“I chose cultural anthropology, since it offered the greatest opportunity to write high-minded balderdash.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, from Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Friday evening, slightly warmer temperatures, 36 degrees.

A little late in getting this post up. Corey has so generously shared his cold with me. He’s getting better, and I, if things go true to form, seem to be on my way to bronchitis. The only good thing is that I actually have a doctor’s appointment next week, just for a check-in, but if my chest goes the way it tends to go, I should be good and wheezy by the time I get to my appointment.

No. I’m not willing it into existence, but seriously . . . I know my body’s response by now. As I sit here in my pajamas trying to will enough energy to bathe, sweat is running down my brow, and it’s not because it’s hot in here.

Just a few minutes ago, I poured my ginger tea into my soda water glass instead of the tea cup, and it took me a minute to realize what was wrong. It’s pathetic, actually. Thank god I don’t need to interact with real people.

I mean really . . . it would just be embarrassing. Anyway, I like my collection for today. I hope you enjoy.

More later. Peace.


I love this. I wonder if Corey would notice if I started flapping a handkerchief at him:

The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained, Henry J. Wehman, 1890

But I love this more:

The Highland Weekly News, Hillsboro, Ohio, March 4, 1875

I never did solve mine:

This is kind of like the guy who invented soft serve ice cream by mistake when the ice cream in his truck began to melt:

And then there’s this accident:

I have a real abhorrence of canned vegetables, except for corn. Weird, huh?

This is too true:

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry:

I told you dogs were better than people:

This is too cool:

“It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, from Slaughterhouse Five

Some more beautiful time-lapse photography for your Sunday afternoon. Stolen from my compatriot Izaak Mak on I Want Ice Water

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and enter the wilderness of your intuition.” ~ Alan Alda

“Do what we can, summer will have its flies.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A small collection of total nonsense . . .

Miss Universe Pageant 1954
Miss New Zealand passes out from the heat
Whoopi Goldberg on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”
Had to post even though I can’t find the source . . .

↑This is a real thing, folks . . .

Late addition . . .

Kevin Weir historical gif
Historical Gif by Kevin Weir

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” ~ René Descartes

These pavement cracks are the places where poets pack their warrior words ~ Lemn Sissay, Tib Street, Manchester UK*

                    

“All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. It is just an illusion we have here on earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Monday late afternoon. Mild temperatures, 50’s.

I slept. A lot. How unusual. Not complaining.

These pavement cracks are the places where sleeping shadows of moving bridges stole ~ Lemn Sissay

I think that I fell asleep around 1 a.m. I got up at 12 to take Brett to school, and then came home and slept for a few more hours. Obviously, my body needed sleep. I did the usual awakening around 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. to let the dogs out, but I had no problems in getting back to sleep as soon as my body hit the mattress. I know: this is not remotely exciting in the way of readable copy, but you have to understand that deep sleep is so unusual for me that I feel a great need to shout it from the rooftops.

Consider the shouting over.

So anyway, Corey had to work third shift last night, and so far today, he has not received any telephone calls from the shipping line. He’s walking back and forth in the house and doing a lot of heavy sighing. This is not a big house, so his path is pretty limited, which I suppose sort of defeats the purpose of intent pacing. I’m not making fun (well, actually, I am, just a bit), but he is so restless that even Tillie, who usually follows him wherever he goes, has taken up position on the couch and just raises her head as he passes by to see if perhaps he’s going someplace that she needs to follow. Then she puts her head down and goes back to napping.

Dogs. Incredibly discerning creatures.

“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but  they appear almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster,  cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than  anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Actual quote from my mother: “You’ve gotten really grouchy now that you’re old.”

How does one respond to something like that? Gee, thanks mom. You say the sweetest, most uplifting things.

Where the dying dust of dreams slides where the slits silt turns to food ~ Lemn Sissay

As I’ve said, I know that I’m particularly impatient with my mother, and trust me when I say that it comes from years and years and years of the same conversation, rehashed, reshaped, repeated ad nauseum. That’s not fair. I know. But I just cannot help it. Well before my mother entered her 70’s she repeated herself constantly, and I got impatient with the repetition. My father used to say, “Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh.” Five of them in a row, and I swear the first time that came out of my mouth, I was horrified yet still oddly satisfied.

