“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Image representing Creative Commons as depicte...

So this showed up in my e-mail today regarding this post:

Hello,

I noticed on your blog that you state: “Please don’t appropriate my words or pictures without contacting me first. This blog may be linked to other blogs or websites.”

I hope that you will extend the same courtesy to me, since the images on your Blackwing pencils post are from my website, blackwingpages.com. And the quote with which you begin your post was first posted on my site as well.

Sincerely,
Sean Malone

It appears I have erred again. Here is my response to Mr. Malone:

Dear Sean Malone,
Please let me clarify one thing: I did not find that image on your blog. I found it while doing a search on Google Images with the qualifier “creative commons.” If you do the same search, you will find the image. Unfortunately, your image is associated with several articles on the web, and it is from those articles that I gleaned my information for my post: The Hollywood Reporter, Dangerous Minds, and The Daily News (and of course, the Blackwing site). What spawned my interest in Blackwings was a post on tumblr; unfortunately, I do not remember which post.

The quote originates from The Paris Review, one of its “The Art of” series. I may have found the quote on your site. I honestly do not know. I quote from The Paris Review frequently.

I’m not trying to be pedantic here, only to explain. Yes, the image is yours, but I did not take it from your site, as I have explained. I use the creative commons tag when doing image searches. That I found the image on several sites without attribution led me to believe–erroneously, obviously–that it was an image that could be used under fair use. I am truly sorry that your image has been appropriated, and I will remove it from the post if that is what you would prefer, or I could reference it, link it, and name you as its creator. I will abide by whatever you wish.

Please know that I try very hard to do my due diligence. When I find the same general information on many sites, that indicates that the information is in the public domain. However, the big caveat here is that because we are now a digital world, public domain is a term that is wracked with inaccuracies, as is shown by the number of people on the web who used your image without attribution. It is a double-edged sword that we work under in our desire to share our interests with those out there in the ether, never knowing what tack that information will take on its journey.

This has been an overlong explanation and apology. I do want to say that I just spent a good amount of time perusing your site, and it is a wonderful harbinger of information on the Blackwing.

Again, my apologies. Please let me know how you wish me to proceed.

                   

So this is my question to you: Do I sound bitchy (because I really wasn’t trying to be)?

“There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling.” ~ Aldous Huxley

Granville Redmond Moonlight Marsh Scene detail
“Untitled: Moonlight Marsh Scene” (detail, nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

                   

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books.
I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ~ Hermann Hess, from Demian

I had that dream again, the one in which I am moving/living in the old apartment. This time, it’s much bigger, and my mother has sold her home and we are all going to live together. A friend of ours is helping us to unpack, and there are so many Christmas decorations tucked away in strange places. And then I’m looking at the special pieces that I have gotten from the woman at the museum, the one who gave me my pick of her collection for taking care of everything for her. And some of my favorite pieces are missing, like a gilded punch bowl.

Granville Redmond Monterey Moonlight
“Monterey Moonlight” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

My mother is putting things in the wrong place, and I’m trying not to snap. Then I look in one of the bathrooms and find that it is filthy, that someone has used it like a public restroom, and I am looking for gloves and old towels so that I can clean it. In my mind, I am confused as to whether or not I am with Corey or my ex or my Catholic boyfriend. I’m mostly confused because my ex is acting like he lives there, and I am so confused.

And then I remember the dogs, the ones that I always forget to feed in the dream. When they appear in the dream they are in various stages of illness, and it distresses me, mostly because it’s my fault that I have forgotten that they are in the back yard. But, and this always happens when they appear, I stop to ask myself if anyone has told me about the dogs . . .

“This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Waking”

I dreamed I was Marilyn Monroe, not about her, but I was her. Very, very strange. It was a full-blown story with other people interacting, and my mother, who was MM’s mother, and she was just as weird to MM as she is to me. In fact, most of the people in the dream treated me as MM with a great deal of disdain, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that I wasn’t stupid.

Granville Redmond Night Sea oil on canvas nd
“Night Sea” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I think the dream probably had that slant because of all of the images of Marilyn reading books that show up on my tumblr dash. Apparently she was an avid reader, but I have to wonder if perhaps this belief wasn’t something perpetuated by her publicist so that people would take her more seriously, only in the 50’s and 60’s, blond bombshells weren’t supposed to be taken seriously, so maybe she actually did like to read? Hmm . . .

My world today has been enriched by three incredible poems that I found on my tumblr dash: Michael Lee‘s “Pass On,” Sierra DeMulder‘s “Ninety-Five Grievances to God: Abridged,” and Mark Strand‘s “Eating Poetry.” I plan to use each of them in upcoming posts.

