“I’m a ghost that everyone can see;” ~ Franz Wright, from “Empty Stage”


“Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything, tired with the world’s weight he had never chosen to bear.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Beautiful and Damned

 Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Still incredibly hot and humid, 91 degrees.

I’m going to try to do this again. No distractions. With any luck, I’ll get past the first few sentences.

This is my immediate problem: my children. As you know, I have three grown children, but their stages of grown do not match their calendar status of grown. My eldest child, my daughter, will be having one of those major milestone birthdays on the 7th of this month, but the reality is that I think she is probably the youngest of my children. And for the moment, I choose to focus on my eldest/youngest child.

Max Beckmann Beach Landscape 1904 oil on cardboard
“Beach Landscape” (1904, oil on cardboard)
by Max Beckmann

To be fair, Alexis has gone through a lot in her short life, and the loss of her sister, something her brothers do not share as an immediate memory, affected her greatly. Alexis has never been full of self-confidence; in fact, the exact opposite is true: If one person could be so completely uncertain of her selfhood, I would have to say that it is my daughter. Please understand, I’m not criticizing, only commenting; after all, I, too, am very insecure about certain aspects of my self.

I don’t know how much of my daughter’s problems are a result of nurturing, but I do know that I have been the primary nurturer in her life, which is why I probably have a tendency to blame myself for so many of her woes. But at what point do I draw the line and acknowledge that she has very real problems that are completely separate from my relationship with my daughter?

You see, while I love my daughter beyond words, I am not entirely sure that I like certain key aspects of her personality. Does that make sense?

“there is something else that drives us, some
rage or hunger, some absence smoldering
like a childhood fever vaguely remembered
or half-perceived, some unprotected desire,
greed that is both wound and knife,
a failed grief, a lost radiance.” ~ Edward Hirsch, from “Mergers and Acquisitions”

Again, let me say that I probably should not be writing this, but I need to work through some of this tonight as it is pressing on me much too acutely, and I know that I will have no peace unless I do something. I had to cancel my therapy appointment this week because of the chest cold that I have. Too much talking makes me cough, and coughing is, well, painful. Hence, the writing my way through . . .

I so wish that I had the ability to make things right for my children all of the time, but then again, don’t most parents? But I don’t have this ability, and talking to Alexis is futile, at best, and an invitation to a verbal fray, at worst. My daughter, like my sons, unfortunately inherited the family predisposition to clinical depression and anxiety. We all suffer in our own various ways, to lesser and greater extents, depending upon, well upon a lot of things. But Alexis is alone in one thing: she sleeps far too much for any human being. She can go to bed on Friday night and not wake fully until Monday morning.

(c) DACS/Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Summer Sea” (1961, oil on paperboard)
by Joan Eardley

When she was a teenager, she would sleep forever, but I really didn’t worry about it because I did the same thing as a teenager. However, she is an adult with her own child, and this sleeping sickness, for lack of a better term, has not abated. Corey and I have had several conversations in which we have tossed about this problem, mostly in relation to Olivia, as in, does my daughter’s sleeping sickness impede/impair her ability to care for her own daughter?

I can’t tell you how guilty I feel just for giving this concern words, but there. It’s been said. Now what?

I mean, this is more than my concern that she has absolutely no ambition, that she doesn’t seem to have any sort of life goals, which granted, is a real concern. But this particular issue has such larger implications as it affects everyone.

“I sat in the dark and thought: There’s no big apocalypse. Just an endless procession of little ones.” ~ Neil Gaiman, from Signal to Noise

I’m so conflicted.

If you were to ask me if my daughter is a good mother, I wouldn’t hesitate to say, “Yes. Absolutely.”

Copyright York Museums Trust / Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“The Wave” (1898)
by Roderick O’Conor

But then, I must pause. Does she love her daughter? Without question. Does she want what is best for her daughter? Again, yes.

But what makes a good mother? Love, concern, respect, patience, empathy, sympathy . . . cobbled together with a willingness to teach, to share, to laugh, to cry . . . Like it or not, motherhood is an endless procession of decisions, and if we are lucky, most of them are right, and if we are smart, we learn from the wrong ones, but first, we must be able to identify the wrong ones.

Look, being a mother is a thankless job. Your children resent you a lot of the time. They don’t like you some of the time. They wish you would be quiet a lot of the time. They appreciate you only some of the time, and to them, you are never a person with feelings and wants and needs. And no one can teach you how to be a mother; it’s purely on-the-job training, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get good advice along the way, and if you’re smart, you’ll realize which advice is good and which is bad.

So what’s my point?

Damned if I know . . .

“Life must be back there. You hid it
So no one would find it
And now you can’t remember where.” ~ John Ashbery, from “Vaucanson”

You know shaken baby syndrome? Well obviously that’s something that must never be done, but what about shaken adult child syndrome? Is it acceptable to want to grasp said child by the shoulders and shake him/her until the eyes come into focus and you think that perhaps some semblance of sense has entered said child’s brain?

