If it’s Friday it must mean leftovers . . .

The Brooklyn Citizen, New York, September 24, 1899

“as if reality had become naked and nothing remained except the silent
spinning of atoms and molecules
it was a flapping of wings over blue and white waves, a sparkle of
sun on the rocks” ~ Octavio Paz, from “Kostas Papaioannou”

Friday afternoon, sunny and hot, 87 degrees.

Not the best day. It’s stuffy in the house, and we still have no AC.

Corey has gone to a health fair offering free dental, vision, and medical care. His tooth problem has gotten really bad, and it needs to be pulled. He got up before 5 a.m. to be there at 6 for the tickets, only to be told that today’s slots were all filled. He was told to come back at 2 to get a slot for tomorrow when there will be more providers. It’s an hour each way. He said that there were tons of people there.

Tell again there’s nothing wrong with healthcare in this country . . .

Bailey and Tillie got in another fight as soon as Corey left the house . . .

There will be no funeral or service for Dallas, and the lawyer has advised us not to get involved in the whole situation involving his ashes because we had offered to take care of them. This whole situation really, really sucks . . .

Not much of a collection for today, but a good segment from Colbert. Just not into it, plus computer woes continue . . .


Needs no explanation:

Too true, that . . .

How is it that this kid has a better plan at her age than I’ve ever had at any age?

At last, scientific proof of the concept that has plagued me forever; the peer reviewer’s comments are pure gold:

My kind of grandma . . .

The Decatur Herald, Illinois, August 23, 1935

For those who didn’t watch the entire second night of the Democratic debates, here’s a good snapshot:

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“I really don’t write to an audience. I never imagined an audience. I imagine other lonely people, such as myself. I don’t know who they are or where they are, and I don’t care, but they’re the people whom I want to reach.” ~ A. R. Ammons, from “An Interview with William Walsh”

Soap Film by Umberto Salvagnin

“This past week has been parceled up, or broken down, into so many unrelated parts that I feel like Humpty Dumpty. Suddenly it’s Friday, and I sit here baffled, sulky and wanting a refund, a re-run, a recount.” ~ Robert Phelps in a letter to James Salter (February 20, 1969-70)

Saturday afternoon, cloudy, 43 degrees.

I slept very poorly last night; I finally gave in and took a half of a sleeping pill sometime around 2 a.m. Of course, the fact of my lack of sleep didn’t stop the puppies from waking me at 7 a.m. I’m thinking of trading all of them in for a gerbil; gerbils don’t make noise, right?

So this past week I had an appointment with a neurologist. I had such high hopes that I had finally found a new doctor to take care of my myriad of pain issues . . . alas, not so much.

Plastic Cup + Water + Nail Polish by Milena Vargas

This was the neurologist that I had originally been scheduled to see in June, but Monday afternoon, I decided to call to see if there had been any cancellations, and voila! Cancellation for Tuesday morning at 10. This particular doctor is located in Abingdon, so that meant leaving the house by 8:30. Those of you who know me know that 8:30 in the morning is not my favorite time of the morning.

Anyway, we left on time, and I had my paperwork all completed, and I was greatly anticipating a good situation. I should have known better; this particular neurologist scoffed at the regimen that my former neurologist had me on, a regimen that took much, much trial and error and time to arrive at. She told me that she would never prescribe my particular medication for migraines. I explained, once again, that my regimen was to address not only migraines, but also chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and restless leg syndrome, to which she replied that she was only going to treat my migraines.

I left there less than happy, to say the least and with little intention of keeping the followup appointment in two months.

“Beyond myself
somewhere I wait for my arrival.” ~ Octavio Paz, from “The Balcony (El balcon)”

Then on Wednesday morning, Corey and I got ready again, this time to go to Bristol, an Tennessee/Virginia, a mere hour and a half away, so that I could get an echocardiogram and an ultrasound (for a supposed heart murmur and to check my thyroid). We got there, and Corey dropped me off to go do errands. I tried to check in, only to be told that my appointments were for the next day.

Weathered Metal Plate by Neuköllner

Seriously? I mean . . . seriously?

I imagine that screeching aloud not as a result of physical pain is probably frowned upon in hospitals, so I bit my tongue and asked if there were any way that I could have the tests done then, and . . . of course not. So I asked to used the phone so that I could try to get Corey to return (the whole cell phone situation is still not remedied). Anyway, I cancelled both appointments, and I’ll reschedule after I see the new PCP, which I think I’m doing sometime at the end of March. Granted, the whole heart murmur thing is a concern, but never in having hundreds (thousands?) of people listen to my chest has anyone ever mentioned anything about a murmur.

So one good thing did come from the painful visit to the unhelpful neurologist: I got a referral to a pain management place, one that I’m 100 percent certain that I had already called and tried to get into. Anyway, I have an appointment to see them at the end of May, so if I can just keep trying vitamins and supplements and ibuprofen for the pain, maybe I can hold out until May 30.

