“If I am not better, at least I am different.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

                   

“The sound of winter is the hum of wind through bare trees and the creaking of those wise branches, so like these brittle mortal bones save in their innocence. On frigid mornings I hear my humanity coming in from the cold.” ~ Christopher Troise, from See Troise Write

Friday afternoon. Rainy and unseasonably warm, 57 degrees.

There is no snow here. No cold. No flakes falling and collecting, amassing into unknown structures, waiting to be unburied with the sun’s warmth. I know that I should be happy that we don’t have a lot of cold and snow here as neither are good for my bones or my back, but I long for snow, wet flakes on my face, the chance to photograph the vast whiteness, the trees cloaked in inches of froth, the dog carefully stepping so as not to sink.

Snow would be nice, would be lovely and white and banking. Instead, we have rain and mud puddles and lethargy, so I will write about nothing and nothingness and nothings.

Random thoughts:

  • Post-rock is an actual category in music, but I find the term to be grossly uninventive. Is not everything after the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin post-rock?
  • I have deliberately not learned how to make GIFs as I know that I would spend a disproportionate amount of time playing.
  • Who are these people who can watch a show and do screen captures while watching and post them immediately?
  • Am I being left behind technologically?
  • For someone who lives in the past so much, someone who loves ancient ways, I love technology.
  • I am using quotes in this post by two people I found on tumblr.
  • We have raccoons living in our attic, and Corey thinks they are cute, she said, apropos of nothing.

“Time takes life away
and gives us memory, gold with flame,
black with embers.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “Shell”

Odd memories out of nowhere:

  • Two scents I used to wear along with my power suits (neither of which exist in the original formulation any more): Lauren and Dioressence. Everyone else wore the first, so I switched to the second, and people either loved it or hated it.
  • Power suits with shoulder pads and pumps. What were we thinking?
  • I miss dressing for work, the whole thing—hair, makeup, jewelry, but I don’t miss pantyhose at all.
  • Does anyone still wear pantyhose?
  • I remember years ago when I worked at the newspaper there was a woman who wrote about fashion, and she always complained that the women in this area were so unimaginative because they only wore suntan-colored pantyhose. Funny the things you remember.
  • Another odd memory from the newsroom days: There was this reporter who had a terrible crush, bordering on stalkworthy on a male reporter who I happened to be dating casually. She would come into the newsroom and stand and stare at his empty chair. Sometimes she would stare at me. Very, very creepy.
  • During that same period in my life I kept a journal called “Dear God.” In a word, embarrassing.

“I go through phases. Somedays I feel like the person I’m supposed to be, and then somedays, I turn into no one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope that on the days you find me and all I am are darkened lines, you still are willing to be near me.” ~ Mary Kate Teske

List of minutiae:

  • I wonder if I still believe in angels.
  • If I wonder, that is probably indicative of a negative, isn’t it?
  • Whenever I dream of my friend Mari, I awaken with a hard spot in my chest, as if the dream has carved a scoop of flesh from me and left a hollow impression.
  • I always feel strangely accomplished once I have calendars throughout the house, but I have to wonder about this obsession with time. Does recording it slow it?
  • I discovered Adam Zagajewski quite by accident when I unearthed a book of his poems in the ratty old bookstore that used to occupy the corner of the local shopping center. The store is long gone, which is sad as they had the most amazing undiscovered poetry section living on the bottom two shelves in the far left corner. I think that’s where I found my first Rilke book.
  • Oh how I long for the day when all of my books of poetry can reside on shelves again and not in storage tubs.
  • I am still thinking about the concept of holding sadness in my spine.

“I love the dark hours of my being
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Ich liebe meines Wesens Dunkelstunden” from Book of Hours (trans. Anita Barrow and Joanna Macy)

Did you know?

  • Brett has synaesthesia. He once told me that a cologne that I like smelled too green.
  • Apparently, synaesthesia is fairly common in newborns, which makes sense when you think about it. Newborns have so many capabilities, but they cannot tell us, so they get no positive reinforcement, which helps to explain why these capabilities might fade.
  • I remember an episode of “Criminal Minds” (of course, I do) in which the killer saw people’s names in color, and if the name was red, the killer knew that the person was bad.
  • Having a killer with synaesthesia would be a pretty cool plot device, don’t you think?
  • My preoccupation with killers has nothing to do with my childhood, which was the epitome of normal, except for the travel.
  • I really wish that I had come of age in a time in which it was quite possible, normal even, for women to become criminal profilers.
  • Did I ever mention that I once applied to the FBI? It was for a marketing position, and I really didn’t want it. Who wants to say that they do marketing for the FBI. Not at all cool.

