“From the stars we come, to the stars we go. Life is but a journey into the unknown.” ~ Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books

"Nattens Helgedom (Night Sanctuary)," (oil on canvas)by Otto Hesselbom
“Nattens Helgedom (Night Sanctuary),” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Otto Hesselbom

                   

“The part of this being that is rock,
the part of this body that is a star,
lately I feel them yearning to go back
and be what they are.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, from “In the Borderlands

Thursday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 50 degrees.

Yesterday was a crappy day, really, really crappy, and as a result, I was foul, really, really foul. Nine days into the new year, and I’m already having bad days. Sheesh.

Henri-Edmond Cross Landscape with Stars 1905-8
“Landscape with Stars,” (1905-8)
by Henri-Edmond Cross

In spite of its crappiness, I did get things done. I made those telephone calls regarding health claims that haven’t been paid. Both of the people with whom I spoke were very nice and helpful. It wasn’t them. It was just the doing of it that got to me. Does that make sense?

After years and years of always being the one to make the telephone calls, pay the bills, take care of the details with my ex, I have given up some of those responsibilities to Corey—quite willingly. I am not good at doing the finances. I freely admit that to anyone and everyone. And taking care of the details tends to make me very stressed. I don’t know why exactly. It just does. Perhaps because as the telephone is ringing, I am preparing to deal with the customer service representative from hell, so my blood pressure climbs with each successive ring, and then when someone nice answers and offers to help, I’m thrown for a loop.

Also, I think that since Corey has been taking care of so much to do with the details of life, I have allowed my patience in such things to erode. Anyway, yesterday is over. I made a few more short calls today, and my to-do-list is shorter. So enough.

“The winds that awakened the stars
Are blowing through my blood.” ~ W. B. Yeats, from “Maid Quiet”

I think another reason that I was so foul yesterday was because I forgot to take my meds the day before. Not intentionally, just didn’t remember as I was so caught up in getting things done. That happens to me—I become so focused in the midst of my OCD-fueled binges that I don’t pay attention to other things, completely leave them by the wayside.

Nicholas Roerich Royal Monastery 1932 tempera
“Royal Monastery” (1932, tempera on paper)
by Nicholas Roerich

I know. I need to find balance. Easy to say. Hard to do. Balance is always just beyond my reach. Perhaps that’s why I’m always so taken with those images of balancing rocks; they represent something for which I yearn.

Anyway, enough on that. Another thing that I did yesterday—and this is surprising—is that I went through old posts looking for poems that I might submit to a journal that is accepting work. I have to submit three poems at a time. In going through the old posts, though, I found that I have written things that I actually like, even two to three years later, which makes me think more and more that I really need to go through these posts and cull the best (or what I consider to be the best), try to put together some kind of non-fiction manuscript with what I have.

This is where I need your help. If I’ve written a post of which you are particularly fond, or that you think could be readable with some work, I’d love to know about it. You can just put the title in the comments, or if you don’t remember the title but remember what the post was about, a general description would be fine. Of course, if you said something like, “You know, the one about grief,” that might be a bit hard . . .

“And silent answers crept across the stars.” ~ Hart Crane, from “At Melville’s Tomb”

But what do you think? Am I on the right track? A couple of you have suggested something along these lines to me before, but I waffled as I never quite know if I like what I’ve written enough to put it out there (there as in beyond this forum), but I have to admit that I found more than a couple of posts of which I’m not ashamed.

Neil Welliver Night Scene 1981-2
“Night Scene” (1981-2)
by Neil Welliver

Oh, who knows. Certainly not me. But I’m willing to give it a go.

So other than that, I think that I’ve managed to move beyond yesterday’s total crappiness. I’ve gotten out of my pajamas and even put on some cologne and dark circle concealer, as if I might actually be ready to greet the world. Speaking of which, and I am almost embarrassed to admit this, I realized the other day that I have not left the house in weeks. No really, weeks. This is not a good sign. This is a sign that I am regressing.

