“All things pass, all things, that is, but mystery.” ~ Rikki Ducornet

Sunset on Ke’e Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
by jaybergesen (FCC)

                   

All that we do
Is touched with ocean, yet we remain
On the shore of what we know.” ~ Richard Wilbur, from “For Dudley”

Saturday afternoon. Storms.

So where was I? Oh yes, I left you on July 6 at the point at which Alexis was ready to push . . .

So she pushed and pushed and pushed, for two hours, but the baby’s head was facing up and turned at an angle. I guess she was looking around, but as a result, the pushing didn’t achieve very much. The nurse said to Alexis, “I’m going to step out for a moment and talk to the doctor,” and that’s when I knew . . .

Kaena Point, Oahu, Hawaii
by puuikibeach (FCC)

Within five minutes, the room went from quiet, with just Alexis, Mike, the nurse, and me, to a room filled with people: the ob, a couple of nurses, a pediatrician, the anesthesiologist. People were breaking down things and setting up things, and the doctor told Alexis that she was going to have a c-section. She got a bit weepy, which made Mike nervous, and I was told that everything had to be packed to move to another room.Mike was suited up in sterile scrubs, and a nurse and I moved all of Alexis’s stuff (she’s a bag lady, like her mother) to another room. My mother went home, as I told her that it would be a few hours, and it was already going on 9 p.m. I promised to call her. Corey and I waited in the room, and I tried very hard not to panic.

About half past ten Mike walked into the room and said that we could go to the nursery. I think that I finally took a deep breath at that point.

“Perhaps creating something is nothing but an act of profound remembrance.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke,  from The Poet’s Guide to Life, (trans. Ulrich Baer)

So Miss Olivia was born via c-section, and we were able to see her brand new, in all of her tiny, glorious wonder. Mike was more emotional than I had ever seen him, and Corey was pretty awe-struck himself. And me? I officially became MiMi at 10:11 p.m. on July 6, one day before Alexis’s 28th birthday.

Lava Steam Plume Hitting Ocean, Hawaii
by Erik Charlton (FCC)

They brought Alexis into the room around 11 p.m., and we started sending out text messages and texts to let everyone know about her arrival and that mother and daughter were healthy. I slept at the hospital that first night with Alexis and Olivia, and it was truly surreal—being with my first baby and her first baby.Alexis was in the hospital until Monday evening, and I’ve spent the last week at her apartment during the day, trying to help her adjust and taking care of both of them.

There have been more than a few teary breakdowns, the normal insecurities, the feelings of inadequacy. Breastfeeding wasn’t working, so Olivia is being bottle-fed. Again, causing feelings of failure, which the pediatrician (one from the same practice that all of my children went to) helped tremendously in helping to alleviate by sharing her own problems with breastfeeding. I have tried to reassure Lex by pointing out a few things that others told me along the way: A c-section is major surgery, and the body needs time to heal; I’ve done this four times, so I have a bit more experience, which only means that time is a great teacher.

“How right that the body changed over time, becoming a gallery of scars, a canvas of experience, a testament to life and one’s capacity to endure it.” ~ Janet Fitch

Let’s see, family reactions: My mother is more than a little tickled (she showed up at the hospital on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.). Eamonn is telling anyone who will listen that he has a niece and that he’s an uncle. Brett is afraid to hold Olivia as he thinks that she’s breakable, a feeling he shares with Mike who finds even burping to be a bit overwhelming as he’s afraid of patting too hard. My s-in-law has been great in taking care of the puppy for the past week, which alleviates the need for Lex to go up and down the stairs all day to take out the puppy.

Kaho’olawe Hawaii
by Justin Ornellas (FCC)

Corey is enamored, but I can tell that it’s a bittersweet love as I watch him look at her fingers and her nose and her hair. Wistful, is probably the best word, and I try not to think about it too much.A steady stream of Lex’s friends and family have stopped by, sometimes all at once, which causes her to become anxious, totally understandable. Corey’s parents have had to postpone their visit until November, so we are keeping them updated as much as possible.

So we are all adjusting in our individual ways. Truthfully? I’m exhausted and kind of enjoying having today to myself to get caught up here. Each day this past week I have tried to spend fewer hours at the apartment so that there is less dependency on Lex’s part. This coming week, I’m only going in the afternoon while Brett is in class.

“I carry inside myself my earlier faces, as a tree contains its rings.” ~ Tomas Gösta Tranströmer, from For the Living and the Dead

So that’s the latest news regarding our family’s latest addition.

