“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” ~ Edith Wharton, “Vesalius in Zante (1564)”

Hgnging Bridge Hussaini, Borit Lake, Pakistan

                   

“Let me be, was all I wanted. Be what I am, no matter how I am.” ~ Henry Miller, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird

Friday afternoon. Partly cloudy and very warm, 80s. Impending storms.

So where do I begin?

Corey arrived home on Wednesday night. The company chose not to wait for his documents to arrive, instead sending him home. I couldn’t reach him on Wednesday because his cell phone battery died, but he managed to call me once he made it to La Guardia after having one leg of his flight cancelled, being rerouted to Toronto, having his luggage lost, having a plane held, and having another plane arrive late.

Hanging Bridge at Trift Glacier, Switzerland

If this sounds exhausting, trust me when I say that it was. He slept fourteen hours straight into Thursday afternoon, and who could blame him?

The good news, though—or at least the news that makes all of this bearable is that while he was on the ship for those four days, he found out a lot of information about the company, and most of it wasn’t good. It seems that they’ve lost a major contract because their ships keep breaking down, which means that they aren’t able to fulfill the runs between countries. One of the guys in charge on the ship said that in the first two hitches that he served, he was sent home after four days the first time, and after two weeks the second time.

Another guy said that the company is not above telling the crew one thing and telling the Coast Guard another, in attempts to get the ships back at sea. As it turns out now, everyone who was sent to crew the ship along with Corey will be sent home sometime in the next few weeks because that particular ship has a blown engine, which means one to three months in the yard. The Coast Guard is reluctant to pass on the inspections because the company has made half-attempts at fixing problems before, which, obviously, is unsafe.

“If you go to the window, perhaps you’ll still catch
the dying of the last light.

Madness. The madness of March.” ~ Eugénio de Andrade, from “White on White” (translated by Alexis Levitin)

So the long and short of it is that Corey would have been coming home anyway, but not this soon, but definitely not after three months. He has worked for a really dysfunctional shipping company before, and it made life very tenuous. That particular company routinely did patch jobs on their boats, and the boats were always breaking down as a result. I told Corey that I think that in the end it’s probably better that he didn’t invest too much time in this company only to be jerked around constantly.

Loboc Hanging Bridge, Philippines

The management at the security company was glad to have him back, and he plans to contact several other companies that were interested in him before, but he didn’t have his paperwork updated at the time. I think that things will work out for the better; at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

In the meantime, I’m in an ongoing battle with UPS, having recently learned that the package was not held up by customs but rather because the store didn’t sent out the package until yesterday, this after being assured that everything that could have been done to get the package there within the two days for which I paid handsomely had, in fact, been done. I really hate people who lie to my face, well over the phone.

You can bet that someone, somewhere in the UPS food chain is going to refund me that money.

“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened.” ~ T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton” from Four Quartets

Yesterday, I waited on campus for Brett as he only had two classes, and I didn’t want to waste the gas making four trips. I spent the time reading more of Game of Thrones. It was a beautiful day, and I was quite relaxed. I had big plans to walk Tillie when I got home, but by the time I did get home, I found that I was just exhausted. I know that it was the after-effects of the past four days finally catching up with me. I may try to take her for a walk when I finish this post, though, as I felt really good after she took me for a walk the other day, although, she did jump in the pool when we got home. She’s such a funny dog.

Hanging Bridge in Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Anyway, yesterday was my mother’s birthday; she’s 80. She would absolutely kill me for telling people how old she is. Corey and I gave her one of his beautiful sunflower pictures, and she actually seemed to like it, rare thing when my mother likes a gift.

Today is Eamonn’s 21st birthday. We don’t have his actual gift yet as it’s going to be Rosetta Stone for French, and the plan was to pay for that with Corey’s first big check . . . yep, well, that’s how that goes, for now at least. He has big plans to go out with his friends tonight. Here’s hoping that he’s careful and has a designated driver.

It’s really strange in some ways to see your children grow into adults. I still have the most vivid memories of Eamonn as a small boy, and boy was he cute. Even then he was quite a flirt, shades of things to come. But it’s funny that when I have dreams that involve a young child, it’s almost always Brett as a baby or toddler. I suppose that’s because he’s still the baby in my mind. By the way, Brett corrected me: It wasn’t a toss up between New Zealand and Australia, rather between New Zealand and Canada or Sweden. My mistake.

“we bury the ashes
of our wording
and sift
the silences.” ~ Joy Kogawa, from Offerings

Had to take a break while Brett removed that strange adware program called Text Enhance from the computer. It seems that I’m not the only person that had the appearance of strange underlining and links to suddenly appear on their copy. Brett said that it’s adware/spyware, and he recommended that I download Ghostery, an application the prevents scripts from detecting your presence online, which stops the scripts from running on your computer.

