop to New Orleans, we decided that the best thing for now was to say with his current company. Not ideal, but it works for now.

“Life hurls us like a stone, and we sail through the air saying, ‘look at me move.’” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

I know that it’s not August any more (header quote), but I’ve been saving that quote, and I’m going to use it. I mean, “the odd uneven time”? Perfect description of these days.

I’ve noticed that in recent weeks, more and more pictures have appeared on my tumblr dash featuring orange and red leaves on trees, so I suppose I’m not the only one yearning for fall. Unfortunately, it seems that once again I have missed summer, and I”m not entirely sure that that was a bad thing this year. First there was the very uncomfortable side effect of my face swelling whenever I hit any kind of heat, and then there was the whole renovation thing. Between the two, I barely made it into the pool for any kind of relaxation, and now that Corey has left, the pool is just kind of sitting there, needing to be vacuumed and treated.

Felice Casorati, Preghiera The Prayer 1914
“Preghiera” (The Prayer), (1914)
by Felice Casorati

Not so much my thing. Eamonn was supposed to help with that . . . still waiting . . .

Speaking of kids, Brett started school last week. There was a major snafu with his financial aid; apparently, even though I completed the FAFSA in February (a new early record for me), it didn’t go through. Who knew? And, get this, we made too much money for him to qualify for his grants. Seriously? I mean, really? Geez.

By the way, Olivia started walking a few days ago. So cute. And we added Lex to our telephone plan for her belated birthday present. I was too worried about her being with the baby and not having any way to contact anyone for emergencies. It’s only a few dollars a month, and we got her a new phone, so that’s one less thing that I have to worry about.

Speaking of new phones, we upgraded mine, which would ordinarily excite me beyond belief, but I didn’t even bother to do anything with it until a few days ago. More of that time management thing.

“There are days that walk
through me
and I cannot hold them.” ~ Katherine Larson, from “The Gardens in Tunisia”

So, besides all of the mundane, day-to-day life stuff, what else is new?

The puppy seems to have regressed and has decided that she is no longer house-trained. I am sorely not amused . . . I’m telling myself it’s the heat and the biting flies.

I’m very behind in my writing project with my friend Mari. I haven’t mentioned it here because I wanted to wait until I was sure it was going to work. Unfortunately, I’ve been the one to fall behind. That’s next on my things of wanting/needing to do.

Vittorio Zecchin Mille e una Notte
“Le Mille e Una Notte” (The Thousand and One Nights), (1914)
by Vittorio Zecchin

And of course, because it’s fall, my thoughts have turned toward going back to school. Ask me what I’ve done as far as preparing for my GREs . . . correct. Nothing. I’m still in that middle of the road place in which I’m not entirely sure if wanting the degree is enough of a reason for pursuing the degree. It’s an old argument, one that I have yet to resolve. I’ll probably be 80 and still contemplating this.

God, one of these days I’m going to finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m fairly certain that it isn’t what I thought.

“One tries to go deep—to speak to the secret self we all have.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from Collected Letters, 7 September 1921

I ran across an image of a painting by Italian artist Galileo Chini, which led me on a search for more, which led me to explore the whole Liberty school, which is what the Italian version of Art Nouveau is called, apparently. What struck me was the resemblance to Gustav Klimt, one of my favorite artists; I’ve featured Klimt on here several times. Anyway, the exploration led me to several blogs, almost none of which included names of the works of art, nothing about the media or the dates created.

Galileo Chini La Primavera Classica 1914 panel
“La Primavera Classica” (1914, panel)
by Galileo Chini

A particular pet peeve of mine.

I mention this because I received an e-mail from someone informing me that I had infringed on copyright of a poem that I featured a while back. The infringement was completely unintentional, and I really felt bad because I try to do my due diligence.

What’s the point to all of this? Well, there is one, actually. Copyright was one of my favorite courses when I got my publishing degree; it’s something I wish that I knew more about, or even worked in. And the whole Linkedin thing that I’ve been doing has been tormenting me because there are all of these advertisements for jobs in the publishing industry. I read them, and I say to myself, “I could that. And I could do that. And that, too.”

