“It began as research. I wrote of silences, of nights, I scribbled the indescribable. I tied down the vertigo.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud, from “Alchemy of the Word”

Still Life under the Sea 1960 by Mary Kessell 1914-1977
“Still Life under the Sea” (1960, oil and pastel on canvas)
by Mary Kessell

“a taste which I have in my soul depresses me.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “Dream Horse” 

Sunday afternoon. Sunny and not too hot, 83 degrees.

I am in a very, very strange place today. Partially depressed, partially heartbroken, partially agitated. I simply cannot pinpoint it, and I hate it. It’s one of those episodes in which so many conflicting emotions are hitting my brain and my heart, leaving me drained and bereft.

Theodore Earl Butler The Epte, Giverny 1908 oil on canvas
“The Epte, Giverny” (1908, oil on canvas)
Theodore Earl Butler

My heart aches for Corey; just his nearness helps, even a bit. I’m sitting here, and I really need to go pick up my prescriptions (which might be part of the problem), but I truly don’t have enough energy to put on clothes and get in the car. Look, I don’t even have enough energy to change into a bathing suit and float in the pool, even though today would be the perfect day to do something like that. I just can’t.

Sitting at the party yesterday, surrounded by so many people, some of whom I know and others I should know and some I’ve never met before—it’s the kind of situation that always makes me anxious. I cannot help but feel that people are judging me. Don’t ask me why I feel this way, but I do. The truth of the matter is that everyone is so wrapped up in their own lives, their children, their next beer, whatever, that I know that I don’t even enter their peripheries, yet I allow myself to feel insecure.

“And isn’t it true, sorrow, I know you;
you are the longing for the good life,
the loneliness of the dark heart,
of the ship drifting beyond disaster or star.” ~ Antonio Machado, from “It is an ashen and musty evening”

What happens is this: I look around at all of the people who seem to be having so much fun, and I think to myself, “why can’t I be like that?” And then I think to myself, “who are you? You never used to be like this.”

Georgia O'Keeffe Blue, Black, and Grey 1960
“Blue, Black, and Grey” (1960, oil on canvas)
by Georgia O’Keeffe

I know. I just don’t get out enough, and that’s mostly by choice and partially because of physical conditions, and to some extent because, well, life.

Lately, because of circumstances, I feel my loneliness too keenly. Alone and lonely are two separate things—I know this. But the truth is that it has morphed into acute loneliness.

I have considered going to the karaoke bar that Corey and I used to frequent, just sit there and have my cup of tea and write in my journal like I used to. I was more comfortable in my skin then, I think. No, I know. But I also know that going someplace alone at night is simply not the safest thing for a female, regardless of age, to do anymore.

Last night I dreamed that Corey and I went there, and we knew no one. The entire staff had changed; all of the people we used to know by name were long gone, and the whole place felt foreign, uncomfortable. Then later in the same dream, I fell asleep on the front porch, but it was my mother’s front porch, and when I woke up, the bricks in the steps had started to come loose, like the mortar holding them together was dissolving, so that the very ground beneath me was dissolving, and I couldn’t explain to anyone why I had slept on the porch, and then when I went to make coffee for everyone, the carafe was dirty and stained, so I left the kitchen and walked towards my mother’s bedroom, and the door opened and one of Eamonn’s friends came out, and I didn’t know why he was there or why I was in my mother’s house in the first place.

I don’t need psychoanalysis to know that the ground is shifting beneath my feet, and I’m not where I need to be . . .

“I am working out the vocabulary of my silence.” ~ Muriel Rukeyser, from “The Speed Of Darkness”

For so long I told myself that once the kids were gone and I had all of this free time, I would use it to be productive. I would write and write and write, and yet, I write nothing at all.

My heart is so heavy with the burdens of motherhood, and they feel like burdens because I am so asea as to how to fix anything for anyone. I look at my daughter, and I know that she is not happy, that it’s all an act. I look at one of my sons and I know that he is lonely and searching for his place in this world, and I look at my other son and know that he is lost within himself and has no idea as to how to break through the waves.

Gustav Klimt Moonlight by the Mediterranean 1892
“Moonlight by the Mediterranean” (1892)
by Edvard Munch

How did I get to such a place, a place in which I find myself to be so wanting as a mother? How did they get to where they are? I talk to their friends and I hear the same stories, different versions. They all seem to be lost and wanting something they cannot find. I don’t remember being so lost in my 20’s. I didn’t have all of the answers, certainly, but I knew exactly what I wanted, or at least, I think that I did. I had goals, and I had dreams.

Time muddles the memories, changes their hues, makes us remember people and situations in ways that may have never existed. Within the chambers of our memory palaces, we pluck days, weeks, in which we remember perfect skies, glorious sunsets, true loves, long embraces, but did any of it really happen?

