“There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person. They are you, your private joys and sorrows, and you can never tell them. You cheapen yourself, the inside of yourself, when you tell them.” ~ Greta Garbo

Moon Rise over Cultus Mountain, Skagit County, WA
by Scott Terrell (AP)

                   

“Will I ever write properly, with passion & exactness,
of the damned strange demeanours of my flagrant heart?” ~ John Berryman, from “Monkhood”

Saturday, late afternoon. Sunny, humid, mid 80’s.

It’s been a rough week. I started a regular post last Saturday and wiped it. Started another one on Sunday. Wiped that too.

Perigree Moon behind Angels of St. Isaaks Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia
by Dmitry Lovetsky (AP)

Did manage to go to some great poetry readings, though. This year, I finally convinced Brett to attend a few of the events at ODU’s annual Literary Festival. In its 35th year, it’s one of the longest-running literary festivals in the country. He was only disappointed by one presenter and loved the other three. I went to two, wanted to make it to one on Thursday, but just couldn’t. As a result, though, I have discovered two new poets, both of whom I will be writing more about at another time.

I’ve been mulling over a myriad of things, beginning to think that I’ve reached conclusions, solutions, only to end up more confused and scattered. These are the things occupying my thoughts lately:

  • Will Alexis ever learn how to accept her role as a mother?
  • Will Brett go to New Zealand, and if so, will her ever come back? Will such a journey help him to find that which he seeks?
  • Will we all make it through the next few months?
  • Will I leave the house in the morning only to return to it hours later to find Shakes dead?
  • Will Tillie continue to have unexplained seizures?
  • Will I ever come out of this funk?
  • Will I ever have just one day in which I am not torn up by guilt, fear, and regret?

This, and so much more . . . A person could go well and truly mad from too much pondering.

“Sometimes
melancholy leaves me breathless.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Sometimes”

My melancholy always deepens in the fall, which is conflicting at best as autumn is my favorite season, but it is also the season of my deep regret and my keenest losses. So many decisions were made in autumn that changed my life forever. You know Frost’s two roads? Well, is it possible to have stood at the fork in the road a hundred times? A thousand? Sometimes, it seems so.

So what characterizes my melancholy? I mean, if I had to describe it, which I have done in the past, just how would I do that? I wonder . . .

Perigree Moon beside San Francisco’s Coit Tower
by Frederic Lawson (AP)

Like Søren Kierkegaard, my melancholy is almost like a living part of me: “I have one more intimate confidant-my melancholy. In the midst of my joy, in the midst of my work, she waves to me, calls me to one side, even though physically I stay put. My melancholy is the most faithful mistress I have known, what wonder, then, that I love her in return.”

My melancholy is like . . .

  • The deepest blues in Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”
  • A slow Alison Krauss song, full of longing
  • The smell that fills your nostrils when you turn over a pile of wet leaves—earthy and rich
  • The dregs of a cup of Darjeeling
  • The way it feels when the credits roll at the end of The English Patient
  • The haunting sound of the fiddle in the soundtrack to Legends of the Fall
  • The way sand feels beneath your feet as it is borne back to the sea by the tide
  • The mother in the Dorothea Lange photograph
  • The echo of a foghorn across the bay in the still of the night
  • The sliver of the waning moon in the nigh sky

“and in the end
when the shadow from the ground
enters the body and remains,
in the end, you might say,
This is myself
still unknown, still a mystery.” ~ Linda Hogan, from “Inside

You might say that none of those things is particularly sad, and you would be right. My melancholy isn’t sadness. It isn’t depression. It isn’t the bleak dullness of a February morning without snow. Rather, it is an ache, a longing, a yearning, but for what exactly, I still cannot say.

Moon Rises above an Egret Nesting, Wichita, Kansas
by Bo Rader (AP)

The things on my list individually can be beautiful and haunting. Together, they can be overwhelming. Perhaps that’s why I listed them as opposed to piling them all together in a paragraph. Separated by that forced line break, there can be a pause, a moment in which to collect oneself before venturing on.

Am I blathering? Perhaps. Sorry.

At least I’m supposedly in good company. Famous people known for their melancholy? Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, John Keats, Ernest Hemingway, Søren Kierkegaard. Notice that list is all male? I think that when famous women were (are?) melancholic, they were categorized as depressed, which is actually not the same thing. Depression can be completely debilitating; whereas melancholy is more reflective. The melancholic can be depressed, but the depressed individual is not necessarily melancholic.

