“Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Cedar Waxwing and Berries in Snow

                   

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” ~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, early evening. Cold.

It’s hovering around 40° F; yesterday it was 78° F. That’s how it’s been for the past five or six days. One day, unseasonably warm winter temps, and the next day, temps at least 30 to 40 degrees lower than the day before. I seem to have developed a scratchiness to my voice. Could be the temperature fluctuations, or it could be pollen. Then again, it could just be Wisconsin Governor Walker grating on my nerves (and why is the mainstream media totally ignoring the Wisconsin situation?)

Just for fun, I thought that I would interrupt regular posting to insert Jon Stewart’s latest commentary on the Wisconsin happenings:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Crisis in Dairyland – Angry Curds – The Daily S…, posted with vodpod 

We now resume regular posting . . .

Sharing a Perch in the Snow

Today I had the first of three gastro tests to try to find out why my system does not work like a normal person. I’m not even going to list the name of the test that I had to undergo. Suffice it to say that personal privacy and boundaries are not respected during this test and that it involved barium, which, if you have never been near this contrast medium, you should thank the powers that be as barium is made of chalk and bird poop, which is what gives it its lovely white consistency and delectable flavor . . .

Thankfully, I did have two really great radiology technicians, which helps the nerves. Next test involves having to swallow a contrast marker and then have x-rays taken on day five; I already swallowed the marker last week because the woman in the doctor’s office did not tell me not to take the marker before today’s test, which means that I have to do it all over again. Third test involves putting a tube in my nose for 24 hours. Just typing that makes me shudder, no lie.

February was spent in a haze of doctor’s appointments. Little wonder that it is the first of March, but my brain is still January-engaged.

“The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Snowy Owl by John H. Gavin

Two Fridays ago I had my eye exam, the first one I’ve had in a couple of years. It was only after this exam that I found out that the vision rider for which I am paying is essentially worthless. “Well it covers this, but there is a fitting fee . . . but if you want to get glasses, then you have to pay $80 for the contacts today, but if you want contacts, then we deduct this and add that and if you’re really lucky, on the full moon, you can wish for glasses or contacts, but not both. Whatever.

I went back last Friday for the optometrist to check the contacts that she had prescribed. I told her that I was having problems seeing out of my left eye. We talked for a few minutes about my previous experiences with contacts, and she said—I kid you not—”Well, you are older now, and your eyes are older, so you can’t expect to see the way that you used to.”

Really? No shit? I’m older? Thank you so much for that moment of truth. I was completely unaware that I had gotten older. In her favor, she just seems like a very matter-of-fact person, not snotty, just telling it like it is.

So my old eyes tried another contact prescription. I could tell before I left the waiting room that they weren’t working. Another hop onto the exam chair (which is really hard to do, hopping, that is, when you’re old), and we decided to go with two different lenses: near vision in the left eye, and distance in the right eye. I was certain that my brain would rebel, but it actually works perfectly. I can see everything on the dash in the car, and I can see the computer screen. I always find it beneficial to see the car’s dash, so I’m feeling better. Now I just have to wait for another payday to get updated glasses.

(Oh, this part made me feel old as well). Corey and I were looking at frames, and I picked out a frame that pretty much mirrors my current frame. I know what flatters my face and what is comfortable. Seemed like a no-brainer to me . . . Corey says something along the lines of shouldn’t I try something that is a little more stylish?

What??? My frames are old-fashioned? Is that what you were implying with your comment? Poor man. Simply cannot catch a break. We left Costco with neither of us very happy. As it stands now, I don’t have a clue as to what kind of glasses I want to get. Every pair that I try on leaves me feeling less than attractive. I mean, if Sophia Loren can put her name on a line of glasses frames, why can she not append her visage with the frames? Loren looks cool in glasses. I look like . . . well, probably what I am: a bookish teacher type.

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again.” ~ Frank O’Hara

Blue Jay on Ice

In other news, remember that poetry contest that I entered? Well, I didn’t win, but I was a finalist. Pretty cool, huh?

Now if I were an optimist with a good self-image, I might see this as a sign that I should probably work on my craft more and actively work on sending things out for review. However, we all know that this is not the case, so my immediate first thoughts were, “A finalist? Are you kidding me? Did you not have a lot of entries?”