“I’m fighting myself. I know I am. One minute I want to remember. The next minute I want to live in the land of forgetting. One minute I want to feel. The next minute I never want to feel ever again.” ~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz, from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

So that’s the story of my week, one truly disappointing appointment, two non-existent appointments,  two future appointments. By Friday, I was freaking emotionally and physically exhausted (bear in mind, I left the house for two full days, an anathema for me). No wonder I couldn’t sleep last night.

Corpi celesti astratti by Luca Biada

Listen, I know that my expectations are really high when it comes to physicians, but I’m one of those people who has absolutely no tolerance for people being condescending to me, so when I find a doctor who will speak to me one-on-one, without the whole I’m the doctor and I know best vibe, I really connect. Usually, I do better with female physicians, the big exception being my former pain management doctor.

I really looked forward to those appointments, not only because of the pain-relieving trigger point injections, but also because that doctor and I had really great political discussions. That’s a rarity: a doctor who sees you as an intelligent human being worthy of having a conversation with.

This new neurologist? Absolutely not. She did everything but pat me on the head. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Whatever. I just cannot even.

I know. I know: lower my expectations.

“—How
will I begin When shall I
open my mouth
and let half
the world
fall in.” ~ Patrick Rosal, from “Meditations on the Eve of My Niece’s Birth”

Except, I will not lower my expectations. I’m tired of lowering my expectations. I’m tired of rampant stupidity. I’m tired of attitude problems from physicians and insurance companies and pharmacies. I’m tired of people on tumblr not even knowing the difference between simply homonyms, or even knowing what a homonym is. And I won’t even get into politics.

Dirt, shadows and reflections on glass in a greenhouse in Manchester by Liz Sullivan

Enough on the physician rant, the societal rant, the spelling rant (okay, maybe not the spelling rant, not ever).

Petra (one of the horses) is much better. I did some research on the condition that Dallas identified as being what was wrong with her, and he was incorrect, sort of. It is a grass sickness, but it isn’t tetany, as that’s mostly a cattle sickness. For horses, it’s called equine grass sickness.

In the meantime, Napoleon and Sassy are enjoying being the only horses in the pasture. Corey picked up some apple treats for horses, and I doled out a few this morning. Major hit.

“The verb kalchainein, ‘to search for the purplefish, came to signify profound and troubled emotion: to grow dark with disquiet, to seethe with worries, to search in the deep of one’s mind, to harbor dark thoughts, to brood darkly.” ~ Anne Carson, from “Variations on the Right to Remain Silent”

That’s about all for now, I suppose. The current obsession with podcasts continues. Currently, I’m listening to “Crime Junkie,” as I like the chemistry between the two hosts, that, and the fact that there is not inane banter. I may revisit Night Vale at some point, except that it reminds me of Brett, and that’s still way too painful.

Small Glass Bead by Dave Croker

Corey and I both seem to be on the mend as far as the upper respiratory gunk we’ve been dealing with. Even the missing fingertip seems to be on the mend. It is still quite painful whenever I bang it into something, which I do with great frequency as it’s one of my longest fingers, or rather, it used to be . . . Typing is still tender, so there’s that as well.

On a totally different tangent, I’m wondering if anyone out there in the ether has any subjects in particular that they would like to see me tackle. Think of it as a writing prompt for me. Nothing political, as that would only result in thousands of words embodying scathing commentary on my part. I have thought about updating one of those personal surveys, as the last one was several years ago, but I’m not sure. Too juvenile? Random?

Thoughts? Comments? Snoozes?

As always, more later. Peace.

All of today’s images, which are examples of abstract photography, which I love and wish that I could do, were found on Wikimedia Commons.

Music by X Ambassadors, “Unsteady”


“Again, my mind vibrates uncomfortably as it always does. Actually, I am overwhelmed with things I ought to have written about and never found the proper words. I do not let myself think. This is a fact. I cannot face much of the meaning. Shut my mind to anything but work and bowls. And I wonder as I let the month run through my fingers: Can I get out of it? Out of it all? Truth is, I feel all shadows of the universe multiplied deep inside my skin. (Isn’t it all dust and ashes?) I am impressed by the transitoriness of human life to such an extent that I am often saying a farewell…and my heart currently resembles the ashes of my cigarettes; In fact, I’m in the mood to dissolve in the sky.”

~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 1 July 1918

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” ~ Jean de La Fontaine

fortune favors the bold marquee

                   

“There is an uncertain territory
between night and day.
It is neither light nor shadow:
it is time.” ~ Octavio Paz, from “Cantata”

Tuesday afternoon. Partly cloudy, mid 50’s.

