“One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.
Nor is it palm and knuckles,
not ligaments or the fat’s yellow pillow,
not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.
A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines
with their infinite dramas,
nor what it has written,
not on the page,
not on the ecstatic body.
Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping—
not sponge of rising yeast-bread,
not rotor pin’s smoothness,
The maple’s green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.
A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.
Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.
“This enormous, murky river with its deep current, this is the familiar river, but familiar from where.” ~ Péter Nádas, from Parallel Stories (trans. Imre Goldstein)
Thursday afternoon. Cloudy, warmer, and very humid.
I got up early to get my fasting lab work done (finally) before Alexis’s ultrasound appointment. Of course there was a backup at the lab, so I left so that I wouldn’t be late for the appointment only to arrive before Alexis and to find out that her appointment was 15 minutes later than she told me. I had forgotten that she does that—writes down her appointments as being 15 minutes before the scheduled time so that she won’t be late.
So anyway . . . went back to the lab after her appointment only to have the lab technician tell me that I needed to register because I wasn’t in the system. Luckily, Alexis noticed that the lab tech had called me by the wrong name. I was still in the system because it hadn’t been that long.
When I got home, Tillie wouldn’t leave me alone until I took her outside to play, which distracted me and made me lose my train of thought, so when I got back to the computer, I looked up songs from the “Revenge” soundtrack, but I’m back now.
My back is killing me, by the way. I could chalk it up to just about anything: the barometric pressure, the rain, the heat . . . whatever.
“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor”
Corey texted me this afternoon. He’s in Suriname (I was unaware that the country was spelled with an e on the end, but it is, which is odd as certain things from the country do not have an e on the end, like the Surinam Toad, or Surinam Airways).
Anyway, he’s just 1 degree above the equator, and it’s hot. From there they will go to the Ascension Islands, which are in the South Atlantic, between the Horn of South America and Africa. Then from there they go back to Suriname for fuel, and then he’s not sure, maybe back to the U.S. or possibly Columbia, SA, wherever the ship is going into the yard, so about another 31 days or so.
He had shore leave for a few hours, and he wandered around Paramaribo (a former Dutch Colonial town), which is the capital and the largest city in the small country. He said that there were lots of open air markets. I read that shrimp are supposed to be wonderful there. Most of the population lives in the north, and there is a rainforest in the south that covers up to 80 percent of the country.
“There are ways of naming the wound.
There are ways of entering the dream. The way a painter enters a studio:
To spill.” ~ Tracy K. Smith, from “History”
Friday afternoon. Sunny and humid.
I just couldn’t finish yesterday. For some reason, I was quite weepy, and a song came on my playlist, and I got that feeling, and then I couldn’t write any more. Just as well, probably. Who knows what I would have said.
Very bad night. I dreamt that Tillie ran through plate-glass and was blinded in one eye, and Corey renamed her Joe, and I didn’t understand why, and I walked out of the house and didn’t lock the front door, so I turned around and went back inside, but it was a different house, and before I could lock the door, a man pushed his way inside, and he tried to grab me but I pushed him, so he pushed me back, and I thought to myself, “this is very weird.”
Corey called last night, and we tried to keep the conversation short so that we do not owe our carrier a second mortgage. He sounded tired as he had just come off watch and had to be back on at 4 in the morning. He’s still liking this job very much and is getting along well with his co-workers. That’s a really good thing, especially when you’re confined with people 24/7.
“Wherever I am I am what is missing.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Keeping Things Whole”
I do want to take a moment to apologize to my followers whose own blogs appear on my blogroll. I have not been a regular visitor of late, but not by choice. This computer in Eamonn’s room is truly on its last leg, and I am very limited in what I can do. Sometimes as I’m writing, the letters appear on the screen one at a time very slowly, much like a typewriter. I had planned to put my CPU in for repairs this paycheck, but then we had that huge hiccup with T-mobile, and well, more of the same.
Once I get my computer up and running, I can get back into my regular mode of visiting people and commenting, something that I truly enjoy doing. It seems that I’m always apologizing for something not being the way that it should . . .
Did I mention that eldest son truly believes that I’m lazy? He (who is very, very much like his father) has never accepted that I am on disability. Whenever we’ve had money issues, he’s said things like, “Well why don’t you just go back to work?” And he’s serious. Not matter how many times Corey or I have tried to break down the realities for him, he still thinks that I’m not working because I’m lazy. This is a very bitter pill to swallow, I have to tell you. It always makes me question myself.