A Poet Reflects, the blog that hosted the contest, asked poet Allen Braden to judge the contest, which is why it took longer to find out the results.  I had decided that because so much time had passed between submitting my entry and hearing anything that I was definitely out of the running. This is how my mind works: no news = bad/horrible/catastrophic news.

Anyway, after I received the good news, I got an e-mail requesting that I create an MP3 of myself reading my poem. Seriously? I hate my voice whenever I hear it recorded; it always sounds like a little girl. I don’t mean that I have one of those Jennifer Tilly squeaky, breathless voices, just that I would prefer a Lauren Bacall timbre.

So after I get over the request itself, I realize that I have no idea as to how to create an MP3. I know. I know. It’s really not hard, but what can I say? I panicked. Then I settled down and gave it some thought and realized that Brett’s gaming headphones have a microphone on them. Voila! Recording action can be had.

Several attempts later, I finally came up with a reading with which I was actually pleased, so I shipped it off before I could change my mind. My poem and the reading are supposed to appear on tumblr tomorrow or the next day. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to post them here, although I’m not sure why this blog or that blog really makes a difference. It’s not like I’m beholden to my privacy or anything. I do plan to post some of the other finalists’ poems as well as the winner. Stay tuned.

“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people . . . Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too.” ~ J. D. Salinger

Robin in the Snow by Noël Zia Lee

So that’s how things have been around here for the past week or so. Each time that I’ve sat down to write a post, something has kept me from achieving said goal. For example, on Friday night/Saturday morning, I didn’t fall asleep until 9:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I felt less than creative on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was not much better. I have been trying to put up a few small things here and there (I loved the no elephants picture).

Meanwhile, Corey has already lost two shifts this week, but last week he worked 55 hours. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If I were responsible for scheduling these people for shifts, I would make darn sure there was more balance. I mean, that’s one of the things I had to do in retail, schedule over 50 people at a time, and believe me, it’s not easy.

Speaking of retail, a Marshall’s is opening in the shopping center just down the road; I’m talking a mile away. Part of me longs to apply for a management position there, but who am I kidding? Retail management means working at least 50 to 60 hours a week, and a lot (emphasis on lot) of physical labor. How do you think those clothes get on those racks? Oh well, I can wish.

Not much new on the kids’ front. Spring break is sometime in March. Neither son has anything exciting planned (that I know about). Alexis? Well, that’s a post all by itself and a subject that I’m honestly not up to dealing with at the moment. So that’s it for now.

By the way, I have changed the name of my tumblr from “Slow Dancing in Quicksand” to “Frenzy and Lightning,” which is the url. It just seemed to make more sense, at least, to me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

“If the earth needs night as well as day, wouldn’t it follow that the soul requires endarkenment to balance enlightenment?” ~ Tom Robbins from Jitterbut Perfume

Abstract: Branching Dream in Blues, by russell.tomlin
                   

“Where do colors go at night, before they are returned to us at dawn?” ~ Lorenzo

Sunday evening. Clear and chilly.

"Un Parc la nuit," by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai (ca. 1892-1895, Musee d’Orsay)

Last night I dreamed that I was fighting a dragon, a huge, purple dragon that swooped down over the meadow I happened to be in, and somehow, I escaped, only to fight a wolf with my bare hands. Weird, huh?

I love my husband; he shares everything me. For instance, his winter cold—clogged ears, cough, aches, and all. His symptoms began about four or five days ago. Mine hit their high point yesterday, so another day in bed for me. How does one repay such generosity of spirit? I’ll find a way. Trust me.

 I didn’t come near the computer yesterday, which should give you an idea as to how low I felt. Instead, I read another book, this one by James Rollins. Please don’t ask me the title as I haven’t the foggiest idea. I just breezed through it in between napping. It possessed my little grey cells only for as long as I was actively reading. Sometimes those are the best kinds of books: formulaic plots that don’t tax the mind too much but manage to pass the time suitably, i.e., smart, independent woman, strong man, mad scientist/curator/military leader, possible end of the world scenario.

In other news, I think that I have finally, finally gotten my health insurance fiasco fixed. My last e-mail exchange with the HR rep at GW seems to confirm this, which makes it less fantasy and more possible reality. I know. Stupid isn’t it when wishing that you had health insurance that you are paying for actually worked? So if everything goes as hoped, I can make appointments with all of the specialists that I need to see: the neurologist, the gastro guy, the gyn, the eye doctor, and the mood doctor. Oh, and the breast smashing-people.