I perused a few interwebs articles on melancholy (academic as opposed to cultural), and most assign a few clear characteristics to the melancholic. On the plus side, they are talented, creative, idealistic, and loyal. They like lists (no kidding) and charts, and they pay attention to detail. On the other side, though, they can be perfectionists; they procrastinate, often spending more time planning than doing. They tend to remember the negatives and have a low self-image, and they have a deep need for approval.

Really? No, really? Hmm . . .

“I have in me like a haze
Which holds and which is nothing
A nostalgia for nothing at all,
The desire for something vague.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from “[I have in me like a haze]” (trans. Richard Zenith)

Did you know that melancholy literally means black bile (Greek, melas (black) + khole (bile) = melancholia)? This definition comes from the ancient characterizations of personalities according to the four humours (The four humors of Hippocratic medicine are black bile (Gk. melan chole), yellow bile (Gk. chole), phlegm (Gk. phlegma), and blood (Gk. haima), and each corresponds to one of the traditional four temperaments. A humor is also referred to as a cambium(from Wikipedia and lots of other sources)). Just a bit of history.

Full Moon behind a Mosque in Amman
by Ali Jarekj (Reuters)

Of course, we don’t go around any more telling people they have too much black bile or too much blood in their constitution, but maybe we should. I mean, the corresponding personality traits (sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic) are pretty much spot on. The sanguine individual is an impulsive dreamer, the choleric an aggressive leader, the phlegmatic quiet and relaxed, and the melancholic introverted and creative.

All I know is that my black bile makes me not people-oriented and less outgoing. It also makes me withdrawn and vengeful. And I’m still fairly certain that I would have been persecuted as a witch.

“I am light honed
To a still point in the incandescent
Onrush, a fine ash in the beast’s sudden
Dessication when the sun explodes.” ~ Wole Soyinka, from “Around Us, Dawning”

So, this is where I am now: My melancholy defines me in so many ways:

  • I have so many things that I want to do, but I never seem to do them, just plan them.
  • I spend an inordinate number of hours contemplating things, the whys and wherefores.

    Moon Shines behind the Minaret of Mohamed Ali Mosque in Cairo
    by Asmaa Waguih (Reuters)
  • Essentially, I don’t like people. I love humanity and its wonderful diversity, but most people irritate me.
  • But those I like, I like with a fervor. Those I love, I love with all of my being.
  • One of the articles said that melancholics can be bad parents because they have such high expectations, and I do, have high expectations, that is. But not for my children to have fame or fortune, rather, that they have happiness and contentment, two things that have eluded me most of my years
  • I don’t like to be wrong, and it took me years, nay, decades, to learn how to admit when I was wrong, and I am ashamed to say that it took me far too long to learn how to apologize and truly mean it.
  • Because I live so much inside myself, I am not self-deluded, but I am self-critical and self-deprecating.
  • I live in a state of guilt. I’m not sure if this is necessarily my melancholic humor, or just my life.

As one particular site pointed out, “One feature that makes melancholy an aesthetic emotion—like that of sublimity—is its dual nature. There are negative and positive aspects in it which alternate, creating contrasts and rhythms of pleasure.” I suppose this duality is what compels me to try to define that which truly cannot be defined.

However, the site that I liked the best had a nice list of positives and negatives about the four kinds of people, and one thing that it listed really kind of made me take notice: the melancholic can be “moved to tears with compassion.” I never knew that was a trait of melancholy. I always thought that because I cried at commercials, wept at others’ misfortune, ached at injustice, that it was just my soft heart betraying me once again.

Oh, and one more: The melancholic seeks the ideal mate. Fortunately for me, I believe that I have found him.

More later. Peace.

In the mood for the moon, the big, beautiful moon.

Music by Grizzly Bear, “Deep Blue Sea” (From Dark Was the Night CD*)

*Dark Was the Night is the twentieth compilation release benefiting the Red Hot Organization, an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Featuring exclusive recordings by a number of independent artists and production by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, the compilation was released on 16 February 2009 (UK) and 17 February (US) as a double CD, three vinyl LPs, or as a digital download.[6] John Carlin, the founder of the Red Hot Organization, was the executive producer for the album. The title is derived from the Blind Willie Johnson song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground”, which is covered on this collection by the Kronos Quartet (from Wikipedia entry on CD).

