“I think it’s just as likely that someone could say that this place, right here, is heaven, hell and earth all at the same time. And we still wouldn’t know what to do differently. Everyone just muddles through, trying not to make too many mistakes.” ~ David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Lantern Festival by paul+photos=moody (FCC)

                   

“We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours?” ~ Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollak

Friday afternoon. Sunny, hot, and humid.

Thai Lantern Festival (Google Images)

It is beginning to hit me—the insidious thing called grief—waves of sorrow and sadness and regret and loss, pouring over me. I hear it in the strains of the music playing in the background. I see it in the brilliance of the late summer day. I feel it in the silence of the walls surrounding me.

I do not like this.

I wish that there were a lantern festival somewhere in the area. You know, the festivals to honor the dead in which participants float paper lanterns, sometimes with personal messages, sometimes not. I’ve always thought that these festivals are beautiful homages to the spirits.

Speaking of homages, yesterday, I spent hours and hours working on the family pictures for the college. Perfectionist that I am, I could not simply place the pictures onto an 11×14 rectangle. I had to despeckle, fix the contrast, touch up the color. I added a border around each picture, something that should have been quite simple but was not because I have forgotten how to place pictures into frames, and the copy of Photoshop that is on this particular computer is not my full version from Adobe, but rather a temporary version which Brett downloaded.

It’s better than nothing, but aggravating in its limits nonetheless.

I finished the collage around 10 last night. It’s a huge jpeg file. Corey is going to take the disk to have the enlargement and prints made for me because, of course, I could not upload the file onto the Costco site. I acquiesced rather than spend another hour trying to figure out why I could not upload. Then I went and threw up. In the past few days, I have been living on anti-nausea medication and muscle relaxers. Neither are working.

“A life is such a strange object, at one moment translucent, at another utterly opaque, an object I make with my own hands, an object imposed on me, an object for which the world provides the raw material and then steals it from me again, pulverized by events, scattered, broken, scored yet retaining its unity; how heavy it is and how inconsistent . . .” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Forest Hills Lantern Festival, by liza31337 (FCC)

To say that I slept fitfully when I actually slept is, alas, understatement. I turned off the television around 2 a.m. The last time I allowed myself to look at the clock it was 4:30. The dogs sensed my restlessness and acted accordingly: they got up and down all night, and I got up and down with them, walking to the back door to let them out, only for them to sit down at the door and look at me expectantly. My patience was sorely tried.

I had to get up early to take Brett and Em to ODU, and I’m afraid I drove while unconscious, or at least it seemed that way. I only remember one part of the drive, the part at which I had to pass police and rescue cars surrounding a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. The universe is fucking with me.

I came home and rubbed Blue Emu into as much of my back and neck that I could reach, took muscle relaxers and ibuprofen, and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

All of the knots that were released by the trigger shots on Tuesday are back, probably thanks to the floor cleaning and then sitting at the computer for half a day. I am my own worst enemy. I could go back to the pain doctor today and probably need another 18 trigger shots. My wrist is marginally okay, as long as I don’t turn it certain ways, the same with the neck—limited range of motion. I realized last night that I was walking through the house with my shoulders hunched.

Did I mention that I’m losing my voice as well? Perfect, absolutely perfect.

“After the bones—those flowers—this was found in the urn:
The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain.” ~ Agha Shahid Ali, from “Even the Rain” in Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals

Honolulu Lantern Festival (2009)

Last night (this morning?) I had a Dillard’s dream, which is usually what I dream when I am intensely stressed. I had been accused of saying something that I hadn’t said, lots of drama. Blah, blah, blah.

In the midst of trying to steel myself to take another look at the eulogy that I wrote a few weeks ago, I’ve been going around with my health insurance people who told my neurologist that they couldn’t find me in the system to approve my Botox injections for migraines. However, when I called the health insurance people, they found me just fine. Forget the Botox and just give me a hammer.

