“Writers remember everything . . . especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.” ~ Stephen King, from Misery
Sunday afternoon, very windy with dropping temperatures, 46 degrees.
We woke up to vicious wind this morning: The tire swing was soaring around the big oak tree, and the bamboo wind chimes were almost parallel to the porch. The temperatures earlier were in the mid 50s, but they have since dropped considerably.
So I was reminded of another poem, this one by Amy Lowell, another poet whose work I used to include in my literature classes. “Purple Grackles” is actually quite a long poem, so I decided to just include a few relative lines here:
I know that wind,
It blows the Equinox over the seeds and scatters them,
It rips petals from petals, and tears off half-turned leaves.
There is rain on the back of that wind.
There is magic in this and terror
And I watch an Autumn storm
Stripping the garden
Shouting black rain challenges
to an old, limp Summer
Laid down to die in the flower-beds. ~ Amy Lowell, from “Purple Grackles”
Anyway, the good news is that my ring finger actually looks like it’s beginning to heal, and the cut on my right pinky looks much better after I applied a Manuka ointment and dressed it yesterday; I also applied a bunch to my right calf, which I hadn’t realized was wounded until the day after that dog fight.If you don’t know about Manuka honey, it’s a really wonderful natural antibacterial; it is sources from New Zealand. This site has a really good description of its benefits.
That’s about all for today. Typing is still very awkward and a bit painful if I forget and use my ring finger. Here’s hoping that situation remedies soon.
“We construct a narrative for ourselves, and that’s the thread that we follow from one day to the next. People who disintegrate as personalities are the ones who lose that thread.” ~ Paul Auster
Thursday afternoon. Cloudy and warm, possible evening thunder showers.
Alexis and I had talked about going with my mother to Babies r Us today just to look around, but mom isn’t feeling great, and my back is killing me today, so we’ll be putting that off for now. I wasn’t going to purchase anything, not yet. I’m waiting to see what she doesn’t get from other people, and then we’ll try to fill in the gaps. We were going with my mother since mom has a tendency not to shop from gift lists, and since Lex registered at both Target and Babies r Us, it would be kind of nice if mom would shop from the registry.
Anyway, I took Brett to school, and Corey went to work this afternoon. He was originally supposed to work this morning, but that shift was called off; then they asked him to work this afternoon because someone called in, which is good as he only had two shifts for this week.
He’s really beating himself up over the whole MMD thing, and is convinced that everyone is really disappointed with him and secretly upset with him. It’s called a mistake, and they happen, and yes, they seem to happen overabundantly to us, but what are you going to do? Of course, I have no room to talk about carrying around guilt all the time, but it’s so hard to see in Corey, especially since no one really feels the way that he thinks they do. I mean, it’s just as much my fault as it is his that he left the house without his credentials packed. We both knew that he needed them, both knew that they were essential, but neither of us remembered, in spite of checking, rechecking, and checking again.
I think that we were so concerned about the weight of the suitcase, not going over the 50-pound limit, that we got distracted by that. It doesn’t matter, though. He’s still beating himself up. Just for good measure, I’m back to thinking that if I could just go back to work, it would end this damned cycle that we’re in. I don’t know what to think, to be honest.
“The madness of depression is . . . a storm indeed, but a storm of murk. Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected and feels sapped, drained.” ~ William Styron inDarkness Visible
I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but I read Styron’s Darkness Visible years ago while sitting in the coffee shop at Barnes & Noble. It’s not a very long book, but it’s an incredible read, especially for those of us who suffer from clinical depression. The way in which Styron describes all of the things that I’ve felt at times is spot on, perfect. I highly recommend this short memoir for any of you who are clinically depressed.
Anyway, this quote from the book showed up on my Tumblr dash, which brought to mind the book and the way that I was feeling when I first read it. My spirals downward used to be so extreme; I would fall far very quickly, and then sometimes I stayed there for days and days, until the days seeped into weeks, and then months. I don’t do that now, at least, not the way that I used to, and I have pharmaceuticals to thank for that. I know that some people are reluctant to take medicine for their depression, thinking that they can will themselves out of it, or snap out of it with a healthier diet.
And if they can do that, then good for them. I have no problems with alternatives to traditional medicine. I only know that it was a long road for me to find just the right medicine, that I tried at least five or six other kinds before finding one that did not leave me feeling like a zombie, or did not have terrible physical side effects. I just know that I never ever want to feel that way again.