William Henry Johnson Untitled c1930-35
Untitled Seascape (c1930-35)
by William Henry Johnson

I know that I’m making light, but trust me, I am so close to tears much of the time that to laugh would be nothing short of achieving a state of grace.

But back to the problem. Did you know that there is an actual illness called Sleeping Beauty Syndrome? It’s actually called Klein-Levin Syndrome:

Klein-Levin Syndrome (KLS) is a rare and complex neurological disorder characterized by recurring periods of excessive amounts of sleep, altered behavior, and a reduced understanding of the world. The disorder strikes adolescents primarily but can occur in younger children and adults. At the onset of an episode the patient becomes progressively drowsy and sleeps for most of the day and night (hypersomnolence), sometimes waking only to eat or go to the bathroom. Each episode lasts days, weeks or months during which time all normal daily activities stop. Individuals are not able to care for themselves or attend school and work. In between episodes, those with KLS appear to be in perfect health with no evidence of behavioral or physical dysfunction. KLS episodes may continue for 10 years or more. KLS is sometimes referred to in the media as “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome.

Seriously, I think my daughter has this. Some people think that Alexis is just lazy. I honestly don’t think that’s it. If I did, I would say so. Laziness can be fixed; well, at least, I think it can be fixed. Alexis is too OCD to be lazy. I just don’t know if she has any control over these sleep episodes. And the brutal reality is that it’s gotten to the point that it is having a serious impact on every single relationship she has.

“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” ~ Umberto Eco, from Foucault’s Pendulum

So what to do, what to do? I can do nothing. Not yet. And even if the time were right for me to do something, I have absolutely no idea as to what course of action I should take, if any.

Wassily Kandinsky Stormy Day 1906
“Stormy Day” (1906)
by Wassily Kandinsky

Familial relationships are so damned draining. Awash in a sea of eggshells, and trying to find just the right way to cross without breaking anything, without breaking any . . . one.

You know when you are young, in your early 20’s, and you think about life, think about the future as I always did, I would bet that most of the realities of later life never enter the realm of possibility. I mean, how could they, really? Real life is so far from what you think will happen to you when you’re young and trying to decide whether or not to drop a huge chunk of change on some toy or the other. Real life is so filled with pitfalls and trenches so deep that few of us would ever contemplate that such horrible things might actually happen.

Nothing in my 20’s prepared me for real life, even though I was so certain at the time that I had all of the answers. I was so sure of my certainty then. It takes being slapped in the face by fate to make you realize just how little you actually know.

So here I am, finally able to admit how little I know and knowing how little I am able to effect any kind of meaningful change in the lives of my children. Is it any wonder I walk around in a constant state of pain-filled angst?

Probably shouldn’t have written any of this . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by I Will, I Swear, “Long Days”


                   

Mind

The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind. Not unlike
the hummingbirds
imagining their wings
to be their heart, and swallows
believing the horizon
to be a line they lift
and drop. What is it
they cast for? The poplars,
advancing or retreating,
lose their stature
equally, and yet stand firm,
making arrangements
in order to become
imaginary. The city
draws the mind in streets,
and streets compel it
from their intersections
where a little
belongs to no one. It is
what is driven through
all stationary portions
of the world, gravity’s
stake in things, the leaves,
pressed against the dank
window of November
soil, remain unwelcome
till transformed, parts
of a puzzle unsolvable
till the edges give a bit
and soften. See how
then the picture becomes clear,
the mind entering the ground
more easily in pieces,
and all the richer for it.

~ Jorie Graham

 

 

“Weather is a great metaphor for life—sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.” ~ Pepper Giardino

John Constable Rainstorm Over the Sea 1824 oil on canvas

“Rainstorm Over the Sea,” John Constable (1824-28, oil on canvas)

 

“a wind has blown the rain away and blown
the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand.  I think i too have known
autumn too long” ~ e.e. cummings

Satellite Image of Noreaster 11-11-09
Satellite Image of November 11 Nor'easter

Well, we’re in the middle of a massive nor’easter here. Heavy rain and strong winds gusting up to 50 mph. Our electricity and cable were knocked out at 7:20 this morning, but the electricity is back now.

Do you want to know how I know exactly when the electricity went out? Well, it’s because I was awake.  Well who isn’t awake at 7:20 in the morning, you might ask? Normally, not me because I go to sleep so late, but you see, once again, I have not been to sleep. It’s now going on 11:30 a.m., and I have yet to close my eyes for more than 30 minutes or so. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to stay awake as long as possible so that I might be able to go to sleep later—really go to sleep. Not this minute-by-minute crap.