                     

Wavelength

They were sitting on the thin mattress
He’d once rolled & carried up the four floors
To his room only to find it covered nearly all
Of the bare wood
Leaving just a small path alongside the wall
& between them was the sack
Of oranges & pears she’d brought its neck
Turned back to expose the colors of the fruit
& as she opened a bottle of wine
He reached over to a tall stack of books
& pulled out The Tao & with a silly flourish
Handed it across the bed to her   she looked up
& simply poured the two squat water glasses
Half-full with wine & then she
Took the book   reading silently   not aloud
As he’d assumed & suddenly he felt clearly
She knew the way
Two people must come upon such an understanding
Together of course but separately

As the moon & the wave remain individually one

~ David St. John

 

“Could it be, that this was life? — startling, unexpected, unknown?” ~ Virginia Woolf, from To The Lighthouse

“Stillleben mit Spiegel und Feuerlilien (Still Life with Mirror and Tiger Lilies),” by Max beckmann (1950)*

“Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “When I Am Among Trees

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and mild. Night thunderstorms moved out the heat and humidity.

Woke up early this morning with massive migraine, nausea, extreme light sensitivity, but the weather is beautiful . . .

Corey is scheduled to leave port on Saturday. He plans to stay on for the full run, which may take him to Antigua (obvious envy) and a few other islands, as well as Brazil. I am simply overcome with jealousy. If he does the full run, he’ll be getting back just in time for le bébé, which will be nice.

“Rote Tulpen und Feuerlilien (Red Tulips and Tiger Lily),” by Max Beckmann (1935)

It has been to nice to have him home even though he has to work during the day. Brett made homemade pizza for dinner last night as he wanted to cook for Corey, which was sweet. Both boys are glad to have him home, as are the pups. I think that everyone will be massively sad when he has to go again, but I’m so glad that they made port here first.

He is liking his job very much, and his co-workers all seem to like him. He said that he is bothered by things on the boat less than some guys, probably because he is used to working for a dysfunctional shipping company. But he assures me that the ship is safe, which is my primary concern. He took some pictures off the coast of Dover and also got some nice shots of Klaipeda, the town in Lithuania that he visited while in port there. I hope to post some of the pictures soon, but I cannot open Photoshop on this computer or it will freeze indefinitely. I know that some of you can relate.

“We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
seizes
as beauty must be truth.  What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.” ~ Denise Levertov, from “Everything That Acts Is Actual”

So, shall I share with you a funny story?

I read somewhere, don’t remember, that turmeric was a natural astringent, and this actress said that she mixes a small amount of it in with her moisturizer to get a natural glow. So I thought, why not?

“Stilleben mit Orchideen und grüner Schale (Still Life with Orchids and Green Bowl),” by Max Beckmann (1943)

Yellow. The color of curry yellow. I had to laugh out loud when I looked in the mirror. I might have had a very bad case of jaundice. It took three scrubbings to get all of the yellow off—no lie, and in between washings, I wiped my face with a paper towel that turned . . . yellow.

Who are these people who can get a nice healthy glow with turmeric? They must have no yellow tint in their melanin, that’s certain.

Oh well, so much for natural . . . It really is a shame, though. I used to hate the color yellow, probably because of my skin, but now I love it, but I simply cannot wear it anywhere near my face. I mean, I could wear yellow in a skirt, but a yellow blouse? No, nope, never. I turn this wonderful shade of squash. Totally unflattering.

“ . . . there’s this vast dangerous garden, waiting out there, undiscovered, unexplored.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, “At the Bay

“Stilleben mit Tulpen und Ausblick aufs Meer (Still Life with Tulips and Sea View),” by Max Beckmann (1938)

Let’s see, what else is noteworthy? Oh, another somewhat funny story: Yesterday, I drove Eamonn to his eye doctor’s appointment. On the way home, he wanted to stop by 7/11. As he came out, he opened the Rodeo door right into his head, creating an instant bump. That’s not the funny part.

He got in the car and said, “Pull out fast. I’m so embarrassed.”

I told him to put his cold drink on his forehead to keep it from swelling. He was so concerned with how it would look that he decided that he would tell anyone who asked that . . . and this is the outrageous part . . . I accidentally hit him in the head with the door. Oh yes, Eamonn, that’s so much better than admitting that you accidentally hit yourself in the forehead. Make me out to be the abuser. And you know what? He actually did it. He told his girlfriend that I gave him the bump. Love it.

My children (probably not cool to refer to them that way as they are all adults . . . yeah, right)—always good for a chuckle.

