“We never know the quality of someone else’s life, though we seldom resist the temptation to assume and pass judgement.” ~ Tami Hoag, from Dark Horse

Henri Matisse, “Open Door, Brittany” (1896, oil on board)

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ~ Paulo Coelho, from The Alchemist

Saturday afternoon, partly cloudy, 45 degrees.

Corey has gotten a ride into Coeburn to pick up the second round of shots for the puppies. The rescue coordinator managed to get someone to donate the shots, not sure who, but it’s a definite boon. The pups are a bit overdue for this round. Here’s hoping that the woman who was on tap to foster them will be willing to take them soon once they’ve gone through this round of vaccinations.

Richard Diebenkorn, “Interior with Doorway” (1962, oil on canvas)

Lately, when I make it into the living room in the morning, I really want to turn around and go back to bed and hide beneath the covers. The living room can best be described as a disaster area. Let me back up: When we moved, we bought an oversized bean bag chair at Sam’s that could be opened into a full-sized mattress. We slept on this  during the moving process. Recently, we decided to let the dogs sleep on it temporarily, mostly for Tillie’s arthritis. Since the arrival of the pups and goats, the bean bag has been appropriated at various times and is in a state of complete breakdown. Someone or the other made a hole in the middle of the cover, and it has become a game to pull out the pieces of memory foam with which it has been stuffed.

The living room floor is covered in pieces of memory foam, and as soon as I sweep, more pieces appear. It’s our own version of a ball pit, albeit one composed of memory foam. Why do I let the puppies do this,  you may wonder. I’m swimming against a tide composed of 17 rapidly growing puppies and two goat kids. What would you do? How would you go about handling all of this . . . this . . . what this is?

I know. You wouldn’t be in this situation, would you? You would have had the females spayed last year. Or you wouldn’t have taken on more dogs when Dallas died. Or you would have taken the puppies to any available shelter and been done with it. Or you would have put all of the animals in the big barn that doesn’t exist. Or you would have gathered all of your family and friends and held a big ol’ barn raising. Or you never would have moved onto a farm without the proper equipment, or structures, or working capital. Or………….

“but we can’t know what suffering will cost us.
It could cost the very self that longed for it,
that winked at its specter, lurking,
blueing the sky. In the wake of its coming,
the small boat of our souls—” ~ Eliza Griswold, from “In Another Year of Fewer Disappointments”

Sunday afternoon, overcast, 49 degrees.

So just as I began to fall into the familiar rhythm of writing, the laptop decided to throw the old problems at me: repeated scripts and constant screen blackouts. It was all too much, and so I abandoned the post in the hopes that I would be able to finish today. It’s odd, really, how one day this laptop will work just fine, and then the next, nothing works, or works consistently. Today seems to be a better day; you could almost believe that this machine has moods.

Almost.

Marcus Stone, “Doorway” (nd, oil on canvas)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, your smooth judgment of our ragged current state of affairs. Granted, I’m assuming that you are judging, and maybe you aren’t, but if the tables were turned, I would probably judge. That’s the kind of person that I am, or rather, used to be. I’ve become much kinder in the ways in which I view people and their circumstances. I suppose that it’s one of the benefits of being on the far side of youth: experience has in fact taught me not to be so swift in my condemnation of others, has taught me the pitfalls of doing so, among many other life lessons that youth in general can never begin to understand.

The fact is that I probably judge myself much more harshly than anyone else ever could. My critical eye is most keen when turned inward. Funny, I just remembered something that my first serious boyfriend said to me, quite without malice—that I should be a critic when I grew up because I was always criticizing everyone and everything. I was maybe 15 at the time. I wonder how I had already become so damned cynical at such a young age, but truthfully, I don’t have to wonder much. My mother was one of the most judgmental people that I have ever encountered. Hands down.