So when my mother comes out with things like this, inevitably I turn to Corey and say something along the lines of “and you wonder why I have no self-esteem.”

Look, I’ll admit that I’ve never been a heaping pile of optimism, nor has anyone ever accused me of walking around with a stupid smile on my face for no reason. That’s just not who I am. Does that mean that I’m not happy? No. It does mean that I am more often than not in contemplation over this or that, and in that sense, I married the perfect person to complement my personality. Corey is not one of those mindlessly happy individuals either. But we make each other laugh, and we take pleasure in the same things. Mostly.

People who smile easily—there’s something to be said for that. Being cheerful—that’s a good thing. I’ve always envied people like that, but I know myself too well, and I’m not one of those people. Like the lyrics in that Chorus Line song: “Mother always said I was different, different with a special kind of personal flair.” Whatever.

“You simply keep putting down one damn word after the other, as they come to you. You can either set brick as a laborer or as an artist. You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time. You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

So where was I before my mother interrupted? Who knows.

Where rain rushes down grit rock faces where the heartless heat crouches beneath the cold ~ Lemn Sissay

I do believe that some people are born happy and that other people are born sad. And sometimes that changes, and those who were born sad manage to morph into fundamentally happy people, people who can engage in witty repartee, who can smile without any effort; and then those who were born happy have some event in their lives that causes a shift, and they no longer smile, and their wounds, whatever they are, consume every waking moment.

And then there are the others, and this is the category into which I believe I fall: We feel things intensely, and when we are happy, we are happy beyond measure so that even the smallest thing can conjure a smile, but when we are sad, the pain of that sadness overshadows all of our features, leaving our faces pensive and closed. It’s a matter of knowing how to be happy, of having had experiences that were completely blissful, yet at the same time, having experienced tremendous pain and always being cogent of the fact that such pain can come back.

Glass half full or half empty—in the truest sense—or glass simply there as a container.

“I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly. Why muck and conceal one’s true longings and loves, when by speaking of them one might find someone to understand them, and by acting on them one might discover oneself?” ~  Everett Ruess

I know that I’ve said this in another post, probably more than once, but one of my keenest memories of my mother giving me advice when I was a teenager was that I needed to read happy things and think happy thoughts. I remember the exact moment acutely: I was in the store with her, and as usual, I was in the book section, and I had picked out the book The Holocaust. I think that I might have been about 14. She made me put the book back on the shelf because it was depressing.

And perhaps the pavement cracks are the pattern of concrete butterflies ~ Lemn Sissay

Of course I went back another time and bought the book anyway.

Look. I’m not saying that my approach to life is the best approach. Far from it. I’m merely being brutally honest. I know myself, know my limitations just as surely as I know my capabilities. And it’s a situation of what if: What if my mother had been more attuned to my needs? What if my mother had been better able to offer the kind of advice that would have actually been helpful? What if my mother had nurtured my talents instead of trying to rein them in?

I must sound awful, as if I hate my mother, and that’s so far from the truth. I love my mother, but I also am a realist. I know that my mother is a product of her environment, a child of the Depression, the daughter who lost her mother at a very early age and had to look elsewhere to fill that gaping hole. All of these factors shaped my mother, and the advice that she gave me made complete sense to her even if it didn’t to me. I know that my mom had her own dreams and that many of them did not come true, and that breaks my heart.

“The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s  neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that  came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.” ~ William Styron

Happiness is a strange thing, and if we are being truthful, probably rarer than most would admit.

Like us they hold the people of a modern earth this world between the windswept flags ~ Lemn Sissay

When were you last happy? What was the exact moment of your bliss?

I know that as a child, I was happy. I was happy and creative and friendly. I got along as well with adults as I did with children. I think, no, I know that my personality changed drastically when I hit puberty. It wasn’t the rebellion. It was the sadness, the deep abiding sadness that I simply could not explain and that I did not understand. Of course I realize now that with puberty and the great hormone surge came my depression.

I have another vivid memory from my early teens: sitting on the corner of the street under the street sign, just sitting and crying. People passed me in cars, some slowed, concern obvious on their faces, and I turned away. I just wanted to be left alone in my sadness. I could not have told you why I was so sad that day. I really had no idea; I only knew that my heart felt so heavy with a sadness that I could not name that feeling anything else would have been relief. Oh god, the angst. I probably went home and wrote one of my maudlin poems.

