“There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling.” ~ Aldous Huxley

Granville Redmond Moonlight Marsh Scene detail
“Untitled: Moonlight Marsh Scene” (detail, nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

                   

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books.
I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ~ Hermann Hess, from Demian

I had that dream again, the one in which I am moving/living in the old apartment. This time, it’s much bigger, and my mother has sold her home and we are all going to live together. A friend of ours is helping us to unpack, and there are so many Christmas decorations tucked away in strange places. And then I’m looking at the special pieces that I have gotten from the woman at the museum, the one who gave me my pick of her collection for taking care of everything for her. And some of my favorite pieces are missing, like a gilded punch bowl.

Granville Redmond Monterey Moonlight
“Monterey Moonlight” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

My mother is putting things in the wrong place, and I’m trying not to snap. Then I look in one of the bathrooms and find that it is filthy, that someone has used it like a public restroom, and I am looking for gloves and old towels so that I can clean it. In my mind, I am confused as to whether or not I am with Corey or my ex or my Catholic boyfriend. I’m mostly confused because my ex is acting like he lives there, and I am so confused.

And then I remember the dogs, the ones that I always forget to feed in the dream. When they appear in the dream they are in various stages of illness, and it distresses me, mostly because it’s my fault that I have forgotten that they are in the back yard. But, and this always happens when they appear, I stop to ask myself if anyone has told me about the dogs . . .

“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Waking”

I dreamed I was Marilyn Monroe, not about her, but I was her. Very, very strange. It was a full-blown story with other people interacting, and my mother, who was MM’s mother, and she was just as weird to MM as she is to me. In fact, most of the people in the dream treated me as MM with a great deal of disdain, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that I wasn’t stupid.

Granville Redmond Night Sea oil on canvas nd
“Night Sea” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I think the dream probably had that slant because of all of the images of Marilyn reading books that show up on my tumblr dash. Apparently she was an avid reader, but I have to wonder if perhaps this belief wasn’t something perpetuated by her publicist so that people would take her more seriously, only in the 50’s and 60’s, blond bombshells weren’t supposed to be taken seriously, so maybe she actually did like to read? Hmm . . .

My world today has been enriched by three incredible poems that I found on my tumblr dash: Michael Lee‘s “Pass On,” Sierra DeMulder‘s “Ninety-Five Grievances to God: Abridged,” and Mark Strand‘s “Eating Poetry.” I plan to use each of them in upcoming posts.

Apparently, there is a blue theme running in the background of my day, hence, most of the accompanying images by my latest discovery—Granville Redmond. Such lovely hues of blue running through his work.

“You hold an absence
at your center,
as if it were a life.” ~ Richard Brostoff, from “Grief”

I began this post two days ago, maybe three. I honestly don’t remember. The end of the week seemed to be compressed into a few hours. On Thursday, Corey went to do his shift on the ship, only to be told that they were leaving port that afternoon at 4 p.m., which meant that the two days we still thought that we had did not in fact exist. Lots of rushing around, doing last-minute things.

Granville Redmond Morning on the Pacific 1911 oil on canvas
“Morning on the Pacific” (1911, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I had planned to watch Olivia on Thursday so that Corey could spend some time with her, so I also had to fit that in, along with getting Brett to campus. Lots of rushing created lots of stress.

On Friday, Brett, Em, and I did more running around, trips to two different Wal Marts, Sally’s Beauty supply for some new nail polish, and a trip to the international market for more of the mochi ice cream that is not my favorite addiction, and by Friday night I was exhausted, but apparently not exhausted enough not to spend all of Saturday afternoon cleaning. I had planned to make French toast and bacon for dinner last night, but that didn’t happen. I ended up eating cheese puffs and trail mix. So healthy.

I guess I’ll do the French toast tonight, that is if I don’t crawl back into the bed and just read.

“I walk slowly into myself
through a forest of empty suits of armor.” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “Postludium,” trans. Robin Fulton

Anyway, outside of the home front, major things afoot. I watched the live news feed on Friday night of what looked like every cop and FBI agent in Boston as they surrounded this one house in Watertown, waiting to take down the other bombing suspect. It was one of those can’t-look-away scenarios, and then suddenly it was over, and people were pouring into the streets to celebrate.

Granville-Redmond-Moonlit-Pond
“Moonlit Pond” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I kept hearing commentators saying that this kind of takedown wasn’t possible with the Oklahoma City bombings or after the first WTC bombing, but now all first responders are using the same communications network so that everyone can hook into everyone else. Seems odd when you realize just how much technology has advanced the hunting of criminals, making it possible to go from a major catastrophic event on one day to a resolution (as far as capture) just five days later.

I mean seriously—camera footage, cell phone images, the ability to isolate the two perpetrators through a process of elimination, identifying the perpetrators, plastering every possible media source with their pictures, locking down one of the country’s biggest cities and surrounding suburbs, and then, voila. Well, not really voila, but you get my drift.

I guess I’m just amazed when I look at everything that happened so quickly, amazed and relieved, like so many other people.

“I begin now to write down all the places I have not been—
starting with the most distant.

I build houses that I will not inhabit.” ~ Keith Waldrop, from “Poet”

Even though I began this post days ago, the blue theme is still fitting, so I’m not going to change the images I had planned.