Carricki-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

The following is from my tech savvy son: The program installs itself onto the computer and creates ads in relation to the text that is on screen. Enhance’s website removal instructions only harm the computer further. Do not go to the website as it will install Enhance to your computer without your knowledge or consent. To delete it, simply uninstall it from the add/remove program menu in the control panel, or scan for it with an anti spyware program.

Thanks for the assistance, Brett.

That’s one less thing to worry about today, and trust me when I say that today has been one for the records as far as dealing with things. In between writing this post, I’ve been back and forth with UPS in six separate telephone calls, cut off once after holding for almost eight minutes, and told three different things as far as getting a reimbursement. Oh, and did I mention that one woman said that they had no idea as to when the package might be sent back from Germany; funny thing is that it wasn’t sent until 10:20 this morning, two hours after I talked to the UPS store manager, who assured me that she would see that it was returned to sender—but it hadn’t even left the country at that point!

Argh. I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick that damned football.

“Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.” ~ Galway Kinnell from “Wait”

Since I began this post over four hours ago, the temperature has dropped 21 degrees, and rumbles of thunder can be heard in the distance. The rain is coming down hard now. There will be no walk today, for obvious reasons. The headache that was dull is back full force, and Eamonn came home from work to find green streamers all over his bedroom (I didn’t have balloons, so the streamers are almost as obnoxious).

Oh, and to add to the growing miasma of unmitigated crap that comprises our lives over the past six days, Corey got his paycheck from the Lithuania trip, and of course, because nothing is going right at the moment, it’s short. Can I just say that this whole week would be better if erased with permanent white-out from the book of life, auto-corrected and eliminated, as it were.

I plan to spend the rest of this evening watching Investigation ID on cable, get my fill of psychopaths and people who kill for revenge. As Aristotle said, tragedy allows the audience to purge itself of pity and fear and other negative emotions. I firmly believe that watching real-life stories of murder and mayhem and watching dramatic stories of the same ilk, as in “Law & Order,” allows me to release all of these pent up feelings of needing to throttle someone because of their incompetence and stupidity.

Purging the emotions without actually taking action. That’s a good thing. If only it really worked.

Okay, enough already. Between the telephone calls, computer malware, computer freezes, and all of the other bull, it’s now 9:10 p.m. I began this post half a day ago . . .

More later. Peace.

*I can think of no better image to represent how I feel than today’s selection of hanging bridges . . .

Music by Alex Clare, “Relax My Beloved” (Corey found this one for me)

                   

Rachmaninoff on the Mass Pike

It calls the heart, this music, to a place
more intimate than home, than self, that face
aging in the hall mirror. This is not
music to age by—no sprightly gavotte
or orderly pavane, counting each beat,
confining motion to the pointed feet
and sagely nodding head; not Chopin, wise
enough to keep some distance in his eyes
between perceiver and the thing perceived.
No, this is song that means to be believed,
that quite believes itself, each rising wave
of passionate crescendo wild and brave.
The silly girl who lived inside my skin
once loved this music; its melodic din
was like the voice she dreamed in, sad, intense.
She didn’t know a thing, she had no sense;
she scorned—and needed—calendar and clock,
the rules, the steps, the lines, Sebastian Bach;
she wanted life to break her like a tide,
but not too painfully. On either side
the turnpike trundles by, nurseries, farms,
small towns with schools and markets in their arms,
small industry, green spaces now and then.
All the heart wants is to be called again.

~ Rhina P. Espaillat

“There is the happiness which comes from creative effort. The joy of dreaming, creating, building, whether in painting a picture, writing an epic, singing a song, composing a symphony, devising new invention, creating a vast industry.” ~ Henry Miller

Baroque Violin by Steve Snodgrass (FCC)

“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” ~ Albert Einstein

Visualization of the 1st violin of the 2nd symphony, 4th movement by Ferdinand Ries in the shape of a rollercoaster. The camera starts by showing a close-up of the score, then focuses on the notes of the first violin turning the staves into the winding rail tracks of the rollercoaster. The notes and bars were exactly synchronised with the progression in the animation so that the typical movements of a rollercoaster ride match the dramatic composition of the music.

“We are always ripe and ready to be taken.” ~ Charles Bukowski

Old Boat Near Clifden, Ireland, by afslag7 (FCC)

                   

“Being a somewhat dark person myself, I fell in love with the idea that the mysterious thing you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive.” ~ Laurie Anderson, Notes on Melville’s Moby Dick

Monday late afternoon. Party cloudy and cool. Lovely

Old Boat, China, by oceanaris (FCC)

I had the most horrendous nightmare this morning, and of course, I awoke with a migraine. Actually, what I awoke with was spots, a harbinger of a migraine. I took my medication, and at the moment, the pain is in my left eye.

