Friday afternoon, mostly sunny and lovely, 76 degrees.
Cannot wait to watch the Good Omens adaptation with David Tennant and Michael Sheen, except that means we need to hook up the Blu-Ray to get access to Amazon Prime, which means . . . probably not going to watch it anytime soon . . .
A bit of a hodgepodge collection. Enjoy.
The miracle of tea:
Rules to live by:
Hmm . . .
Not I can’t stop thinking about a spider wearing flip flops. . .
“Girls with poison necklaces to save themselves from torture. Just as women wear amulets which hold their rolled up fortunes transcribed on ola leaf.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from “Buried”
Sunday afternoon, sunny, and mild, 66 degrees.
Not a whole lot to say today, so something a big different.
The desire to predict and know the future is as old as human history. The ancient Assyrians, among many civilizations, consulted their mystics before battle. The Romans revered their astrologers. The oracles of the ancient Greeks relayed the words of the gods. Soothsayers, prophets, augurs, astrologists, palm-readers, pyromancers, phrenologists, tarot readers, clairvoyants, and fortune-tellers—the categories are near endless, and people have claimed to divine the future from peering into everything from animal entrails to urine.
Regardless, whether you believe or scorn, the idea of fate features prominently in poetry and fiction, and in this post, I’m featuring the words some of my favorite authors and poets: Neil Gaiman, Michael Ondaatje, and Louise Glück.
Theory of Memory
Long, long ago, before I was a tormented artist, afflicted with longing yet
incapable of forming durable attachments, long before this, I was a glorious
ruler uniting all of a divided country—so I was told by the fortune-teller
who examined my palm. Great things, she said, are ahead of you, or perhaps
behind you; it is difficult to be sure. And yet, she added, what is the difference?
Right now you are a child holding hands with a fortune-teller. All the
rest is hypothesis and dream.
“But, of course, mermaids were always terrifying. With the exception of the Little Mermaid of the Hans Christian Andersen tradition, they would take your soul. And fairies were never things that people embraced — they were unknowable, dangerous, capricious. They could cause real trouble for you.” ~ Neil Gaiman, on the Royal Mail Mythical Creatures stamps
Sunday late afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 55 degrees.
Today sharing Neil Gaiman‘s write-ups for the Royal Mail’s Mythical Creatures stamps, with artwork by Dave McKean. The stamps came out a few years ago, but I thought it was a nice bit of fairy tale magic for the afternoon:
If it were not for the giants, Britain would look very different. In the dawn days they feefifofummed across the land, picking up rocks and throwing them at other giants in friendly rivalry, or alone they would break mountains, crush rocks into causeways, leave henges and stone seats to mark their passing.
The giants were big, but not bright. They were outsmarted by clever boys named Jack and fell from beanstalks or were tricked to death. They died, but not all of them are dead.
The remaining giants sleep, lost in deep slow dreams, covered in earth and trees and wild grass. Some have clouds on their shoulders or long men carved on their sides. We see them from the windows of cars and tell each other that from some angles they look almost like people.
Even giants can only sleep for so long. Do not make too much noise the next time you walk in the hills.
Nobody remembers who sent the first King of Scotland a unicorn. They are long-lived creatures, after all. The Kings of Scotland were proud of owning a unicorn, and left it to run, tangle-maned and alone, across the stark highlands, an ivory flash against the heather.
And then James VI got the news from the south and he sent a maiden into the hills. She sat and waited until it came and placed its head in her lap, then she bridled it with a silver bridle and walked it, skittish and straining, to the King.
The royal procession was made all the more exciting by the presence of the fabulous beast at the head. And then they were in London, and the Tower rose before them.
The unicorn was led into its stall. It scented the animal, caged across the way, and heard it roar before it saw the golden mane, the tawny eyes. The only lion in England was caged in the Tower, beside the only unicorn. The artists placed them on each side of the crown.
Two hundred years later, the unicorn’s horn in the Tower was valued at 20,000 guineas; but now even that is lost to us.
She keeps the souls of the drowned in lobster pots that she finds on the seabed. They sing, the captive souls, and they light her way home beneath the grey Atlantic.
