Thursday thoughts . . .

Thursday evening, scattered thunder storms and warm, 72 degrees.

Today was the perfect day to sit outside and read, which is what I did for a while . . . just about all that I did, actually . . .

“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Schopenhauer as Educator


Music by Amber Run, featuring London Contemporary Voices, “I Found” (Mahogany Sessions)

“The past is always carried into the present by small things.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from Divisadero

“The Fire” (1943, oil on canvas) by René Magritte (reminded me of the California wildfires)

“The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours.” ~ T. S. Eliot, from “Gerontion”

Thursday evening, cloudy and cold, 41 degrees, warming temperatures.

Well, where do I begin this post? So far, I’ve kept it light, telling you a bit about our move, the mountains, the animals, but I haven’t touched on how we ended up here, which is a long and convoluted story, one that cannot be shared in its entirety because other people deserve their privacy, even if I put everything about myself down here. So let me go back, back to 2017.

Last year began one of the absolute worst times of my life, I mean, ranking right up there with the loss of Caitlin, the loss of my father, the loss of my mother. Emotionally, we began 2017 on what can only be described as a roller coaster in hell, and it only got  much worse. I don’t mean to be cryptic, but I’m not going into specifics; I just wanted to set the mood a bit.

“The False Mirror” (1928, oil on canvas)
by René Magritte

Suffice it to say that by the middle of the year, I had, not by my choice, officially—emotionally and somewhat physically—lost any contact with either of my sons, and contact with my daughter was fraught at best. Perhaps I should backup even more. If I’m going to tell some of this, I need to go back more, back to that time in which, for various reasons, younger son chose not to have much to do with  me, and older son followed suit, more by accident than deliberation, I think.

Eldest son has always been independent, and he has been closer to his dad than to me since about the age of 13 or 14. His dad exited our lives when the boys were only 7 and 6 respectively, but he did his visitation regularly, always paid his support, so I’m not slamming him here, just stating facts. Anyway, eldest son has much in common with his father, some good and some bad, as we all tend to be, so I was not entirely surprised that once eldest moved out for good, I didn’t see or hear from him regularly, not that it didn’t wound me or that I didn’t miss him tremendously, just saying it wasn’t a surprise.

But separation from youngest son? That wounded me to my very core, and it is still a very fresh wound. I really don’t know if it will ever get easier or better.

“Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling they’re given wings.” ~ Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

Youngest son is also my youngest child, so he was the one who was with me alone after the other two moved out. We did pretty much everything together, watched movies, exchanged books, went to poetry readings and thrift stores, and I always loved how close we were, but life happens, everyone grows up, and nothing stays the same. If that were all that it were, I could accept it. But that’s not it. For various reasons unrelated to me, he began to withdraw, which is not to say that there aren’t reasons related to me because there are. The problem is that I don’t understand a lot of those reasons. I can, however, pare it down to one particular devastating accusation though: He told me that I was abusive, emotionally abusive.

“Memory” (1948, oil on canvas)
by René Magritte

Okay. Well, then . . .

No. Not okay then. Not okay at all. Yes, there are all kinds of ways to be abusive, and god knows that there is an entire generation approaching life through trigger warnings and needing safe spaces, and no, I don’t really understand that either, but whatever. Look, he’s had social anxiety issues for most of his life, and who am I to criticize, hermit and agoraphobic that I am. But I tried many times to help and to get him help, not wanting him to end up like me; nevertheless, he began to deal with other more serious things as he got older, but I always approached him honestly and with all of the understanding that I had, and I always told him that I would love him no matter what, and I have. But apparently, I must have loved him abusively . . . is that even a thing?

I know that helicopter parenting can create a slew of problems, but I never saw myself as a helicopter parent. I tried hard to help when asked, comfort when needed, and to butt out when it warranted. I never said anything to anyone about having the wrong friends or the wrong boyfriends or girlfriends or significant others. I didn’t snoop, even when I really, really wanted to. And I promised myself that I would never break a promise and that I would always try to be truthful. The brutal truth for parents is that ultimately they must step back and watch their sons and daughters make mistakes, watch them fall, and although it is a painful thing to do, it must be done, but that doing is never easy. So what is it that I did, exactly?

I believed to my soul that I owed my kids all of that—truth, love, understanding, and yes, protection. But I never thought that I coddled them. My kids didn’t have everything that they wanted or asked for; they didn’t wear designer clothes; we had some lean Christmases, and we even lived without cable for years (shudder). But they had a solid roof over their head albeit a smaller one with old furniture, and they never went to bed hungry. They weren’t deprived, but neither were they spoiled rotten.

“Memoory” (1948, oil on canvas)
by René Magritte

I’m not claiming to be blameless. Of course I’ve done things. All parents do, even when they don’t really mean to. I’m certain if you asked any of my offspring if I ever screwed up, that they could come at you with a list, and each of those lists would probably not contain that same things. What? I’m only human, after all. But this, this accusation, this statement, whatever it is? I just don’t understand it, and I really, really really want to understand it because the gulf just keeps widening, and as it does, my heart just keeps breaking.

Years ago, when I used to talk about moving to the mountains, I told youngest that he could come and build his own place wherever we went, and when I would daydream about that move, he was always a part of it. But now? He’s hundred of miles away, and the chances that he will ever move here and build his own place are completely non existent.