One thing I’ve been trying to decide whether or not, or how much to write about is my mother’s health. On Wednesday, her doctor’s office called and told her that they wanted to do another CT scan to repeat what was done when she was in the ER. On Thursday morning she went in to have that done. As of yet, we still have not heard anything. She is downplaying it. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her on Thursday for the scan, and she said no, that it was no big deal.

Granville Redmond Opalescent Sea 1918 oil on canvas
“Opalescent Sea” (1918, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

On Friday, I called to see if she had heard from her doctor and she said that she hadn’t, but that he had lots of patients. I bit my tongue and didn’t say what I was thinking, which is that I don’t care how many patients he has, this is serious, and we need to know what is going on, but I said nothing because to let on how worried I am would only worsen things.

I don’t know what’s going to happen; I don’t know what is wrong with her, perhaps nothing, perhaps something. I only know that when my dad’s doctor called and said that he needed to go in for follow-up tests, he was told he had six months to live, and he lived for less than two. I try not to think of these things, but I do. Of course I do.

I’ll keep my thoughts to myself when I’m talking to my mom, but perhaps I can share them with you?

More later. Peace.

All images by deaf Californian artist Granville Redmond.

Music by Mikky Ekko, “Pull Me Down”

                   

And Myself, Myself

I’m teaching myself
to love broken things.

Books with loose bindings
and misplaced pages.
Coffee cups with chipped
lips and snapped handles.

The rusted old tractor
in my grandfather’s yard
that hasn’t rumbled in years,
and the sparrow nest
in its belly full of eggshells
a tabby cat tore open.

A burnt patch of grass,
a pile of glass taken in
by a family of gravel.

An old red oak,
opened and weeviled,
that becomes a home
for new and varied life,
even if it cannot stand up
any longer.

~ Gabriel Gadfly

“Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak . . . surrender to them. Don’t ask first whether it’s permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that.” ~ Hermann Hesse

The Fairy Host
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law*


“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still” ~ Sylvia Plath

Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy, showers, much cooler, low 60’s.

Well, Corey is in the Ascension Island for a few days. He hasn’t seen any giant sea turtles, but he says that the island is beautiful, crystal blue waters, clean beaches, no touristy stuff. Apparently, the turtles nest at night, and the road to their nesting ground is actually closed to traffic at night so as not to disturb the turtles. Isn’t that cool? Unfortunately for him, his watch shifts haven’t allowed him to be off the boat at the time the turtles are on the move, but he has seen the tracks in the sand, and he says that they are huge.

A Dream of Grace
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

From there, the ship is supposed to head to Brooklyn to go into the yard, where it will be for a month or so. He sounds content, but tired. I haven’t heard that tone in his voice in quite a while, so it’s very nice. I can’t express how wonderful it is to know that he’s doing something that he loves and is very good at doing, especially after four years of a roller coaster ride.

Four years? Yep, since 2008. Wow. That really is a long, long, long time to be unemployed and underemployed, but I know that we are fortunate because many people who lost their jobs when the recession hit are still out of work. I truly fear for this country, its shortsighted leaders who continue to believe that the struggling lower classes are lesser citizens, and who continue to reward the elite.

What happened to equity? Democracy? The American Dream?

“What syllable are you seeking,
Vocalissimus,
In the distances of sleep?
Speak it.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “To the Roaring Wind”

I don’t want to go off on a socio-political rant as it will just depress me, and I’m actually feeling a bit better emotionally. I haven’t been weepy in several days, so that’s a good thing.

White Knight of Bright Morning
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

We got a graduation announcement from Corey’s niece, his older brother’s daughter. Apparently Steve texted Corey twice for our address, which just stymies me as we send them a Christmas card every year, and have done so for over a decade. Anyway, his daughter is graduating, which is kind of weird as I remember when she was just a little girl who followed Eamonn around Corey’s parents’ house when we were visiting at Christmas.

They refuse to stay young.

In ten years they will all wish that they were just approaching their 20’s again. After ten years of the stresses of young adult life, they begin to see how easy life really was. I’m not at all saying that being a teenager is easy, because it’s not. The stressors are there, just of a different nature. And far too many young people come out of their teen years scarred and scared, with absolutely no idea of what the future might hold for them.

I never thought I’d be talking about today’s youth in that same tone of voice that I hated when I was younger, so I try to remember that all of those things that seemed terribly important, life-changing, heartbreaking, all of those things really did matter then. Only now am I able to place them in context.

“I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways.” ~ Rumi

I ate a snack bag of Cheetos last night, really wanted them, but today I’m paying for it as I can feel the migraine creeping into my head. MSG. I don’t understand why food producers continue to use MSG when so many other things are available and so many people are sensitive to the additive. I try to tell myself that it won’t bother me, but 98 percent of the time when I ingest something with MSG I get a migraine. It’s that two percent that I’m hoping for.

Filling Up the Sea
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Silly me.

Last night Richard Gere and Mari were in my dream. Very, very strange. Apparently, I knew Gere. In the dream I’m taking Mari to the airport, but we’re in the Underground in Crystal City, Arlington, and we keep making wrong turns. At some point, the cast from “Law & Order” makes an appearance, and Jack McCoy is standing outside of the courtroom talking to Abby. I think to myself that Abby really is just as beautiful in real life as she is on television. Then I notice that she has a scar running down the side of her legs, and I think that she’s had an operation to make her thighs smaller. Richard Gere is wearing a white dress shirt but no tie, and he’s going in the same direction as Mari and me. The newspaper is across the street. Mari tells me that she has chronic pain but wonders why she didn’t get my old job at GW. There is a yellow Volkswagen Beetle.

