“At the heart of the emptiness there is born in me a sudden understanding.” ~ Fabienne Veridier

Autumn in the Orchard by Russel Tomlin Flickr
Autumn in the Orchard
by Russell Tomlin on flickr

                   

Marginals

To me lying near sleep, at the pale edge
of dark, sounds wrestle the gray beyond, and trains
at the outer margin slide and weave, the diesels
shudder their strings of cars and eat their noisy
miles, and lone farmlights star the black between.

To me lying near sleep the near leaves bind
my walls in hush of green gloom merged in still
and ebony and humming waves of leafed
midnight, where the small insect noises drown
in those deep currents that close in my walls.

To me lying near sleep the shuttered blinds
spill in a float of morning colors, wash
and rinse my eyes, disturb the escape of dreams
upon the white awakeness lying beside
my wakening in birdsong and drenched day.

~ Richmond Lattimore

                   

Music by The Magnetic North, “The Bay of Skaill”

“Ignorant free speech often works against the speaker. That is one of several reasons why it must be given rein instead of suppressed.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Oregon Coast 1 by russell.tomlin*

                   

“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday night. Still hot and humid.

Oregon Coast: Huge Surf 11-6-09 by russell.tomlin

First let me say that I have no idea what is going on with my fonts. Everything on my WordPress is smaller. The fonts on my dashboard are smaller, and the internal header sizes that I’ve been using for months are now smaller than before. Please let me know if my pages look funny, or if the formatting seems off.

Now on to other things . . .

I need to preface what I am about to write with a short background story: When I was in charge of the computer labs while teaching in the English department at ODU, I had a run-in with a colleague who had been a bit shirty with the students who worked for me. I fired off a memo to this colleague, and did not listen to my own inner voice, which said, calm yourself first.

We had a tiff. We got over it, but I felt terrible. I learned a valuable lesson: retorts need time to bake properly and should always be allowed to simmer for a while. Or as the old Klingon proverb states: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

However, this is actually not about revenge; this is about justice.

“I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sea Foam Explodes on the Oregon Coast by russell.tomlin

I recently learned that an acquaintance has been making disparaging remarks about me, using my blog as fodder in a smear campaign. Unfortunately, WordPress does not allow blocking of IP addresses, or I would have taken the simplest route. Having said that, I must admit to being a bit peeved that my own words, my precious, precious words were being taken out of context and undergoing armchair psychoanalysis.

Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . .

When I decided to begin this blog, I knew that I was putting myself out there, so to speak, that I was inviting strangers in to take a peek at my life, that I was willingly subjecting myself to possible derision. For these reasons, I have held back (no, really, I have) on certain topics and certain events. Not everything should be open for perusal by anyone who happens to stop by. I have shared information about my family, its workings, its quirks, yet I have respected the privacy of each family member.

On a few occasions, I have written posts that I have deemed too personal, and I have made these posts private.

Occasionally, I have gotten a troll, and Akismet has protected me from a boatload of spam. But there is no protection from a virtual stalker—the individual who has no problem in appropriating sections of my life whole cloth, and then making of that cloth whatever he or she deems appropriate.

This simply will not do. Aside from the blatant bad manners of it all, what has happened borders on defamation. Trust me when I say that I hold my character quite dear, as should we all, and I will not tolerate an assassination of my character or that of any member of my family. Let’s just say cease and desist is now part of my researched vocabulary.

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Big Surf Folds Over on the Oregon Coast 9-6-09 by russell.tomlin

But to be honest, what has me angrier than anything else is that I actually considered making my entire blog private for a bit, and I also considered the possibility of going on hiatus. I was going to allow myself to be cowed; I, who pride myself on my ability to reason intelligently, was going to allow this individual to affect my writing, nay to affect my life.

Nope. Sorry. I refuse to do so.

Nothing makes me angrier than when I get angry at myself, when I start to blame myself for things over which I have no control, and I certainly cannot, nor do I choose to control the actions of another person. Being the staunch believer in free will that I am, I must stand by my convictions, especially when I know that I have not acted inappropriately, that I have not broken any laws, that I have acted only in the best interests of those around me.

So, to be blunt, do with this what you will.

“Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief” ~ The Buddha

Five Layers of Movement by russell.tomlin

These things I will not do:

  • Stop writing out of fear of being misconstrued or in an attempt to calm waters that cannot be quelled.
  • Stand idly by whilst a human being—correction, any human being—is being cowed into submission.
  • Cease in speaking the truth, the truth as I see it, the truth as I know it.
  • Allow myself to write out of anger, nor will I censor myself so that I do not cause offense. Reading blogs is an entirely optional activity, that is the beauty of the Internet: the big X in the upper right hand corner that closes the page, thus ending the discourse.
  • Allow anyone to speak ill of my family under any circumstances.
  • Allow anyone to harm my family under any circumstances.
  • Tolerate personal, private information being disseminated in attempts to smear my good name.
  • Fall prey to the machinations of another individual.
  • Presume to know that which I cannot know; assume that everyone operates under the Golden Rule; resume my petty, vindictive streak which I have worked so hard to overcome.

“The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons: Greed, anger, and delusion.” ~ Bodhidharma

Yachats 10-9-09 by russell.tomlin

These things I vow to do:

  • Continue to be true to myself with no attempts to soft-sell myself or my beliefs.
  • Write and post my blogs as I feel the need.
  • Be a bit more mindful of the dangers that lurk in virtual reality.
  • Continue to work in my own way for truth, justice, and the common good.
  • Share information that I think my reading audience might find interesting, entertaining, or helpful.
  • Be true to my wit, my character, and my personae—both the real and the creative.
  • Remind myself not to allow negative external forces over which I have no control to affect me adversely.
  • Remember my Shakespeare: “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” (Hamlet I,v)
  • Kill them with kindness.

“Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

No Fear by russell.tomlin

I have at my disposal two of the greatest weapons ever given to human kind: my mind and the truth. I have no need to lie or to stretch the truth to suit my needs. I have no desire to become embroiled in an imbroglio not of my making.

I may not have the desire, but that does not mean that I do not remain an estimable force. Having said that, at the end of the day, what I feel now more than any other emotion is pity.

As that old misogynist Nietzsche said, “one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied.”

Music by Meredith Brooks . . . “Bitch”

                   

Hard Night

What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark
this difficult tree?

What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?

The sky whitens, goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.

What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.

~ Christian Wiman

*All images taken from Russell Tomlin’s photostream on Flickr. Many thanks.

“An anxiety for being me, forever trapped in myself, floods my whole being without finding a way out, shaping me into tenderness, fear, sorrow and desolation.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Note: This post was originally intended to be published on October 16.

Abstract 4: Wind on the Tide Pool by russell.tomlin*

                   

“To look at her, you might not guess that inside she is laughing and crying, at her own stupidities and luckiness, and at the strange enigmatic ways of the world which she will spend lifetime trying to learn and understand.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Abstract: Confusion by russell.tomlin

One of the problems with piggy-backing onto someone else’s network is that you are at the mercy of the other person’s network, as in if it (the network) is not available, then you (the piggy-backer) are essentially SOL. Hence, the dearth of posts in recent days.

So it’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve been trying to write a post for days now. Today I finally decided to write in Word and just paste if/when I finally get a network signal.

It’s been a very rough week. About mid-week, my mother was doing much better. She was using the walker several times a day, and seemed to be moving without a lot of pain. I made the mistake of telling her that I thought that if she kept up the progress, I would try to start spending nights at home and coming back at 7:30 in the morning. Ever since I said that, she has been regressing.

I don’t think that she’s aware of the timing, but something subconsciously is not ready for me to leave. Now she’s being difficult about taking her medicine; whereas she never gave me a problem before. The way in which she shuts her mouth and shakes her head reminds me so much of my kids when they were young.

She says that now she hurts all over her body, and she feels weak. I can see, though, that her leg is healing well. Most of the swelling has decreased in her calf, and the swelling around her knee is also visibly less. I know that her back is beginning to feel the strain of the up and down movement from supine to sitting, as well as the tugging that she is doing with her arms.

Is it horrible of me to say that I just want to spend a night in my own bed, with my husband and dogs? I feel horrible for even wishing it, but damn, I’m weary to my bones.

“The dream of reason produces monsters.” ~ Goya, from “Caprices”

Abstract: Harbinger by russell.tomlin

I tried to sleep in my old bedroom, which is directly across the hall from her bedroom, but she turns the television in her room up full blast as soon as she is awake, making it impossible for me to doze an extra hour or two, so I’ve moved back to the couch full time.