His father could never accept any kind of illness or physical impairment, always believing that the individual affected was just faking. Funny, the things that are ingrained in the DNA.
“And so when all the time had leaked, Without external sound Each bound the Other’s Crucifix—” ~ Emily Dickinson, from “”
So, well, I’m still weepy. I’m taking my medication, but I did miss one day when I ran out, but that’s been days ago. Truth is I would hate to see how bad I’d really be without the meds. And as always, I am reminded of my mother’s mantra: think happy thoughts . . .
At times such as these I really feel for the people who suffered from some kind of mental illness in generations past, how they had to try to hide it, how if it came to light, they were forever marked as being crazy. The Scarlet A, except it would be a Scarlet C (for crazy?). I mean, there was a time when any political candidate who had ever sought mental health counseling would immediately be out of contention for a race, and even now, few in the public arena are willing to admit that they may have had to seek help.
It’s as if mental health is still in that category of the unspoken verboten: sex scandals, counseling, depression, homosexuality. It’s okay if you ran a company or two into the ground, if you caused thousands of people to lose their retirement, but say that you once had to get help for depression? Nope. Not so much.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), in any given 12-month period, 26.2 percent of the adult U.S. population will suffer from some kind of mental disorder, and contrary to popular belief, women do not suffer more than men. That’s one-quarter of our population.
Chew on that for a moment, and think happy thoughts while you do it.
“I see my life go drifting like a river From change to change; I have been many things —” ~ W. B. Yeats, from “Fergus and the Druid”
I have a vivid memory of being 14 and sitting on the floor of my bedroom just weeping buckets. The family down the road had moved to Tennessee, and the daughters were two of my best friends since we had moved back to the area. I spent all of my time with them. Their moving left me hollow. My mother told me that nothing was really wrong, that I just had my period.
Right. But you know, I have to say that it’s not really her fault. She’s a product of her generation, one in which such things were not acknowledged, that to admit that someone in the family was frail (euphemism) was cause for shame. Still, at 14 all I knew was that it felt as if my insides were being torn apart.
Another time when I was really in a bad state a neighbor said that I had “growing pains,” that seemingly innocuous phrase that so many adults use to categorize youthful angst. I remember being so pissed. I just wanted to scream at her that she didn’t know what she was talking about, but I didn’t. I remembered my manners and kept my mouth shut.
Those growing pains produced some of the most angst-filled, emotional bad poetry probably ever written, but at least I sought a way to unburden myself. I don’t know how I got off on this tangent, and now that I’m here, I don’t really want to pursue it any more.
“The red balloon outside rose up to an unsuspected sky, its chains strained by the certainty that the nearer the inferno the greater the paradise, the nearer the prison cell the greater the freedom. Cantabit vacuus coran latrone viator.” ~ Miroslav Holub, from “Interferon” (trans. Dana Habova and David Young)
The penniless traveler will sing in the presence of the highwayman . . .
In spite of my current state of mind, I can still be amazed by the serendipitous nature of life, how I can come across the perfect quote, a new poet, a new poem—something that says exactly what I’m feeling—when I’m not even looking. I had never heard of Holub, never read this poem, but this section of the poem (quote above) is apt for today. I especially like the Latin phrase at the end of the section.
A penniless traveler has nothing to lose, some would say, and on the surface, that is true. But we all have something to lose, even if it’s hidden deep within, so deep that we have forgotten about it. We all have something to lose, even if it is ourselves.
More later. Peace.