I think that I need to make it a point to go to Lex’s apartment at least one day a week to help out with Olivia instead of waiting for them to come here. But without Brett being enrolled in school this semester, I’m sort of without a reason to leave the house unless I make one. Truthfully, I don’t want to go back to the days in which I stayed inside for weeks on end. It’s just not healthy.

I have big plans to take Tillie for walks. Perhaps I should work on that.

“It is inner luxury, of golden figures
that breathe like mountains do
and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”

Obviously, I’m still fixated on the skies, first the Northern Lights, and now stars. The moon and the stars, my life-long love affair. Did you know that the Tunisians have a proverb that goes something like “If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?”—but why not both?

Mikalojus Ciurlionis Sparks III 1906 tempera on paper
“Sparks III” (1906, tempera on paper)
by Mikalojus Ciurlionis

I have to tell you that it’s damned hard for me to write a post featuring lots of words about stars and not to use any art by Van Gogh, as I don’t think that anyone before or since has painted such beautiful skies, but I made an effort and came up with some other artists’ paintings.

Speaking of Van Gogh, did you know that there are new claims that the artist did not commit suicide but instead was shot by teenagers? I know that I’m behind on this, but I find it fascinating. Apparently a book was published last year in which authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith claim that Van Gogh was fatally wounded by a friend’s teenage brother. The book is called Van Gogh: The Life, and I would love to read it.

Van Gogh has always fascinated me. He created such incredible beauty out of such immense pain. It’s as if he couldn’t create fast enough to release all of the demons inside.

When I was walking around the museums in NYC years ago, I was finally able to see some of Van Gogh’s works of art at the Met and at the MOMA. My god, they took my breath away. I would love to visit more museums housing the artist’s work.

“She was one of those stars, a bright dot in blackness, without home, without a companion, in eternal cold and silence.” ~ Maxine Hong Kingston, from The Woman Warrior

I spoke too soon. I just lost the last fifth of this post when I went to save. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Moving right along . . .

Wassily Kandinsky Moonlight Night 1907 linocut
“Moonlight Night” (1907, linocut)
by Wassily Kandinsky

I once met Maxine Hong Kingston when she was participating in the ODU Literary Festival years ago. She is such a tiny woman, and her presence was almost dwarfed on the big stage until she began to read. Later, at an after-reading cocktail party, I mustered the courage to talk to her and tell her how much I loved her work.

Just thought I’d throw that out there.

I suppose I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today after going through posts past and thinking about those wonderful afternoons at the museums. One day, I’m going to visit the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay, spend hours upon hours, days upon days, just meandering through the galleries, and I’ll take Corey because I know that he will appreciate the beauty just as much as I would.

One day. Until then, I suppose I’ll just hang out here in my yoga pants, thinking about things to come, things that have been, places to see, and places I have gone. Kind of reminds me of The Beatles’ song, “My Life.”

More later. Peace.

 Music by Aesthesys, “I Am Free, That Is Why I’m Lost”

                   

Every Time

Do you have stars
in your mouth?

she asks
and I laugh,
she’s never tasted
winter like I have,
midnights that linger
for days. Yes,
I tell her. Come see.

Will there be breath?
For a while, I whisper
and blow on her hands,
but you will sing
and the aurora lights
will walk across the ice.

She lets me
put my hands on her.
Will I die? her hair
like snow.
Yes.  I tell her.
Every time.

~ Jude Goodwin

“There are two easy ways to die in the desert: thirst or drowning.” ~ Craig Childs, The Secret Knowledge of Water

Banned Books Week Banner by DML East Branch

                   

“Because we cannot fly we are condemned to do things that do not agree with us. Because we have no wings we are pushed into struggles and abominations which we did not seek, and then, after that, the years go by, the mountains are leveled, the valleys rise, the rivers are blocked by the sand and the cliffs fall into the sea.” ~ Louis de Bernières, from Birds Without Wings 

Saturday afternoon. Cool and cloudy, low 60’s. Smells like fall.