Apparently, there is a blue theme running in the background of my day, hence, most of the accompanying images by my latest discovery—Granville Redmond. Such lovely hues of blue running through his work.

“You hold an absence
at your center,
as if it were a life.” ~ Richard Brostoff, from “Grief”

I began this post two days ago, maybe three. I honestly don’t remember. The end of the week seemed to be compressed into a few hours. On Thursday, Corey went to do his shift on the ship, only to be told that they were leaving port that afternoon at 4 p.m., which meant that the two days we still thought that we had did not in fact exist. Lots of rushing around, doing last-minute things.

Granville Redmond Morning on the Pacific 1911 oil on canvas
“Morning on the Pacific” (1911, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I had planned to watch Olivia on Thursday so that Corey could spend some time with her, so I also had to fit that in, along with getting Brett to campus. Lots of rushing created lots of stress.

On Friday, Brett, Em, and I did more running around, trips to two different Wal Marts, Sally’s Beauty supply for some new nail polish, and a trip to the international market for more of the mochi ice cream that is not my favorite addiction, and by Friday night I was exhausted, but apparently not exhausted enough not to spend all of Saturday afternoon cleaning. I had planned to make French toast and bacon for dinner last night, but that didn’t happen. I ended up eating cheese puffs and trail mix. So healthy.

I guess I’ll do the French toast tonight, that is if I don’t crawl back into the bed and just read.

“I walk slowly into myself
through a forest of empty suits of armor.” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “Postludium,” trans. Robin Fulton

Anyway, outside of the home front, major things afoot. I watched the live news feed on Friday night of what looked like every cop and FBI agent in Boston as they surrounded this one house in Watertown, waiting to take down the other bombing suspect. It was one of those can’t-look-away scenarios, and then suddenly it was over, and people were pouring into the streets to celebrate.

Granville-Redmond-Moonlit-Pond
“Moonlit Pond” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

I kept hearing commentators saying that this kind of takedown wasn’t possible with the Oklahoma City bombings or after the first WTC bombing, but now all first responders are using the same communications network so that everyone can hook into everyone else. Seems odd when you realize just how much technology has advanced the hunting of criminals, making it possible to go from a major catastrophic event on one day to a resolution (as far as capture) just five days later.

I mean seriously—camera footage, cell phone images, the ability to isolate the two perpetrators through a process of elimination, identifying the perpetrators, plastering every possible media source with their pictures, locking down one of the country’s biggest cities and surrounding suburbs, and then, voila. Well, not really voila, but you get my drift.

I guess I’m just amazed when I look at everything that happened so quickly, amazed and relieved, like so many other people.

“I begin now to write down all the places I have not been—
starting with the most distant.

I build houses that I will not inhabit.” ~ Keith Waldrop, from “Poet”

Even though I began this post days ago, the blue theme is still fitting, so I’m not going to change the images I had planned.

One thing I’ve been trying to decide whether or not, or how much to write about is my mother’s health. On Wednesday, her doctor’s office called and told her that they wanted to do another CT scan to repeat what was done when she was in the ER. On Thursday morning she went in to have that done. As of yet, we still have not heard anything. She is downplaying it. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her on Thursday for the scan, and she said no, that it was no big deal.

Granville Redmond Opalescent Sea 1918 oil on canvas
“Opalescent Sea” (1918, oil on canvas)
by Granville Redmond

On Friday, I called to see if she had heard from her doctor and she said that she hadn’t, but that he had lots of patients. I bit my tongue and didn’t say what I was thinking, which is that I don’t care how many patients he has, this is serious, and we need to know what is going on, but I said nothing because to let on how worried I am would only worsen things.

I don’t know what’s going to happen; I don’t know what is wrong with her, perhaps nothing, perhaps something. I only know that when my dad’s doctor called and said that he needed to go in for follow-up tests, he was told he had six months to live, and he lived for less than two. I try not to think of these things, but I do. Of course I do.

I’ll keep my thoughts to myself when I’m talking to my mom, but perhaps I can share them with you?

More later. Peace.

All images by deaf Californian artist Granville Redmond.

Music by Mikky Ekko, “Pull Me Down”

                   

And Myself, Myself

I’m teaching myself
to love broken things.

Books with loose bindings
and misplaced pages.
Coffee cups with chipped
lips and snapped handles.