Music by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors (from the very last episode of “House” ever and the song that keeps making me weepy), “Live Forever”
Poems in Braille
all your hands are verbs,
now you touch worlds and feel their names—
thru the thing to the name
not the other way thru (in winter
I am Midas, I name gold)
the chair and table and book
extend from your fingers;
all your movements
command these things back to their
places; a fight against familiarity
makes me resume my distance
they knew what it meant,
those egyptian scribes who drew
eyes right into their hieroglyphs,
you read them dispassionate until
the eye stumbles upon itself
blinking back from the papyrus
outside, the articulate wind
annotates this; I read carefully
lest I go blind in both eyes, reading with
that other eye the final hieroglyph
the shortest distance between 2 points
on a revolving circumference
is a curved line; O let me follow you,
with legs and arms I make alphabets
like in those children’s books
where people bend into letters and signs,
yet I do not read the long cabbala of my bones
truthfully; I need only to move to alter the design
I name all things in my room
and they rehearse their names,
gather in groups, form tesseracts,
discussing their names among themselves
I will not say the cast is less than the print
I will not say the curve is longer than the line,
I should read all things like braille in this season
with my fingers I should read them
lest I go blind in both eyes reading with
that other eye the final hieroglyph
~ Gwendolyn MacEwen, from A Breakfeast for Barbarians
“The slate is wiped clean. It is almost as if the discouragement were necessary, that one has first to encounter despair before one is entitled to hope. Then a time comes when one takes a pencil and a fresh sheet of paper and begins. Begins, really for the first time.” ~ Walker Percy,“From Facts to Fiction” in Signposts in a Strange Land
Sunday afternoon. Sunny and warm, high 70’s.
I don’t remember my dreams from last night or the night before, an exceedingly rare occurrence for me, but it could be because I’ve had a headache that is moving around my head, currently at the edge of my right eye. This morning I got a text from Corey; he’s off the coast of Dover, England and got a signal. He sounds good. I asked him if he was close enough to the coast to see lighthouses, but he said not quite. We just exchanged a few texts as he was about to go to dinner and then sleep.
I’m hoping that I can finish this post before Eamonn gets home from work. The pool store has started keeping its Sunday hours, so his work schedule is full. Last night, we got Chinese takeout, and I ordered what I thought was the dish that Corey always gets for me, but it turns out that I ordered the wrong thing, and I didn’t like it much. Such a disappointment.
Today I really need to do laundry and filing—both tasks that I abhor, but as the chances of a maid brigade volunteering to come into my house are slim to none, I suppose it’s left to me. I also need to finish the paper work that I started earlier in the week and send that off. Oh crap.
“I speak best and most fully in my sleep. When my heart is not wrapped in layer after layer of daylight, not prepared like some fighter’s taped fist.” ~ Mark Cox, from “The Word”
I heard on the radio that Alison Krauss is going to be here at the end of the month. I love her music. This is one of those cases in which I wish that Corey were going to be home as that is a concert that he would enjoy too. Oh well.
I just remembered a snippet of my dream: I was in a doctor’s office, and she wouldn’t give me trigger shots because it was too soon, but she felt a knot on my neck, and said that I had gotten it because I hadn’t taken nsaids (like ibuprofen or Alleve). Then she told me that my EEG showed that I had lung problems. I told her that I thought it was weird that an EEG would show something like that. Then there were elevators again, and of course, they wouldn’t take me where I wanted to go.
What is it with elevators? In life, I hate cramped elevators and will not get on one that is already full of people. The sensation of being trapped inside a small compartment with people pressed in truly terrifies me. But in dreams, what is an elevator? A means of travel? A closed-in space? Being unable to control things if only for a few minutes? All of these? None? And the fact that these dream elevators will not take me where I want to go, what’s up with that?
“I felt for an instant that the vast star-clustered sky was mine, and I heard my name as if for the first time, heard it the way one hears the wind or the rain, but faint and far off as though it belonged not to me but to the silence from which it had come and to which it would go.” ~ Mark Strand, from Man and Camel
Shakes just came into the room, sat down by my feet, and said “arf.” I mean, literally, arf. I didn’t know that dogs actually said that except in comics. My dogs are so funny.
I had a realization today that pleased me: I may actually be able to keep off this weight that I’m losing because it’s not a diet but a change in lifestyle. Giving up sugar and sodas and increasing my physical activity—these aren’t things that I plan to stop doing. So perhaps I may be able to get of this yo-yo weight coaster. That would be nice.
Yesterday Brett and Em made brownies, and admittedly I did have one, but it was less than one-inch square, and I was satisfied with that. Now that’s change I can live with, she said oh so smugly . . .
Last night/early this morning when I got up to let the dogs out, I stuck my head out the door and inhaled deeply. It smelled of earth and trees. The night was beautiful, a slight breeze, clear skies, and I realized that just a few months ago I would have still been awake at 3:30 a.m. Except for a few nights, I’ve been able to get to sleep before one in the morning. I would like to bring that back one more hour, and then I might actually be living my life within the same 24-hour cycle. Does that make sense?
