“In the morning it takes the mind a while To find the world again, lost after dream Has taken the heart to the underworld To play with the shades of lives not chosen.” ~ John O’Donohue, from “The Visitation”
Saturday evening. Rainy and chilly.
I did not sleep well last night. Every time Shakes would cough, I would sit up and look at him to make sure he did not stop breathing, so today has been a whole lot of nothing on the computer, lots and lots of knotted muscles, and forgetting to eat until I got a headache.
The above lightning gif appeared on my tumblr dash. As you know, I love lightning, the crack, the flash, especially lightning over water, so this image, as violent as it may seem, is very comforting to me.
I won’t even try to write a regular post, just share an image, a quote or two, and a poem. In a Gaelic kind of mood.
More later. Peace.
Music by Anne Jennings-Tauciene, “The Rose of Allendale”
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
“Do you know the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.” ~John Berger
Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and humid, lower 80’s.
Man, do I love the Berger quote above. I have always loved the sound of cicadas, found it beautiful, but I know that some people find it annoying. Berger’s explanation makes so much sense to me. Of course, you would have to be familiar with my tendency towards anthropomorphism to truly understand this.
Anyway . . .
So it’s a blue Monday—I’ve got my blues playlist going on in the background, and of course, the blue images of different things that I found in various places. I’m just feeling, well, blue.
Not really certain as to any particular cause, more of an overall blue—the day, the atmosphere, my mood, my disposition. I have a sink full of dirty dishes that were not there when I went to bed last night, and laundry that keeps appearing after I’ve done an all-call for dirty clothes. I wonder if anyone in this house ever wonders from where clean clothes and clean dishes come. Does it ever occur to them that the cleaning fairy actually does not exist?
Don’t mind me. I’m tired, and I overdid it this weekend by taking everything out of the kitchen fridge and scrubbing. I wanted to do the old fridge in the garage, but ran out of steam. I managed to cure the leaking washer, but there is still water leaking from the old fridge. One leak at a time, I suppose.
“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.” ~ Tao Te Ching
Actually, a better adjective for my mood might be testy. Everything and everyone should be warned. Just not in the mood for anyone’s whims today.
Actually, a whole string of adjectives might be more appropriate: blue, testy, tested, tired, tried, sore, unsure, underappreciated and overtaxed. I’m weary to the bone and wary of what’s to come. My confidence is gone, and my days seem to be running short. And the more that I write here, the less I am certain that I should continue. Not just now, not just today, but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Hell. I don’t even know what I’m saying. I think that I’ll take a break and go clean something. I’ve remembered why I used to clean so much: it passes the time mindlessly, and when you’re finished, you can look at something and say, “Now that’s a polished dining room table,” not that anyone should really be saying that because it’s the height of mundane and who cares anyway? I mean really. Are you going to get an award because your dining room table now has a great reflective surface? But when you are feeling the way I’ve been feeling lately, these seemingly small victories are just about all that’s available for the taking, so I’ll take them for now.
Oh, and I broke my only pair of glasses in half last night. This sucks.
“When I look at my life and its secret colors, I feel like bursting into tears. Like that sky. It’s rain and sun both, noon and midnight . . . I think of the lips I’ve kissed, and of the wretched child I was, and of the madness of life and the ambition that sometimes carries me away. I’m all those things at once. I’m sure there are times when you wouldn’t even recognize me. Extreme in misery, excessive in happiness—I can’t say it.” ~ Albert Camus, from A Happy Death
So while I was in the shower just now, I tried to think about what has brought about this latest downturn, and I realize that it’s quite a combination of things:
First, Corey is not doing well on this hitch. He is feeling quite down because so much has gone on for his family in Ohio in the last months or so, and he has been unable to be there for any of them. That, and he’s feeling lonely. I send him e-mails in which I try to brighten his spirits, let him know how much everyone loves and misses him, but I feel that it’s a very small band-aid, and with him being physically so far away, I cannot help but worry.
Also, last night I had a very vivid Caitlin dream. I haven’t had one of those in quite a while, but this one was a hospital/doctor/Caitlin dream, and those are the absolute worst. I was fighting with the doctor who was admitting her because he just kind of glanced over what was wrong with her, and I didn’t understand what he was saying. I was telling him not to be condescending, that I needed facts, not kind words. Then, and this was the really bad part, Caitlin was another daughter of mine who was sick, but I kept calling her Caitlin because I couldn’t remember my daughter’s name, so I was terrified that the people at the hospital would think that I was a horrible mother and take her away.
Add to that my screwy sleep schedule, the ongoing melodrama with Social Security, my upcoming home visit with the disability people, the fact that another huge pane of glass fell out of the sliding door in the middle of the night, and well, you have a recipe for major doldrums.
“What is it about us human beings that we can’t let go of lost things?” ~ Leslie Marmon Silko, from The Turquoise Ledge
In addition to the Caitlin dream, I followed it with a dream in which someone was chastising me for still grieving. I was trying to explain why my grief never ended, but I couldn’t find the words, and I have to wonder if I will ever, ever, ever get over my keen sense of loss of not only my daughter, but also my inability to have another daughter.
