“We work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing.” ~ John Steinbeck

“After the Snowfall,” by Jonas Lie (1908, oil on canvas)

“We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” ~ Milan Kundera, from Laughable Loves

Wednesday afternoon. Snow on the ground, 30 degrees.

Today is my father’s birthday. It’s strange, isn’t it, the dates that you continue to mark on your calendar? Dates that no longer have any connection to a living person, and dates that are still connected to a person, but that person is no longer in your life. For example, every year on October 1, I remember Mari’s birthday, and on November 1, Kathleen’s. Perhaps that is because of the synchronicity of their prime number. Who knows. Regardless, I still mark so many things on my calendars at the beginnings of each year, even though no celebrations or commemorations will be had.

“Barge in the Snow,” by William Degouve Nuncques (1911, oil on canvas)

Today, I’m thinking a lot about my days at the Museum. I loved that place. And I hated that place. Wait. I loved the place, hated some of the people. That’s more accurate.

I still remember using my swipe card to enter through back doors within the galleries—that simple movement seemingly conveyed so much power to me. Any time I felt nervous or anxious, I would wander through the galleries, just drinking in the colors and textures. A museum is truly a wonderful place to work, as long as you don’t have to deal with the board of directors, that is.

But I miss those days even though my tenure ended badly when the museum had sweeping budget cuts, and I was deemed unnecessary. The days that followed my departure were dark in so many ways, and in reflecting on them, I realize that they contributed directly to the end of my first marriage, not that there weren’t already problems. I spent a great deal of time away from home, just trying to lose myself, and eventually, I lost my marriage.

Not regrets. Just facts.

“We create what we remember
to survive all we never had.
In a hall, darkened by exterior glitter,
my father scolds me
for anticipating his gift more than his return.
I am small but I slide an immense distance . . . ” ~ Marlève Rugo, “On Not Being Able to Write”

Of course there are regrets. I mean, I cast by the wayside two, no three friendships from the museum that had been very important to me. I cannot tell you why, now, only that at the time, I wanted to cut so many ties because I was in so much pain, wanted to be free of everyone and everything , which, of course, you simply cannot do. Not unless you are 6 years old.

So those people who I cast off in my attempts to recapture something that I thought that I had lost? I don’t know where they are now or how they are doing, but I think of them often and wish that I had been a better friend.

“Early Snow,” by Walter Launt Palmer (nd, oil on canvas)

Actually, friendship has always been difficult for me. There have been times when I have have had brutal arguments with a friend and then immediately severed all ties. Who does that? Well, I suppose, I do, or rather, I did. But were those truly friends, or just acquaintances? It’s both hard and easy for me to make friends. I make instant connections with people, and sometimes, those connections prove to be less than healthy, and sometimes they prove to be powerful forces in my life.

My oldest and dearest friend from my youth died a few years ago from lung cancer. I did not see her before she died, just as I did not see Allan before he died. Yes, regrets, major regrets. Do I set myself up for regrets? Perhaps.

“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.” ~ George Eliot

I’ve been listening to some newer artists and some old favorite artists in an attempt to populate my posts with new tunes to accompany my words. I’ve found quite a few already. Let me know, dear reader, what you think of those I’ve included recently, or if you have any suggestions.The weird thing is that when I stopped writing, I also stopped listening to music all of the time. I couldn’t possibly explain why that is, especially as music has always been a very important part of my life.

I’m particularly partial to the Sara Bareilles’ tune “She Used to be Mine.” It hits very close to home. I feel as if I’ve been so many people over the years, none of them traditional or expected or normal, whatever that is. I truly wonder if everyone feels like that. I mean, it’s more than having certain attitudes in your teens, and then different attitudes in your 40s. I would expect that such things happen to everyone.

“Albany in the Snow,” by Walter Launt Palmer (1871, oil on canvas)

It’s more that when I look back on my life, I see different people. I see someone who was fiercely aggressive in her career while working for the government contractor. I see someone who loved to be at the front of the classroom, making wisecracks and listening to students while at the university. I see a woman who refused to compromise and then one who compromised too much.

Are they all the same me? No. Yes. I don’t know.

Damn. Shouldn’t I know who I am, by now? People think that I’m joking when I say that I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But truly, I still don’t know, and chances are good that I won’t know when I close my eyes for the last time.

C’est vrai.