Athens GA marquee
Athens, Georgia Marquee

I’m going to attempt to do a real post today, but I make no promises. I didn’t sleep well last night because of the ongoing breathing issues, and when I did sleep, it was fitful. I had the fighter pilot dream again in which I was one of only two women in a squadron filled with males who did not believe that women should fly jets. My friend Jammi was also in a different section of the dream. I was giving directions from downtown Norfolk, and it was a route that I have taken several times in my dreams. Then there was the murder under the guise of an opera on a rooftop, and the animals that were encased in clear coffins, but they were still alive.

All in all, not the best night for resting.

I went to the doctor today; she’s prescribed an antibiotic, prednizone and a cough medicine. I also have to have a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. Which leads me to this question: Why can I not have a cold like a regular person? Why does my body go from zero to full-blown lung spasms? Why?

Yep. I have no answers either. Corey and I had planned our mini vacation for next week sometime. Now we’ll just have to see if my body cooperates. Nothing is worse than being sick while on vacation.

Before I forget, I wanted to pass along my thanks to those of you who sent me notes and cards after my dog Shakes died. It meant so much, and you are a great group of people out there in the ether.

I realize that my recent posts haven’t been exactly crackling with wit or wisdom. It’s hard to accomplish much of anything when you are already feeling quite low from yet another loss, and then maladies take hold. I did manage to consume several books over the past weekend, and I’m seriously contemplating shelving the rest of this post until tomorrow, surrendering to the inevitable, and crawling back into bed with another book. In fact, that sounds rather more pleasant than continuing with this.

“Nothing is plumb, level or square:
the studs are bowed, the joists
are shaky by nature” ~ Alan Dugan, from “Love Song: I and Thou”

Saturday afternoon. Sunny and mild, high 50’s.

Portage Theater Save Me marqueeSo obviously, I did not get back to the post in any kind of timely fashion. I felt better and then . . . I didn’t. That always happens. I start to feel better, and then I overdo it, and then I feel bad again. Today I have jelly legs, as in when I walk, I feel as if my legs are made of jello and cannot support my weight. It’s delightful, I tell you, absolutely delightful.

Other than reading voraciously, I have not accomplished a lot in the past week. I mean, I did clean out the mail basket, sort bills that won’t get paid, and get together stuff to shred, which sounds like way too much work for mail, but hey, I’m nothing if not thorough.

My friend Leah in NC suggested that I just start to request delivery of the antibiotics as soon as Thanksgiving is over, and I think that she’s right. Anyway, it turns out, I do have pneumonia, not just bronchitis, and would it help you to sense my actual mental state if I told you that it just took me three tries to spell Thanksgiving, and two tries to spell bronchitis?

Yep. Jelly legs and now fingers, too, it seems.

“The only escape, I think, is to work the mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 11 March 1930

Image of theater renovation at 213 West 42nd St.
Lyric Theater Renovation, 213 W. 42nd Street, NY

I was just sitting here wondering why I feel so cold (aside from the fact that Corey goes outside and leaves the back door open because I just love giving extra money to the power company to heat the yard) when I realized that I’m wearing only a nightgown and no socks, so yoga pants, sweatshirt and Christmas socks later, much better.

I’m trying to stay hydrated and nourished, but I go between bouts of extreme nausea to extreme hunger. Corey made me the most wonderful stew using the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. It was a hug pot of comfort food. Did I mention how much I missed being spoiled by him when he was gone? If I didn’t, well I did.

I’m trying not to think about my abandoned NaNoWriMo project too much. I mean, I actually started two stories, and while I did not get very far, it’s the most I’ve done in plot development in ages and ages. I’m holding on to what I’ve done so far, and maybe after the holidays I can resume work. Speaking of which, Corey’s mom is such a sweetie; one of the reasons she chose the hotel for their stay was because it had an indoor pool, and she thought that I might want to escape to the hotel and swim and write for a few hours, which, normally, would have been so tempting, but as I was already fighting succumbing to the nasty in my chest, I never was able to take advantage of.

So I’m hoping to resume the writing in a few weeks, after decorating, packages, family dinners, and oh yes, nastiness in chest.

“Blessed are the weird people
—poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters, troubadours
for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.” ~ Jacob Nordby

Grand Lake marquee
Grand Lake Marquee

I’m making a real effort to finish this post today, in spite of this nagging desire to crawl into bed and read. My logic is that if I finish this post, then I will have accomplished something (besides laundry), and it will give me the impetus to keep things rolling, but so far, not so much.

Weirdly enough, I am feeling more dizzy as the day progresses. Relapse anyone? No, seriously, this isn’t funny. On Thursday, Corey and I did errands for several hours, and I felt pretty good, tired by the end of the day, but better than I’ve felt in a week. Then yesterday kind of hinky, weak, but this dizziness?

Do I need chocolate? Could that be the source of my body’s quivering (and not quivering in even remotely a good way). Actually, I’m craving tiramisu and fresh fish. Corey went in search of some of the latter for dinner in the hopes that the Omega-3’s will boost whatever is ailing me.