I have so much to look forward to.

“. . . Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”~ John F. Kennedy 

Tunisian Demonstrators Place Flowers in the Barrels of Soldiers' Guns from the majalla.com

On to other things . . . Corey has an aunt and uncle in Egypt. I’m not exactly sure as to their location, but I do know that they live in an American compound. Still, it’s a situation fraught with dangers. I will admit that I am not as up on the background that led to the current uprisings. My ongoing headache has greatly affected my usual perusal of news sites. But I did come across the following on my tumblr dash:

“The current popular unrest in the Arab world has a lot of lessons for Washington. Undoubtedly one of the most jarring is this: The leak of a simple series of cables from a U.S. ambassador in an obscure country — officially condemned by Washington — may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.”

Michael Hirsch of The National Journal was referencing Tunisia in the above passage, which many feel has a direct link to what is happening now in Egypt. According to The Daily Mail, “A 2008 diplomatic cable leaked by the WikiLeaks site outlines how the U.S. State Department supported a pro-democracy activist and lobbied for the release of dissidents from custody.” The article goes on to state that “the protests were triggered by the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Al Ben Ali. Street protests in Tunis focused on similar issues, including poverty and political repression.”

I must take the time to research the situation more thoroughly. If anyone has any good links, I’d appreciate the info.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” ~ Guatama Buddha

Grass on Water by Russell.Tomlin

In less world-shattering news, I have decided to enter an informal poetry contest that one of my fellow tmblrs is holding (A Poet Reflects).

Now, I should probably explain a few things here for those of you who think that entering such a contest is old hat for me. First, and probably most importantly, to enter the contest, I must submit my work. This means that someone other than my computer and occasionally a few family members will see my poetic attempts. The idea of such a thing scares the ever-loving bejeezus out of me.

Second, I don’t practice my poetry often; dabbling might be stretching the reality a bit. I am much more comfortable in prose. But occasionally, a poem comes to me out of the blue. You would think (well, most logical people would think) that such flashes would inspire me to hasten to some writing utensil to put down the words that are bouncing around in my head so that I can work with them more. Nope. Don’t do it. Too scared.

Too convinced that my poems are hack. Too certain that there is no point. So after reading about this contest, that night in bed the opening of a poem came to me. I went over it several times, rearranging words, deleting some, inserting others. By the time I was finished with my musings, I probably had eight or ten lines. Now anyone else might get out of bed and write these lines down so that they could be revisited in the morning. Did I do that? No. I told myself, ‘self, surely you will remember all of this mental gymnastics in the morning. Go to sleep.’

And so I did.

“So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.”~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Chinese Lanterns at Night," by Thomas Watson Ball

 Of course I did not remember. This is the third thing in the list of things you should know about my poetry, and/or writing in general: I am my own worst enemy.

The next day, after bemoaning the fact that I could remember not even one line, I took a pad of paper and pen and sat on the bed to begin again. (I prefer to draft poems with pen rather than computer—probably the only kind of writing that I do with pen any more.) I was rather pleased when I drafted eight quatrains, rapid-fire. Rather surprised, too. Then I reread them and promptly put down the pen and paper and thought to myself, “Crap. Crap. Crap.” A few hours later, a totally new opening came to me, and having learned my lesson somewhat, I wrote down the new opening. Then I left everything alone so that I could mull and stew a bit (I view poems a lot like my homemade spaghetti sauce: it needs to simmer to reach its optimum flavor).

Okay, now here is the kicker: I put the three pages of pen-written draft in my book basket next to my side of the bed. At some point during the evening, I knocked over my cup of tea. Where did most of it land?

Do I really need to tell you? On my draft. I spread the soaked sheets of paper on plain white paper (one was written on both the front and back, something I rarely do) and left them to dry. It’s been two days. Have I looked at the pages to see if they are readable?

Of course not. Will I finish this poem in time to submit by the deadline? Who knows.

Perhaps the more interesting aspect is the journey that I have taken to write the poem rather than the poem itself. Then again, that just might be more of my self-justification for not doing what I need to do. Did I mention that a book of Pessoa’s poetry is the prize? That alone should motivate me to enter the contest.

I’ll let you know what I do when I know what I’m going to do.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

                   

From “Silence,” by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man with a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick,
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities—
We cannot speak.