“Don’t you get tired of wanting
to live forever?
Don’t you get tired of saying Onward?” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Circe/Mud Poems”

I know that I began this post talking about 2017 and how we actually ended up here in the mountains on 100+ acres, trying to live the dream, but it looks like I’m going to have to come back to that later because this has morphed into a post about parents and children, and loss and heartache and . . . yep, all of that and so much more.

“Secret Life IV” (1928, oil on canvas)
by René Magritte

Suffice it to say that the entire family on all sides went through emotional hell, and there are some wounds that may never heal. Corey and I have only very recently begun to allow ourselves to attempt to move on and get along with our lives, but all of that crap about resolution? Resolution is a gift, and some receive it, and others do not, and a great deal depends upon the individual, so you can rightly assume that I do not feel that resolution has been bestowed upon me.

But as for youngest son, I no longer contact him, and that is as he wishes, not as I wish. Does that mean that I don’t want to every hour of every single fricking day? Need I bother to answer? But again, it’s that thing of trying to respect your child’s wishes because that child is no longer a child, is no longer the unexpected miracle of your life, no longer the boon companion of years previous.

“And if you are not a bird, then beware of coming to rest above an abyss.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from unpublished fragments dating to June-July 1883

Look, it’s November, for me the time of bad anniversaries, and the holidays are upon us, and as usual, it’s the beginning of my annual dive into the depths of my personal abyss, so here I am. And even as I type these word, I wonder to myself will I actually post this? Will I really put this out there? And the answer is . . . I have no idea.

I came back to this forum recently for several different reasons:

The political climate and the state of our democracy made me want to rant, really, really rant.

The new location seemed to afford me a new beginning, so I wanted to talk about that and all that it encompasses.

“Clairvoyance (Self Portrait)(1936, oil on canvas)
by Rene Magritte

But mostly, I missed it. Admittedly, I missed the small group of regular who always had something to say to me. But more than that, I missed me. I missed the me that sat down and just let the words flow like water from an open faucet. I missed the me that not only felt things deeply but who also shared those feelings. And mostly, I suppose, I missed the me that took great care in creating this personal space that was mine alone, mine to do with whatever I deemed worthy or appropros, regardless of who I offended or who I enraged, regardless of who I might alienate.

Honestly, I don’t want to alienate or offend anyone, but I refuse to self censor. Ever. What I will do, from this point on, is be more respectful of other’s privacy. That I will do, but that is my only concession. What is the point of having a personal blog that isn’t personal? Everything else just seems like time wasting, like gathering wool, as it were.

And so in beginning again, in returning to this forum, I feel, no, I need to talk about my own truths. I need to work through what I can with my words. If that is callous or heartless, then I apologize for that, but I won’t change the words, any more than I could change my inner core of being. The truth is that most people who create are patently self-absorbed. I am no different. So to the question of whether I will post this . . .

Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Ben Abraham, “This is On Me,” featuring Sara Bareilles


Black Maps

Not the attendance of stones,
nor the applauding wind,
shall let you know
you have arrived,

nor the sea that celebrates
only departures,
nor the mountains,
nor the dying cities.

Nothing will tell you
where you are.
Each moment is a place
you’ve never been.

You can walk
believing you cast
a light around you.
But how will you know?

The present is always dark.
Its maps are black,
rising from nothing,
describing,

in their slow ascent
into themselves,
their own voyage,
its emptiness,
the bleak temperate
necessity of its completion.
As they rise into being
they are like breath.

And if they are studied at all
it is only to find,
too late, what you thought
were concerns of yours

do not exist.
Your house is not marked
on any of them,
nor are your friends,

waiting for you to appear,
nor are your enemies,
listing your faults.
Only you are there,

saying hello
to what you will be,
and the black grass
is holding up the black stars.

~ Mark Strand

 

“I’m up to my ears in unwritten words.” ~ J.D. Salinger, excerpt from a letter to Jean Miller

 


“I feel a stupefying pressure under my skin. I want to pierce everything and penetrate as far down as possible. I want to reach the depths of the earth. My love is there, in the place where seeds grow green and roots reach one another, and creation perpetuates itself amidst decay. It’s as if my body were a temporary and transient form of it. I want to reach its source. I want to hang my heart like a ripened fruit on all the branches of the trees.” ~ Forugh Farrokhzad, from Another Birth and Other Poems

 Wednesday evening. Hazy, hot and humid, 95 degrees.

I’m on day three of this prednizone run for this particular intractable migraine episode, and the pain had gotten better, but I fear the heat is going to muck things up.

It’s hot. It’s ungodly hot. It’s Hades hot. It’s volcanic hot (well, perhaps not quite). It’s so hot that when I look at the ground I see waves, bands of heat floating above the asphalt. We’ve been out in the heat for two days now, today in Brett’s car with its dying AC. So frigging hot. The driving test will have to be redone. Nerves. But we found a doggy companion for Brett to take with him, a good pick, a real sweetie of a dog at the Norfolk Animal Care center. I think a dog is just what he needs, for so many reasons, which I won’t go into now because it’s hot, and like that witch, I’m mellltttingggggggg……

Gah. It’s hot. No breeze. No storms. Just putrifying, paralyzing hotter than hot heat, and we haven’t even topped 100 yet (we always do).

Did I mention I don’t do hot well? Probably? Well, it bears repeating. The heat and the accompanying sun kill my head. The heat makes me nauseous, makes me not want to eat, only drink cold sweaty things in tall glasses. I feel like squirting my whole body with lemon juice, which for some reason seems that it would be cooling, but would probably just attract insects.