Make of that what you will.

“Whatever I looked at was alive, everything had a voice,
but I never found out were you a friend, an enemy,
was it winter, summer? Smoke, singing, midnight heat.
I wrote thousands of lines. Not one told me.” ~ Anna Akhmatova, from “Fragment, 1959,” (trans. Stephen Berg)

That creative spurt that I was going through a few weeks ago seems to have dried up. Gone. For a while, I had poems running through my brain constantly. Lines upon lines kept appearing. Now the only thing in my brain is pain and bad dreams. I knew that it wouldn’t last.

Tam Lin the Knight
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I’ve started to request galleys of books again. I thought that I would try to get back into writing reviews, like I was doing a few years ago. I had stopped requesting galleys when I stopped reviewing the books I was being sent. Knowing the publishing process, it didn’t seem right to request an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) without writing a review.

I’m also trying to stay caught up on Goodreads. I hadn’t updated my profile in ages, so I set a reading goal for myself in 2012: 60 books. I’m a little behind, but I should be able to make my goal by the end of the year. I don’t really do the social part of Goodreads—chatting with other people about what they’re reading, making friends, all of that. I just don’t get into that whole social networking, even if it is a reading site.

I know. I’m a curmudgeon. But you can’t say that I’m not honest about it.

If you’re an avid reader, and you haven’t discovered Goodreads yet, you should click on the link on my sidebar. It really is a nice resource for readers; they do book giveaways each month, and people do write some good reviews of books. At the very least, it is a great site for keeping a record of your books and for finding literary quotes.

“‎When you do not speak, the thousand stars that lay upon your tongue slide back down your throat only to be swallowed one by one, jagged, pointed and weighing more than planets.” ~ Tama Kieves

Speaking of age, as I was earlier, the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys are touring. Aren’t they all 100 or so? I mean, even though Mick Jagger is ancient, I can kind of see him touring (not really sure why), but these guys? Whenever I think of the Beach Boys, unfortunately I think of Charles Manson. I know. It’s a weird association, but Manson’s desire to be taken seriously as a singer, his relationship with Dennis Wilson, are all part of what drove him to do the crazy things that he did.

Climbing the Dragon Gate
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

You know what’s really crazy? Manson’s music was actually used by some bands after he and his followers killed all of those people. Guns ‘n Roses and Marilyn Manson have covered his songs. Weird, huh?

If anyone does not deserve that kind of recognition, it’s Manson, but hey, we’re that kind of society: desirous of fame no matter what. Okay, maybe I’m generalizing, but I remember as a youth I wanted to be famous, wanted to sing on Broadway. Of course, my dreams of fame had nothing to do with being infamous, but I wanted that recognition, nonetheless.

The desire for fame is as old as time, though. As long as humans have been able to speak, someone has chosen to be the one to lead, and people have followed because of what they have heard. Even before speech, someone always stood out, took charge, and others went along. It’s a pack mentality that has evolved into the kinds of government that exist today. Think about it: Are our Congressional members really so different from the early hominids? In both cases, someone pounded their chest (literally or figuratively) and declared that he should be heeded because he, and only he knew what was right . . .

Yep.

More later. Peace.

*All images used with permission from the Fairy Tales and Mythology Gallery on Shadowscapes, the website of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. I recommend clicking on each image to see full size.

Music by the Alialujah Choir, “A House, A Home”

                   

Of Distress Being Humiliated by the Classical Chinese Poets

Masters, the mock orange is blooming in Syracuse without
scent, having been bred by patient horticulturalists
To make this greater display at the expense of fragrance.
But I miss the jasmine of my back-country home.
Your language has no tenses, which is why your poems can
never be translated whole into English;
Your minds are the minds of men who feel and imagine
without time.
The serenity of the present, the repose of my eyes in the cool
whiteness of sterile flowers.
Even now the headsman with his great curved blade and rank
odor is stalking the byways for some of you.
When everything happens at once, no conflicts can occur.
Reality is an impasse. Tell me again
How the white heron rises from among the reeds and flies
forever across the nacreous river at twilight
Toward the distant islands.

~ Hayden Carruth

“How I dreaded the white page I had to foul with ink!” ~ George Gissing

Husum Falls on White Salmon River, USFWS

                   

“May one day
soon someone pull us out into the rain
where all that vanished becomes legible again
and all we’ve struggled to decipher fades away at last.” ~ Dean Young, from “Disappearing Ink”

Wednesday afternoon. Rainy.

A very bad night for my body. I haven’t felt this kind of relentless pain in a while, and I’m not used to it, which means that I’m noticing it more than usual. Let me put it this way—those stupid smiley charts the nurses show you to ask for your level of pain, 1 through 10, with 10 being the worst? I’m never, ever at a zero. Never. Not exaggerating here. At a minimum, I exist somewhere between a 3 and 4, so I’m used to that, can handle that. But this? This is hovering at a 6 with spikes to a 7 or 8. Haven’t been in this state for years. Not used to this any more.