For those of you who may be tired of this song, feel free to fast forward, not that I can promise that it gets any better in the next section . . .
I can say that this section and the previous one share one good thing: Camus and Silko, two writers I adore.
Anyway, back to trying to decipher my mood: When I looked in the bathroom mirror this morning when I first awoke, I saw a face that looked unfamiliar. Without the daily dose of beauty cream and under eye dark circle cream, my face bare, I looked, well, old. Older than I have ever looked. Apart from not having my miracle cream, I also do not have my daily dose of Corey telling me that I’m beautiful (which I never believe, but which helps, nonetheless). And for a nanosecond, I feel as if I’ve become my mother—the woman who has tried to stave off time with multiple operations, who has treated her hair so much that its texture resembles fine straw (ooh, I also dreamed that I was losing my hair), the woman who never wanted to be called grandma.
Oh. My. God. I have become my mother.
“We are silhouettes, hollow phantoms moving mistily without a background.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves
I never, ever wanted to face aging in the way that my mother faced it: full retreat. I wanted to be one of those strong, secure women who never lied about her age, who never went under the knife, who displayed her crow’s feet like a badge of honor. That’s what I always told myself I would do, who I said I would always be.
When did I become this huge bundle of insecurity? Was it when I married a younger man and began to see each year as another 365 days that separated us? I think so, or maybe not. I mean, I’ve always been insecure, but I was able to hide it behind a demeanor full of bravado.
You must understand, the age thing has never bothered Corey. And as regards my heart, it has never bothered me. And actually, it’s not the physical in so much as it is the counting of the days, which makes no sense. I, who have always felt so much older than my number, am at a loss to explain this discrepancy. I’ll share this with you, though, as I suddenly remembered it a few days ago, and now that I think of it, this memory barreling out of nowhere is probably what precipitated everything: When I told my mother that Corey and I were going to get married, she said this: “Well you can probably get away with it now because you don’t look your age, but that’s not going to last forever.”
Once again, thanks mom. Can you imagine being told such a thing by a parent? But that’s how it has always been between us, a kind of generous love tempered with a bit of spite. It’s not a pleasant thing to admit.
I guess that break in which I did more laundry, cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom helped because I’ve written the last three sections in less time than it took to write the first two.
More later. Peace.
Music by Fiona Apple, “Sullen Girl” (“my blue oblivion”—perfect)
*A note about one of the pictures: SEIZURE is by British artist Roger Hiorns who pumped 75,000 litres of copper sulphate solution into a London council flat to create “a strangely beautiful and somewhat menacing crystalline growth on the walls, floor, ceiling and bath of this abandoned dwelling.” To see more images of this installation, click on the link. Beautiful.
The Hay Devil, Section V
this evening’s sky:
the seep of cloud through cloud so black
it looks like wreaths of ink
unfurled in water
spotting the further shore:
one white boat
dissolving in the firth.
It’s gone before I’ve seen it: details
imagining a world:
the play of wind
footsteps on the streets
intruding on my thoughts like some
perpetual film of space
or coming home
or counting out a lifetime’s worth of sails
and other people’s gardens smudged with rain
or wisps of drifted hay
that catch the light
as I never quite arrive
which is presence somewhere else
in some bright field
some miracle of air.
“I sleep. I dream. I make up things that I would never say. I say them very quietly.” ~ Richard Siken
Saturday afternoon. Hazy, hot, and humid. Liquid air.
Wow, such a week. Brett started fall semester on Monday, which meant a brand new schedule, one in which he has to be on campus by 9 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. That’s 9 in the morning. I don’t do 9 in the morning, at least, not very well, and especially not well after the dogs have gotten me up several times during the night.
And of course, in between, I’m still going over to help Lex. Mike is on the night shift, and everyone’s schedules are very out of sync, most especially mine, and it’s taking its toll.
When I awoke earlier to let the dogs out, I found that my legs hurt all the way down to the soles of my feet. No lie. It may be from all of the running I was doing in my dream in which I was trying to get away from lions, then tigers. I had gone to Japan with a group of girls from school, and we had a hotel suite right on the beach. We could see Mt. Fuji from our balcony, but I realized that I had left my camera at home. As we were looking out over the beach, I noticed two lions at the shoreline, and then when I looked down, I saw three white dogs evenly spaced in the water. I realized that the lions saw the dogs at the same time I did, and one of the lions jumped in the water and swam towards the dogs.
I wanted to try to rescue the dogs, but my roommates talked me out of it. I watched in horror as the lion devoured each dog. Then the lion came into our hotel room. We ran to the hotel office, which was in a separate building, and that’s when the dream got really weird. One lion became attached to me. Simultaneously wanting to sit next to me and attack me. I think that one of the dogs must have been trying to awaken me at this point. From there, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to flee by climbing roofs and pipes, but the lions had learned how to jump straight up. As I was fleeing, I was trying to get the lions away from the hotel which had turned into an elementary school. At one point there were tigers and a panther and electric lines.
I never did get my photograph of Mt. Fuji.
