“Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Cedar Waxwing and Berries in Snow

                   

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” ~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, early evening. Cold.

It’s hovering around 40° F; yesterday it was 78° F. That’s how it’s been for the past five or six days. One day, unseasonably warm winter temps, and the next day, temps at least 30 to 40 degrees lower than the day before. I seem to have developed a scratchiness to my voice. Could be the temperature fluctuations, or it could be pollen. Then again, it could just be Wisconsin Governor Walker grating on my nerves (and why is the mainstream media totally ignoring the Wisconsin situation?)

Just for fun, I thought that I would interrupt regular posting to insert Jon Stewart’s latest commentary on the Wisconsin happenings:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Crisis in Dairyland – Angry Curds – The Daily S…, posted with vodpod 

We now resume regular posting . . .

Sharing a Perch in the Snow

Today I had the first of three gastro tests to try to find out why my system does not work like a normal person. I’m not even going to list the name of the test that I had to undergo. Suffice it to say that personal privacy and boundaries are not respected during this test and that it involved barium, which, if you have never been near this contrast medium, you should thank the powers that be as barium is made of chalk and bird poop, which is what gives it its lovely white consistency and delectable flavor . . .

Thankfully, I did have two really great radiology technicians, which helps the nerves. Next test involves having to swallow a contrast marker and then have x-rays taken on day five; I already swallowed the marker last week because the woman in the doctor’s office did not tell me not to take the marker before today’s test, which means that I have to do it all over again. Third test involves putting a tube in my nose for 24 hours. Just typing that makes me shudder, no lie.

February was spent in a haze of doctor’s appointments. Little wonder that it is the first of March, but my brain is still January-engaged.

“The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Snowy Owl by John H. Gavin

Two Fridays ago I had my eye exam, the first one I’ve had in a couple of years. It was only after this exam that I found out that the vision rider for which I am paying is essentially worthless. “Well it covers this, but there is a fitting fee . . . but if you want to get glasses, then you have to pay $80 for the contacts today, but if you want contacts, then we deduct this and add that and if you’re really lucky, on the full moon, you can wish for glasses or contacts, but not both. Whatever.

I went back last Friday for the optometrist to check the contacts that she had prescribed. I told her that I was having problems seeing out of my left eye. We talked for a few minutes about my previous experiences with contacts, and she said—I kid you not—”Well, you are older now, and your eyes are older, so you can’t expect to see the way that you used to.”

Really? No shit? I’m older? Thank you so much for that moment of truth. I was completely unaware that I had gotten older. In her favor, she just seems like a very matter-of-fact person, not snotty, just telling it like it is.

So my old eyes tried another contact prescription. I could tell before I left the waiting room that they weren’t working. Another hop onto the exam chair (which is really hard to do, hopping, that is, when you’re old), and we decided to go with two different lenses: near vision in the left eye, and distance in the right eye. I was certain that my brain would rebel, but it actually works perfectly. I can see everything on the dash in the car, and I can see the computer screen. I always find it beneficial to see the car’s dash, so I’m feeling better. Now I just have to wait for another payday to get updated glasses.

(Oh, this part made me feel old as well). Corey and I were looking at frames, and I picked out a frame that pretty much mirrors my current frame. I know what flatters my face and what is comfortable. Seemed like a no-brainer to me . . . Corey says something along the lines of shouldn’t I try something that is a little more stylish?

What??? My frames are old-fashioned? Is that what you were implying with your comment? Poor man. Simply cannot catch a break. We left Costco with neither of us very happy. As it stands now, I don’t have a clue as to what kind of glasses I want to get. Every pair that I try on leaves me feeling less than attractive. I mean, if Sophia Loren can put her name on a line of glasses frames, why can she not append her visage with the frames? Loren looks cool in glasses. I look like . . . well, probably what I am: a bookish teacher type.

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again.” ~ Frank O’Hara

Blue Jay on Ice

In other news, remember that poetry contest that I entered? Well, I didn’t win, but I was a finalist. Pretty cool, huh?

Now if I were an optimist with a good self-image, I might see this as a sign that I should probably work on my craft more and actively work on sending things out for review. However, we all know that this is not the case, so my immediate first thoughts were, “A finalist? Are you kidding me? Did you not have a lot of entries?”

A Poet Reflects, the blog that hosted the contest, asked poet Allen Braden to judge the contest, which is why it took longer to find out the results.  I had decided that because so much time had passed between submitting my entry and hearing anything that I was definitely out of the running. This is how my mind works: no news = bad/horrible/catastrophic news.

