“But what is it then that sits in my heart, that breathes so quietly, and without lungs — that is here, here in this world, and yet not here?” ~ Mary Oliver

Untitled, by Galina Lukyanova


“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?” ~ John Keats

Sunday, early evening. Rather quiet. I think that I am ready for fall, ready for this summer to be over.

Do not ask me why I am rushing my life away. I couldn’t possibly tell you. I did make a decision today to halt a project that I’ve had flailing in the wind for months because I cannot devote the time to it that it deserves. Time for me is an oxymoron: I have too much of it and not enough. I mean, all that I have is time, but at the same time, in the time that I have, being able to concentrate on productive things is hard.

I read an article today that says that people with fibromyalgia have a credibility problem. No kidding. Try having fibromyalgia and chronic pain. People think that it’s “all in my head” or hypochondria. I just know that when my muscles burn so much that having the sheets in the bed come in contact with them is painful, then it’s not in my head.

Other than that, not much to say today, mostly wanted to post this poem that I found on tumblr.

More later. Peace.


Letter to a Stranger 

Dear Father,

I drifted on the bouquet of your red tongue
for two years. It was a kingdom, the stadium
of your face. I took sweets from a sealed jar
when mother wasn’t looking. I grew up on the back steps of St. Mary’s
where I learned to scream at kitten boys that didn’t do
what I said. We took the body and the blood in time. It is possible
to be divine in one afternoon.

A girl kneels on pebbles to feel the roughness that will change her destiny.

When you died, Vincent started his fascination with glass:
its world of definites. Cut or uncut. Severed or whole. It is the year 2000
and all our failures are tangible. Vincent is 30 and carries a pistol
wrapped in a powder-blue handkerchief. He will use it
on the clocks, the countenance of apples, the delicate house
of some girl’s throat still dripping with wine.

Let me sleep now, in the shelter, in the halt. Stop.

At your burial, I dropped carnations into the big earth. Mother pulled
me along by the sleeve. Now there is the sound of great thunder
as the brothers come running through the house, their boots cracking
the surface of things, fuck you’s dropping from their fat lips.

One organ persists alone. Three notes repeating and repeating.

I am governed by terror, sleeplessness, nostalgia.
Mother of God helps me out with my daily chores. I capture heat
in a rusted pot, smooth the bed sheets with a hammer, take up the hours
with my veined hands. Father, there are magnificent shadows
engraving themselves onto the dinner table. I keep thinking
that you are telling me to go. Let me sleep
and dream of the falling architecture of this house, transform it
into an imitation of heaven. My eyes are closed, two razors.

Dear Father, What kind of music is coming from me? What kind? 

 ~ Tina Chang

A Matter of Style: Obama Has It and Well . . . McCain Doesn’t

Three Days to Go and So Much to Be Done

John McCain’s Twilight Zone Redo

Okay. I’ll admit it. I do watch a few reality shows. I know that I have claimed to abhor most of them, and I do. But I love “Project Runway,” and I’ve started to watch Tim Gunn’s “Guide to Style,” mostly because I love all things Tim Gunn. I watch “What Not to Wear” occasionally, not as much as I used to, but Tim Gunn is more fun right now, I suppose because of the novelty, that and because of the outrageous idea that a woman can get along with 10 basic items in her closet. What a hoot!

The other wonderful thing about Tim Gunn’s show is that he surprises every woman by taking her to some designer’s workshop just to give her an inkling of how fabulous she would look in a designer gown. Now, if someone did that to me, and then didn’t give me one of those designer’s gowns, I’d be spitting fire. I mean, really, that’s cold. But of course, the women get the gowns, and go off to their special events looking fabulous. And here I sit, looking like a sausage, bemoaning my fate.

So I turn to Corey, and I say, “I’d love to call the show and tell them I need a makeover to bring my look up to date.” To which he replies, “Are you out of your mind? You can’t let Tim Gunn come in our house.” Which is true, so there goes that idea . . .

I only mention this whole idea of new styles and makeovers because I’ve decided with three days to go in the campaign that John McCain needs a redo, a complete start over from the beginning and try again. I’m serious. I mean, it couldn’t hurt. Could it?

Work with me here. Let’s go back . . . Doo do do do . . . doo do do do (eerie music from the “Twilight Zone”). Voice over: “Imagine if you will a man, so completely overwhelmed by circumstances, that he would like nothing better than the chance to start again. Now imagine, that man goes through a door and finds himself exactly where he wants to be: August 1, 2008. He has entered (dramatic pause and music) the Twilight Zone.”

Why August 1? Well let’s see, that gives him a chance to reconsider his vice presidential candidate and to vet that person thoroughly (what a concept). It gives him a chance to redo the Republican National Convention without starting late and to make it more of the spectacle that his party wanted. It gives him a chance not to pseudo-suspend his campaign and threaten to hold his breath over the first debate. It gives him a chance to do a take back, or actually, never happened on the incredible statement, “the economy is fundamentally sound.” It gives him a chance to uphold his basic sense of decency and never let his handlers push him into the murky waters of mudslinging and chargers of “socialism, terrorism,” and all of that other malarkey.