“if i can only recount the story of my life right out of my body flames will grow” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi
That was my night, or rather, my late morning.
Alexis had wanted me to watch Olivia for a bit today while she went to a neighbor’s cookout and Mike slept, but I just had to pass. I am feeling completely drained today, and the thought of putting on real clothes and leaving the house just overwhelms me and makes me hurt more.
Corey should be arriving in Antigua any day now. He was in Ascension last weekend. We talked briefly, but I didn’t want to talk for too long as our phone bill already has an extra $300 in telephone calls on it. I can sense that he is down, which could be from his birthday or could be from being away from home when so many things have happened in his absence. I’m not really sure. I’m actually trying not to pay attention to the date or the days as it makes his absence a bit easier to handle.
Anyway, when he gets home he can enjoy watching the new seasons of “Grimm” and “Dr. Who,” both of which I have recorded for him and am foregoing watching until he is home (well, at least “Grimm”). I know that I will be unable to avoid watching “Dr. Who” as I’ve been waiting for this new season for soooo long. You would have to be a Whovian to really understand the madness inherent in such dedication to a show.
“They wished to flower, and flowering is being beautiful: but we wish to ripen, and that means being dark and taking pains.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
I was going to say that I will try to resist from getting too political in the coming weeks, but with the DNC coming up next week, it will probably be hard. I do apologize to those of you who have no real interest in my rantings about politics and politicians, but they all just make it so easy. Part of me truly wishes that we had more of a campaign season like the UK’s, which only lasts a few weeks.
These weeks and weeks of ads, exaggerations, and outright lies really get to me. I find myself talking back to the television more than usual. That being said, I had planned to do a real post last night, but I lost the first section when I went to save and was redirected to login, which peeved me to no end, so I decided to watch television for a bit and then post. And then . . . holy cow, the empty chair and Clint Eastwood—it was beautifully comedic and somewhat sad at the same time. I have always loved the squinty-eyed Eastwood, loved all of his spaghetti Westerns, but nothing beats his performance at the RNC.
Hence, I posted the footage as Jon Stewart presented it. I mean really. Does anything beat an academy-award actor having a dialogue with a chair? Surreal. And yet, too real. But Eastwood’s performance was only beaten by Stewart’s commentary, which was almost poetic in its incision. As Brett reminds me, it’s kind of sad that the most honest political reporting is on Comedy Central.
“Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again . . .” ~ Frank O’Hara, from “Mayakovsky”
So a little bit of good news. I picked up the frames that I ordered at Wal Mart a few weeks ago, and quell surprise! I still like them. Now I just have to wait for Corey to get paid so that I can actually order the glasses and sunglasses. I am still waffling about the contact lenses.
I know that I went on and on about how wonderful it was to have contacts that I could actually see with, but after wearing them for a few days, I had to face the harsh reality: Yes, I can see wonderfully when they are in, but my near vision, such as reading labels, it compromised. I am fortunate for an individual of my age, shall we say, in that I have no problems whatsoever in reading close up. I do not use glasses for reading, for using the computer, when I’m in the kitchen. I don’t need them.
So when I went to make formula for Olivia while I was wearing the news lenses, and I realized that I couldn’t really see the lines on the bottle, not distinctly, I was dismayed. I could pump up that vision by wearing a pair of reading glasses, I suppose, but then, what would be the point in wearing multi-focal lenses? I don’t need nor want reading glasses. I have nothing against them except that I don’t need them.
So do I order contacts so that I have them on hand when/if Corey and I go out, and I don’t want to wear glasses? Probably, but I really hate that my eyes have gotten to this point, whatever point that is. And I know that I’ll never have vision correction surgery as I am just way too scared when it comes to anyone messing with my eyeballs.
Whatever . . .
“All the means of action—the shapeless masses—the materials—lie everywhere about us. What we need is the celestial fire to change the flint into the transparent crystal, bright and clear.
That fire is genius.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In this past week, I have composed the beginnings of a poem and the beginnings of a story in my mind. Wonderful, you say?
Not really as I did not bother to write either of them down. Have no record of them, and hence, no memory. Haven’t the vaguest what either of them were about. I know that one poem came to me after driving Brett to school, but I cannot remember the context, and I know that the story came to me after a dream, but again, that’s all that I remember.
So much for my big plans to do anything with anything.
I stopped in a discount store last weekend looking for one thing. As I was walking down the book aisle, because of course, if there is a book aisle, I have to traverse it even if I’m looking for antifreeze, a title jumped at me, something about contacting literary agents. It was insanely cheap, and I put the book in my cart, but then, I couldn’t find the one thing that I was looking for, so I left the cart with the book sitting in an aisle, and I walked out of the store.
Now consider: Does this make any sense to you? I found a very affordable book listing literary agents and what their specialties, a book from 2011, for under eight dollars, and I did not purchase it. Wat it because I can find this same information on the Internet? No. That’s not the reason. I actually talked myself out of buying this book because what was the point in standing in line when I couldn’t find antifreeze? But which was really more important in the grand scheme: the antifreeze (which I really needed immediately) or the book (which I could actually use to do something with my writing)?
