“Aren’t we all waiting to be read by someone, praying that they’ll tell us that we make sense?” ~ Rudy Francisco

Don Hong-Oai, Untitled
Untitled
by Don Hong-Oai

                   

“Beneath my consciousness I’m sad. And I write these carelessly written lines not to say this and not to say anything, but to give my distraction something to do.  I slowly cover, with the soft strokes of a dull pen (I’m not sentimental enough to sharpen it), the white sandwich paper . . . for it suits me just fine, as would any other paper, as long as it was white.  And I feel satisfied.  I lean back.  The afternoon comes to a monotonous and rainless close, in an uncertain and despondent tone of light.  And I stop writing because I stop writing.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from chapter 66 “With a Shrug”

Saturday, late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

My tumblr dash today was filled with incredible quotes, passages and artwork, which might seem like a good thing, and it is, but it makes it so hard to narrow my choices. I ended up opening a draft post just to paste in about 12 quotes and three poems to use at a later date. I am so glad that I decided to start following people on tumblr as it makes the framing job for my posts much easier, providing me with words and images and inspiration—all at once.

Don Hong-Oai, Solitary Wooden Boat
“Solitary Wooden Boat”
by Don Hong-Oai

I know that the above quote is a bit long, but I couldn’t really find any part of it that I wanted to leave out, hence, all of it.

I think that I’ve stopped playing with my new theme for now. I got some feedback, and I changed my header image to one taken by Veronica McLaughlin at Titirangi Storyteller, just added my blog name in a new font. All in all, I think that I’m rather pleased with the combination, so I’ll leave everything for now . . . she says not quite believing herself . . .

“Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Today”

I’m of two minds about poet Mary Oliver: Some of her work really moves me, and then some of her work seems almost formulaic. But this particular passage is quite apropos as regards my mood today. Part of me really wants to just go back to bed and lie there with a cold pack on my head, but part of me wants to get something done, anything done. I know that I had big plans to take down Christmas today, but the head isn’t cooperating, and eldest son is missing, and I quite need someone’s help for all of the bending and stooping, so no progress on that front.

Don Hong-Oai, Drying Cloth, Vietnam 1970
“Drying Cloth, Vietnam, 1970”
by Don Hong-Oai

I’ve had this headache on and off since a few days before New Year’s, and last night I gave in and asked Corey to rub some Blue Emu into my aching shoulders only to wake today with a worse headache and the back pain now firmly planted in the lower quarter. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Blue Emu (or the generic Blu, I think) is a wonderful muscle rub, doesn’t smell like menthol, and goes deep. FYI.

So is the pain from the cold? Is it from the stress, which is different how, exactly? Is it my diet, which has been horrible? Who knows. I suppose I should just go take my meds and hope for the best. I mean after all, what else can I do?

“Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I write in my dreams. Several nights ago I wrote a short poem while I was asleep. Of course when I remembered hours later, I couldn’t remember a single word or even the subject matter. Two nights ago I dreamt that I wrote over 25,000 words in my new novel in one sitting. I was quite pleased with myself in the dream, especially after I did a word count. Now, ask me what it was about. Go on. Ask me.

Don Hong-Oai, To the Market
“To the Market”
by Don Hong-Oai

Yep. Gone.

Last night I had a very strange dream about being with Tom Cruise in Wal-Mart, and I was standing in the checkout line with a basket full of groceries and he disappeared only to reappear with a half-empty package of turkey lunch meat. Seems he had been testing all of the turkey lunch meat and found out it was processed. How could he not know that? But more importantly, why was I in Wal-Mart with Tom Cruise?

I hate dreams like that. Would much rather dream I was writing, as painful as the realization is that nothing is actually there, or better still, dream in French, something I haven’t done in a while. Speaking of French, I had big plans to tackle Proust in the original French this year. Wonder if I’ll get around to that . . .

“Writing down verses, I got
a paper cut on my palm.
The cut extended my life line
by nearly one-fourth.” ~ Vera Pavlova, poem “59”

Vera Pavlova, on the other hand (see above comment about Oliver), has such an economy of words, yet says so much. I think that I have a deep-seated affinity for Russian and Polish female poets, but I could not tell you why that is. Anyway.

"Winter Fog"by Don Hong-Oai
“Winter Fog”
by Don Hong-Oai

So back to today and what I am not accomplishing: Capt. Jack Harkness (the Beta) needs a clean bowl, and somehow I’ve taken on cleaning eldest son’s fish bowl every time I clean Capt. Jack’s bowl, double the work. Have no idea how that happened.