It’s so frigging depressing. Not just because the jobs are all in big cities, but more because of the reality of my life. The whole disability thing. I’m in the middle of filling out yet another round of forms, and I had a meeting with my pain management doctor so that he could fill out his forms, and it didn’t really hit me until he started talking that I really am limited.

I hate this more than I can say.

“I want to resemble a sort of liquid light which stretches beyond visibility or invisibility. Tonight I wish to have the valor and daring to belong to the moon.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Writer’s Diary

I’ve been dwelling in the past in my recent thoughts. It’s not a good place to be. But I keep arriving at various crossroads in my life, and I cannot help but wonder what might have happened had I chosen differently.

Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which the old knight says, “You have chosen wisely”? I haven’t felt too many times that I have chosen wisely.

Galileo Chini Canale a Bangkok c1912-13
“Canale a Bangkok” (c1912-13)
by Galileo Chini

I’m not talking about my love life, my decision to end my long marriage or my decision to take a chance again, to allow myself to love Corey. Not those decisions. No, all of the other life-changing decisions. Far too many to go into here, at the end of this post. Suffice it to say that so many times I wish that I had chosen wisely, but I have always, always, always been led by my heart instead of my head, and this impulse has led me to think, or rather, not to think too well.

Everything from buying this house to making a u-turn that led to my Calais being totaled. Choice? Fate? Something else?

I know. Why dwell? Why not dwell . . . I mean, for most of my life I was always the one to make the big decisions, and granted, a u-turn is not a big decision—I just happened to remember that—and it’s not that I’m necessarily bitching about that because control and I are good friends. I want control. I take control. It’s just that sometimes having control isn’t necessarily the best thing.

Damn. I don’t even know what I’m saying at this point. I think that I’ll stop for now. I knew that the more that I wrote the more that would want to come out, and now I’m not really making sense.

Welcome back. I think . . .

More later. Peace.

*All images are by Italian artists working in the Liberty style, the Italian version of Art Nouveau, so named after the firm of Liberty and Co. in London. 

Music by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, “Don’t Explain”

couldn’t choose, so I posted both . . .

Music by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus, “Killing The Blues”

                   

Traveling

If you travel alone, hitchhiking,
sleeping in woods,
make a cathedral of the moonlight
that reaches you, and lie down in it.
Shake a box of nails
at the night sounds
for there is comfort in your own noise.
And say out loud:
somebody at sunrise be distraught
for love of me,
somebody at sunset call my name.
There will soon be company.
But if the moon clouds over
you have to live with disapproval.
You are a traveler,
you know the open, hostile smiles
of those stuck in their lives.
Make a fire.
If the Devil sits down, offer companionship,
tell her you’ve always admired
her magnificent, false moves.
Then recite the list
of what you’ve learned to do without.
It is stronger than prayer.

~ Stephen Dunn

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of φ Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of φ
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

                   

“At the end of this day there remains what remained yesterday and what will remain tomorrow: the insatiable, unquantifiable longing to be both the same and other.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and not quite as hot, 90 degrees. Possible thunderstorms.

So were we? Oh yes, joists, mold, swelling, heat wave, water damage, no toilet . . .

The bathroom is coming along. All of the joists have been replaced. The subfloor is going down. A few studs left to replace, and then the repair part is mostly done. Corey replaced all of the water lines, did some moving around, extended the water pipes to outside the bedroom window so that if we ever get around to building the deck out there, we can have a rustic outdoor shower, something I’ve always hankered after but never had an excuse to have.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of the accidental similarity number
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of the accidental similarity number
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

I have to say once again how very impressed I am with my hubby’s abilities. He looks at things, thinks about them, and then presto! Voila! He makes it work (in the words of the estimable Mike Holmes). That’s not to say that Corey hasn’t wondered more than once if he’s in over his head, but I have reassured him that as compared to a lot of other people, he’s really done an amazing job.

Mike has helped out over the weekend, which has sped up some aspects of the work, but still, it’s slow going. It is a full gut, after all, which I don’t think everyone fully comprehended.