” . . . throw roses into the abyss and say: ‘here is my thanks to the monster who didn’t succeed in swallowing me alive.’” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Behhhh. It’s too hot to get in the pool. Truly. The pool water is like bathwater, and the sun is well, sun, you know, bright, and all of that.

I don’t really have anything to say, other than my running commentary on the weather, my happiness for Brett’s canine adoption, my looming anxiety over the ensuing move, and a deep-seated desire for central air that I could set on 65 degrees. Also, I think/know that I’m sad about all of the doggies that I had to leave behind at the shelters because, well, another dog here? No, not quite. Have to wait until we have a place with some land, and trees, and goats . . . yep, rambling. Heat makes my mind turn to pudding and then shut down.

If I were alone, I would take off all of my clothes, lay atop my bed sheets, and just melt, well, perhaps alternately melt and hydrate.

On that note, I think I’ll stop. Oh, just one more thing:

It’s too damned hot to leave an animal in a car with the windows just slightly down, and I really shouldn’t have to tell you that you don’t leave children in hot cars, and if the sidewalk is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your animals.

People please, brains much?

More later. Peace.

All images reflect the state of my brain today.

Music by Nirvana, “Lake of Fire” (unplugged)

                   

The Ordinary Weather of Summer

In the ordinary weather of summer
with storms rumbling from west to east
like so many freight trains hauling
their cargo of heat and rain,
the dogs sprawl on the back steps, panting,
insects assemble at every window,
and we quarrel again, bombarding
each other with small grievances,
our tempers flashing on and off
in bursts of heat lightning.
In the cooler air of morning,
we drink our coffee amicably enough
and walk down to the sea
which seems to tremble with meaning
and into which we plunge again and again.
The days continue hot.
At dusk the shadows are as blue
as the lips of the children stained
with berries or with the chill
of too much swimming.
So we move another summer closer
to our last summer together—
a time as real and implacable as the sea
out of which we come walking
on wobbly legs as if for the first time,
drying ourselves with rough towels,
shaking the water out of our blinded eyes.

~ Linda Pastan


 

P.S.

“The loveliest things in life are but shadows; they come and go, and change and fade away . . .” ~ Charles Dickens, from Martin Chuzzlewit

Kayama Matazo A Thousand Cranes 1970 color on silk, pair of six-folded screens
“A Thousand Cranes” (1970, color on silk, pair of six folded screens) by Kayama Matazo

                   

“I heard the steady sound of rain
and the soft lapping of water, and did not know
whether it was grief or joy or something other
that surged against my heart
and held me listening there so long and late.” ~ Peter Everwine, from “Rain”

Monday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 37 degrees.

Well, it’s been another long stretch between posts. As you can probably understand (or perhaps not), I haven’t had the wherewithal to write. I sit down here at my computer, and then I do one of three things: look online for books or makeup or whatever; take care of more of my mother’s affairs; play spider solitaire.

Kayama Matazo Moon 1983
“Moon” (1983) by Kayama Matazo

This morning when I awoke, I seriously thought of just staying in bed, never leaving, but my back hurt, and I needed to stretch, and besides, coffee . . .

My emotions go up and down and up and down, they swoop and swirl like the starlings’ murmurings, but without the natural beauty. I would like to be a bird, to float on the air, to move like that, to concentrate only on the concerns of eating, moving, and surviving, which, I suppose, is what life is, after all.

Sometimes, I sit in the bath at night with nothing but the candlelight, and I cry, sometimes softly, sometimes loudly, but I try to reserve the loud crying for times during which I am alone as I know that it gets to Brett and Corey. Sometimes, though, I just sit there, forget where I am or what I’m doing. I will tell you something truthfully: I did not anticipate how very much my mother’s death would affect me. I only have one message on my voice mail from her, and it’s the one in which she apologizes for forgetting my birthday. Do not ask how many times I have tortured myself listening to it.

“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost—the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.” ~ David Levithan, from Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Yesterday I went to one of those jewelry parties at my cousin’s house. It was nice to be invited, but I felt clumsy in my skin. All of these women, having easy conversations, laughing, smiling, sharing stories. I sat next to my aunt, and when she wasn’t there, I buried myself in catalogs, pretending to peruse the items.

I do not do socialization with strangers well.

Kayama Matazo Waves in Spring and Autumn 1966
“Waves in Spring and Autumn” (1966) by Kayama Matazo

I forced myself to stay for two hours, getting up, looking, nibbling, and when I thought I had been polite, I ordered the jewelry that I could not afford, thanked my hostess, and left.

Don’t get me wrong, I was so excited to receive the invitation. I sent my RSVP back immediately, and I tried to convince Alexis to go with me (she didn’t). I don’t know what I expected of myself, but I was unprepared for how unprepared I was. As you know, I do not leave the house much unless circumstances force me to, or someone in my family needs something. Perhaps I have forgotten how to socialize. People who knew me years ago would be astonished at the change. When I was much younger, I always had a circle about me; I could be lively, engaging even.

But now . . . I just don’t know, and the not knowing makes me want to hide even more.

“And I still don’t know if I’m a falcon,
a storm, or an unfinished song.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Ich lebe mein Leben in waschsenden Ringen (I live my life in widening circles)”

I have to admit, my unintentional leave of absence from this blog and from tumblr has helped in some ways. I do not remember the last time I went through my tumblr dashboard. I miss some parts of it—finding new artists, new quotes, new poems—but I am relieved from the sense of obligation that I imposed upon myself, that if I missed a few days, I would not stop until I had caught up, going back for days to see what I had missed.