After having a long talk with one of my son’s friends in which he bemoaned his ability to find the right person to be with, I felt bad that I had no true words of wisdom for him, that he would only learn by doing and by losing and by trying again and again. I wouldn’t want my 20s again for anything, yet so much of what I did to become the person I am now happened then. How do I reconcile that?

“And how do I know what you are to me?
Our theories are untested. You must not laugh.
We thought there were other ways.
Probably there are, but they are hidden
and we shall never find them.” ~ Paul Bowles, from “Next to Nothing”

As I sit here and parse the words and syllables, try to reconcile the immense feelings of loss, I realize that I know next to nothing, truly. I offer these young people advice, but what do I know, really . . . nothing, nothing at all. I am living a life filled with holes, and I know that so much of that comes from not working at all after working my entire life, working at some job or another since I was 14. I hate these circumstances. I peruse the ads on LinkedIn, read the qualifications they are seeking, say to myself, “Oh, I could definitely do that,” and then I close the window because I know that applying is futile. How could I possibly work for anyone when some days I cannot even summon the energy to walk to the kitchen, when some days I must stop and rest after folding laundry.

Emil Nolde Starry Sky 1938-45
“Starry Sky” (1938-45, watercolor)
by Emil Nolde

I hate this more than anyone could possibly know, and I know that I sound like a broken record, but sometimes it just has to come out: all  of the frustrations, all of the losses, all of the days wasted, and I have no one to blame but myself. And I know that I’m in a particularly sensitive spot right now because of things that are going on beyond my control, and perhaps that is what bothers me the most: the lack of control, mostly because I feel that I should be able to control these things, or at least be able to fix them. If not me, then who?

And I walk through the house and notice the mess on the dining room table, notice the cushions on the couch askew, notice the tumbleweeds of Tillie’s hair in the corners of the rooms, I must face that today I can do absolutely nothing about it. I just don’t have the energy. Look, I seriously contemplated skipping the family party yesterday, but I didn’t have enough energy to come up with a convincing excuse, so instead I arrived late, but it took every ounce of wherewithal to put on clothes and leave the house.

“I wrote down silences, nights, I noted the inexpressible. I fixed vertigos.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud cited in Delmore Schwartz’s Rimbaud in Our Time

Listen, I know that I have a good life; I have a spouse who truly loves me, a comfortable but slightly rundown house in a relatively nice neighborhood, two dogs, thousands of books, three children. I know that I have absolutely no right to complain about my life. I know all of these things.

Yet I also know that I ache, a deep abiding ache. I ache for someone to come to my door and say I will be your friend. I will visit you and I will understand your quirks and I will not make you feel less for having them. And I know that I have friends out there who feel this way. I would only have to write or to call. I do know this. But knowledge sometimes is not nearly enough to overcome great sadness. If it were, then I would have no problems at all.

Edvard Munch Starry Night 1893 oil on canvas
“Starry Night” (1893, oil on canvas)
by Edvard Munch

To be able to retreat inside my mind is something I have always been able to do. But sometimes, once inside, all that I truly want is a long, hard hug, a soft whisper in my ear, a gentle touch of my hair. I’m not talking about passion; I’m talking about compassion.

Most of the time I try not to write about these things, mostly so that Corey does not read them and worry about me. I want him to be able to focus on his job when he is away, so I try not to say anything, but sometimes my voice betrays me, and I feel absolutely wretched that he can tell. He reads me so well.

But today, it is all too much, and I am too tired and too lonely, and my heart feels akin to breaking, and not even the soft warmth of my dogs’ bodies lying next to me is enough to calm the pounding in my heart.

I wish for better days. I wish that I knew how to make those better days. I wish I wish I wish I wish I wish…………………………………………

Enough. More later. Peace.

I cannot get this song out of my head today: “My Salvation,” by Gabrielle Aplin

                     

Es Verdad (It’s True)

Ai, what work it costs me,
wanting you like I want you!

All on account of your love
the air
hurts me —
my heart,
even my hat.

Who will buy it for me,
this hatband I’m holding,
and this sorrow of linen,
white to make handkerchiefs?

Ai! what work it costs me,
wanting you like I want you.

~ Federico García Lorca

“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.” ~ Jeanette Winterson

Really?

“I must hold in balance the sense of the futility of effort and the sense of the necessity to struggle; the conviction of the inevitability of failure and still the determination to ‘succeed’—and, more than these, the contradiction between the dead hand of the past and the high intentions of the future.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up

Thursday afternoon. Rainy and cold, 45°, 32° colder than yesterday.

I’ve pulled out the yoga pants, Christmas socks, and white cotton sweaters. Bring on the cold weather. Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. Ask me if I’m ready . . .

The house needs a good cleaning. The dining room table once again needs to be decluttered. And I’m well and truly taken aback by the fact that Christmas is only weeks away. It seems that from November 1st on, my life moves at a frenetic pace, one that I am never able to quite stay in step with as the days roll by because I seem to be walking in circles, as it were.

