“Aren’t we all waiting to be read by someone, praying that they’ll tell us that we make sense?” ~ Rudy Francisco

Don Hong-Oai, Untitled
Untitled
by Don Hong-Oai

                   

“Beneath my consciousness I’m sad. And I write these carelessly written lines not to say this and not to say anything, but to give my distraction something to do.  I slowly cover, with the soft strokes of a dull pen (I’m not sentimental enough to sharpen it), the white sandwich paper . . . for it suits me just fine, as would any other paper, as long as it was white.  And I feel satisfied.  I lean back.  The afternoon comes to a monotonous and rainless close, in an uncertain and despondent tone of light.  And I stop writing because I stop writing.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from chapter 66 “With a Shrug”

Saturday, late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

My tumblr dash today was filled with incredible quotes, passages and artwork, which might seem like a good thing, and it is, but it makes it so hard to narrow my choices. I ended up opening a draft post just to paste in about 12 quotes and three poems to use at a later date. I am so glad that I decided to start following people on tumblr as it makes the framing job for my posts much easier, providing me with words and images and inspiration—all at once.

Don Hong-Oai, Solitary Wooden Boat
“Solitary Wooden Boat”
by Don Hong-Oai

I know that the above quote is a bit long, but I couldn’t really find any part of it that I wanted to leave out, hence, all of it.

I think that I’ve stopped playing with my new theme for now. I got some feedback, and I changed my header image to one taken by Veronica McLaughlin at Titirangi Storyteller, just added my blog name in a new font. All in all, I think that I’m rather pleased with the combination, so I’ll leave everything for now . . . she says not quite believing herself . . .

“Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Today”

I’m of two minds about poet Mary Oliver: Some of her work really moves me, and then some of her work seems almost formulaic. But this particular passage is quite apropos as regards my mood today. Part of me really wants to just go back to bed and lie there with a cold pack on my head, but part of me wants to get something done, anything done. I know that I had big plans to take down Christmas today, but the head isn’t cooperating, and eldest son is missing, and I quite need someone’s help for all of the bending and stooping, so no progress on that front.

Don Hong-Oai, Drying Cloth, Vietnam 1970
“Drying Cloth, Vietnam, 1970”
by Don Hong-Oai

I’ve had this headache on and off since a few days before New Year’s, and last night I gave in and asked Corey to rub some Blue Emu into my aching shoulders only to wake today with a worse headache and the back pain now firmly planted in the lower quarter. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Blue Emu (or the generic Blu, I think) is a wonderful muscle rub, doesn’t smell like menthol, and goes deep. FYI.

So is the pain from the cold? Is it from the stress, which is different how, exactly? Is it my diet, which has been horrible? Who knows. I suppose I should just go take my meds and hope for the best. I mean after all, what else can I do?

“Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I write in my dreams. Several nights ago I wrote a short poem while I was asleep. Of course when I remembered hours later, I couldn’t remember a single word or even the subject matter. Two nights ago I dreamt that I wrote over 25,000 words in my new novel in one sitting. I was quite pleased with myself in the dream, especially after I did a word count. Now, ask me what it was about. Go on. Ask me.

Don Hong-Oai, To the Market
“To the Market”
by Don Hong-Oai

Yep. Gone.

Last night I had a very strange dream about being with Tom Cruise in Wal-Mart, and I was standing in the checkout line with a basket full of groceries and he disappeared only to reappear with a half-empty package of turkey lunch meat. Seems he had been testing all of the turkey lunch meat and found out it was processed. How could he not know that? But more importantly, why was I in Wal-Mart with Tom Cruise?

I hate dreams like that. Would much rather dream I was writing, as painful as the realization is that nothing is actually there, or better still, dream in French, something I haven’t done in a while. Speaking of French, I had big plans to tackle Proust in the original French this year. Wonder if I’ll get around to that . . .

“Writing down verses, I got
a paper cut on my palm.
The cut extended my life line
by nearly one-fourth.” ~ Vera Pavlova, poem “59”

Vera Pavlova, on the other hand (see above comment about Oliver), has such an economy of words, yet says so much. I think that I have a deep-seated affinity for Russian and Polish female poets, but I could not tell you why that is. Anyway.

"Winter Fog"by Don Hong-Oai
“Winter Fog”
by Don Hong-Oai

So back to today and what I am not accomplishing: Capt. Jack Harkness (the Beta) needs a clean bowl, and somehow I’ve taken on cleaning eldest son’s fish bowl every time I clean Capt. Jack’s bowl, double the work. Have no idea how that happened.

Also, need to change the sheets, and still haven’t tackled the sliding pile on the desk, nor have I found my black nail file. I should just fold right now, give up, give in, and admit that not a whole lot of anything is going to happen. I think that I need some of Corey’s homemade soup to warm me on the inside, and maybe some bread, yes, bread, and butter, and tea, and ginger scones, and . . .

