“The sky is pale blue, darkening to an indigo that contains black, but isn’t black at the edge of sight. At the same time the sun is shining brightly. (The world is everything at once.)” ~ Bhanu Kapil, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers

Cronulla Beach Rocks, New South Wales, Australia, by Gemma Stiles (FCC)

                   

“I committed silences and darknesses to paper, I recorded the inexpressible. I took the measure of vertigo.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud, from “Delirium II. Alchemy of the Word” (tr. Jeremy Harding)

Monday afternoon. Sunny and perfectly beautiful.

I’m sitting on Brett’s computer again, and I thought that I’d try to write a real post today. The biggest problem with this computer is that he has so many filters on it that every time I try to search for something, Firefox crashes, and I have to log in to Word Press again, and it’s just a royal pain.

I just haven’t been feeling up to snuff (curious phrase, that), may be coming down with something. Chills, all over body aches, lethargy . . . and then top that off with a migraine. Yuck. Brett and I had planned to do more grocery shopping yesterday, but I just wasn’t up to it.

Batsheba Beach Rock Formations, Barbados, by Shayan (FCC)

Actually, now that I think about it, it’s probably a fibromyalgia flare-up. I never think about having it until my body kind of goes off kilter and nothing seems to feel right. It’s an insidious condition; I think, though, that I’m fairly lucky in that mine isn’t as severe as I’ve heard it can be. I know of one person who is bedridden for days when he gets an attack.

Things are going well for Corey so far. The ship will probably leave Lithuania for Cape Canaveral later this week. We’ve been communicating by text, although I may have accidentally dialed him as his phone showed a missed call from me. We did speak by phone yesterday, but we’re trying to keep calls to a minimum because of the cost.

Not a lot going on around here. I really need to do the floors as there are doggy hair tumbleweeds in the corners. I look around and then skulk back to my bedroom. Noticing the dust doesn’t really help my state of mind as there is little that I can do about it at the moment. Actually, the house needs a good spring cleaning. You know, clean all of the ceiling fans, wipe down the baseboards, that kind of cleaning. I’m trying not to think about it too much.

“Our lives can’t be lived in flames.
Our lives can’t be lit like saints’ hearts, seared between heaven and earth.
……….
Lift up that far corner of the landscape,
there, toward the west.
Let some of the deep light in, the arterial kind. ~ Charles Wright, from “Stray Paragraphs in February, Year of the Rat”

So let’s see, what’s happening? Brett is in the final stretch of this semester. He’s really enjoying his sketching class, and he’s working on a ten-minute play for creative writing. Eamonn is . . . Eamonn.

Rock Formations off Ponta de Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

I got a nice surprise in the mail on Saturday: a woman’s group in Ohio had written to ask permission to use one of my photographs for an upcoming meeting. The theme is The Road Not Taken, and someone found the photograph I had taken and embedded with the quote from Robert Frost, which I put together for a post a few years back. Anyway, I told them that they could use it as long as they attributed, and they created a lovely bookmark to give to all of the participants.

It’s actually nice to have that kind of unsought, outside validation once in a while. As if some complete stranger has said, “Yes. I like what you’re doing here.” Serendipitous, definitely.

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” ~ Ovid

In other news . . . I’ve been trying to play with Tillie the Lab outside every day, either taking her for a walk—actually, she takes me for a walk—or playing stick with her in the front yard. She’s very good about being outside off the leash. She never runs in the street, and she doesn’t leave the yard. The physical exercise has been good for both of us.

Keyhole Rock Formation, Marin County, CA by LisaW123(FCC)

I don’t want her to become sedentary during Corey’s absence. Playing stick involves two sticks at once: I throw one, and she retrieves it but drops it halfway back so that I’ll throw the other one. If I don’t select the sticks, she’s likely to come back with part of a tree, which she has actually done before. We play until we are both winded, and then go inside for a treat (for her, not me).