The teen years: more bad poetry produced by the misunderstood than can ever be read.

I did not tell my mother. And truthfully, I still cannot tell her.

Oh. The answer to that question I posed? I’ll get back to you.

More later. Peace.

*Images are of  verses from Lemn Sissay’s poem “Flags,” which was commissioned by The Northern  Quarter and laid into Tib Street in Manchester, England.

Music by The Wellspring, “The Ballad of El Goodo”

                   

The Crunch

too much too little

too fat
too thin
or nobody.

laughter or
tears

haters
lovers

strangers with faces like
the backs of
thumb tacks

armies running through
streets of blood
waving winebottles
bayoneting and fucking
virgins.

an old guy in a cheap room
with a photograph of M. Monroe.

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock

people so tired
mutilated
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place
alone

untouched
unspoken to

watering a plant.

people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.

I suppose they never will be.
I don’t ask them to be.

but sometimes I think about
it.

the beads will swing
the clouds will cloud
and the killer will behead the child
like taking a bite out of an ice cream cone.

too much
too little

too fat
too thin
or nobody

more haters than lovers.

people are not good to each other.
perhaps if they were
our deaths would not be so sad.

meanwhile I look at young girls
stems
flowers of chance.

there must be a way.

surely there must be a way that we have not yet
though of.

who put this brain inside of me?

it cries
it demands
it says that there is a chance.

it will not say
“no.”

~ Charles Bukowski

“We are little flames poorly sheltered by frail walls against the storm of dissolution and madness, in which we flicker and sometimes almost go out.” ~ Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

Morning in the Forest by Paulo FLOP (35photo.ru)

                   

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday evening. Gradually clearing, low 70’s.

Beginning by bachkatov (35photo.ru)

A slow day. I stayed up quite late and got up quite late, so I’m feeling more than a bit discombobulated, that, and the omnipresent headache that is thrumming in my temples.

I should mention off the bat that this post’s images all come from 35photo.ru, a site that I found through tumblr. I apologize if I have inadvertently infringed on someone’s copyright, but I looked carefully at the images that I downloaded and did not see a copyright, part of the problem of using a foreign site.

Last night (early this morning?) Corey and I had a heart-to-heart talk about what we are facing. He has very mixed feelings about the job with the sheriff’s office, which has caught him off-guard, and he is considering trying to pick up a hitch with the shipping company that approached him right after he had enrolled in school. If he does a few hitches with them next year, he can make as much money as he would make in a year with the other job, and he can still go to school.

I really don’t want him to have to postpone school for two years because he has already waited so long on this particular dream—a dream deferred, if you will—and, truth be told, I am not to keen on the idea of him having to work in the city jail, just too many possible bad scenarios there. But ultimately, I will leave it up to him.

The downside of going back to sea is that we have to come up with the money to renew his licenses, and he would probably not be able to go out until the beginning of 2012, so a few more months of this.

“You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.” ~ Philip Levine, “Our Valley”

Into the Mist by kicik (35photo.ru)

He also admitted that he does not think the idea of me giving up my disability coverage is the best idea. When he asked if I wanted to go back to work because of the money or because I wanted to go back to work, I immediately said that it was the money, and that’s the truth.

I have agreed to postpone submitting my application package a few days (as the deadline is not for another five days) until I can give the issue some more thought. Of course, having said that, I must admit that today I feel worse than I’ve felt in weeks, what with my back and my head, and I realize that the stress is probably a factor in that. So the question is, how would I do with the stress of a full-time job?

I have no idea.

Any type of job that I would take would be a high stress situation as that is the nature of marketing and publishing—constant deadlines and budgetary factors. Client whims and needs. All of that. I must approach this with my mind fully aware of all of the mitigating factors, not the least of which is the disputation of my graduate school loans. If I stay on disability, my loans are phased out. If I go back to work, they are reinstated, as they should be, but that’s a big chunk of change. Getting a graduate degree from a private university, even one for which you work, is not inexpensive.

More to consider.

