“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ~ Kahlil Gibra, from The Prophet

Atticus, the anonymous poet from Canada

“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.

More later Peace.


Music by Boy Epic, “Scars”

“You will be identified as thin-skinned and moody; in reaction you will identify yourself as civilized and sensitive. You will barricade yourself in that preposterous condition known as self-respect.” ~ Alphonso Lingis, Dangerous Emotions

"Purple Heather," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (ND, watercolor on paper)*

                   

“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.

"Tropical Sunset," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1960, watercolor on paper)

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 in Darkness 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.

"Light through the Trees," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (ca 1960, watercolor on paper)

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.

"The Waterfall," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1950, watercolor on paper)

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.

"Tropical Sunrise," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1960, watercolor on paper)

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.

"Reflections," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1940, watercolor on paper)

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.

More later. Peace.

*Images by Boris Lovet-Lorski  (1894–1973), Lithuanian sculptor, lithographer, and painter

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
any star
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
and anger
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue

so is blurred
so is blurred
in me
what white-haired gentlemen
separated once and for all
and said
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

~ Zbigniew Herbert

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath

“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.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Arthur Hughes

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.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Frank Dicksee (1902)

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 . . .

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," William Russell Flint (1908)

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.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," John William Waterhouse (1893)

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
wake up,
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
remember doing
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.

~ Joyce Sutphen