“Many many deep thoughts have visited me. And fled. The pen puts salt on their tails; they see the shadow and fly. Life ideas—that’s a bit thick. We’ve exchanged the clever for the simple. The simple envy us our life.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 29 November 1940

Federica Galli 1996 Pian delle Betulle acquaforte su zinco
“Pian delle Betulle” (1996, etching on zinc)
by Federica Galli

                   

“And that time, once so speedy and impatient, is now extremely slow in passing in certain hours of the afternoon, especially at the onset of winter, after the equinox when evening falls treacherously and the lights you weren’t expecting are switched on in the village . . .” ~ Antonio Tabucchi

Saturday, early evening. Rainy and cold, 38 degrees.

I’m baaaaack . . . Did you miss me?

So snow is in the forecast around here. Yesterday it was 60 degrees and beautiful. Of course it’s going to snow. What else would it do here? Secretly, Tillie and I are hoping for snow so that she can go galumphing, and I can take some pictures.

Federica Galli, Cascina Belluria, 1985, etching on zinc
“Cascina Bellaria” (1985, etching on zinc)
by Federica Galli

I know that I copped out this past week, but truly, I just couldn’t do it. I hope that I gave you a few chuckles and a bit of food for thought in my interim posts. I don’t know if I had a mild case of the flu (I did get my flu shot this year), or if it was an episode of fibromyalgia, but I was completely out of it, stuck in bed, no energy, alternating between chills and being too warm, an overall ague (love that word). Anyway, I’m on the mend, as if Brett, who was prescribed Tamiflu, and Corey and Eamonn seem to have escaped.

Speaking of Corey, he won’t be leaving until the end of the month. Apparently, the ship blew something (water pump?) while they were in the Azores, and now everything has been bumped by a couple of weeks. I’m mostly glad because we get to keep Corey a bit longer, but I had already gotten myself mentally prepared for him to leave, so now I need to adjust my thinking. Corey is bummed because he was ready and had set up the finances for the six weeks that he would be gone; now he has to adjust all of those scheduled payments.

Can’t win for losing, I suppose.

“Look / maybe this is the place we’ve been /
waiting for, maybe this place / is the day, inside us, inside each /
corpuscle, the day, that day, everyday is / inside, my body, your body,
everyday is / this thread” ~ Nick Flynn, from “Haiku (Failed)”

Yesterday I had an appointment with the neurologist in the new pain management group. I had told Corey pre-appointment that if this doctor wasn’t any different from the last one I saw in December, that I would have to find a new practice because I was very underwhelmed by doctor a who did nothing more than prescribe things.

Federica Galli 1981 Lanca Gelata, acquaforte su zinco
“Lanca Gelata” (Frozen Oxbow) (1982, engraving on zinc)
by Federica Galli

Turns out doctor b is wonderful, truly wonderful, and I am so glad. I finally have someone who will pay attention to all parts of the equation, who has come up with a plan of action to change my treatment. And most wonderful of all is that he consulted with me instead of talking at me, which is, as you probably already know, a rarity for a physician.

He is tackling my combined chronic pain and migraines in an aggressive way, and I have Botox injections for my migraines scheduled for March. Best of all, I never have to back to doctor a, who had foisted me off on his partners, which means that I never have to go back to the Portsmouth office, another thing for which I am grateful. I really couldn’t tell you just why I am so anti-Portsmouth except that it’s kind of a local thing, which is stupid, so I don’t really have a reason other than I really hate to go through the Portsmouth tunnels (either one) because they are sooo narrow and dark, and my claustrophobia really kicks in.

“Life is the farce we all have to lead.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud

I sat down to write hours ago, but then became distracted in trying to find attributions for my images, which are all by Italian artist Federica Galli, who died in 2009. I was able to find lost of images of her work, but very few had titles or years of creation, both of which I like to include whenever I insert works of art with my posts.

Anyway, hours later, I finally found the information on all of the images that I had chosen, but had found that I had sort of run out of steam, so I decided to have a hot shower and a cup of tea and then to try again. So shower, tea, biscotti (110 calories), not back again. Since I haven’t written anything in several days, I thought that I’d add some random observations from the past few weeks.