“Someone, and no matter who, inhabits my head like it’s an empty house, he enters, he leaves, he bangs each door behind him, powerless I put up with this ruckus.” ~ Claude Esteban, from “Someone, and no matter”

As to the wonderful Botox-related facial swelling? Yes, still here. The heat really exacerbates it. I can walk outside and feel the skin on my face tighten and tingle. Lovely. Absolutely lovely.

Supposedly, when I spoke to the doctor’s office the other day, I was through with the worst of it. Only not so much. I’m taking antihistamines and ibuprofen mostly because I don’t know what else I should take. Fortunately, I have finished with the prednizone, but the fact of the matter is that my face has this patches of puffiness, and I finally figured out what it reminded me of: Harry Potter.

Progression of the first 10,000 digits of pi Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski
Progression of the first 10,000 digits of pi
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

There is a scene in The Chamber of Secrets in which the three main characters take some polyjuice potion to assume others’ identities. In the film, the changing process is shown through this bubbling of the facial skin as it morphs from one face to another. That’s how my face feels.

Bubbly. As if it’s changing from one thing to another. It’s really, really uncomfortable, and these side effects are making me rethink the whole Botox for migraines regimen. Corey says it’s too soon to decide, but his face isn’t bubbling and sliding around, is it?

“I am excessively diverted.” ~ Jane Austen

Brett has been spending the last week away from home as the renovations seem to bother him on some deeper level that I cannot quite understand. I don’t know if it’s the extent, that he wasn’t expecting it, or the disarray, which is unnerving.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of e
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Would that I could spend the time away from the house, but then again, that would mean leaving, wouldn’t it? The constant banging is obnoxious, but at least the migraine is gone for now. I’ve only gone to my mom’s house once to take a shower. The rest of the time, we use the pool to get wet and then shower via garden hose in the backyard under the night sky, which is actually very refreshing.

Good thing we have a privacy fence, not that I really care about the neighbors.

Anyway, I expect that I’ll be able to begin the tile work in a couple of days, and I’m really looking forward to it. Once I start, I can stop obsessively looking up articles on hanging tile and reading all of the forums on do’s and don’ts and why and why not. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of these discussions. This substrate is good . . . no This substrate is good . . . but you should use this kind of mortar . . . but what about . . .

It’s enough to drive a sane person to drink.

“One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in the same pattern, but in different colors.” ~ Robert Graves, from The Art of Poetry No. 11, The Paris Review

I had the strangest dream last night about neighbors who don’t exist. They invited us over for a quick casual dinner after we had all gone to a theme park for the day. I was really tired but thought it would be rude not to accept the impromptu invitation. During this, my mother disappeared, and I didn’t know it until I answered the phone and she was on the other end telling me that she had gone out with some friends to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I told her that I’d take care of the dogs, and suddenly, there were four dogs, not two, and I hadn’t remembered to give them food or water, so I had to excuse myself from the company to take care of the dogs.

Progression and transition for the first 2,000 digits of e
Progression and transition for the first 2,000 digits of e
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Then, the museum curator wanted to compare a document, and I knew that it was a problem because the original document had gotten water spots on it from the water damage, and we had been hiding that. The curator was very miffed, and we had to take the document off display because it couldn’t be authenticated. Meanwhile, the company wanted to drink margaritas, but I told them the tequila gave me a migraine, so they drank something that was the color of Midori liqueur.

Finally, everyone left while I tried to tape together the transcript with red sealing tape, this after assuring all parties that homework had to be completed before there could be any playtime.

“I have moved to the edge of the world for two years. If I am not careful, I will fall.” ~ Roxane Gay, from North Country

And you wonder why I have migraines . . .

I awoke to banging in the bathroom and pressure in my forehead and a curious sense that I hadn’t finished what I had started.

Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of π. Created with Circos
Progression and transition for the first 1,000 digits of π.
(Christian Ilies Vasile and Martin Kryzwinski)

Anyway, that’s life around the homestead for the past several days. The puppies are managing well, and Bailey has seemingly potty trained herself overnight, which is one less thing to worry about.

In between all of this, Corey has job applications out, and I’m revisiting the idea of taking the GREs so that I can apply to a doctoral program. I haven’t seen le bebe since the birthday party, and there’s no way she can be in the house with all of the wood and nails and what-have-you everywhere. It’s enough to keep the wood chips out of the puppy’s mouth.