American Goldfinch, USFWS

C’est la vie . . .

I love the rain, love the sound of it, love to hear the songbirds who continue to sing during a spring rainstorm, but hate the muddy paws and how the rain brings out the dog smell in the house. I know that once we tear up the old carpeting in the living and dining rooms and refinish the floors that the old dog smell will pretty much go away, but for now, it’s an omnipresent reminder of wet dog . . .

Speaking of birds, I bought myself a bird feeder several weeks ago, just something simple, not the cedar one that I’m really hankering for, but it’s nice for now. I hung it on a shepherd’s crook on the corner of the porch so that I can see the birds. The biggest problem is that it’s not high enough, so it’s not attracting a lot of birds. But today I saw a goldfinch. How spectacular. I used to have a thistle feeder just for the goldfinches. If we ever build the overhang on the back patio, I’m going to have my different feeders again, one for thistle, one for sunflower seed, and one for mixed feed.

If ever . . .

“Once it happened, as I lay awake at night, that I suddenly spoke in verses, in verses so beautiful and strange that I did not venture to think of writing them down, and then in the morning they vanished; and yet they lay hidden within me like the hard kernel within an old brittle husk.” ~ Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (trans. Basil Creighton)

This is the second quote that I’ve used in as many days that has included the word husk. Just commenting.

Laysan Albatross over Water, USFWS

Somehow this spring I managed to let my lilac bush come into bloom and wither without ever noticing. I absolutely hate that. I love fresh lilacs, love to put them in cups around the house, but not this year, I suppose. My peonies are blooming, and their tissue petals are so fragrant. I have them in the living room, bathroom, and our bedroom. Unfortunately, they are not fragrant enough to overpower the dog smell . . .

Last night I had a mucho strange dream: I was back in the apartment that frequents my dreams. I had moved back into it after my ex had vacated it. Not sure of the circumstances that caused the situation. I was wandering around the apartment, and I began to notice all of these incredible details: There was this beautiful tile work in the kitchen, completely covering one wall; a claw-footed tub was sitting along the wall in the kitchen. A little nook off the kitchen housed a beautiful wooden desk with lots of cubbies. And my reaction was to be extremely put out, as in how could he do all of this beautiful work here and never lift a hand in our house?

Then I found out (and this is extremely weird) that the apartment had been used for major parties, the sketchy kind. I found a wardrobe filled with tacky formal dresses for women. The wardrobe was behind an old refrigerator. In the midst of this, I couldn’t find any of my coffee mugs, and I realized that I didn’t have any dog food for the puppy. My mother was there, as was a friend of hers who is quite ill, and a neighbor to whom I had lent a copy of  The Count of Monte Cristo. This neighbor does not exist, but in the dream she had a pet owl that turned bright green when she stroked his feathers . . .

“Writing is a form of therapy. Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.” ~ Graham Greene

So, bad news. Remember when Corey was sent home from Lithuania, and he had found out all of those things about the company? He had decided to ignore the rumors and throw his lot in with them, and I agreed that it was a good decision. Well . . . pretty reliable rumblings that the company is in financial trouble. They’ve sold their Pacific ship, and their other ship is in the yard—again, which leaves the ship that Corey is on and a tugboat. And as I’ve said, the one that he’s on needs work. Do the math—they aren’t making any money.

Spring Sunset at Ridgefield, USFWS

I’m trying not to fret too much over this news, but damn, can we get a break here? Corey is working, making good money, had planned to stay with this company to get some deep-sea time so that he could go for his third mate’s license on a big ship . . . The best laid plans of mice and men? Is that what this is?

Fate is fickle. Life is a no-holds barred free-for-all cage match with no rules, no set round times, and absolutely no referees. Corey and I are tag teaming against André the Giant at his optimum (yes, I know he’s dead, but you get the point). And yes, this metaphor is stupid, but so is what’s going on. But even though everything feels like those bad dreams in which it is impossible to wake oneself, I refuse to give in.

Sounds bold, doesn’t it? Don’t call me on it. This thing called life is not a sprint, but a marathon. Sorry, I keep talking/writing in metaphors today.

“This face had no use for light, took none of it,
Grew cavernous against stars, bore into noon
A dark of midnight by its own resources.” ~ Josephine Miles, from “Made Shine”

Let’s see . . . what else is going on around here? Brett starts summer school next week, and oh yes, we can’t get financial aid for summer. Another bonus. But he really needs to take two classes this summer so that he’ll be caught up enough to begin his major classes in the fall. The money? Hmm . . . . Possibly the tax return, but oh yes, that’s been held up another eight to fourteen weeks . . . Just grand.

Barred Owl at Malheur National Wildlife Reserve, USFWS

Ask my ex to help his son with college? You’re joking, right? After the kids’ eighteenth birthdays, obligations went out the window. Now, anything that comes their way is a bonus, and everything else be damned.

Sorry, bitterness showing.

What else? Oh yes, Eamonn, who has until recently been cooperating in helping around the house while Corey is gone, has reverted. By that I mean that I’m getting heavy-duty attitude regarding the chores for which he volunteered. His logic? He’s working full time, so why should he have to take out the trash and recycling? You would think that I asked him to put on a new roof. I’m such a demanding mother. He gets clean laundry, Internet access, cable, food, help with his car insurance. Damn, what was I thinking in reminding him to take out the trash?

