I was in that room again, but it wasn’t the same. The baby in the crib was mine, but she wasn’t, it wasn’t her. The power went out, and the nurses and technicians were all giving the patients oxygen manually, squeezing that large ball, forcing air into that mask, but it wasn’t enough. The doctor who came in was outmatched but wouldn’t admit it. I pulled back her nightgown and a dark red spot was growing on her chest under the skin, and I thought, that’s not right, that’s not what happened. House came into the room. I had sent for him. He was real, not the character on the television show. He limped over to the crib and looked down at her and then looked at me, and then I knew. There was a lot of noise, monitors, the whoosh click of the machines. I had given her Tylenol when I put her down for her nap. Teething, I thought; that’s why she’s been so grouchy. Why didn’t I remember about the teething? The children’s Tylenol will work, but is children’s Tylenol and Infant Tylenol the same? No, I remember, it’s not, so which one? Only Tylenol doesn’t have much effect when there’s something growing in your brain. I didn’t know. How could I know? She fell asleep on her side almost as soon as I put her down, she had been in the high chair, and I gave her a Ritz cracker, only she didn’t want it, and Cheerios were chocolate chip flavored, and I thought that wasn’t a very good snack for a baby, so I pulled up the side of the crib, and then we were in the room, the hospital room, and it was happening all over. House couldn’t help her, and he couldn’t help the young boy who was seeing symbols, the one that the mean nurse had tried to turn away, but a different nurse admitted him. The mean nurse said that he had been to the ER three times with this same problem, and he couldn’t come back any more, but the boy was bleeding from his nose, and his father was frantic, so the nice nurse wheeled the boy into a room and called for House because the boy was seeing symbols in the air. This was all in the dream, and it was happening simultaneously, not linearly. And a woman who came into the room, the room that I was in, with House said that she needed to get back to her job, and I stopped her and said no. If you leave, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. She looked at me and said that I was going to try to make her feel guilty the way that House did, and House remarked that she didn’t know what guilt was. And I said to her, she was Kirsty Alley for some reason, I said, “If you leave, she’ll die, and you won’t be here, and you’ll have to live with that guilt forever, you won’t have been here when she took her last breath, you won’t remember any of this,” so she stayed in the room. So there was me and House and Kirsty Alley and the first doctor, who still didn’t know what to do. And there was the baby in the crib, and she was dying, in the same way that she dies every single time that I go into that room, and the nurses outside the room were moving very quickly because the electricity had come back on, and patients everywhere needed help, but in the room, in that room that is hell and every awful, terrible place that has ever existed, in that room, it was the five of us, and one of us was dying. And the whoosh-click kept going and going, and the only good part was that I woke up before she died this time, and when I did, I felt pain all over my body, but especially my head, and I remembered the teething, and wondered why I didn’t think of the teething when she first started to get fussy, and then I remembered that all of the Infant Tylenol in the world can’t help with that kind of pain.
Tomorrow would have been Caitlin’s 24th birthday.
This song was playing in the background of my dream: Butthole Surfers, “Whatever (I Had a Dream Last Night)”
“Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” ~ Martin Heidegger, Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?, tr. by Bernd Magnus
Wednesday afternoon. Warm and humid.
It’s an unseasonable 69° F here; elsewhere, in the north, people are experiencing blizzards and traffic-stopping white-out conditions. This time we were spared the snow and were given warmth. Never fear, though. The temperatures here are supposed to plummet to the low 30’s by tonight.
And people wonder why so many people in this area suffer from sinus problems and allergies.
So I’m having a pretty bad day in spite of the fact that I have confirmation that I have health insurance. Waiting for the new cards to come in the mail so that I can make those appointments I was talking about previously. In spite of this very good news, I feel wretched.
Yesterday, I took the now dry, previously water-logged pages of my poem’s draft and tried to type them into Word. Aside from the fact that this computer only has Works on it (what a crap program) because we’re not loading anything on it until we can do a complete reload (another story), I realized while typing that what I had been so impressed with only days before was pure and total crap. Drivel. Snot. Yuck out loud.
