“The trouble with life isn’t that there is no answer, it’s that there are so many answers.” ~ Ruth Benedict

Swaledale Valley, Yorkshire, UK
(globe images)

                   

“I wish I could say everything there is to say in one word. I hate all the things that can happen between the beginning of a sentence and the end.” ~ Leonard Cohen

Monday afternoon. Partly cloudy, hot, and humid.

The shower is officially in the past. Can I just say how terribly glad I am that it’s over? It’s not that I didn’t want to do it because I did. It’s more the consequences of doing it: Walking is painful. Sitting is painful. Breathing is painful.

Door to Ireland
by rchevalier (cc license on deviantArt)

I overdid it as I knew I would. It happens when I revert to this manic OCD mode in which everything must be absolutely perfect—the food, the decorations, the whatever. I fret and stew and worry myself into a panic, and then it (whatever it is) happens, and I am left completely depleted, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Here is a prime example of my own insanity: On Thursday when Alexis and I went to Costco I accidentally locked the keys in the Rodeo after I had turned it on. I turned on the air conditioner, sat my purse in the car, and unlocked (I thought) the doors so that I could load the groceries into the rear. Well, in my haste, I locked all of the doors. The sunroof was open halfway. I climbed on top of the hood, reached inside the sunroof and hit the switch to open it all of the way, and lowered myself through the sunroof.

I am no longer 16, or 26, or even 36. But I really didn’t see any alternative. It was that or call roadside assistance while my car idled with the AC going full blast, which just seemed like such a waste. However, that particular scenario precisely captures my state of mind leading up to Sunday.

“We’re stormy, and that which is ours breaks loose from us without our fearing any debilitation. Our glances, our smiles, are spent; laughs exude from all our mouths; our blood flows and we extend ourselves without ever reaching an end; we never hold back our thoughts, our signs, our writing; and we’re not afraid of lacking.” ~ Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa” (trans. by Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen)

Tuesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and warm.

Yesterday, I took a break from writing to give the dogs baths. This is my logic: Since I cannot move without pain anyway, why not go ahead and do all of the chores that will cause me more pain so that I can bundle all of that pain and work on feeling better later?

Packhorse Bridge, River Conway, Wales, UK

Makes perfect sense, no? You’re right, of course. It make no sense whatsoever. But, hey, that’s Lola logic.

So I bathed the dogs, all three, administered flea medicine, cleaned ears and tried to put medicine on Alfie’s sore. Then I came back to the computer only to find that I could not get this post to appear on the edit page. It was there on the preview page when I clicked Preview, but as far as making it appear on the page I need to continue writing? Not so much. Well, not at all, actually.

I rebooted. I closed windows and reopened. Logged out. Logged back in. Then I played a few games of Spider Solitaire. Then I gave up. Obviously, the computer was having some type of virtual seizure, and nothing I could do would fix it. I convinced myself that it would be better tomorrow. Only . . . not.

Today I worked on it some more. Then I played some Spider Solitaire. Made myself a fruit smoothie. Gave the dogs treats. And finally, turned off the computer. This is a measure of last resort as I am not at all certain that once I turn it off it will come back on. But it did, and I have my edit page. And life is almost good.

“Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “Separation”

So where was I? Who knows? Let’s just move on. Shall we?

Now that the much-anticipated shower is finally in the past, I have nothing on which to focus all of my nervous energies. We have about four or five weeks until the baby is scheduled to make its appearance; although, I think that she will be about one week early. Just a feeling.

Glow of Life, Rhododendron Gardens
by rchevalier (cc license on deviantArt)

So without all of the shower stuff to keep my mind occupied, and with this latest bout of very limited mobility (cannot turn my head to the right past 45 degrees), I have finally realized that I really want Corey to come home. I mean, I knew that before, of course, but I was able to put it out of my thoughts, able to focus on other things. But now? It’s time. Past time.