The rusted old tractor
in my grandfather’s yard
that hasn’t rumbled in years,
and the sparrow nest
in its belly full of eggshells
a tabby cat tore open.

A burnt patch of grass,
a pile of glass taken in
by a family of gravel.

An old red oak,
opened and weeviled,
that becomes a home
for new and varied life,
even if it cannot stand up
any longer.

~ Gabriel Gadfly

“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  

  

 

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~ Confucius

whooper-swan

“We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” ~ Stephen Covey

 “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

statue-of-venus-de-milo
The Epitome of Beauty: The Venus de Milo

How many times have you looked at someone you do not know and made assumptions about that person based on the way that he or she looks? How often do you see a woman in ill-fitting clothes or with a bad hairstyle and think to yourself that she should take better care of herself? Have you ever been in line at the grocery store and noticed that the person in front of you is wearing out-of-date clothes and shoes and is a little overweight? Did you make assumptions about this person, or perhaps, increase the space between yourself and the other person?

If I am going to ask you these questions, then it is only fitting that I answer them. Yes, I have made assumptions about people based upon their physical appearance. Yes, I have thought to myself, “why doesn’t she do something with her hair?” or “she would be more attractive if she lost some weight.”

But then I will catch myself and think, “who am I to judge?” I could stand to lose some extra pounds myself. I’ve run out of the house in sweatpants and an old t-shirt, my hair in a pony tail. I’ve gone into stores feeling very self-conscious because I know that I don’t look particularly great, but I needed a gallon of milk. 

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda

marilyn-monroe2
One of The Great Beauties, Marilyn Monroe, incredibly self-conscious and suffered from low self-esteem

Harsh though it may be, scientific studies have proven that physical appearance makes a difference in the amount of money you earn, how you are treated by physicians, how educators react to you, and even whether or not you make partner.

According to a CNN article by Kate Lorenz, “Do Pretty People Earn More?” the facts show that attractive students get more attention and higher evaluations from their teachers, good-looking patients get more personalized care from their doctors, and handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts.”*

So what does this mean to individuals in society who do not resemble Daniel Craig or Angelina Jolie? Dr. Gordon Patzer has made it his life’s work to study attractiveness and its role in human behavior. According to Patzer,

“Human beings are hard-wired to respond more favorably to attractive people . . . Good-looking men and women are generally judged to be more talented, kind, honest and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts . . . People go out of their way to help attractive people—of the same and opposite sex—because they want to be liked and accepted by good-looking people.”

This societal preference for attractiveness is called the halo effect, due to the association with the perfection of angels. The halo effect occurs when an individual is influenced by a person’s strengths, weaknesses, physical appearance, behavior, or any other single factor.

Whether or not it is fair, research shows that attractive people also have more occupational success and more dating experience than their unattractive counterparts. Attractive people tend to be more intelligent, better adjusted, and more popular—probably because they have received better treatment from their teachers, their peers, and their bosses.

*(http://www.cnn.com/2005//US/Careers/07/08/looks/)

“Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” ~ Angelique Arnauld

peter-jackson
Academy-Award Winning Director Peter Jackson

But let us pause for a moment. How many persons of note in history actually do not fall into the beautiful people category? Albert Einstein certainly wasn’t an attractive man, with his bushy eyebrows and unruly hair. Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest and most generous men in the world is what most people would describe as ordinary. Peter Jackson, a genius in the film world, resembled a hobbit when he made Lord of the Rings; but even he felt compelled to lose weight.

Is physical beauty truly necessary to be successful, to be considered extraordinary? I don’t believe so. Think about it. What about intelligence? Does anyone ever say, “Oh, her brain is so beautiful”? No. But shouldn’t they if they are really going to look at a woman or a man and judge her/him? 

“When a woman isn’t beautiful, people tell her: You have lovely eyes, you have lovely hair.” ~ Anton Chekhov

Why am I pondering this point? I was reading an article about a Scottish woman who appeared on “Britain’s Got Talent,” the UK’s version of “America’s Got Talent.” The judges for this program are the ever-snarky Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan (who also judges on the U.S. version), and Amanda Holden, an English actress who is mostly recognized for her television appearances.

A brief lesson for those of you who do not follow the show: Contestants apply from all over the country to be finalists on the show. In the initial rounds, the three judges watch the one-minute performances and then vote yes or no on whether or not the individual is talented enough to go to the next round. Once the contestants are reduced to 24, then there is a round for the semi-finals. In the finals, the viewing audience votes on who should stay and who should go. The winner is decided by audience votes.

“Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself.” ~ Kevyn Aucion

susan-boyle
Contestant Susan Boyle Singing "I Dreamed A Dream"

Now picture this: an older woman (by older I mean not in her 20’s, not old for god’s sake) with bushy eyebrows and a very unfashionable dress and hairstyle walks out onto the stage. It only takes seconds before Simon Cowell begins his attack dog shtick, the raised eyebrows, the rolled eyes, the crossed arms. All of it. A pan of the audience shows that almost to a person no one is liking this woman: sneers, crossed arms, negative body language abounds.

Already, the judges and the audience have formed an opinion on this contestant based solely on her physical appearance, and that opinion is not positive.

How fair is this? Not at all fair. Has the woman had a chance to perform yet? No. Does the audience even know what she plans to do for her talent before they cross their arms? No.

The woman declares to the judges and the audience that she wants to sing, that she has always wanted to sing. You can hear the snickers from the audience. After all, how can this unfashionable, frumpy woman sing, let alone sing well enough to be on the show?

“There comes a moment when you realize that virtually anything is possible—that nothing is too good to be true.” ~ Kobi Yamoda

What happens next is positively enchanting. Susan Boyle opens her mouth, and pure beauty emanates from it. The audience jumps to its feet. Simon Cowell raises his eyebrows, and this time, it’s not in a malicious way. Piers Morgan is stupefied.

Boyle sings “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables, an incredibly difficult song to sing because of the range. As I watched the video of her performance, I got chills, and I began to tear up.

I wanted to reach through the screen and hug Susan Boyle for her performance, and I wanted to slap Simon Cowell for his disbelief that a woman who looked like Boyle could have such an angelic voice.

“Women notice details that most men don’t . . . They notice all the details, then make assumptions about every other area of your life based on these details.” ~ David DeAngelo

But it wasn’t just Cowell, was it? It was everyone. When the opening refrain of the song played, Morgan appeared to be totally uninterested, Holden had her hands over her head as if she were trying to stifle a yawn. No one was truly interested in the woman on the stage.

However, as compared to males, we females can be absolutely merciless in our criticisms of the women who are in our office, the women our friends date, the women who do our hair, or our nails. But we can be especially venomous when it comes to total strangers. Don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about: only saintly women or women who are completely self-confident do not beat down other women. And how many of those do you know?

“It matters more what’s in a woman’s face than what’s on it.” ~ Claudette Colbert

jocelyn-wildenstein-bad-plastic-surgery
Pursuit of Beauty Gone Horribly Wrong: Jocelyn Wildenstein

This is the very problem with assumptions. We make assumptions about people all of the time, every day, based on their looks, on what they are wearing, on how their hair looks, how scuffed their shoes are, what kind of purse they are carrying, how old their suit is, even what kind of car they are driving. And admittedly, women are worse when it comes to judging other women.

In my own experience, I have found that many beautiful women lack in self-confidence, while those who are not considered beautiful, abound in self-confidence. It’s as if they know that the world doesn’t believe in them, but they don’t care. They believe in themselves. How wonderful that is to believe in yourself, truly believe in your talent, or your goodness, or your abilities. And how pitiable it is when women abuse themselves by repeated plastic surgery in attempts to be more beautiful, look more youthful, more perfect, not stopping until they resemble caricatures of themselves.

“Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the feeling of being beautiful exists solely in the mind of the beheld.” ~ Martha Beck

ugly-duckling
The Ugly Duckling Is Not Always What It Seems

Now what I did not mention is that when Sarah Boyle came out on stage, she was obviously prepared for Cowell’s sour disposition, but it didn’t seem to affect her at all. She answered all of his questions with a smile on her face. It was as if she were challenging him: “I know that you are assuming that I have no talent, but you just wait. You’ll see.”

Boyle stood her ground, even doing a bit of a jig in her sheer delight at just being invited to the party. And when she finished, she knew that she had won the battle. She walked off the stage with her shoulders back, a broad smile on her face, and joy in her eyes.

All three judges were effusive in their praise. But the best part is this: With her talent, her incredible voice, Susan Boyle has a real shot at winning “Britain’s Got Talent.” Wouldn’t that be something? And about time, too.

But just a closing thought: Why were we so surprised that Susan Boyle could sing? That is probably the heart of the matter, and a question that we should be asking ourselves even as this incredibly talented, sincere, selfless woman stands before the world and graces us with a voice from the gods.

 And on that note, I present Susan Boyle singing “I Dreamed A Dream”

Embedding has been disabled. To see the video of Susan Boyle’s performance, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

More later. Peace.