She had sisters once, but long ago they shed their tails and scales and stepped gingerly ashore to live with fishermen in their dry-land cottages. Now she’s lonely, and not even the souls of the dead are company.
Walk the sea’s edge in winter and you may see her, too far away, waving to you. Wave back and she will take you down to her world, deep below the waves, and show you cold wonders, and teach you the songs of the merfolk, and the lonely ways beneath the sea.
“I do believe that in order to be a writer—to grow and learn and create art—one must read. Read widely. Read whatever makes your heart sing. Learn to be a watchful reader. And in the moments when you need reading for the pure pleasure of it, seek out pleasure the way I seek out doughnuts when I’m having a bad day. (Which is to say, with unwavering determination.)” ~ Dana Staves, from To Write, You Must Read
Wednesday afternoon. Rainy, humid, 70 degrees.
I’m not sure if I’m getting my fall cold, or if I’m on the cusp of one of those weak spells during which I am too taxed to walk to the kitchen, but something is worrying me on the fringes, and I just can’t pinpoint it. Just overall achiness, migraine aside, and a scratchy throat.
After spending a bit here and on tumblr, I’ll probably retreat to the safety of my bed and read a book. At least the dogs will be happy.
Last evening I got a delivery from Amazon, and for the first time, the packaging was crap: I had ordered some pill treat pockets for the dogs, and that package was open, and the roll of packing paper that I had ordered and which they had thrown in the box with everything else, was greasy. My vitamins were open, and overall, it was a mess. Amazon is usually great at overpackaging—sending one tiny thing in a big padded envelope, so I was really surprised at this mess.
I spent an inordinate amount of time on hold for a representative who was fixing the problem, but it was fixed without issue. Say what you will about Amazon being this behemoth that railroads smaller companies, but their customer service is excellent. Anyway, I got the packing paper so that I can start to take things off the walls and box them away as Brett has promised to help me sand and paint, and there are far too many prints and pictures in the way.
“There will always be non-readers, bad readers, lazy readers—there always were. Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. Yet nothing can replace the exact, complicated, subtle communion between absent author and entranced, present reader . . . When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it.” ~ Julian Barnes, from “Julian Barnes: my life as a bibliophile” (The Guardian, 29 June 2012)
So much to do before we can even consider putting this house on the market. I try not to dwell on how badly our lives were scarred in so many areas when we were living on just my disability and Corey’s sometime unemployment during those long, hard three years. But it’s hard not to be bitter. We had to let so many things go by the wayside, and now we’re paying the price.
Ah, life. Always such a challenge.
Anyway, here’s a continuation on this week’s theme:
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013, and many more go unreported. The 10 most challenged titles of 2013 were:
Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence
For more information on Banned Books Week, click here.
The sponsors of Banned Books Week would like to give special thanks the Association of American Publishers, DKT Liberty Project, Penguin Random House, and Perseus Books Group for their additional support in 2014.
Music by The Glitch Mob, “Between Two Points” (featuring Swan)
“The Coming Storm” (1911, oil on panel) by George Bellows
“The Wave” (1961, oil, grit on hardboard) by Joan Eardley
“Stormy Sea, Brighton” (detail, 1818, oil on paper laid on canvas) by John Constable
“Paysage” (1880, oil on canvas) by James Ensor
“Rocks and Water, Port Issol” (1938, oil on canvas) by Edwin Dickinson
“Waves” (1922, pastel on paper) by Georgia O’Keeffe
“Parry Sound Harbor” (1914, oil on wood mounted on plywood) by Tom Thomson
“Les Vagues” (c1920, oil on canvas) by Raphael Chanterou
“Coastal Scene” (c1945, oil on board) by Lester Joseph Chaney
Untitled Seascape (nd, oil on canvas) by Charles Woodbury
“Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay” (1921, oil on canvas) by Fredrick Varley
“Stinson Beach” (1919, oil on cardboard) by Selden Connor Gile
“The Black Squall” (1937, oil on panel) by William Langson Lathrop
“Packis i Stranden” (1892 oil on zinc) by August Strindberg
“The Wave” (1879, oil on canvas) by Pierre August Renoir
“Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything, tired with the world’s weight he had never chosen to bear.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Beautiful and Damned
Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Still incredibly hot and humid, 91 degrees.