“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” ~ Haruki Murakami

So in case you’re wondering: the images? Quirky images for a quirky post. Seemed fitting.

tempest-storm-marquee2I did stop writing to do some laundry and to read a book that had been on my reading pile, only to discover that I’m fairly certain that I already read it. It’s a Linda Fairstein book, one of her early ones. I like the later ones better, less reliance upon snappy/snarky dialogue, and more character development.

In other news, Lex, Mike and Olivia had a family Christmas portrait made yesterday. I can’t wait to see them. I’m really hoping that she’ll send them out along with the thank you notes and birth announcement that have been written since forever but remain unposted. My daughter. What can I say?

Brett’s semester is winding down, and it’s not a week too soon. It’s been a long painful one for him, one in which he has questioned his decisions and seriously contemplated just quitting. I’m really hoping that once the semester is over he can take the time he’s been planning and make that trip to New Zealand. If he doesn’t do it now, when will he?

And eldest son made a life decision last week and applied for his T.W.I.C., the first step in pursuing a job as a merchant marine. I’d love for him to consider attending Massachusetts Maritime Academy like his grandfather, or the Seaman’s School in maritime that my own father attended, but one thing at a time, I suppose.

Tillie has torn up her new stuffed baby. Alfie is still not letting me put medicine on his sores, and Corey is kind of in between. He’s definitely feeling better, so glad that his cough and nastiness didn’t get full-blown like mine, but I sense that he’s just kind of ambling through the news few weeks until he’s ready to make a change.

That all for now. Sorry it’s so boring, but I’m hoping to regain my speed as the week progress.

More later. Peace.

Music by Fiona Apple, “Why Try to Change Me Now”

                   

By the Same Author

Today, no matter if it rains,
It’s time to follow the path into the forest.
The same people will be walking the same dogs,
Or if not the same dogs, dogs that behave in similar fashions,
Some barking, some standing aloof.
The owners carry plastic bags.
But this is the forest, they complain, we must do as we like.
We must let the dogs run free,
We must follow their example,
The way we did when we were young.
Back then we slept, watched TV—
We were the dogs.
By the time the screen door slammed, we were gone.
Nobody really talks like that in the forest.
They’re proud of their dogs,
Proud especially of the ones who never bark.
They’re upset about the Norway maple, it’s everywhere,
Crowding out the hickories and oaks.
Did you know it takes a million seeds to make one tree?
Your chances of surviving in the forest,
Of replicating yourself, are slim.
Today, the smaller dogs are wearing raincoats,
The bigger ones are stiffing it out.
They’re tense, preoccupied,
Running in circles,
Getting tangled in the leash—
It’s hard remaining human in the forest.
To move the limbs of the body,
To speak intelligible words,
These things promise change.

~ James Longenbach

“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.” ~ Shirley Jackson

 

                 

“beyond myself, somewhere, i wait for my arrival.” ~ Octavio Paz

It’s 78 degrees today. Spring is weeks away. This month is insane.*

In honor of the last day of the longest month of the year for me, I’m posting one of my favorite Linda Pastan poems, “Agoraphobia.” Seems appropriate somehow.

                   

Agoraphobia

“Yesterday the bird of night did sit,
Even at noon-day, upon the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking.” ~ William Shakespeare


1.

Imagine waking
to a scene of snow so new   
not even memories
of other snow
can mar its silken
surface. What other innocence   
is quite like this,
and who can blame me
for refusing
to violate such whiteness
with the booted cruelty
of tracks?
 
2.
 
Though I cannot leave this house,   
I have memorized the view
from every window—
23 framed landscapes, containing   
each nuance of weather and light.   
And I know the measure
of every room, not as a prisoner   
pacing a cell
but as the embryo knows
the walls of the womb, free
to swim as its body tells it, to nudge   
the softly fleshed walls,
dreading only the moment
of contraction when it will be forced   
into the gaudy world.
 
3.
 
Sometimes I travel as far
as the last stone
of the path, but
every step,
as in the children’s story,
pricks that tender place
on the bottom of the foot,
and like an ebbing tide with all
the obsession of the moon behind it,   
I am dragged back.
 
4.
 
I have noticed in windy fall
how leaves are torn from the trees,   
each leaf waving goodbye to the oak   
or the poplar that housed it;
how the moon, pinned
to the very center of the window,
is like a moth wanting only to break in.   
What I mean is this house
follows all the laws of lintel and ridgepole,   
obeys the commandments of broom   
and of needle, custom and grace.
It is not fear that holds me here but passion   
and the uncrossable moat of moonlight   
outside the bolted doors.
 
Music by Lizz Wright, “Hit the Ground”
 
 
*For a good description of the panic disorder agoraphobia, click on this Mayo Clinic link.

“Every exit is an entry somewhere.” ~ Tom Stoppard

Perception Versus Reality

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” ~ William Blake
George Rickey's "Column of Four Squares Gyratory III

A quiet Sunday. Corey is working 3 to 11 again. The dogs are being lazy. Laundry is going. Outside, no sounds coming from the park, only the occasional birdsong. Comfortable temperatures and sunshine, although rain later. All in all, not a bad day.

