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

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

                   

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

Saturday afternoon. Sunny and too warm, 84 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was all just too, too, bizarre.

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

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

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

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

That is how I find myself now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More later. Peace.

Music by Camera Obscura, “Your Picture”

                   

Photograph

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Andrea Gibson

“Words carry oceans on their small backs.” ~ Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

Sunset on the New River by Jo Munday fcc
Sunset on the New River
by Jo Munday (FCC)

                      

“What do you know about yourself? What are your stories? The ones you tell yourself, and the ones told by others . . . I suppose the truth is that we begin more than once; we begin many times. Over and over we start our own tales, compose our own stories, whether our lives are short or long. Until at last all our beginnings come down to just one end, and the tale of who we are is done.” ~ Cameron Dokey, from Before Midnight

Monday early evening. Partly cloudy, extremely humid and hot, 87 degrees.

Part of a comment in my spam folder: your broadcast offered shiny transparent idea. I like that: shiny, transparent idea. Probably the best compilation of words I’ve seen in days, and of course, not mine.

Stream, New River nukeit1 fcc
Stream Feeding the New River
by nukeit1 (FCC)

Spam comments are sometimes worth perusing, if only to find the nuggets above. I’m not making fun of the broken English comments. After all, if someone is speaking broken English, that means he or she speaks another language. How many of us English-speaking Americans can say the same?

Anyway, I don’t promise this will be a lucid post. I’m coming off my second night of insomnia. I have no idea as to what has caused this latest bout, but it’s a serious one. The dogs are snoring, Corey is snoring, I’m thinking about tile.

Let me explain: Corey has decided that we’re going ahead with the bathroom renovation in the next few days. I agree that it’s time. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, it has to be a total gut to see what water damage we have, which means tile, faucets, tub, sink/vanity, toilet, tile . . . The idea of doing this doesn’t scare me. What scares me is making sure we’ve budgeted for every possible scenario.

Too many numbers, measurements, and finishes are roiling about in my brain; hence, the inability to shut it off and go to sleep.

“The mind is constantly trying to figure out what page it’s on in the story of itself. Close the book. Burn the bookmark. End of story. Now the dancing begins.” ~ Ikko Narasaki

So at three in the morning I had a sudden realization that the tub we had agreed on wouldn’t work because it was a drop in without a skirt. Drop-in means we would have to build a supporting frame and create an attractive skirt. I kid you not, I got on the computer at 3 in the morning to research the difference between drop-in tubs and tubs that come with an apron or skirt.

Down by the New River by Jo Munday FCC
Down by the New River
by Jo Munday (FCC)

Then I realized that the original tile configuration I had come up with was going to be too expensive, so back to the pages and pages of tile choices. This is what happens when you have OCD—every detail becomes a challenge. If only I approached my writing with the same verve. No. I save that for tile.

In between the dashes to the computer, I would try to determine which medicine I could add to my nighttime meds that might induce sleep without putting me into a coma. Somewhere around 4:30 a.m. I drank a shot of Kahlua and cream. Whatever.

“Living with one’s passions amounts to living with one’s sufferings, which are the counterpoise, the corrective, the balance, and the price. When a man has learned—and not on paper—how to remain alone with his suffering, how to overcome his longing to flee, the illusion that others may share, then he has little left to learn.” ~ Albert Camus, from Notebooks, 1942-1951

Finally a made myself leave the computer, set a short playlist of soft music, and planted myself in bed. Perhaps sleep . . . no, not sleep as a particular song on playlist began to take my mind someplace I really didn’t want to go, back to my early 20’s, driving up a mountain road with friends in tow, going to New River. I think Dicky Betts was on the radio. I was never a Southern rock aficionado, but I had select favorites, especially the songs with girls’ names: “Amy,” “Melissa,” and “Allison.”

New River Gorge Bridge from Beneath by amanderson2 fcc
New River Gorge Bridge from Beneath
by amanderson2 (FCC)

The playlist I had selected was mostly bluegrass, and I remembered another time, with my ex, when we used to listen to a bluegrass program on the radio every Sunday night. The radio. A little clock radio with the added bonus of a cassette tape player. Big deal once upon a time.