I dreamed about this crazy man named Viktor (I don’t know why I know that it’s spelled like that, but it is). I was in a beauty supply store looking at combs and nail polish. I remember that I was looking for a particular shade of Revlon lipstick, and I was pondering the purchase of a yellow comb (?). The bad guy came in with two women and one other man, and apparently, I offended him by something that I said. He started to rant at me. Other things happened that I cannot remember. Something about a former Navy Seal tackling him so that he couldn’t kill everyone in the store.

Cut to new scene: I ran into a grocery store to get away from him. When I came out, I noticed a fracas in the parking lot, so I walked over. He was lying there with one of his legs cut off. The leg was about 20 feet from him. Somehow I knew that I had to keep him from getting to his leg or he would be able to put himself back together and come after me again.

More fuzzy details. I awoke panting. Really hate dreams like that.

Later Corey told me about his dreams, and there were men with knives in his dream too. Weird, huh?

“. . . the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.” ~ Robert Frost, from “Acquainted with the Night”

Wednesday afternoon. Absolutely beautiful blue skies, low 70’s.

Old Boat, Spain, by piltri (FCC)

Monday just wasn’t cutting it as far as having something worthwhile to say plus I had things around the house that I needed to take care of, and then yesterday, we had electrical problems, so here I am, 48 hours later.

When I drove Brett and Em to school this morning, it felt more like a spring morning than a fall one. I had the sunroof open, and I kept hearing birdsong each time I stopped. The long pants and hoodies that were on campus just a few days ago were replaced by shorts. I know that a lot of students from up north come to ODU because it’s considered a beach school, what a hoot. Well, it is definitely warmer that upstate New York, but I used to love the kids who came to class in shorts and sandals all winter long, as if to say, “Winter? This is not winter.

Today reminded me of that.

This week the annual literary festival is going on at ODU. I looked at the schedule, and I have to say that it was pretty unimpressive. The lit festival used to be such a big deal, drawing names from all over the country. I remember seeing Mary Oliver one year before she changed her style drastically and got much more mainstream. Then there was the year that Carolyn Forché read. She had a big impact on me.

The great thing about being on faculty was being able to meet all of these writers, talking to them in a casual setting after the readings. I really miss that. The bad thing about the literary festival was that I could pretty much count on its timing to coincide with my fall cold. It never failed to happen.

“Everybody’s born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I’d really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Old Boat, Norway, by magnethy (FCC)

Yesterday I read a book by Ian Rankin, one of my favorite authors. his Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel (pronounced Dee-ell) is such a finely crafted character, the kind of character that aspiring writers envy. He is complex and multilayered, irreverent and serious. I haven’t read all of the Dalziel and Pascoe books in the series, and one day I hope to get my hands on the ones I haven’t read and read them through chronologically. That would be lovely.

I fear that this computer is truly on its last legs, which is painful for me as its demise means the end of computer access for me until I can get my new hard drive installed on my computer. But each time I begin to write on this one, I never know if the damned thing is going to lock up on me or give me a blue screen or a black screen. There is definitely too much junk on the hard drive, but that comes from having three different people share the computer.

I’m on the third or fourth day of this particular migraine, can’t remember. It’s settled mostly into my right eye, which means that the afternoon sunshine that streams through Eamonn’s window that I usually love is causing me great discomfort at the moment. I’ve adapted by typing with my eyes partially closed. It sort of works.

I really want to call that nurse at the neurologist’s office and say “Hey! I’m on the third day of this particular migraine. Does this count?” But I’m not going to. Instead I’ve decided to see if any other neurologist’s in the area treat migraineurs (such a cool name for such a horrid thing) with Botox.

“This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Snow-Flakes

Old Boat and Point Wilson Lighthouse, Washington State, by KellBailey (FCC)

When I was a child, Longfellow was one of the first poets I read, him and Robert Louis Stevenson. My dad bought me A Child’s Garden of Verses, and I carried that book with me everywhere. I wonder whatever became of it . . .

Then, believe it or not, I got my hands on some poetry compilation with a yellow cover. Odd the details you remember. My favorite poem in the book was by Shakespeare:

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

I memorized it and recited it to myself in kind of a sing-song. Who knew that it was from The Tempest? Who cared? I remember singing this to myself when we were in the Philippines. I didn’t really have any friends, so I would go out in the tiny front yard of our apartment and sit under the mango tree and sing to myself.