Stop. it. now.

Okay, I’ve reined in the subconscious voice that is obviously ravenous, and I’ll try to focus. That and I’m now munching on a Special K 100-calorie snack bar and trying to pretend that it’s a ginger scone. Not working, but whatever.

“We make our way through Everything like thread passing through fabric: giving shape to images that we ourselves do not know.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters on Life (trans. Ulrich Baer)

I know that once again I am all over the place, but honestly, I’m sitting here kind of hunched over and squinting, and I think that I’m probably just writing down the first thing that comes to mind in a vapid attempt at creating a post that I’m not completely too ashamed to publish. I mean, I have this great collection of quotes and some killer images, so I must create content to go with, mustn’t I?

Don Hong-Oai untitled
Untitled
by Don Hong-Oai

I have always loved the contractions mustn’t and t’would, and neither are used with much frequency except by people immersed in Renaissance literature, which only serves to remind me that I have let another year pass without applying to any doctoral programs in English. Not really sure where that thought came from except that that particular thought is always there, lurking, hiding and emerging at odd moments, worrying the edges of my brain like a toddler wanting more Cheerios—seemingly content for a time and then suddenly, not at all content and flailing and sobbing because the Cheerios are gone and dammit, I need attention now.

Yes. Like that. Completely like that.

And as Rilke says so eloquently,  all of the dragons in my life are in fact princesses or princes just waiting for me to act “with beauty and courage.” I do want it all, the darkness and the light, the falls and the ascents, and I am wasting my life.

Gads.

More later. Peace.

All images by artist Don Hong-Oai (gallery); good background article on the artist and his technique here.

Music by Bim (another relatively recent discovery), “Raindrops”

                   

Book of Hours: I, 14

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.
So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.
But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.
You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.” ~ Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Honister Pass Stone Bridge, Cumbria, UK (WC)

                   

“My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “Clown in the Moon”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 60’s.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter Caitlin’s death. The weather this week is very much as it was 23 years ago: sunny and mild, and the entire time I thought that there should be storms, massive gales and torrential downpours. But no, sun. I remember standing at the cemetery after the service in just my long-sleeved dress, thinking that it should be cold, but it wasn’t.

Old Stone Bridge at Twizell, UK (WC)

The little things that come back to you.

I had very intense dreams last night, quite a detailed one in which I was having a conversation with my deceased m-in-law in her dining room, and she was talking about the treatment that she had received in the first long-term facility, and she commented that they managed to neglect her until it was too late. I told her that I had tried to help, but I knew that I hadn’t done enough.

Then she told me that she had an envelope full of checks for $10 each, all made out to the grandchildren for when they won things at school or had recitals. But she couldn’t remember where she had put them, and asked me to find them for her.

At some point I got in Corey’s truck to drive to school to  take an exam, but I couldn’t see over the dash.

The dream switched, and I was in a big room that turned into a nursery, and I was showing the babies to my friend Sarah, and I pointed out a little girl, and I told Sarah that no one had been in to feed the baby girl all day, and I just didn’t understand how people could act that way. Then I was showing Sarah pictures of the kids, and there was one of me standing in front of my m-in-law’s house, which was decorated for Christmas, and I was holding a baby. Then the nursery turned into one of my old offices, and I was alone, but I was supposed to be at the other location.

I hadn’t called in, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that I was in trouble, but my speech kept coming out garbled. I had a meeting with someone from a company that I was supposed to be reviewing a proposal for, and she pulled away from me even though I told her that I wasn’t contagious, but I couldn’t get my words out straight, and I’m certain that she thought that I was drunk.

Then a runner from the newspaper brought me proof pages for a Christmas ad, and I knew that he had been looking for me earlier in the day.

“I am a part of all whom I have met.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Ulysses”

So much of my past in these dreams, so many people, too many to name. So many things left undone, responsibilities that I had shirked, that I knew that I had shirked. So much like life itself.

Old Stone Bridge over the Allt Shuas in Fin Glen, UK, (WC)

I had very much wanted to write yesterday, but Eamonn came home and wanted his room. C’est la vie, I suppose. So I read instead, Stephen King’s The Shining, a book that I read a lifetime ago. It holds up fairly well, one of his better books, before he began churning them out like cookies. But I didn’t really find it scar.y. Perhaps I’ve read so much true crime in the years between that the tale of a man possessed by a hotel full of ghosts pales somewhat in comparison.

Or perhaps there is no going back. More likely, the latter.

I did not make it to the floral warehouse to buy new silk flowers, nor did I make it to the cemetery as I had no vehicle. Perhaps that’s why I was trying so earnestly to drive a vehicle in my dreams.