Kayama Matazo Moon 1978 color on paper
“Moon” (1978, color on paper) by Kayama Matazo

As far as being here, though, that was something else. I just didn’t know what to say, and so I said . . .

nothing . . .

An old family friend called me on my mother’s birthday, but I wasn’t answering the phone that day. She left a lovely message, told me she was thinking about me, about my mom, that she loved me. I haven’t returned the call, probably won’t. Not because I don’t appreciate the words, but more that I just don’t think that I have words of my own.

The plan was to have a family dinner on Sunday the 16th, celebrate Eamonn’s birthday, and distribute some of mom’s ashes at both cemeteries (dad’s and Caitlin’s). The plan fell apart. Eamonn was too hungover. We had pizza with Lex, Mike, and Brett, and then on Monday, I made homemade spaghetti for Eamonn per his request. And then the weather got nasty again, and we decided just to postpone the ashes.

They are still in the trunk of my car. And I know that it might seem that that’s a horrible place for them, but I find it comforting, somehow. It’s my mother’s car, and she’s still in it.

Too weird?

“Write with blood, and you will find that blood is spirit.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

This week I have doctors’ appointments, and I need to finish wrangling with more of my mother’s affairs, the federal government and GEICO—both of which make me nauseous just to think about. Last week I set up a new insurance policy on her house, and this past weekend Brett spent the weekend in the house. We moved Earl Grey the cat to Alexis’s house, and he seems to have adapted well, so now the house is quiet when we walk in.

Kayama Matazo Flowers 1978 color on paper
“Flowers” (1978, color on paper) by Kayama Matazo

My mother’s house was never quiet. She could not abide silence, which is why at any given time of the night or day you would find the television blaring. But now? Nothing. That is another strange part.

I don’t know. Telephone calls, messages, policies, whatever. Today, I just cannot do it. I just cannot muster what it takes to head once more into the fray, yet I cannot help but feel guilty that I am not taking care of these things. My mother was such a stickler for paying everyone on time, early, never ever late, but I’ve run out of money. I’ve paid everything except for a couple of small things, but it’s the doing that is getting to me. The actual act of doing something.

Pardon me, please. I seem to be saying a whole lot of nothing.

“but I have the kind of patience
born of indifference and hate.

Maybe the river and I share this.” ~ Michael McGriff, from “Catfish”

The other morning when Tillie had awakened me around 4 a.m. to go out, I stood at the door and listened to the birds’ morning songs. I heard a new sound that I have never heard before. I stood there for a while and listened, and then I thought that I should probably record the sound so that I could find out what it was. I finally found my phone, went to the door, and the sound stopped.

Kayama Matazo Going to see cherry blossoms at night 1982
“Going to See Cherry Blossoms at Night” (1982) by Kayama Matazo

I don’t remember what it was, or why I was so enchanted by it. I had thought that it might be a bat, but I listened to some bat sounds online, and that doesn’t seem to be it. I know that we get bats in this area, but I’ve never seen one.

Anyway, I had forgotten how much I love the predawn bird song, something I used to love to listen to when my insomnia was in high gear. There is something beautiful about that hour, when the sounds of cars and trucks are almost non existent, the noise of people is tempered, and only the birds and night creatures hold sway.

The house is dark and still. Everyone else is deep in sleep. Just the dogs, me, and the birds. For that brief spell, it is almost perfect.

The only thing missing is the sound of water.

More later. Peace.

All images by Japanese artist Kayama Matazo (1927-2004)

Music by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”

                   

The Piano Chord Most Adjacent to the Inexpressible

The piano chord most adjacent to the inexpressible is the
one that dissolves into flocks of flying birds

The tree as it moves through the breeze most
adjacent to conducting the sonorous
filaments of the air stands as tall as a
doorman to an entranceway to the eternal mysteries

The desert most adjacent to spiritual enlightenment is the
one whose dunes yesterday don’t resemble its
dunes today and whose dunes today
have slopes and dips totally ocean-like and unlike any of its
dunes tomorrow

The rain is finally falling after a month of drought
little earth-lips opening to drink in each drop
and the song each water-drinking element sings
resembles the chorus of an ancient opera sung among
cataclysmic rocks above tumultuous seas

There are no people in this poem
they are either asleep or haven’t been born yet
but the sound in the landscape most adjacent to the
deep heartfelt human voice
is the night-cricket seeming to long for a mate wherever
it may happen to hear its lament repeated
incessantly but melodiously through the dark

So like us
in catastrophe or anti-catastrophe
calling out to space from our centrifugal loneliness
with a voice most adjacent to the
silent nuzzling feeler to feeler of ants meeting from
opposite directions
and lights beaming from north and south and brightly
blending somewhere over the
Arctic in a purple and scarlet shivering aurora borealis
whose ripples are most adjacent to the
music of the spheres hanging down into the
visible from the invisible heavens whose
radiant flowing draperies curving through the folding air
they are

~ Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

“Notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of Nature.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

TomThomson-Moonlight-and-Birches-1916-17
“Moonlight and Birches” (1916-17?, oil on wood panel)
by Tom Thomson

                   

“We’re all, all of us in this world soon to spoil.
Copper leaves are tumbling coyly from the maples . . .
World-weary drifter, be forever grateful
To have faded fast, in early petalfall.” ~ Sergei Esenin, from “No crying, calling out, complaining . . .” (trans. James Stotts)

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy, and cool, 53 degrees.