Sorry, more bitterness showing. Bitter kind of day. Dark kind of day. The pain and bad news are converging, brewing, coalescing, resulting in one premium foul mood.

“I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.” ~ Ted Hughes, from “The Thought-Fox”

Actually, today is kind of like a scene from a David Lynch movie. Do you remember “Twin Peaks”? Remember the opening credits pulling back from the mountains? Remember the complete insanity of it all, how it was in stark contradiction to the beauty of the natural surroundings? The pie and coffee, the dream sequences, the clues within clues? I never did figure out who killed Laura Palmer. That show used to leave me stupefied and feeling completely lost. I think, no, I’m fairly certain that’s how Lynch intended it to be.

Rainbow at Quilcene National Fish Hatchery Looking South toward Mount Walker, USFWS

So today is my David Lynch day. I think that there may be clues out there somewhere as to what’s going to come, but I surely can’t decipher them. The rain? The rain that I loved at the beginning of this post? Now it just reminds me of Washington State, not that I’ve ever been there (but I actually do want to go to the Pacific Northwest). Rain, overcast, bleh.

Actually, there is a point here. David Lynch is big into dream sequences and dream interpretation. I, as you know, am constantly talking about my dreams, what happens, and what they might mean. In many ways, my dreams fall over into my real life as the mood I’m in when I awaken is often tied to what happened in the dream (Corey says that I get mad at him because of something he has done in a dream, and unfortunately, illogically, this is true). But  Lynch’s work is often open-ended and open to interpretation, kind of like today.

In Lynch’s movie Mulholland Drive (not Mulholland Falls with Nick Nolte)—a film not for people who like plot, linear movement, or logic—there are a few scenes in which people are wearing rabbit heads, like the kinds of animal heads men used to wear in the Victorian era, for some strange reason. Anyway, I think that I might actually have better vision if I put on a rabbit head. Or not.

In that movie, the female lead has a bad case of amnesia and spends a lot of time going places (like Winkies, I kid you not) and looking at things and talking to people in an attempt to figure out what happened. You know, I can’t actually remember how she got amnesia. Amnesia about the amnesia, if you will. The point of all of this? I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to do so. So like most David Lynch things, I’m just going to end, in the middle, as it were.

More later. Peace.

Images taken from USFWS Pacific’s photostream on Flickr Creative Commons

Music by Pink, “I Don’t Believe You”

                   

Up

You wake up filled with dread.
There seems no reason for it.
Morning light sifts through the window,
there is birdsong,
you can’t get out of bed.It’s something about the crumpled sheets
hanging over the edge like jungle
foliage, the terry slippers gaping
their dark pink mouths for your feet,
the unseen breakfast—some of it
in the refrigerator you do not dare
to open—you do not dare to eat.What prevents you? The future. The future tense,
immense as outer space.
You could get lost there.
No. Nothing so simple. The past, its destiny
and drowned events pressing you down,
like sea water, like gelatin
filling your lungs instead of air.Forget that and let’s get up.
Try moving your arm.
Try moving your head.
Pretend the house is on fire
and you must run or burn.
No, that one’s useless.
It’s never worked before.Where is it coming from, this echo,
this huge No that surrounds you,
silent as the folds of the yellow
curtains, mute as the cheerful

Mexican bowl with its cargo
of mummified flowers?
(You chose the colours of the sun,
not the dried neutrals of shadow.
God knows you’ve tried.)

Now here’s a good one:
You’re lying on your deathbed.
You have one hour to live.
Who is it, exactly, you have needed
all these years to forgive?

Margaret Atwood

“Words can never fully say what we want them to say, for they fumble, stammer, and break the best porcelain.” ~ Margaret Weis, Dragons of a Lost Star

Stream through Bluebell Woods at Moor Corner, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“April 7. The heavens opened for the sunset to-night . . . I sat behind the window, pricked with rain, and looked until that hard thing in my breast melted and broke into the smallest fountain, murmuring as aforetime, and I drank the sky and the whisper.” ~ Journal of Katherine Mansfield, 1914

Wednesday, late afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 70’s.

I keep saying that I will be able to be more focused, more attuned to my writing and reading once my computer gets fixed, and I had planned to do that with this paycheck, but somehow, I spent my spending money on Alexis and maternity clothes, and then, of course, there was the food that we needed in the house, and the power bill . . . no computer repairs this time, so I am stuck on Eamonn’s computer, otherwise known as the snail that wouldn’t.

Alongside Shepherd's Gutter, Brook Wood, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

I have given up trying to update my tumblr daily as just getting through 20 pages of posts takes hours, which really dampens the pleasure of the experience and turns it into a chore: Just five more pages, no three more, damn, whatever . . .

So I got this blog up-to-date, filling in the past three days, but in so doing, I realized that I m pretty darned depressed. I mean, I’m excited about the baby, but—and I cannot say this to Alexis—I am so sad that Corey and I were never able to have our own baby. I see that as one of the great ways in which I have failed him and our relationship, not that he would ever say so. But I feel this loss so keenly at times, no, not a loss, but a lack, a hole, something. I know that my state-of-mind is not helped by the knowledge that one of Alexis’s friends has had her fourth child as a single mother, four children, four different fathers, maybe three.