He’s scheduled to be home by the end of the month, which is actually not that far away, and I know that I can wait, but frankly, I’m’ tired of waiting. I miss him terribly, and truth be told, I need a bit of coddling (not cuddling, but that too). It’s hard work, this single parenting thing. I haven’t done it in ages. It’s not just the parenting, it’s the whole household thing. Corey really is my other half in so many ways: We complement one another in our strengths and weaknesses. And having to be strong and responsible 24/7 is taxing.

Am I whining too much? I know. It’s not at all becoming in a woman of my age. And it’s not that I need a man in my life. No. It’s that I need Corey in my life, and that’s a big difference.

You know what I miss the most? Talking to him. Hearing his voice.

Listen, when you are fortunate enough to find the one person in the world who genuinely completes you, it’s not something to be scoffed at as if it’s not a big deal because it is, a very big deal, that is.

“When one dreams of another,
Are both aware of it?
We’re apart as darkness is from light
My dream soul exists only for you.
True, nothing can be gained from dreams,
But without them how would I see you?” ~ Yüan Chen, from “Three Dreams at Chiang-ling”

So my dreams of late have been filled with people who are not here. Last night I dreamt of my m-in-law, and I was at her house along with Ann and one of my nieces, and we were going through a lot of her personal belongings. My m-in-law was showing me keepsakes from her childhood as we were moving her back into her house.

Greenfall, Olympic National Park
by rchevalier (cc license on deviantArt)

There were a few changes in the house. For one, the front door had been moved, which was really strange. But I told her that perhaps it was good that things had happened in this way because all of the things that were wrong with her house had been fixed, and now she could move back in without having to worry about leaks and neglected things falling apart.

I’m sure I dreamt that last part because I’ve been noticing more the things around my own house that really need work: plaster, tiles, the back door (of course), to name but a few.

Aside: When I was in Costco with Alexis last Thursday, one of the sample ladies asked me if I had a dishwasher, and I started to say yes, only I remembered that the dishwasher has been inoperable for well over a year, so I replied that the only dishwasher I had was my hand.  Let’s add plumbing problems to the list of things that need work . . .

“And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter—they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Just remembered—last night I dreamed that I was writing a romance novel. Yep. Went there.

Oneonta Gorge, Columbia River Goge, Oregon
by McD22 (FCC)

I really hated it, but I figured (in my dream) that I could sell it to Harlequin and make some money. I really don’t remember anything about the plot except that I had named the male protagonist Kenny, even though Kenny didn’t sound like one of those romantic leading men.

I can honestly say that I’ve never read a Harlequin romance, but I worked with this woman at the medical school who loved them. She called them her “history books.” I remember her name was Cassandra, and she was saving her money to have a breast reduction. I have no idea where that particular memory came from, but it was in my dream last night. Cassandra, her green shawl that she wore around the office, and her histories. Too funny. Anyway, in the dream I thought about naming my heroine Cassandra for her.

Don’t think that I’ll be writing that romance any time soon, but I do have to say that it almost wrote itself, at least in the dream it did.

Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .

More later. Peace.

Images are from sources cited. I’m in a verdant state of mind.

Music by Christina Perri, “A Thousand Years”

                   

Love Song

I lie here thinking of you:—
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
heavily
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—
you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!
~ William Carlos Williams

“I feel as though I have lived many lives, experienced the heights and depths of each and like the waves of the ocean, never known rest. Throughout the years, I looked always for the unusual, for the wonderful, for the mysteries at the heart of life.” ~ Leni Riefenstahl

Maria Mikhalskaya, Children’s Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

                   

“I’m tired of facts, I’m tired of speculations, I want to be consumed by unreason.” ~ Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers

Wednesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, mid 50’s.

Well I hope that everyone who celebrates it had a very Merry Christmas. My family had a lovely one. Everyone seemed to get that one special gift, and so far, only Alexis needs to exchange sizes. Many thanks to those of you who sent good wishes.

Maria Mikhalskaya, Children's Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Christmas dinner was, shall we say, interesting. My mother was in true form, which means that she wasn’t nearly as nice as she was at Thanksgiving. She started eating before everyone was seated at the table, and justified it by saying that we should have begun dinner an hour earlier. Lovely. It was that kind of night.