Obviously, I still wrestle with my mood swings, and I know that this is something that will be with me until the day I die. And yes, I still have those moments in which the despair threatens to consume me, but for the most part, I stumble along in life, and sometimes I even remember to notice the beauty around me, and when I do that, it’s a small, silent victory. Some of you may not be able to understand that, and some of you will.
“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.” ~ Kahlil Gibran, Broken Wings
So on the way home from dropping off Brett at school I took a route that I don’t usually take. I went down a road that goes right past the street on which I lived for a brief time as an undergrad, in the old white house that had been turned into four apartments. I loved that apartment as it was on a dead-end street that abutted the water. Unfortunately, I lived there during a time in which my depression was still not being treated, and living there alone turned out not to be so good for me.
I do have some good memories, though. I remember opening all of the windows and letting the breeze come through, smelling the slightly brackish water outside. The family who owned the house lived on a houseboat, which I always thought was so cool. In fact, it was what first gave me the idea of living on a boat myself.
My unit had a tiny back porch and a door that lead to a back stairway that I never used. If I remember, it was a bit unsafe. I hung a curtain of wooden beads across the door, and one night, I remember dreaming about this constant knocking sound, and then I awakened to find that it was storming outside, and the old windows, which were not airtight, were letting in a draft that was causing the beads to bang loudly against the door. I stumbled to the door and ripped the beads from the door. It’s a wonder that my neighbors didn’t complain, but I never heard anything.
So that memory flitted through my mind as I was driving home, down a street lined with Bradford Pear trees, all of which are heavy with blooms. I had the sunroof open and all of the windows of the Rodeo open, and the air smelled of spring.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ~ Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
I only stayed in that apartment for six months. My rent was $125, and that included heat and water. I had roommates for a few months, but that didn’t work out. I moved from there to move in with a woman with whom I worked at the newspaper—it was not a good move on my part, but hindsight . . . We moved into a new townhouse in Virginia Beach, which was owned by the man she was dating; it was within a community that was full of Navy pilots, right out of the academy. I had so many pilot friends and spent a lot of time at the officer’s club on base. Two pilots lived four units down from us, and I became very good friends with one of them. He actually rescued me one night after my roommate and I had a huge fight, and I walked out into the night with nothing but my dog and my keys.
I actually still remember his name. Over the years, I wonder what happened to all of them, him especially. For a long time, I would see a Tomcat flying overhead and wonder if the person in the cockpit was someone I knew. Those were heady days, but the roommate turned into a nightmare too impossible to deal with, and I ended up moving back home with my parents. But I left my mark on the townhouse, unintentionally: I spilled dark red nail polish on the off-white carpet in my bedroom. Oops . . .
It was my sophomore year in college, and I cut off all my hair and gained about 20 pounds. I was juggling two boyfriends, both of whom worked at the newspaper, one of whom was dumber than a box of rocks. Why? The things that we remember . . .
“Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence.” ~ Léon Bloy
Not really sure what has me journeying into the past, unless it was all triggered by driving past that street. Then again, it may have been triggered by the remembrance of the anxiety attacks. Who knows.
What I do know is that I do revisit the past probably more frequently than most people, and I find that a bit odd, as so much of my past is rooted in pain and sorrow. Even the good memories are bittersweet. The past is not necessarily a good place for me, yet I go there again and again. In search of what, exactly? Answers? Questions? Both?
Has this been triggered by my daughter’s pregnancy, the fact that she is due to deliver right around the same time that she was born, the same time that Brett was born? Remembering my own pregnancies, July in northern Virginia with no air conditioning in my car. Pregnant with Brett in July during a heat wave with temperatures above 100° for seven days in a row.
Here’s something I may have never told you, probably from embarrassment: My ex and I had two cars while we were in northern Virginia, my old Sunbird, which was a three-speed manual with no air conditioning (the first car that I bought with my own money), and we also had a Mazda 626 LX, fully decked out. I drove the Sunbird even though I was pregnant, hot, and uncomfortable, even though it was so low to the ground that getting in and out was well-nigh impossible. Do you know why I drove that damned car? Because my ex said that he should have the air conditioning because he had a longer commute . . . and I went along with that.
I would arrive at work wet from sweating in the car and on the way from the parking lot, which was about half a mile from my building. I went along with that. What the hell was wrong with me?
So Alexis is having her baby in July, but at least she has a new Accord that is cool and comfortable. Her little apartment only has a small window unit, and she’s already complaining about being hot even though it’s still mild outside.
So am I maudlin because of her? Because of Corey? Because of a drive down a street? Everything? Nothing?