“People often ask me questions that I cannot very well answer in words, and it makes me sad to think they are unable to hear the voice of my silence.” ~ Inayat Khan

And then there is this:

  • I’ve been so poor that I combed the house for change to buy gas for the car.
  • I once claimed that I was sick at work so that I could leave and go for a drive. I got in the car and drove for two hours.
  • While I was an undergraduate, I routinely ate Nacho Cheese Doritos and hot pepper rings for dinner.
  • When I was sixteen, I picked out the names of the six children that I was going to have with the boy who was the love of my life. Nothing about that was correct—the boy, the names, or the number of children.
  • When my contemporaries were listening to Jethro Tull and Deep Purple, I was listening to Broadway soundtracks and singing to myself in my bedroom.
  • I think that people find it easy to lie to me.
  • I do not miss the 80’s like some people do.
  • I fear that I’ve already had the life-defining moment, and I didn’t realize it.

More later. Peace.
*All snow GIFs taken from a tumblr post; sorry, don’t have better source than that.

Music by The Smiths, “Asleep”

                   

Strange Little Prophets

When is the smell of a blackberry tree
a harbinger of  violent movement
rather than simply the recollection of
a childhood Sunday dress hem-dipped
in mud, handprinted with juice and seeds?
Hard to say. A mind, when playing tricks
is at its most sincere — at home raking
through the body’s history, repeating
the strange and nostalgic. The taste of
dirty copper, the imagined cockroach
in the corner, the sluggish slow of  the clock
— doctors call these strange little prophets
warning signs of a seizure, synaptic misfires
looming like a song discordant, until the body
— an unplucked string — is finally strummed.

~ Barbara Perez

“I feel all shadows of the universe multiplied deep inside my skin.” ~ Virginia Woolf

carnivalporthalfmooncayjpg.ashx
Carnival Port Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

                  

“I am subject to wind, the perambulations of the moon, the constellations, and anxiety.” ~ Rikki Ducornet, from The Complete Butcher’s Tales

Monday, late afternoon. Partly cloudy and warm, low 70’s.

Captain Corey
Captain Corey Relaxing on the Beach
L. Liwag

Well, here we are, fifteen days until Christmas. We got back from vacation Saturday night. I spent all day yesterday unpacking, organizing and doing tons of laundry. Alexis and Eamonn both denied agreeing to pick us up at the airport on Saturday, much in the same way they both denied agreeing to take us to the airport last Sunday. Neither of us were surprised; we took a taxi the few miles home.

Vacation was absolutely heaven, just the two of us, warm temperatures, blue water, sunny skies (except for one day). My lungs cleared; my cough disappeared; I had no headaches. I’ve been home two days and the nastiness in my chest is back; I awoke with a migraine, and the cough is making a full comeback. Mind over matter? The air? The temperature changes? Who knows . . .

Corey and I gave each other our vacation to the Bahamas as our Christmas present for the last five years. Actually, it’s been almost seven years since we went anywhere together, a very long time. We did a whole lot of nothing besides eating, relaxing, and being tourists. I cannot begin to tell you how much my mind and body needed the recharge before embarking upon another new year.

“How many years have slipped through our hands? 
At least as many as the constellations we still can identify. 
The quarter moon, like a light skiff,
 floats out of the mist-remnants
 Of last night’s hard rain. 
It, too, will slip through our fingers
 with no ripple, without us in it.” ~ Charles Wright

I will admit, though, that it took me a full 48 hours before I began to relax, well and truly relax. I kept thinking about things that needed to be done, bills, money, you name it. I kept feeling guilty for allowing us to do this. That old Puritan guilt that has shaped my life in oh so many ways. Now that we’re back, I still feel a bit guilty, but not nearly as much. Corey and I do and do and do for everyone else, mostly the kids, but we never do for ourselves. This past year was filled with family obligations, and I’m not complaining, but it’s nice to remember that we’re a couple who truly enjoys one another’s company, far away from the daily demands of family and life.

Carnival Ecstasy
Carnival Ecstasy at Anchor
L. Liwag

Unfortunately, I got a telephone call once we were back letting me know that my brother-in-law Patrick died on Wednesday. Patrick is my ex’s brother, but I have always been close to him; we’ve had a special relationship. Patrick is the one who was in a car accident years ago that left him a paraplegic who could not speak. He kept his mental faculties and his exceptional mind, but he was trapped in a body that no longer functioned on its own. Patrick was married to my German sis-in-law Helma.

He contracted bronchitis and went downhill quickly. Ann says that he went peacefully in his sleep, and for that I am so thankful.

