“Todo começo é involuntário.” (All beginnings are involuntary) ~ Fernando Pessao

  

December Snow, Anchorage, Alaska by Janson Jones  

“I’m astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

Cold and rainy here today. No snow. Of course there is no snow. But if feels like it should be snowing. At least that’s what my inner voice is saying. Snow . . . snow . . . snow . . .

University of Alaska Campus, November 2009 by Janson Jones

We haven’t had a good snow in this area for years, which is probably best since everything comes to a complete standstill even with a light dusting. These people don’t know how to drive in the rain, let alone the snow.  And ice? Just stay home. It’s safer.  

Corey and I are talking about trying to make a trip to Ohio for a few days around Christmas. With any luck, it will be snowing, and maybe I can get some good photographs. For some reason, I feel most creative as far as my photography when there is snow. Maybe it’s because I’m really a black and white person as far as my own color palette. I mean, on those quizzes when it asks what your favorite color is, I answer black. On rare occasions I’ll pick red or purple, but mostly, it’s just black.  

I don’t have anything against color, I just happen to like black—black boots, black purses, black pants, black leather jackets. And then there are those 10 or so white sweaters that I have in my closet in various stages of comfort wearability. The oldest is probably from the early 90’s, and it is wonderfully comfortable.  

I know. You are probably thinking that I need to get out more, but even when I left the house on a regular basis, it was mostly black, with some red thrown in and occasionally shades of purple and lavender.  

So shooting pictures in the snow is very rewarding for me. I do have to admit, though, that I haven’t figured out how to set my digital camera to take black and white photographs, so I usually just take out the color in Photoshop.  Not my first choice, but it works. Years ago I had wanted to put a dark room in my house so that I could develop my own black and white film. As with most things, never got around to it, which is just as well since I shoot almost exclusively in digital now.  

“My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

White House Image of President Greeting Salahis

On the national front Tiger Woods is doing a mea culpa. Those White House gate-crashers, the Salahis, are still firmly holding to their story that they had invitations (sure, you did), and in Orange County, California, thieves broke into a warehouse and stole food and goods that had been collected for the needy. Robbing Salvation Army kettles, stealing donations—can’t these people pick their targets better? Not that anyone deserves to be robbed, but robbing from those who can least afford it?  Bah . . .  

Don’t ask me how I feel about President Obama’s speech in which he declares that he will be sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  I am of very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean, Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in the first place. That’s where the war should have been fought, not in Iraq. Perhaps if the previous administration and Darth Cheney had been more focused, there would be no need to send anyone anywhere. I mean, 30,000 troops is a lot of people. A lot. And the proclamation that withdrawal will begin in mid 2011 is ludicrous. There is not way to know that in advance. Another open-ended incursion into another country—not the best news, to say the very least.     

And on a final note, I read a disturbing story about a 13-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide because of sexting bullying. Apparently, this young, impressionable girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy that she liked. Okay. That’s the first problem. The fact that kids, teenagers, young people can take sexually-explicit photographs of themselves and each other with their phones and not be mature enough to realize the long-reaching implications is truly bothersome (the article cites a poll in which 20 percent of teens admit to sending sexually explicit photographs of themselves over cell phones).  Someone else intercepted the photo while using the boy’s phone, and that person spread the picture throughout the girl’s school and even to nearby high schools. Soon after, classmates began a campaign of fierce harassment, calling the girl a slut and a whore when she walked the school halls.  

What dismays me the most about this story is that at 13, girls are in the midst of one of the most confusing times of their lives. Hormones. Emotions. Body image. Peer pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of home life these kids have, adolescence is adolescence, which is to say, it’s one of the most tumultuous, stressful, suckiest times of a person’s life. The girl did not tell her family about the bullying, and eventually, it became so bad that she felt that she couldn’t go on, and she hung herself in her bedroom where her mother found her.  

Teenage Girls With Cell Phones

So many things wrong with this situation: the lack of privacy as a result of cell phones with cameras, the lack of good judgment on the part of those involved, the cruelty with which teenagers and children treat each other, never realizing just how horribly words and actions can affect a boy or girl who is already feeling isolated, or confused, or sad. It just makes me ache inside for this girl’s family and friends, and it makes me want to throttle the bullies, which, I know, is not the best reaction.  