Enough. Laundry and dishes await. Be still my heart.
Music by Peter Bradley Adams (yes, another, love this guy), “From the Sky”
I Would Like to Describe
I would like to describe the simplest emotion
joy or sadness
but not as others do
reaching for shafts of rain or sun
I would like to describe a light
which is being born in me
but I know it does not resemble
for it is not so bright
not so pure
and is uncertain
I would like to describe courage
without dragging behind me a dusty lion
and also anxiety
without shaking a glass full of water
to put it another way
I would give all metaphors
in return for one word
drawn out of my breast like a rib
for one word
contained within the boundaries
of my skin
but apparently this is not possible
and just to say—I love
I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue
so is blurred
so is blurred
what white-haired gentlemen
separated once and for all
this is the subject
and this is the object
we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets
our feet abandon us
and taste the earth
with their tiny roots
which next morning
we tear out painfully
“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Frank Cadogan Cowper (1926)*
“’You see I am fate,’ it shouted, ‘and stronger than your puny plans; and I am how-things-turn-out and I am different from your little dreams, and I am the flight of time and the end of beauty and unfulfilled desire; all the accidents and imperceptions and the little minutes that shape the crucial hours are mine. I am the exception that proves no rules, the limits of your control, the condiment in the dish of life.’” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Cut Glass Bowl and Other Stories
Wednesday afternoon. Unseasonably warm and very sunny, mid 70’s. Feels and smells more like spring than fall.
Thought that I’d try to bang out a post today. Haven’t felt up to sitting here for more than a few minutes for the past few days. Same old thing—headaches, pain, weakness. (That phrase “bang out” reminds me of how Rebecca used to say that she could hear me typing from anywhere in the office because I hit the keys so hard, which I do, but I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yes, I’m that old), and I learned to type very quickly on an old IBM Selectric, so my touch is not acclimated towards a computer’s keyboard. Funny the things that pop into your mind at the turn of a phrase.)
I’ve finally gotten an appointment to get my botox injections at the neurologist’s office. It took talking to a different nurse and saying that I was tired of being jerked around, and voila—appointment. Funny how that works.
So in the next six weeks or so, I’m banging out another four doctors’ appointments. So excited. Cannot hardly wait for the poking and prodding to begin. Actually, I am excited about the botox as I’m really hoping that it helps with these damned headaches. I mean, if this stuff deadens nerve endings, it makes sense that it would kill pain. Too bad they haven’t approved it for back pain. Not enough studies done to show conclusively whether or not it actually helps the kind of pain that I have.
Too much to wish for at once, I suppose.
Anyway, after spending time making telephone calls to various doctor’s offices for prescriptions and/or appointments, I decided to go back to bed this morning, and part of me wishes that I hadn’t as I had more intensely bad dreams. In the past few nights, I keep dreaming about this doctor who is treating me, and he’s a sadist. I won’t go into the kinds of things that he’s trying to do to me, but suffice it to say that they are quite unpleasant. The dreams are probably coming from the subconscious part of me that is wholly fed up with doctors and treatments.
“Sixty six times have these eyes beheld the changing scenes of autumn I have said enough about moonlight. Ask no more. Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.” ~ Ryonen, Buddhist Nun, 18th Century
The quote above appeared on my tumblr dash a few days ago, but it was only attributed to a Zen nun. That’s one of the things that I really hate about tumblr, how lax some people are about attributing quotes and images. It took me about 20 seconds to find the source of the quote and to learn that the line breaks were incorrect in what was originally posted.
Now line breaks might not seem like a big deal, that is unless you write poetry. Line breaks are all-important in poetry: They indicate the point at which the poet wishes to break the thought, add a pause, add a breath, indicate a new train of thought—all or none of these. But to quote a poem and not to take care to get the name of the poet correct I find really problematic.
But I’m also a stickler for the Oxford comma. So shoot me . . .
Anyway, I love tumblr because it continues to be a great source of quotes and images for my writing, but it really bothers me when people post something without quotations marks or an author, and people who may not be familiar with the phrase might not realize that it’s not original, or when people post art without listing the artist’s name or giving the attribution for a photograph. All problematic. So when I repost, I try to add the missing information, or if something has an obvious copyright on it, I don’t repost it.
I know. Not really a big problem in the grand scheme of things. Just file it under things that bug the crap out of me.