Here’s hoping the next few days see a domino effect in getting things done . . . but I won’t hold my breath.

More later. Peace.

All images are taken from The Creator’s Project, Visualizing the Infinite Beauty Of Pi And Other Numbers. No, I don’t even begin to understand the principle behind this, but I found the images quite beautiful regardless.

Music by Sara Jackson-Holman, “Cartography”

                   

Richard Silken Meanwhile

“My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn.” ~ Louis Adamic

Stormy Seas by Jake Pike
Stormy Seas by Jake Pike (cc)

                   

“She was feeling the pressure of the world outside, and she wanted to see him and feel his presence beside her and be reassured that she was doing the right thing.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Great Gatsby

Saturday afternoon. Partly cloudy, 63 degrees.

Well a front moved through yesterday, and temperatures are more like April. However, the bouncing temperatures are wreaking havoc with my head. I just haven’t had any energy at all in the past few days, but today I was feeling a bit better, that is until my mother called.

Apparently someone called her number looking for Corey and me, and my mother went off the deep end, and now she thinks that the police are going to show up at my door and haul me off to jail. It does no good to try to explain things to my mother because she makes up her mind, and always, always, it is in favor of whoever is not me. So I have to listen to how I’m a deadbeat, and so is my husband, and what in the hell are we doing anyway.

Stormy Sea 3 by Ldmondjinn deviantArt cc
Stormy Sea 3 by Lemondjinn on deviantArt (cc)

It’s unfortunate that these people called my mother, especially because she has an unlisted number, because she thinks that I gave these people her name and phone number. Like I would ever be stupid enough to do that. I tried to explain that Corey will be in port on Monday, and we’ll talk to the bank then, but noooooooooo. Not good enough. Consequently, the almost better mood that I was cultivating when I woke up has fast fled the premises.

I really, really hate days like these. I hate bill collectors. I hate everyone. Well, not everyone, but definitely bill collectors, especially as we have made a true effort since Corey went back to work to get back to erasing our debt. Nothing is worse than trying your best only to have it boomerang and slam you in the face.

“—tomorrow is our permanent address

and there they’ll scarcely find us(if they do,
we’ll move away still further:into now” ~ E. E. Cummings, from “all ignorance toboggans into know”

E. E. Cummings is appropriate for my mood: convoluted and obscure.

I just don’t know how or why or who or what. I just don’t know. I only know what I don’t know. I feel like I’m drowning here. I feel so overwhelmed and so tense. My neck is hard with knots. My shoulders hunched and hurting. Yesterday afternoon I tried to read a book of poems that Brett had lent me, but I couldn’t because of the spots in front of my eyes. They’re still there, but it doesn’t matter so much when I’m writing because I don’t need to focus on anything, not the screen, not the keyboard, nothing.

Stormy Sea at Coldingham Bay by Walter Baxter CC
Stormy Sea at Coldingham Bay by Walter Baxter (cc)

I realize what’s happening: I’m going into insular mode, retreating into myself beneath my invisible protective shell. It’s probably a good thing that invisibility cloaks are only the stuff of fiction, because if I had one, I’m not sure if I would ever poke my head out, choosing instead to remain cloaked and therefore, safe. So instead I’ll just hide here in my corner of the room in my corner of the house in my corner of the world, trying very hard not to draw any attention to myself.

Who have I become?

“I somehow have a feeling of being senselessly drawn, wandering senselessly through a senselessly obscene, absurd world.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 12 March 1928

I’m not at all certain that I like this woman, this person I am describing, the one who cowers and hides instead of facing things head on, shoulders back, an imperious glare daring the world to bring it on. What happened to that person, to that woman?

I feel so beaten down, so powerless, and it’s so much more than the telephone calls and my mother. I mean, it’s almost mid-April, and what happened to my big plans for the GRE, for my graduate school application? Is my desire for the doctoral program only so that I can retreat into the world of academia once more in order to avoid reality for another prolonged period?