I really hate it when that happens. I tried working and reworking and finally stopped myself because the more I did, the more that it read as being overworked and perfunctory, and the spark that generated the idea for the poem had been completely lost beneath forced wordsmithing. The deadline has been extended, which is good, I think, but now I don’t know if I have it in me to enter the contest. (Correction note: First prize is book of poems by Pablo Neruda, not Pessoa; don’t know what I was thinking.)
Of course, all of this mulling is giving me a low-grade headache, one of those tension bands around my entire skill. Love it.
“Sharp like a razor’s edge, the sages say, Is the path, difficult to traverse.” ~ Katha Upanishad
Outside I hear the rumblings of a storm approaching. Meanwhile, Tillie the Lab has nested on the old futon in here and is currently telling me off for not paying much attention to her. She has this thing that she does whenever she feels neglected: She puts her head down and grumbles just once, a single quiet protest. She’ll repeat this little nudge until someone stops whatever they are doing and plays with her for a few minutes. Have I mentioned lately how much I think that dogs are wonderfully sentient beings? She seems to know that I’m struggling as she is pacing her grunts to meet the pauses in my typing.
Yesterday I was working on a post about HR3, that infuriating bill supposedly about abortion being proposed by a bunch of neanderthals, most of whom have male genitalia. I became so incensed over their new definitions of rape that most of the post was pure rant, so I stopped that too. Maybe I’ll go back to it later today, depends on what my mind does, where it goes in the next few hours.
Speaking of hours, I had very few consisting of real sleep last night/this morning. I fear that the insomnia is rearing its ugly head again. The alarm beeped at 5 a.m. for Corey to get for watch, and I was still awake, watching some movie that I had seen before. I had deliberately chosen the movie because I thought that it would put me to sleep.
I think that I fell asleep around 6 a.m., only to awaken after 11. I poured coffee down my throat and drove Brett to his afternoon classes. Perhaps the sleep deprivation is a contributing factor to the headache.
“If I stare into it long enough, the point comes when I don’t know what it’s called, a condition in which lacerations are liable to occur, like a slip of the tongue; when a drop of blood might billow in a glass of water, blooming in velvet detonation and imparting to it the colorless, tasteless and originless fear in which I wake. ” ~ Franz Wright, Blade
A few nights ago Corey had to waken me from a nightmare. I awoke screaming, “I hate you. I hate you.” and slapping at his hands as he tried to calm me. I had dreamt that Corey told me quite matter-of-factly that he had picked up and had sex with (and this part was very specific) 32 women.
Thirty-two? Where did that come from? How can I be my own worst enemy in my dreams too? I don’t remember much else about the dream, even though I recounted it for Corey when I was awake. Numbers in dreams always unnerve me a bit, and I don’t really know why; perhaps it’s because they are so arbitrary. I mean, if dreaming is the brain’s way of sifting through the detritus of the day, where do these numbers come from if not life?
Thirty two. Hmm. Things that make you go hmm . . .
I have been having very vivid dreams again, lots of people from my past popping up and intruding into my subconscious. Have you ever had a past dream intrude into a current dream? That happened to me. Don’t remember the exact circumstances, but a scene that happened in a former dream involving my ex unpacking dishes in the kitchen recurred in a more recent dream. The actual event never occurred in real life.
I wonder if this could be considered a rerun dream . . . Does this mean that my lack of originality has crept into my dreams, as well? Well crap.
“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.” ~ Douglas Coupland
I find myself missing my dad a lot these days, probably because he is one of those people who keeps popping in and out of dreams lately. I wonder if he ended his life filled with regret over things he hadn’t yet done. I wonder if he realized how close he was to his death and if he was filled with fear. I wonder how many dreams he had fulfilled and how many he still hadn’t achieved.
Last night Corey said that he hated that his life was mediocre, and I said that his life wasn’t mediocre, but perhaps his current state was mediocre because he felt stuck. But truthfully, I understand exactly what he meant. It goes back to my “I hate my life” statement of before.
Sometimes it all just seems so pointless. I mean, what are we really doing here? Are we making any forward progress? We as in individuals, we as in this country, we as in this world. Everywhere I turn I hear hateful things and see so much pain, and then if I narrow my vision just a bit, I see glimpses of beauty and grace, which reminds me that it isn’t pointless.