“This body, which has become a sarcophagus with stone handles, lies perfectly motionless; the dreamer rises out of it, like a vapor, to circumnavigate the world . . . he tries on one body after another, but they are all misfits. Finally he is obliged to return to his own body, to reassume the leaden mold, to become a prisoner of the flesh, to carry on in torpor, pain and ennui.” ~ Henry Miller in Sexus

Untitled by Philip Peynerdjiev (35photo.ru)

I want to pause to acknowledge that some beautiful verse has been showing up on my tumblr dash lately. As I’ve mentioned before, I garner most of my quotes and poems from my tumblr, which I find to be an inspiring resource. I had never heard of Matthew Harvey or Lucian Blaga, both of which I have included in this post.

Corey had a chat with Eamonn today in which he reminded eldest son that missing classes is unacceptable as we footed the bill for his last ditch effort to do something with his college career. The proposition was that he would work his hardest and make A’s, B’s at the very least, so that he can bring up his GPA and possibly be accepted into the radiation technology program.

In the last week, Eamonn missed one session of each class, and he is carrying a low B in his biology class. He admitted to me that he did not study for his recent test.

Why doesn’t he get it? Why doesn’t he understand that we invested this money in him (money that we could ill afford) because we want him to succeed, because we want him to have a career and not to have to work in some low-paying job for the rest of his life?

Corey told him that he (Eamonn) is acting like this is still high school, which is exactly what the problem is. I could go on ad nauseum about how this isn’t how he was brought up, how my family has a strong work ethic and a deep belief in higher education, but the truth is that Eamonn is spoiled, and that fact lands squarely back in my lap.

It’s hard to be a single parent. The desire to give your children everything, to be everything, to make things seem as normal as possible—these things can cause a sense of unbelievable guilt, and Eamonn is good for piling on the guilt, telling me more than once that he blames me for the divorce. It’s an argument that I cannot win and have long since abandoned trying to gain any ground with, so admittedly, I spoiled my children as much as I could.

Still, this sense of entitlement makes me want to scream.

Same old song and dance, I suppose . . .

“If there is no fog on the day you come home I will build a bonfire
So the smoke will make the cedars look the way you like them” ~ Matthea Harvey, from “In Defense of Our Overgrown Garden

Foggy Night 3 by dimitri bogachuk (35photo.ru)

In other news . . . Brett is still sick today, so he’s been quiet and resting. Em went shopping with her aunt, which is always a good distraction for her. She has developed a nice relationship with both her aunt and uncle in the past few months, and I know that fact means a lot to her.

Alexis has spent the fast week or so in Maryland with Mike, who is due to finish his hitch there soon. He makes good money while he’s there, and I think that the time that she spends up there with him is good for their relationship. Plus it means that she’s not just staying in her apartment alone sleeping. I know that she’s been incredibly depressed since losing her grandmother.

Yesterday was Ann’s birthday. I called and texted but never got to speak to her, so I left a voice mail in which I sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” á la Marilyn Monroe. I’m hoping that she wasn’t too depressed. The first holidays, birthdays, anniversaries after losing a parent are so hard. It still bothers me to be on the card aisle before Father’s Day. I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas without my m-in-law, which is probably why I dreamed that she was decorating for Christmas. It will be so strange for her not to be here.

I’ve been borrowing my m-in-law’s car to drive back and forth to ODU when Corey is working. We’re hoping that our neighbor who is supposed to be working on Corey’s truck will finish the job soon. He’s been paid in full, and we have the parts. We’re just waiting on the labor now. I still need to make arrangements to have my uncle’s Explorer shipped from Florida. And Brett still needs to get off his butt and take his DMV test to get his learner’s permit, which he has to keep for 30 days before getting his license now that he’s over 19.

Always something.

“Such a deep silence surrounds me, that I think I hear
moonbeams striking on the windows.

In my chest,
a strange voice awakens
and a song plays inside me
a longing that is not mine.” ~ Lucian Blaga, from “Silence” (trans. by MariGoes)

Cape Fiolet by Dimitry Tokar (35photo.ru)

Yesterday, while I was on my way to ODU to pick up Brett and Em, I had the local classical station on, and some symphony was playing. Forgive me, but I did not get the name. It was not one with which I was already familiar. But I turned up the tinny car radio, and listened to the beautiful music, which ended perfectly just as I pulled up.

I remember when I was teaching at ODU, fall would always be the time that I would switch my car stereo to classical, and one day Mari walked in and said, “Geez, how many times are they going to play “The Emperor’s Concerto” (Beethoven’s fifth concerto)? I had to laugh because I had just been thinking the same thing as I walked into the office.