She’s not a bad person, and I’m not judging. Rather, I’m envious. Do I think this young woman is acting responsibly? No. Her family knows it, and she knows it, and she was thinking of giving the child up for adoption, but when it came down to it, she couldn’t.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s so hard to not be able to do something only to turn around and hear of someone who can do that something without even trying. I sound like a child, don’t I?

“I know the slow combinations of the night, & the glow
Of fireflies, deepening the shadows of all I do not know. ~ David St. John, from “I Know”

I know that my mood is not helped by Corey’s absence, that I am feeling sad and lonely and way too sorry for myself. Let’s all think happy thoughts, shall we?

Gag.

Blidworth Woods, Sherwood Forest, UK, by Phil Evans (WC)

At least the rain has stopped and the temperatures are a bit warmer. I moved my boots to the back of the closet and got out my slide-ons just in time for the temperatures to drop 40 degrees at night. My timing has always been stellar with such things.

Today is a lazy day. Brett has no classes as his exams start tomorrow, and I have nowhere that I have to be, having begun the week with my doctor’s appointment. I forgot to have my lab work done last week in preparation for the appointment. Totally slipped my mind, so I need to take care of that sometime soon. Fasting lab work, which is always fun. And when I stepped on the scales in the doctor’s office, I had only lost two pounds, two pounds even though my clothes say seven pounds, at least.

At least my doctor didn’t lecture me about not seeing a pulmonologist. I told her that my asthma was better, and that was it. Good enough. No new doctor and no new meds. Perhaps she was just happy to hear that I’ve given up sugar and soda and that I’m making real attempts to get more physical activity in my daily regimen.

“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Unfortunately, I cannot say that the headaches have gotten any better. At the moment, I have the lights off and no music playing. The only soundtrack I have is Shakes snoring at my feet. I’m writing blind again, no glasses, unable to see the screen. All that I see is this blur as I type the words. No matter.

Silhouettes in Ridley Wood, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

Last night I dreamed that I was at a high school reunion, and I saw one of the guys I had had a crush on. In the dream, he looked the same. Isn’t it odd how people do not age in our dreams?  Anyway, other people in the dream included my ex, who was bragging that he had had sex with a hooker (?), and another of my guy friends who I saw only from behind. The hooker statement was wild and completely out of character for my ex.  Such a strange dream.

Another part of the dream had a famous soprano singing an aria at the reunion dinner, another completely unlikely event. People were talking during her performance, and I could see that she was getting angry. Then my dinner disappeared. It was crabcakes and asparagus, both of which I love, but neither of which have I had in an indecent amount of time.

I don’t remember how the dream ended.

“but writing down the words
alters what I want to remember
that which had no words
was a living breathing image
……….
but tomorrow when I’m gone
only the words are left
signs evoking something
that no eye sees any more” ~ Remco Campert, from “Memo

I just remembered one of the prose poems that I wrote years ago, and what bothers me is that I have no idea if a copy of this poem exists anywhere. I remember what the poem was about—I wrote it when my ex and I were having major problems—and I remember the title: “One more damned drink for the road,” but I don’t know where to find this poem. There is a slim chance that it was on the hard drive of my broken computer, which is good as I do have a copy of everything from the hard drive.

Bluebells in Roydon Woods, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

Perhaps I’ll be able to find it after all.

I’ve had lines from poems running through my head almost continually for the past few weeks—my poems, other people’s poems, which means that I should really be acting on these creative spurts, but of course, I have not. It’s as if my mind and my body are at war. My brain is saying, write this, write this, and my body is throwing up roadblocks in the form of migraines and muscle spasms. If I had lived in another era, I would quell my ailments with morphine or strong drink, and I would write until I passed out. That, or I would be locked up in an asylum.

But the words are here, almost all of the time. I look at a photograph, and a line comes to me. I’m standing at the sink washing dishes, and a phrase emerges. But it’s no use. I can’t get past this omnipresent pain. Even now, as I type these mundane words on the keyboard, words that take no imagination whatsoever, my head is tightening, and I’m rushing to complete this before the pain actually does make it impossible to keep my eyes open.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

If you’re still reading this, then I thank you. Truly. I mean, how entertaining could it be to read day after day that I have a migraine?

Edge of Roydon Woods, Calveslease Copse, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

Not very.

What was it Russell Crowe as Maximus yelled at the Coliseum in Gladiator? “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”

This blog is no Gladiator, and I am no Russell Crowe, but I hope that sometimes my words are worth your time, that sometimes I am able to arrange my words in such a way as to allow you to hear my voice. It’s all that I could ask. Obrigada.

And now, a few hours of ancient Rome might be just the ticket.

More later. Peace.

Music by Otis Redding, “Pain in My Heart” (heard this on “Awake” the other night, blast from the past)]

Silence

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

~ Billy Collins, in Poetry (April 2005)

“The clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.” ~ Jack Kerouac

 

Prayers on the Wing, by T. Umlaut

                     

“When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki
Gypsy Alley Mail by GemFireAir

Greetings from my computer. Yes, my computer, as in the one belonging to me. Is my euphoria simply jumping off the page? Is there a big, goofy smile on my face? 

That would be yes, on both counts. 