It gives him a chance not to embarrass himself by hanging his hat on some incredibly ill-conceived idea of Joe the Plumber as an American everyman. It gives him a chance to distance himself from George Bush much, much sooner in his campaign. And if he had played all of it better, then he probably wouldn’t be defending traditionally red states right now, and this would be a much tighter race.

Not that that’s what I want. But a part of me really does want the old John McCain back. The man who wasn’t going off half-cocked at every turn. The man who wasn’t wandering around on stage looking for Mr. Puddles. The man who wasn’t calling on a Joe the Plumber who wasn’t even there. Hey, I’m human. I really do feel for the guy, even though I have grown to hate what his campaign stands for. But I attribute that more than anything to two things: Sarah “Alexander Haig I’m In Charge” Palin, and some really bad handlers who have given him some really bad advice.

So if wishes were fishes, and I had a few extra to give away, I’d give one to John McCain, and let him have that one. Maybe. I mean, I’d let him have his dignity at least. After all, November 4th is only three days away, and Obama is moving into Arizona, and one of my favorite songs is by Jamie O’Neal: “There is No Arizona.” Let’s hope not for John McCain, anyway.

Speaking of Style

I was watching Rachel Maddow’s interview with Barack Obama the other night, and I loved her comment about his personal style. She was simply amazed by how calm the man was. She said that if he were any calmer, he would “be on ambien.” She also commented on how calm the people around him were, surprisingly so.

It’s a presidential campaign, people. Why aren’t you running around like the firestorm that it’s supposed to be? I remember comments about the Clinton campaign and the subsequent administration, how everyone was adrenaline-filled and running around like crazy all of the time. What a contrast. It’s kind of like jazz, how it can be hyperkinetic and then really smooth. Doesn’t surprise me at all that Obama isn’t hyper. If you’ve ever seen him come on stage, he kind of lopes, very casually, like he hasn’t got a care in the world, or another three stops to make. I’ll bet he makes his Secret Service contingent crazy.

News From the Phone Banks

Unlike Barack Obama and his handlers, things at campaign headquarters are, shall we say, a bit frenzied. I think the junk food may have something to do with it—lots of leftover Halloween candy, homemade cakes, carbs, and a few veggies for good measure. We’re down to making calls for volunteers to come in on the last few days for door-to-door canvassing and for phone bank work, and we’re getting more answering machines than answers. Most people have heard from us at least two times by now, and they’re getting a little touchy, as in the woman who said, without grace, shall we say, “I wish you people would just leave me alone. I’m old!” All right. Point taken.

Granted, I hate to be on the other end of a rolling poll machine. I know how relentless they can be, which is why I like to be on the calling end and not the receiving end. But for those of you who are receiving the calls, just remember, it’s almost over. And if you really want to get rid of us, join us!

And I have to say, these Obama people are pretty relentless, they even have sign-up boards for ninja stealth canvassing during the night before polls open. No, no one is going to be knocking on doors, but they will be putting door hangers on door knobs so that it’s the first thing you see when you open you door in the morning to get the newspaper, if you still read a hard copy, that is. And guess what? I gently urged (hah!) Corey to sign up for one since he’s up all night anyway. I’m not sure, but I think that he may have been shooting daggers at me with his eyes, or maybe it was just a look of love. Who can tell these days . . .

Out of my calls today, I did manage to persuade one guy to come in after his shift at work to make telephone calls tomorrow, and another to come in to drive people to the polls after he drops his daughters off at school on election day. Me? On election day, we’re signed up for more phone work, and who knows what else we’ll be doing. Brett will be working, too, since school is closed that day. I’ve promised him his manna from heaven when all of this is over: His own dozen of Krispy Kreme donuts, hot off the racks. Mom knows how to bribe.

I was speaking with the phone bank coordinator, one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Turns out we have more in common than a belief in the visionary guy. She, too, has fibromyalgia and her share of pain problems, but she’s still working and volunteering. I’m in awe, truly. I know that I couldn’t do what she’s doing, by half. A sincere, big shoutout to her (and I would do the windshield wiper wave, but I refuse to take my Palin impersonation that far).

Finally, a Word from the Mighty Cleese

The word is berk, b-e-r-k. It’s a wonderful British word that means in general, fool. But its derivation comes from the Berkeley Hunt. In Cockney rhyming slang, hunt rhymes with c*nt, so berk takes on a much more derogatory meaning. Cockney, for those who might not be familiar with the term, is generally used to refer to slang from the East End of London, and rhyming slang is far more complicated, involving the dropping of a word with another word or phrase that rhymes with it.