It’s funny how Mari and I were so synchronized in our likes and dislikes, how we changed with the seasons, how our moods were affected by the weather and by what we wore. I remember one day when we were out, and I made her go to what was then Hecht’s department store so that I could buy a blouse to change into because what I was wearing made me feel so ugly. She completely understood.

God I miss having that in a female friend. But mostly, I still miss Mari. When I was going through my files before updating my resume, I came across a resume that I had put together for Mari back in 2005 when she was trying to get a job down here. I hadn’t realized that it had been that long. We were both working so hard to get her down here, but it never happened. That’s over six years ago.

It seems like last year. Does time pass faster the older that you are? Or does it just seem to fly away on the wind when you are running so fast to catch up?

More later. Peace.

Music by Jeff Beal, “Waltz for Mary,” perfect day for some keyboard

                   

Fall

Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything
Changes and moves in the split second between summer’s
Sprawling past and winter’s hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.
And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

~ Edward Hirsch

“When your neuroses become your style, you’ve got it made. Everybody has a personality composed of neurotic patterns. I’ve given up thinking I’ve got to go through the eye of the needle and become psychologically sound. I’m always going to be a mess!” ~ Ram Dass

Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles: Number 11 (1952, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Australia)

                    

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Monday afternoon. Not too hot, mid-80’s, sunny.

Jackson Pollock, Ocean Greyness (1953, oil on canvas, Guggenheim Museum)

It’s been a long six days since I last posted, during which I have wanted to post several times, but for various reasons, have been unable to do so. In finishing the big furniture shuffle, we have the house in better shape, but as usual, I overdid it and was down for several days. Have I mentioned how much I hate the fact that I have to rest for days after I clean my house or do anything strenuous (not strenuous for most people)? Sucks, really.

Of course, the last room to be put back together is our bedroom, and once again, half of it is in order, and half of it isn’t. Since we moved my desk into Eamonn’s room, I was left with various items without a home, so to speak. But I took the opportunity to throw away more stuff and to clean the stuff that I’m keeping. Hence, the overexertion.

As I mentioned, on Tuesday everyone went to Bush Gardens, and they seemed to have a good time, although everyone came home tired and grouchy, which is always the case after spending ten to twelve hours in the heat. Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded, so they didn’t have to wait in long lines.

Last Thursday, Phillip and a few of Eamonn’s buds came over to hang out. Corey and Phillip ended up playing XBox at 2 in the morning. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Then Friday night Corey, Phillip, Patrick, Lucas, and Shawn (Patrick’s former aide) went out for a boys’ night out. And Saturday, we all got together at the beach house before the Germans were to leave on Sunday.

By the way, Phillip corrected the usage of the phrase the Germans to describe our relatives who live in Germany because as he pointed out, he and Hannah were born in the U.S. and have dual citizenship. I just found it amusing that after I had been mulling over the correctness of using such a collective he made a point of negating it. He is very much like his father in being exact about things.

Anyway, they were to leave yesterday, but because of severe weather in the north, all flights in the direction were delayed three hours, which would have made them miss their connecting flight. And in addition, Patrick’s wheelchair and a few other necessities were locked in the trunk of the rental car along with the keys. It was not the best day for them. As it turns out, they left today. I did not go to the airport as I’m still feeling melancholy and sad, and frankly, I did not want to say goodbye again.

“It is so hard to learn to put sadness in perspective so hard to understand that it is a feeling that comes in degrees, it can be a candle burning gently and harmlessly in your home, or it can be a full-fledged forest fire that destroy almost everything and is controlled by almost nothing. It can also be so much in-between.” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel

Jackson Pollock, Number 23 (1948, enamel on gesso on paper, Tate Gallery)

Corey had to work both first and third shift yesterday, so he is sleeping today. When I got out of bed today, I could barely move because my back was so stiff, and it made me feel so old and decrepit. Hate that too.

A few nights ago, I kept smelling something burning, and for a brief second, I thought the house was on fire. Turns out the fires in the Great Dismal Swamp are still burning, and the wind had shifted, resulting in a very smokey evening for our area. My asthma was quite irritated, and we had all of the fans in the house turning to try to clear the house. But it resulted in yet another evening of restless sleep for me as I actually had to use my inhaler twice during the night, which is quite unusual for me.