Waves Crash Against Lava Rock, Maui, Hawaii
by Randy Son of Robert (FCC)

I must admit to feeling a bit like I’m walking through water—I am filled with a joy I haven’t felt in years and years, yet at the same time, I am feeling a keen sense of loss and more than a bit of bittersweet longing. These are things that I cannot say to anyone but Corey, and you, of course.When I hold Olivia, my mind is taken back to the days of holding my own babies as they were new in this world. I remember things so keenly that had been long forgotten, and the remembering is too sweet. But then I am brought back to the present, and it is an unfamiliar time in which I find myself: I have passed on the birthing of new babes to the next generation, and now I must face the hard fact that I will never bear another baby, that I will never give Corey that child for which he longs.

And that I feel these things makes me ashamed, because should I not be able to see only the joy? Why must I always remember Caitlin? That Alexis gave her daughter Caitlin’s name means more than I can ever, ever express: It is a carrying on, a continuum. And it is double-edged: sweet and painful. But I suppose that is how it will always be with me, no matter what, sweet and painful.

Again and again, I try to put down a few words.
As day and sky dissolve in sheets of gray,
 the sea repeats your name to the desireless sand.” ~ Stephen Dobyns, from “Letter Beginning with the First Line of Your Letter”

You are probably thinking that I should be more grateful, after all, everyone is healthy, and I am, grateful, that is. I am so, so grateful, and I am so, so melancholy.

Kilauea Lighthouse, Hawaii
by Makahauine Pa’i Ki’i (FCC)

Perhaps it’s the end of a very long seven, no eight days, and my psyche has been through extreme highs and lows. And after all, it’s not my hormones that have been thrown into shock, but there is something . . . something ephemeral, just beyond my grasp, something that I cannot quite name, and I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s the coming down after rolling along on an adrenaline high for so long. Perhaps it’s coming face-to-face with the essence of life, the cyclical nature of our existence.I really couldn’t tell you.

I am a flawed individual, just like the rest of you, but I tend to focus too keenly on my flaws, to the detriment of anything positive. That I am aware of this does not make me any less perplexed. Awareness of a thing does not necessitate understanding of said thing.

“Those who fear the border do not know they are walking on the sea.”  ~ Luis Benitez, from “The Pearl Fisherman

Recently I ran across that ontological query: If you could take a pill that would instantly cure you, would you take it? (Or more precisely: If your mental illness could be cured by one pill, would you take it?)

Mala Surf, Hawaii
by vl8189 (FCC)

No.

Years ago I resisted Prozac because it made me feel nothing. Some of you might think that my medication is not working for me because I still have these highs and lows. I can only tell you that they are nothing compared to the pendulum that used to be my extreme emotional swings. But this is the cold, hard truth: If I did not have lows, then neither would I have highs, and living in the middle is not living for me.

I am, as someone once said, stitched together by my flaws. All that makes me who and what I am comes from my angels and my demons, from my hellish nights and my placid days. That I can feel both great joy and great sadness simultaneously only tells me that I can feel. That I know that this is not normal, only reassures me that at least I know myself, that I am not deluded enough to believe that I can be like everyone else.

I don’t know how I got onto this philosophical bent. Perhaps it would have been better saved for another post, but I have not written in a week, and all of this was churning around inside me.

I’m going to cheat a bit today, what with the longer post and everything, I’m including a shorter poem here because it just really, really fits how I’m feeling:

Isadora Duncan

The wind?
I am the wind.
The sea and moon?
I am the sea and moon.
Tears, pain, love, bird-flights?
I am all of them.
I dance what I am.
Sin, prayer, flight
the light that never was on land or sea?
I dance what I am.

~ Carl Sandburg

More later. Peace.

By the way, if you haven’t already checked it out, today’s Google celebrates Klimt with “The Kiss” (thinking of you, Maureen).

Music by All Thieves, “Turn and Turn Again”

                   

The House of Belonging

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
day
like any other.

But
the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
and
I thought

it must have been the quiet
candlelight
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And
I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

~ David Whyte

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Sea Star from Bunaken Marine Park, Indonesia, from The Right Blue 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Colors from The Right Blue

I’ve been meaning to comment on a beautiful site that I stumbled across: The Right Blue. According to the site’s about page, the title “refers to the goal of a lifelong pursuit. Sea water viewed from beneath the surface comes in many hues and shades. Surfers wait for the perfect wave; divers seek the right blue.” The blog contains beautiful pictures from dives, information about the ocean, and many other ocean-related topics. 