Federica Galli il giardino della Villa Reale a Monza 1996-7
“Il Giardino della Villa Reale a Monza” (Garden of the Reale Villa in Monza) (1996-7, etching on zinc)
by Federica Galli

Here they are:

  • Are there actually people out there who still listen to what Dick Cheney has to say? Why?
  • RNC Chair Reince Priebus (what kind of name is that) thinks that Republicans just need to smile more when delivering their message, which he does not believe needs to be changed. Smile? Really? This will fix what ails you?
  • Convicted pedophile and self-proclaimed prophet of the LDS Warren Jeffs just looks like a pedophile, know what I mean?
  • The pope is resigning. Conspiracy buffs proceed to salivate.
  • The people on the ill-fated cruise ship that lost power deserve a lot more than $500 after being given red bags in which to, er, empty their bodily waste. The embarrassment alone is worth at least $1,000.
  • No one remembers what Marco Rubio said in his SoU rebuttal because of the whole sweating thing.
  • The minimum wage should be raised. If you disagree, try to live on $9 an hour for one month, and then get back to me.

“So many things I had thought forgotten
Return to my mind with strange pain:
—Like letters that arrived addressed to someone
Who left the house so many years ago.” ~ Philip Larkin, from “Why Did I Dream of You Last Night”

I’ve decided once again that Valentine’s Day is a stupid holiday, and I kind of wish that I hadn’t bought everyone cards.

Life is too short . . .

  • to drink cheap coffee

    Federica Galli 1996 albero gelato al pian delle betulle
    “Albero Gelato al Piano delle Betulle” (1996, etching on zinc)
    by Federica Galli
  • not to enjoy good chocolate
  • not to have at least five types of tea on the shelf at any given time
  • to wait for the right time to see other parts of the world
  • to hate your hair and not do something about it
  • not to spring for a good cable package, one that includes BBC America, AMC, and Sundance
  • to think that pedicures are luxury and not a necessity
  • to eschew playing in the snow
  • to pretend that cookies aren’t a food staple
  • not to read poetry
  • to spend time with people you don’t really like (this one is from a roommate I had in college, and I appreciate it more as I get older)

“Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential thing resists telling.” ~ Paul Auster

And some random thoughts, just because:

  • Carson and the Dowager Duchess are my favorite characters on “Downton Abbey”

    Federica Galli 1981 La Nevera, Acquaforte su zinco
    “La Nevera” (1981, etching on zinc)
    by Federica Galli
  • I keep telling myself that I could design/sew if I just had a sewing machine. This is nonsense, of course.
  • My dreams never included zombies until I started watching “The Walking Dead.” I blame Corey for this.
  • Apparently many insects are a good source of protein and have no fat. Knowing this still does not make me want to try scorpions on a stick. However, if the zombie apocalypse does rear its ugly head, I promise to rethink this.
  • Costco is selling emergency ration packages, anything from three days worth of food to weeks worth. Are their marketing people watching “The Walking Dead”?
  • Is it weird that I really want to own a good shredder?
  • And a sword?
  • In the last few years, I have reduced my news sources to “The Daily Show” and tumblr, and I am still probably more informed than most people in the U.S.
  • If I subscribe to NetFlix, I may never have to leave the house again . . .

That’s all for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Birdy, “Just a Game”

                   

Oppressive Light

Two trees stand in the snow,
tired of the light, the sky
heads home—nothing nearby
where the gloom makes its abode.

And behind those trees,
houses tower in the dark.
Now you hear someone speak,
now the dogs begin to bark

The round, beloved moonlight
lamp appears in the house.
When again the light goes out
A gaping wound remains in sight.

What a small life to know
and so much nothingness nearby.
Tired of the light, the sky
has given everything to the snow.

The two trees dance with grace,
bend their heads and nod.
Clouds race across the sod
of the world’s silent face.