Banned Books Week (Last Week of September)

Now Corey is sick. Whatever it is, it has pretty much made the rounds in the house. Brett and Corey seem to have gotten the worse of it—the body aches, the hurting chest.

Another bad night with very strange dreams, something about being a participant in “Project Runway,” even though I don’t sew, taking care of someone else’s baby, but with not enough diapers, and a massive asthma attack in my dream that turned into a real attack and had me fumbling for my inhaler in a half-sleep state. It’s always disconcerting when something happens in a dream that carries over into real life, for me, it’s almost always a headache that starts in a dream and then wakes me because of the pain. Very rarely is it my asthma.

Even though everyone is home today except for Eamonn, the house is very quiet. Since I began this post, the clouds have passed, and the sky is blue with just a few clouds. You see, I took a break between paragraphs to go wash the dishes, so enough time has passed for the weather to change. Still lovely and cool, though.

“Every journey is played out between standstill and flight.” ~ Claudio Magris, Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea

Etta James is singing “At Last” in the background. Such a wonderful song. Such a strong, sultry voice. Love those old torch songs.

It still slays me to think that the women of color of that era had to go in the back door and could not even frequent the nightclubs in which they performed. I suppose that it was okay to listen to them just as long as they weren’t treated like real human beings.

Supposed civilized societies . . .

Tonight is the season finale of “Doctor Who,” series 6. Supposedly, we are going to have answers to questions that were raised in “The Impossible Astronaut” episode. Right. Moffat never explains everything; something is always held back.

I’m still trying to cope with the concept that no new Who episodes, save for the Christmas special, will be aired for a year. That’s just not right, to draw in people, get their undying devotion, and then leave them hanging for a year. Who does that?

Steven Moffat, that’s who.

Yes, I know. My Whovian obsession is quirky, but it brings me pleasure, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s important, at least for now.

“We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out.” ~ Richard Rohr, from “Everything Belongs”

So I’ve been thinking about things, you know, little things. Like life.

  • Death.
  • Money.
  • Wall Street.
  • Books.
  • Writing.
  • Reading.
  • Children.
  • Parents.
  • Blogs.
  • Body image.
  • Aging.
  • Republicans.
  • Democrats.
  • Liars.
  • Alchemy.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Physicians.
  • Censorship.

Strange list, no? Bear with me as I attempt to elucidate . . .

Life, death, money: The relative from whom we borrowed the money for the mortgage is the son of someone I called uncle my whole life. This man was a very important fixture in my life, and he died one year after my father. I still dream of him, that’s what a fixture he and his family have been in my life. When I was young, I babysat his five children during the summer.  I attended almost all of his children’s weddings, and have been to baby showers for their children.

Children, parents: This week, Ann packed up her mother’s home because her father is putting it on the market. We had to pick up the crib and cradle that I’ve had in storage in her attic for years. I’ve saved the crib all of these years for Alexis. When I told her that we had to move the crib and asked her if it could go into her storage unit, she informed me quite matter-of-factly that she did not want the crib. You could have knocked me over as I was so astounded by her complete disinterest.

Wall Street, liars: I read an interesting comment directed to the protestors in New York. It suggested that they all wear polo shirts and khakis when they protest, and you know, that makes complete sense. If the protestors look like young Republicans, then the country will be horrified that they are being sprayed in the face with pepper spray. As long as these protestors look like throw-back hippies, no one cares what happens to them. Witness the complete lack of coverage by the mainstream media. Polo shirts + khakis = pseudo respectability. Unfortunately, true.

Republicans, Democrats: I also read a blip that said during one of his recent speeches, President Obama referenced the Bible story about Meshach,  Shadrach, and Abednego, the devout guys who were supposed to be burned alive but who survived because Jesus was with them in the fire. I love this particular story mostly because I love the names of the men, very cool names. But what is interesting is that Obama frequently makes biblical  references in his speeches, but he’s still referred to as a heathen, called a Muslim as if it’s a horrendous thing. He cannot win. Whatever.