I need to make changes to the eulogy, but since I’ve already had one meltdown this afternoon, I dread opening the file. But I’m out of time. Tomorrow is the service. I need to iron dress shirts and pants for Corey, Eamonn, and Brett. Eamonn cannot find his dress shoes, of course. What other crap can happen? Please, let it rain down on me now so that I can just get this over with, seriously.

Apparently, there is a dead sea turtle floating near where Corey is working today. I’m glad that he did not send me a picture of it as I happen to love sea turtles, think they are beautiful creatures. He called the local marine institute, and they are coming out to retrieve the body. Encounters with dead things. Perfect.

Do I believe in omens? You bet I do.

“Pale Death with impartial tread beats at the poor man’s cottage door and at the palaces of Kings.” ~ Horace

Toro Nagashi during Japanese Obon (Celebration of the Dead)

I think that I’m running out of steam. The other sections of this post wrote themselves. Then I got up to check the dryer, folded some clothes, came back, and now I find myself staring at the screen, which, without my glasses, looks like a mass of white with black blurry lines and a few blocks of color here and there.

I don’t wear my glasses when I write as I have no need to seen either the screen or the keyboard. I look when I’m inserting the images and deciding on a color for the headers. Other than that, I just let my fingers serve as a direct conduit to my brain, my thoughts. Looking just means that I focus, and when I focus, I lose the thread of what I was saying.

I have my blues playlist running in the background—Tom Waits, Melody Gardot, B. B. King. Anything else would grate on my nerves. The songs come in and out of my consciousness, sometimes hearing, sometimes not. But right now, Waits’s scratchy voice has entered into my consciousness, and I am close to tears again. That’s the kind of voice that he has, full of sadness and melancholy. Corey asks me why I do this, torture myself. He doesn’t understand that these sad, melancholy songs are sometimes the only thing that serve me well.

It’s hard to explain, but my playlists are the soundtrack for my life, sometimes full of catchy melodies, sometimes heavy with nostalgia, and sometimes, just pure gut-wrenching.

Today is a gut-wrenching kind of day. Having said that, I suppose I should just go ahead and open the wound a little more and take a look at my eulogy. If I put if off any longer, it’s going to be night, people will be in the house, I won’t be able to concentrate.

More later. Peace.

Music by Kate Rusby, “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?”

                   

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

~ Adam Zagajewski
(Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh

 

“To find a pearl dive deep into the ocean don’t look in fountains. To find a pearl you must emerge from the water of life always thirsty.” ~ Rumi

Sailboat at Sunrise

“Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
and forget about hope. Time goes running, even
as we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.” ~ Horace

Cabo San Lucas, image by cabo-sailboats.com

Long time no post.  It’s peculiar, but every time I opened my blog, the picture of the woman with the anti-semitic posters greeted me, which disturbed me, so I closed my blog without writing. Finally, I decided that I could either keep getting put off by something in my post, or I could write a new post to replace the one that causes me so much disquiet. So I’m posting.

Besides, my stats are taking a big hit with no new posts, and I don’t need anything else to fret about in my fret-filled life.

Yesterday, I witnessed something that was astounding. Brett and I were in the waiting room at his doctor’s office. She is always running late, so spending time in the waiting room is tedious but anticipated. I usually take something to read, but not yesterday. It’s a very busy office, so the check-in window has two people sitting there to greet people, check them in, take money, make follow-up appointments—the usual. In my subconscious I heard one of the women say, “May I help you sir? Sir? Oh well, I guess you don’t like me. May I help you ma’am?

The woman was obviously joking and making light of the line of people waiting to be helped. However, when said man got to the front of the line, he demanded to see whoever was in charge, “right now!” He went off for about 5 minutes without pausing, saying how she had made a joke at his expense (for which she apologized profusely), accused the office of having deep-rooted problems (it’s a therapy office, you think there are problems?), his voice getting louder and louder with each word. By this time, the woman sitting next to me was transfixed, and the man across from me was clenching and unclenching his hands, clearly ready for a confrontation.