But whoa, doggie. Too much happiness could be dangerous . . . as in the newly-fixed computer does not quite boot up correctly; it still reads a CPU fan error, and oh, yes, it shuts off without warning. 

So why so much joy, you might ask . . . because I know that you are sitting there with bated breath just hanging on my every word so that you can be up-to-date with my life . . . not . . . 

Simple, even with the remaining hiccups, it’s still my computer, my little corner of the world, my files, my keyboard, and my Bose speakers. I had to force myself to go to bed around 5 a.m. after downloading the temporary files that I had stored on Corey’s computer. Corey, ever diligent and attentive, took my glee in stride as I bounced around the bedroom and stopped him several times to make him listen to the sound coming from my speakers. 

After not having it for a month and a half, having it—quirks and all—is bliss. 

“…I am a water woman, not a vessel, not something you can sail or charter. I am instead the tributary, the river, the fluid source, and the sea itself. I am all her rainy implications. And what do you, with your rusted compass, know of love?” ~ Kate Braverman
Not my humble desk . . .

So yes, it is a cloudy, drizzly day here. The pool water is green as there has been no need to clean for the past three days of rain. At least the temperatures are not ridiculously hot. 

I spent several hours this afternoon cleaning my pseudo office area (also known as corner of the bedroom). It’s amazing how much clutter can accumulate when left to its own devices. I removed everything from the desktop, dusted the desk, wiped down the lamp, desk accessories, and dumped the critters from inside my keyboard. I also hung the clothes that I had tossed onto my chair, and threw out oodles of scraps of paper onto which I had written various notes that are now irrelevant. 

In going through my post-it collection of notes, I found a password, an account number, a few quotes, a telephone number that I had been looking for, the name of the new phone that I want to get someday (of course, it will be outdated before I get it), and the titles of several books on my to-read list. Speaking of reading, now that my computer is accessible again, I need to catch up on my book reviews. I have four books sitting here waiting for reviews, two of which are notable, and two of which are forgettable. 

“The world is incomprehensible. We won’t ever understand it; we won’t ever unravel its secrets. Thus we must treat the world as it is: a sheer mystery.” ~ Carlos Castenada
VW Bus: Back to Naure

 On to other things . . . Eamonn finally got another car, a 1991 Honda. I had no input in this purchase (otherwise, I would have strongly advised against purchasing a car equal to my age unless it were a classic like a Bug or VW bus; but hey, what do I know?). Eldest son’s college classes started today. Unfortunately, the car, which he has owned less than a week, broke down on his way home.  I completely understand his vanquished attitude. 

Classes begin on August 30 for Brett. He is already beginning to stress. Nothing I can say will make him feel any better about this next big step in his life. He will have to begin and see where the months ahead take him. However, I did give him his starting college gift a few days early to try to assuage the fear: a beautiful pen. As with many other things, my children love good writing utensils as much as their mother. 

Nothing (well, I exaggerate), beats a beautiful pen that glides across the page effortlessly. 

In other news: I drank my last Pepsi this afternoon. Not nearly as traumatic as what my sons are experiencing, but my own personal hell. And Alfie is having withdrawal from spending the afternoon in my lap. I cannot work in my little corner and hold the little doggie, no matter how much he whines and protests.  As I write this, he is sitting forlornly next to my chair glaring at me. Who said that dogs don’t have facial expressions? 

“I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ~ Hermann Hesse
Queen Anne's Lace by Miranda Wildman Art

Other than that, summer is winding down, and I feel as if I haven’t taken the time to enjoy it at all. Probably because I haven’t. Admittedly, it’s been a strange summer, and perhaps I feel as I haven’t really done anything because the computer has been out of commission for so long, and we had no deck parties at Anne’s when the Germans were here, and I haven’t spent much time floating around in the pool. 

Not to mention that the continuing saga of health insurance, medication, and doctor’s visits has remain unchanged over the past two and a half months. In fact, I had yet another mix-up with a pharmaceutical company just today, which led to a very pleasant conversation with a Wal-Mart pharmacist. Perhaps I should be kinder as I do not know what kind of attitude I would have if I had to work at Wal-Mart, but it seems that most pharmacists are unpleasant on the telephone, except for the swing shift pharmacist at Walgreen’s who seems happy to be speaking with anyone. 

Time to watch “Project Runway.” Don’t be envious—a working computer, a pouting dog, Bose speakers, unhappy children, and Project Runway—how much can one person have? Jealousy is not attractive on you. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Dayplayer, “Neverending Summer,” kind of whimsical 

“I never know when I sit down, just what I am going to write. I make no plan; it just comes, and I don’t know where it comes from.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

“Double Image,” August Strindberg (1892, oil on canvas) 

 

“The paper I write on or you write on, every word we write, every cross and twirl of the pen, and the curious way we write what we think, yet very faintly . . . In them realities for you and me—in them poems for you and me . . . In them themes, hints, provokers.”  ~ Walt Whitman
"Wonderland" (1894, oil on canvas)

Rarely do I know what I am going to write when I sit down at this keyboard. I may have an idea generated from a dream or something that I have read in the news, but most of the time it’s more a matter of touching the keys and letting the words come out. No great creative genius is involved. Rather, it is more a matter of need: I need to write, to release, to ponder, to construe, to evoke. I need to do this as naturally as I need to breathe. 