So Thanksgiving is over, and it has taken me three days to recover. On Friday I awoke feeling as if my entire body had been slammed against a wall repeatedly. My fingers were so swollen that I feared I may have to have my wedding band cut off, and just walking was painful and tiring. I spent a lot of time in bed feeling sorry for myself and hoping that I wasn’t in the beginning of some kind of flu or virus.

Tom Thomson Autumn Foliage 1916 oil on wood
“Autumn Foliage” (1916, oil on wood)
by Tom Thomson

Saturday was a bit better only in that the swelling was gone, but it still hurt to walk, and I had a vicious sore throat. Really?

I find this turn of events completely exasperating and uncalled for . . .

Corey made me homemade chicken soup last night, which was delicious as always. Today I’m not planning to try to accomplish much of anything other than this post, and possibly writing another chapter to Mari.

“The old grieving autumn goes on calling to its summer
the valley is calling to other valleys beyond the ridge
each star is roaring alone into darkness
there is not a sound in the whole night” ~ W.S. Merwin, from “Lights Out”

I signed up for a Christmas card exchange on tumblr, something I have never done. I’ve received the names of five individuals from all over, and I’m supposed to send cards with the idea being that I’ll receive some cards as well. I thought that it was a fairly easy way to extend holiday greetings, and it fills my need to receive cards at Christmas, especially since so few people actually take the time to send cards any more, a trend that I find completely vexing.

Tom Thomson The Jack Pine 1916
“The Jack Pine” (1916-17, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

Last night I had troubling dreams about Alexis, Mike and Olivia, but I know it’s because they are driving back from Mississippi, and in the back of my mind I am anxious. Holiday travel is always iffy; two different people in my family have been involved in holiday-related accidents, both serious, and it’s one of the reasons I really don’t like to travel during the holidays, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Anyway, they are due back this afternoon, so fingers crossed.

” . . . from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn—that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness—that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” ~ Jane Austen, from Persuasion

Corey got the results from his blood work that was done for his work physical. His levels are just a bit high in four places, but not with his albumin levels, so that was a false positive. His white blood cells are a bit elevated, but it’s well within 5 percent of the normal range, which, from everything I’ve read, is fine. If they were very low, or very high, I would be concerned. I’m hoping that it all means nothing and that it’s not enough to keep him from getting the job.

Tom Thomson In the Northland oil on canvas 1922
“In the Northland” (1915, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

I know that he’s stressing out, and we’re both hoping that nothing interferes with this job. Although it does us no good to worry about such things, that doesn’t stop the worrying. Although I can say that because I’ve had unusual reading on my blood panels before in different areas, I’m hoping that it’s a whole lot of nothing.

Does that make sense?

“He says a word,
and I say a word—autumn
is deepening.
” ~ Kyoshi Takahama

By the way, Happy December—it’s snowing on my blog!

I know that it’s officially not winter until the 21st of December (winter solstice), but why does it always feel as if it’s winter when November disappears and we turn the calendar page to December? Perhaps it’s because the beauty that is fall has pretty much passed by December? I mean, most of the trees that bore beautiful cloaks of amber and gold are moving towards being bare by December. Is that why we rush the seasons alone?

Tom Thomson The Pine Tree 1915 oil on board
“The Pine Tree” (1915, oil on board)
by Tom Thomson

I just know that once November is gone, and all of the bad anniversaries have passed, I start to feel different somehow, a little less depressed, a bit more able to move from the past to the present. Although admittedly, I never quite make the leap completely.

I have been trying to tell myself over and over again to live in the moment because it all goes so very quickly, you see? The days move down to dust far faster than we realize . . . what was I saying about being less depressed? Oh well, you know what I mean.

“I’m watching the last of summer
as the leaves begin to curl
in invisible fire
and I want to tell you
just one thing, it is not urgent,
over and over again.” ~ Paul Guest, from “Practice”

Between feeling ill and not having any money we were unable to take advantage of any of the holiday sales to buy Christmas presents, something we try to do each year. Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to venture out to stores in December, something I’m not terribly fond of doing. People are insane in December, have you noticed?

TomThomson-The-Pool-c1915
“The Pool” (1915-16, oil on canvas)
by Tom Thomson

I watched some clip of Black Friday in a Wal-Mart, and it was idiotic. What was particularly weird was that the guy who filmed the fray was asked to leave the store, but not the people who were pushing and grabbing. You can stay in our store if it means you will spend money no matter how you manage to do it, but you have to leave if you attempt to put out to the world what goes on here . . . yep, another reason why I just love Wal-Mart.

I was thinking about it, and it really just hit me: these people are willing to do physical harm to complete strangers, and why? Because it’s a great price on a widescreen TV? Because you can get that gaming system for 50 percent off? Oh, of course. It makes so much more sense when I consider it that way—a bargain is worth the trade-off of your dignity . . .

More later. Peace.

P.S. Here’s hoping that John recovers from his surgery without any complications and is on the road to recovery swiftly.