Obviously, I opted for antifreeze, and for the life of me, I have no idea as to why. Genius, thy name is not mine.
“I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.” ~ Franz Kafka, from his Diaries
Whenever I come across a song or poem that I want to post, but it seems too familiar, I do a search on key terms within my old posts to make sure that I’m not repeating myself, which is how I came across a post from this past spring that really brought me up short. The post is from April 29 and features a picture from my friend over at Titirangi Storyteller. Why do I mention this? Only because of this: When I reread it, I felt disembodied.
Who had written these words? Where did they come from?
You see, I really felt like I hadn’t written it, couldn’t have written it, could not have possibly said these things in this way. It was just too . . . well, too lyrical, for want of a better word.
I hate it when that happens, hate it and love it when I surprise myself like that. Hate it when I realize that perhaps I really can write, and then hate it more when I think that that’s how I write sometimes, but I do nothing with it. Hate it when I sense that those words are within me, yet I do not let them out most of the time. You have no idea how painful it is to realize that somewhere inside are poems and stories, and yet, they only surface occasionally.
Or is it that I only let them surface occasionally? Or do I not work hard enough at letting them surface? Or am I just lazy? These are the kinds of things on which I obsess, the kinds of things that make me crazy and give me headaches. Between this and the literary agents book, I’ve worked myself into a conundrum: Why do I do the things that I do? No, really. Why?
Why? Why? Why?
More later. Peace.
*All images by Norwegian-born American painter Jonas Lie (1880-1940), known for his New England seascapes and American landscapes.
Music by Cass McCombs, “Harmonia”
Between Going and Coming
Between going and staying
the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.
“A kiss on the forehead—erases misery. I kiss your forehead.” ~ Marina Tsvetaeva, (trans. Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine)
Sunday early evening. Mild, 60°.
So it’s been two days since Corey boarded the plane that took him to Dulles, and then on to Copenhagen, then to Lithuania. Apparently he was late arriving in Lithuania because of fog. The plan made three attempts to land and then had to return to Copenhagen to refuel. Thankfully, he slept through most of it, and also thankfully, I did not know about it until it was over, and he was safe on the ground.
Tomorrow I have to send him an express package with the things that he forgot, two of which are essential, and I don’t know how—between the two of us—we forgot to pack them: his merchant mariner document and his USB for his laptop.
We don’t know how long he will be in Lithuania yet, still waiting for a decision on where the rest of the repairs will be made. He said that there is a crew of about 16 on board for now.
The last two nights have been as restless as expected. Friday, Tillie was obviously upset and wouldn’t eat. I pulled a dirty t-shirt from the hamper and put it with her, and she settled a bit. Yesterday and today I’ve tried to play with her outside for a bit, and my plan it to begin walking with her tomorrow. I hope that between the physical activity and the extra attention, she won’t go into full grieving mode, leaving me with one less thing to contend with so that I can get about the business of being miserable.
“And this is one of the mysteries, that the mind can speak, and knows nothing; and the heart knows everything, and cannot speak.” ~ Osho
The other two dogs are fine; the fat one never leaves my side long enough to pay attention to anyone else, and while Alfie knows that something is up, he seems fine as long as I let him nuzzle and sleep at my feet.
It really hasn’t hit me yet. I mean, right now it’s just as if he’s away for a transport. We’ll revisit the issue in a week and see how I’m doing.
I took the time yesterday to catch up on my blog reading, something I have been remiss in doing. One of my blogger compatriots gave me a suggestion for a post that I think I’ll tackle soon: the virtual hoarding that I do on Tumblr. I hadn’t really thought about it until recently, but I realize that Tumblr lets me amass lots and lots of things, but in a good way: I don’t have to dust, and I don’t have to make room. Anyway, I’m pondering that for now . . .
Last night, this morning, really, the moon was still big and bright in the sky at 6 a.m. or so. This whole spring forward thing on the time always screws me up; although, I’m not really certain as to why since my nights are my days and vice versa. I mean, I don’t even know the date unless I look at my cell phone or one of the calendars hanging throughout the house.
“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.” ~ George Eliot
Anyway, I’ve been trying to stay busy the past few days, catching up on reading blogs and Tumblr, and starting the Game of Thrones series of books. It’s hard reading, and I can’t do my usual speed reading as there are so many new names of places and characters, something inherent in fantasies. But I read until 4 this morning, and then made myself stop so that I could attempt to sleep.
Right. That really worked.
Before Corey left, the boys sat down with us, and we came up with a family game plan for chores and tasks. Not too many changes really, just reminders that I can do laundry, but I cannot lift the baskets. I can do the shopping, but I need someone to come with me to carry. Eamonn is taking on the yard mowing, which is good as I can’t do it, and Brett hates to do it.
But we have a plan, and my hope is that I don’t get too much grief when I do eventually ask for help and that I don’t have to be in constant mom-reminder-mode. Such a pain, especially with grown/almost grown offspring. But we’re hoping that the plan will help the three of us settle into a somewhat comfortable existence in Corey’s absence. We’re shooting for a new kind of normalcy.