Anyway, after I received the good news, I got an e-mail requesting that I create an MP3 of myself reading my poem. Seriously? I hate my voice whenever I hear it recorded; it always sounds like a little girl. I don’t mean that I have one of those Jennifer Tilly squeaky, breathless voices, just that I would prefer a Lauren Bacall timbre.

So after I get over the request itself, I realize that I have no idea as to how to create an MP3. I know. I know. It’s really not hard, but what can I say? I panicked. Then I settled down and gave it some thought and realized that Brett’s gaming headphones have a microphone on them. Voila! Recording action can be had.

Several attempts later, I finally came up with a reading with which I was actually pleased, so I shipped it off before I could change my mind. My poem and the reading are supposed to appear on tumblr tomorrow or the next day. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to post them here, although I’m not sure why this blog or that blog really makes a difference. It’s not like I’m beholden to my privacy or anything. I do plan to post some of the other finalists’ poems as well as the winner. Stay tuned.

“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people . . . Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too.” ~ J. D. Salinger

Robin in the Snow by Noël Zia Lee

So that’s how things have been around here for the past week or so. Each time that I’ve sat down to write a post, something has kept me from achieving said goal. For example, on Friday night/Saturday morning, I didn’t fall asleep until 9:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I felt less than creative on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was not much better. I have been trying to put up a few small things here and there (I loved the no elephants picture).

Meanwhile, Corey has already lost two shifts this week, but last week he worked 55 hours. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If I were responsible for scheduling these people for shifts, I would make darn sure there was more balance. I mean, that’s one of the things I had to do in retail, schedule over 50 people at a time, and believe me, it’s not easy.

Speaking of retail, a Marshall’s is opening in the shopping center just down the road; I’m talking a mile away. Part of me longs to apply for a management position there, but who am I kidding? Retail management means working at least 50 to 60 hours a week, and a lot (emphasis on lot) of physical labor. How do you think those clothes get on those racks? Oh well, I can wish.

Not much new on the kids’ front. Spring break is sometime in March. Neither son has anything exciting planned (that I know about). Alexis? Well, that’s a post all by itself and a subject that I’m honestly not up to dealing with at the moment. So that’s it for now.

By the way, I have changed the name of my tumblr from “Slow Dancing in Quicksand” to “Frenzy and Lightning,” which is the url. It just seemed to make more sense, at least, to me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

“Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar” ~ Jim Butcher

“Flight of Swans,” by Frank Weston Benson (1951)

                            

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again . . .” ~ Frank O’Hara

Well, hey. How have you been? Long time no words between us . . . 

"The Reader," Frank Weston Benson (1910)

First, my computer died, an unanticipated immediate death, requiring the ordering of parts and much finger crossing. Said computer is still sitting forlorn in the corner of the bedroom, collecting dust and serving as a clothes stand. Ah, such is life. 

Then I appropriated Corey’s computer, which is no easy feat. Adjusted myself to his scratchy mouse and a different corner of the house, this one an apparent heat sink of a spot as all afternoon heat collects in this corner. Not to mention that his computer’s speakers sound tinny, an observation that made Corey reply haughtily, “Well, we can’t all have Bose speakers.” What? Was it something I said? 

Then, the Internet was shut off, so between the breakage, moving, and lack of payment, my posting has been, shall we say, bereft? 

In such a short space of time, summer is waning right outside my door. Oh, it’s still beastly hot, but leaves are beginning to appear on the surface of the pool. Speaking of which, my forays into the pool this summer have been few, not because I have developed an aversion to floating about on water but because the interminable headaches make it hard to be in the heat and bright sun. Tillie the Black Lab has been sure to jump into the pool as much as possible, and I’m sure that it’s only to make me feel better. 

“She would never change, but one day at the touch of a fingertip, she would fall.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir
"Lily Pond," Frank Weston Benson (1923)

As I said in my brief post yesterday, I found my blog’s theme changed when I was finally able to log in. How disconcerting. Apparently, WordPress is updating some themes and deleting others. Mine, which I mistakenly believed was Pressrow, was Cutline, which (as Isaak Mak pointed out—thanks), has been morphed into Coraline. Progress is fine, but change is not always necessarily good. It took me almost two years to switch from the first theme that I had, and now I am breaking in a new theme again. 

Granted for some people this would not present a problem, but I had everything where I wanted it, all of the widgets lined along the right side, a new header photo. Part of the problem, you see, is that I’m still not on my own computer, the repository of my vast folder of images, so I had to search for another image for my header last night. I settled on the one above, but it doesn’t seem quite right. And this blasted typeface seems incredibly big. I wonder if it is or if my eyes are rebelling? 

