“Behind all this, some great happiness is waiting.” ~ Yehuda Amichai, from “Seven Laments for the War-Dead” (trans. Chana Bloch)

New York Skyline at Sunset
by Corey Fickel (June 2012)*

                   

“-What do you do all day?

-I stand myself.” ~ Émile Cioran, from About the inconvenience of being born

Monday evening. Sunny, hot, and humid.

Clear Blue Waters off Island of Ascension
by Corey Fickel (2012)

The above quote is particularly apt at the moment as I’m having quite a hard time standing myself—for various reasons. Just one of those things.

It seems that I am not going to find the time to write a proper post unless I just make the time. Since Corey arrived home last Tuesday, I have been absorbed, in what exactly I couldn’t tell you. I mean, other than the vast relief and happiness in having him home safe, I just seem to be flitting from one thing to another, unable to focus very well for more than an hour or two.

I’ve been quite hyper and in full OCD mode. I even found myself upset that Corey’s luggage was cluttering the dining room, so yesterday I condensed all of his things that he will be taking back to the ship and promptly announced that they need to go in the garage. Then I spent a couple of hours cleaning off the dining room table and polishing furniture. How can one person contain so many battling emotions simultaneously? I really don’t know: happy, stressed, wired, content . . . It’s all too much.

“The beauty of the world  . . . has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Room of One’s Own

The pool is officially open—at last. The dogs (well, not Alfie) are quite happy, as am I. It has been beastly hot the past week, and being able to get in the pool even for an hour is very refreshing. Brett’s new school schedule is during prime pool time, however, from 2:15 to 4:20. It’s just as well, I suppose. I can’t stay in too long, which means that I don’t end up with that sun-sapped feeling.

Looking Towards Antigua
by Corey Fickel (2012)

Eamonn came home from work yesterday with a doggie float. I didn’t even know they made such things. This one is damaged, so the store was just going to chuck it, so Eamonn brought it home. So far, though, neither Tillie nor Shakes seem to be interested in spending any time on it.

On Saturday after swimming, Corey and I gave the dogs baths outside with the hose. Actually, Corey wanted no part of it, but I convinced him to help me, especially when Alfie had one of his psychotic episodes and tried to bite off my hand.

Note to self: Never, ever own another high-strung terrier breed.

Anyway, I ordered K-9 Advantix for their fleas as the Frontline that I have used the past two months has done absolutely nothing to conquer the fleas, and the skin condition that Shakes has seems to get worse after I administer it, so I’m going back to Advantix. Hoping that will take care of the fleas and scratching.

“I have a faith in language.  . . . It’s the most flexible articulation of our experience and yet, finally, that experience is something that we cannot really articulate. We can look out and see the sunlight in those trees, but we can’t convey the full unique intimacy of that experience.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from The Paris Review, The Art of Poetry No. 38

I know that not all of you will be interested in The Paris Review interview segments that I’ve been posting in between, but I’m hoping that those of you who love words and writers might find them as enjoyable as I have. Personally, I always find it interesting to hear other writers (real writers) speak of their craft.

Shades of Blue, U.S. Virginia Islands
by Corey Fickel (2012)

I was saddened by the death of Nora Ephron, who I have always considered to be such a master of the English language, a modern-day Dorothy Parker (two women I adore). I have felt a kinship with her curmudgeonliness and the way that her work always has an edge to it but also has a quiet beauty to offset that edge.

For those of you who may not be aware, Ephron was married to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame). Their stormy marriage led to her novel “Heartburn,” which was turned into a movie directed by her friend Mike Nichols. The movie, starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, was a tour-de-force riposte about marriage and infidelity. (Ephron once famously said that the Bernstein character would “have sex with a venetian blind.”

“It is really hard to be lonely very long in a world of words. Even if you don’t have friends somewhere, you still have language, and it will find you and wrap its little syllables around you and suddenly there will be a story to live in.” ~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from I’ll Ask Three Times, Are You OK?

I have a confession: I always imagined myself to be an unknown Dorothy Parker. I mean, if I were going to be famous, and if I couldn’t be a torch singer, then I would want to be someone like Dorothy Parker: a woman who spoke her mind, even in the most polite of company.

Churning Blue Waters, Shoreline, Island of Ascension
by Corey Fickel (2012)

Parker was a columnist, critic, poet, writer, and essayist, but she was best known for her acerbic wit. I mean, the alcoholism I could do without, obviously, but man, she didn’t pull any punches, and she was outspoken about those causes in which she was heavily invested, such as civil rights and civil liberties. Like myself, she was staunchly left-wing and did not suffer fools gladly.

