“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.
“It’s much easier to not know things sometimes. Things change and friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody.” ~ Stephen Chbosky, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Tuesday afternoon, New Year’s Eve. Partly cloudy and cold, 46 degrees.
So here we are, at the end of another year. How strange, how very, very strange. A part of me is still somewhere around 2005, and another part is in 1996. No particular reason. Those weren’t landmark years in any fashion, but still points in time, points in which I rested. But 2014?
That’s a very strange year, for some reason. I still have such vivid memories of the turning hour between 1999 and 2000, how we had to have one person stay at work to make sure the systems didn’t collapse at 12:01; I never thought they would, never held much stock in that whole end of days scenario. But that was fourteen years ago.
How very strange.
I spent New Year’s Eve of 1999 on a boat with friends and a person who wanted to be more than friends, and the entire situation was more than a bit surreal. I think that was the last end of the year celebration I attended. Corey and I have always preferred a quiet evening at home together rather than risking the roads and the drunks. But I’m fairly certain this is might be one of only two New Year’s Eve nights that I have been away from Corey.
How very strange.
“It’s a lot easier to say when something ended rather than when it began. Most of us can recognize the end from a mile away, but the beginning always slips up on us, lulling us into thinking what we’re living through is yet another moment, in yet another day.” ~ Steve Yarbrough, from Safe from the Neighbors
We are still in limbo as to when exactly Corey will be home. At first it was going to be on January 2, then January 5, then January 2 again, now? Maybe January 20? That’s if they decide to keep him on this particular ship a bit longer and then to throw him into some more training. I’m really hoping that it’s not this particular scenario, but something tells me that it will be. And after all, it’s not exactly as if he can say no, is it?
First hitch with a new company, you do whatever you have to do to make it work. I understand that, but understanding and liking are miles apart. And I’m wondering if it’s going to work out that Corey never even sees this year’s Christmas tree. The other time he wasn’t home for Christmas day, he was home a few days later, which made it much easier. This?
Not so much.
So . . . here we are. Getting ready to count down the minutes until this year is over and next year begins.
I know. I cannot continue to remark on the strangeness for the entire blog, so I will make an honest attempt to stop.
“You swallowed everything, like distance. Like the sea, like time. ~ Pablo Neruda, from “A Song of Despair”
Anyway, I should know more about Corey’s schedule later today, and I’ll have le bébé by this evening, so my part plans are firm. How about yours?
I’m also hoping that Bailey’s stomach starts to feel better as she has been making the whole house stink. I’m pretty sure her stomach problems have arisen from trying to eat one of the puppy toys that I bought for the dogs’ Christmas. Tillie had loved a ball that Jake had (Jake being Corey’s parents’ dog), and I found one while shopping that I thought would be pretty dog-proof as far as chewing.
Not so much. I started to see little pink pieces of rubber around the house a few days ago. I finally found what was left of the ball and threw it in the garbage, but not before Bailey deposited several nasty leavings of her dinner around the house, one, unfortunately, on the bed.
Yep. Pretty gross. Anyway, she never seemed sick, except for the gas and occasional vomiting, as she was as playful as ever. I suppose I’ll just have to remember that not every dog has a Labrador’s constitution. I still remember reading about a Lab who ate locks, as in locks from lockers. When her owners finally found out, she had eaten about five of them and had to have an operation. Labs will eat anything . . .
By the way, when I chose the quote for this section, I honestly did not have that little story in mind.
“Everything has started in such sharp detail, each aspect pronounced and clear. Obviously, endings were different. Harder to see, full of shapes that could be one thing or another, with all the things that you were once so sure of suddenly not familiar, if they were even recognizable at all.” ~ Sarah Dessen, from The Moon and More
As I said, later this afternoon I will have Olivia, which is a very good thing, something to take my mind off everything else. She’s such a funny little person, already saying so many words, already expressing so many facets of a personality in flux. One of her presents from us this year was this wild-looking stuffed monkey, and she loves it. She makes monkey sounds, too.
One of her Baby Einstein books has lots of animals in it, and when I read it to her, I make all of the animal sounds, except for a ladybug. What kind of sound does a ladybug make?
When I think about anyone hurting her, it makes me crazy. It was the same with my children. The very idea that anyone might ever harm them filled me with such a blind rage. But they’re out there. Not just the pervs, the ones everyone fears, but the people who believe in beating a young child, beating a baby, as if inflicting pain will stop the crying, as if repeated strikes will somehow bend a child to conform.
That has always just blown my mind—those ignoramuses out their who believe that shaking a baby or beating a toddler is okay, is the way to handle a situation. Where does that mindset come from? I have a vague memory of the police being in the parents’ waiting room at the hospital where Caitlin was a patient, there to question some parents about how their child came to be hurt. I remember feeling that blind rage again—all of the parents who were there just begging for their childrens’ lives, and these two had thrown theirs away.
Sorry, really didn’t mean to go there. I’ll try to regroup.