I haven’t mentioned it yet because as I said I haven’t really been able to write, but my other m-in-law is in the hospital. It seems that she developed a high fever, and Ann was with her in the emergency room last Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning. She has a UTI and an infection in her lungs, but thankfully, not pneumonia. She is doing better, but I haven’t been to see her yet, which really makes me feel like crap.

Ann has decided to move her mom from the rehab home that she was in, and I am so glad. My line of thinking is that someone should have noticed that she was ill before she spiked such a high fever. And the fact is that I spotted pus in her catheter line and told the nursing staff that she had a UTI the last time, and even then, it took two days before they tested her. Ann has found a place that is closer to home, and she toured it the other day. Another good thing is that the request can be made not to have any male attendants, which is also a relief.

“There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Jackson Pollock, Number 16 (1949)

Last night I dreamed that the crazy woman I used to work with called me just to talk, and I knew that it wasn’t just to talk. I knew that she wanted something from me, but I could not figure out what. Then the dream shifted, and I was supposed to get on a flight with a bunch of Jedi younglings, and I knew that Darth Vader was going to be on the flight. Darth and I decided not to fight on the flight because of all of the children who could get hurt, and he took off his helmet. The whole Jedi thing probably came from my watching part of Men Who Stare at Goats before going to sleep.

A totally silly movie, but I love Ewan McGregor. I may watch the rest of the movie tonight, but really, it was more to pass the time than anything.

Undoubtedly, one of the stranger sci-fi dreams I have ever had. Especially since at some point we were on a bus instead of a plane, and the bus driver decided to drive in the water so that we could see all of the creatures in the water around us, and I saw a turtle with long, female legs . . . Not even going to try to decipher this one.

I do remember getting off the bus and seeing a woodchuck in the middle of the road. I startled the woodchuck, and it began to hop. The kids on the bus laughed. Other animals that we saw included a jaguar, a hippo, koi, female lions, and gators. The bus driver recited this litany of animals as she drove maniacally through the water, and no one seemed too bothered that the bus was in the water.

When I’m dreaming things like this, something in my subconscious registers and thinks that the dream would make a good movie or a good book, usually a good book, and then I wake up and think to myself, “Who would buy a book about a bus driving through the water?”

Oh, well . . .

“A doctor once told me I feel too much
I said so does god
That’s why you can see the grand canyon from the moon” ~ Andrea Gibson, from “Jellyfish”

Jackson Pollock, Guardians of the Secret (1943, oil on canvas, SFMOMA)

Last night because I couldn’t sleep I watched the movie Pollock, with Ed Harris in the title role, and Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, his companion/wife/promoter. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while, but I knew that it would be an emotional roller coaster, and it was.

Harris is wonderful as the artist, portraying his struggles in attempting to bring his true vision to the canvas via his drip and splash method (action painting), and Harden won an Academy Award for best supporting actress as Krasner.

I remember the first time that I saw a Pollock painting; I was totally confused. Admittedly, I knew nothing about abstract expressionism and had little appreciation for the movement. But I have found in recent years that my appreciation for Pollock, de Kooning, Diebenkorn, and Rothko has deepened. The lack of a focal composition point makes sense somehow.

What I have come to appreciate is the immediacy of the work done by artists during this period. I’ve never been a fan of Picasso as I find his work to be quite disconcerting, which is what it’s supposed to be. And while I also know that Picasso and other surrealists influenced the abstract Impressionists, cubism befuddles me. Not so Pollock.

The years between 1947 and 1950 Pollock produced the works for which he is most famous. Instead of using brushes, Pollock dripped, flung, and splashed paint; he used sticks, knives, and hardened brushes, among other implements to move his liquid paint onto his huge canvases, which were laid on the floor of his studio.

Pollock maintained that through his technique of working on the floor, he was able to see all sides of his work: “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”

I suppose what appeals to me is how Pollock’s paintings reflect so much of his inner turmoil, how his subconscious defines the art. I can appreciate that. If I were to attempt to paint (which I would not presume to do as I have no talent in that area), the visceral approach employed by Pollock would be something that I might try.

“”The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny—it is the light that guides your way.” ~ Heraclitus

Jackson Pollock, Mural (1943, oil on canvas (97 1/4 x 238 in), UIMA)

Let’s see . . . what else?