Ephron was of the same ilk, and her recent passing leaves a gaping hole in that class of female writers who really did do it all.

Ah, well.

“I am not alone. Whatever else there was or is, writing is with me.” ~ Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

Let’s see, what else?

Wild Goats on Hillside, Antigua
by Corey Fickel (2012)

Brett got an A in his first section of pre-Calculus. Eamonn is applying for the apprenticeship school at the shipyard. Corey is enjoying yard work, in spite of the heat, and Alexis is very heavy with child.

The heat is getting to her, and she is already visibly dropping. I predict a delivery date of July 8th. She and Mike have everything just about ready in the apartment. I’ve ordered a new mattress for the cradle as the old one is quite thin and torn in a few places. I couldn’t find any mattresses in any local stores, at least none that I could afford, but I found a nice two-inch one on Amazon, and I ordered some cradle sheets. My mother bought a car seat for me to have in my car (I’m just letting her do whatever makes her (my mother) happy at this point, and she was determined to buy it).

I’m having work done on the Rodeo this coming week so that it will be a safe vehicle for transporting mother and child if necessary. I have to admit that I am quite excited and like Lex, more than ready for baby (Olivia, we think) to be here.

Well, I didn’t do so bad for a quick post, did I?

More later (but sooner, I hope). Peace.

*All images are from Corey’s recent hitch. Enjoy.

Music by Peter Bradley, “Heart of a Girl”

                   

Work, Sometimes

I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue.

The robins had been a long time singing, and now it
was beginning to rain.

What are we sure of? Happiness isn’t a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.

Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard
were full of lively fragrance.

You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn’t it
wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a
moment!

As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was
the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.

~ Mary Oliver

“Throw away the light, the definitions, and say what you see in the dark.” ~ Wallace Stevens

Music Man by psyberartist (FCC)

                   

“The days are nouns:  touch them The hands are churches that worship the world.” ~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Daily”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, mid 50’s.

Rusted Piano Screws by psyberartist FCC

I had planned to post yesterday, but then I kind of went crazy in the house. I got everything done except for cleaning off the dining room table. The house looks and smells great, but I am paying for it dearly—back and arms are killing me, and the low-grade headache that I’ve been carrying around for weeks errupted into something more painful.

Of course, you would think that such exertion would allow me to fall into bed and deep, restful sleep. You would think, but you would be wrong, I saw 4 a.m. come and go once more. Oh well.

Corey has the same ridiculous shift this week that he had last week, which means that he’s getting about six hours of sleep between shifts. The good news, I suppose, is that the shifts end after tomorrow: He’s leaving this weekend. Now that he finally has a scheduled departure date, I’m more numb than anything. I know that I’ve had ample time to adjust my thinking about all of this, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve actually done so. Far from it.

The next few weeks should be nothing if not interesting.

“No one knows what will happen, but you and I at least, while the music of the murmur invents us, will have no part in anyone’s war, we will waste nothing, a signal going through us, like an inkling of god or a hunger for strawberries or the indisputable fact of love.” ~ Dean Young, from The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction

I’m scheduled to get my Botox shots for my migraines on the 21st and to have my pulmonary function test on the 20th. The Singulair has helped with the wheezing, but I’m still coughing. I’m hoping that I don’t have to stay on the Singulair as it has some unpleasant side effects, that, and I really don’t want to add yet another medicine to my regimen.

Old Piano Knobs by psyberartist (FCC)

I am concerned about my blood pressure, though. The last three times that it’s been checked, it was quite high. I had attributed it to being sick and to being stuck in the ER, but the last time was in the doctor’s office, and I didn’t feel particularly stressed. I know that high blood pressure runs on my dad’s side of the family, and his father and a brother both had strokes, so I suppose it’s something that I need to watch, as if there isn’t enough already.

So aside from my ailing body and body parts, the washer has decided to die, and one of the cracks in the sliding door finally gave way, and a pane fell out. Corey put up some wood, which makes the door very heavy, but there’s nothing else we can do before he leaves. Replacing the back door is going to cost big bucks, and there is always something else more pressing, like the washing machine. The part costs $100. Geez.

We could probably pick up a used washer somewhere, but then there is the issue of transporting the darned thing, that, and trying to maneuver it through the house to the garage, as access through the garage is impossible. I love my house

“It’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune, but just yourself that kept things from you.” ~ Lillian Hellman

It’s already the second week of February, and January seems so far away. The days go by so quickly, and yet I never seem to get anything done.