I was thinking last night, or rather, early this morning, about the differences between what we perceive and what is real, that is, is what we see necessarily what is real? Is our reality the only reality?

 I think that what set me on this tangent was a dream from which I awakened in which my father was going to drive a big white Cadillac to a physical therapy appointment; my mother was rearranging papers, and different people kept coming in and out. My father, who was a small man, never felt comfortable in big cars. In his later years, I think that he would have been hard-pressed to see over the steering wheel of a big Cadillac.

But I awoke from this dream thinking about how the mind works, how in dreams reality is always altered at least slightly if not completely. I mean, the appearance of my father so often in my dreams is obviously not in keeping with the reality of my life because my father died almost nine years ago. Yet there he is. I know that I’m simplifying considerably, but for approximately one-quarter  to one-third of our lives, we exist in a state of unreality—those hours in which we sleep and dream; although the dreaming part is usually only about 25 percent of that sleeping time, taking place during REM sleep.

But the perceptions in dreams are not what I am really talking about. I think.

“But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.” ~ Octavio Paz
Liu Bolin, "The Invisible Man," Urban Camouflage

As far as I can discern, the concepts of perception and reality are both fluid, totally dependent upon the individual. My sense of what is right and just is based on how I was raised, the laws of the country of my birth, the beliefs instilled in me by family. For example, I do not believe that it is right to force a woman to cover her body because the sight of a female ankle might drive a man into unbidden lust. However, I was raised in a society in which the roles of men and women have continually evolved. My reality is not that my bare legs are sinful; does that mean that in another city in another country the idea of the exposed female body as unholy is wrong? No. Not wrong. Just different.

But let’s move closer to home. I believe that there is exquisite beauty in a yard that is filled with different kinds of flowers and trees. Five houses down the street there is a house that does not have one tree, one shrub, one flower. My perception is that it is barren. The owner’s perception may be that such a yard is maintenance free, clean lines, uncluttered.

When the trees lose their leaves in the fall, I do not feel a great compulsion to rake the leaves and dispose of them. In fact, I love the look of fallen leaves. My nosy neighbor cannot abide a stray leaf. She probably sees my leaf-strewn yard as the end result of laziness, slovenliness. I see her perfect yard as a reflection of how uptight she is.

Granted, these are relatively small things. But you get the point: What I perceive as beauty is not necessarily seen as beautiful by someone whose reality does not allow for things to be out of place.

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” ~ Lao-tzu
Trompe l'oiel by Richard Haas, Facade of Brotherhood Building, Cincinnati, OH

My perception of the reality of my life at the moment is shaped in great part by the reality of my past. Three years ago, money was not so much an issue. I did not awaken each morning and measure the possibilities of my day by how much pain I was experiencing. Today, I see my life as being very limited, hemmed in by circumstances that are very much out of my control. These are my perceptions.

Across the world, in a small village somewhere, the days are measured in more concrete terms: how much water is available? Will there be enough rain to sustain the crops? Will another child die from dysentery?

Across the country in a city somewhere, a woman with perfect nails and a chic haircut is measuring her day by how many pairs of shoes she will buy, whether or not to lunch in this trendy bistro or that one.

Is one reality better than the others? Is one reality less of an existence than the others? We make these judgments according to what we know, most of the time without ever considering what is going on across the world, across the country, or even across the street.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” ~ Anaïs Nin
3D Sidewalk Illusion by Julian Beever

I don’t know if I’m being very effective here in making my point. What I had planned to say, or thought that I might say, does not seem to be translating well onto this page.

I think that too often we take our own realities and try to impose them on others. Take the Catholic church (or not).  I am not catholic, but many people assume that I am because I am Filipino.  But my feelings about the Catholic church are mostly hostile, and I realize that my hostility comes from my firm belief that there should be equality between the sexes; the Catholic church is inherently misogynistic. Men have all of the power. Therefore, I cannot reconcile myself to be of a faith that in its basic tenets places women below men. For me, that’s just a bunch of hooey.

But I was watching some documentary a while back that discussed how Catholicism, because of its staunch stance against the use of condoms is causing more deaths in third world countries. Consider: according to the pope, condoms are a sin because of that whole sex and procreation thing. Men with AIDS are forbidden by the church to use condoms when having sex with their wives even though the unprotected sex will most likely result in the wife contracting AIDS.

In my reality, this makes no sense, no sense whatsoever. But there are a whole bunch of people out there for whom this reality makes perfect sense. Do I have a right to be indignant? Well obviously I can be as indignant as I want to be, but whether or not that indignation should be heaped on any Catholic with whom I might come into contact is questionable.