Several drama scenes, one of which involved my s-in-law Ann, who was quite touchy, but as I reminded everyone, this was her first Christmas without her mother, and that first holiday season after losing a parent or child is pure hell. Ann left but then came back and sat around with us for a few more hours, so everything was smoothed over on that front.

Other drama involved my mother and her tactless comments, none of which are really worth repeating here. What I am amazed by is that I really wasn’t bothered by her comments as I usually am. They just rolled off my back, and I was (thankfully) able to help smooth the ruffled feathers of those who actually took her comments to heart.

That I was unaffected this time is unusual, and that I can write about it without being the least bit upset is also unusual, but good, good for me, at least.

“The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low. Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log
covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.” ~ Anne Coray, The Art of Being

My in-laws in Ohio sent gift cards to everyone for Christmas, and I got one for Barnes and Noble and one for Amazon. I am so excited because it means that I can order some of the books that have been on my wish list. For me, that’s the absolute perfect gift. Eamonn already used his gift card to Vans to buy a pair of shoes. Alexis and Mike got a gift card to Olive Garden, one of Lex’s favorite places to eat, and Brett got a gift card to Best Buy, one of his favorite places to shop.

Maria Mikhalskaya, The Red House Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Corey got two new fleece shirts from his parents. I wrapped them and put them under the tree for them, so he opened them on Christmas morning and had a little piece of Ohio in his morning.

By the way, Tillie got a new squeaky toy from Santa (23 squeakers total), and she’s already operated on it and removed two of the squeakers. She is such a funny dog. All of the dogs always get excited on Christmas morning because so much is going on, but this year I noticed that Shakes slept through most of it. I guess my fluffy guy is getting old, which makes me sad.

Speaking of sad, I really could have gone the entire holiday season without Sarah McLachlan’s gut-wrenching commercial for the ASPCA—all of those images of starving and abused cats and dogs, and even a horse, all with her haunting voice singing “Silent Night” in the background. I mean please. I carry around enough guilt for fifty people, I really don’t need more guilt about animal suffering . . . of course, I still watch and tear-up because hey, it’s better than self-flagellation or a hair shirt, I suppose.

“Perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.” ~ Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

So Corey is waiting for the call telling him when he will fly out. I’m hoping that we get more than just a couple of days warning before he has to go. I’d really like to have one night out with him, maybe sushi and a movie. I guess it’s all up in the air right now.

Maria Mikhalskaya, Children's Magazine Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

The guy across the street finished the work on the truck, but there’s a twist: the truck won’t start. We’re not sure exactly what the problem is other than no power is going to the coil or the spark plug wires. I’m really hoping that it’s not some kind of major computer problem. So even though the major repair has been finished, the truck is still not on the road yet.

And to further complicate matters, the starter on the Rodeo finally died. Corey spent yesterday afternoon changing that; unfortunately, it was raining, so he ended up soaked to the bone by the time he was finished. I’m just glad that it was a repair that he could do and a part that we could afford. I mean, we knew that the starter was going, which meant that each time we got into the Rodeo, we were driving on a wing and a prayer. That it lasted until after Christmas was good.

We know that we have other repairs pending on the rodeo: the brakes, the O2 sensors, and we need new tires. If everything can just hang on for another month, we might be okay, but the thought that we would be without either vehicle was so depressing. I must say.

“ . . . spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks . . .” ~ T. S. Eliot, from “Ash Wednesday

Anyway, now that we’ve made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas, the only big thing pending on my schedule is taking down the decorations, which I never do before the New Year. I know that some people take everything down the day after Christmas, and some people do it on New Year’s Day, but I like to wait a few days after, no particular reason other than I like to look at everything.

Maria Mikhalskaya, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Other than that, the other big thing is that my Botox has stopped working, and it’s as if it effectiveness stopped all at once. I’ve had three massive migraines in the past four days, the kind in which the pain is so intense that it wakes me up. On Monday, I was just sitting on the side of the bed holding ice to my forehead and rocking back and forth. I even had to ask Corey to take off Tillie’s jingle bell collar as the sound was killing me.