I feel as if I’ve eaten nothing but junk food for a week: chips, crackers, dip, other stuff that’s not healthy. I have been on a fresh fruit binge, though, to try to counteract the empty calories. I need some fresh vegetables, yogurt, and fruit for the next few days.

I seem to have run out of steam for this post. I had another tangent in mind when I began this section, but I drifted off while I was listening to Melody Gardot sing “The Rain.” Her voice is like smokey silk, half what I imagine I sound like but probably do not.

It’s quite easy at this moment to become distracted as clouds are rolling in outside this window, and the room is taking on the hues of dusk. I have my blues playlist running in the background, and the house is fairly quiet. The temperature is dropping, and thankfully, the nights are becoming cooler.  It feels a bit like fall, although if you were to ask me exactly why, I could not pinpoint a particular reason.

I would live in fall perpetually given the chance, which is why I believe I am so enamored of living in Ireland. Who knows if that will ever happen. The likelihood is slim as Corey has no desire to leave the country, which I can certainly understand. It’s not that I want to leave this country, but it’s more that I want to live in Ireland, a desire I have long harbored. The history of poet and writers, the verdant landscape, the smaller villages. Of all of the places that I have dreamed about and given character to, Ireland comes the closest to my imaginings, or at least that’s what the people who have been there tell me.

It’s quite easy to build up a scenario in your wild imaginings about how a certain town or country might be, but it’s quite another thing to encounter the brutality of the reality of that place. The few places that I think would actually live up to what I have imagined are Ireland, New Zealand, New South Wales, and perhaps Wales and the Netherlands.

I wonder if I will ever get to compare my imaginings with the realities . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Tom Waits, “The World Keeps Turning” from the Pollock soundtrack

                   

Stone

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

~ Charles Simic, from The Voice at 3 A.M.

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

Forest Reflections

  

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov
Reflections in Mapperly Reservoir

I believe it was around 4 a.m. when found myself perusing my blogroll. Then at 7 a.m. I read a bit of online news. In between, I fought for space on the bed between dog limbs and warm snouts, took a few pills for what ailed me physically, contemplated making a peanut butter sandwich, and once again, watched the darkness move into light through the bedroom shades.  

My nightly perambulating on the web did afford me one nugget of gold: the aforementioned National Geographic Magazine tumblr site. It still amazes me how completely satisfying it is to find a wonderful site amidst all of the fodder that shows up on the web.  

Lately, I have noticed, too, a kind of common thread that pervades several of the blogs that I frequent on a regular basis: people are saying that they are tired of blogging, that they have nothing left to say, so they are closing shop, as it were. Interesting. I mean, I have had more than one occasion on which I have felt dissatisfied with my own blog, but I have yet to reach terminal saturation. I wonder if that is a natural progression for all bloggers?  

I don’t think that is necessarily so as I have encountered bloggers who have been doing this for ten years. They remain, but the forum in which they create changes, which is why I am considering opening a companion tmblr site. Still mulling it over, the pros and cons. The format seems to be quite straightforward, so I think that doing it, i.e., committing to a companion site, is more a mental and/or emotional challenge.  

As for names, I’m contemplating LOLA . . . L-O-L-A LOLA, or Fata Morgana, or The Frenzy & The Lightning, or This, and So Much More (from T. S. Eliot), or Not Even the Rain (from e. e. cummings), or Brilliant Wreckage (from Sue Monk Kidd), or Rivers of Wisdom (Ondaatje), or Slow Dancing in Quicksand.  

I’ll let you know what I decide as I know that you will be sitting with bated breath until I announce my decision . . .   

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Quarry Pond Reflections

I had a wonderful burst of energy after my prolonged lethargy. I did mounds of laundry. Scrubbed the kitchen. Cleaned the hardwood floors and the bathroom tiles. And then, just as suddenly as it appeared, the energy seeped away, and I was left enervated once more.  

I did manage to address Brett’s graduation announcements. Of course, the book of stamps that Corey recently purchased has grown legs and moved to house parts unknown. Things do that a lot around here. I told Corey that I thought the stamps were probably on the dining room table, aka his desk, but he said that he had “moved things around a bit and couldn’t find them.” I love my husband and his logic. It fits in so well with everything else around here.  

Another example: The old fridge in the garage is leaking water. I asked Corey if it might be overflow. He responded that the whole fridge was just dying, hence the leak. It’s hard to argue with logic like that.  