~ Robert Walser

(Revised version (w. restored rhyme scheme) of Daniele Pantano’s translation)

“You will be identified as thin-skinned and moody; in reaction you will identify yourself as civilized and sensitive. You will barricade yourself in that preposterous condition known as self-respect.” ~ Alphonso Lingis, Dangerous Emotions

"Purple Heather," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (ND, watercolor on paper)*

                   

“We construct a narrative for ourselves, and that’s the thread that we follow from one day to the next. People who disintegrate as personalities are the ones who lose that thread.” ~  Paul Auster

Thursday afternoon. Cloudy and warm, possible evening thunder showers.

Alexis and I had talked about going with my mother to Babies r Us today  just to look around, but mom isn’t feeling great, and my back is killing me today, so we’ll be putting that off for now. I wasn’t going to purchase anything, not yet. I’m waiting to see what she doesn’t get from other people, and then we’ll try to fill in the gaps. We were going with my mother since mom has a tendency not to shop from gift lists, and since Lex registered at both Target and Babies r Us, it would be kind of nice if mom would shop from the registry.

"Tropical Sunset," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1960, watercolor on paper)

Anyway, I took Brett to school, and Corey went to work this afternoon. He was originally supposed to work this morning, but that shift was called off; then they asked him to work this afternoon because someone called in, which is good as he only had two shifts for this week.

He’s really beating himself up over the whole MMD thing, and is convinced that everyone is really disappointed with him and secretly upset with him. It’s called a mistake, and they happen, and yes, they seem to happen overabundantly to us, but what are you going to do? Of course, I have no room to talk about carrying around guilt all the time, but it’s so hard to see in Corey, especially since no one really feels the way that he thinks they do. I mean, it’s just as much my fault as it is his that he left the house without his credentials packed. We both knew that he needed them, both knew that they were essential, but neither of us remembered, in spite of checking, rechecking, and checking again.

I think that we were so concerned about the weight of the suitcase, not going over the 50-pound limit, that we got distracted by that. It doesn’t matter, though. He’s still beating himself up. Just for good measure, I’m back to thinking that if I could just go back to work, it would end this damned cycle that we’re in. I don’t know what to think, to be honest.

“The madness of depression is . . . a storm indeed, but a storm of murk. Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected and feels sapped, drained.” ~ William Styron in Darkness Visible

I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but I read Styron’s Darkness Visible years ago while sitting in the coffee shop at Barnes & Noble. It’s not a very long book, but it’s an incredible read, especially for those of us who suffer from clinical depression. The way in which Styron describes all of the things that I’ve felt at times is spot on, perfect. I highly recommend this short memoir for any of you who are clinically depressed.

"Light through the Trees," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (ca 1960, watercolor on paper)

Anyway, this quote from the book showed up on my Tumblr dash, which brought to mind the book and the way that I was feeling when I first read it. My spirals downward used to be so extreme; I would fall far very quickly, and then sometimes I stayed there for days and days, until the days seeped into weeks, and then months. I don’t do that now, at least, not the way that I used to, and I have pharmaceuticals to thank for that. I know that some people are reluctant to take medicine for their depression, thinking that they can will themselves out of it, or snap out of it with a healthier diet.

And if they can do that, then good for them. I have no problems with alternatives to traditional medicine. I only know that it was a long road for me to find just the right medicine, that I tried at least five or six other kinds before finding one that did not leave me feeling like a zombie, or did not have terrible physical side effects. I just know that I never ever want to feel that way again.

Obviously, I still wrestle with my mood swings, and I know that this is something that will be with me until the day I die. And yes, I still have those moments in which the despair threatens to consume me, but for the most part, I stumble along in life, and sometimes I even remember to notice the beauty around me, and when I do that, it’s a small, silent victory. Some of you may not be able to understand that, and some of you will.

“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.” ~ Kahlil Gibran, Broken Wings

So on the way home from dropping off Brett at school I took a route that I don’t usually take. I went down a road that goes right past the street on which I lived for a brief time as an undergrad, in the old white house that had been turned into four apartments. I loved that apartment as it was on a dead-end street that abutted the water. Unfortunately, I lived there during a time in which my depression was still not being treated, and living there alone turned out not to be so good for me.