My Aunt Betty, my mom’s best friend for years, once used the word deluge to describe a heavy rain that had been going on for days, and I remember my mom being so put out about the word, going on and on about how Betty used these strange words. But I also remember that at the time I thought that it was such a cool-sounding word, and I immediately looked it up in the dictionary (you know, those books we used pre-Google). So weird when those little blips of memory arrive unbidden.

But I digress . . .

“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life —where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” ~ Miranda July, from It Chooses You

Back to my assessment of my critical eye and my mother: She was always most critical of those closest to her—me, my dad, her family, her friends. I’m not sure if any of us ever measured up, so I’m not surprised that I too grew up to be hyper critical, but for the most part, I have reserved that criticism for those outside of my inner circle, so I was truly surprised when that boyfriend made that comment. I denied it and laughed it off, but alone with my thoughts, I mulled it over. Was I that critical? And for that matter, how does one go about being paid to criticize?

John Singer Sargent, “Venetian Doorway” (c1902, watercolor on paper)

So as regards the current situation in which we no find ourselves—anything that you could say or think, I have already said and thought. Like it or not, having three bitches become impregnated is irresponsible, regardless of the reasons that led to such a turn of events. Corey and I never quite seem to be able to make it to this side of being responsible adults, at least not when it comes to finances. Try as we might, we never seem to get it right, so we keep finding ourselves in these impossible situations.

How does that happen exactly? Seriously. How?

We genuinely try and try and try. We have no extravagances in our lives now, never go to bars or movies, never buy clothes, rarely buy books, never go out to eat. His biggest personal expense is cigarettes, and mine is makeup/skincare, but even those things have been pared back to the barest of bones. We do have internet, and we do have a television subscription service (a cable alternative), but being able to at least watch a few key shows is frankly one of the only things keeping me sane.

“Sometimes you imagine that everything could have been different for you, that if only you had gone right one day when you chose to go left, you would be living a life you could never have anticipated. But at other times you think there was no other way forward–that you were always bound to end up exactly where you have.” ~ Kevin Brockmeier, from The View from the Seventh Layer

I have no answers to any of this. Right now, my biggest concern is transferring these puppies to the rescue people and then doing a major deep clean of the house. Exciting, right?

And in the meantime, I keep questioning my life choices and wondering how and why it seems that an emotional bomb exploded and destroyed any normalcy I once had in my life. I continue to wonder how best to fix everything that is wrong while simultaneously wondering if any of this is in fact fixable. Look, I know that few people actually have lives that are as seamless as they might appear. Behind the safety of doors firmly fixing outside factors and circumstances externally, what happens inside, physically or mentally, can never truly be known by others.

So this brings me back to my original query: What would you do? What would anyone do? How do people with seemingly smooth-sailing lives handle it when it all goes to hell? Drugs? Alcohol? Emotional addictions? I’m not being facetious. Truly. When Corey makes my morning cup of coffee, I ask him to add opium. Am I joking? Yes. No. Probably.

Panaylotis Tetsis, “French Door” (1961)

Let me back up. I don’t have a drug problem. In fact, it would be damned hard for me to do so, first because of the money such a thing would take, and second, and more importantly, because I hate relinquishing control, to anyone or anything, which is why I’ve never even tried anything more than pot and speed (way back in the day). But it feels good to make such facetious comments because it lets me know that I haven’t completely lost myself, haven’t lost the sardonic side, haven’t lost the small ability to make feeble jokes in the face of mountains of ca ca.

And so I continue to slog through it as best I can, and while that may not seem the best way to handle things, especially to someone just looking in, it’s the only way I can, the only way I know how. And that means that at this precise moment, there is a passel of puppies sleeping in a scrum on the bean bag behind me. Small pieces of memory foam cover at least half the surface of the living room floor. Corey is in the kitchen with the two goats and the rest of the puppies trying to put together soup for our dinner, and my most recent to-do list was probably shredded by the goats when I wasn’t looking.

Ask me next week how things are, and I probably won’t be able to cite any major changes or improvements in our current circumstances. But at least we’ll be here, on the ridge, in the midst of over 100 acres of rambling land just ripe with possibilities. And perhaps that’s the most important word of all: possibilities.