“There is among all your memories one Which has now been lost beyond recall. You will not be seen going down to that fountain Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “Limits”
So my uncle in Florida has decided that I shouldn’t send for his Explorer as he feels that it’s not worth the money to ship it from his house to ours. I have to respect his decision, although I really wish that he’d understand that any working vehicle, no matter how old it is, is better than no working vehicle. But he doesn’t want us to waste our money, so what can I say? It’s not like we have the money to waste . . .
He wrote me a very nice letter explaining his decision, and he sounds so much like my father, which is always just a bit painful. This uncle is the last one of my dad’s siblings who is still alive. He’s 80, and his wife, my aunt, has breast cancer. It just breaks my heart for so many reasons: that he’s the last, that he looks so much like my dad, that they are both in poor health.
When I was a child, I didn’t really have that much of an attachment to my dad’s side of the family, mostly because I was always around my mom’s side. But as an adult, I think that I’ve spent more time trying to stay in contact with my uncles, my dad’s brothers. Both of the ones in Florida kept asking us to bring the kids down for a visit and offered their homes if we wanted to visit Disneyland, but it was never the right time, and now the kids are grown, and no one wants to go to Disneyland . . .
Perhaps I should just think of a few more things to chew on in this guilt fest . . .
“Here I sit between my brother the mountain and my sister the sea. We three are one in loneliness, and the love that binds us together is deep and strong and strange.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Corey has a medical transport tomorrow, so he’ll be gone from early morning until around 10 tomorrow night, which means good hours but a very long day for him.
I think that we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel as far as getting the truck fixed. We had thought that by hiring the guy across the street to fix it, we would save money, which we have, but he’s taking his sweet time in finishing, which is always the problem in not going to a shop. He knows what he’s doing, as that’s how he makes his living, by working on cars, but he has his own issues, the least of which is that his elderly mother (with whom he lives) suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia and forgets who he is and calls the cops on him because she thinks that he’s a stranger in her house.
I do sympathize with him, and he really is a nice guy, but we just want the truck to be fixed. Once he finishes with the transmission and the transfer case, we need to get the brakes done and get it inspected. I’m hoping that we don’t have to do four new tires as that’s a big cash output, but we’ll just have to see how that goes.
I know that Corey will be glad to have his truck back, but I also know that he’s in for a rude awakening the first time that he fills the tank as he’s been spoiled by the four-cylinder engines in the rental cars and the six-cylinder in the Rodeo. His truck is a V8 and a gas hog. I don’t even want to think about how much it’s going cost to fill, and I’m not looking forward to finding out how much gas it uses to get back and forth to the peninsula where he works.
I know. I know. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. My life at the moment is a tired cliché. Sorry that I don’t have more exciting things to say, but frankly, I’m lucky to get any kind of post out of my head at the moment. Perhaps I should call it a day.
More later. Peace.
*This is my favorite version of this subject, a particular favorite of the Pre-Raphaelite painters.
Music by Blue October, “Amazing”
From Out the Cave
When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.
“Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.” ~ Henry Miller
Thursday afternoon. Rainy, humid, and warm, high 70’s.
If I put this into words, then it becomes real, which is why I have avoided writing for a few days. Everything is falling apart again. How did we get here? We try and try and never seem to make any forward progress.
Our mortgage is going into foreclosure. We are becoming the statistic that defines the middle class: living from paycheck to paycheck, owing more than we make, existing instead of living. And because of this, because my back is against the wall, because I cannot continue to allow Corey to bear the bulk of this burden, I must do as I must. I must apply for jobs, go back to work, my health be damned.
Perhaps if I can get a job, everything will right itself. Perhaps if I go back to work full time, the incessant stress from never having enough money will abate and some of the stress will go away. Perhaps if this happens, Corey will not have to feel as if he has failed us.
I cannot continue to weigh the pros and cons of giving up my disability coverage. While I mull over the what ifs, we are sinking, taking everything and everyone with us. I can only hope that if I do manage to get someone to hire me, that my health will improve as a result of the outside stimulus. I suppose the deciding factor was that when I was looking at openings online, I cam across a marketing position at ODU for which I am perfectly suited.
Perhaps it’s karma, fate, that I find this position at this time. Who knows? I only know that I am so tired of being buffeted along the wind like a fallen leaf, tossed here and there without any control, without any clear direction, left up to forces external.