"The Waterfall," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1950, watercolor on paper)

I do have some good memories, though. I remember opening all of the windows and letting the breeze come through, smelling the slightly brackish water outside. The family who owned the house lived on a houseboat, which I always thought was so cool. In fact, it was what first gave me the idea of living on a boat myself.

My unit had a tiny back porch and a door that lead to a back stairway that I never used. If I remember, it was a bit unsafe. I hung a curtain of wooden beads across the door, and one night, I remember dreaming about this constant knocking sound, and then I awakened to find that it was storming outside, and the old windows, which were not airtight, were letting in a draft that was causing the beads to bang loudly against the door. I stumbled to the door and ripped the beads from the door. It’s a wonder that my neighbors didn’t complain, but I never heard anything.

So that memory flitted through my mind as I was driving home, down a street lined with Bradford Pear trees, all of which are heavy with blooms. I had the sunroof open and all of the windows of the Rodeo open, and the air smelled of spring.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ~ Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

I only stayed in that apartment for six months. My rent was $125, and that included heat and water. I had roommates for a few months, but that didn’t work out. I moved from there to move in with a woman with whom I worked at the newspaper—it was not a good move on my part, but hindsight . . . We moved into a new townhouse in Virginia Beach, which was owned by the man she was dating; it was within a community that was full of Navy pilots, right out of the academy. I had so many pilot friends and spent a lot of time at the officer’s club on base. Two pilots lived four units down from us, and I became very good friends with one of them. He actually rescued me one night after my roommate and I had a huge fight, and I walked out into the night with nothing but my dog and my keys.

"Tropical Sunrise," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1960, watercolor on paper)

I actually still remember his name. Over the years, I wonder what happened to all of them, him especially. For a long time, I would see a Tomcat flying overhead and wonder if the person in the cockpit was someone I knew. Those were heady days, but the roommate turned into a nightmare too impossible to deal with, and I ended up moving back home with my parents. But I left my mark on the townhouse, unintentionally: I spilled dark red nail polish on the off-white carpet in my bedroom. Oops . . .

It was my sophomore year in college, and I cut off all my hair and gained about 20 pounds. I was juggling two boyfriends, both of whom worked at the newspaper, one of whom was dumber than a box of rocks. Why? The things that we remember . . .

“Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence.” ~ Léon Bloy

Not really sure what has me journeying into the past, unless it was all triggered by driving past that street. Then again, it may have been triggered by the remembrance of the anxiety attacks. Who knows.

"Reflections," by Boris Lovet-Lorski (1940, watercolor on paper)

What I do know is that I do revisit the past probably more frequently than most people, and I find that a bit odd, as so much of my past is rooted in pain and sorrow. Even the good memories are bittersweet. The past is not necessarily a good place for me, yet I go there again and again. In search of what, exactly? Answers? Questions? Both?

Has this been triggered by my daughter’s pregnancy, the fact that she is due to deliver right around the same time that she was born, the same time that Brett was born? Remembering my own pregnancies, July in northern Virginia with no air conditioning in my car. Pregnant with Brett in July during a heat wave with temperatures above 100° for seven days in a row.

Here’s something I may have never told you, probably from embarrassment: My ex and I had two cars while we were in northern Virginia, my old Sunbird, which was a three-speed manual with no air conditioning (the first car that I bought with my own money), and we also had a Mazda 626 LX, fully decked out. I drove the Sunbird even though I was pregnant, hot, and uncomfortable, even though it was so low to the ground that getting in and out was well-nigh impossible. Do you know why I drove that damned car? Because my ex said that he should have the air conditioning because he had a longer commute . . . and I went along with that.

I would arrive at work wet from sweating in the car and on the way from the parking lot, which was about half a mile from my building. I went along with that. What the hell was wrong with me?

So Alexis is having her baby in July, but at least she has a new Accord that is cool and comfortable. Her little apartment only has a small window unit, and she’s already complaining about being hot even though it’s still mild outside.

So am I maudlin because of her? Because of Corey? Because of a drive down a street? Everything? Nothing?