Alexis came over for a bit yesterday. She’s having the sleeping problems again—unable to get up even with the alarm blaring and the phone ringing right beside her. The neurologist couldn’t find anything wrong on her scans, so I am puzzled unless it is all psychological; by that I mean my daughter has a tendency to do things in the wee hours of the morning, like clean. Then she goes to sleep. It’s as if she is setting herself up to be unable to awaken, but without the self-awareness to know this.

I went through a similar phase when I was her age: My mood swings and insomnia had me cleaning at 2 a.m. I finally knew that I had a real problem when I found myself sorting coupons at 3:30 one morning when I needed to be in class at 8 a.m. I think that’s when I began therapy on a full-time basis. The biggest difference between us is that I would get up after only a few hours of sleep and go to work, then take a nap in the afternoon. Luckily, my job hours allowed for that.  

I suggested getting a night job, but she says that she doesn’t want to do that. I don’t really have any answers, so I just listen and try to be compassionate, remembering how it felt for me then, not mentioning how it feels for me now—just as helpless on either side of the coin.  

“If you can orbit the planet, why can’t you see what makes the human heart happy?” ~ Dan Chiasson
Venice Canal Reflections

Last night Corey and I watched a really bad movie—My Bloody Valentine—with a preposterous plot about some killer who wore a miner’s oxygen mask and killed people with a pick-axe. The only good thing I have to say about it was that it was the first time in a movie that I saw a killing with a shovel in quite that way. Otherwise, not so much.  

A few nights ago we watched a really good movie—The Duchess—with Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes. Based on the story of the Duchess of Devonshire, an 18th century noblewoman, who was directly related to Lady Diana Spencer, aka Princess Di, the movie was beautiful visually, and Fiennes played the restrained Duke with an omnipresent look of stultification.  

Whenever I watch one of these period pieces, I always thank the stars that I was not alive (that I know of) during such repressing times. Georgiana, the Duchess, was quite unrestrained, though, a woman who loved fashion, wine, and gambling. Still, that was not  enough as she had to endure the Duke taking up with her best friend, three people in the marriage, as it were. Yet she was not free to leave to be with her own lover, Charles Grey, who later became Prime Minister and from whom we get one of my favorite teas: Earl Grey.  

Happiness, true happiness, it seems was not for women, especially spirited women.  

“In the middle of the night, things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing—the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, give me food for thought, food to grow on.” ~ May Sarton

Loch Etive Reflections

When I was teaching and trying to write, I used to think of May Sarton, a poet, novelist, and memoirist who did not publish her first book until she was 49.  I would think of her and tell myself that there was still time. Or I would console myself with the example of P. D. James, one of my favorite British crime writers, whose first novel was published in 1962 when she was 42.  

Last night Corey asked me if I was still feeling like a failure. I had to answer that truthfully, I was. During my brief bout of activity, I was able to subsume those feelings that have been creeping around the edges of my brain, but once the energy was gone, the creeping became a much more pronounced pounding, and the overwhelming sense of doom—arising from wasted time, broken dreams, and failed goals—once again took a place of prominence in my days.  

I don’t think that it helped that Alexis brought a photo album with her when she visited; it contained pictures of the kids when they were much younger, and many pictures of my dad. Alexis had found the album at my mom’s house and asked to borrow it. She brought it over because she wasn’t sure if I had seen it, and in fact, I had not. I mean, I had seen the pictures at various times, but not together in this album.  

Amazing the things that you can see in a person’s face when captured by the camera: my father’s sadness in his eyes, Eamonn’s mind working on his next big move with that off-kilter grin, Brett’s insecurity in his wide-eyed stare, Alexis’s loathing of whatever outfit my mother was making her wear. There were only two pictures that included me, which is not unusual since I do not let people take my picture, but I loved the irony that only I could appreciate of how—when those particular shots were taken—I was so certain that I was overweight and looked horrible.  

Oh to look that horrible again. But what is most telling, I suppose, is how skewed my perception of myself has always been. Thanks, mom.  

Anyway, both Alexis and I commented on how much we wished that my dad were still around. At the time, though, I did not realize what a driving force my father was in my life. What a shame for both of us. Reflection, hindsight, whatever, hence the visual theme of reflected reality. 

So that’s where I am on this hot June evening. More later. Peace.  

Hodges, “My Side of the Story”