But I’m right. Right? Transmitting AIDS is wrong. Right? Well, duh. But to people of faith, for whom the word of the pope is infallible, it’s not a duh. On the contrary. It’s not even a quandary.

Hence the whole personal reality and perception versus that of another person, society, country, etc. The concept of fluidity is more fact than concept. My reality of today is so different from my reality of 20 years ago.

“I want so to live that I work with my hands and my feeling and my brain. I want a garden, a small house, grass, animals, books, pictures, music. And out of this, the expression of this, I want to be writing (Though I may write about cabmen. That’s no matter.) But warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire, to feel, to think, to act. This is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for.” ~ Katherine Mansfield
Trompe l'oiel Mural: Before and After

When I was younger, my reality went something like this: career first, family incidental. Before I had children I could not conceive of a time in which my career was not the most important thing in my life. My personal success was directly tied to the size and location of my office, the amount of my salary, the scope of my bonuses. In my 20’s, I was a political animal in the corporate world. I had the kind of personality that would have actually done very well in politics.

After I had Alexis, my reality shifted, slightly at first, then dramatically as the days passed into months. I hit a point in my life in which I could not conceive of ever placing anything above her needs, her comfort, her security.  And so on.

My reality now? Not sure. I perceive of myself as being so different from what I used to be, but I don’t know if that is true. It could well be that time has passed, but I have remained the same. Or maybe time has passed, and I have allowed my reality to evolve. I just know that Mansfield’s quote comes about as close to my ideal reality as I can sum up in words: home, animals, books, pictures, music, writing. To continue to learn, expand my mind. Not to stop thinking and delving and discovering.

I feel fortunate that my reality does not include the possibility of starvation, or imminent rape, or death from something easily preventable. That my reality does not include Manolo Blahniks and pricey eateries really doesn’t bother me. In fact, I think that if I were to put on a pair of shoes that cost $800, I would probably hate myself because I would not be able to rid my mind of the thought of how that money might be put to better use.

Evolving realities. Shifting perceptions. Movement. Growth. Life is not the destination; it’s how we get there and what we do along the way.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sugarland, “Make Me Believe”

“I have loved to the point of madness; That which is called madness, That which to me, is the only sensible way to love.” ~ Francoise Sagan

April Snow-Covered Mountains over Portage, Chugach National Forest, Alaska by Janson Jones

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Sepia Docks (Wikimedia Commons)

Very melancholy today. I sense the stirrings of an impending fall. The days before a fall are always so precarious—I feel out of sorts but for reasons that I cannot quite discern. My senses are heightened; loud sounds unnerve me, and food does not taste exactly right. In other words, lots of things that are non specific, that I cannot quite grasp, hovering just beyond the periphery. 

I have wondered many times in my life how people who are even-tempered make their way through the days, never falling into the depths of despair, never flying on the wings of mania. I have wondered what my life would have been like if I had been blessed with an even temper, how much I might have missed if that had been my reality instead of this reality. 

I chose Janson’s picture of the mountains over Portage because I find it so incredibly intriguing. It’s spring snow, but because of the sepia tones, it could be sand. The picture itself undulates with its shadows and patches of light, which reminds me of my life, and how it moves in ripples, little peaks, sometimes deep vallies. And then again, moving through my life often feels like walking on sand: the slow trudge to make headway without losing my footing, the strain of climbing against grains that fall away with nothing to hold onto, the slow slide when going downhill. 

“Oh soul,
you worry too much
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Josef Sudek Still Life (w/sepia tones), 1954

I have been thinking about love for the past few days. Love in general. Love specifically. Motherly love. Passionate love.

Why do some people love so passionately while others are more reserved? Is it a matter of control, as in loving too much is giving up control? Do men love differently than women? In a relationship, are women the ones who love more? You know what I mean—there is always one person in the relationship who loves more than the other person. I think that being able to recognize this and accept it is a sign of maturity. 

Perhaps.

I mean, when you are young and newly in love, you want the other person to love you just as much as you love him or her, and nothing less will do. I think that once you have had some experience, you realize that no two individuals love in the same way, ever. But loving in the same way is not the same as loving less. I think that loving less reflects an unwillingness to give over the self to another, and this, I think, is directly tied to trust. 

As in Do I trust myself enough to lay myself bare to this other person? Do I trust this person enough to lay myself bare, to risk everything? It’s a tricky path, one that has no clear markers. 

“Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.” ~ Hafiz of Persia, The Gift

In looking back over past relationships, I realize that I used to fall in love easily, but that I did not stay in love unless there was an equity in the relationship. In my relationship with the pathological liar—which happened when I was quite young—my mind constantly sent warning signs that my heart overruled. It was not until I was willing to face the truth that I was able to break the cycle. 

Solitary Bench (w/sepia tone)

In my relationship with my ex, my love grew and adapted over the years, which is how it should be in a long-term relationship. However, my mind sent me warning signs that I chose to ignore: Yes, he drank, but was it really too much? Who says what is too much? Was I really the one who always took care of the details, or was I making too much out of things? I think that in the end, I needed the break as a result of exhaustion as much as anything else. I was bone-weary from fighting constantly, and the love I had within me felt drained and tainted. 