I remember when Corey worked on tugs and was two weeks on/one week off—it was hard going in a lot of ways. I was still working full time, and the boys were in high school, and Eamonn was at the height of his difficult years and Brett was having so many problems. Some days, I just wanted to hide in my bedroom with the dogs. But there were dishes to do, and laundry, and all of the rest, not to mention I was going to school in DC two nights a week. I really don’t know how I survived that, but I did. I suppose we all do what we have to do when we have to do it.
It’s better if you don’t think too much about things, I suppose.
“The blue river is gray at morning and evening. There is twilight at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark wondering if this quiet in me now is a beginning or an end.” ~ Jack Gilbert, “Waking at Night”
In this most recent mode of no-sleep, I find myself attuned to every little noise. More birds are starting their morning song, so the middle of the night is actually not very quiet.
I remember that when I lived in the mountains the sounds of sirens were rarely heard in the middle of the night. When I lived in northern Virginia, it was the opposite, city sounds all night long. I don’t think that I really notice the sirens around here unless I’m trying to quiet my thoughts, but sometimes in the still of the night I can still hear the train whistle, and when there’s fog, I can hear the foghorns on the bay.
I know that I would be able to quiet my thoughts better if I had the sound of waves or rippling water within earshot. Perhaps, once I get my computer fixed and set up on my new desk, I’ll go back to my old habit of listening to my Sounds of Nature CD collection: thunderstorms, waves, whale songs, even rainforests. It’s a toss up between thunderstorms and waves, pretty much.
Last summer, we didn’t have much tree frog action, and I missed that. Just as I miss the pond outside the bedroom window with the frogs singing. Anyway, with water on the brain, you can see why I chose today’s images.
“That was the strange thing, that one did not know where one was going, or what one wanted, and followed blindly, suffering so much in secret, always unprepared and amazed and knowing nothing; but one thing led to another and by degrees something had formed itself out of nothing, and so one reached at last this calm, this quiet, this certainty, and it was this process that people called living.” ~ Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out
So that’s what life has been like in the past few days. I had toyed with writing an analysis of the Kony 2012 fray, even composed some of it in my brain, but then I just didn’t have it in me to delve into such deep political waters. It would take maximal brain cells and concentration.
I suppose I’m keeping my brain on a short-leash at the moment. Subsuming the need to think too much or ponder too deeply. Introspection poses too many problems. It’s that nagging awareness that I’m holding things at bay, not allowing any tears in front of Corey before he left, for example. If I don’t allow myself to think past the surface, if I don’t move past the dust bunnies and the dirty clothes, if I don’t sit alone with my thoughts, then perhaps this ache that is creeping into my heart can be assuaged.
I’m okay, really. I mean, more okay than I expected to be, which is what worries me. I have this tendency to build walls inside without realizing it. I mean, I admit that I exist in a constant state of grief and loss. I would be lying if I claimed anything else. That loss exists in the background of my reality—a thin membrane that cloaks everything without suffocating it. If I allow it to come to the forefront, it can be all-consuming, which is why I usually just feel the subtle vibrations of its existence.
I have taught myself postpone my confrontations with that aspect of myself, to walk carefully on the surface. At least, that is what I tell myself, and sometimes saying things silently over and over does make it so. Sometimes.
More later. Peace.
Music by Shuyler Fisk, “Waking Life”
You Reading This: Stop
Don’t just stay tangled up in your life.
Out there in some river or cave where you
could have been, some absolute, lonely
dawn may arrive and begin the story
that means what everything is about.
So don’t just look, either:
let your whole self drift like a breath and learn
its way down through the trees. Let that fine
waterfall-smoke filter its gone, magnified presence
all through the forest. Stand here till all that
you were can wander away and come back slowly,
carrying a strange new flavor into your life.
Feel it? That’s what we mean. So don’t just
read this—rub your thought over it.
Now you can go on.
~ William Stafford, from The Methow River Poems in Even in Quiet Places
“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” ~ William Stafford
Friday afternoon. Way too warm for winter, 80’s.
That’s right, 80’s. Ugh. What’s so bad about this is that I’m certain that next week it will probably be in the 40’s. How is a person with sinus problems supposed to thrive in such an environment? It’s hot. No wait, it’s cold. No, it’s hot. The natural immunity that I have gets so confused that it runs and hides.
As it is, I’m out of my Singulair, so my lungs are beginning to crackle again, and because of the hiccup in Corey’s job, I cannot get refills until this coming Thursday. By then, with the temperature changes, this gunk that had taken up temporary residence in my lungs may have come back for an extended visit.
Last night, the progress I had made in getting to sleep earlier vanished as I was unable to fall asleep until 5 a.m., and then I had very bad dreams about dead babies. So not cool.
Corey is working all weekend, which is actually good as it keeps his mind busy so that he doesn’t dwell on the still-unannounced departure date. His truck is finally working; of course, it needs gas, which isn’t going to happen, so while he’s excited that his truck has been fixed, he’s depressed that he cannot drive it anywhere. Of course, there are still a few other things that need to be done, not the least of which is to put new tires on it, but we’re planning to wait until he gets back from his hitch before that expenditure.