It seems the family is experiencing its share of computer problems. Brett is supposed to submit a Writing Sample Placement Test to ODU before he can register for his freshman English class. He is most unhappy at this proposition as he believes that having survived several years of IB English should make him qualified to take freshman composition. I agree, but as I explained, everyone has to do it unless they tested out, which he did not. 

To date, he has tried to take this test four times. He has written the essay two times. When he hits submit, the essay disappears, and he is locked out. The last time he wrote the essay I reminded him to copy it and paste it into a blank document so that he wouldn’t have to write it again. Brett, like his mother, becomes stymied by those things he deems unnecessary, this test being one of them. Multiply the process by four, and the result is a very unhappy son. 

Meanwhile, the router, the thingy that connects all of the computers in the house to the Internet and to each other, yep that thingy—continues to go in and out. 

“I want to write like August, to swim in it like a pool and forget the clock hands moving across summer’s face.” ~ Terresa Wellborn
"Rainy Day," Frank Weston Benson (1906)

 What else is new on the home front? I would love to be able to say that I’ve been commissioned to write a screenplay, that Corey has been given his own boat, that my children are all content, that the dogs do not have fleas . . . I would love to be able to say these things, but we all know that I would be lying. 

I’ve been commissioned to do nothing, so I’m thinking about selling Avon online as a way to make a spare bit of cash. Of course, I have to check with my disability people to see if I’m even allowed to do such a thing. Corey still has no boat to call his own, and he is working tirelessly at his port security job. 

Alexis is frayed and exhausted from trying to take care of Jennifer’s paperwork, and son, and still be a good friend. She seems on the verge of tears most of the time, and her visits are just brief enough to drop off her laundry, which Corey has volunteered to do for her so that she has one less thing to worry about. 

Jennifer is home from the hospital, and now, I suppose, we are all in wait mode. Alexis and Jennifer’s brother Christopher are trying to enroll Reilly in the grade school that is just around the corner from my house, which would allow me to walk over and pick him up from school any time needed, and Lex’s Aunt Ann has volunteered to be on the emergency list for Reilly as well. 

I wish that I could say that the outlook is good, that Jennifer is rallying, and the doctors have predicted good things . . . If wishes were fishes . . . 

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer . . . It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” ~ Violette Leduc 
"Dog River, Alabama," Frank Weston Benson (1930)

Everything that I have written so far has been much ado about nothing. I realize that. I also realize that I am once again standing too close to a precipice to peer over the side. Too many things are stirring in the cosmos. Too many things are unsettled and being bandied about like a badminton shuttle (I’m certain that’s spelled correctly, but it looks funny). 

My dreams of late have been filled with babies and confrontation, heated arguments with people in charge, those unknown faces of people who hold power over me. I wake up frantic and in pain after averting physical fights. Last night there was a knife, a group of teenagers who were shooting automatic weapons on a side street in Downtown Norfolk, and a long walk down an alley. I don’t need psychoanalysis to tell me what that means. 

The end of summer used to have a curious coda to it: When I was teaching at ODU, August became a month of frenzied activity, getting ready for school, buying new clothes for everyone, trying to fit in as many activities as possible. Now, it is merely muggy and long. A part of me even misses the chaos of buying school supplies for Eamonn and Brett, the lists, the rush from store to store to find three-prong folders with pockets because all of the stores only have the ones with pockets. Buying a certain kind of pen for Brett, and another for Eamonn. 

Corey, the boys, and I would try to fit in a trip to Busch Gardens, and maybe a trip to the Outer Banks. Those were heady summer days. It all seems to very far away. 

“When you start to live outside of yourself, it all seems dangerous.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
"Red and Gold," Frank Weston Benson (1915)

Now, here with two-thirds of the year gone, I think back to the plans I made at the beginning of the new year, my resolution to myself that this would be the year that I finally did something, that I would make the telephone calls, that I would release the flow of words that are dammed within. 

I have done nothing. I have moved through eight months without gaining any forward motion. If I were to disappear tomorrow, there would be nothing to show the world that I was here except as a mother, as someone’s spouse. My sense of self, though, that would disappear in an instant with me. 

All of the worlds within my mind, all of the stories left untold, all of the lines left unwritten—they would cease to exist, and the fault would be mine alone, a result of my continual, ongoing paralysis of spirit. 

Self-pity is heinous on a bright August afternoon. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Powderfinger, “Nobody Sees”