This is the excitement in my life. Actually, I’m enjoying it. It’s getting me off my butt and out into the fresh air. The walking hasn’t become regular yet, but I think that once I’m over this whatever, I can try to get back to that as we combine walking with stick throwing. I come home through the field behind the house, and I throw the stick as we cross the field. It works. I leave her off the leash until we reach the parking lot, but then put her back on as the people in the parking lot are fanatical in how they zoom in and out of the park. The last time, she carried the stick home in her mouth after I put her back on the leash. Too cute.

“i haven’t done anything
meaningful in so long
it’s almost meaningful
to do nothing” ~ Nikki Giovanni, from “Being and Nothingness

Could I possibly bore you any more with the inane natterings of this post? As Mary Oliver says below, “last year’s loose dust has turned into this soft willingness.” I don’t think that she was actually referring to tumbleweeds or dusting the ceiling fans, but hey, it sounds so much better as poetics than as real life.

One of Three Rock Formations off Point Buchon Trail, CA by mikebaird (FCC)

Occasionally I remind myself that if not for Samuel Pepys and his diary, so much of the day-to-day life of old England would have been lost. Pepys (pronounced peeps) wrote about the mundane, the day-to-day life of living in London in the 17th century, but he also wrote about the big things too: the plague, the Great Fire of London.

Okay, I’m not trying to say that my musings will ever rank with Pepys’s musings in importance, especially not in an age in which anyone with a computer can deliver a diary, can jot down a journal, can breech the blogosphere . . . sorry, got a bit carried away . . . although if I recall correctly, Pepsy did spend an inordinate amount of time in coffee and ale houses. I suppose I’m just trying to say that this entry is akin to Samuel noting that he bought fresh cod at the piers—he ate fish, and I have tumbleweeds.

More later. Peace.

Music by Garrett Hedlund, “Timing is Everything” (that kind of day)

                   

A Settlement

Look, it’s spring. And last year’s loose dust has turned
into this soft willingness. The wind-flowers have come
up trembling, slowly the brackens are up-lifting their
curvaceous and pale bodies. The thrushes have come
home, none less than filled with mystery, sorrow,
happiness, music, ambition.

And I am walking out into all of this with nowhere to
go and no task undertaken but to turn the pages of
this beautiful world over and over, in the world of my mind.

* * *

Therefore, dark past,
I’m about to do it.
I’m about to forgive you

for everything.

~ Mary Oliver

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“In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up”

This is the post that I was working on for Monday when the computer started to act out and then locked up. Nothing. Nada. Had to close everything, clean the hard drive and do a complete scan, all of which meant that there was no more writing for me. Tuesday was leftover crappiness, so no writing. I’m continuing this post for Wednesday.

Sorry about the disjointedness (word?) . . .

“My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak.
‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.” ~ T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

Monday evening. Humid. Impending rain.

Tillie had another seizure last night. She was next to me on the bed when I noticed her moving frantically. At first I thought that she was chasing a hot spot, but then I realized that she was seizing. That’s the first one that’s happened in front of me in a while. Corey and I held her and spoke quietly to her during the episode, and thankfully, she seemed to come out of this one faster than before. Corey thinks that she is becoming a bit more accustomed to them so that she does not panic. This makes seven total.

It’s so frightening to see and so hard not to panic, but she would sense the panic. We had to get Alfie out of the room because he began to bark frantically, which was not helping things. Shakes hid under the bed until it was over. It’s odd how each dog knows that something is wrong and responds.

Today, we got the wonderful news that our entire tax refund has been gobbled up by a creditor. We aren’t getting a penny, and we owe on our state taxes, which are due at the end of April. That’s how the past few days have been: one bit of bad news after another. As I’ve said too many times before, sometimes, it’s just all too much, which is what leads me to the topic of this post: my daughter, Alexis.

More later. Peace.

“Anything, anything would be better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses one and never hurts quite enough.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

 (Since publication, I have since been informed that this image is actually from a 2010 movie, After Shock. Now I’m perplexted as to whether or not I should delete the image since it is produced. Does that make it less powerful? Thoughts?)