Also, need to change the sheets, and still haven’t tackled the sliding pile on the desk, nor have I found my black nail file. I should just fold right now, give up, give in, and admit that not a whole lot of anything is going to happen. I think that I need some of Corey’s homemade soup to warm me on the inside, and maybe some bread, yes, bread, and butter, and tea, and ginger scones, and . . .

Stop. it. now.

Okay, I’ve reined in the subconscious voice that is obviously ravenous, and I’ll try to focus. That and I’m now munching on a Special K 100-calorie snack bar and trying to pretend that it’s a ginger scone. Not working, but whatever.

“We make our way through Everything like thread passing through fabric: giving shape to images that we ourselves do not know.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters on Life (trans. Ulrich Baer)

I know that once again I am all over the place, but honestly, I’m sitting here kind of hunched over and squinting, and I think that I’m probably just writing down the first thing that comes to mind in a vapid attempt at creating a post that I’m not completely too ashamed to publish. I mean, I have this great collection of quotes and some killer images, so I must create content to go with, mustn’t I?

Don Hong-Oai untitled
Untitled
by Don Hong-Oai

I have always loved the contractions mustn’t and t’would, and neither are used with much frequency except by people immersed in Renaissance literature, which only serves to remind me that I have let another year pass without applying to any doctoral programs in English. Not really sure where that thought came from except that that particular thought is always there, lurking, hiding and emerging at odd moments, worrying the edges of my brain like a toddler wanting more Cheerios—seemingly content for a time and then suddenly, not at all content and flailing and sobbing because the Cheerios are gone and dammit, I need attention now.

Yes. Like that. Completely like that.

And as Rilke says so eloquently,  all of the dragons in my life are in fact princesses or princes just waiting for me to act “with beauty and courage.” I do want it all, the darkness and the light, the falls and the ascents, and I am wasting my life.

Gads.

More later. Peace.

All images by artist Don Hong-Oai (gallery); good background article on the artist and his technique here.

Music by Bim (another relatively recent discovery), “Raindrops”

                   

Book of Hours: I, 14

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.
So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.
But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.
You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

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“I’ve a grand memory for forgetting” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

if-i-only-had-a-brain

If I Only Had A Brain . . .

“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath” ~ Natalie Goldberg

fiber-reconstructions-in-the-brain
Very Cool Image of Fiber Reconstructions in the Brain

For the past month, my brain seems to have been losing grey cells more quickly than I am able to regenerate them. The disturbing truth is that I cannot remember anything. I had been attributing this inability to form linear thoughts solely to stress because this family seems to be mired in a stress swamp.

However, I will allow that the probability of my synapses misfiring may be directly related to the medications in my regimen. For example, I was on Topomax for my migraines. A psychopharmacologist that I consult pointed out that the nickname for Topomax is “Dopomax” because the medication has a direct effect on an individual’s cognitive abilities. I just really wish that someone had told me about this before my dosages kept increasing until I was on an extremely high dose.

Actually, I thought that my brain was atrophying as a result of my no longer being in the workforce full time. As in, the more stimulation the brain receives, the better it works, and my brain stimulation is all self-imposed these days. Of course, this is still a possibility. My interactions these days are with my family and my dogs, instead of students, professors, and marketing reps. Slight difference . . . but I have to admit that I like my dogs better than most of those people.

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

alfie-looking-confused
Alfie Looking Confused???

All of this could explain why I can’t seem to remember things from one moment to the next. I do write things down as reminders and make lists for the store, but then I cannot remember where I put the lists. Stop laughing . . . I’m not joking here.

In some ways, I remind myself of my canine friends. You know how a dog will come running into a room, tail wagging, and then suddenly stop and look around as if to say, “why did I come in here”? Well, that’s me. I find myself retracing my steps more and more in efforts to remember why I am in the garage, or why I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Corey, as patient as always, suffers the most from my memory lapses. I’ll call him to come into the room and then forget why I called him. He stands there patiently while I retrace my thought process in my brain. Sometimes I remember. Sometimes I don’t, or I don’t remember until a half an hour later, and by then, the context is gone. What’s really annoying to me is when Corey will ask me for a word, and I cannot remember it. Being a wordsmith and former English instructor,  this need to hunt in my memory for words is frankly, demeaning, not to mention that it makes me appear to be clueless. I fear the day that Corey will turn to Brett for references as he is tired of waiting for me to get my synapses firing in order to answer his questions about words and writing.

I’m afraid that I may be rubbing off on him, though. The other day when he was going to the store, he came into the room and said, “We were talking about something that I forgot to get at the sore. Do you remember what it is?” Of course I didn’t remember. I asked him to call me once he go to the store in the hopes that I would remember by then. He called, and neither one of us had recalled what we had forgotten.