Stormy Seas, Scarborough, UK WC
Stormy Seas, Scarborough, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

I’m sorry if I’m not making much sense, but I’m not making that much sense to myself either, if that helps . . . Hell, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say here. I feel like a walk-on player in the theatre of the absurd, one of Shakespeare’s fools, except the fools were the ones who actually saw what was going on and dared to comment on it. The fools, the japesters, the clowns—they sat back and observed and then pretended not to know or understand when in fact they saw things more clearly than the greatest kings and queens, but their lowly stature kept them in positions of obscurity.

So probably not a fool or a jape, or perhaps a fool or jape but without the wisdom. They had the wisdom but none of the power. I do not feel wise or powerful at the moment.

“My love,
for one hour, let’s sink into
the mercy of being irrelevant.” ~ Rane Arroyo, from “Surviving Utah

It’s as if I’m standing on the bow of a ship facing the wind head on, and the only thing keeping me from being tossed overboard is a very thin tether, and I’m dependent upon my knot-making for security, and, well, my knot-making is limited. I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it, let’s just say.

Stormy ocean 03 San Diego by  by Melissa Schranz cc
Stormy Ocean, San Diego by Melissa Schranz (cc)

Who is this person I’ve become? I honestly don’t know any more. All I can think of are nautical metaphors: lost at sea, thrown overboard, jettisoned with the waste, tossed in a gale.

When you have spots in your eyes, it’s hard to see what’s in front of you. Couple those spots with a tumultuous soul and a racked body, and the resultant being is hard to identify. Indefinable, nondescript, untethered.

Perhaps I have become the living embodiment of a 404 File Not Found. I would laugh if it weren’t so close to the truth.

“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd—the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

I just took a time out to play stick with Tillie and take a shower. I didn’t realize just how sore I was until I threw the stick. Man, my body feels like it’s 80 years old.

Speaking of bodies, and I was, you know how I’ve always said that I don’t believe in plastic surgery? I think I’ve changed my mind. I cannot stand my bat-wing arms; they make me so self-conscious about wearing anything sleeveless. I don’t want bigger boobs, and I don’t want a nose job. I don’t want a butt implant, and I think my ears are just fine the way that they are, but seriously? I’m wishing I had the money to do something about my arms.

Stormy Seas creative commons
Stormy Seas (cc)

Vain? I know. I also know that fixing my arms won’t suddenly make me write better and won’t get me published. Fixing my arms won’t fix my relationship with my mother, and fixing my arms won’t make my kids decide what they want to do with their lives. But fixing my arms would make me a little more comfortable in my skin. And precisely because of this unbalanced list of pros and cons, without even going into the money that doesn’t exist, I will never get my arms fixed.

But I thought that I needed to end this post on a completely different note, not necessarily a positive note, but a different one.

More later. Peace.

Music by Birdy, “Terrible Love”

                   

Cityscape

I have a word for it —
the way the surface waited all day
to be a silvery pause between sky and city —
which is elver.

And another one for how
the bay shelved cirrus clouds
piled up at the edge of the Irish Sea,
which is elver too.

The old Blackrock baths
have been neglected now for fifty years,
fine cracks in the tiles
visible as they never were when

I can I can I can
shouted Harry Vernon as
he dived from the highest board
curving down into salt and urine

his cry fading out
through the half century it took
to hear as a child that a glass eel
had been seen

entering the seawater baths at twilight —
also known as elver —
and immediately
the word begins

a delicate migration —
a fine crazing healing in the tiles —
the sky deepening above a city
that has always been

unsettled between sluice gates and the Irish Sea
to which there now comes at dusk
a translucent visitor
yearning for the estuary.

~ Eavan Boland

“I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

William Ascroft Sunset in June after Eruption of Krakatoa c1880 pastel
“Sunset in June after Eruption of Krakatoa” (c. 1880s, pastel)
by William Ascroft

                   

“When you feel perpetually unmotivated, you start questioning your existence in an unhealthy way; everything becomes a pseudo intellectual question you have no interest in responding whatsoever. This whole process becomes your very skin and it does not merely affect you; it actually defines you. So, you see yourself as a shadowy figure unworthy of developing interest, unworthy of wondering about the world—profoundly unworthy in every sense and deeply absent in your very presence.” ~ Ingmar Bergman

Sunday, early evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 35 degrees.

