“But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me | Just how I should feel today” ~ Lyrics to “Blue Monday,” by New Order

Lawren Harris Lake Superior, Sketch XLVII c1923 oil on panel
“Lake Superior, Sketch XLVII” (c1923, oil on panel)
by Lawren Harris

                   

“Blue Monday: Rain, debt and divorce make it worst day of the year” ~ From The Daily Mail (1/5/2014)

I had no idea this was a thing, an actual thing that people write about and talk about. Who knew?

CNSPhoto-BOSWELL-NERKE
“Bylot Island Sketch” (c1930, oil)
by Lawren Harris

Tidbits I picked up from various sites:

  • In 2005, British academic Cliff Arnall claimed that Blue Monday, the third Monday of January, could be the most depressing day of the year, as anxieties replace holiday cheer and winter drags on.
  • Cliff Arnall began calculating the happiest and gloomiest days of the year back in 2005 while working as a professor at Cardiff University in Wales.Arnall devised a Blue Monday formula that calculates factors such as weather, debt, time passed since Christmas, failed New Year’s resolutions, low motivation and the need to take action.While there is no scientific support for Arnall’s theory, some might find the formula 1/8W+(D-d)3/8xTQMxNA itself too depressing even to contemplate.
  • He [Arnall] calculated the date using a variety of factors including weather conditions, debt levels, failed New Year’s resolutions and the number of days that had elapsed since the end of the Christmas holidays.But over the past three years, researchers analysed more than 2million tweets posted by Britons in January looking for negative language and phrases indicating a drop in mood.They found that today, there will be nearly five times the average number of tweets relating to guilt, as people abandon their promises to pursue a healthier lifestyle.The analysis, by drinks company Upbeat, also found complaints about the weather will be six times higher than usual – and men will feel more miserable than women.
    Lawren Harris Lake and Mountains 1928
    “Lake and Mountains” (1928)
    by Lawren Harris

    Today has also been dubbed Divorce Monday by legal experts. It is the most popular day of the year for starting divorce proceedings. And January is the busiest divorce month, with twice as many divorces being filed as the second most popular month September.

  • Based on a number of factors, such as weather and post-holidays blues, it’s been suggested that the most depressing day of the year falls on the Monday of the last full week in January.The Calgary Counselling Centre is marking the day by offering a list of ways to beat the doldrums and make this particular Monday a little less blue.”As the holidays come to a close, the post-holiday stress is setting in. A combination of cold weather, bills piling up, returning to work and failed New Year’s resolutions, this time of year can be a challenge for many,” said the centre’s Tara Linsley.Although the science behind declaring Blue Monday the saddest day of the year is questionable, for many the blues they feel this time of year is real and is based on, among other factors, the long stretch of short winter days most Canadians have experienced up to this point, registered psychologist Trang Le told the CBC.”People tend to feel less energetic, less motivated and maybe a little more down than usual,” Le said, adding that as many as 10 per cent of Canadians may be affected by the resulting Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    Lawren Harris, From the North Shore, Lake Superior 1923 or 27, oil on canvas
    “From the North Shore, Lake Superior” (1923 or 27, oil on canvas)
    by Lawren Harris
  • There is even a website: BlueMonday, which I had a helluva time navigating and couldn’t for the life of me see the point.
  • I found three Blue Monday songs, one by Fats Domino, which, when I listened to it,I recognized immediately; another is by New Order, and sounded way too lively to be blue Monday; the one I’m including here by Flunk is a remake of the New Order song, but I prefer it to the original.

It just seems like a bizarre marketing gimmick, somehow. And even the stories about it don’t mesh: The Daily Mail story cited January 6 as being Blue Monday, while others pinned it on the 20th. A certain day of the year? Really? Oddly enough, it’s been the only day in the last two weeks that I haven’t been weepy. Go figure.

So anyway, happy(?) Blue Monday.

More later. Peace.

Flunk’s “Blue Monday”

                    