“Everything comes to an end. A good bottle of wine, a summer’s day, a long-running sitcom, one’s life, and eventually our species. The question for many of us is not that everything will come to an end but when. And can we do anything vaguely useful until it does?” ~ Jasper Fforde, from The Woman Who Died a Lot
And now for something completely different . . . here’s a bit of history for you:
The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days.
Supposedly, the first time the new year was celebrated on January 1st was “in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.)” But it was in 46 B.C.E. that Julius Caesar who made January 1st the official start of a new year with the introduction of the Julian calendar, which was solar based:
Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year . . . In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods.
During the Middle Ages, this practice was abolished because of its pagan roots and did not return until 1582, when the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as new year’s day.
So how was that for a complete 180? Whiplash?
I hope you have a lovely safe evening, and best wishes for the coming year.
More later. Peace.
All images are by Canadian artist Lawren Harris (1885 – 1970), a key figure in the Group of Seven. I don’t know which I like better, his houses with the splashes of red, or his lakes, with various shades of blue.
Music by Gregory Alan Isakov, “That Moon Song”
Moth; or how I came to be with you again
— I remember when I touched my
sleeping mother’s hair, it sparked in
my hands and I thought she was
inhuman, but I was young, and only
years later would I understand she
was under the spell of an erotic
dream — I remember a white door
emboldened with a laurel wreath
leading into a basement where we
retreated frequently in the tornado
season — I remember how day after
day would pass while nothing
happened and how without mercy
time would gather weight, accrete a
green patina on the locket I chipped
with a long fingernail — I remember
the swaying firs made a whanging of
rusted girders I thought would
collapse — I remember sitting at my
desk before my most precious
things, sheets of graph paper,
diagrams, folders, waterlogged and
moulded charts, and then
unannounced he would come to me,
moving my hand automatically
across these pages — I remember
the gathering darkness of a thousand
incidents I never witnessed, and yet
bird by bird they separated
themselves into moments of bright
singularity — I remember that I
possess no real memory of my
mother and only know at all she even
existed by evidence of my own pale
skin and the double-helix twisted
under it into an X — I remember
blurry light, rain on an awning, and
then being lifted and placed into a red
wagon — I remember when the
earth was for me, for the last time in
its history, still elastic as cartilage,
had not fully solidified into the
obstacle of the known, the terrible,
stubborn thing called fact — I
remember it was the hibiscus winter,
because she said so — I remember
writing these words, but only barely,
but one after another stone-like in
their materiality they are undeniable
— I remember remembering a
dream, under a low ceiling of
illuminated clouds swirling in a
tarantella, I rode weeping along the
boulevard of an empty city newly in
ruins where each crumbling
museum was my hidden and
sumptuous destitution — I
remember someone informed me he
had once hanged himself from his
swing set, then the memory infected
me, became my own — I remember
a small, A-frame house, and
watching the hawthorn wasting in an
emollient sea wind — I remember a
white door — I remember it was the
hibiscus winter — I remember
thinking I had been comatose a
thousand years, though this is surely
false, and in my uncorroborated
absence the whole fungible world in
a moment of chemical agony had
changed in irreversible ways — I
remember how everything tasted
dark — I remember things I’ve never
felt — a seagull feather brushing my
lips, a turquoise shell, my shoulders
festooned with flowers — I
remember thinking what was in my
mind was put there by others, by
books I read, by objects I looked at
but did not own — I remember
wondering if other memories
remained in the twilight regions of my
mind where my failed loves were
soil, and if soon someone would
enlighten me to things I had done
and then, years later, I would
remember them as real — I
remember tender hands covered in
snow — I remember the city, the
flames immanent as flowers, patient
to burst forth — I remember my
favourite word once was —
“I drank coffee and read old books and waited for the year to end.” ~Richard Brautigan, from Trout Fishing in America
Monday, late afternoon, New Year’s Eve. Cloudy and cold, 40’s.
In the past two days, I have attempted to write a post, only to be stymied after the first few sentences. I’m not really sure why, only that what I did write seemed forced and contrived, which made continuing seem pointless.
Part of me feels as if there is something simmering just beneath the surface, waiting to be voiced, but another part feels completely incapable of giving words to that feeling. Truly, I do not know which direction to take or even if there is a direction to be had, so I decided to find some suitable end-of-the-year quotes and just give it a go, see how it unfolds, as it were. I make no promises that any great revelations will ensue, or even that I will find a common thread among these disparate sentences.
I do know that the looming 2013 seems awkward and strange to me. Thirteen has never been a bad number for me. Corey and I were married on the 13th of May, and that particular thirteen has turned out to be one of the best days of my life. But the year 2013 makes me pause, and for the life of me, I could not tell you exactly why that is.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice.” ~ T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
I remember being suitably excited when 1999 rolled into 2000, even though the official start of the new millennium did not begin until 2001. But the coming of both of those years seemed momentous to me—so many changes in my life, so much going on, such excitement about what was ahead. I remember that Corey and I spend New Year’s Eve of 2001 in his brother’s hot tub in Ohio. We were surrounded by snow, and it was absolutely freezing outside, but the water was hot and comfortable, and it was a perfect way in which to greet the new year.