There are still possibilities. And so I go on.

More later. Peace.


Music by Onuka, “Time”


Sometimes, When the Light

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

~ Lisel Mueller

 

Advertisement

“I feel like I’ve swallowed a cloudy sky” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Sputnik Sweetheart

William Degouve de Nuncques La nuit à Bruger, 1897 oil on canvas
“La nuit à Bruger” (1897, oil on canvas)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

                   

“Sometimes moods of indescribable anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and hot, 88 degrees.

(Forewarning: It’s long and rambling)

A day filled with sadness for several reasons.

William Degouve de Nuncques Parc-de-Milan-1895
“Parc de Milan” (1895, pastel)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

Jake was surrendered to the shelter from which we adopted him. I did not go with Corey; instead, I began to clean as soon as I awoke (9 a.m., very early for me), which has once again become my solution to anything. That I have added yet another column to my lifetime table of guilt should surprise no one. I can only hope that Jake finds a family in which he can be the only child because I know that he would thrive in such an environment, as he has so much love and devotion to offer a lucky human.

Chalk up another major screw up. It’s not a pity party, exactly, more like a hating-life party. Or more specifically, hating my life, or hating how I live, or hating what I’m not doing in life, or hating how life has unfolded.

Circumstances. Sometimes, I really, really hate that word.

I don’t know. It’s all so tangled and gnarly, like a fishing net piled into a ball and left to dry in the sun—the result is a smelly mess needing much patience to disentangle the knots and snarls. I am sorely lacking in patience.

“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” ~ Milan Kundera, from Ignorance

William Degouve de Nuncques The Black Swan, pastel 1896
“The Black Swan” (1896, pastel)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

What do you do when someone you know simply cannot let go of something? I have no doubts that many people who have known me have wondered the same thing, given my tendency to cling so firmly to what was, affecting my ability to move into the what may be. But for a change, it is someone else whose desires for something from the past that is affecting the present.

The particulars are not mine to disclose as it is a private matter. I can only say that I wish more than anything that I had never heard about this, this, thing? Event? Point in time? I wish that I had never been made privy to this information, so disturbing is it and all of its implications.

I can only say that if this individual chooses to pursue this path back into the past, many, many people will be hurt, perhaps beyond repair. I say this knowing that the heart wants what the heart wants, fully aware that the heart is selfish and very often, callous.

This person believes that he/she has a right to venture down this path. I disagree. Believe me, my reaction is not from the gut but from the heart and the head. I have mulled over this possibility more than once over the years. I have wondered what might happen should these circumstances arise, and I have lived with a buried sense of dread because knowing this person as I do, I know that he/she has only one thing in mind.

“I am carrying such weights of absolute sadness that I must at any moment be dragged down into the deepest sea and the person trying to seize or even ‘rescue’ me would give up, not from weakness, not even from hopelessness but from sheer annoyance.” ~ Franz Kafka, Letters To Milena

William Degouve de Nuncques Nocturnal Effect 1896 pastel on paper
“Effet de Nuit” (1896, pastel on paper)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

So I’m having a visit with my old compatriot—regret. The two of us go back far too many years. All of the what-ifs, the might-have-beens, the why-nots, the if-only. Sometimes I feel that I should have the two words IF ONLY tattooed prominently on my body for all to see. It might keep me from trying to explain myself. Or maybe not.

Look. The current distressed state in which I currently find myself is not solely because of what happened with Jake, but god knows that plays a part. As I mentioned earlier, life in the abode has been a virtual wall-to-wall bed of nails. Step lightly lest you fall and open a lot of wounds. For a day or so, I actually thought that things were beginning to get better. I had a day in which I was able to think about floating around in the pool, reading a book, relaxing, not that I did any of these things.

I was so, so wrong.