Meanwhile, life carries on, as it were.
“Fortune is like glass—the brighter the glitter, the more easily broken.” ~ Publius Syrus
So I’ve been thinking about things that break—real and imagined, literal and figurative. Not really sure why. What follows is stream of consciousness and random association, so be forewarned:
Crystal (too much)
Hearts (too many)
Promises (promises to keep . . .)
Words (is this the same thing as promises?)
Glass (looking glass? walking on broken glass?)
Eggs (secrets and treasurer inside a fragile box)
Families (far too many of these)
Concentration (too easily done)
Fevers (hallucinations or reality)
Negotiations (power struggles)
Wings (fear of flying)
Codes (more secrets?)
Locks (the way in or keeping something out?)
Bones (corporeal fragility)
Habits (bad? broken enough?)
Contracts (see words and promises above)
Records (as in over and over, or in something to surmount?)
Speed of sound (can we travel this far this fast?)
Barriers (all of my life)
Rules (meant to be broken)
Spirits (see wings and hearts)
Glass ceilings (barriers for women)
Systems (this country)
Waves (crash down)
Deadlines (as in promises?)
Bodies (feel this too acutely)
Ties (promises? hearts? families? All of these?)
Covenants (more than a promise)
“I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken—and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.” ~ Margaret Mitchell
So what does all of this mean? In no particular order . . .
I spent a great deal of time in my 20’s trying to break the glass ceiling. I felt that it was my duty, to myself, to the women who looked up to me and those I mentored, and to women in general to take on the very systems that promoted inequity. I had indoctrinated myself in the whole system of feminism, the idea that there should be no inequality between the sexes, that people were people, regardless of sex, creed, color.
I have learned in recent years that feminism has taken on a new meaning, that the rules by which I lived may no longer apply. All of the unspoken promises that those of us on the frontline made to the cause, those ideologies have been overshadowed by something that is no better than the patriarchy that we fought so hard to replace. Feminism should not be about women being better; it should not be about lesbians being better. The whole point of the covenant that we made was that no one should be considered better or treated better or made to feel inferior.
I am sadly disheartened on several fronts: the young women who see feminism as a dirty word, associating it with women who don’t like men (not sexual preference, just in general), defining it as women who hate marriage, family, children. That’s not what it’s about, or at least what it used to be about. I also hate that so many of the young women who are enrolled in women’s studies curricula have made it an uncomfortable place for men. When I was seeking my women’s studies certificate as an undergraduate, the classes were filled with men and women, all who sought equity, more parity between the sexes, all of whom were dedicated to an idea that women could be whatever they wanted and that men could actively support this. It was a curricula that welcomed everyone, and it still should, but I fear that that is no longer the case.
So many barriers that used to hold women back—in government, in society, in all aspects—these barriers have been broken. They should not be replaced with new barriers, reverse sexism, if you will.
People. We are people, and as such, we can embrace our difference and similarities without building more walls.
“It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and the broken promises.” ~ Chief Joseph
Someone once said that a broken promise is better than no promise. I heartily disagree. A promise reflects the individual. One who is willing to make a promise is giving his or her word. To toss that aside thoughtlessly is to be careless with the essence of what makes us who we are.
When we marry someone, we make all kinds of promises, sometimes in front of large groups of people and sometimes in front of no one more than an official. In so doing, we bind ourselves, create a tie. When Corey and I wrote our vows, we promised to do things for each other, with each other. Time and circumstance should not change those promises. I don’t believe that either of us said those words lightly. Nevertheless, I would not be telling the truth if I did not admit that we have each broken pieces of the other’s heart, have each chipped away at that unspoken code to do no harm to those we love best. We are only human, after all.
Admittedly, I made promises to my ex, or we made promises to one another. In the end, our words ended up on the scrap heap of broken promises; our marriage on the pile of rocks where broken marriages go to die. Years later, I no longer feel the seething anger or intense heartbreak that I once felt, and time and distance have allowed me to see how much we were both at fault, how we broke each other’s spirits, and broke our covenant, which resulted in a broken and fractured family that has slowly rebuilt itself..
We move through time, salve our wounds, fix some things, but are unable to repair completely others. Too often we walk about in a fog, as if in a fevered ague, and only awaken when necessity forces us to confront what is before us.
“The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears.” ~ Charles Simeon
Years ago, when I was still teaching at ODU, I was standing on the kitchen counter, reaching for something, and I dropped a glass on the floor, which immediately broke into pieces. I looked down, saw the glass. This fact registered in my brain, but I still stepped down onto the floor in my bare feet and immediately cut a deep gash on the sole of my foot that required stitches.
Why do I mention this? Because even with knowledge, foresight, we still take steps that are foolhardy; we still knowingly step into a pile of sharp edges, and then we are surprised when we are wounded. We enter into frays knowing that we might exit with wounds, yet still we do it, perhaps because we think that if we make it through to the other side, we have outpaced our own limitations, we have approached the speed of sound, come close to shattering yet another barrier. Or perhaps it is something much more simple: We are not careful enough, not mindful enough. We do not treat our hearts and our souls like the fragile eggs that they are, always believing that we can go just one step further, take one more chance.