You know how people say that you never remember the pain of childbirth, that if you actually remembered it, you’d never have another child? Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that I had kind of put out of my memory the pain of a really bad migraine, wishful thinking I suppose, and then when that first one hit, I felt as if someone had hit me in the head with an iron skillet. No lie.

So now I have to make an appointment with the neurologist who gave me the Botox shots, but first I have to find out if I’m going to have to pay $650 out of pocket since it’s the beginning of the year, and my co-pay kicks in. I can’t get the shots until the end of January because it has to be three months in between shots.

When I get migraines like these, I always think about that stupid, stupid Social Security judge who said that I could work with my migraines. What an idiot. Obviously, he’s never had a migraine. Oh well, that’s an entirely different saga, one that I’ll probably be facing sometime in 2012.

“For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not until they have turned to blood within us, to glance, to gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves—not until then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,

Maria Mikhalskaya. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Book Illustration (Behance Network CC license)

Anyway, I’ve spent the last 48 hours, give or take, in bed with ice on my head. I’ve used to much ice that the automatic ice maker hasn’t been able to keep pace. Sad really.

But the migraines have kept me from posting, from putting away the silver we used for Christmas dinner, from doing laundry. Consequently, I’m behind in everything. But since the house was cleaned before Christmas, it doesn’t look terribly messy, unless you look at the piles of clothes in the garage.

Oh yes. That’s another thing: our washer is dying. It sometimes doesn’t agitate during the wash cycle, and sometimes doesn’t spin during the spin cycle, so finishing one load of laundry may take twice as long depending on whether or not I’m babysitting the washer. Oh what fun . . .

Enough for now. I’m starting to see lots of spots in my eyes, which is a sure sign that I need to stop.

More later. Peace.

Today’s post features the illustrations of Maria Mikhalskaya, a Russian illustrator and designer. I don’t remember how I came across her work, but it was probably on tumblr. Mikhalskaya attended the Moscow University of Printing Arts, and her illustrations to The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which were published by Arbor Publishers in 2007, seemed perfect for a holiday post.

Music by Barlow Girl, “Never Alone”

                   

First Chaldaic Oracle

There is something you should know.
And the right way to know it
is by a cherrying of your mind.

Because if you press your mind towards it
and try to know
that thing

as you know a thing,
you will not know it.
It comes out of red

with kills on both sides,
it is scrap, it is nightly,
it kings your mind.

No. Scorch is not the way
to know
that thing you must know.

But use the hum
of your wound
and flamepit out everything

right to the edge
of that thing you should know.
The way to know it

is not by staring hard.
But keep chiselled,
keeping Praguing the eye

of your soul and reach—
mind empty
towards that thing you should know

until you get it.
that thing you should know.
Because it is out there (orchid) outside your and, it is

~ Anne Carson

“Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.” ~ Cyril Connolly

Venetian Masks

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” ~ Ben Okri

A beautiful spring day here. Tillie is outside playing ball with Corey. Brett is playing XBox Live with a friend from school, and I’m sitting here squinting at the screen because of the pulsating pain that is omnipresent behind my forehead. 

Carnevale di Venezia

Ah, the rich pageantry of life . . . 

I received my lab results in the mail from my last visit to my PCP, and boy were they not good. My triglycerides are high, as is my cholesterol. My liver function is abnormal, and so is my glucose level. The only good news is that my calcium is in good shape, so no brittle bones for me. The reality is that I’m a slug, a slug on the precipice of diabetes, and I have to do something about it. Yes, I know. Exercise is the best possible remedy, and I have had that particular item on my things to do list. Just hasn’t happened yet. 

It’s funny. I run a lot in my dreams, long, beautiful strides, moving like air. In real life, I cannot run. It just kills me. Running would be the fastest way to get in shape, but I do not foresee that happening anytime soon. So, it’s time to get the exercise bike out and do some regular pedaling. At one time, when I belonged to the community center, I was doing my regular weight workout and cycling eight miles a day, so obviously I can do it. Now, I just need to get off my buttocks. 

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

As I type, I can hear Shakes in my closet, trying to shift my shoe boxes so as to build a more comfortable nest. I swear that the Jack Russells think that they are cats. They do possess some very cat-like qualities. 