But if you were to ask me what I did on New Year’s Eve of 2003 or 2005 or even 2008, I don’t know that I could tell you as we really aren’t big New Year’s Eve people. By that I mean that we do not go out. I am too afraid of all the drunk crazies on the roads, and we usually just watch a movie and go to sleep. It may sound boring, but it works for us.
I remember that my m-in-law used to go out on her porch at midnight and bang a pot, more to annoy her neighbors than anything else. I have sometimes gone to parties, but for most of my life, I have stayed in. What does that say about me? That I’m careful? Boring? Lazy? Who knows? But this year I am a bit hesitant about 2013 coming to pass. I don’t know if it’s that still, small voice inside of me that is trembling a bit, or if there is something worrying the edges of my brain, but something just doesn’t feel right.
Don’t you just hate it when you have those kinds of feelings (if you do), and you cannot ascertain as to why?
“Only, there is a haunting sense of the imminent cessation of being; the year, in turning, turns in on itself.” ~ Angela Carter, “The Erl-King”
I don’t really do resolutions, either, never have. I know myself only too well, and I try never to make promises that I know I can’t or won’t keep. All of those false promises about quitting this or that, losing weight, exercising more, giving more to charity, being less selfish, more generous . . .
Ya da ya da ya da . . .
No one does it. Not really, so why say that you will?
Perhaps we make these promises to ourselves because we really do believe that we can or will change in the coming year. Perhaps we think that if we say it, it makes it so, makes it more tangible, harder to ignore. But the truth is that if we don’t want to quit smoking (or drinking or eating chocolate or whatever), then we won’t. The desire has to exist else a thousand words written in stone will not make it real.
And so I make no promises, either to myself or the powers that be or anyone else, at least no coming year promises. I save my promises for important things, like things that I will do for my children or for Corey. I will tell myself that it’s in my best interest to go back on my chocolate fast as the few pounds that I have gained since Thanksgiving/cruise/Christmas dinner are beginning to add up, and I liked it better when I was on a healthier diet, but other than that? Nothing.
“All night we now hear the desperate downwardness. All day we have watched the last icicle Drip, drop by drop, as though from a wound—grow less and less. Dark comes again. Shut eyes, and think of a sacred cycle.” ~ Robert Penn Warren, from section 1 of “Downwardness” in “Seasons”
One tradition that I do miss is that of building a fire in the fireplace on New Year’s Eve. My ex and I used to do that each year, even that was the only fire we built for the year, but I honestly feel too guilty now when building a real wood fire. Pollution and all of that. But oh how I would dearly love to have a gas fireplace hookup. It’s one of the few luxuries that I want to install if and when we ever go into reno mode. A gas fireplace and a jetted tub—two things that I would so love to have, two things in which I find true comfort.
Corey and I only used the fireplace during those two winters in which we did not have gas heat. Those were cold winters, and the fireplace did help, if only briefly.
Some people cannot abide the smell of woodsmoke, and I can understand that, but I am not one of them. One of the things that I loved about going camping in the mountains was building an outdoor fire from fallen branches and twigs. Sitting there in the evening with friends, talking about everything and nothing, watching the wood burn down to embers before zipping up in a sleeping bag.
“I’ve never been very good at leaving things behind. I tried, but I have always left fragments of myself there too, like seeds awaiting their chance to grow.” ~ Joanne Harris
Anyway, 2012 is in its last hours, and the new year will be hear in less than eight hours. Corey and I will spend the evening with Olivia as Lex and Mike are going out. Eamonn is house sitting for his father, and Brett is with friends. So I think it will just be the three of us and the dogs, and that’s just fine with me.
I will leave you with this, things I hope may happen in 2013, in the world and at home:
Congress will grow up and realize that being obstructionists serves no one well.
Automatic weapons will once again be banned.
Obama will become the president we all know he could be.
Honey Boo Boo, the Real Housewives of everywhere, Dance Moms, Toddlers and Tiaras, Bad Girls, and all of the rest will quietly fade into the background (okay, know this won’t happen, but I can wish).
and also these wishes:
Brett will make his trip to New Zealand and from this experience be able to glean a little insight into what he wants out of life.
Eamonn will get a job as a merchant mariner and begin to enter the adult world.
Alexis will continue to try to work towards a more stable life.
Corey will get the job he really wants.
My dogs will remain healthy.
Our families will suffer no more losses.
I will actually do real work on my novel and poetry.
To all of you out there, may the coming year bring you health, happiness, and safety, and may you move one step closer to achieving your dreams and desires.
“Lilac Wine,” Jeff Buckley version and mashup with Nina Simone, couldn’t decide:
New Year Resolve
The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.
Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.
Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.
For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.