No snow. Not a drop. No galumphing for Tillie, and no snow photos for me. Oh well . . .

So I’ve been thinking about clouds, not in a scientific way but in a philosophical way. Let me explain:

William Ascroft Amber Afterglow with Crepuscular Rays 1885 pastel
“Amber Afterglow with Crepuscular Rays” (1885, pastel)
by William Ascroft

When we look up at clouds in the sky, they seem to be buffeted along by the wind, without having any momentum of their own. They bump into other clouds along the way, sometimes just touching the sides, sometimes merging, sometimes completely obscuring. Clouds can be massive puffs (cumulus), multilayered (stratus), or wisps (cirrus), and all of the variations in between.

Now I know that in truth, clouds are propelled and formed by many factors: wind, gravity, moisture content, solar heating, etcetera. Yes, I know all about low level and upper level winds, jet streams, and all of that, but I’m keeping it basic as an extended metaphor for my life.

I realized that I am very much like a cloud: My life has moved along many paths, some of my choosing and others due to circumstance. Often I have felt as if I have had no say in the directions I seem to be traversing. Along the way, I meet people, some who seem to swallow me with their big personalities, and others who I tend to overshadow because consuming them is easy, and then there are the people who I meet in passing who may or may not leave me with any sort of lasting impression.

“After the cups of tea, coffee, public conversations . . . I want to sit down with someone and talk with utter directness, want to talk to all the lost history like that deserving lover.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from Running in the Family

Now if all of that sounds like some kind of new age bullshit, well, what can I say? I’m certain that I’m not the first person to have used this metaphor for life, nor will I be the last. I can only say that it occurred to me this morning as my consciousness was coming into waking, and I decided to go with it.

William Ascroft Sustained Light after Sunset 1886 pastel
“Sustained Light after Sunset (1886, pastel)
by William Ascroft

As children, we put our heads on our arms as we recline in the grass, and we look up at the clouds and try to make out shapes—bunny rabbits, cats, dogs. As adults, sometimes we see other things in the shapes—an arrow, a mass like a mushroom cloud, Richard Nixon (okay, maybe that one is just me). When do the innocuous shapes we see as children morph into things more reminiscent of our waking nightmares?

I couldn’t tell you. I only know that at various point in my life I have been content to be bounced around by the winds, landing wherever and whenever. I suppose it’s part of the overall adventure. But at other times I have felt indignant at having so little power to control my path, which reminds me of a particularly crass simile that I have heard many times: It’s like pissing into the wind.

Fate. It’s tricky, and sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it’s somewhere in the middle.

“I go, we go. On the way we keep a log-book, the book of the abyss and the shores. Everyone does. My books are thus like life and history, heterogenous chapters in a single vast book whose ending I will never know.” ~ Hélène Cixous

I know. Pretty flaky, and I couldn’t really tell you where any of this came from. Just thinking about life, my life in particular, life in general, and the fact that no one really has control, no matter how much they may think they do.

William Ascroft Sunset and Afterglow 1883 pastel
“Sunset and Afterglow” (1883, pastel)
by William Ascroft

Presbyterians believe in predestination, as in the idea that when someone is born, his or her life is already planned out, from start to finish, as willed by god. I always found that concept incredibly troubling. John Calvin contended that some people are born already condemned to eternal damnation, while others are slated for salvation. Think about this for just a moment: No matter what you do, you are damned if that is what god decided for you before you took your first breath.

Sucks.

I remember learning about this concept when I was about 10 or 11, and even then, it really bothered me. If one holds to predestination, then why try? I mean, if you have a run of bad luck at one point, is that god shaking the omnipotent finger at you, saying, “Tough luck. But this is your road, and you can’t do anything about it”? And if so, should you just give up because, well, what the hell? What’s the point?