I’m going to try to do this again. No distractions. With any luck, I’ll get past the first few sentences.
This is my immediate problem: my children. As you know, I have three grown children, but their stages of grown do not match their calendar status of grown. My eldest child, my daughter, will be having one of those major milestone birthdays on the 7th of this month, but the reality is that I think she is probably the youngest of my children. And for the moment, I choose to focus on my eldest/youngest child.
To be fair, Alexis has gone through a lot in her short life, and the loss of her sister, something her brothers do not share as an immediate memory, affected her greatly. Alexis has never been full of self-confidence; in fact, the exact opposite is true: If one person could be so completely uncertain of her selfhood, I would have to say that it is my daughter. Please understand, I’m not criticizing, only commenting; after all, I, too, am very insecure about certain aspects of my self.
I don’t know how much of my daughter’s problems are a result of nurturing, but I do know that I have been the primary nurturer in her life, which is why I probably have a tendency to blame myself for so many of her woes. But at what point do I draw the line and acknowledge that she has very real problems that are completely separate from my relationship with my daughter?
You see, while I love my daughter beyond words, I am not entirely sure that I like certain key aspects of her personality. Does that make sense?
“there is something else that drives us, some
rage or hunger, some absence smoldering
like a childhood fever vaguely remembered
or half-perceived, some unprotected desire,
greed that is both wound and knife,
a failed grief, a lost radiance.” ~ Edward Hirsch, from “Mergers and Acquisitions”
Again, let me say that I probably should not be writing this, but I need to work through some of this tonight as it is pressing on me much too acutely, and I know that I will have no peace unless I do something. I had to cancel my therapy appointment this week because of the chest cold that I have. Too much talking makes me cough, and coughing is, well, painful. Hence, the writing my way through . . .
I so wish that I had the ability to make things right for my children all of the time, but then again, don’t most parents? But I don’t have this ability, and talking to Alexis is futile, at best, and an invitation to a verbal fray, at worst. My daughter, like my sons, unfortunately inherited the family predisposition to clinical depression and anxiety. We all suffer in our own various ways, to lesser and greater extents, depending upon, well upon a lot of things. But Alexis is alone in one thing: she sleeps far too much for any human being. She can go to bed on Friday night and not wake fully until Monday morning.
When she was a teenager, she would sleep forever, but I really didn’t worry about it because I did the same thing as a teenager. However, she is an adult with her own child, and this sleeping sickness, for lack of a better term, has not abated. Corey and I have had several conversations in which we have tossed about this problem, mostly in relation to Olivia, as in, does my daughter’s sleeping sickness impede/impair her ability to care for her own daughter?
I can’t tell you how guilty I feel just for giving this concern words, but there. It’s been said. Now what?
I mean, this is more than my concern that she has absolutely no ambition, that she doesn’t seem to have any sort of life goals, which granted, is a real concern. But this particular issue has such larger implications as it affects everyone.
“I sat in the dark and thought: There’s no big apocalypse. Just an endless procession of little ones.” ~ Neil Gaiman, from Signal to Noise
I’m so conflicted.
If you were to ask me if my daughter is a good mother, I wouldn’t hesitate to say, “Yes. Absolutely.”
But then, I must pause. Does she love her daughter? Without question. Does she want what is best for her daughter? Again, yes.
But what makes a good mother? Love, concern, respect, patience, empathy, sympathy . . . cobbled together with a willingness to teach, to share, to laugh, to cry . . . Like it or not, motherhood is an endless procession of decisions, and if we are lucky, most of them are right, and if we are smart, we learn from the wrong ones, but first, we must be able to identify the wrong ones.
Look, being a mother is a thankless job. Your children resent you a lot of the time. They don’t like you some of the time. They wish you would be quiet a lot of the time. They appreciate you only some of the time, and to them, you are never a person with feelings and wants and needs. And no one can teach you how to be a mother; it’s purely on-the-job training, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get good advice along the way, and if you’re smart, you’ll realize which advice is good and which is bad.
So what’s my point?
Damned if I know . . .