*All image are by Canadian artist Tom Thomson (August 5, 1877 – July 8, 1917), who is widely associated with the Group of Seven

Music by Radiohead, “The Tourist”

                   

Descent

Gian Giacomo Caprotti  to Leonardo Da Vinci

The money gone, I followed you
to the edge of love—only to find the city
sinking. Streets lit with dawn’s blue
ashes. But it was the flecks of amber
slipping between the chimneys
that had us running. Dim alleys leading
to nowhere—or water. Then
the Piazza San Marco opening
the Mediterranean. That sudden
brightness. Pigeons crumbling
from the angels’ rusted shoulders
in the hour before Venice vanished
beneath the crowd. Hour of birdsong
falling like pebbles on the promenade.
And the year’s first widow chanting a new
god’s name into the sea. Her body a stitch
in the shore. Brief inventor, make me
new again. For the heart fails not in its breaking
but the tightening. For the sun came on.
The plaza erupted in panels of blood.
And you were still my king. And I, still—
your king.

~ Ocean Vuong

 

“The mind is constantly trying to figure out what page it’s on in the story of itself.” ~ Ikko Narasaki

Egon Schiele Trees Mirrored in a Pond 1907
“Trees Mirrored in a Pond” (1907, oil on cardboard)
by Egon Schiele

                   

“You will either step forward into growth or back into safety.” ~ Abraham Maslow

Saturday afternoon. Sunny and too warm, 84 degrees.

So I just spent the better part of the morning getting this blog caught up. I know. I know. It’s been a week since my last post. Such a week.

Hermann Max Pechstein Autumn Sea 1933
“Autumn Sea” (1933, oil on canvas)
by Hermann Max Pechstein

First, let me start off by saying it’s too damned hot for October. We already owe Virginia Power our souls because of running the AC, so I’d really like a break from that whole routine. You know? But no. Hot and humid equal need for AC, otherwise, I sweat and get too hot, and my head begins to hurt more. Plus, my esse is already acclimated for fall.

Speaking of heads, the migraine still hasn’t left completely. My pain management doctor thinks it’s so bad because it’s time for Botox again. Who knows. All I know is that light hurts and the pain is constant, although with the levels abating.

Also speaking of heads, it should be illegal to go to a pain management center wearing a smelly perfume. I walked into the waiting room and was immediately assaulted by a powerful fragrance. I haven’t been laid low by a perfume so badly since Giorgio was popular. Before the doctor got to my room, I was hanging my head over the sink splashing cold water on my face, trying not to throw up. It’s been that kind of week.

“I might enjoy being an albatross, being able to glide for days and daydream for hundreds of miles along the thermals. And then being able to hang like an affliction round some people’s necks.” ~ Seamus Heaney, from the Art of Poetry No. 75

Two hours between the last sentence and this one. I have a feeling that this post may take me well into the night. I want to write, but concentrating is hard. I’m in the midst of another bout of insomnia—difference this time is that I can fall asleep but not stay asleep. Yesterday I was fully awake at 7 a.m., and by 7:30 I was organizing the hall closet. Insomnia + OCD makes for a very bad situation.

Boats at Night 1947 by Patrick Heron 1920-1999
“Boats at Night” (1947, oil on wood)
by Patrick Heron

Today I am trying to force myself to sit here and finish something, but I keep getting distracted. Our neighbor across the street who helps when Corey is away came over to help me figure out why my water pressure was down to nothing. Yesterday the city was out in the street between our two houses working on the pipes. His water is fine, but mine is down to a trickle. Of course, I cannot get the city back out here until Monday.

I heard them out there working, but was in the midst of a meltdown and didn’t bother to go outside and investigate, so by the time I really noticed that the water was almost non-existent, the crew had already left. Friday afternoon, after all.

So I was sure I would be able to get to sleep early last night because I haven’t pulled an 18-hour day in years, but no . . . it was not to be.

The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Sonnets of Orpheus, trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Marcy

Last night I had the strangest dream: I opened the door, and Corey was there. He had gotten home and surprised me. But it wasn’t Corey; I mean, it was, but physically, it was my Catholic boyfriend Johny. Corey/Johny had come home, but he had brought his entire platoon with him.

Cecilia Beaux Half-Tide, Annisquam River 1905
“Half-Tide, Annisquam River” (1905, oil on canvas)
by Cecilia Beaux

There was a reception, and at the bar there were all of these orange alcoholic shots in test tubes stuck in crushed ice. Surreal image, but it matches the field of sliced carrots that appeared later in the dream (don’t ask).

Several of the women from the platoon were surprised that I was there as they were unaware that Corey was married. But after the platoon in its entirety departed, I found a stash of medicine that belonged to one of the women, and I was worried that she had left without her medicine. Then one of Corey’s friends from the unit offered to take the medicine to her, but I didn’t trust him to do it. Michelle Rodriguez (the actor) made an appearance in her usual role of tough female.

It was all just too, too, bizarre.

Your only problem, perhaps, is that you scream without letting yourself cry.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Elmer Nelson Bischoff Boats
“Boats” (1967, oil on canvas)
by Elmer Nelson Bischoff

I’m feeling very in-between: in-between times, in-between moods, in-between states of physical being. There is a restlessness about me that is permeating everything I touch. I begin to do something only to find myself absorbed in some minutiae in less than half an hour. This state is directly tied to my inability to read. I realized that two whole months have passed without my immersing myself in a single book. A very unusual state of affairs, to say the least.

It isn’t quite ennui, as I am too frenetic for that. I am reminded vividly of a time during my tenure at ODU (not as in academic tenure, oh no) when I had morning classes to teach, but I found myself at 3 a.m. sitting in the middle of the dining room floor sorting and categorizing coupons. It was a completely inane thing to be doing, yet I could not stop myself.

That is how I find myself now.