The writers, who live in Hawaii, decided that instead of letting their beautiful photographs and slides get dusty in binders and boxes they would scan and post them. What joy, especially for those of us who love all things related to the sea. The images are incredible, and Bobbie and Jerry have generously posted their work under a Creative Commons license, which means that their images can be reposted non-commercially with proper attribution. 

So today’s post features images from The Right Blue. Please give them a visit. 

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle by The Right Blue

Another restless night, in fact, one of the worse in a while. For some reason, Tillie was very restless last night, which meant that she kept asking to go out just about every hour. At one point, I had put my eye mask on, which I wear sometimes if I have a headache, and Tillie nudged me. Need I say that she scared the crap out of me? Anyway, I slept in fits and starts, and I don’t know if I ever achieved REM as my head is ringing today. 

Anyway, a holiday today celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I have used quotes from King in my post before, often with quotes by Gandhi, one of King’s major influences. 

I think that it is worth noting that King was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights’ efforts. When you think about what King did and when he did it, it really is an amazing thing: organizing non-violent protests in the South at a time when most of the white population view minorities  as second class citizens who needed to use separate bathrooms and separate drinking fountains so as not to contaminate them. It was a time in which minorities could not eat wherever they wanted, stay in any hotel they wished to stay in, or even perform in any venue. 

That the United States was once such a country is mind-boggling to generations who never saw these things first-hand. That there are still those in this country who believe that things were better before King, Thurman, and the civil rights movements is what boggles my mind. But then, as I have been the victim of discrimination myself and have had people call me names just because my skin is darker, or my eyes a different shape, or my last name is not Smith, I am not surprised, just saddened. 

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Lunar Fusiliers, Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia, from The Right Blue

In keeping with my recent stroll down memory lane, I got a friend request on Facebook from another person from my past, this time a former student who worked for me at Old Dominion University. While I was in the English Department there, I managed the two computer labs for a couple of years. This person was one of the twelve student workers I supervised in the labs. 

She was extremely intelligent and very likable, with a cutting wit and insight well beyond her years. For the most part, all the students who worked for me were really terrific, a good blend of personalities. I remember them in a very positive way as that was a very good period for me. Of course, not all of it was good, but nothing has ever topped teaching college as being my favorite profession. 

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Feather Stars from The Right Blue

Other than that, not much going on today. I thought that I might give the Harry Potter books my annual read. It usually takes a week to read all seven, and I like to start with book one and read my way through. Yep. My exciting plans for the week: reading the Harry Potter books. I tell you I just don’t know how much more excitement I can take. 

Last night was the season premiere of 24, one of my favorite shows. I am hoping that this season is better than last season. Last season was better than the very weak season 6, but I’m not sure that the show will ever be able to recapture the frenzied storylines that involved Presidents Palmer and Logan. Those were the best. And last year’s season tested the boundaries of believability (of course, the entire show does that) by bringing back Tony. That being said, I taped last night’s two-hour premiere, and I’m going to watch that tonight while the next two hours are taping. 

Personally, I am not bothered by the character of Jack Bauer. He is single-minded, and he serves a purpose. What I love about him is his Aristotelian tragic mien: He is the tragic hero, fallen from grace, torn apart by his own hubris. Like Hamlet, he knows that he is flawed but cannot stop himself. Like Othello, he is caught up in webs of deceit. Bauer represents all that is good and evil in a post-September 11 society. I just wish that his daughter wasn’t such a whiny wimp. 

I have always loved Kiefer Sutherland, though, all the way back to The Lost Boys, one of my favorite camp vampire flicks. And much like his father, I think that Kiefer just gets better with age. Too bad his personal life is always such a mess. 

That’s all for today. More later. Peace

Music from Karl Jenkins, “Adiemus” 

 

 

My Apologies for 2008

These are the people and events that I would like to apologize to and for in the past year:

The General Apologreed-gargoylegies:

To Virginia Natural Gas, for getting so behind in our payments that you felt the need to reclaim your meter. I’m sure that it is doing you more good than it was doing us. After all, we only need it for heat, hot water, and cooking. You must have needed it for something for more useful, say storage. Glad we could help. And just as soon as the economy takes a turn for the better, we’ll be getting back to you on the huge past due balance and deposit that you mentioned.

To Homecomings Mortgage for being so understanding when I’ve called to try to work out some kind of payment plan. I guess you didn’t get any kind of notification on the TARP money and how they are trying to use that to help financially-troubled mortgages. We’ll wait until you get the memo and get back to you on that.

Speaking of TARP money, my sincerest apologies to the Wall Street Bankers and Financiers who may have to do without bigger bonuses this year, or at least have pretended to do without pay cuts and bonuses until Congress finally figured out that there is actually a loophole. I just wouldn’t want anyone’s house in the Hamptons to go into foreclosure or anything. Warmest regards to all. Ta Ta.