As I sit here, I have a huge pile of dishes awaiting me in the kitchen. But the smell of last night’s scrapings is making me feel rather ill. I haven’t had a migraine since the botox, but I awoke with a killer sinus headache today. You know the kind: when you touch your eyeballs, they sound crunchy from all of the built-up fluid. I’m telling myself that I’m waiting for the Sudafed and Ibuprofen to kick in before I tackle the kitchen, but the truth is that I simply do not want to do it.

I’ve gone out to the kitchen three times to survey the wreck, if you will, and each time, I walk out and come back here.

“And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself—

Surely you see that.” ~ Bertolt Brecht, “And I Always Thought”

Random thoughts:

  • I should have used yesterday afternoon to write a few cards, but it seemed too hard.
  • I greatly fear for the future of this country, that we will see more of the bad times before it gets better.
  • I need a haircut.
  • We will probably not make a trip to the mountains again this fall.
  • The spider in the corner of the bathroom is still there, and I have decided to see just how long he survives if left alone.
  • I can go an entire day without speaking to another human being as long as the dogs are around to listen to me babble.
Stone Bridge at Wycoller, Lancashire, UK (WC)
  • I’m moving towards another birthday, and I have yet to do anything substantial with my life.
  • I do not want to die without having lived, as Thoreau said, but the marrow of life eludes me.
  • I miss friendship on a daily basis.
  • Oreos are actually soul food.
  • Tillie thinks that peanut butter is doggie crack, and it probably is.
  • I have to stop snacking in the middle of the night when the dogs awaken me.
  • It would be nice if the dogs did not awaken me in the middle of the night.
  • I wonder if I could be one of those women who looks stylish with grey hair . . .
  • I’ve decided to name my fancy-tailed Beta (if I ever get him) Captain Jack after Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood,” not Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, although either captain would do.

“Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.” ~ Gabrielle Zevin from Elsewhere

More random thoughts:

  • Some of my personalized ringtones include “No one said it would be easy,” “Wreck of the day,” and “Why?” Do you sense a theme?
  • When I lived in my small apartment near ODU, I would put Janis Ian on my record player, and sing “Seventeen” at the top of my voice without any inhibitions.
  • I just remembered that both my dad and my Uncle Nick were in my dreams last night.
  • I wish that I knew someone who had all of the answers because I would go up to that person and say, “Get over it. No one has all of the answers.”
  • Not really.
Stone Bridge at Low Crag, UK (WC)
  • I stack the dishes at our table when we eat in a restaurant. I’ve always done this.
  • Eldest son is taking dance lessons. I’ve always wanted to take dance lessons, to dance a real waltz at a real ball.
  • My bucket list is overflowing.
  • I want so much and so little.
  • Are my expectations too high?
  • I had a strand of purple love beads that are long since lost. I loved them because everyone else had grey love beads.
  • I used to climb trees every chance that I got.
  • The more stories I read on the 99 percent, the luckier I feel.
  • I shouldn’t have to feel lucky because I have healthcare and a house.
  • My father, who traveled the world, never go to see the Great Wall of China.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere—on water and land.” ~ Walt Whitman,  from Leaves of Grass

Just a few more:

Stone Bridge, Clare Glen, Tanderagee, Ireland, UK (WC)
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the wrong side of the fork in the road . . .
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the right side . . .
  • How can you ever know?
  • I once had an English professor tell me that Emily Dickinson was the only female poet worth anything.
  • He pronounced the w in my last name as a Germanic v, and I despised him.
  • I once had an English teacher tell me that my poem wasn’t a poem because it didn’t have a da-duh da-duh da-duh rhythm.
  • He had dandruff and smelled.
  • If I had listened to every man who ever told me that I couldn’t, I would have never.
  • What happened to that fortitude that I used to possess?
  • I should have bought that catamaran when I had the chance.
  • Few of us realize how much our lives shift permanently because of the decisions we make between 18 and 22.
  • I was never 18 mentally or emotionally.
  • Exactly what constitutes a marketable degree any more when no one is hiring in any field?
  • Four o’clock in the morning is a very lonely hour.
  • Some people are born evil, others good, and then the rest of us struggle to figure out the difference.
  • I’m afraid it’s all been wasted time.

Enough navel-gazing for today. Dirty dishes await, and the sky has turned white.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve” from City of Angels OST

                   

Solitude

The changing seasons, sunlight and darkness,
alter the world, which, in its sunny aspect
comforts us, and with its clouds brings sadness.

And I, who have looked with infinite
tenderness at so many of its guises,
don’t know whether I ought to be sad today

or gladly go on as if a test had been passed;
I’m sad, and yet the day is so beautiful;
only in my heart is there sun and rain.

I can transform a long winter into spring;
where the pathway in the sun is a ribbon
of gold, I bid myself  ”good evening.”

In me alone are my mists and fine weather,
as in me alone is that perfect love
for which I suffered so much and no longer mourn,

let my eyes suffice me, and my heart.

~ Umberto Saba, (Trans. by George Hochfield and Leonard Nathan)