“Would that I were a dry well, and the people tossed stones into me, for that would be easier than to be a spring of flowing water that the thirsty pass by, and from which they avoid drinking.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
I drafted the following a couple of days ago after seeing a picture of graffiti that said, “Imagine Life without Liars.”
imagine life without liars
peace without pain
truth without terror
pretend we can converse in our sleep
wake in our dreams
return to the beginning
how can we find fault without favor
break the bone without blood
rend the silence without sound
make believe the moment is momentous
the dregs are delicious
the echo is eternal
let us have love without loss
less without want
want without guilt
expect it not to be so
suppose that it might be
possibly perhaps perchance
I’m troubled by the last three lines . . .
“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
When I finish this, I need to update my resume, a depressing thought. Posit: Who will hire someone my age who has been out of work for almost three years, regardless of my qualifications and background?
I don’t know what I’m opening myself up for, what kind of reaction to expect other than what I’ve set myself up to believe. I know what I can do. I know what I hope I can do. I know what I wish. Are the three the same? Probably not, possibly not at all.
I like to think there are always possibilities . . .
Star Trek: Wrath of Khan—the best Trek movie ever. Ricardo Montalban with his mullet and bare chest.
Friday afternoon. Stormy.
Anyway, sorry about that little interlude. I actually left this post yesterday to go ahead and work on my resume and cover letter. The killer is that while I know that I could do the advertised job with no problem, how do I explain my three-year hiatus?
On a brighter note, Corey had the first part of his interview with the sheriff’s office this morning: the written test, which he did quite well on; however, he learned this morning when talking to the guy who conducted the test that the department works on a 12-hour day with a monthly rotation, which means all days for a month and then all nights for a month, which pretty much screws any hopes of going to school for him. And, it’s a two-year commitment, so his plans for college would be put on hold for that long.
He’s going ahead with the interview process, but we are both bothered by the commitment and what it means to postponing his dream of a college education yet again.
“The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever. The true life takes place when we’re alone, thinking, feeling, lost in memory, dreamingly self-aware, the submicroscopic moments.” ~ Don DeLillo, from Point Omega
So today Brett went to the student health center while he was on campus. They tested him for flu and told him that he just has a cold. I know that he must have felt terrible to have gone to see someone on his own; he said that he threw up while he was at school. Completely unlike him. Last night, Eamonn had a rash all over his arms and shoulders. He’s already had chicken pox, so I know that it wasn’t that.
We’re all literally falling apart here—people, dogs, computers, house . . .
The sky outside is white. White skies are very depressing and unforgiving. There is nothing beautiful about them.
Now, the sky has opened up, and it’s pouring. Kind of the perfect backdrop to this post. The temperature is dropping, and it’s raining. Welcome fall, which came in at 5:05 a.m. In spite of the sky, I wouldn’t have it any other way for the first day of fall.
I’ve already moved my sandals to the back of the closet and brought my boots forward. Now I just need to get my sweaters out of the trunk, and I’ll be all set.
Last night I had strange dreams. In one, I was sliding down these sand dunes, like surfing the dunes. People were scattered all over the dunes on towels and blankets, and I was sliding in between them. When I got to the bottom of one dune, I lost control and ran into a man’s Buddha alter. He had placed fresh orange slices in a bowl at the base of the Buddha. I apologized to him profusely and offered to make recompense, but he was quite sedate and kind, and told me not to worry about it.
I also dreamed about my m-in-law. It was my first full dream about her since she died. We were in her living room, and she looked quite normal. She had been moving the furniture around and was decorating for Christmas. I asked her to let us help her move the furniture. She was lucid and conversed normally, except for the comment about visiting Saturn from the roof of the building . . . I have no idea what that means.
I awoke from the dream with a fierce migraine.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Isn’t it always the way that immediately after a doctor’s visit, something happens? I had my med check with my psychiatrist on Wednesday during which I told her that my medication was working well. Now I find myself depressed so completely that I feel covered by a shroud. I know that yesterday before he went to work Corey told me that I should just go to bed and rest and read. I must have looked like hell. I did not take his advice and stayed on this stupid computer for hours trying to make myself look marketable on paper.
It’s been over 24 hours since I first began this post, and I am no more certain of anything than when I began. Am I doing the right thing? Am I jeopardizing the little bit of guaranteed money that our family receives from my disability by attempting to go back to work in the hopes of making enough money to dig us out of this hole?
And just when I thought I had made peace with the idea that I would never be able to go back to work full time, I revisit the issue. A person could well and truly go crazy pondering these things.
I don’t know what to do. What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?
Sometimes I wish that I drank or perhaps did something to alter my reality . . . not really.