To all of the bill collectors, it’s not that we don’t want to pay our bills, really. It’s that we can’t pay them. When a family of four is living on my disability income, and the primary breadwinner, my husband, has been out of work since January of 2008, it makes it very tricky to stretch those dollars to cover the mortgage, my health insurance, food, and just about anything else. I apologize. I sincerely do. We will be getting back to you on that as soon as we can figure out alchemy.

To my eternally snoopy next door neighbor on the left: No, we haven’t finished the soffet and fascia in the back because we have to pay someone to finish that particular job. We have, however, put up a new roof, finished the privacy fencing on almost the whole perimeter, leaving your back gate on our property (which, if it had been up to me, would not be there, but my husband is kinder), cut back most of the trees, gotten rid of the old truck, gotten rid of the old landscaping trailer. The only thing, unfortunately, I cannot accommodate you with is our own disappearance. So sorry. Maybe next year when we might be able to finish our renovations and move to a place where the neighbors actually talk to you.

To my former employer’s Human Resources department, I apologize for calling you with pesky questions about my personnel benefits as a long-term disability employee. If I could actually get answers that made sense without having to call and leave messages, believe me, I would. Trying to get someone in your department to be helpful is akin to asking for someone to drill my teeth without benefit of local anaesthesia.

To the Republican Party, nah, not really, but thanks so much for Sarah Palin. She gave me enough material for two months.

The Sincere Personal Apologies:

To my mail carrier, I apologize for never being quite as happy to see him as he is to see me. I wave and say hello even though I know that he is bringing more bad news, but I still hope that he has a good day.

To all of the people who put up with me at the pain management center, I apologize for being late, showing up on the wrong day, at the wrong time, or forgetting about appointments altogether. You are very kind for working me in because you realize that my pain has made me batty.

To my family as a whole, thank you for accepting the fact that I’m batty. Pain does weird things to people. Constant pain makes you want to be more sarcastic than usual.

To Corey, I’m sorry if I don’t always say thank you for all of the things that you do. If it seems that I take you for granted, believe me when I say that nothing you do is ever taken for granted. I’m also sorry that’s it has been such a rough year, but I know that 2009 will be better because honey, it can’t be worse.

To Alexis, I’m sorry that you have had to pick up some slack for me, which isn’t really fair since you have your own place now. But I appreciate it.

Eamonn, I’m sorry for being overbearing, but not really. I know that you don’t believe it, but you really will look back on this someday, and wonder why I didn’t come down on you harder.
my-dearhearts
For My Dear Hearts

Brett, I’m sorry for the gene pool lottery. It sucks. I know.

James, I’m sorry you just had to endure weeks of hell and that I wasn’t closer by to help you through it.

Mari, I’m sorry that we have drifted apart, and that I’ve let it happen on my end as well.

Sarah, I’m sorry for the years, and it won’t be a pine box. I promise.

Rebecca, we both should be sorry: we don’t live that far apart. Let’s make more of an effort.

And Finally, Apologies For The Rest:

To the rest of the world, let me be the first to apologize for eight years of George W. Bush.

sand-from-non-biodegradable-plastics
Vog: sand from plastics

And let me apologize to all living creatures in the Pacific Ocean for my ignorance about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has now exceeded the size of Texas, a humongous, man-made floating garbage dump that many are now calling the eighth continent.

It makes me utterly ashamed to be part of this society’s vapid, disposable mentality, which has caused sand to now be formed of non-biodegradable plastics like plastic utensils, toothbrushes, and disposable razors. There is a beach on the big island of Hawaii, Kamilo Beach, also known as ‘Plastic Beach’ where this sand, known as Vog, is almost a foot deep. It makes me want to weep for Hertha, Earth Mother.

To the person on eBay who bought the turkey that was slaughtered behind Sarah Palin while she was being interviewed, let me apologize for your obvious lack of sensitivity and just add eww.

To the world, I’m sorry to have to be part of the world’s least green country (according to National Geographic’s May 31 Greendex study), but it does not surprise me. And for the record, India and Brazil tied for first as the world’s greenest countries. Go here for the complete study: http://event.nationalgeographic.com/greendex/assets/GS_NGS_Full_Report_May08.pdf

And finally, to Tina Fey: I’m so sorry that you no longer have that dimwit to impersonate, but honestly, isn’t it a relief not to have to dumb yourself down?

Now that I got all of that off my chest, I know that I feel much better . . . somewhat. More later. Peace.