The Keys Remain by psyberartist (FCC)

I did cut my hair, though. Did a fairly good job of it this time. I was having one of those days, and the urge had been creeping up on me for a while, so a few days ago, I cut off about three inches all over and managed to get some layers in. I’ll probably never be able to repeat the job that I did. But it feels bettter, not so heavy.

So that’s my big accomplishment for the beginning of the year. I know that I’ve done a lot of other things, like setting up my new desk and sorting and condensing the office supplies, but nothing seems significant. I wonder when my life became so insignificant. I wonder at what point I actually stopped having goals.

I mean, when you have a career, you have goals: next raise, next possible promotion. Or when you are learning a musical instrument, your goal is the next piece that you can master. When writing regularly, the goal is the next word, the next sentence, the next page. But what happens to those of us who live our lives within ourselves, in quiet desperation?

Does the goal become merely to survive? To hold onto reality a little longer? To make it to the next Dr. Who season? Have I truly reached the point at which I measure not my life but my days in coffee spoons (nod to T.S.)?

Tomorrow I might give the dogs a bath, and maybe I’ll do some more laundry (speaking of which, last night I dreamed that I was doing laundry with my friend Kathleen, great way to waste a dream). And of course, I have the taxes to look forward to—that’s always a thrill . . .

More geez. I think that I’ll stop for now.

*All photos in this post, which are taken from psyberartist’s Flickr site, feature images of an old piano that was sitting in someone’s trash. Amazing—beauty in found places.

More later. Peace.

                   

Sequestrienne

Don’t look at me
for answers. Who am I but
a sobriquet,
a teeth-grinder,
grinder of color,
and vanishing point?
There was a time
of middle distance, unforgettable,
a sort of lace-cut
flame-green filament
to ravish my
skin-tight eyes.
I take that back—
it was forgettable but not
entirely if you
consider my
heavenly bodies . . .
I loved them so.
Heaven’s motes sift
to salt-white—paint is ground
to silence; and I,
I am bound, unquiet,
a shade of blue
in the studio.
If it isn’t too late
let me waste one day away
from my history.
Let me see without
looking inside
at broken glass.

~ Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012)

Dorothea Tanning | Art and design | The Guardian (ipnagogicosentire.wordpress.com)

Surrealist Painter, Sculptor and Writer Dorothea Tanning Dies at 101 (laughingsquid.com)

“It was thus I learned, after having been so many years treated for disorders which I never had, that my incurable disease, without being mortal, would last as long as myself.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

From Andrew Moore: Making History (Selected Photographs 1980-2010) 
                       
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.” ~ Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Kindness”
Waiting Room, Detroit, Michigan, by Andrew Moore

Saturday afternoon. The hurricane passed us and left beautiful weather: sunny and mild. Simply lovely. 

I feel like a slug today—no energy, one of those fat and ugly and my mother dresses me funny days. I suppose that I should be happy since just three days ago I wasn’t able to get out of bed. This episode of uncategorized malaise didn’t last too long, or rather, not as long as they usually last. Probably karmic payback for even thinking that I might be feeling well enough to consider going back to work. 

Not too much happening today. Corey was supposed to work the second shift (3 to 11 p.m.), but the ship left port early, which means that this is the fourth shift since this past Monday that has been cancelled. Thankfully, the duty sergeant called Corey in for the third shift tonight. If I think about the ramifications of the constant up and down too much, I might go mad. 

Can one go madder? Mad. Madder. Maddest. But would it be more mad, and is that even possible? 

I really should be polishing furniture, but motivating myself enough to do so doesn’t seem within the realm of possibilities today. Instead of furniture polishing, I did a bit more in Eamonn’s room, which means that I pulled seven pairs of shoes out from beneath the futon. Obviously Eamonn does not care about these shoes, or he would have taken them with him, that, or he has forgotten about them. 

Whatever the case, I am taking advantage of his absence to get rid of all but two pair, one of which Corey likes, and another pair of Nike Airs. Neither pair appears to have been worn more than a few times—treads in almost perfect shape and leather barely showing signs of wear. Have I mentioned lately how spoiled my children are? On the plus side, I know for certain that I did not buy all of these shoes for him, with the exception of the cleats that he had to have for football; ask me how long he played football? 

Other than a bit of light sorting, I find myself confounded because the Internet isn’t working reliably, or the router isn’t working, or something isn’t working, which means that this post, like the previous one, will appear sometime in the future. When exactly is indeterminable. (Point of fact, I’m writing on one day and posting whenever the Internet connection magically reappears: This post was written on Saturday, but posted on Sunday, backdated. Confused? I am.) 