Blue Monday

Blue of the heaps of beads poured into her breasts
and clacking together in her elbows;
blue of the silk
that covers lily-town at night;
blue of her teeth
that bite cold toast
and shatter on the streets;
blue of the dyed flower petals with gold stamens
hanging like tongues
over the fence of her dress
at the opera/opals clasped under her lips
and the moon breaking over her head a
gush of blood-red lizards.
Blue Monday. Monday at 3:00 and
Monday at 5. Monday at 7:30 and
Monday at 10:00. Monday passed under the rippling
California fountain. Monday alone
a shark in the cold blue waters.
                     You are dead: wound round like a paisley shawl.
                     I cannot shake you out of the sheets. Your name
                     is still wedged in every corner of the sofa.
                     Monday is the first of the week,
                     and I think of you all week.
                     I beg Monday not to come
                     so that I will not think of you
                     all week.
You paint my body blue. On the balcony
in the softy muddy night, you paint me
with bat wings and the crystal
the crystal
the crystal
the crystal in your arm cuts away
the night, folds back ebony whale skin
and my face, the blue of new rifles,
and my neck, the blue of Egypt,
and my breasts, the blue of sand,
and my arms, bass-blue,
and my stomach, arsenic;
there is electricity dripping from me like cream;
there is love dripping from me I cannot use—like acacia or
jacaranda—fallen blue and gold flowers, crushed into the street.
                         Love passed me in a blue business suit
                         and fedora.
                         His glass cane, hollow and filled with
                         sharks and whales …
                         He wore black
                         patent leather shoes
                         and had a mustache. His hair was so black
                         it was almost blue.
                         “Love,” I said.
                         “I beg your pardon,” he said.
                         “Mr. Love,” I said.
                         “I beg your pardon,” he said.
                         So I saw there was no use bothering him on the street
                         Love passed me on the street in a blue
                         business suit. He was a banker
                         I could tell.
So blue trains rush by in my sleep.
Blue herons fly overhead.
Blue paint cracks in my
arteries and sends titanium
floating into my bones.
Blue liquid pours down
my poisoned throat and blue veins
rip open my breast. Blue daggers tip
and are juggled on my palms.
Blue death lives in my fingernails.
If I could sing one last song
with water bubbling through my lips
I would sing with my throat torn open,
the blue jugular spouting that black shadow pulse,
and on my lips
I would balance volcanic rock
emptied out of my veins. At last
my children strained out
of my body. At last my blood
solidified and tumbling into the ocean.
It is blue.
It is blue.
It is blue.

~ Diane Wakoski

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“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” ~ William Gibson

Lawren Harris Houses Group XXXIII
“Houses, Group XXXIII”
by Lawren Harris

                   

“It’s much easier to not know things sometimes. Things change and friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody.” ~ Stephen Chbosky, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Tuesday afternoon, New Year’s Eve. Partly cloudy and cold, 46 degrees.

So here we are, at the end of another year. How strange, how very, very strange. A part of me is still somewhere around 2005, and another part is in 1996. No particular reason. Those weren’t landmark years in any fashion, but still points in time, points in which I rested. But 2014?

Lawren Harris Little House oil on paperboard 1911
“Little House” (1911, oil on paperboard)
by Lawren Harris

That’s a very strange year, for some reason. I still have such vivid memories of the turning hour between 1999 and 2000, how we had to have one person stay at work to make sure the systems didn’t collapse at 12:01; I never thought they would, never held much stock in that whole end of days scenario. But that was fourteen years ago.

How very strange.

I spent New Year’s Eve of 1999 on a boat with friends and a person who wanted to be more than friends, and the entire situation was more than a bit surreal. I think that was the last end of the year celebration I attended. Corey and I have always preferred a quiet evening at home together rather than risking the roads and the drunks. But I’m fairly certain this is might be one of only two New Year’s Eve nights that I have been away from Corey.

How very strange.

“It’s a lot easier to say when something ended rather than when it began. Most of us can recognize the end from a mile away, but the beginning always slips up on us, lulling us into thinking what we’re living through is yet another moment, in yet another day.” ~ Steve Yarbrough, from Safe from the Neighbors

We are still in limbo as to when exactly Corey will be home. At first it was going to be on January 2, then January 5, then January 2 again, now? Maybe January 20? That’s if they decide to keep him on this particular ship a bit longer and then to throw him into some more training. I’m really hoping that it’s not this particular scenario, but something tells me that it will be. And after all, it’s not exactly as if he can say no, is it?

Lawren Harris Red House, Winter 1925
“Red House, Winter” (1925)
by Lawren Harris

First hitch with a new company, you do whatever you have to do to make it work. I understand that, but understanding and liking are miles apart. And I’m wondering if it’s going to work out that Corey never even sees this year’s Christmas tree. The other time he wasn’t home for Christmas day, he was home a few days later, which made it much easier. This?

Not so much.

So . . . here we are. Getting ready to count down the minutes until this year is over and next year begins.

I know. I cannot continue to remark on the strangeness for the entire blog, so I will make an honest attempt to stop.

“You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. ~ Pablo Neruda, from “A Song of Despair”

Anyway, I should know more about Corey’s schedule later today, and I’ll have le bébé by this evening, so my part plans are firm. How about yours?