So I’m writing my post now, hoping that my eyes will start to get heavy soon.

I enjoy listening to a good storm. The wind chimes are playing wildly as the wind whips around and through them. Luckily, the wind gusts aren’t enough to move things about the yard. That’s always scary.

“Only those in tune with nature seem to pick up on the energy in wind.  All sorts of things get swept off in the breeze—ghosts, pieces of soul, voices unsung, thoughts repressed, love uncherished, and a thousands galore of spiritual ether . . .” ~ Drew Sirtors

Willoughby Spit
Aerial View of Willoughby Spit

I remember when I used to live in Willoughby Spit a long time ago; we lived on Lea View, the last road in Willoughby, right next to the Chesapeake Bay. Willoughby Spit, as the name implies, is a neighborhood that was actually created during a hurricane. The area, which is a peninsula bordered by the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, and Willoughby Bay, is approximately 7.3 miles long. Major storms, including the huge Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, which lasted over three days, further eroded the spit.

Anyway, we (my ex and I and our dog) woke up one morning to a brutal nor’easter—so named because the winds come from the northeast, hitting the East Coast of the Atlantic U.S. and Canada. Nor’easters can cause as much and sometimes more damage than a hurricane, mostly because they can last through several tide cycles, dumping more and more water on land. Depending upon conditions, snow and/or ice can accompany a nor’easter.

What at first appeared to be another storm soon became cause for evacuation. Apparently, the storm caused a gas leak in one of the homes, and the entire neighborhood was evacuated in amphibious half-tracks. By the time we left, the water level on our cars was half-way up the doors. It was pretty incredible and more than a little frightening to watch the water continue to rise unabated.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, but many people traded in their water-logged vehicles. We, however, did not, and the floor panels of my ex’s old Toyota rusted through. One day they were there, and then our feet went through. Unlike some of our neighbors who lived on the waterfront side of the street, we did not end up driving new Saabs and Audis after the storm, but that was okay because we all made it out.

After that storm, whenever a nor’easter was forecast, everyone parked their cars out on the main road.

“No one but Night, with tears on her dark face,
Watches beside me in this windy place.” ~
Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Perfect Storm
Image from Movie The Perfect Storm

So right now, the wind is still at work outside. In our current neighborhood, we do not border the water, but half-way around the block, the houses abut Little Bay. Our neighborhood has flooded, but nothing like what I saw in Willoughby.

Just a bit of trivia: The movie The Perfect Storm is based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat that was caught in a nor’easter in October 1991.

Earlier this morning, I spent a bit of time on the phone with my health insurance company (such a pleasant representative . . . not), and then with my pain management doctor’s office. Apparently, my health insurance was cancelled at the end of May, which is why my doctors have not been receiving payment.

Now, how can that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I do know that we have been paying my expensive premium each month and that someone was getting the money, but Blue Cross/Blue Shield claims that it wasn’t them. Have I mentioned lately how much I intensely dislike bureaucracies.

As a result, 13 claims have to be reprocessed, and most of those are with my pain management group. Unfortunately for me, I cannot make an appointment until some money changes hands between my provider and my insurer. This really sucks—being at the mercy of individuals who control the fate of my health and welfare. I mean, we make that payment every month by the grace period due date; as it is, I still cannot use my prescription coverage, but you would think that ADP might have wondered why I was still paying them for a policy that had supposedly been cancelled . . . you would think.

“Once more I am the silent one
who came out of the distance
wrapped in cold rain and bells:
I owe to earth’s pure death
the will to sprout.” ~ Pablo Neruda

tropical storm waves

Think being the operative word here. Anyway, more hurry up and wait, and in the meantime, my back is full of knots and spasming like a crazed Tasmanian Devil. And then there’s that little problem of not being able to fall asleep and stay asleep. I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have to get up and drive anywhere in the morning because I don’t know if that would be possible in my current state.

I do know that I woke up in fits and starts, one time singing (yes, singing . . .), and another time because I was certain that I had heard a rustling sound. I have no idea what I was singing or why, but I do remember scratching my chest a lot. Don’t ask me why I do any of this because I really don’t know. I mean, my personal hygiene is just fine. I think that the scratching that I do in my sleep is probably another reaction to one of my medications, but who knows which one.

One of these days, all of my medications will be straightened out. My insurance will be fixed, and I will have no problems with my doctor’s offices. I will no longer be hounded by social security, and I will be able to pay what I need to pay when I need to pay it . . . one of these days. But until then I suppose I will continue to sleep in multi-minute interludes as opposed to hours as other people are able to do, and I will continue to have wild dreams that cause me to awaken singing, scratching, and screaming.

By the way, Corey can sleep through most of this, and the dogs don’t even wake up any more.

Piano music by Yiruma: “Kiss the Rain”

 

 

More later. Peace.