“The sea lies in its bed wet and naked
in the dark. Half a moon glimmers on it
as though someone had come through
a door with the light behind.” ~ Jack Gilbert, from “Adults” 

“Still Life with Flowers,” by Max Beckmann (1927)

Speaking of adulthood, I remember when I got out of graduate school (the first time) and started my first real job. I was so adamant that I not be referred to as a girl, mostly because of my traditional feminist sensibilities which point out that calling a grown woman a girl is akin to calling a grown man a boy, and no man wants to be called a boy, but everyone refers to younger women as a girl. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I worked for a government contractor with a bunch of retired military guys, and I was always trying to enlighten them. When I look back on that now I have to chuckle to myself. But you know what, they actually stopped using the word girl. I think that I kind of intimidated them. Well, actually, I know that I intimidated them as I found that out later from this 6’7″ former Navy Captain.

I just find the whole thing so humorous now, but it was deadly serious to me then. We so want to be considered mature adults when we are in our 20’s. It’s more of that foresight versus hindsight thing. If only we had the hindsight of our 40’s while still in our 20’s. I really think that argument can be made for living life backwards, starting it with the knowledge we glean from experience and age, but I suppose that would defeat the purpose of all of that angst we suffer in our youth.

“The invisibility and intangibility of that which moves us remained an unfathomable mystery . . .” ~ W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn

So tomorrow night is date night for Corey and Me, to celebrate our anniversary, for which he will not be here. We’re going to eat sushi and go to a movie, our usual date. I had a hankering to go sing karaoke, but he would rather go to a movie, which is fine as I just want to have an evening out with him.

“Stilleben mit Mimosen (Still Life with Mimosa),” by Max Beckmann (1938-39)

I’ve been mulling over going to karaoke by myself like I used to. I would go early in the evening, before all of the drunks, and sit by myself, write in my journal, and sing a few songs. I was usually home by 9. Alexis used to tell me that going out on a Friday night did not mean being home by 9, but I was fine with it. So I’ve thought that I might try that again, just to try to get my voice back into shape, not that I have people banging my door for a singing contract or anything like that, but I have noticed that when I do sing along in the car, I sound, shall we way, icky.

I watched an episode of RHofOC, and Gretchen did a sting with the Pussycat Dolls in Las Vegas in which she was supposed to sing “Fever.” I say supposed to because I’m not really sure what in the hell she sang, but it did not resemble “Fever.” Poor, poor Peggy Lee was doing somersaults in her grave, I’m sure. Now “Fever” is a song that I can/used to sing as it’s the perfect key for my voice. Unfortunately, if I were to attempt it now, I would probably sound like Gretchen, which is just depressing.

I really don’t know why I still watch that show as it’s not even entertaining any more, too predictable. It’s the only one of the franchise that I still watch, but I will admit to “Bethenny Ever After,” as Bethenny is my twin sister (I wish). I mean she says exactly what’s on her mind, consequences be damned, and her poor spouse appears to be more befuddled than anything by her attitude. It’s very early in their marriage, so they’re just getting used to each other and the idea of being married, and it kind of reminds me of Corey and me in the early days, except that we’re not worth over $100 million. Just that tiny difference.

“No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far off things, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.” ~ Antonio Machado

Speaking of this POS computer—which I was a couple of sections ago (keep up)—yesterday I designed the content for Alexis’s baby shower invitation. Granted there isn’t a low of content, just the who, what, when stuff, but you would think that I was trying to get this computer to insert graphics into a 300-page manuscript.

“Schwarze Iris (Black Irises),” by Max Beckmann (1928)

Fortunately, the invitations that I bought had a website on which I could download a template so that the measurements were exact, but I had wanted to use a special font, and boy was that a nightmare. I use the dafonts.comwebsite, which is a site of downloadable free fonts. The only problem is that some of the script fonts that look good on the site do not translate well into Microsoft. I would have used Adobe InDesign to create the invitation, but this computer does not recognize real programs . . .

Anyway, I asked Brett’s opinion on my font choice, and he was so helpful. His reply (which really, really reminded me of my dad): “It’s a font.” Why do I bother?

So I finished the design and printed a sample. I had chosen a custom color to match the border, but the printer decided that everything should print in Navy. Why??? This means that I need to buy new ink cartridges before attempting to print the invitations as I really don’t want to be in the middle of printing only to have half of them turn out faded, with indecipherable text. That would put me over the edge, definitely.

But I’m happy with the finished product. Now I just have to find those poet stamps that I read about (doubt if my post office will have them as that would be too easy).

My trials and tribulations. It could be worse. That’s all for now.