Last night was a doozy. I feel asleep around 11, and woke up at 1 a.m. with her calling my name with a sense of urgency. The latest development is an upset stomach (not going to give too many details here). She didn’t feel as if she had enough strength to use the walker to get to the bathroom. We made do (no pun intended). I got her back in bed, and then found myself wide awake, so I cleaned the kitchen and tried to find something on television to watch.

In the midst of all of this Earl Grey, the cat, managed to sneak into the house. Once I positioned myself on the couch, he decided that he wanted to sleep on my feet. Have I mentioned that I am allergic to cats. It used to be unbearable, but over the years, I can tolerate mild exposure without having a full-blown asthma attack. However, I was so spent, that I didn’t even fight with the cat, and let him sleep on my feet until the wee hours of the morning, whereupon both he and Willow (the dog) both decided that they needed to be let out at 7:15.

I’ll bet that you are absolutely agog with envy over the situation that is now my life.

“The greatest mania of all is passion and I am a natural slave to passion: the balance between my brain and my soul and my body is as wild and delicate as the skin of a Ming vase.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson, The Curse of Lono

Abstract: Leaves Over Frantic Water by russell.tomlin

Anyway, today is another day, and for the first time in days, no television is on in the house; the animals are about their business, and my mother is sound asleep. The silence is wonderful, but I think that I am a bit unnerved by it; having had a full frontal assault on my senses for weeks now, I think that I am equating the silence with a bit of trepidation: as in, it’s too quiet; something is bound to happen to break this stillness.

The other thing that is happening simultaneously is that Corey’s mom is due to arrive anytime today. He is madly cleaning, while I am over here waiting for Alexis to come and relieve me so that I can help Corey. A few days ago, I spent a couple of hours at home, during which I scrubbed the kitchen all over (except the floor), did a load of laundry, and cleaned the bathroom.

Since I am not at home, all of my nervous energy has been directed at keeping my mother’s home spotless, so when I went in the door to my own home, everything looked and smelled funky. We have made a valiant effort in the past six months or so to keep the house tidy, but my fat, gay, mama’s boy Jack Russell Shakes has taken my desertion of the home front quite personally, and has been marking a lot of territory out of spite.

Hence, the funky smell.

I’m not going to be able to spend very much time with Corey’s mom as things in this house change so drastically from one moment to the next. We are hoping to get together tomorrow evening for dinner. At least she’ll have some quality, one-on-one time with Corey for a few days before she flies back to Ohio.

“I take into my arms more than I can bear to hold
I am toppled by the world
a creation of ladders, pianos, stairs cut into the rock
a devouring world of teeth where even the common snail
eats the heart out of a forest
as you and I do, who are human, at night yet still I take into my arms more than I can bear to hold” ~ Nikolai Gogol, “Old-World Landowners” 

Abstract: Rocks Like Flowers Below the Blue by russell.tomlin

Did I mention that the judge who oversaw my Social Security hearing decided against me? Yep, my long string of lousy luck continues to hold sway. I allowed myself to think that the hearing had gone very well, and was even thinking about how wonderful it would be to be able to receive Medicare, only because it would mean the end of extremely high health insurance payments.

No joy. I had a long conversation with the lawyer who represented me, and she said that all of the cases that she presented before this particular judge were denied. Luck of the draw. She reassured me that I had done well in the hearing, but said that this judge does not really considered people to be disabled unless they have stage 4 cancer and are near death.

The judge’s ruling was quite slanted of course and made me out to be a slacker. Understandably, I was quite upset as I feel that he took so many things out of context. The next step is up to me, I can try to appeal, which can take up to another year and a half, or I can just give up and continue to receive benefits from the insurance company.

I told the lawyer that I want to appeal, mostly because I’m stubborn, but more because I’m pissed. The other thing about the appeal is that I don’t have to do any work on this end. It’s all done by the company representing me since they are actually representing the insurance company, and the insurance company would like nothing better than for me to move from their rolls to Social Security’s rolls.

Biggest drawback: There is a good chance that my new hearing will be before the same judge. How is that new, I ask you . . .

But then, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be my life, now would it?

More later. Peace.

Music by Damien Rice, “Cold Water”

*All images taken with permission from russell.tomlin’s Flckr pages.