Enough. Laundry and dishes await. Be still my heart.

More later. Peace.

*Images by Boris Lovet-Lorski  (1894–1973), Lithuanian sculptor, lithographer, and painter

Music by Peter Bradley Adams (yes, another, love this guy), “From the Sky”

                   

I Would Like to Describe

I would like to describe the simplest emotion
joy or sadness
but not as others do
reaching for shafts of rain or sun

I would like to describe a light
which is being born in me
but I know it does not resemble
any star
for it is not so bright
not so pure
and is uncertain

I would like to describe courage
without dragging behind me a dusty lion
and also anxiety
without shaking a glass full of water

to put it another way
I would give all metaphors
in return for one word
drawn out of my breast like a rib
for one word
contained within the boundaries
of my skin

but apparently this is not possible

and just to say—I love
I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face
and anger
different from fire
borrows from it
a loquacious tongue

so is blurred
so is blurred
in me
what white-haired gentlemen
separated once and for all
and said
this is the subject
and this is the object

we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets

our feet abandon us
and taste the earth
with their tiny roots
which next morning
we tear out painfully

~ Zbigniew Herbert

“The soil in which the meditative mind can begin is the soil of everyday life, the strife, the pain, and the fleeting joy. It must begin there, and bring order, and from there move endlessly.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Big Ben Variations: Big Ben and Westminster by Problemkind (FCC)

                   

“I dedicate these words to the things in life I do not understand, to each thing passing away before my eyes. I dedicate these words to the impossibility of finding a word equal to the silence inside me . . .” ~ Paul Auster from Disappearances – Selected Poems

Monday afternoon. Showers and warm temperatures that are slowly dropping.

Today would have been my dad’s 83rd birthday.

Big Ben Variations: Christmas Eve at 11 p.m. by ktylerconk (FCC)

Last night was a bad one. Didn’t get to sleep until around 5:30 a.m., and then awake again at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 . . . up for a bit, back to sleep at 12 and then Tillie woke me up, so I just said to hell with it and stayed up.

Tillie has an upset stomach and has thrown up several times in the last 24 hours. I just tried to hide a tums in peanut butter (which is her doggie crack), but she wasn’t having it.

Anyway, I whiled away the wee hours by watching a couple of movies and then visiting blogs on my blogroll. A couple of blog friends participated in this year’s nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), which is in November. Participants are supposed to write every day from November 1st to the 30th, with a goal of 50,000 words of a new novel. The event has grown so much that last year 200,000 people participated.

I’ve heard mixed reviews from participants. One person said that while he was happy about his accomplishment, the writing that he produced was so rough that he felt that he spent more time revising than he normally did. I’ve thought about it, and actually wanted to try it this year, but not having my own computer makes it pretty much impossible. So maybe next year.

“I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no melancholy” ~ Charles Baudelaire

So while I was lying there, eyes open and brain racing, I began to think about myself as a person, I mean, as in what kind of person I would say that I am. Here is what I deduced:

Big Ben Variations: At Moonrise by smaedli (FCC)
  • I am the kind of person who always puts something into a Salvation Army kettle during the holidays, even if it’s just a quarter
  • The kind of person who would exist on just dessert if my blood sugar allowed it
  • The kind of person who will not change my position in bed if it means waking up the dogs
  • The kind of person who wakes up when one of my dogs is having a nightmare and then rubs his or her back gently until it passes
  • The kind of person who thinks often of doing daring things, like riding in a glider, but never seems to get around to doing them.

There’s more of course. I’m the kind of person who

  • Really dislikes sitcoms, with the exception of Cheers, Friends, and M*A*S*H
  • The kind of person who sings in the shower
  • The kind of person who sleeps with one leg on top of the covers
  • The kind of person who has both kept and returned too much change, depending on how broke I was
  • The kind of person who likes big, oversized towels that smell of fabric softener

“Remember your name. Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Why all this introspection? Insomnia does weird things to my mind. But to be honest, it’s more that I sometimes stop and try to figure out exactly what I am, as much as who I am. Does that make sense?