“But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will’s surrender.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

I speak from experience when I say that teenage girls are most vicious when it comes to other teenage girls. I think that the jealousy hormone ratchets out of control with the onset of puberty. These young girls are so starved for attention, even the wrong kind, that idle gossip can soon turn to slander which can then escalate into bullying. Teenage boys, because they have pretty much one main focus, will easily become caught up in these campaigns. No one wins.  

The gossip-mongers learn that being vocal gets them noticed. Their friends don’t want to seem unsupportive, so they join in. The victims, not having endured workforce mongering and backstabbing, are totally unprepared for the onslaught. If you don’t believe that middle schools are hotbeds of jungle socialization, then you are living with your head in the sand.  

Is this solely a family problem? No, because no amount of good parenting can prepare a child for the ferocity of what can go on in school, any school, from one day to the next. Is this a school problem? No, but yes. Teachers and administrators aren’t responsible for peer pressure and psychological factors; however, that being said, they should be responsible for alerting parents and guardians to potential problems when they are aware of them, which in this case, they did not. Is this a societal problem? Yes, absolutely.  

I know. I’m beating that long-deceased horse carcass again, but it would be a lie to say that children aren’t socialized by countless factors from a very young age to fit in, to be pretty or handsome, to get invited to the right birthday parties in pre-school. It starts that soon.  

I know that there is actually no one right answer to this problem. I also know that access to technology is not always a good thing. Witness the number of adults who have made sex videos only to have them surface after the breakup of a relationship that was supposed to last forever.  If grown-ups don’t have enough sense not to do these kinds of things, how can we expect impressionable youth to know better?  

“I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

I’ve worked myself into a lather, so perhaps this would be a good stopping point. Or perhaps, I should go back to boycotting the news. Whatever.  

Other than those tidbits, not a whole lot else going on. Everyone has retreated to the comfort of their own niches: Corey is on the computer in the dining room; Eamonn is sleeping in his room, and Brett is in his room, probably watching television. I’m sitting here in a white sweater and jeans, Christmas socks on my feet, and snowmen earrings on my lobes.  

Admittedly, it was hard motivating myself to write this post. I played a bit of spider solitaire and then sat here looking at the screen. Turned on one of my playlists and hoped that music would inspire me, but truthfully, it didn’t. So I thought that I’d just ramble for a bit and call it a day, but once I got started, the steamroller took over. Weird how that happens.  

More later. Peace.  

K. D. Lang’s “Barefoot”  

  

                                                                                                                                     

Lyrics to Barefoot  

When the sun goes down here
And darkness falls
The blanket of winter
Leaves no light at all
  

You search for shelter
To calm the storm
Shaking with an instinct
Just to stay warm
  

Chorus:
But I’d walk through the snow barefoot
If you’d open up your door
I’d walk through the snow barefoot
  

You hear the howling
Of dogs and wind
Stirring up the secrets
That are frozen within
  

The ice will haunt you
It lays so deep
Locking up inside you
The dreams that you keep

Lola’s Terrible, Horrible, Bad Two Weeks in June (okay, not so poetic)

 

Take On Edvard Munch's Scream

My Take on Munch’s Scream

Mea Culpa

I’ve been terrible about posting lately. Perhaps if I give you a short glimpse into my life, you might understand:

In a desperate attempt to help Brett complete all of the back work that he missed on all of those days that he was absent, I have been working like a fiend, collecting data, typing up poem circles from his drafts, ya da ya da ya da.

Ask me a question about Khrushchev. I’ll bet that I can answer it. That is unless I immediately socked all of that stuff away in the recycle bin of my brain.

His Khrushchev presentation (in character) is on Wednesday, and he is sweating it big time. Once we get past that major hurdle, he has his English final next Wednesday, for which he will have to dissect a poem from one of the 15 poems that he has been working on in the poem circles. No advanced warning on the poem.

Can I just tell you how nervous public speaking makes him? He really needs things to be added to his anxiety right now.

The good news is that school is almost out. Eamonn’s graduation is June 15 (still haven’t gotten his invitation order in the mail, nothing last minute there). My niece is also graduating. So much going on.

“Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” ~ Old Pantene commercial featuring the very beautiful Kelly LeBrock (and of course, women hated her)

I’m going to take my coffee and go outside for a bit and soak up some sun in an attempt to restore my vitamin deficiency. Then I’m going to come inside and reread Macbeth, so that we can get to work on his Socratic method analysis of the play. My life, so full. I know that you’re jealous.

Speaking of jealousy, last night I dreamed that I was a secret agent trying to foil a plot to kill the Queen of England. After I successfully completed that mission, I got back on the boat (which boat? I don’t know. It’s a dream) and my cabin mate was . . . James Bond (as played by the younger Pierce Brosnan). Always was a sucker for an Irish accent.

That’s all for now. Just wanted to let everyone know that yes, I am still alive, and no, I’m not posting regularly at the moment, but hope to be soon. Also, a big welcome to my new readers that have clicked over from Goodreads. Thanks so much for loving me for the book nerd that I am.

I’ll leave you with this. I know that it’s bleepin old, but it just cracks me up every time that I see it—still.

 

More later, soon. Promise. Peace.

Coffee, cigarettes, and more bad habits

I drink too much coffee, even in the summer. My best friend Mari turned me on to iced coffee many years ago, so if I’ve brewed too much in the morning, I just make iced coffee in the afternoon. Now I know better because coffee is a migraine trigger, but when I try to wean myself from this, one of my only vices, it gives me a headache, so I justify it by saying ‘hey, there are worse things that I could be doing.’

When I go to see the doctor, and the questions about drinking and smoking come up, as they inevitably do, I can answer smugly, hardly ever and no. But in the last month, my relatives from Germany have been visiting, and we have used this excuse to have a couple of big get togethers, and I have used this excuse to do something that I rarely do any more: drink alcohol. You see, whenever we go out, as in my husband and I, I am the designated driver, so I will probably have one drink very early in the evening, and then hot tea and water for the following four hours, and I really don’t have a problem with that. But these parties have been at my sister-in-law’s house, which is about four blocks from my house, which means . . . no designated driver status for me. And so, I drank. Now you can probably guess my tolerance level since I rarely drink: it’s non-existent, and I was drinking lots of fruity, slushy things and shooters. No, I did not get sick, just incredibly silly (and there are pictures).

Anyway, at the latest party, I took it a step further and did something else that I haven’t done for years–I smoked cigarettes. I’m surprised that my body didn’t go into full body shock. This is a bad habit that I gave up years ago and never really had as a full-blown habit. I was one of those casual smokers, during times of stress, exams, and at bars, and then sometimes at the weirdest times I would have a craving. But I haven’t had a full-blown craving until the other night, and I blame it totally on my sister-in-law, who is the person with whom I would always smoke the most. Guilt by association. I also happened to be very pissed, so it was a good time to throw all good restraint out the window and let Lola loose, and boy did I ever.

I got into a political argument with my nephew, poor boy, and I even considered jumping into the pool with my clothes on, but I was having a very good hair day and didn’t want to ruin that. I ended the evening sans shoes, but special drinking glass in hand. I awoke without a hangover, still pissed, craving coffee.

So mea culpa and all of that. But if I confine myself to this exhuberance once every five or ten years, I suppose I can survive. After all, the night began as a celebration for me. I had gotten very good news about a lump in my breast. Being the half-empty kind of person that I am, I was convinced of the worst-case scenario, but it turned out to be the best-case scenario, so I was feeling very good about things: life in general, my life in particular, our life as a couple and the future and where we were going. The future was full of possibilities and I was feeling them spread before me, in spite of the fact that my wallet was empty and the money fairy was not due to visit any time soon. I felt a tiny inkling of that elusive thing called hope. Maybe, just maybe things would start to get better.

So you’ll have to pardon me if I just couldn’t understand why someone close to me chose that particular day, moment in time, to take a stand in his freedom of expression on one particular issue that weighs heavily on my heart, even though I have said that I will try to stay out of this issue. The timing was selfish and ill-considered. Perhaps I am being selfish for wanting to have joy and hope unsullied. Sometimes I don’t know if my expectations in life are too high, truly. After all, I am no peach in the best of times, admittedly. I don’t know. I’ll never know. And that, friends, is the heart of the matter: we never really know, do we?