These memories just came to me, not really certain as to why.

“This pain, this dying, this is just normal. This is how life is. In fact, I realize, there never was an earthquake. Life is just this way, broken, and I am crazy for dreaming of something else.” ~ Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

 

 

Old Boat at Sunset, UK, by Dorcas Sinclair (Wikimedia Commons)

When my dad retired from the Navy, he took us to the Philippines. Of course, my mother did not want to go. I remember huge rows over what we were going to do, and I remember my mother threatening to take me away. God the fights they had were nasty.

Anyway, we did go to the Philippines, where we lived for about six months or so. We started out in my dad’s village of Gapan, which is on the island of Luzon. It really was a village, dirt roads, water from wells, ice from ice trucks. Then we got an apartment in Quezon City. I hated the apartment because at least in Gapan I had cousins that I could play with.

I remember that during the rainy season, it began to flood, and my mom and the two relatives who lived with us had to open the back and front doors and just let the water run through the apartment. In the meantime, my dad had gone back to the village for someone’s funeral. He was on a bus with one of my uncle’s, I think, and the bus got stuck on a bridge and began to fill with water. My dad got a cramp in his leg, and his brother helped to get him off the bus.

Scary stuff, but for me it was a grand adventure, sitting on the staircase (we had two floors) and watching the furniture float out the door. Soon after, we came back to the states. My grand adventure resulted in pneumonia in both of my lungs and hospitalization, which, for my mother, was the last straw. I’ve never been back.

I really don’t know where these memories are coming from, the part about my dad getting a leg cramp? I had completely forgotten about that.

“I wanted to feel the blood running back into my veins, even at the cost of annihilation.” ~ Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

Old boat on Càrna overlooking Caol Chàrna, Scotland (Wikimedia Commons)

My mother called me the other day. She wants me to go to the funeral home with her so that she can plan her funeral. Her logic? That she doesn’t want us to have to go through that when she dies. She doesn’t want a viewing. She doesn’t want a service. I don’t even know if she’ll let us have a graveside service.

My mother is really quite morbid. At the same time, she has this great fear of death and the dead. I know that a lot of this stems from her being so young when her own mother died, eight, I think. In those days, the dead person’s body was kept at home. She still remembers seeing her death mother. I think that it scarred her; actually, I know it.

She hates funerals, refuses to go. I’m amazed that she did the whole viewing and service thing for my dad. Probably because I was with her when she made the plans. I was equally amazed that she went to my m-in-law’s service, but I know that she did it because there was no body there, just ashes.

The whole concept that funerals and memorial services are for those left behind doesn’t mean anything to my mother because she doesn’t think that way. She’s thinking about how she feels about death, so those of us who might want to attend a memorial service for her are basically SOL.

So I told her I would go with her to this place to make the arrangements that she wants. I so hate this. She got really, really morbid right after my dad died, looking for containers to put her ashes in because she wanted to be cremated. Now the cremation’s out, and she’s back to being consumed with making preparations for her own death. Is everyone in my family insane? Probably.

Is it any wonder that I keep a constant headache?

More later. Peace.

Music by The Cure, “Something More than This”

                   
October, An Elegy

The whole month of October
is an elegy, a used book store
getting rained on.  This weather
makes me read endings first.  Partings
and farewells, the way we’re baffled, startled
when happiness falls.  Let me tell you something about darkness, though,
because there’s been enough about light.  But first
about the handwritten poem copied out in the back
of a Rilke translation.  It begins with beloved,
I’m tempted to tell you, or with rest,
and is written in the kind of couplets that are made
for each other, lines with stories of how they first met,
and I’m tempted to say that after I read it, light didn’t matter,
nor darkness, that poetry somehow gathers
them both into one word.  O, how often we are baffled,
startled by our own happiness.  I read the poem
and kept its last three unresolved lines:  our
line break hearts.  There is a pause always around the word
heart, the history
of leaving, the small right-angled scars of loss.  Another line break
then into, a space, then the words:  like small trees.  We are made up
of small trees, limbs that reach for each other, forest
of longing, root systems of light, small blossoms of darkness
and there is a poem handwritten after pages of Rilke and, after Rilke,
how can our hearts be anything but small trees.  The book was used.  The lines
unresolved.  It was raining so I sat in the store and read
the ending first.  Here happiness falls, sometimes
the only difference between our
and hearts is a line break after a long elegy.  This is the season that begins
by ending.  The space between light
and darkness is unresolved
as the space between our hearts
and small trees.  Beloved, rest.  It’s true.  I read the ending first
but I kept reading it until I got all the way back
to the beginning.

~ Sue Goyette, from Undone