Big Ben Variations: At Night by indywriter (FCC)

So to continue . . .

  • I’m the kind of person who prefers a thunderstorm to just rain
  • The kind of person who spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about death
  • The kind of person who has never had any desire to do any kind of hard illegal substance, but I did inhale way back in the day
  • The kind of person who will stop to try to rescue an animal from traffic
  • The kind of person who truly loves to walk in the rain

Other things? Well . . .

  • I’m the kind of person who can be simultaneously easily distracted and firmly focused
  • The kind of person who hates to open mail (other than personal letters), and allows it to amass into a pile
  • The kind of person who doesn’t dare to play a role-playing game because I know that I would become hooked
  • The kind of person who never buys anything at full price
  • The kind of person who used to balance her checkbook to the penny

“. . . you must somehow begin from the other end, from the other shore, and not always be concerned with this shore or how to cross the river. You must take a plunge into the water, not knowing how to swim. And the beauty of meditation is that you never know where you are, where you are going, what the end is..” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Then there are the offbeat things, making me the kind of person who:

Big Ben Variations: At Twilight by Chris_J (FCC)
  • Does the head bob in the car when a head-banging song comes on the radio
  • The kind of person who fills bird feeders in the rain
  • The kind of person who would spend a week in a monastery, given the chance
  • The kind of person who used to paint a checkerboard pattern on the right thumb only
  • The kind of person who possesses an ERA Now button

And then there are these:

  • I’m the kind of person whose favorite electronic game is still “Goldeneye” for Nintendo 64
  • The kind of person who drinks three things at once if I’m out (which is not often any more): something hot (tea), something cold (ice water), and something alcoholic
  • The kind of person who hates to wait at a railroad crossing
  • The kind of person who can do math in my head (some math, that is)
  • The kind of person who can curse without moving my lips

Things that make you go hmm . . .

“Dreams and restless thoughts came flowing to him from the river, from the twinkling stars at night, from the sun’s melting rays. Dreams and a restlessness of the soul came to him.” ~ Hermann Hesse from Siddhartha

I suppose that in thinking about these things, I’m trying to ascertain what separates me from the madding crowd, but perhaps that is only wishful thinking. Am I far from the madding crowd, from the masses? I’ve always thought so.

Words used to describe me at various points in my life (in no particular order): quirky, freak, strange, curmudgeonly, bitch, sweet (?), drama queen, cherubic (that one really threw me off kilter), exotic, sexy, fat, scary, imposing, forbidding, critical, funny, sarcastic, cool, uptight, paranoid, prudish . . . even the n-word once.

Big Ben Variations: Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and the River Thames at Night, by dimodi (FCC)

I remember for a while in junior high I was referred to as Chiquita (very original since it rhymed with my name . . . righty-o). Then there was the Leap Frog nickname. Whatever.

I’ve always believed that I didn’t fit in, that I wasn’t like the rest, the others, whoever they were, and admittedly, I’ve played up that aspect of myself, sometimes as a protective mechanism, as in, “I’m not like the popular girls, but that’s okay because I’m different.” And then sometimes being different has been a bane.

Different? The word brings to mind a line from “At the Ballet,” a song in A Chorus Line in which Bebe sings about being different:

“Diff’rent,” she said, “With a special something
And a very, very personal flair . . .

I never met anyone who was “diff’rent”
Who couldn’t figure that out.

I remember the first time I heard that song, and that section came on, and I thought to myself, “Yes. That’s me.”

But being different is a cloak, at least for me. It allows me to sit in judgment of other people, admittedly, something of which I am not terribly proud. I mean, when I’m out in public, I  look at people and think to myself, “I’m not as big as she is,” or “Is that what I look like?” Judging so as not to be judged? Who knows?

And finally,

  • I judge others harshly
  • I always wonder what people think of me
  • I talk back to people on the television
  • I get irritated when marquee signs have grammatical errors and misspellings
  • I frequently bore myself—now, for example.

Feeling a bit nostalgic; hence, the variations on Big Ben.

More later. Peace.