I mean, waking and going to sleep within the same day, kind of like what other people do; although I’m not sure why it matters to me that I sleep like other people. I suppose I’m just trying to be a bit more normal, whatever that is. Normal is such a nothing word when it comes to a definition. Remember that commercial: “What’s normal is what’s normal for you”? Probably about a laxative or something like that. But seriously, normal? Normal is completely dependent upon the individual. Normal and status quo are not synonymous. Normal and ordinary are not one in the same. Normal and traditional are not interchangeable.
So why do I care about being normal? I don’t, actually. I just care about being more like the person I used to be, to be honest.
“Since we must and do write each our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to, and to ask: is it valid?” ~ Eudora Welty, On Writing
My book wish list continues to grow as I come across more titles and authors that I want to have in my personal library. Is it obnoxious to tell my kids that I want a book for Mother’s Day? I guess it is a bit, but geez, they get to give me lists for Christmas and their birthdays. Why don’t moms get to make requests once a year?
But I mean, what’s the point of an Amazon wish list? Santa sure as hell isn’t going to make it happen. And don’t even get me started on the whole concept of the Easter Bunny and presents. I find the Easter Bunny at malls incredibly creepy, but that’s another story (ooh, I will add that I heard that a mall Easter Bunny was popped for being high on the job—see? Creepy. Couldn’t stay sober for a few weeks?)
Anyway, one book keeps appearing on my Tumblr dash from someone I follow who I happen to know likes the same kind of poetry that I do. It’s called The Poet’s Notebook, and even though it was published in 1995, some of the passages that he’s been posting are really interesting. I used to buy books on the craft of writing all of the time. I remember one of my writing professors as an undergraduate said that it was our obligation was wannabe writers and poets to support those who were actually publishing, and it was a profound statement, really.
I mean, who buys books of poetry? Certainly not the general public. Long before the Internet I used to buy my poetry books from a mail order service that, oddly enough, Christopher Buckley told Mary and me about. It was called Spring Hill Books (I think), and a woman actually ran it out of her house. I don’t think that she’s still around, probably having been put out of business by Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She was a lovely, kind woman who used to write me when she got a new title that she thought that I would like. I miss her. I miss independent booksellers who are quickly fading from the landscape.
By the way, happy belated birthday Eudora Welty.
“There is a basic iconographic pattern in the universe (the seasons, for example), but our relationship to it is our own. How we hear it is our own, and is therefore unpredictable . . . No one needs to confirm our experience, which is unconditional. We confirm it. The only magic that exists is personal, real, direct.” ~ Gail Sher, from “My White and Your White Aren’t Necessarily the Same,” from The Intuitive Writer: Listening to Your Own Voice
When I worked at the Museum, we used to order lunch from a cafe inside an independent bookseller in downtown Norfolk. They had the best homemade hummus and focaccia bread. Prince Books. I wonder if they are still there . . .
Just the other day I was thinking about working at the Museum. How wonderful to be surrounded by such beauty, to be able to wander the galleries to clear my head, to joke about putting the Bernini bust in my purse and take it home (this thing is huge). I loved that job. Of course there were parts that were hard to take, like working with the board (class warfare, anyone?), but spending time with creations that were hundreds of years old? Works of art by Renoir and Tissot? That was magical. And because I worked there it meant that on some days I had all of the galleries to myself. Can you imagine?
Speaking of jobs, I had that dream again in which I realize that I’ve gone to work teaching (public school), but then quit, and I haven’t told my disability provider, and now I’ve probably lost my coverage. I hate that dream. I mean, think about it—who would actually choose teaching in public school as the job to return to after all of this time? Not me, that’s for sure. Maybe teaching in a tony private school in which, as Alexis used to say, the biggest different is that the student body can afford better drugs, but you know what I mean—teaching in a school in which the students assault the teachers versus teaching in a school in which parental pressure for the prodigy to make grades worthy of Harvard. Hmm . . .
Well, I suppose I had better get to the real life chores that await me.
More later. Peace.
Music by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, “Your Long Journey”
Images of Campanile di Curon and surrounding area: Flooded by the waters of il Lago di Resia (Reschensee), situated in Val Venosta in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy, the Campanile di Curon is a vestige of the old town of Curon Venosta. This small alpine town was buried shortly after World War II when three pre-existing lakes (Lago di Resia, Lago di Curon, and Lago di San Valentino alla Muta) were joined together to create one bigger artificial lake. The town is still sitting under water, but the tower was so tall that it juts out, marking the central location of a place many once called home.