Isn’t that just terrible?

“The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess . . .”  ~ William F. Allman

neurons-in-the-hippocampus-by-tamily-a-weissman
Neurons in the Hippocampus (detail) by Tamily A. Weissman

So I did my usual bit of research on the brain just so that I could appear to know something about that which I am deprecating: my brain. One of the things that I discovered earlier is that scans of the brain make beautiful pictures. If the viewer does not have the least inkling of what she is seeing, the images resemble everything from tree branches to colored sperm to an intricate root system.

What I learned on my most recent exploration is that people who know these things or postulate about these things are now beginning to rethink the whole mediotemporal lobe as the memory center. Apparently, two of the key parts of this lobe, the hippocampus and the perirhinal cortex function alone and in different ways.

The hippocampus, which is shaped like a seahorse is more focused on consolidation of new memories; it is responsible for converting short-term memory into long-term memory. The hippocampus also helps humans to recall spatial relations, emotions, and navigation. Navigation? As in what tells me how to get to Baltimore, Maryland? Actually, I think it means more that if my hippocampus were functioning at full speed, I would have remembered that there are three steps leading into the garage instead of thinking that there were only two, which led to the fall and subsequent sprained ankle. (http://biology.about.com/library/organs/brain/blhippocam.htm).

perirhinal-cortex-in-brain
Perihinal Cortex in Brain

The perirhinal cortex plays a role in encoding object recognition memory. Studies have been done in which subjects are shown a series of images. They are later shown the same series of images and asked to identify those which they remember (“familiarity-based recognition”). Through imaging, scientists have been able to determine that the perirhinal cortex resets itself between sessions, which I find to be pretty cool. Sort of like hitting control/alt/delete when you need to reset your virtual brain. This resetting indicates that this part of the brain is working actively rather than passively. ( http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(08)00634-X)

Amazing what you can find with a Google search.

“Brain: an apparatus with which we think that we think.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

jws_winnie_the_pooh_classic_with_butterflyWhich leads me down another path . . . what if my brain is just getting old? I mean, what if my brain has begun to sprout brain grey hairs in the same way that my temples have? Fixing the hair problem is easy enough: a visit to my stylist and a loss of money. But do they have Miss Clairol for brains, and if so, how do I go about getting some?

I know that I’m probably over-thinking this (audible groan), but I mean, come on. Don’t you get just a wee bit concerned when you feel like Winnie the Pooh—all stuffed with fluff and a mind that is fixated on only one thing? Of course, there aren’t many things more adorable than Pooh, but it’s a bit embarrassing for a grown woman in her after-30’s to have the thinking power of A.A. Milne’s most beloved creation.

“The existence of forgetting has never been proved: we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.” ~ Friederich Nietzsche

Which brings me to the actual reason for this post: I joined Condron.us just after it appeared in my blog stats. Condron is a new blogging community that is fast becoming as popular as that other blogging community whose name I shall not put in my blogs any more.

fruitfly-on-appleWhen I joined Condron, I had great plans to be a contributor to its forums and to visit the site with every new post that I published so that I could seek out other interesting blogs on which to bestow my words of wisdom and praise.

But then I forgot. Completely forgot to comment, forgot to visit. Mind wiped clean. I would remember to list the site in my tags, but that was as far as it went, and if I am to be truthful, I remembered to list Condron in my tags because it’s a most-used tag.

Now, my stats have been lower of late, and I’ve been pondering the reasons why. But in pondering, I would be distracted by something else on my stats page, like a new link or something like that, and then I would forget to ponder the problem any longer.

I know, I’m making it sound as if I have the attention span of a fruitfly. Trust me, the fruitfly is more focused. At least it knows what its purpose is in life and why it has landed on an aging apple.

“It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

So my whole point is this: I need brain stimulation. I need to do more exploring of other people’s blogs and let my mind be filled with new voices (not the ones in my head—admit it: That’s what you were thinking), new ideas from different places.

condron_usDon’t misunderstand: I love my little community of blogs that I visit daily. It feels as if we’re having coffee together all over the world. I find that immensely gratifying. But I want to find more people to collect, which means that I need to start visiting Condron.us regularly.

If you’ve never visited a blogging community before, and you are interested in seeing who is out in the blogosphere and what they are writing, then I would highly recommend that you visit one soon. It’s a great way to get people interested in your own site and to share information and comments with other people who might be writing about the same things that you are posting.

So don’t be like me, or like I was. Visit Condron.us soon at http://condron.us. It’s worth remembering.

More later. Peace.