Sometimes I wish that I could be Eamonn: He has never understood this thing called disability. He has said numerous times, “Why don’t you just go back to work?” I truly think that he believes that I left work out of choice, that I just sit around on my ass all day doing nothing because I’m lazy. To him, it’s all so simple. You need money, so you go to work. And god help me, but I cannot help but hear his father’s voice when he talks like that.
But said like that, it is all so simple. Maybe it’s just me making it hard.
Enough. Since the computer keeps locking up on me today, I think I’ll call it a day.
More later. Peace.
Coda: The storm has passed, and the sky is the most beautiful pale crimson and orange . . .
Music by Melody Gardot, “The Rain” (what else?)
(in memory of José Antonio Burciaga, 1947-1996)
We are chameleons. We become chameleon.
—José Antonio Burciaga
Selected by poet Allen Braden as the Inaugural Poetry Challenge Winner
Judge’s comment: “‘Definitions I Prefer’ was chosen for its innovation in taking a kind of list we are all familiar with (dictionary entries) and re-envisioning it into the form of a catalog, or list, poem. This poem also practices William Carlos Williams’ advice ‘No ideas but in things,’ what Samuel Taylor Coleridge warned against—‘the danger of thinking without images.’”
“Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” ~ Martin Heidegger, Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?, tr. by Bernd Magnus
Wednesday afternoon. Warm and humid.
It’s an unseasonable 69° F here; elsewhere, in the north, people are experiencing blizzards and traffic-stopping white-out conditions. This time we were spared the snow and were given warmth. Never fear, though. The temperatures here are supposed to plummet to the low 30’s by tonight.
And people wonder why so many people in this area suffer from sinus problems and allergies.
So I’m having a pretty bad day in spite of the fact that I have confirmation that I have health insurance. Waiting for the new cards to come in the mail so that I can make those appointments I was talking about previously. In spite of this very good news, I feel wretched.
Yesterday, I took the now dry, previously water-logged pages of my poem’s draft and tried to type them into Word. Aside from the fact that this computer only has Works on it (what a crap program) because we’re not loading anything on it until we can do a complete reload (another story), I realized while typing that what I had been so impressed with only days before was pure and total crap. Drivel. Snot. Yuck out loud.
I really hate it when that happens. I tried working and reworking and finally stopped myself because the more I did, the more that it read as being overworked and perfunctory, and the spark that generated the idea for the poem had been completely lost beneath forced wordsmithing. The deadline has been extended, which is good, I think, but now I don’t know if I have it in me to enter the contest. (Correction note: First prize is book of poems by Pablo Neruda, not Pessoa; don’t know what I was thinking.)
Of course, all of this mulling is giving me a low-grade headache, one of those tension bands around my entire skill. Love it.
“Sharp like a razor’s edge, the sages say, Is the path, difficult to traverse.” ~ Katha Upanishad
Outside I hear the rumblings of a storm approaching. Meanwhile, Tillie the Lab has nested on the old futon in here and is currently telling me off for not paying much attention to her. She has this thing that she does whenever she feels neglected: She puts her head down and grumbles just once, a single quiet protest. She’ll repeat this little nudge until someone stops whatever they are doing and plays with her for a few minutes. Have I mentioned lately how much I think that dogs are wonderfully sentient beings? She seems to know that I’m struggling as she is pacing her grunts to meet the pauses in my typing.
Yesterday I was working on a post about HR3, that infuriating bill supposedly about abortion being proposed by a bunch of neanderthals, most of whom have male genitalia. I became so incensed over their new definitions of rape that most of the post was pure rant, so I stopped that too. Maybe I’ll go back to it later today, depends on what my mind does, where it goes in the next few hours.
Speaking of hours, I had very few consisting of real sleep last night/this morning. I fear that the insomnia is rearing its ugly head again. The alarm beeped at 5 a.m. for Corey to get for watch, and I was still awake, watching some movie that I had seen before. I had deliberately chosen the movie because I thought that it would put me to sleep.
I think that I fell asleep around 6 a.m., only to awaken after 11. I poured coffee down my throat and drove Brett to his afternoon classes. Perhaps the sleep deprivation is a contributing factor to the headache.
“If I stare into it long enough, the point comes when I don’t know what it’s called, a condition in which lacerations are liable to occur, like a slip of the tongue; when a drop of blood might billow in a glass of water, blooming in velvet detonation and imparting to it the colorless, tasteless and originless fear in which I wake. ” ~ Franz Wright, Blade
A few nights ago Corey had to waken me from a nightmare. I awoke screaming, “I hate you. I hate you.” and slapping at his hands as he tried to calm me. I had dreamt that Corey told me quite matter-of-factly that he had picked up and had sex with (and this part was very specific) 32 women.