I saw my psychiatrist this past week, as well, and we talked about adding a mood stabilizer to my anti-depressant, but I really don’t want to do that. I take far too many medications now, and to add yet another one, to risk more side effects, just seems like a bad route. For now, she prescribed trazodone for me to take at night to help with the sleep. Of course, I have yet to go pick it up from the pharmacy . . .

“If we are to make reality endurable, we must all nourish a fantasy or two.” ~ Marcel Proust from In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 2

Have you noticed how I tend to include water imagery whenever I am feeling restless, leading me to post an image by Dali, one of the few of his that I actually like? A definite correlation, she said, apropos of nothing . . .

Salvador Dali Moonlight over the Bay at Cadaques c1920
“Moonlight over the Bay at Cadaques” (c1920)
by Salvador Dali

Since Corey left this time I have cleaned out and reorganized the front part of the garage in the area of the washer and dryer. I have done some more cleaning in the backyard. I have completely reorganized the hall closet, and I’m about to tackle my closet to do my seasonal switch in sweaters and shoes. I had to force myself not to start on the closet before I sat down to write.

It’s easier mentally to throw myself into a completely mindless project than it is to concentrate on placing one word after another. Speaking of which, I have been referred to a hand surgeon because my ability to use my left hand has diminished so much that writing with a pen is an exercise in pain if I hold the pen for more than a few minutes. Of course, as with most things, I have to go through a bunch of forms and releases before this new specialist will take me on. It almost makes me not want to bother.

Which, of course, leads to the whole health insurance thing. It’s open season for me; I contemplated for about 10 seconds adding Brett to my health insurance (as he still doesn’t have any; ask his father, beh) until I read the chart and saw that it would cost approximately $700 a month to add him. But no, this country does not need affordable health care. But that, my friends, is a topic for another time.

More later. Peace.

Music by Camera Obscura, “Your Picture”

                   

Photograph

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
and when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
and postcards saying
wish you were here

I wish you were here
autumn is the hardest season
the leaves are all falling
and they’re falling like they’re falling in love with the ground
and the trees are naked and lonely
I keep trying to tell them
new leaves will come around in the spring
but you can’t tell trees those things
they’re like me they just stand there
and don’t listen

I wish you were here
I’ve been missing you like crazy
I’ve been hazy eyed
staring at the bottom of my glass again
thinking of that time when it was so full
it was like we were tapping the moon for moonshine
or sticking straws into the center of the sun
and sipping like icarus would forever kiss
the bullets from our guns

I never meant to fire you know
I know you never meant to fire lover
I know we never meant to hurt each other
now the sky clicks from black to blue
and dusk looks like a bruise
I’ve been wrapping one night stands
around my body like wedding bands
but none of them fit in the morning
they just slip off my fingers and slip out the door
and all that lingers is the scent of you
I once swore if I threw that scent into a wishing well
all the wishes in the world would come true
do you remember

do you remember the night I told you
I’ve never seen anything more perfect than
than snow falling in the glow of a street light
electricity bowing to nature
mind bowing to heartbeat
this is gonna hurt bowing to I love you
I still love you like moons love the planets they circle around
like children love recess bells
I still hear the sound of you
and think of playgrounds
where outcasts who stutter
beneath braces and bruises and acne
are finally learning that their rich handsome bullies
are never gonna grow up to be happy
I think of happy when I think of you

so wherever you are I hope you’re happy
I really do
I hope the stars are kissing your cheeks tonight
I hope you finally found a way to quit smoking
I hope your lungs are open and breathing your life
I hope there’s a kite in your hand
that’s flying all the way up to orion
and you still got a thousand yards of string to let out
I hope you’re smiling
like god is pulling at the corners of your mouth
cause I might be naked and lonely
shaking branches for bones
but I’m still time zones away
from who I was the day before we met
you were the first mile
where my heart broke a sweat
and I wish you were here
I wish you’d never left
but mostly I wish you well
I wish you my very very best

~ Andrea Gibson

“The wreckage of stars — I built a world from this wreckage.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Through the Circle of Dionysian Dithyrambs, trans. James Luchte and Eva Leadon

Fall on the Merced by puliarf FCC
Fall on the Merced
by puliarf (FCC)

                   

“I keep remembering—I keep remembering. My heart has no pity on me.” ~ Henri Barbusse, from The Inferno (L’Enfer), trans. Edward J. O’Brien

Sunday morning. Partly cloudy and mild, 66 degrees.

I am forcing myself to sit here and make an honest attempt at a post. I make no promises. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, more that I am in the midst of one of those times in which linear thought is hard. It is much easier to focus on the fact that the furniture should be polished, or perhaps that I should clean the light fixtures—inanity over creativity.

Fall Foliage in Central Park2 NYC by Alakan Dude FCC
Fall Foliage in Central Park, NYC
by Alaskan Dude (FCC)

But I will eschew the temptation to wander into mindlessness.

Perhaps it is better if I approach this as a random thoughts post and see where takes me. So . . .

  • Corey’s ship is due in port this evening. They had to reroute to go around a storm. He is supposed to be in port for five days.
  • He is coming home to sad news: His grandfather died last night.
  • I never really had a grandfather. My mother’s father was in a nursing home, and I only met my dad’s father that one time when we were in the Philippines. The only thing I remember about him was that he was a short man who did not smile.
  • During times like these, I miss my father, miss how much he loved his grandchildren. He would have adored Olivia.
  • I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to finish this as I am filled with longing and grief.