“Life must be back there. You hid it
So no one would find it
And now you can’t remember where.” ~ John Ashbery, from “Vaucanson”
You know shaken baby syndrome? Well obviously that’s something that must never be done, but what about shaken adult child syndrome? Is it acceptable to want to grasp said child by the shoulders and shake him/her until the eyes come into focus and you think that perhaps some semblance of sense has entered said child’s brain?
I know that I’m making light, but trust me, I am so close to tears much of the time that to laugh would be nothing short of achieving a state of grace.
But back to the problem. Did you know that there is an actual illness called Sleeping Beauty Syndrome? It’s actually called Klein-Levin Syndrome:
Klein-Levin Syndrome (KLS) is a rare and complex neurological disorder characterized by recurring periods of excessive amounts of sleep, altered behavior, and a reduced understanding of the world. The disorder strikes adolescents primarily but can occur in younger children and adults. At the onset of an episode the patient becomes progressively drowsy and sleeps for most of the day and night (hypersomnolence), sometimes waking only to eat or go to the bathroom. Each episode lasts days, weeks or months during which time all normal daily activities stop. Individuals are not able to care for themselves or attend school and work. In between episodes, those with KLS appear to be in perfect health with no evidence of behavioral or physical dysfunction. KLS episodes may continue for 10 years or more. KLS is sometimes referred to in the media as “Sleeping Beauty” syndrome.
Seriously, I think my daughter has this. Some people think that Alexis is just lazy. I honestly don’t think that’s it. If I did, I would say so. Laziness can be fixed; well, at least, I think it can be fixed. Alexis is too OCD to be lazy. I just don’t know if she has any control over these sleep episodes. And the brutal reality is that it’s gotten to the point that it is having a serious impact on every single relationship she has.
“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” ~ Umberto Eco, from Foucault’s Pendulum
So what to do, what to do? I can do nothing. Not yet. And even if the time were right for me to do something, I have absolutely no idea as to what course of action I should take, if any.
Familial relationships are so damned draining. Awash in a sea of eggshells, and trying to find just the right way to cross without breaking anything, without breaking any . . . one.
You know when you are young, in your early 20’s, and you think about life, think about the future as I always did, I would bet that most of the realities of later life never enter the realm of possibility. I mean, how could they, really? Real life is so far from what you think will happen to you when you’re young and trying to decide whether or not to drop a huge chunk of change on some toy or the other. Real life is so filled with pitfalls and trenches so deep that few of us would ever contemplate that such horrible things might actually happen.
Nothing in my 20’s prepared me for real life, even though I was so certain at the time that I had all of the answers. I was so sure of my certainty then. It takes being slapped in the face by fate to make you realize just how little you actually know.
So here I am, finally able to admit how little I know and knowing how little I am able to effect any kind of meaningful change in the lives of my children. Is it any wonder I walk around in a constant state of pain-filled angst?
Probably shouldn’t have written any of this . . .
More later. Peace.
Music by I Will, I Swear, “Long Days”
The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind. Not unlike
imagining their wings
to be their heart, and swallows
believing the horizon
to be a line they lift
and drop. What is it
they cast for? The poplars,
advancing or retreating,
lose their stature
equally, and yet stand firm,
in order to become
imaginary. The city
draws the mind in streets,
and streets compel it
from their intersections
where a little
belongs to no one. It is
what is driven through
all stationary portions
of the world, gravity’s
stake in things, the leaves,
pressed against the dank
window of November
soil, remain unwelcome
till transformed, parts
of a puzzle unsolvable
till the edges give a bit
and soften. See how
then the picture becomes clear,
the mind entering the ground
more easily in pieces,
and all the richer for it.
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Welcome to 2014. I wish all of you much health, happiness, and prosperity in the coming year. May this be the year that I finally begin to get it right . . .
“I have the opportunity, once more to right some wrongs, to pray for peace, to plant some trees, and sing more joyful songs.” ~ William Arthur Ward
May your ails be small, your happiness immense, and your hearts filled with love and hope.
“Watch out for each other. Love everyone and forgive everyone, including yourself. Forgive your anger. Forgive your guilt. Your shame. Your sadness. Embrace and open up your love, your joy, your truth, and most especially your heart.” ~ Jim Henson
Had to add New York and London, of course, which weren’t available when I created this post:
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
And may we all find a little more wisdom, have a little more patience, and give a little more freely.