Music by O+S, “We Do What We Want to”

                   

Villanelle on a Line from Macbeth

Stay, imperfect speaker, tell me more.
I don’t want the house, I want its ruins,
cracked panes, grandfather clock, paper-like door.

I want the vines that engulfed exterior walls,
petrified forests of books and manuscripts,
dust-filled afternoons that opened like doors

Onto Hesse’s wind-silvered fields, onto myths
surging up out of the earth. I want the man to say,
“Stay, imperfect speaker, tell me more,”

as he did at the end of every long conversation,
saying “imperfect” and meaning “unfinished,”
saying it always as I moved toward the door,

as I say it now, again and over and again,
I want the words to rebuild the house in shambles:
stay, imperfect speaker, tell me more.

I know: if I went back, there would be nothing
or worse: a new house, pristine, immaculate,
even the vine-filled library gone. I left and shut the door.
Imperfect memory, please, stay, tell me more.

~ Michael Davis

“I realize in the end that I am probably powerless to affect the outcome of even the least thing that happens, but nevertheless, and in spite of myself, as if in an act of blind faith, I want to assume full responsibility . . .” ~ Paul Auster from Disappearances – Selected Poems

Blacksburg, VA, by zachstern (FCC)

                   

“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.” ~ Aristotle

Late Saturday afternoon. Overcast, low 50’s.

Second day on antibiotics. My chest still feels as if it’s in a vise, though. The cough is more painful today than anytime in the last week. Go figure. Still, I thought that I would try to bang out a post. We’ll see how far this goes.

Winter in Blacksburg, VA, by bwhistler (FCC)

By the way, do you like the new header? It’s from a photograph that I took last February when Brett and I were wandering around Forest Lawn Cemetery. Let me know.

I’ve had to restart the computer twice so far today. Perhaps computers are like people in that as they get older, they are more affected by the weather: cold and damp, hard to move . . . Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing again. Probably the latter.

I woke up to migraines today and yesterday, or it might be more accurate to say that the migraines awakened me. I don’t know if the Botox is already wearing off or if the bronchitis cough is the cause. I’m really hoping that I have at least another month on the Botox. It would really suck if the shots only lasted for less than six weeks.

I had planned to decorate the house this weekend, but that’s going to have to wait. Maybe sometime this week, but Corey has to work the next five days in a row, so I’m not sure if decorating will happen. More of the wait and see mode. He also has his biology final this Thursday, so it will be a very busy week for him.

ODU finals start next week and then break. Eamonn already had his final in medical terminology. I’m so glad that he finished at least one of the classes; of course, both would have been nice, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.

“Out of my wounds they have made stars:
Each is an eye that looks on you” ~ James K. Baxter, from Howrah Bridge

I’ve been thinking about stars. I’ve had a lot of sky pictures show up on my tumblr dash recently, some really beautiful shots of galaxies, nebulas, night skies. I want to live somewhere that in which I can look up and see a myriad of stars and galaxies, unpolluted by lights from the city and the suburbs. I want to be able to drink in the heavens, the boundless beauty of light and color.

Grand Canyon Night Sky by kern.justin (FCC)

I remember when I was in graduate school in Blacksburg, we lived in an apartment on a hill, and the night view seemed to stretch on forever. I remember the sound of the train horn echoing in the middle of the night. Sounds from sirens were few and far between. Life was so completely effortless then: school, studies, friends. Open spaces and cold mountain air. We lived on $7500 a year, and that was probably the best year in my marriage to my ex.

After that, life intervened. Obligations to people and things mounted. Possessions grew. Simplicity faded away and never returned. When we are in the midst of happiness, we never realize it. Few of us are in touch with ourselves enough to know that this moment here, this experience, is perfection, that this slice of life will never be replicated, can never again come close to the periphery of our existence.

Retrospect alone offers us truth and perspective. The now slips away, eludes us—we are such transient creatures, appreciating more that which we have already lived.