Then it all came back, fast, an oncoming onslaught that I could not have predicted and that I could not temper with a different set of memories from a different point in time. I don’t speak highly of my ex, and there are reasons, but to deny that we had some magic once would just be unfair to both of us. Mostly the magic was in the early days when we were poor students surviving each month on less money than you can imagine.

Poverty makes you creative. You rely on friends, free things (like New River and the Cascades), and mix tapes as the soundtrack to your days. There were cookouts, big pots of stew, a bottle of wine that had to last two weeks.

“Something aches at the very core of me, something ancient and deep and stronger than words: the filament that joins each of us to the root of existence, that ancient thing unfurling and resisting and grappling, desperately for a foothold, a way to stay here, breathe, keep going.” ~ Lauren Oliver, Delirium

I have been poor a few different times in my life. It’s not a preferred state. And I know that it is easy to romanticize the past, to forget all of the horrible exchanges of bitter words and all of the resultant tears. Time allows those things to soften, and if you are really lucky, allows you to forget most of the bad. I’ve never been good at the forgetting thing.

But last night, or rather, early this morning, as I watched the room change from dark to light, as I listened to the birds, I remembered riding up a mountain in a really raggedy Toyota. I remember singing along to bluegrass and sipping cheap cold beer from a can.

Kaymoor Trail Stream, New River urbanwoodchuck fcc
Kaymoor Trail Stream, New River
by urbanwoodchuck (FCC)

I had everything in front of me, bad and good. The kids, the careers, the friends, and the lovers. Corey wasn’t anywhere near my orbit because he was too busy growing up in Ohio. All of the possibilities were still there. All of the dreams were still waiting to be dusted on the wind. All of the words had yet to leave my brain.

My writing back then was so maudlin, so juvenile . . . hearts, flowers, love. No depth. No strength. I hadn’t seen even half of what life would deal me; how could I possibly write about it?

“I need words that mean more than they mean, words not just with height and width, but depth and weight and, and other dimensions that I cannot even name.” ~ Lois McMaster Bujold

So while the world outside was moving minute by minute into the future, I was lost somewhere in the past, somewhere on a narrow mountain road, and life was like a juicy ripe peach, there for the taking. I’m fairly certain we were at the Narrows, New River.

Between the Rails jronaldlee FCC
Between the Rails
by jronaldlee (FCC)

The air was so clean that you could smell the green. The water that pooled around my bare feet was clear enough to see the pebbles on the bottom. Occasionally, the train passed by, a grey line among the green, a sound among the natural silence. Those were the days long before parasailers and kayakers and whitewater rafting groups. Fewer people, more nature. It was a good day. We stayed for hours until the sun began to set behind the mountain, and a chill crept into the air.

But this is why I was left so damned melancholy: I will never have those days again. I am closer to my last chapter than one written in my beginning. Yet I remember feeling everything so acutely, embracing life so completely, inhaling the very essence of the day.

Words are beginning to fail me now. I fear that I my writing is broaching on the clichéd. But for a few hours between dawn and daylight, I was there, and it was richer than anything I have glimpsed with my tired eyes in too long, and I fell asleep with a dull ache in my heart and a very tired soul.

More later. Peace.

All images are used under creative commons license.

Music by Mindy Smith and Matthew Perryman Jones, “Anymore of This”

                    

The Heart Under Your Heart

New River Gorge Bridge at Fayette Station Gary Hartley
New River Gorge Bridge at Fayette Station
by Gary Hartley (creative commons)

Who gives his heart away too easily must have a heart
under his heart.
~ James Richardson

The heart under your heart
is not the one you share
so readily so full of pleasantry
& tenderness
it is a single blackberry
at the heart of a bramble
or else some larger fruit
heavy the size of a fist
it is full of things
you have never shared with me
broken engagements bruises
& baking dishes
the scars on top of scars
of sixteen thousand pinpricks
the melody you want so much to carry
& always fear black fear
or so I imagine you have never shown me
& how could I expect you to
I also have a heart beneath my heart
perhaps you have seen or guessed
it is a beach at night
where the waves lap & the wind hisses
over a bank of thin
translucent orange & yellow jingle shells
on the far side of the harbor
the lighthouse beacon
shivers across the black water
& someone stands there waiting

~ Craig Arnold