Have you ever listened to the soundtrack from the movie Philadelphia, the one starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington? It has to be one of the saddest, most gut-wrenching soundtracks in existence. From start to finish it is a compilation of heartbreaking songs, and of course, I know each and every song by heart. The only reason the soundtrack isn’t my current writing music is that were it on I would probably not be writing but singing to myself.

I feel as if my life right now is that soundtrack on perpetual repeat.

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moment in life that are over.” ~ Paulo Coelho, from The Zahir

William Degouve de Nuncques Nocturne au Parc Royal de Bruxelles 1897 pastel on paper
“Nocturne au Parc Royal de Bruxelles” (1897, pastel on paper)

Regrets. I was speaking of them.

I regret putting my family and a sweet, lovely dog through the mill for a situation that I truly believed would turn out differently.

I regret that the depression from which I suffer spills over into every aspect of my life.

I regret that I did not tell my father that I loved him every chance that I had.

I regret that I didn’t pursue my doctorate decades ago when it would have been much more feasible.

I regret getting to this age without accomplishing even 25 percent of what I had planned.

I regret that my genetic make-up and predisposition to mental illness has been passed to my offspring.

I regret that I was never able to give Corey a child of his own.

That last one ↑? That’s a super big one. It’s the one that I always felt would deal a death-blow to my marriage. Not all at once, but as time passed. Each time he holds Olivia, I see the wistfulness in his eyes, and now that his brother Chad is a new dad to a beautiful baby boy once again, I can see the pain just below the surface. It’s there. I know it’s there. And I can do nothing, absolutely nothing about it.

“Why did everything always change, when all you wanted, all you had ever humbly asked of whatever God there might be, was that certain things be allowed to remain the same.” ~ Richard Yates, from Revolutionary Road

William Degouve de Nuncques A Venise 1895 pastel on cardboard
“A Venise” (1895, pastel on cardboard)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

I apologize for the disjointedness of this post; it comes from wanting to say so much and having to self-censor in order to respect another person’s privacy. It also comes from feeling such absolute sadness, a sadness that is born of much and little.

Much? How about an inability to give a part myself to someone who means more than life itself, and the ramifications of that inability? A real inability, not a desire not to do so—big difference.

Little? Many would see the betrayal of Jake as not being that significant. After all, he’s a dog, right? You obviously don’t know me at all.

Aside: I had told myself years ago that before I got too old to do so that I would run in a 5k race and that I would finish it, even if I came in last. I also told myself that before I got too old I would get my doctorate, even if I never got a job with it. I told myself that I would take the time to put together a manuscript and that I would look for an agent. And I told myself that some day, I would have another daughter.

How is any of this relevant? Only in how it proves how much I lie to myself, and how cruel fate can be.

“How one must be thrust over a finished cycle in life, and that leap the most difficult to make . . . The struggle to emerge out of the past, clean of memories; the inadequacy of our hearts to cut life into separate and final portions . . . the hunger for frontiers against which we might lean as upon closed doors before we proceed forward” ~ Anaïs Nin, from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

william degouve de nuncques les paons via la-chair-et-le-sang 1898
“Les Paons” (1898)
by William Degouve de Nuncques

Do you know what I wish? I wish that the child that Corey is currently rocking in the Bentwood rocker was his. But I also wish that it didn’t matter so much to him. I wish that the unconditional love that I offer could be enough. I wish that I could be dense, could fool myself. I wish that we had had the resources a decade ago to try in vitro; perhaps if that had happened successfully, then the complete and utter despair that I feel now wouldn’t be happening. I wish that I were enough, but I know that I’m not. I wish that pain wasn’t palpable, that longing wasn’t visible, and that regret was not in my vocabulary.

I have never wished that I hadn’t gotten involved with Corey, even though there were several members of his family who wished that were so (at the time). But I have wished that I could have been someone else for him, even though I profess to be happy with myself as I am. I wish that I had a perky upturned nose and blond hair and significant ta tas and a name like Cindy or Blair. I wish that I fit squarely into the category of All-American girl.