Long story short, John Cleese appeared on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” last night and read another one of his poems, this one an homage to that twit, Bill O’Reilly. Cleese used the word berk in his description of O’Reilly, and when Olbermann asked him what the word meant, Cleese actually brought up the Berkeley Hunt definition. Priceless.

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually heard the word berk used, except once in a while on Masterpiece Theatre on mysteries, and I read it frequently in my British mysteries, but I used to hear it when I was a child, and my mother and I would travel around London, especially in the markets. Even as young as I was, I knew what a berk was, but I was never allowed to use the word. It’s a wonderful word, and Cleese’s use of it makes me want to reintroduce it into my personal patois. Think of the fun I could have . . . Oh stop being such a berk . . . That man is a complete and total berk . . . and so on. It really is too tempting. You do know that I’m going to have to go there.

On that note, more later. Peace.

Reconnecting with the outside

Within the past five days, I have had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with old friends on two different occasions, which I find to be wonderfully karmac after just writing about how much better it is to keep old friends in my last blog. Friday, I had lunch (yes, I actually left the house and drove somewhere) with three of my former co-workers and one of their spouses. The occasion to warrant such a gathering? Jammi and her husband Kyle were in town on their way to the Outer Banks, and she wanted to have lunch at her favorite Mexican restaurant, so it was very much like old times. We passed around some pictures, took some new ones, and promised to e-mail the new ones to each other. The great part is that it’s a promise that will actually be kept. Digital photography makes it so much easier to keep promises like that. I wish that we could have sat around for another couple of hours, but unfortunately, some people still have jobs to go back to . . .

And then my dear friend from high school came into town to celebrate his birthday this weekend. It’s a tradition for him to celebrate milestone birthdays with one particular friend of his (I won’t reveal which birthday) because their birthdays are so close together. He loves to see his old neighborhood and reminisce. He had told me well in advance that he was coming, and then he sent me a card with the phone number of his hotel. I don’t think that he actually believed that I would call, but I did. But when he said, “Let’s go to lunch,” that’s when I balked. But he came up with what he believed to be the perfect solution: he would bring pizza from the best neighborhood pizza parlor to my house and we could just talk. What a sweetie. How to tell him that my house is a disaster, and I am too embarassed to let anyone see it? But then he reminded me that he is a mail carrier, and he regularly sees hoarders’ houses on his routes: newspapers stacked floor to ceilings with only pathways through, and cats and cat smells. My house is not even nearly that bad. I relented, and I’m so glad that I did. We spent a wonderful few hours talking about nothing and everything, and being the kind of person that he is, he really did understand my growing discomfort with being around crowds.

I’m writing about these two separate events for several reasons: First, it really was incredible to see these people again and spend some time with them, even if it was just a bit of an afternoon. These were people who meant something to me, each in their own way, and still do. But more importantly, it made me realize something about myself: I can still be comfortable around people who matter to me, no matter where it is. Corey has become concerned, as have I (if I am to be honest) that I am allowing myself to become too addicted to my comfort zones, so much so that I do not want to travel beyond them. In my situation, having finished school now and being on disability, it would be very easy to spend all of my time at home, writing on the computer, floating in the pool, and reading in bed. That way, I wouldn’t have to encounter the masses at Wal Mart on Saturday who test my patience. I wouldn’t have to get behind the wheel and deal with Hampton Roads’ drivers who, for some reason, drive five miles below the speed limit. In other words, I wouldn’t have to deal with reality.

And as we all know, as tempting as that prospect may be, it isn’t really living, is it? One of my jobs, believe it or not, was as a sales manager at Dillard’s, and that meant dealing with the public constantly, and contrary to what some people believe, I was good at it. I was very good with the people who came into our store, even if I had been there since 8 that morning, and it was 9 o’clock at night and I had been wearing high heels all day. Several of my jobs have had the element of working with the public, and I have always managed to do that part of my job well. Granted, everyone has bad days, but you never let your clients see that. I once sold one of my repeat clients $1200 worth of the new Ralph Lauren line off the rack before it had even been put out yet. Of course, since I was the manager by then, I gave the sale to one of my associates, but it was still fun that my old client had sought me out.

Could I do that now? I’m not sure. It takes a lot of patience for one thing, and a lot of stamina for another. I don’t believe that I have either any more. Maybe the patience, but definitely not the stamina, and I think that’s why I’m so reluctant to go places–it’s that whole idea of being a burden that really grates on me. Sometimes, when Corey and I do go out, and I am having such a nice time being out of the house, I push it, but then I pay for it by being completely wiped out for days afterwards. Part of it is my back, and part of it is the fibromyalgia. But if you were to ask me if it was worth it, I would say yes. Buying plants at Lowe’s versus looking at the four walls of my bedroom? Yes, it was worth it.

I’m not ready to be sedentary. It just seems like it sometimes. I just need a little push, and maybe a car to drive that my 17-year-old son hasn’t trashed. My Izzie Trooper just isn’t what she used to be, full of boy stuff and smelling of Axe. But that’s another story.