Thirty-two? Where did that come from? How can I be my own worst enemy in my dreams too? I don’t remember much else about the dream, even though I recounted it for Corey when I was awake. Numbers in dreams always unnerve me a bit, and I don’t really know why; perhaps it’s because they are so arbitrary. I mean, if dreaming is the brain’s way of sifting through the detritus of the day, where do these numbers come from if not life?
Thirty two. Hmm. Things that make you go hmm . . .
I have been having very vivid dreams again, lots of people from my past popping up and intruding into my subconscious. Have you ever had a past dream intrude into a current dream? That happened to me. Don’t remember the exact circumstances, but a scene that happened in a former dream involving my ex unpacking dishes in the kitchen recurred in a more recent dream. The actual event never occurred in real life.
I wonder if this could be considered a rerun dream . . . Does this mean that my lack of originality has crept into my dreams, as well? Well crap.
“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.” ~ Douglas Coupland
I find myself missing my dad a lot these days, probably because he is one of those people who keeps popping in and out of dreams lately. I wonder if he ended his life filled with regret over things he hadn’t yet done. I wonder if he realized how close he was to his death and if he was filled with fear. I wonder how many dreams he had fulfilled and how many he still hadn’t achieved.
Last night Corey said that he hated that his life was mediocre, and I said that his life wasn’t mediocre, but perhaps his current state was mediocre because he felt stuck. But truthfully, I understand exactly what he meant. It goes back to my “I hate my life” statement of before.
Sometimes it all just seems so pointless. I mean, what are we really doing here? Are we making any forward progress? We as in individuals, we as in this country, we as in this world. Everywhere I turn I hear hateful things and see so much pain, and then if I narrow my vision just a bit, I see glimpses of beauty and grace, which reminds me that it isn’t pointless.
Yes, yes. I know. It’s February, the longest month of the year for my psyche, but as with my current contradictory state, it’s February, and it feels like spring, but it smells like winter. Is it any wonder that I’m conflicted?
Truth time: the poem is supposed to be about preferences, as in what do you prefer, coffee or tea, only not that simple. But maybe it is that simple and like everything else, I have made it too complicated. Preferences. For me, that is such a loaded word. The answer is that what I prefer depends on the day, the weather, my weight, whether or not my face has broken out in adult acne, how bad my headache is, if the dogs have decided to go dumpster diving in the kitchen trash, how overwhelmed I feel when I go through the mail and realize that the “to be paid” pile is seemingly insurmountable.
Preferences? I would prefer to be working as opposed to not working. I would prefer to be pain-free as opposed to pain-laden. I would prefer not to owe so much overdue money to so many people as opposed to owing my soul. I would prefer that the sliding glass door did not have spiderweb cracks in it from where Tillie hit it head on, and I would prefer that we could install our good water heater so that taking a shower did not have to be timed to coincide with the availability of hot water.
Preferences? Yes, I have a few. Most aren’t even noteworthy, but perhaps a few are worth a word or two: I prefer moonlight and water. I prefer the smell of fresh herbs and flowers. I prefer paper books to their bastardization. I prefer long hot baths at the end of the day with candles lit, casting orange and red glows on the tiles. I prefer songs that touch my heart rather than rattle my brain. I prefer to live a full life rather than merely exist.
How do you know if you are broken? I suppose it’s the same way that you know if you are insane. You don’t.
More later. Peace.
Music by Butterfly Boucher, “A Bitter Song”
on Joy & Sorrow
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Hebden Bridge, UK
“I want to write like August, to swim in it like a pool and forget the clock hands moving across summer’s face.” ~ Terresa Wellborn
When I realized that this post would be #500*, I immediately froze and wrote nothing. I mean, 500? That’s pretty auspicious, at least in my mind, anyway. If I were to estimate the number of words in my posts and multiply by 500, I would get somewhere between 550 and 600,000 words.
Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . .
Granted, not all of my posts have been written; a small percentage have been videos. But still . . . I have sat down at my computer (or someone else’s) at least 500 times (more if counting the posts I lost and had to rewrite) and written about . . . well, things. I have to admit that when I began this project, I never thought that I would last this long. Of course when I began this project, I was ecstatic to get 100 hits in one day.