Yeah. Most of those previous statements were lies. At least on some level. I like being different. I like my olive skin and dark hair. I like my exotic name. I like that a man once told me that I should be treated like a goddess and that another man wrote me a poem in which he compared me to a multicolored butterfly. But for every one thing that I like about myself, there are two that I don’t.

All I know is that right now, at this moment, I feel sad and lonely and more than a little insufficient. It’s times like these that the thought crosses my mind that if I were addicted to something, I could just take it and float off into oblivion.

Yeah. Not so much.

Later. Peace.

I needed blues, so all images depicted are by Belgian painter William Degouve de Nuncques (1867-1935)

Music by Tindersticks, “Sweet Memory”

                   

Translucence: An Assay

A dog implausibly large,
with fur the color of rose-quartz, slipped through my sleep

I have never seen roses that color,
or a vein of quartz move through its fissure on soft-padded feet.
This was sure, though: what she wanted was for me to follow.

She did not look back.
A shadow opened then folded behind her.
I followed as if past a gate latch
sliding closed on its own silent weight.

It was not so very different, really
More as if the narrator had turned and departed,
abandoned the story,
and each tree, each stone, stood clear in its own full fate.

The dream, like the dog, went on, travelled elsewhere.
Passed by the moment when everything might have been changed.
Passed by the moment of knowing I wanted everything changed.

~ Jane Hirshfield

Grace in Small Things #39

dragonsamuraiswordset1

Dragon Samurai Sword Set

Beauty in Words, Glass, and Blades

1. Reading sentences as beautiful as this: “The man can makes tears sparkle, hearts expand and the wisdom pour like wine” and wishing that I had written them, but feeling privileged to read them. (From the blog “My Sweetest Downfall” http://janeylynn.wordpress.com, which I highly recommend).

2. Finding a new author: Paulo Coelho and his book The Valkyries are next on my wish list. But take a look at this quote from Coelho’s blog:

If pain must come, may it come quickly. I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best possible. If he has to make a choice, may he make it now. Then I will either wait for him or forget him. Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.
(By the River Piedra I sat down and wept)

Would that I could write like that.

sword-guard
Decorative Tsuba

3. Tonight my son Brett and I wrapped his practice katana. The part that you hold is called the tsuka. The tsukamaki is what is tied around the tsuka for a good grip. Wisteria vine or leather can be used. We used black grograin ribbon. The tsuba is the disk between the tsuka and the blade, which protects the hand from the blade. The tsuba also adjusts the weight balance of the sword and has come to be a work of art on the Japanese katana or Samurai sword. I  enjoyed doing this with Brett. He has wanted a practice katana for a while. Now we just need a boxing bag for him to work out his frustration.

4. If you’ve read a lot of my blog posts, you’ve probably noticed that I use many different quotes, from Marcus Aurelius to Confucius to Sophia Loren. I like to collect quotes from all kinds of sources: from the Ancient Greeks through current political pundits. For our wedding I chose about 15 different quotes about love, typed them, and printed several copies of them on separate pieces of four by six cream-colored paper. Then we rolled them, and tied them with ribbons and put them at each place setting on the tables. My favorite quote was from Goethe:

“This is the true measure of love: When we believe that we alone can love, that no one could ever have loved so before us, and that no one will ever love in the same way after us.”

pilgrim-cranberry-glass

5. I have four Cranberry Glass wine glasses that I bought in Cape Cod a long time ago. I take very good care of them because they are irreplaceable. Cranberry glass (not the same as Ruby Glass) is a semi-transparent red glass, the color of cranberry juice, that is usually hand blown. It gets its color from the addition of a gold chloride. The height of cranberry glass was during the Victorian era in England, but real Cranberry Glass is still made today. I had about five pieces total, but they have all been broken over the years. All that I have left is this set of wine glasses that I bought at the Ocean Spray cranberry factory of all places. They are absolutely beautiful when natural sunlight is reflecting on them.

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.