“We are dancing in the hollow of nothingness. We are one flesh, but separated like stars.” ~ Henry Miller, from Tropic of Capricorn

  • I’ve never read Tropic of Capricorn. I don’t know why. I knew someone once who had met Henry Miller at a party. I was so naive at the time that I thought he was talking about Arthur Miller.

    Fall Foliage by C E Kent FCC
    Fall Foliage
    by C E Kent (FCC)
  • When I think about how much I thought I knew then that I didn’t actually know, I cringe a little inside.
  • It’s too bad that we cannot go through our whole lives with the surety of knowing everything that pervades our youth. The years strip us of this blissful ignorance and replace it with the weight of knowledge.
  • I was so self-assured in my 20’s, so completely certain that I knew more than the next person. I feared nothing and no one. What happened to that person?
  • I remember after I had been in my new job at the medical school for a bit and had made friends, I asked one of them why she had been so cold to me in the beginning. She replied that I scared the crap out of her. I was completely taken aback.
  • It took the death of Caitlin to humble me, to make me realize that everything that I had thought I knew and believed simply wasn’t true.

“… this is the wreath of love, this bed of thorns
is where I dream of you stealing my rest,
haunting these sunken ribs cargoed with grief.
I sought the peak of prudence, but I found
the hemlock-brimming valley of your heart,
and my own thirst for bitter truth and art.” ~ Federico García Lorca, from “Wounds of Love (Stigmata of Love)”

  • I stepped outside a few mornings ago and realized that the air was beginning to smell like fall, the aroma that resembles mountain water and dead leaves, a commingling of smells like no other.

    Autumn in Kyoto by Daily Picture FCC
    Autumn in Kyoto
    by Daily Picture (FCC)
  • I have an ongoing battle with autumn: It has always, always been my favorite season, and it has always, always been the time of year in which I find myself helplessly, hopelessly depressed.
  • By last night I knew that I was already in the midst of a major depressive episode; as I lay immersed in the hottest water possible in my new tub, I had a sudden sense of being completely overwhelmed.
  • When this happens, anything and everything can set me off: a song, a smell, a sound.
  • I applaud those of you who never feel this way, and I am completely astonished that not everyone feels this way.
  • My skin feels foreign, too small for my body, too taut for my emotions.
  • And I just want to be far away, preferably in the mountains, where there is enough air, where the walls do not contain me.

“Skin, though it takes pains to remember caresses, is marked by the road that pain takes.” ~ Rosmarie Waldrop, from Driven to Abstraction

  • My antidepressant does help, some, but nothing can help completely. I think that many people think that antidepressants are cure-alls; they are not.
  • I resisted going on medication because I thought that I would not be able to feel, because I liked my extreme highs and lows. Let me back up a bit—the first antidepressant I tried (and I tried many) completely numbed me. Who wants to feel nothing? Certainly not I.

    Autumn in the New Forest by MarilynJane FCC
    Autumn in the New Forest
    by MarilynJane (FCC)
  • I view my medication as a large band-aid—it protects me from harm, but there is still a wound under it that takes time to heal.
  • It’s strange really, how I have come to know the precise second an episode has arrived, as if it has rung a bell or announced itself somewhere in the recesses of my brain. I suppose after all of these years it makes sense that I would be so attuned.
  • But back to my initial resistance: having felt the extremes for all of my adolescence, I battled attempts to fix me in my 20’s. I suppose that is a natural response, not to want to be dependent upon something, to want to be able to fix things without the benefit of drugs. It’s a battle that I still fight, actually, looking at the pills in my hand for my various ailments, wondering what would happen if I just stopped.
  • But I don’t. Age has allowed me, at least, the wisdom to recognize that I will probably take pills until the day I die.

“A brief parenthesis in chaos.” ~ Thomas Lovell Beddoes, from “Insignificance of the World”

  • I remember sitting in my first psychology course in high school, the very moment I was able to put a name to what was happening to me, when the teacher began to describe manic depression (as it was called then), the extreme highs and lows, the split second changes between the two.

    Autumn in herefordshire by apdk FCC
    Autumn in Herefordshire
    by apdk (FCC)
  • I told no one.
  • I really don’t know why I’m rehashing this; it’s not as if I haven’t mulled over this again and again and again.
  • But then, I don’t really know why I do a lot of things, at least, not when I feel like this.
  • Nothing seems to make sense, and everything is hard.
  • Everything is hard.
  • Everything is hard.
  • If only chocolate really were a cure.
  • Thanks for tuning in.

More later. Peace.

Music by Noah Gundersen & The Forest Rangers, “He got away”


Steady Now

Although things vanish, are what mark our vanishing,
we still hold on to them–ballast against the updraft
of oblivion–as I hold on to this umbrella in a world of rain,

of heavy wet greens and grays dissolving into a new
atmosphere, a sort of underwater dulled electric glow
off everything, the air itself drowning in it, breath

thickening, growing mold. Yesterday I felt the smell
of grass greeting me as across a great distance, trying
to tell me some good thing in an underglaze of memory,

some forgotten summer trying to speak its piece. It is
the way of things and it never stops, never calls a halt–
this knocking and dismantling, this uprooting, cutting out

and digging down, so tall oaks and honey locusts are
laid low and drop to earth like felled cattle, shaking
the ground we’ve taken a stand on as if it were a steady

establishment, a rock of ages to outface ruin itself, not
the provisional slippery dissolving dissolute thing it is–
which we have against all the evidence set our hearts on.

~ Eamon Grennan