“We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.” ~ Paul Tillich

Duck Pond at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (WC)

A few memories of that time:

  • Eating homemade Brunswick stew by an open fire with other graduate students from the department
  • Crying as I walked through a snowfall after learning that John Lennon had been killed
  • Making a bottle of wine last longer than possible
  • Driving my car into a vast countryside, completely undeveloped, almost getting lost

Don’t misunderstand. I do not long for the relationship with my ex, but I do long for that simplicity. I long for the hunger I had back then, a constant hunger for new things, new tastes, new smells, new people.

I approached life so differently then. It’s not the youth that I long for, but perhaps the openness of youth. Not to be so jaded. Not to be so cynical. Not to be completely inured to life’s foibles.

I don’t know. I seem to be rambling. I cannot quite grasp the words to describe what it is that I am thinking. Sorry. I’m not sure if I can finish this post. I had thought that I knew what I wanted to say, but . . .

I’ll try again tomorrow. I know the poem is long, but it seemed appropriate.

More later. Peace.

Music by J. S. Bach, “Cello Suite No. 1, i, Prelude, performed by Mischa Maisky

                   

Finding the Space in the Heart

I first saw it in the sixties,
driving a Volkswagen camper
with a fierce gay poet and a
lovely but dangerous girl with a husky voice,
we came down from Canada
on the dry east side of the ranges. Grand Coulee, Blue
Mountains, lava flow caves,
the Alvord desert—pronghorn ranges—
and the glittering obsidian-paved
dirt track toward Vya,
seldom-seen roads late September and
thick frost at dawn; then
follow a canyon and suddenly open to
          silvery flats that curved over the edge
          O, ah! The
          awareness of emptiness
          brings forth a heart of compassion!
We followed the rim of the playa
to a bar where the roads end
and over a pass into Pyramid Lake
from the Smoke Creek side,
by the ranches of wizards
who follow the tipi path.
The next day we reached San Francisco
in a time when it seemed
the world might head a new way.
And again, in the seventies, back from
Montana, I recklessly pulled off the highway
took a dirt track onto the flats,
got stuck—scared the kids—slept the night,
and the next day sucked free and went on.
Fifteen years passed. In the eighties
With my lover I went where the roads end.
Walked the hills for a day,
looked out where it all drops away,
discovered a path
of carved stone inscriptions tucked into the sagebrush
          “Stomp out greed”
          “The best things in life are not things”
words placed by an old desert sage.
Faint shorelines seen high on these slopes,
long gone Lake Lahontan,
cutthroat trout spirit in silt—
Columbian Mammoth bones
four hundred feet up on the wave-etched
          beach ledge; curly-horned
                    desert sheep outlines pecked into the rock,
and turned the truck onto the playa
heading for know-not,
bone-gray dust boiling and billowing,
mile after mile, trackless and featureless,
let the car coast to a halt
on the crazed cracked
flat hard face where
winter snow spirals, and
summer sun bakes like a kiln.
Off nowhere, to be or not be,
          all equal, far reaches, no bounds.
          Sound swallowed away
          no waters, no mountains, no
          bush no grass and
                    because no grass
          no shade but your shadow.
          No flatness because no not-flatness.
          No loss, no gain. So—
          nothing in the way!
          —the ground is the sky
          the sky is the ground,
          no place between, just
 
          wind-whip breeze,
          tent-mouth leeward,
          time being here.
          We meet heart to heart,
          leg hard-twined to leg,
                    with a kiss that goes to the bone.
          Dawn sun comes straight in the eye. The tooth
          of a far peak called King Lear.
 
Now in the nineties desert night
          —my lover’s my wife—
old friends, old trucks, drawn around;
great arcs of kids on bikes out there in darkness
          no lights—just planet Venus glinting
by the calyx crescent moon,
and tasting grasshoppers roasted in a pan.
 
          They all somehow swarm down here—
          sons and daughters in the circle
          eating grasshoppers grimacing,
 
singing sūtras for the insects in the wilderness,
 
—the wideness, the
foolish loving spaces
 
full of heart.
 
          Walking on walking,
                    under foot   earth turns
 
          Streams and mountains never stay the same.
 
 
 
 
                              The space goes on.
                              But the wet black brush
                              tip drawn to a point,
                                       lifts away.