“There are men who carry dreams
over mountains, the dead
on their backs.
But only mothers
can walk with the weight
of a second beating heart.” ~ Ocean Vuong, from “My Mother Remembers Her Mother”

I’ll tell you something else that’s strange, even though I’ve said it before in different ways: I miss being pregnant. My body responded well to being pregnant, mostly. Perhaps my body, not so much, but more my spirit. When I was pregnant, I felt completely at home in myself. There have been no other times in my life when I have felt that way.

“Approaching Snow,” by Tom Thomson (1915, oil on board)

Fore more years than I can remember, I have wanted to have another daughter, another girl child to birth and to care for, but that never happened, and now, it’s much too late. And is that fate? Karma? What? God knows millions of women who want children are never able to have them, so am I being selfish in wishing that I could have had just one more? Maybe I am, but wishing never made it so, and so the point is moot, is it not? Regardless (once upon a time, I thought the word was irregardless), I still feel the desire keenly, and I find that strange as I always believed that the older I became, that the wiser I would be, and I truly believed that I would not still have yearnings that were impossible. Odd, that . . .

And now Olivia lives hundreds of miles away, and every day I wonder if she remembers me. I never understood before how a grandchild could affect me in so many ways, but it is completely unlike your own child, a different kind of love, a love that is somehow less selfish because in a grandchild, you do not invest your own future so much. Am I confusing you, dear reader? If so, I do apologize, but it’s not something you can really understand until it happens to you, and then it’s not something that you can understand losing until it happens to you.

“I would listen to my heartbeat. I couldn’t imagine that this sound which had been with me for so long could ever stop.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Stranger

The afternoon wears on, and the sky seems to be darker than when I started, and it’s definitely colder. I worry that the horses are cold, even though all of the reading that I have done says that as long as they are eating well, they will not be cold. They definitely have plenty on which to graze. But still, I want to put blankets on them. I shall resist. For now.

I just had a strange memory: I remember being 15 and sitting in my boyfriend’s den and just weeping and weeping. My father was at sea, as usual, and I missed him desperately. My boyfriend’s mother was not a particularly nice woman, or maybe she was just plain-spoken, and I was too young to appreciate it. Anyway, she told me that it was just growing pains. I left in such a huff.

“After the Snow on the Field,” by Gustave Loiseau (1899, oil on canvas)

I mean, growing pains? Could anything be more insulting? or more accurate? I do not look back on my teens fondly. Everything was too intense. All of the new feelings and emotions, the new ways in which my body did what it wanted without my having any power over it. It was all just too much. I was so very certain that my first love would be my love for the rest of my life. Gawd. Thankfully, that proved to be very wrong.

But there really was a point to this reminiscence, a non sequitur though it be: I have always had a strong affinity with animals, and I have always anthropomorphized them, had ongoing conversations with them, given them human personalities, likes and dislikes, so the feelings about the horses are not unexpected. Nevertheless, I realize that if I’m going to survive on this farm that I’ve going to have to toughen my outlook somewhat. Still, I think the horses need blankets.

More later. Peace.


Music by Finneas, “Break My Heart Again”

Coming Home

When we’re driving, in the dark,
on the long road
to Provincetown, which lies empty
for miles, when we’re weary,
when the buildings
and the scrub pines lose
their familiar look,
I imagine us rising
from the speeding car,
I imagine us seeing
everything from another place — the top
of one of the pale dunes
or the deep and nameless
fields of the sea —
and what we see is the world
that cannot cherish us
but which we cherish,
and what we see is our life
moving like that,
along the dark edges
of everything — the headlights
like lanterns
sweeping the blackness —
believing in a thousand
fragile and unprovable things,
looking out for sorrow,
slowing down for happiness,
making all the right turns
right down to the thumping
barriers to the sea,
the swirling waves,
the narrow streets, the houses,
the past, the future,
the doorway that belongs
to you and me.

~ Mary Oliver

“If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you.” ~ Henry Rollins

“Sapphires and Amethysts” (1925, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie*

                   

“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.

“The Cove” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

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.

“Out to Sea” (1924, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

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.

“Off on the Breeze” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

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.

“Maine Seascape” (ca 1920’s, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

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?

“Boats at the Pier” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

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.

“Fishing Boats at Sunrise” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Jonas Lie

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.

~ Octavio Paz