I had to cancel lunch with Rebecca yesterday, and it’s good that I did as Corey was called into work at the last minute (his only shift this week), and Eamonn is now without a vehicle and needs rides to and from work. Speaking of eldest son, he has decided that this will be his last semester of college. He says that he just doesn’t want to do it (college) any more. Corey is trying to convince him to at least finish this semester as it is so close to the end. That would be logical; I have come to know that I should not expect logic from any of my offspring.

Eamonn is once again talking about joining the Coast Guard. I’m in favor of the move. I think that it would help him to grow up, get grounded and become more disciplined. Plus, if he wants to, he can resume college post enlistment with the GI bill. Who knows if he’ll follow through. He’s toyed with this idea before. I’m staying out of the decision process as I do not want my opinion to come back to haunt me.

I find that I am very tired as I sit here typing these words. Bone weary, spirit exhaustion., and I keep pausing to close my eyes and just sit here, pondering. Perhaps not the best state in which to find oneself when trying to assimilate a cogent post.

“It was the humming noise inside me that told me to do something and found nothing to do that meant anything, the bit of me that was like a fly smashing itself again and again on a windowpane. It was the futility of aging . . .” ~ Maggie Stiefvater

Friday afternoon. Sunny and cold.

Just couldn’t finish yesterday, so I gave up and took my weary body to bed, only to have my mother call and rail at me for almost 20 minutes about Eamonn (because he had nerve enough to ask her to co-sign for him to get a loan to buy a used car), her perfect credit, turkeys, and anything else that she could think of. Then she called back a few minutes later for good measure to get more jabs in.

The whole thing left me prickly and on the verge of tears, so I locked myself away from the fray in the bedroom and watched a movie, the name of which eludes me. Even though the bedroom door was closed, Brett came in repeatedly because he was trying to figure out his schedule for next semester, so I could hardly refuse to talk to him. And the dogs wanted out of the room as soon as I closed the door, only to want back in as soon as I let them out and closed the door again. So restful. So relaxing.

In spite of all of this, I did manage to get more sleep last night than the previous night, which is good; however, I awoke around 11:40 with a migraine, the residual effects of which now have me typing with my eyes almost closed.

Perhaps yesterday should have just been called a wash from the beginning, and if I’d known how it would turn out, I would have probably just stayed in bed with the phone off. Even a “Law & Order” marathon didn’t help to improve my mood.

“I go on eating out my heart and poisoning every moment of my life in the attempt to rouse people’s sensibilities. At least if I could do it with closed eyes. The irony is I see the futility of my efforts and yet I can’t let go.” ~ Emma Goldman, Nowhere at Home: Letters

I dreamed that I got my hair cut short (for me), above my shoulders. I dreamed that I was teaching in the public school system again. I dreamed that it was 2:30, and I had forgotten to call in sick (that’s one that I have often, always 2:30). I dreamed that I was looking for a contact lens case in a football player’s locker (very strange). I dreamed that my boss said that I looked pregnant. I dreamed that a strange man asked me to have a cup of tea with him.

My life in my dreams is much more exciting than my real life. I’m always going places, doing things, meeting people. Unfortunately, the places that I go aren’t places that I would really like to go, and the people that I meet are almost always strange.

The other night when I couldn’t get to sleep, I started another book, only to discern a few pages in that I had already read this one. That’s one of the problems of reading so many books: I forget titles, and then during book sales on Amazon, I tend to order books that I think that I might want to read, only to learn that I’ve already read them at some point.

That’s also in large part because I have no book shelves to peruse. If I ever get book shelves and unpack my books, I can just start all over with my existing library, which I’m certain has no fewer than 1,000 books. Seriously. Of all of the things that I collect, books are number one. And that total does not include all of the books that I have given away over the years, either to charity or to friends. It also does not include the books that I own related to my degrees, books on publishing, literary criticism, the collected works of Shakespeare, etc.

Man, I would love to unpack my books. I just hope that they haven’t been destroyed by silver fish. Creepy little buggers.

“The threads of circumstance that lead to tomorrow are so tenuous that all the fussing and worrying about decisions is futile compared to the pure randomness of existence.” ~ Nick Bantock

I’m trying very hard not to go into the bathroom and give myself a haircut. Maybe I’ll just suck it up and go to a Hair Cuttery or something; I mean, they couldn’t possibly mess it up any more than I would by cutting it myself.

I know what the problem is: I’m feeling fat and ugly and feel a need for some sort of change. And a new mascara or nail polish isn’t going to do it. But perhaps I can convince myself that a new bottle of nail polish for under $5 will make me feel just as good as a good haircut for around $45 . . . Right.

Even though no one is home at the moment, the dogs are being particularly obstreperous, barking madly at things like air. It’s annoying as hell. Actually, everything is annoying as hell, a sure sign that I should just retreat, regroup, and perhaps eat some Oreos.

More later. Peace.

Music by The Boxer Rebellion, “Caught by the Light”

                   

Poem

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.

~ Muriel Rukeyser, from The Speed of Darkness