That is my reality, and truthfully, it has always been this way. I have been writing about things since I was very young, before I even knew how to string letters together to form words. I would put pencil to whatever scraps of paper I could find in the house, and I would write. Of course what I wrote made no sense to anyone but me, but I knew what I was saying. And I had such a need to share my thoughts that I would take these scraps of paper and slip them under the doors of my parents’ neighbors in the large apartment house in which we resided in London. 

Some of the people knew that these notes were from me, but others were confused by the nonsensical missives that appeared under their doors with no regular schedule. The doorman in our building knew what I was doing, so he ever so kindly explained to the confused tenants that it was the little girl in apartment 13 who had been writing to them. 

Then when I went to school and learned how to form words, I wrote more. I wrote poems, letters, stories. But my dream at that time was not to become a writer. I wanted to be a hairdresser . . . 

“O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning . . . or wise . . . And still one knew nothing, perhaps, was still waiting and listening.” ~ Hermann Hesse, “Narcissus and Goldmund”
"Baby's First Cradle" (1901, oil on canvas)

In many ways, this blog is like those indecipherable scraps of paper: I know what I’m trying to say, but not everyone who reads my words can discern my meaning. That’s okay, though. The beauty of blogs is that readers can just close the window if they do not find the post interesting, or appealing, or if the subject matter is not something that coincides with their personal beliefs. 

I’m not trying to please anyone but myself. In the beginning of this blogging stuff, I was more self-censoring, not wanting to offend anyone who happened to be reading. I wrote in more general terms, putting less of myself into my posts. Over the months, though, that changed, as I had thought that it might. My persona began to creep into my posts more and more. My life, my family, all of it, became fodder. So much so that now my posts are a virtual doorway into my life. 

Is this a good thing? Perhaps not. Will I change it? Probably not. Do I regret this progression? A bit. 

“The swarm of words,
and little stories
are just to loosen you
from where you are stuck.” ~ Shitou Xiqian
"The Wave VII" (1901, oil on canvas)

When I first heard about blogs—personal online journals that are available to anyone and everyone—I must admit to being personally appalled. What kind of person puts his or her life online for the world to see? It just didn’t seem right to me, someone who had always hidden my journals from other people, seeing them as both highly personal and private. 

Then a few years later I decided to create a MySpace page. I played a bit with the internal blog aspect of the page, which made me realize that the whole social networking thing was really just a collective blog—people visiting each other’s sites, sharing opinions, leaving notes, posting pictures. Then I was given the assignment to create a web page for one of my publishing classes. The site could be about anything; there were no parameters. 

I decided to create a site on which people could create a community poem. I called it The Poem Makers. In concept, it was a pretty creative idea (or so I thought): I would write the first line of the poem, and then anyone who visited could add a line and/or comment on the poem in progress. As part of the site, I wanted to include a blog page on which participants could post ongoing commentary about the project, poetry, whatever. My search for a blog page led me to WordPress. 

Essentially the project was disastrous, mostly because I didn’t know enough HTML to create an interactive site, that and the fact that I knew relatively little about promoting a site.  I eventually abandoned the website, but I took that experience and decided to keep going with the blog. My first post was in February 2008, which means that I’ve been doing this for over two years. 

“Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.” ~ K. O. Eckland, Footprints on Clouds
"Coastal Landscape" (1901, oil on canvas)

In that time I have gone from basic posts about nothing at all to posts that include images and music and cover a range of topics. I like how I have progressed. I know so much more now than I did when I began; in particular, I realize that bloggers tend to congregate in communities and that if you want other people to read and comment on your blog, then you need to read and comment on other people’s blogs—regularly. 

I have also noticed a change in my writing style: Whereas when I was writing for publication, I was much more sparse with my words, never using five words when three will do, always choosing the simpler word over the multisyllabic one. Now that I’m writing without an editor, I tend to be more verbose. I do edit myself, but anyone who writes knows the limitations of such a thing. I do go on and on, and it’s an indulgence that gives me pleasure. I also take more liberties with punctuation than before. Always a stickler for grammar, I am merciless with a red pen when it comes to editing or grading someone else’s work. Too bad I cannot admit to being as rigorous with my own. 

Oh well . . . 

“The process of writing has something infinite about it.  Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” ~ Elias Canetti
"Aleja" (1903, oil on canvas)

I remember how excited I was when the number of hits that I had received went past 200. It was a time for great rejoicing. I am now well past 300,000 hits, but I still love to see who is visiting, what they are reading, how they got here. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of paying attention to my statistics as they serve as my validation, for now. 

I suppose all of this boils down to a few simple facts: I have come to love the freedom of blogging. I sometimes resent feeling as if I have to post until I realize that no one is making me do so. I no longer feel as if blogs are an obscene violation of privacy spurred on by the blogger’s own need for exposure. I take pleasure in reading blogs that are written well, or are visually appealing, or are in line with my own sensitivities. 

For now, this whole thing is an open-ended experiment. Who knows where it will take me, but I’m going to enjoy the ride while I can. 

More later. Peace. 

All images are by Swedish novelist and playwright August Strindberg, who turned to painting during times of crisis in which he felt unable to write. 

Music from Bare Naked Ladies, “Call and Answer”