We have no fear of flying, convincing ourselves that it cannot possibly happen to us, that is until it does, until our wings are broken, or at the very least, clipped. And what then? Does the reflection looking back at us become unrecognizable, distorted as if reflected from broken glass?
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
Ultimately, this is a world of broken people, fragmented lives, and no matter what system we depend upon for support, we are all still imperfect beings. How we seek to attain perfection varies as widely as there are people on this planet. How we attempt to reach that state of grace is limitless.
And as I sit here now, contemplating the mutability of life, I am brought back to the corporeal as a stabbing pain shoots down my spine. And I know that even though my body is broken in so many ways, that I often do not recognize the person in the mirror as I glance quickly and then turn away, I also know with just as much conviction that the places in me that are broken have been stitched together with things that I have borrowed and stolen from everyone I have ever encountered:
A bone of contention here, a sliver of spine there. I have amassed fragments and pieces, facets and slivers.
Sitting atop my jewelry box is a rather small Waterford crystal salt cellar, an individual dish for salt. My m-in-law gave it to me years ago, and it was my first piece of Waterford. She had received it as a present from an elderly woman to whom she delivered Mobile Meals. This vessel contains three small pins that I no longer wear as I have few occasions to wear suits. This tiny crystal container is perhaps one of my most treasured belongings, so I handle it with great care, probably more care than I take with my life as a whole.
Why do I mention it here? Because it is one of those things that I have amassed that is as much a piece of me as anything else. It does not serve the purpose for which it is intended, but if I were to employ it for salt, it could hold my tears. Or I could stand at the edge of the shore as the waves break onto the sand and collect sea spray that would dry as salt, and fill it wave by wave.
For now, I allow it to contain memories, and I protect it and everything that it symbolizes, which, in the end, is all that we can do really—protect that which can be broken or mend that which has already fractured.
More later. Peace.
Music by Livingston, “Broken”
The Opening of Eyes
That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out
I knew then as I have before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages of a great book
waiting to be read
It is the opening of eyes long closed
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold
It is the heart after years of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air
It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees
before the lit bush
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished
opened at last
fallen in love
with Solid Ground
“Truth doesn’t run on time like a commuter train, though time may run on truth. And the Scenes Gone By and the Scenes to Come flow blending together in the sea-green deep while Now spreads in circles on the surface.” ~ Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion
Saturday evening. Cloudy and mild, high 50’s.
6:30 a.m., I heard the songbirds outside my window and watched the sky begin to lighten. Sleep eluded me for the longest time, possibly because I stayed up to finish the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockinjay, but more likely because I found it impossible to get comfortable in any position. Unfortunately, my back has been quite out-of-sorts in the past few days. Of course. My headache has subsided, so the back decides to kick in.
I had almost forgotten how painful my back could get, and it actually took me a while to connect this new source of pain, so focused have I been of late on the head pain. Now, the pain is centered squarely on the operation site at the base of my spine, and when this happens, there is actually little that I can do other than to have Corey apply patches and keep myself plastered to my heating pad.
When I finally got up this afternoon, I went into the garage to the get the dogs’ food and dropped the cup that I use to scoop out their servings from the big bag. When I bent over to retrieve the cup, this pain shot straight up my spine. And as always when some part of my body really acts out or up or whatever, I think oh so fondly of the Social Security judge who declared that I was not disabled.
Like the character Katniss from the books that I just finished, I think often of revenge. Think.
“Where does a thought go when it’s forgotten?” ~ Sigmund Freud
A few days ago when I sat down to do my mini posts, I was quite perturbed as I had had a thought as to what I might write an actual post about the next time I got a chance, but for the life of me, I could not remember what this great thought was. Of course, I had the thought as I was lying in bed trying to will myself to sleep, and since I was awake, I thought that surely I would remember the idea.
It took me three days to remember, and when I did, I realized that it wasn’t the wonderful creative spark that I had thought that it was.
Memory is tricky like that: one minute something enters the brain and seems brilliant, full of promise, and then later, when recalled, the original idea has lost its luster. The brain, after having a bit of time to mull over the concept, throws it out, rejects it as nothing more than fodder. That used to happen to me a lot when I fancied myself a poet: I would come up with concepts for new poems, and then as I sat down to write the masterpiece there would be . . . nothing, or what came out was so much less than I had originally envisioned.
I don’t know about others, but I do know myself, and when I force an idea or concept, it never works. Never. The result is garbage that I wouldn’t let my dogs read as I am certain that my dogs are much more discerning than most of the general public, the only problem being in the actual physicality of reading; although Alfie, the smallest, has taken to jumping into the dining room chair at the end of the table and staring at the screen on Corey’s laptop as if he is perusing the pages.
“These are reprieves. Respites in the demands of sensation and flow. Know this: you can you can you can you can you can.” ~ Margot Schilpp, from “Advice in the Form of Confusions”
So Friday came and went, and Corey still did not hear anything from the shipping company. I think that it is safe to assume that he is not leaving tomorrow or Monday.