Venetian Volto (full-face) Mask

I am reading a book about Mary, Queen of Scots. Quite interesting. The biggest problem that I have when reading history comes from the surplus of names. Until I am well into the book, I find myself continuously going back to the list of characters to clarify a person’s identify. So many lords of this and that—it becomes confusing. I do love to read history that is well written, though, especially when it involves some sort of murder. 

I still remember a revisionist book that I read years ago called Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, I believe. It was a retake on Richard III in which the king is made into a kinder, gentler character. Fascinating. My image of Richard III relies heavily on the Shakespearean play, one of my favorites, but reading an alternate version was eye-opening. 

The problem with some historical fiction is that it can drift into so much supposition, as was the case with Patricia Cornwell’s supposed dissection of Jack the Ripper’s identity, or it can be romanticized, which doesn’t really serve anyone well. 

“I want an infinitely blank book and the rest of time . . .” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Let’s see . . . what else is going on in my little world?  Not much, I have to say. I watched a television movie, “Who is Clark Rockefeller?” Unbelievable. I watched it because I had heard about this con man a few years ago who claimed to be a Rockefeller, you know, one of the Rockefellers. Turns out, he wasn’t, but not only was he not one of the Rockefellers, he was a German immigrant who had remade himself about five different times, including an incarnation in which he may have been involved in a murder. 

Feather Mask

I know that some people must think that it would be easy to spot a con man or woman for what he or she really is, but I don’t think so. I think that if someone is really good at creating personas, it would be very hard to see through that mask. I mean, we all wear masks that are dependent on where we are or who we happen to be with at any given time. However, for most people, the depth of these masks is quite minimal. It’s called adapting. 

But people who possess the goal to completely recreate themselves—new names, new histories, new everything—that involves something quite different from mere adaptation; it’s regeneration. And I imagine that to do that, there must be a level of commitment that is beyond what most of us have within ourselves. I’m not talking about a mere alias, or a writing persona. I mean the whole egg: voice, inflection, hair and eye color, mannerisms, clothing, and so much more. And putting all of that on and not taking it off for years at a time. I think that there would have to be an underlying psychopathy in the individual. 

This Clark guy was married for 12 years and had a child. His wife did not realize that he was a fake until the divorce proceedings. The feds had a hard time believing that she had no inkling, but as she stated, she was in love and had no reason not to believe him even though there were signs along the way. This was a Harvard MBA, a woman with a powerful job. She was not by any means stupid. 

“You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Carnival Masks

But think about it: How many of us have put on an act when first meeting someone, especially someone of the opposite sex who we were trying to impress?  So many little white lies, so many affectations. I dated someone when I was a teenager who was an inveterate liar, truly. He just did not know how to tell the truth. Being young and in love, I would tell myself my own lies when I caught him in an inconsistency. It was easier that way. Eventually, I allowed myself to face the truth and moved on, but I understand how sometimes we do not see what is right before us because it is easier. 

All of this brings me to a question, something that Corey and I have had many discussions about: Is an omission a lie? I believe that it is. He does not believe that an omission is a lie. I am wondering if this is a gender thing . . . 

I mean, I have always felt that not telling someone that you have done something that might affect your relationship (and I don’t mean what you ate for breakfast or who you sat next to on the train) is the same as lying about it, but are my standards unrealistic? It’s entirely possible. My association with the habitual liar made me very wary; I freely admit that. And then too, my own lies of omission make me suspicious. By that I mean that at one point in my life, I was guilty of several major lies of omission, not in my relationship with Corey, but with someone else. At the time, it was just easier not to say anything. But I suppose that I am sensitive to lies of omission having used them to my advantage in the past. 

What do you think? 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Leonard Cohen (yes, Maureen)—”In My Secret Life” 

 

                                                                                                                                 

I’m including a bonus link to a slideshow from Parabola Online Magazine. Thanks to Crashingly Beautiful for continued inspiration: A Snowy Day at Seven Jewels Lake by Ven Bikkhu Bodhi