Yes, yes. I know. It’s February, the longest month of the year for my psyche, but as with my current contradictory state, it’s February, and it feels like spring, but it smells like winter. Is it any wonder that I’m conflicted?
Truth time: the poem is supposed to be about preferences, as in what do you prefer, coffee or tea, only not that simple. But maybe it is that simple and like everything else, I have made it too complicated. Preferences. For me, that is such a loaded word. The answer is that what I prefer depends on the day, the weather, my weight, whether or not my face has broken out in adult acne, how bad my headache is, if the dogs have decided to go dumpster diving in the kitchen trash, how overwhelmed I feel when I go through the mail and realize that the “to be paid” pile is seemingly insurmountable.
Preferences? I would prefer to be working as opposed to not working. I would prefer to be pain-free as opposed to pain-laden. I would prefer not to owe so much overdue money to so many people as opposed to owing my soul. I would prefer that the sliding glass door did not have spiderweb cracks in it from where Tillie hit it head on, and I would prefer that we could install our good water heater so that taking a shower did not have to be timed to coincide with the availability of hot water.
Preferences? Yes, I have a few. Most aren’t even noteworthy, but perhaps a few are worth a word or two: I prefer moonlight and water. I prefer the smell of fresh herbs and flowers. I prefer paper books to their bastardization. I prefer long hot baths at the end of the day with candles lit, casting orange and red glows on the tiles. I prefer songs that touch my heart rather than rattle my brain. I prefer to live a full life rather than merely exist.
How do you know if you are broken? I suppose it’s the same way that you know if you are insane. You don’t.
More later. Peace.
Music by Butterfly Boucher, “A Bitter Song”
on Joy & Sorrow
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
“You are the watcher; the mind is the watched. It is a beautiful mechanism, one of the most beautiful mechanisms that nature has given to you . . . Even while you are sleeping, it is sitting on your chest torturing you, giving you nightmares. All kind of relevant and irrelevant thoughts go on and on.” ~ Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Very, very strange dreams last night: sharks, guns, school, cooked apples, and a house with many, many short levels and stairs. To top it off, I kept thinking that it was Monday.
Okay. The shark dream: I was swimming in a small inlet behind the neighborhood (doesn’t exist) with my two sons, who are younger in this dream. Something touches my leg. At first, I convince myself that it is probably just a fish. Then I realize that it is too long to be a fish. Then I realize that it is a shark. I yell to the boys to get to the ladders. The shark begins to swim after me, but not too aggressively. I begin to climb the short ladder, and the shark throws his front half on the dock, kind of like the great white in Jaws. I get out of the water, run to the adjacent ladder, and pull Brett up the rest of the way. Eamonn is dawdling because he doesn’t believe that it’s a shark, but he comes up the ladder.
Soon, I notice that there are four sharks in the water, and a female shark giving birth (very odd, that part). The neighborhood teenagers decide that it would be cool to go back in the water on floats and try to dodge the sharks. I yell at them and forbid Eamonn to get back in the water. I watch the sharks moving through the water and wonder where they came from . . .
Segue into dream about house. We are living in a new house. It has many unexplored rooms. I wake up and go downstairs because I hear voices. There is a group of people in the living room having a meeting. I ask them what they are doing there. They say that Ann (my s-i-l) said that they could hold their meeting there. I tell them that it’s Sunday morning and that they cannot have their meeting in my living room.
They leave, but other people appear, neighbors at first. House changes into open interior with many short levels, short staircases to different rooms. One female neighbor says, “We just have so much money. We really don’t know how to spend all of it.” Another woman whispers to me to ignore the woman talking. I have already decided that this is a neighbor that I can do without.
Then house begins to fill with people from my high school reunion. I recognize most of them but don’t remember their names. One guy starts to sing like Elvis. There are the usual cliques. I try to make my way through all of the people to say hello since this is my house, and I must be the host. I hear a lot of people commenting about how strange the house is. I declare that I like it, although I don’t know where the bathroom is.