Now, with Corey, I am aware of many differences from past relationships, one of the main being that I feel a sense of protection that I never felt with anyone else, and I am not sure if that is because I have changed enough to let someone protect me, or if Corey’s protection allowed me to change. Another aspect that differentiates our relationship is the tenderness that Corey shows me. It is blissful to feel such tenderness.

That being said, there is still a part of Corey that I cannot touch, a part that he holds back in reserve for himself. I try not to see that as a statement about our relationship, but sometimes it’s hard. 

“Love is an attempt at penetrating another being, but it can only succeed if the surrender is mutual.” ~ Octavio Paz

I understand why he would feel a need to protect himself. I understand the deep wounds that he has. But understanding and accepting, unfortunately, are not the same. To reveal the self completely is to open the door to vulnerability. Few people will willingly walk towards vulnerability. It’s much too frightening. And then there is the sense that if a person holds something back, in reserve, then he can never be completely broken. 

Paris Street (ca 1925, w/sepia tone)

Yet if I am to be completely truthful, then I must admit that I long for him to be as open with me as I am with him, which makes me feel as if I am expecting something unreasonable. I mean, love is not ownership. Two individuals who love each other do not have to be completely immersed in each other in order for their relationship to succeed. In fact, it is usually better if each person has outside interests, things to occupy time away from each other. But this separateness can be taken to the extreme. 

I think of my own parents whose relationship was supremely dysfunctional, and I am amazed that I have ever been able to have a healthy relationship given what I witnessed. My father spent more of their marriage at sea than at home. When he retired from the Navy, he couldn’t stand being on dry land, and they couldn’t stand that much togetherness, so he became a merchant marine. My mother had her own interests, and my father had his. They only began to do things together when they were older. Still, my father was unfaithful numerous times, and my mother tolerated it, and I don’t understand that at all. 

My ex and I spent the first part of our marriage doing things together and the last part of our marriage with separate friends, going out separately, and it was rare that we came together to do something as just a couple. I hated that. Corey and I enjoy each other’s company, which is a good thing as we have spent the last two years practically living in each other’s skin, which is problematic all by itself. 

“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” ~ Zelda Fitzgerald

White Rose (w/sepia tone)

In the end, though, this is what I believe: Love is not necessarily patient and kind and all of the other things Corinthians says that it is. Love is complex and intense. It is so much like dancing naked in the rain. It is risk and faults and failures. It is learning to love sushi and learning to appreciate things in life you may have never considered before. Love is as solid as it is ephemeral; it can burn like a dragon’s fire and soothe like the coldest mountain stream. Love takes courage, and it can be terrifying in the way it consumes. Love demands respect and in its deepest essence it hearkens to our finest natures. 

The human heart, both fragile and strong, is only amplified by love. And while the heart is a solid vessel, in its abstract form, it is an empty vessel, waiting for the elixir of life to fill it to satisfaction. Handled without care, the human heart can break into a million pieces, while at the same time, its ache can be taken away with a simple phrase. As Ondaatje says, “the heart is an organ of fire.” 

We can no more choose who we love than we can choose our natures. If we are lucky enough to find that true companion, the one who will take our hearts and hold them close, keep them safe, and refill their occasional emptiness, then we are fortunate indeed. 

Love is hard. Life is hard. To expect otherwise is to be naive. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Sarah Bareilles, “Gravity” 

 

“What is important must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” ~ Audre Lorde

Girl Grasping Blooms of Thorny Shrub in Snow Covered Landscape by Kay Nielsen

“Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn’t a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words. Very few people get to sing their song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their song instead.” ~ Neil Gaiman

I received a very interesting comment to yesterday’s post. The writer took exception to the quote, “And in the end the words won’t matter/‘Cause in the end nothing stays the same/And in the end dreams just scatter and fall like rain.” The lines were taken from Matt Nathanson’s song, “All We Are,” and I thought that they were appropriate to my section on dreams.  

"Stealers of Light," by Edmund Dulac

But the writer contended that words do matter because “they are the bricks of the imprint which gets built.” He went on to say that we should speak “as if you are seeing dawn.”  What a wonderful comment and such a beautiful sentiment: to speak as if you are “seeing dawn.”  

If we all spoke as if we were seeing dawn, how beautiful language would be. I realize that we cannot always speak as if we are seeing the miracle of dawn or great beauty, but I do agree completely: words do matter. That being said, I chose that particular section of the song to use for my section quote because I also agree with the statement that in the end, words won’t matter. Am I of two minds? Of course, but let me explain.   