I’m also hoping that Bailey’s stomach starts to feel better as she has been making the whole house stink. I’m pretty sure her stomach problems have arisen from trying to eat one of the puppy toys that I bought for the dogs’ Christmas. Tillie had loved a ball that Jake had (Jake being Corey’s parents’ dog), and I found one while shopping that I thought would be pretty dog-proof as far as chewing.

Not so much. I started to see little pink pieces of rubber around the house a few days ago. I finally found what was left of the ball and threw it in the garbage, but not before Bailey deposited several nasty leavings of her dinner around the house, one, unfortunately, on the bed.

Lawren Harris Houses, Winter, City Painting V 1920
“Winter, City Painting V” (1920, oil)
by Lawren Harris

Yep. Pretty gross. Anyway, she never seemed sick, except for the gas and occasional vomiting, as she was as playful as ever. I suppose I’ll just have to remember that not every dog has a Labrador’s constitution. I still remember reading about a Lab who ate locks, as in locks from lockers. When her owners finally found out, she had eaten about five of them and had to have an operation. Labs will eat anything . . .

By the way, when I chose the quote for this section, I honestly did not have that little story in mind.

“Everything has started in such sharp detail, each aspect pronounced and clear. Obviously, endings were different. Harder to see, full of shapes that could be one thing or another, with all the things that you were once so sure of suddenly not familiar, if they were even recognizable at all.” ~  Sarah Dessen, from The Moon and More

As I said, later this afternoon I will have Olivia, which is a very good thing, something to take my mind off everything else. She’s such a funny little person, already saying so many words, already expressing so many facets of a personality in flux. One of her presents from us this year was this wild-looking stuffed monkey, and she loves it. She makes monkey sounds, too.

One of her Baby Einstein books has lots of animals in it, and when I read it to her, I make all of the animal sounds, except for a ladybug. What kind of sound does a ladybug make?

When I think about anyone hurting her, it makes me crazy. It was the same with my children. The very idea that anyone might ever harm them filled me with such a blind rage. But they’re out there. Not just the pervs, the ones everyone fears, but the people who believe in beating a young child, beating a baby, as if inflicting pain will stop the crying, as if repeated strikes will somehow bend a child to conform.

Lawren Harris, Pine Tree and Red House, Winter, City Painting II 1924
“Pine Tree and Red House, Winter, City Painting II” (1924)
by Lawren Harris

That has always just blown my mind—those ignoramuses out their who believe that shaking a baby or beating a toddler is okay, is the way to handle a situation. Where does that mindset come from? I have a vague memory of the police being in the parents’ waiting room at the hospital where Caitlin was a patient, there to question some parents about how their child came to be hurt. I remember feeling that blind rage again—all of the parents who were there just begging for their childrens’ lives, and these two had thrown theirs away.

Sorry, really didn’t mean to go there. I’ll try to regroup.

“Everything comes to an end. A good bottle of wine, a summer’s day, a long-running sitcom, one’s life, and eventually our species. The question for many of us is not that everything will come to an end but when. And can we do anything vaguely useful until it does?” ~ Jasper Fforde, from The Woman Who Died a Lot

And now for something completely different . . . here’s a bit of history for you:

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days.

Supposedly, the first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was “in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.)” But it was in 46 B.C.E. that Julius Caesar who made January 1st the official start of a new year with the introduction of the Julian calendar, which was solar based:

Lawren Harris Toronto Houses 1919
“Toronto Houses” (c1919, oil on beaverboard)
by Lawren Harris

Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back.  Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year . . . In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods.

During the Middle Ages, this practice was abolished because of its pagan roots and did not return until 1582, when the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day.

So how was that for a complete 180? Whiplash?

I hope you have a lovely safe evening, and best wishes for the coming year.

More later. Peace.

All images are by Canadian artist Lawren Harris (1885 – 1970), a key figure in the Group of Seven. I don’t know which I like better, his houses with the splashes of red, or his lakes, with various shades of blue.