He is getting so frustrated, second-guessing himself as to whether or not he should have taken the Pacific ship, as to whether or not this is actually going to happen or if he is just being strung along again as he was with Vane Brothers, who never came through after promises and promises.
I tried to reassure him that the company must be more frustrated as the longer the Coast Guard holds up the vessel in the shipyard, the more money that the company is losing. The other thing that I did not mention is that even though the hold-up is because of the Coast Guard, I am happy if they are in fact being stringent about the seaworthiness of the ship. Just saying.
But he still feels as if he’s on tenterhooks, swinging in the breeze.
He was involved in a bit of excitement the other day, though, albeit on the periphery: He had gone to Best Buy to see about having my new motherboard installed, and the price has gone up again, from $100 to something like $220, but that’s not the story. As he was leaving the parking lot, several police cars pulled up, and there was much running. As it turns out, a couple of kids tried to steal some games; they were chased by a store security guard and a couple of concerned customers. When the teens were confronted, one of them pulled out a sword and cut someone. Here’s the link.
Needless to say, we didn’t put the computer in for service with them, and luckily, Corey was at the front of the store when all of the excitement was happening in the store’s rear. Wild.
“The lightning has shown me the scars of the future.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “The Nails”
One thing we did learn from the Best Buy computer tech is that my graphics card is also fried. No telling why no one pointed that out the other two times the computer has been in their hands. Corey can replace the graphics card, but we’ll have to find somewhere else to take the computer to have the motherboard installed as that is definitely more complicated.
Fortunately, a new graphics card is not expensive. By the time everything is done to my computer, it will have a new power supply, a new cooling fan, a new motherboard, and a new graphics card. The darned thing had better work after all of this. I’m just a wee bit (more than a wee) frustrated with more delays as I would very much like to be at work on my own system at my own desk. But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this delay is relatively minor.
I did want to mention that I enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy more than I had expected. After I ordered it, I heard from a few people that the writing wasn’t that great. It’s considered a young adult (YA) series, which brings up comparisons to J. K. Rowling, and admittedly, it wasn’t Harry Potter level, but the dystopic scenario was believable, and I sped through all three books. There was a quiet strength to Katniss.
Next on my reading list is the Game of Thrones four-book set that I ordered. In between I might read the book that I bought Eamonn for Christmas about the Bataan death march during WWII. He’s finished it and passed it along to me.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus
Let’s see, in other news . . . Eamonn has asked for Rosetta Stone French for his birthday, which is in March. As it’s his 21st birthday, we’re going to try to get it for him. I’ve managed to find it at a relatively good reduced price (down from the $300-400 retail price). His friend Sean, who is Army reserves, has free access to any Rosetta Stone, which I think is a really great perk for our service people.
Brett is coming along in school. He likes two out of four of his classes. His math and computer science classes are basic classes, so he is bored out of his mind. But he is enjoying his creative writing and art classes. I’m glad that he has decided to take up his sketching and drawing again as I found it very disheartening when he let the comments of his high school teacher dissuade him from drawing. Her emphasis was on trying to meet the standards for the IB exam, which didn’t leave all that much room for personal creativity—yet another instance of teaching for testing.
Alexis is doing well. We speak to each other much more than we were, and she has taken to dropping by unannounced again. We have all missed her, so the change is nice. At the moment, she is waiting for her updated registration to arrive in the mail to make her car legal again. In Norfolk (perhaps all of Virginia, unsure), the city government does not allow drivers to renew their annual registrations if they are behind in their personal property taxes, which was one of the things that we had let lapse in order to pay other bills, like the mortgage and groceries. When Corey went to register his truck, you know, the one that is still not on the road, we had to pay our back taxes, which was a huge chunk of change.
It’s hard to shell out money for personal property taxes when you are just making enough to get by. I find the whole idea of personal property taxes abhorrent in that I don’t feel that the Commonwealth of Virginia uses the money for the right things, but what do I know?
“At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi
Well, tonight I’m hoping for a more restful, normal night. Although, normal in my world is anything but. It seems that I am always pinning my hopes on something to come: When Corey leaves, I will start my walking regimen. When Corey leaves, I will try to get to sleep by midnight and awaken in the morning instead of the afternoon. When this stuff clears out of my lungs, I will try to be more active. If . . . when . . .
At the moment, I don’t want any changes in my routine as I am too concentrated on spending as much time with Corey as possible, so if that means that we start watching a movie at 2 a.m., so be it. I’ll have time to change my schedule later.
Such a seemingly innocuous word. As if there will always be laters, as if there will always be tomorrows. At what point in our lives to we begin to accept that we have had more yesterdays than we have tomorrows in store for us? Is acceptance of such a thing resignation? I hope not.
Later. Tomorrow. Whenever.
Words that imply promise, words that connote hope, possibly? We must have hope, even if the sunsets loom closer than the sunrises.
More later. Peace.
Music by Cary Brothers, “Something”
Everything is Waiting for You
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.