The obstreperous man at the window went on: It’s not so funny now, is it? I’m the one laughing now . . . How dare they make fun of him . . . ya da ya da ya da. I looked at the woman next to me, who said, “You know, I thought that he was joking at first.” To which I agreed. He obviously was not joking. I told the woman that he was precisely the kind of person who went postal.

At that moment, Brett’s doctor called us into her office. Unfortunately, the loud man had been moved into the hallway right outside Brett’s doctor’s office, and he was now yelling at the office manager, who told him that if he didn’t calm down, he would be removed from the patient list. Apparently, this man must do something disruptive each time he comes for an appointment because I heard the manager say to him that he needed to call before he arrived at the office for his appointments so that they could avoid these scenes.

Man oh man. What is it with people that they feel the need to be noticed, no matter what? If the complainer was upset by what the receptionist said, he could have just said that to her, given her a chance to apologize and moved on. But no. He had to turn it into a major case in which he, the aggrieved, was intentionally belittled and the entire office was out to get him.

At one time in my life I had thought that I would have made a good therapist. Yesterday reminded me of why that would not be true: Patience in the face of rampant boorishness is just not my strong suit.

“I don’t know where I was going to lead these thoughts, or where I might want to lead them. It’s a foggy, humid, hot day, sad, without threats, monotonous for no reason . . . I’m slowly filling white paper—the paper for wrapping sandwiches they give me at the cafe, because I don’t need better and any will do, so long as it’s white—with lazy traces made with a rhombic pencil. And I’m satisfied. I sit back. The afternoon fades monotonously, without rain, in a discouraged, uncertain tone. And I stop writing because I stop writing.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet

Sailboats in Sydney Harbour

So, the temperature around here went from the 60’s to a current high of 88 degrees. It’s muggy, humid, and too warm for April. Why am I not surprised?

I spent the weekend doing taxes: our taxes and Eamonn’s taxes, federal and state for both. We already received notification that we will not be getting our federal refund again this year because the government needs the money more than we do. Not. We are getting a small state refund, but of course, that is already spent.

So I worked on taxes for two days, and then spent yesterday recovering. When we got home from Brett’s appointment, I read. I thought about posting, but just couldn’t find the energy to do so. Brett is on spring break, and I am on perpetual break.

I had asked my ex if he would contribute towards all of the senior fees that Brett has upcoming. When I first mentioned it, he was reasonable and said to tell him how much I needed. When I told him now much I needed (which was half), of course, he balked. Surprisingly, he did manage to come through. I mean, we have to order Brett’s cap and gown, pay for his graduation announcements, buy his yearbook, on top of paying for his SAT, college applications, etc. I don’t think that I was being unreasonable to expect him to come up with half. But quite frankly, I don’t really care if he thinks that it was unreasonable. I have let him slide on so many things over the years because it is easier than dealing with his attitude.

Wednesday is Alexis’s follow-up appointment with the neurologist in which he is going to discuss her MRI and her EEG and come up with some kind of game plan. I want her to talk to him about her sleeping habits as she has missed work a couple of times because she has not heard all of the alarms. One day she woke up at 3 in the afternoon. Her friend had called her. Mike had called her. Her boss had called her. Four alarms went off. She slept through all of it. How is that possible? Fortunately, the people at her job are being very understanding at the moment, but I expect that that will not last after this appointment with the neurologist. It’s been a wait-and-see for them (wait to see what caused her seizure before deciding how to handle it).

“An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man’s entire existence.” ~ Honoré de Balzac

Sailboat at Porto Koufo, Greece

Corey has a spring cold. The pollen is not helping. This week, he only works two days, and both of those are for training, which means he will make less per hour. He has told me that when he is at a port and sees the tugboats, he longs to be on one. I know how much he misses doing his real job. He read an article in his work magazine that said that shipping is not picking up as fast as they had anticipated for 2010. Really? I think that we knew that.

I really thought that he would be working for Vane Brothers by now, but they are still not bringing on any new people. The unfortunate reality is that Corey made more money on unemployment than he is making at this job, and the logic escapes me. I mean, port security is kind of a big deal around here. Port security has been a big deal ever since 9/11. Given that reality, am I the only one who thinks that the people tasked with watching these boats should be paid more than someone who is selling men’s clothing at a department store?