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” ~ Charles Péguy

Blogs, writing: I also read an article that said that tumblr is one of the fastest-growing social mediums because of what it does: it allows users to present stream of consciousness postings, as opposed to long posts (as in WordPress), or keep track of friends (as in Facebook), or limits the number of characters (as in Twitter). Apparently, tumblr’s retention rate—that is the number of people who sign up and then actually actively use the site—is higher than any of the other sites. I can understand this, but it made me wonder if the whole idea of blogs is becoming passé, and if this is true, what does that mean for me?

Books, reading: Then there was the quote that said something along the lines that failed writers make the best publishers because they recognize good writing. It made me pause. Is that why I got a degree in publishing, because I consider myself to be a failed writer? Probably.

Peanut butter, body image, aging: I’ve been craving peanut butter a lot lately. I have no idea why. I know that the protein is good for me, but the fat is bad for me. And yesterday in the car, somehow Brett and Em started talking about plastic surgery and how it looks terrible, and I thought about how I declared years ago that I would never get plastic surgery, and I still would never get a face lift because the results are just weird, but I would have my neck and arms tightened, and I would love to melt the fat in my belly. And none of this is ever going to happen because it’s a waste of money.

“There is a pain so utter
It swallows Being up.
Then covers the abyss with trance,
So memory can step
Around, across, upon it.” ~ Emily Dickinson

Physicians, alchemy: Thursday, I received a telephone call from the neurologist’s office; it was the nurse that I’ve been going back and forth on regarding getting botox shots for my migraines. She told me this time that she’s having a hard time getting approval for the shots because there is nothing in my file about having migraines that last longer than four hours or for 15 days out of the month. I got pissed. I told her that that was the whole reason that I was seeing a neurologist as my pain management doctor for my migraines, who I had been seeing since 2003, could no longer do anything to help with my headaches, and he was the one who sent me to them. I also reminded her that during my first visit, I signed a release form for the neurologist’s office to get my files from the pain management people.

She was a real bitch and incredibly snotty. I don’t know why this woman is fighting me. I’ve never even met her. She said something along the lines of, “so you are refusing to come in and see Dr. R.” I said, no, I’m not refusing to do that, but Dr. R is the one who told me that she couldn’t do anything for me and told me to see her partner for the shots, so what is the point. Then she called me back and said that Dr. R wanted to know if I’ve ever had a migraine that has lasted longer than four hours. I said, “I’ve had a migraine that lasted for three weeks.” She said, and this is verbatim, “So that’s a yes?”

Did I have a mouthful of marbles when I was talking? If a migraine lasts for three weeks, isn’t that indicative that it lasted longer than four hours? In the middle ages, medical treatment was sometimes handled by alchemists, those people who claimed that they could change the chemical properties of things, such as lead into gold. My feeling is that at this point, I would be better served by an alchemist.

My life is  Dr. Seuss book.

“It is inner luxury, of golden figures
that breathe like mountains do

            and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about, what this mind of mine has been pondering.

Of course, there are many other things, like the fact that my dogs think that peanut butter is doggie crack, or that I really, really wish that I could take a long, hot bath, but the hole in my bathtub makes that impossible.

As soon as the temperature outside dips into the 60’s,  my spirit is ready for hot baths. Ah well. At least there is running water, which is more than what a majority of the world’s population has access to, right?

Oh. One last thing.

Censorship: In honor of the last day of Banned Books Week, I’ll close with the following passage by Aldous Huxley, an author whose novel Brave New World (1932) is perpetually selected to be banned by those who cannot abide thinking that goes beyond what their tiny little minds comprehend:

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them . . . Lightly, lightly . . . When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. No rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell. And of course, no theology, no metaphysics. Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.”

~ Aldous Huxley, Island

Music by the Eagles, “Wasted Time”


                   

You Can’t Have It All

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.

~ Barbara Ras