Last night I spent about four hours praying to the gods that be to allow my computer to work long enough to create backup files. I put some data on flash drives, some on Corey’s computer, and some on this computer in Eamonn’s room (how long does it continue to be Eamonn’s room after he has vacated the premises?). I decided to risk the odds and back up several things simultaneously. Luckily, my computer remained working long enough to perform the backup, which relieves me of one headache—the thought of having to pay the Geeks to recover and reload my data. 

I’m pretty sure that I have everything that I need, as in documents, images, music, and fonts. At this point, I’m just grateful that I was indeed able to create backups as the thought of losing over two years worth of data made me physically nauseous. 

“You never know what is enough, until you know what is more than enough.” ~ William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”
Peacock Alley, Detroit, by Andrew Moore

In other news . . . Alexis’s friend Jennifer reconsidered her options and has decided to undergo radiation treatments. I haven’t had an update lately, but I believe that Jennifer, her brother, and her son have settled into some kind of routine. I do know that a home-health nurse visits daily, and her son Reilly will be starting kindergarten on Tuesday. 

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes. I passed them along to Jennifer via Alexis. 

Alexis has pulled back somewhat from the situation with Jennifer, which I had expected to happen eventually. I know from experience that being involved 24/7 in something as stressful as watching someone you love die takes a very heavy toll. At times, Jennifer was arguing with Alexis, and I tried to point out that such a thing is predictable: the caregivers are always the ones to bear the brunt of the afflicted individual’s misplaced anger. I mean after all, is there an actual correct, acceptable way to rale at fate? 

Another negative aspect is that Alexis has been getting grief from work in that the other women with whom she works at the thrift store felt that Alexis was getting special treatment, which she was because of the circumstances. Rob, the store manager, knows how close Jennifer and Alexis are, and in the past few months he has actually asked Alexis to leave work and spend time with Jennifer. I admire Rob for his insight, and the fact that he is directing Alexis should be more than enough for her co-workers. 

Why do women have to be so damned bitchy? Why can’t empathy sustain itself in a closed environment? I mean, everyone with whom Alexis works claims to love and care about Jennifer, yet they complain and accuse Alexis of coming and going as she pleases. Alexis did not ask for special treatment, but she received it nonetheless. Therefore, Alexis is the enemy. The stress coming at her from so many different directions is having a major impact on my daughter’s already precarious psyche. 

I have little patience with selfish, shallow individuals, and unfortunately, women who work together can be the least sympathetic when it comes to a female co-worker. I hate to say that because it sounds sexist, but experience has shown me just how much like high school the workplace can be: the groups that gather together to talk about other people, the constantly-changing alliances, the petty jealousies. 

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” ~ Maya Angelou
 Cuba 2009, by Andrew Moore

                     

I remember from my women’s studies curriculum reading about the phenomenon called the queen bee syndrome, a term coined when women began to move into more managerial positions. The basic premise is that once a woman is in power, she will do everything she can to ensure that no other women attain as much power, like the sole queen bee in a hive. I would like to think that woman have moved beyond this line of thinking, that woman can advocate for one another without fearing healthy competition. Some women can. Some women cannot. A lot depends upon the individual woman’s self-esteem. 

Those women with lower self-esteem feel too threatened by other women to allow for their basic humanity to reveal itself. And I suppose that I am generalizing, but I think that education and intellect play a large part. By that I mean that a female manager who supervises another woman who might have more education or be more savvy (education not equating with intelligence) may be more easily threatened and therefore be more critical of said employee. 

It all goes back to socialization. Like it or not, women feel less threatened by men in the workplace (as far as jealousy) because there is that innate socialization to expect men to advance faster. But take two women who for all intents and purposes are equal in the hierarchy, have essentially the same background and the same experience, and chances are good that the two women will engage in some pretty vicious backbiting. 

Yes, yes. Times have changed, but the change has been slow, and the evolution is still creaking along. Parity is not the standard. 

Not really sure what sent me off on that tangent,just felt the need to vent a bit, which leads me to this: Are people inherently good or inherently evil? 

A question for another day, perhaps, but know this: My answer constantly changes. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Dar Williams, “Blue Light of the Flame” 

                                                 
All images by American photographer Andrew Moore: “Moore distills the spirit of this message in his haunting large-scale images of decay and renewal. From Cuba to Russia to Detroit, Moore seeks out disused, wrecked buildings and captures the moment that nature stakes her claim on their ravaged grandeur.”