“The eye sees a thing more cleary in dreams than the imagination awake” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
Dream Visions by L. Liwag
Segue into later dream: NCIS dream, and I am carrying a gun. I think to myself in the dream that I wish that it were a semi-automatic Glock (I’m not a big gun lover, so this is strange). When I finally get into a confrontation with the bad guy (who looks like Tele Savalas from Kojak), my gun jams, then it is out of ammunition. I think to myself that I must not be a very good agent because I let my gun run out of ammunition. I hide behind the car and press the alarm button . . .
Segue into school dream: My worst nightmare—I am teaching sixth grade again in a public school. But I tell myself that this time it will be okay because I have a plan. I see some of my former students. I ask about one of their sister’s. The girl tells me that her sister has 18 children . . .
Segue into my mother and Corey being in the kitchen of our current home. Corey has cooked apples to put in the toilet to help with the drainage. I don’t remember ever hearing about apples being good for pipes. I ask if they need to be peeled. Woke up with a song on my brain, but cannot for the life of me remember what it was now.
Boy, it was a busy night. I’m really exhausted from doing so much.
In between my last dreams, Corey took Brett over to his friend Gordon’s house. On his way home, the gas tank read 0 dte (destination to empty). I’m not sure how he made it home, but he did. Not sure what we are going to do for gas . . . little thing called money. Oh, I also dreamed that gas went up to $6.01 a gallon.
“Nightmare Begins Responsibility” ~ Michael S. Harper
This is my life: nightmare to reality . . . reality as waking bad dream. I force myself to get out of bed, to try to do something, anything. Write. Remember words from Michael Harper’s “Nightmare Begins Responsibility”:
say nightmare, say it loud
nightmare begins responsibility.”
I’ll bet that you weren’t expecting that. The phrase “panebreaking heartmadness” has stayed with me ever since I first read this poem. I found it after Caitlin died and I was reading a lot of poets I had never read before. That’s the kind of phrase a poet would kill to create. It reverberates. It conjures. It chills to the bone. And it stays with the reader.
I realize that this post is all over the place, that it began as more of my crazy dreams, but what I didn’t mention was that at some point in one of the dreams, I thought that I would really like to live in this new house because it would be a great place to raise small children. It’s odd how the conscious mind intrudes upon dreams, insinuates itself into what is not real, or rather, not represented as real.
The other day, when I mentioned that my biggest personal regret was that I never got my doctorate in English, I failed to mention what I consider to be my biggest emotional regret: not having another child. So this thought creeps into my dreams quite frequently, and when I wake up, it is still there, haunting me, and no matter how much I try to move past it, the result is that it stays with me for days.
I know. I should be grateful for the children that I have, that they are healthy, safe, relatively happy. Believe me. I am. More than I can express. But I have always wanted to have one more child, and I know that for me personally, it has become a permanent hole in my heart. I think that most women who want a child have that hole. I know that I am more fortunate than most women who want a child because I have children, but that doesn’t make the desire any less tangible for me.
“Fate has led you through it. You do what you have to do.” ~ Sarah Maclachlan, “You Do What You Have To Do”
I’m writing these words, and I am wondering if I am going to publish them. I wonder if I am going to lay bare more of my soul. I sometimes think that I put too much of myself into this blog, too many hopes and dreams and failures. Allow myself to be seen by virtual strangers. I wonder about the wisdom of such an act. In so doing, do I ravage my spirit more, cause myself more harm?
I really have no answers to my own questions. Perhaps it is just one of those days in which my psyche feels fractured. Perhaps I should not blog on days such as these. But then, there would be no release, and without this release, I wonder if I might not go mad, or at least, a little more insane.
If only there were a pause button to life, one that you could press, put things on hold for just a bit, fast forward through the bad parts that you don’t have the stomach to confront. Kind of like the mute button that I always wish would work when someone is talking but I don’t want to hear what they have to say. Oh well.
Today would be a good day to be on a sailboat, sun on my face, wind in my hair—a cleansing, if you will. Sail around to nowhere, just be in the moment grace has given you. I really should have bought that Tartan 27′ years ago.
“In the creeping moments before wakefulness” ~ L. Liwag
Maybe for now, I’ll just put it away, like the song that I woke up to:
“put it away and wait till tomorrow
put it away and take care of your heart
of your heart” ~ from Earlimart, “It’s Okay to Think About Ending” (music from House)