Music by Gregory Alan Isakov, “That Moon Song”

                   

Moth; or how I came to be with you again

— I remember when I touched my
sleeping mother’s hair, it sparked in
my hands and I thought she was
inhuman, but I was young, and only
years later would I understand she
was under the spell of an erotic
dream — I remember a white door
emboldened with a laurel wreath
leading into a basement where we
retreated frequently in the tornado
season — I remember how day after
day would pass while nothing
happened and how without mercy
time would gather weight, accrete a
green patina on the locket I chipped
with a long fingernail — I remember
the swaying firs made a whanging of
rusted girders I thought would
collapse — I remember sitting at my
desk before my most precious
things, sheets of graph paper,
diagrams, folders, waterlogged and
moulded charts, and then
unannounced he would come to me,
moving my hand automatically
across these pages — I remember
the gathering darkness of a thousand
incidents I never witnessed, and yet
bird by bird they separated
themselves into moments of bright
singularity — I remember that I
possess no real memory of my
mother and only know at all she even
existed by evidence of my own pale
skin and the double-helix twisted
under it into an X — I remember
blurry light, rain on an awning, and
then being lifted and placed into a red
wagon — I remember when the
earth was for me, for the last time in
its history, still elastic as cartilage,
had not fully solidified into the
obstacle of the known, the terrible,
stubborn thing called fact — I
remember it was the hibiscus winter,
because she said so — I remember
writing these words, but only barely,
but one after another stone-like in
their materiality they are undeniable
— I remember remembering a
dream, under a low ceiling of
illuminated clouds swirling in a
tarantella, I rode weeping along the
boulevard of an empty city newly in
ruins where each crumbling
museum was my hidden and
sumptuous destitution — I
remember someone informed me he
had once hanged himself from his
swing set, then the memory infected
me, became my own — I remember
a small, A-frame house, and
watching the hawthorn wasting in an
emollient sea wind —  I remember a
white door —  I remember it was the
hibiscus winter — I remember
thinking I had been comatose a
thousand years, though this is surely
false, and in my uncorroborated
absence the whole fungible world in
a moment of chemical agony had
changed in irreversible ways — I
remember how everything tasted
dark —  I remember things I’ve never
felt — a seagull feather brushing my
lips, a turquoise shell, my shoulders
festooned with flowers — I
remember thinking what was in my
mind was put there by others, by
books I read, by objects I looked at
but did not own — I remember
wondering if other memories
remained in the twilight regions of my
mind where my failed loves were
soil, and if soon someone would
enlighten me to things I had done
and then, years later, I would
remember them as real — I
remember tender hands covered in
snow — I remember the city, the
flames immanent as flowers,  patient
to burst forth — I remember my
favourite word once was —

~ Thomas Heise

 

“Certain words now in our knowledge we will not use again, and we will never forget them. We need them. Like the back of the picture.” ~ W.S. Merwin

Georgia O'Keeffe Lake George 1922 oil on canvas
“Lake George” (1922, oil on canvas)
by Georgia O’Keeffe

                   

Two for Tuesday: The Face of Memory

I came across the first poem whilst looking for poems about autumn. The second poem is one that I taught in my literature classes as an example of the importance of line breaks and decisions poets make when composing.

Lawren Harris, Lake Superior Sketch III c1925
“Lake Superior Sketch III” (c1925)
by Lawren Harris

                   

This Morning

As I drive into town
the driver in front of me
runs a stop sign.
A pedestrian pulls down his cap.
A man comes out of his house
to sweep the steps.
Ordinariness
bright as raspberries.

I turn on the radio.
Somebody tells me
the day is sunny and warm.
A woman laughs

and my daughter steps out of the radio.
Grief spreads in my throat like strep.
I had forgotten, I was happy, I maybe
was humming “You Are My Lucky Star,”
a song I may have invented.
Sometimes a red geranium, a dog,
a stone
will carry me away.
But not for long.
Some memory or another of her
catches up with me and stands
like an old nun behind a desk,
ruler in hand.

~ Jo McDougall

                   

Arthur B Carles Moonlight c1908
“Moonlight” (c1908, oil on canvasboard)
by Arthur B. Carles

Yesterday

My friend says I was not a good son
you understand
I say yes I understand

he says I did not go
to see my parents very often you know
and I say yes I know

even when I was living in the same city he says
maybe I would go there once
a month or maybe even less
I say oh yes

he says the last time I went to see my father
I say the last time I saw my father

he says the last time I saw my father
he was asking me about my life
how I was making out and he
went into the next room
to get something to give me

oh I say
feeling again the cold
of my father’s hand the last time

he says and my father turned
in the doorway and saw me
look at my wristwatch and he
said you know I would like you to stay
and talk with me

oh yes I say

but if you are busy he said
I don’t want you to feel that you
have to
just because I’m here

I say nothing

he says my father
said maybe
you have important work you are doing
or maybe you should be seeing
somebody I don’t want to keep you

I look out the window
my friend is older than I am
he says and I told my father it was so
and I got up and left him then
you know
though there was nowhere I had to go
and nothing I had to do

W. S. Merwin

                   

Music by The Careful Ones, “Silhouettes”