Apparently, I must be. Of course, there is that whole thing about being glad for what you have, being grateful for having a job, which of course, we are. But both of us also know that Corey would be much happier on a boat doing what he has been trained to do and earning what he is worth. It’s not the money that he loves about being on a tugboat. It’s the job itself. The money is nice, but the satisfaction means more.

Anyway, that’s about all for now. More later. Peace.

Music by Regina Spektor, “Field Below”

                                                                                                            

I read this on Crashingly Beautiful, and it seemed appropriate to my discussion about boats:

Cradles

Along the quay, the great ships,
that ride the swell in silence,
take no notice of the cradles.
that the hands of the women rock.

But the day of farewells will come,
when the women must weep,
and curious men are tempted
towards the horizons that lure them!

And that day the great ships,
sailing away from the diminishing port,
feel their bulk held back
by the spirits of the distant cradles.

 ~ Rene Francois Armand Prudhomme

“Nulla dies sine linea.” (Never a day without a line) ~ Horace

 Waterman Fairy Ad 

Vintage Advertisement for Waterman’s Fountain Pen

 

“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up on rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” ~ Author Unknown

Not a whole lot going on at the homestead.

Corey went to an open house for MSC (Military Sealift Command) today, only to find out that they haven’t had any available deck positions for over a year. He said that the place was packed and that most of those in attendance had no experience at all. I know that it is quite discouraging for him to go to these things only to find out that there are no jobs. Besides, why are they having an open house if they don’t have any positions. Does this make sense?

watermans new leaf penWe haven’t heard anything else from the shipyard, and as I said, that process could take months. Vane Brothers hasn’t gotten back to him either, although the man with whom Corey has been in contact did say that he was passing Corey’s detailed work experience on to the General Manager. I don’t even know if that means anything any more. It used to be that when you heard something like that from an employer, it was a very good sign, but not these days in this economy.

I think that I’ve finally gotten things straightened out with my retirement account. I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to take anything more out of my account, but I will probably have to continue to make withdrawals for the time being. With a 24 percent tax penalty each time, that’s a hefty loss right off the top for any withdrawal that I make, but we really don’t have any other choices left.

When I spoke to the representative with whom I have been in continuing contact, he told me that Denver had just been hit with a huge snowstorm, so the TIAA-CREF offices may be closing early. He didn’t seem very amused when I told him that it was 75 degrees here. Oh well. Glad that I don’t live in Denver. I’m not ready for snowstorms, not that we ever really get them in this area any more.

“You can’t write a personal column without going to some very deep place inside yourself, even if it’s only for four hours. It’s almost like psychotherapy, except you’re doing it on your own.” ~ Jennifer Allen, essayist 

Mark Twain pen adJust spending my time rereading some old books by Ann Rule. These aren’t as interesting as the ones that I read over the weekend, but they are better than nothing.

Other than that, I really don’t have a whole lot to say. I need to finish some paperwork for Virginia Social Services to see if I qualify for Medicaid. If I do, then some of my back balances with my doctors may be taken care of, which would be one load off my mind. With any luck, I may get some help with prescriptions as well, which would be really great since my prescription coverage is still screwed up, and we are having to pay full price for my prescriptions. As a result, I am not taking all of my meds, which I am sure is affecting the whole headache scenario.

It’s just a never-ending cycle.

Yesterday, Eamonn asked if he could borrow a few dollars. I had to laugh. I told him that I have precisely 12 cents to my name. I’m not sure what he is doing with the money that he is earning, but at least we don’t have to pay for his gas. He said something about waiting until next year to start school. I hope that it was just a passing comment, because I know from experience with Alexis that the longer he waits to begin, the greater are the chances that he won’t start at all. That would really be a shame.

Alexis kept saying that she would start one day, but that day has never come. All of her friends who went to college have already graduated and gotten jobs. I know that college isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s a shame when someone is definitely smart enough to go to college, and they don’t, but it has to be her decision.

“Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.” ~ Stephen King

advertisement-for-a-fountain-pen-featuring-a-silhouette-of-a-woman-sitting-under-a-tree-writingAnyway, it’s a chilly fall day with no sunshine, one of those kinds of days that make staying inside a good option. I’m really hoping that we can do something about the heat this winter, but I’m not going to allow myself to get starry-eyed with belief in wild scenarios. Heat. Wild scenario. My, I’ve come a long way.

As it is, the vet that we took Tillie to for her first seizure is getting pretty nasty about the amount owed. They’ve slapped on so many fees that we now owe over twice as much as we owed in the beginning. Try to imagine your highest vet’s bill—now double it. That’s what we’re talking about.

I would really like to start something with Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), a non-profit service that helps people to consolidate and pay off their bills, but we don’t have the extra monthly income to even start something like that. CCCS is not like a lot of debt-consolidation companies. They are recognized by the Better Business Bureau, and they charge a minimal monthly fee for their services. However, once you start the program, it is very important that you make the monthly payment that has been negotiated with your creditors on your behalf; otherwise, the process is all for naught. Right now, it is too premature to agree to any kind of payment plan with anyone.

I’ve been reading the news, and the number of people who are having to file for bankruptcy is increasing each month. That is really something that I just do not want to do. It seems like total surrender, and I don’t want to consider that as an option. I know that there are a lot of irresponsible people who file for bankruptcy as a way to wipe the slate clean, and then they begin to accumulate debt all over again. But there are just as many people out there who are filing for bankruptcy because they just don’t have any other way out.

It’s sad really. A recent report in USA Today cited that the number of bankruptcies is up 22 percent over last year. By the end of the year, estimates are that 1.45 million consumers will have to file, with job loss being listed as the primary reason for filing. For 2009, Virginia ranks 23rd overall for bankruptcies filed. Nevada, Tennessee, and Georgia rank first through third, in that order.

The economy continues to be scary, and the job situation continues to be depressing. Not just for us but for millions of people.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” ~ Joseph Heller 

Parker Duofold PenOther than those little tidbits, I don’t have much to say, which in itself is disheartening. I had really hoped to be back to my daily blogging by now, but there are some days in which I just have absolutely nothing to say. I sit down to write and just stare at the screen. Then I open a game like Mah Jong or Spider Solitaire and play that for a bit.

It’s underwhelming, at best. I mean, how long can I continue to write about my dogs, the economy, the money situation? I’m getting bored with what I write, so it’s only logical that people would find my posts boring to read. Hence, I don’t post.

I mean, I have been reading some really outlandish stuff on the political front, but even that isn’t motivating me to post. Maybe it’s just seasonal, or the continuing ache in my head, or the fact that it’s not even November, and I’m cold. But whatever it is, I hope that is passes soon, because I enjoy writing, just not when I continuously repeat myself.

I’ll finish with a very descriptive quote that I found; it’s by Stephen King, whose writing I don’t always like, but I do like an awful lot of what King has to say about the writing process:

There is indeed a half-wild beast that lives in the thickets of each writer’s imagination. It gorges on a half-cooked stew of suppositions, superstitions and half-finished stories. It’s drawn by the stink of the image-making stills writers paint in their heads. The place one calls one’s study or writing room is really no more than a clearing in the woods where one trains the beast (insofar as it can be trained) to come. One doesn’t call it; that doesn’t work. One just goes there and picks up the handiest writing implement (or turns it on) and then waits. It usually comes, drawn by the entrancing odor of hopeful ideas. Some days it only comes as far as the edge of the clearing, relieves itself and disappears again. Other days it darts across to the waiting writer, bites him and then turns tail. ~ From “The Writing Life” (October 2006)

Today is one of those “as far as the edge of the clearing” days. Video of Anna Nalick’s “Wreck of the Day” with images from “Law & Order Criminal Intent,” one of the best shows ever.

More later, with any luck. Peace.