To be honest, Patrick lived a much, much longer life than any of us ever thought that he would. After the accident, because he was so susceptible to illness and because he has had a couple of life-threatening bouts, we (the family) weren’t so sure he would even last a decade. The accident was in 1983. He lived almost three decades after.

“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating.” ~ Louis Aragon, from Paris Peasant

So our homecoming was bittersweet. My ex and Ann will be flying to Germany for the memorial. I would like to go, but that’s not possible.

Swimming with the Fishes, Bahamas by cdorobek FCC
Swimming with the Fishes, Bahamas
by cdorobek (FCC)

Some of you may find my continued relationship with my ex’s family a bit strange, but truthfully, I was probably much closer to his mom and siblings than he was, and in my mind, I divorced him, not his family. Anyway, I feel fortunate to have such an extended family, the losses of the past 15 months notwithstanding.

So I am moving into this Christmas season filled with mixed emotions—not all that different from any other year, I suppose.

Last night my dreams included my dad, who was dressed up to go to some big government function, and I was a visitor staying at someone’s home, but the teenaged girls who lived in the home resented all of the company. I tried to talk to one of the young girls, to ask her who her heroes were, but she told me that she didn’t have any. I told her that everyone needs heroes. And in the dream, I was doing laundry . . .

“I go through phases. Somedays I feel like the person I’m supposed to be, and then somedays, I turn into no one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope that on the days you find me and all I am are darkened lines, you still are willing to be near me.” ~ Mary Kate Teske

I will finish 2012 short of my reading goal of 60 books, even though in the past month I’ve read quite a few, and I will finish well short of my writing goal. I did not work on my stories at all while we were gone, even though I had plans to do so. I did finish two books, and I worked on my tan, obviously not as artistically productive, but hey, I didn’t get any sun this past summer.

Tugboat, Freeport Bahamas
Tugboat Water Spray, Freeport, Bahamas
C. Fickel

While we were on the ship, we did a little bit of karaoke, and boy, did I find out how out of shape my vocal chords are. Yikes. It was fun, and one night, I even sang with a band, but my performances were, shall we say, tepid at best. Who cares? I’m never going to see anyone on that ship again (although we did meet some people from the area). Singing again did make me hanker to get my voice back in shape We shall see, I suppose.

Let’s see, what else? A book I really want to read comes out tomorrow, and Peter Jackson’s new movie The Hobbit releases this week. I am anticipating the first and absolutely quivering with anticipation over the second. I still contend that I would be Peter Jackson’s gopher given the chance.

This week I hope to do holiday cards and perhaps to begin to decorate the house, although the warm temperatures do not exactly make me feel all wintery wonderland inside. Lex and Mike leave this weekend to visit his family in Mississippi for the holidays, which means that I will not see Olivia for 12 days. I have missed her tremendously in the past week and a half; I had hoped that Alexis would come by before we left, but alas, no.

“This morning, waking to unaccustomed calmness,
I write these words to stay in that silent, unfevered existence,
to delay the other words that are waiting.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “I Write These Words to Delay”

Before we left, I was looking through photographs for some reason, and I came across a photo of Shakes that we took before the family vacation in 2007. My suitcase was on the couch, and Shakes crawled inside and went to sleep. Obviously, he wanted to go with us. It was weird coming home to just the two dogs, no smelly fat boy to curl up against me my first night home.

Parasailing Half Moon Cay
Parasailing in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

I did not take a lot of photographs while we were gone. In truth, there just wasn’t that much to shoot. We didn’t venture beyond the ports. Our afternoon on the private Half Moon Cay was delightful, though, and I got some nice shots of Corey and the water. Speaking of water, it was so clear that I watched schools of fish swim around me. It was heavenly just spending some leisurely moments doing nothing but idly paddling as the sun beat down. The air was clean and there were no sounds of traffic or sirens or whatever. I was able to shut out pretty much everything and just chill. I did kind of wish that I could go parasailing, though.

I think I had forgotten how to do that. Chilling is an art form that comes naturally to some people, and then for people like me who are wrapped too tightly most of the time, it is an acquired state of being. I wonder if I could live like that all of the time . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Julie Roberts, “Wake Up Older”

                

A Momentary Creed

I believe in the ordinary day
that is here at this moment and is me

I do not see it going its own way
but I never saw how it came to me

it extends beyond whatever I may
think I know and all that is real to me

it is the present that it bears away
where has it gone when it has gone from me

there is no place I know outside today
except for the unknown all around me

the only presence that appears to stay
everything that I call mine it lent me

even the way that I believe the day
for as long as it is here and is me

~ W. S. Merwin