” . . . but when the pain is unmerited, the grief is resistless.” ~ Ovid

I have not been this haunted by a photograph since I saw the photograph of an old man carrying his starving child on his shoulders in Ethiopia.  I still have this curled, yellow newspaper image somewhere in my collection of clippings and pictures.

I am reminded of Kate Daniels’s poem “War Photograph,” which references the Pulitzer-Prize winning photograph by AP photographer Nick Ut. The iconic 1972 image depicts a naked, burned child (nine-year-old Kim Phúc) running away from her village, which has been napalmed.

Following is information that I have culled from various sources regarding yesterday’s events in Japan and the Pacific:

Japan was hit by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on Friday. The magnitude-8.9 quake spawned a deadly tsunami that slammed into the nation’s east coast, leaving a huge swath of devastation in its wake. Hundreds of people are dead and many more are still missing or injured.

Japan has often donated when other countries have experienced disasters, such as when Hurricane Katrina impacted the United States. Below are organizations that are working on relief and recovery in the region.

AMERICAN RED CROSS: Emergency Operation Centers are opened in the affected areas and staffed by the chapters. This disaster is on a scale larger than the Japanese Red Cross can typically manage. Donations to the American Red Cross can be allocated for the International Disaster Relief Fund, which then deploys to the region to help. Donate here.

GLOBALGIVING: Established a fund to disburse donations to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Donate here.

SAVE THE CHILDREN: Mobilizing to provide immediate humanitarian relief in the shape of emergency health care and provision of non-food items and shelter. Donate here.

SALVATION ARMY: The Salvation Army has been in Japan since 1895 and is currently providing emergency assistance to those in need. Donate here.

AMERICARES: Emergency team is on full alert, mobilizing resources and dispatching an emergency response manager to the region. Donate here.

CONVOY OF HOPE: Disaster Response team established connection with in-country partners who have been impacted by the damage and are identifying the needs and areas where Convoy of Hope may be of the greatest assistance. Donate here.

INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS
: Putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities. Donate here.

SHELTER BOX: The first team is mobilizing to head to Japan and begin the response effort. Donate here.

Yuki Kajiura, “Hear Our Prayer”

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

                   

“Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Wednesday night. Day 9 of the headache from hell.

Reboot Universe

Bonne Année! Buon Anno! Happy New Year . . . five days late.

As I said above, I am now on day nine of this particular migraine, and quite frankly, it’s driving me to distraction. I had wanted to do my new year’s post, well, on new year’s day, but stabbing pain in one’s eye coupled with extreme light sensitivity make approaching the computer for more than a few minutes impossible. At the moment, I seem to be in a lull from the pain; I wouldn’t dare say that it’s over as that would just reignite the curse; nevertheless, I thought that I would write while I am able.

I have chicken cacciatore simmering on the stove, something that I haven’t made in years. The idea popped into my head, and since I had chicken in the freezer, I thought, ‘why not?’ I’m using boneless chicken breasts, but thighs are better as they give the dish more flavor. Some of you may know the dish as Hunter’s Chicken—same dish, different name. Essentially, it’s an Italian chicken stew with wine, onions, garlic, and preferably, fresh herbs and tomatoes. The only fresh herb that I have is Rosemary, but I made do. From the aromas wafting from the kitchen, I think that I may have just nailed it even though I couldn’t find my recipe and had to cobble together something from a few different recipes on the Internet.

Why such excitement over a dinner? Well if you know me at all, you know that I don’t cook often any more, mostly because the standing for prep work really gets to my back, so when I am able to put together a meal, I add it to the victory column, a column that reads mostly empty.

(Aside: Have you ever fed a dog a spaghetti noodle? Too funny.)

Oh well. Small steps.

“Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.” ~ Louise Erdrich, “Advice to Myself”

Word Art

Corey is working tonight until 11. Yesterday he had to fly to D.C. for a medical transport. Luckily, he didn’t get snowed in like last time, and he was up and back within a day. I know that he’s tired—physically and mentally. Now that the holidays are over, he’s hoping that something will happen on the shipping front. It’s so hard not to place too much stock in what he has been told, not to pin our hopes on assertions and predictions by people who have not idea as to just how much they hold our future in their hands.

Yesterday Brett had his IB ceremony at Granby. Kind of strange since the graduates have finished one semester of college, but it has to be this way since the IB grades aren’t calculated until after graduation. IB diplomas and certificates are awarded to those who graduated from the program in the preceding academic year. It was a nice, short ceremony, fairly informal, and Brett was able to catch up with some people, which was nice for him.

He’s had a good Christmas break, seeing some friends, relaxing, and wreaking havoc on “Call of Duty.” Haven’t seen much of Eamonn since Christmas Day, and Alexis hasn’t been around since losing her car. I have no idea as to what she is going to do; every time I call her she’s asleep.

Not even going to go there . . . My mother does enough fretting over the situation for the both of us.

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” Jalal al-Din Rumi

"Someday this pain will be useful to you"

Having really strange dreams of late. Only vague memories of people from my past, and of course, the ongoing work dreams in which I have returned to work, but in recent dreams, I keep getting fired from whatever job I’m doing.

I have a fairly good idea as to why my dreams are moving in this direction: Up until a few weeks ago, I had been feeling much better in the pain department. Then the migraine hit, and about five days ago, my back really began to act up again, so much so that I spent two straight days in bed. The retreat to my bed for consecutive days hasn’t happened in a few months, and I had forgotten how much I really, really detest it.

I mean, in trying to recapture somewhat of a normal (whatever that is) life, I am trying to do more, not overdo, just do. So when my body rebels, I take it quite personally: a betrayal, a direct assault on my sensibilities.

Let me explain: The two months during which I took care of my mother I had to shunt aside my own health concerns to focus on her needs. Admittedly, there were days in which I was exhausted—physically and emotionally—but I had no choice but to do what was necessary, and in so doing, I found that I felt more necessary, not just to my mother, but in this world as a whole. Then, when faced with the reality of my own physical limitations, I find that I highly resent it.

Does that make sense? Resent myself, or rather, my physicality?

“I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Starlings in Winter”

Plato Word Art

I suppose that I still cling to the idea that one day I will be my old self again—the self who could work 12 hours a day, get by just fine on five hours of sleep, take yoga classes, clean my own house, wash my car, plant flowers—that person. It’s hard to settle for less when you know exactly what you used to be capable of accomplishing in your own.

I don’t want that person to be gone completely from this world as that is a reality that would sadden me and make me feel useless.

Another oh well . . .

So instead of resolutions for 2011 (since I never keep resolutions), I am going to list just a few things that I would like to see as being within the realm of possibility in my life at some time in the near future (in no particular order):

  • Visit the Humpback Mountain in western Virginia and trying to walk/hike the basic trail
  • Get back into yoga
  • Plant flowers this spring
  • Paint the living room
  • Treat myself to a good haircut and a massage
  • Contact a few people from the publishing program at GW just to catch up
  • See Mari again
  • Put new batteries in my watches that have died (I know, pitiful huh?)
  • Get away for a weekend with Corey, just the two of us, anywhere
  • Write a few poems
  • Watch less television
  • Take Tillie for walks around the neighborhood

I don’t see this as an impossible list, and I’m not even saying that I’ll do all of this in 2011, but damn. If I don’t put some ideas out there, then I’ll never focus. It’s not that I lack motivation, or at least I don’t think that’s what it is. I could be kidding myself. I mean, I had to really think to come up with 12 separate items.

This is by no means my bucket list. This is my memento vivere list, my reminder to myself to live, that I still live, that life is truly still mine for the taking. Perhaps it’s sad that I must remind myself of this, but at least I am self-aware enough to know that I need to be reminded.

Understand?

Headache is returning. Time to retreat.

More later. Peace.

Music by Greg Laswell, “And Then You”