We should all speak to one another as if the words matter because words do stay—they reside in memory; they creep into the locked corners of our brain and take up residence, sometimes to be brought back out at inconvenient moments. They insinuate themselves into the very fabric of our souls, the sweetest ones part of the most beautiful patterns. But I am reminded of something that I read somewhere long ago about how people should not wait until the ones they love are dead to tell when how they feel. Words spoken over a grave are for the speaker. That is what I mean when I say that in the end, once someone we love is gone, all that we have to say, should have said, wanted to say—all of that comes to nothing, and the words unsaid become dust on our tongues.  

I know this too well.  

So yes, Manish, words do matter, but in the end, words cannot change the life we have led, how we have treated our friends and our enemies, the things we have said in anger, and the things we have said in love. The end is too late.  

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” ~ Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

"The Fairies Have Their Tiff with the Birds," from Peter Pan by Arthur Rackham

After my bout with violent dreams and vivid dreams, I’m back to not being able to sleep. This morning, after hearing the clock chime 6 a.m., I got out of our bed (Corey’s, mine, and the dogs’) and went into Eamonn’s room and laid upon his futon. His room is dark and cool, and I thought that maybe I would be able to sleep better without the dogs, who were pressed up against all sides of my body, so I lay there in the dark and looked up at Eamonn’s ceiling, where he had put stars that glow in the dark. I thought about when he was dating this one girl with whom he was truly smitten, and he had labeled one star “the first star to the left.” For awhile, he was consumed with Peter Pan, the adult version, not the Disney version.  

I laid there in the dark and realized just how much I miss eldest son. Yes, he drives me crazy, and yes, he is so much like my ex that it is beyond annoying, but he is also my first son, and I remember him sleeping on my chest when he was an infant. He had a stomach disorder that made his sleep fitful, and he used to sleep best on my chest. I would lay there with my hand gently on his back and watch him breathe. I was still so plagued by the loss of Caitlin that I could not rest peacefully unless Eamonn was nearby. When he wasn’t asleep on my chest, he slept in the cradle at the foot of my bed. Our old lab Mokie would sleep under the cradle in protective mode.  

Those were days of great joy for me. Our family seemed to have recovered from the unrecoverable, and we were making our way into life again. That Eamonn did not sleep through the night until he was one year old did not bother me, although I would get curious looks from people who asked if he was sleeping through the night, one of those judgemental parenting questions. After the stomach operation he had when he was only three weeks old, Eamonn had to take several medicines, including a dose during the night, so sleeping all the way through was impossible.  

I would feed him, give him his medicine and then rock him back to sleep in the Bentwood Rocker. Often, I would sing to him softly; he loved “Unchained Melody,” and it never failed to put him back to sleep.  

That is what I was thinking about as I lay there on his very uncomfortable futon, looking up at the stars on his ceiling that were fading as the morning light began to creep into the window. And I finally fell asleep.  

“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.” ~ Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife

  

“The Star Lovers” by Warwick Goble

Words. Words of love. Words of hate. Words spoken in anger. Words spoken in frustration. Words uttered in helplessness. Words whispered in sorrow. Words are my bane and my lifeblood. They make me whole and allow me to share my innermost thoughts, and they cleave my heart when I allow them to fall from my lips angrily. Words join us as families, communities, societies. And they separate us from the others, those who do not speak the same words. And sometimes, the unspoken words, the gestures—the hands clasped in prayer, the hands crossed over the heart, the clenched hand, the wringing hands, the open hand against the lips—those unspoken words can be comprehended by any onlooker, and we are joined, whether or not we desire it.  

I am my words, all of the words that I have said to my children, to my love, to my parents, my friends, and yes, even my enemies. All of the words that I have put down on paper, have typed with my keyboard. All of those words are the sum of my life, myself, my esse, and my soul. There are words that I regret but cannot take back, and there are words that I should have said, yet I remained silent. Those utterances and those silences also comprise my being. If I am very lucky, when I reach the end of my journey, some of my words will be remembered, and I will have said all of the words I needed to say to all of the people who mattered.  

More words later. Peace be unto you and yours.  

From “A Tree Within”  

The landscape opens its eyes and sits up,
sets out walking followed by its shadow,
it is a stela of dark murmurs
that are the languages of fallen matter,
the wind stops and hears the clamor of the elements,
sand and water talking in low voices,
the howl of pilings as they battle the salt,
the rash confidence of fire,
the soliloquy of ashes,
the interminable conversation of the universe.
Talking with the things and with ourselves
the universe talks to itself:
we are its tongue and ears, its words and silences.
The wind hears what the universe says
and we hear what the wind says,
rustling the submarine foliage of language,
the secret vegetation of the underworld and the undersky:
man dreams the dream of things,
time thinks the dream of men.
  

~ Octavio Paz  

Matt Kearney’s “All I Need”  

  

   

*Images are book illustrations from the Golden Age of Illustration (early 20th C.), including works by Kay Nielsen (Danish), Warwick Goble (British), Edmund Dulac (French), and Arthur Rackham (British).