“You know, maybe this is how your concerto ends. I mean, not a big end with trumpets and violin. Maybe this is the finish, just like that suddenly. Not sad, not happy, just a small room with a lamp, abed,a child sleeps, and tons of loneliness.” ~ Eran Kolirin, from The Band’s Visit

My awakening cloud metaphor stayed with me even as I read an article in Rolling Stone about Aaron Swartz (The Brilliant Life & Tragic Death of Aaron Swartz). You may not know the name, but Swartz was a brilliant Internet pioneer, helping to develop RSS and reddit, and he committed suicide in January of this year. Swartz was being charged with theft for downloading documents from the JSTOR system of MIT. JSTOR is an online repository of articles for which colleges and universities pay access.

William Ascroft Sky Study 1886 pastel
“Sky Study” (1886, pastel)
by William Ascroft

Swartz, who was a child prodigy, was also plagued by personal demons, including depression and a sense of isolation. What does this have to do with what I’ve been saying? A lot.

Swartz, even though he could create code like others brew coffee, wanted to be a writer. He often felt as if he had no control over the direction his life was taking him. That he committed suicide is sad for all of the obvious reasons, but also because society lost a bright star, one who contributed to much but felt as if he had contributed nothing. When he died, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, wrote that Swartz was “blazing across the dark sky of ordinary people, broken systems, a shining force for good, a maker of things.”

What touched me about this story was how this genius man-boy was so self-doubting, so insular, so afraid, yet others saw him as this fierce fighter for access to information.

We never see ourselves as others see us.

“The time of departure is not mine to choose; I must find my way alone in this darkness. With the shadow of the moon at my side, I search for traces of wildlife in the white snow.” ~ Wilhelm Müller, from “Good Night”

I have spent so much of my life drifting aimlessly, it seems, yet you tell me otherwise. I have spent so many years lost, but not really.

I have had the pleasure and pain of encountering kindred spirits and malevolent spirits, all of whom have helped to build me up and chip away at my soul. I have merged, dissolved, grown layers and lost parts along the way.

William Ascroft Sunset and Noctilucent Cloud 1885 pastel
“Sunset and Noctilucent Cloud” (1885, pastel)
by William Ascroft

I have been soldiered on by winds that were warm and comforting, and I have been tossed about without any ability to tether myself to something solid. If have felt spun, blown, thrown, carried, cajoled and heaved. I have lost my way and in being lost, have found other paths.

All of this is to say that in this third act of my life, I am older, wiser, and still thrashing about completely without a clue.

Just before waking, a woman in my dream said this to me: “Century, century, 25.” I had no idea what it meant, which is to say, business as usual. And all of this brings to mind that completely sardonic Yiddish proverb: “Men tracht und Gott lacht.” (Man plans and god laughs).

More later. Peace.

(All images are by British artist William Ascroft, who drew hundreds of pastel sketches following the eruption of the Krakatao volcano on a small island in Indonesia.)

Music by Mikky Ekko, “Feels Like the End”

                   

The Dumka

His parents would sit alone together
on the blue divan in the small living room
listening to Dvorak’s piano quintet.
They would sit there in their old age,
side by side, quite still, backs rigid, hands
in their laps, and look straight ahead
at the yellow light of the phonograph
that seemed as distant as a lamplit
window seen across the plains late at night.
They would sit quietly as something dense

and radiant swirled around them, something
like the dust storms of the thirties that began
by smearing the sky green with doom
but afterwards drenched the air with an amber
glow and then vanished, leaving profiles
of children on pillows and a pale gauze
over mantles and table tops. But it was
the memory of dust that encircled them now
and made them smile faintly and raise
or bow their heads as they spoke about

the farm in twilight with piano music
spiraling out across red roads and fields
of maize, bread lines in the city, women
and men lining main street like mannequins,
and then the war, the white frame rent house,
and the homecoming, the homecoming,
the homecoming, and afterwards, green lawns
and a new piano with its mahogany gleam
like pond ice at dawn, and now alone
in the house in the vanishing neighborhood,

the slow mornings of coffee and newspapers
and evenings of music and scattered bits
of talk like leaves suddenly fallen before
one notices the new season. And they would sit
there alone and soon he would reach across
and lift her hand as if it were the last unbroken
leaf and he would hold her hand in his hand
for a long time and they would look far off
into the music of their lives as they sat alone
together in the room in the house in Kansas.

~ B.H. Fairchild