My how times have changed. Now, I realize that despite my creative ebbs and flows, I will probably continue writing here for some time yet, and fortunately, I am not nearly as obsessed by my stats as I used to be. Rather than numbers, I relish the comments as they are much more tangible (so if you’re lurking and haven’t commented, please accept this as an invitation to do so).
So here I am, muddling about, trying to think of something to say in my anniversary post. Who knows where this may lead . . . By the way, I was quite surprised to see all of the 500 images that I found when I did a Google search, so I took that as a sign that I should bedeck my post in the company of other historical 500th things, like Henry VIII and a 500-year-old bridge in the UK. Granted, some of these anniversaries occurred before mine, but hey, Henry won’t mind. He was all about self-promotion.
So here I go . . .
“Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.” ~Kahlil Gibran
If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers.
I have created three sets of five in honor of the big 500. It’s the least I can do. No really, the least:
I have decided that in the history of television, five shows stand out as being uniquely entertaining, at least in my estimation:
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: I mean really, hilariously funny and engaging dialogue (shows up again in another Joss Whedon creation, “Firefly” which I would have listed here, but it didn’t last long enough)
“The West Wing”: Still waiting for a President Bartlett, unfortunately
“Law & Order” (original): Twenty years. Just as relevant. Who else can say that?
“House”: One of the best-drawn modern tragic characters
“Oz”: Consistently gripping drama with an ensemble cast unlike any other ever seen
Based on the above, I realize that I am a nerd/drama junkie. Sitcoms just don’t do it for me.
I still need a haircut.
Being the party of “No” is nothing of which to be proud.
The war in Afghanistan is too reminiscent of Viet Nam in that it is an unwinnable war. Counterinsurgency in a country that has repelled conquerors for over 1,000 years is lunacy. They don’t want to be Americanized, and the concept of American imperialism is outdated. Bring our military home.
“Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization.” ~ Jon Bentley
A 500 Yen Coin
BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward has been reassigned to Siberia. At first I thought that this was funny until I found out how much he is being paid to go away: $1.6 million in salary, and more millions in pension benefits. I guess he got his life back.
President Obama appeared on “The View,” causing some critics to lose their minds, saying that the show was not serious enough. Need I remind everyone of Bush’s appearance on “Dr. Phil”? At least most (Snooki aside) of the questions on “The View” were pointedly in keeping with today’s issues. And as far as the Boy Scott Jamboree that Obama passed on, how about the other 12 U.S. presidents who declined the same invitation, including Republicans Nixon, Reagan and Ford? They weren’t called un-American.
Jon Stewart is right. Nothing Obama does will ever make the right happy. Nothing.
Just a reminder: W. had a surplus coming into office ($236 Billion, according to Congressional Budget Office). Obama had a $1.2 Trillion deficit when he took office (same source).
Another reminder: The Wall Street crash happened on W’s watch, not Obama’s.
“Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.” ~ Confucius
Darth Vader 500th Anniversary
Well, I just lost one-third of this post when I tried to save because the router went out. Lovely. Let’s see . . . what was I rambling on about anyway . . .
All of Corey’s sunflowers are dead, which means that the beautiful patch of yellow in the backyard is now a sad patch of droopy, green stems and leaves.
For some reason, centipedes abound in our house this summer. I don’t care what you might have to say about them, I am terrified of centipedes. I know that this is an irrational fear, but I used to have nightmares about them when I was a child. I dreamed they were in my bed. These things are hard to kill, and before you lecture me on letting things be, you should know that I only swat a few things: cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, and ants running rampant on my kitchen counter. Nevertheless, centipedes just won’t die.
I’m ready for fall, which is weird since I still think that it’s April.
At one point we had about six tennis balls throughout the house. Today, I couldn’t fine one, which means that Tillie and Shakes cannot play pool ball. They are very sad puppies. Next week, I’ll probably find the missing tennis balls in an unlikely spot.
I think that I’ve just about decided what my next tattoo will be, not that I’ll be able to afford one anytime soon. These are the kinds of things with which I occupy my mind. Small things . . .
So much for the great 500th post. I sort of lost my momentum after part of the post disappeared. I think that I’ll go have a bowl of cereal and watch a “Law & Order” rerun. That always works.
More later. Peace.
Music by Iron and Wine, “Such Great Heights”
*I realized today that my actual stats show only 496 posts, but, and this is a big but, I have written and posted 500 times. About a year ago I made 5 posts private, but I then decided to delete 4 of them permanently, which puts my total at 500 . . . Crystal clear, right?