More later. Peace.

(*Images by Max Beckmann (February 12, 1884 – December 28, 1950), German, identified as Impressionist, but he did not like that categorization. These oil on canvas still lifes very different from his other work.)

Music by Kathryn Calder, “Arrow” (perfect song)


                   
Tuesday, June 4th, 1991

By the time I get myself out of bed, my wife has left
the house to take her botany final and the painter
has arrived in his van and is already painting
the columns of the front porch white and the decking gray.

It is early June, a breezy and sun-riddled Tuesday
that would quickly be forgotten were it not for my
writing these few things down as I sit here empty-headed
at the typewriter with a cup of coffee, light and sweet.

I feel like the secretary to the morning whose only
responsibility is to take down its bright, airy dictation
until it’s time to go to lunch with the other girls,
all of us ordering the cottage cheese with half a pear.

This is what stenographers do in courtrooms,
alert at their dark contraptions catching every word.
When there is a silence they sit still as I do, waiting
and listening, finger resting lightly on the keys.

This is what Samuel Pepys did too, jotting down in
private ciphers minor events that would have otherwise
slipped into the heavy, amnesiac waters of the Thames.
His vigilance paid off finally when London caught fire

as mine does when the painter comes in for coffee
and says how much he likes this slow, vocal rendition
of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and I figure I will
make him a tape when he goes back to his brushes and pails.

Under the music I can hear the rush of cars and trucks
on the highway and every so often the new kitten, Felix,
hops into my lap and watches my fingers drumming out
a running record of this particular June Tuesday

as it unrolls before my eye, a long intricate carpet
that I am walking on slowly with my head bowed
knowing that it is leading me to the quiet shrine
of the afternoon and the melancholy candles of evening.

If I look up, I see out the window the white stars
of clematis climbing a ladder of strings, a woodpile,
a stack of faded bricks , a small green garden of herbs,
things you would expect to find outside a window,

all written down now and placed in the setting
of a stanza as unalterably as they are seated
in their chairs in the ontological rooms of the world.
Yes, this is the kind of job I could succeed in,

an unpaid but contented amanuensis whose hands
are two birds fluttering on the lettered keys,
whose eyes see sunlight splashing through the leaves,
and the bright pink asterisks of honeysuckle

and the piano at the other end of this room
with its small vase of faded flowers and its empty bench.
So convinced am I that I have found my vocation,
tomorrow I will begin my chronicling earlier, at dawn,

a time when hangmen and farmers are up and doing,
when men holding pistols stand in a field back to back.
It is the time the ancients imagined in robes, as Eos
or Aurora, who would leave her sleeping husband in bed,

not to take her botany final, but to pull the sun,
her brother, over the horizon’s brilliant rim,
her four-horse chariot aimed at the zenith of the sky.
But tomorrow, dawn will come the way I picture her,

barefoot and disheveled, standing outside my window
in one of the fragile cotton dresses of the poor.
She will look in at me with her thin arms extended,
offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.

~ Billy Collins

(Aside: I need to get a collection of Billy Collins poems as I am really liking him.)

“I would like to do whatever it is that presses the essence from the hour.” ~ Mary Oliver, from The Poet’s Notebook

Curon in Alto Adige (from meinsuedtirol.com)

                   

“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.

Resia, Italy by Angelo C (found on Google Earth, share alike license)

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.

Resia, Italy by AlSanin (found on Google Earth, share alike license)

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.

Il Campanile della vecchia Curon Venosta nel Lago di Resia

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?)

Lago di Resie from (Garni Platzer website)

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 . . .

Val Venosta, Resia, Italy by Davide Bedin (FCC)

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”

                   

Del Lago di Resia (1949)

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.

                   

And I Said To My Soul, Be Loud

Madden me back to an afternoon
I carry in me
not like a wound
but like a will against a wound

Give me again enough man
to be the child
choosing my own annihilations

To make of this severed limb
a wand to conjure
a weapon to shatter
dark matter of the dirt daubers’ nests
galaxies of glass

Whacking glints
bash-dancing on the cellar’s fire
I am the sound the sun would make
if the sun could make a sound

and the gasp of rot
stabbed from the compost’s lumpen living death
is me

O my life my war in a jar
I shake you and shake you
and may the best ant win

For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things
and I will ride this tantrum back to God

until my fixed self, my fluorescent self
my grief–nibbling, unbewildered, wall–to–wall self
withers in me like a salted slug

~ Christian Wimen, from Every Living Thing