“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” ~ Kenji Miyazawa

“Rose Pastor Stokes,” by Clarence H. White (1909)

 

“Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov

I found a new blog last night called Crashingly Beautiful. It’s the kind of blog that I might create myself, filled with quotes, poems, music links, passages, Zen stories, photographs, and other artwork. Lovely, just lovely. I found several quotes there that are new to me, and I liked them so much that I am using in tonight’s post. I am also borrowing some images that were posted on the site. Many thanks to Luke Storms for offering such inspiring material.

 If you get a chance, check out the site, along with the companion blog Intense City, also by Luke Storms.

“if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves . . . ” ~ Pablo Neruda, “Keeping Quiet”

"Autumn Trees," Egon Schiele (1912)

Aside from finding new blogs to read and achieving high levels in online Bookworm, not much new to report. Corey’s burn on his arm is healing nicely, just a little sore and no infection on the part that blistered. It’s getting ready to rain again because we so obviously need more rain. Tillie has been hanging out on the platform of the pool’s ladder, almost as if she expects to go swimming at any moment. I had to inform her that regretfully, November is not swimming weather, even for a Labrador Retriever.

I am feeling a bit better emotionally. No big changes, just a slight upswing. I’ll take anything that I can get. Perhaps I am feeling a bit better because I have printed out pages and pages of forms to have my PCP sign and then send on to various pharmaceutical companies (five total). I decided finally that being without my medication has gone on long enough, and there is no reason why I shouldn’t apply for patient assistance directly with the companies.

Happily, I found that I can get almost all of my medications through the companies, with the exception, of course, of the ones that now have generic formulas. Nexium will probably be the hardest one to obtain, mostly because they want my entire life history to prove that I am worthy of receiving assistance from Astra Zeneca. AZ recently received the right to retain their formula for the purple pill, so no generics anytime soon on that front.

If anyone else is having problems with affording his/her prescription medications, look up the name of the company that manufactures the medication, and then enter patient assistance into the site’s search. Almost all of the major pharmaceutical companies have some sort of patient assistance program. I really wish that I had thought of this three months ago.

“Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you past the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough.” ~ Jeannette Winterson

"Four Trees," Egon Schiele (1917)

Thanksgiving is only a week and a half away, and already the drama has begun in my family. Incredibly important issues such as who is going to cook what dish are on the forefront of family discussions. Three vegetables or two? Really?

I made a passing comment to my mother about butter, and her response, verbatim, was this: “I can’t get you to lose weight for anything.” Ummmm, alrighty then. I have real butter on my bread maybe three times a year. I’ve gotten comments like these my entire life. Now do you see why my self-esteem is so low?

Brett and I stopped by my mother’s house the other day on the way home from school. Brett had his sketch pad with him, and I thought that it would be nice to show my mom some of his recent work. Big mistake. Brett is really good at pencil sketches, and his latest was done during the nor’easter. It’s a dark self-portrait, done in sort of an anime style. For those of you who may not be familiar with this style, anime (アニメ) is short for Japanese animation. Anime, like manga (Japanese comics) is considered to be a non-traditional but pervasive art form.

The facial characteristics in anime can be exaggerated or muted (e.g., very large eyes and head, or simple lines for eyes), depending upon the artist. Coloring the cornea to indicate depth is sometimes employed. Some anime (sometimes spelled animé with final acute accent) attempts to draw characters whose nationalities cannot be discerned (e.g., Pokemon). The sketch that Brett showed my mother had very exotic, piercing eyes. The first time I saw it I was amazed by the detail that he had included, and I think that it is one of his better sketches.

After I got home, my mother called me to tell me that she’s worried about Brett. Specifically, she’s worried about what’s in his mind, “all of these dark pictures.” She asked why he doesn’t paint geese. I tried to explain to her that Brett doesn’t like to paint, that he likes charcoal and pencil. I noted that not all art is mountains and fruit, but it really didn’t matter what I said because now my mother has decided that Brett’s art is cause for concern.

I made a point of telling Brett how much I like his work, and I told him to take what his Oma says with a grain of salt as she doesn’t realize how much her words can hurt. She really doesn’t realize this, which is something that it took me many years to realize myself. My mother has good intentions, but she has no sense of self-censorship: whatever she thinks comes out of her mouth without any consideration of the hearer’s feelings or reaction.

I hate to have to say this about my mother, but it’s true. It’s also something that I have learned to live with, although not without its consequences, so I want to ensure that her remarks do not affect Brett’s already fragile self-esteem.

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.” ~ Erich Fromm

Untitled by Maurice Tabard (1932)

Anyway, that’s about all for now. I must pause here, though, to express my incredible gratitude to all of you who took the time to send me very special comments in response to my last post. Maureen, Kelly, and Andrew sent very lovely expressions of support, and no matter how many times I say it, being on the receiving end of such generous statements always makes me feel better and helps more than I can say.

Even though I have not been as focused lately as I would like to be, this blog continues to be incredibly important to me. It allows me to vent, to bemoan, to rejoice, and to share with a wonderful community of people.

NCIS this past Tuesday night featured a major power outage in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area as a backdrop to the crime. The investigators had to do things the old-fashioned way—by hand—and they were all complaining about how hard life is without computers, without mobile telephones, without PDA’s. I know that when we lose electricity around here because of a storm (which happens more than you might think), I always enjoy the quiet; no sounds of air conditioners or televisions permeate the neighborhood, and the streets are so dark.

Having said that, I do have to admit that as much as I like the simplicity when the lights go out, I do love the convenience of a lightning-fast search engine and the fact that the Internet and the web keep us connected all over the world. Just a decade ago I was still struggling with dial-up and having to wait to get online. Now I am so completely spoiled by our high-speed connection that I cannot imagine living without this convenience in my life, although I’m sure that I could if I had to.

I suppose that all of that was a very roundabout way of saying that yes, I am able to appreciate the small things, but especially how technology has afforded me new avenues to friendship and support.

YouTube video courtesy of Kelly. I’m including a poem by Mary Oliver, and I apologize in advance if I’ve already included this one, but it seems very fitting.

 

 

More later. Peace.

                                                                                                                                     

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers.

 

Sea of Japan2

Sea of Japan

“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Swimming Carp Hiroshige Ando 19th C
"Swimming Carp," Hiroshige Ando (19th C.)

Woke up today with a full-blown migraine. The headache began creeping around my head yesterday. I was hoping that it was just a sinus headache because of the weather, but nooo.

I actually had to ask Corey to get my medicine for me when I woke up today because I could not move without blinding pain. I took my second and last sample of Relpax. Of course, the medicine did not work this time. It worked wonderfully the first time that I took it. This time—nothing. What crap.

I have a deep-seated suspicion that pharmaceutical companies design their drugs to work sometimes but not all of the time. Hence the need for more and more new drugs to cure what ails the consumer. Okay, so maybe that theory has a few holes, but so does my brain at this point. Just how many migraines can an individual suffer over a lifetime before the brain matter begins to atrophy irreparably?

Anyway, it took me two more hours to finish my post from yesterday, which I was determined to do in my effort to get back to daily blogging. The fact that it did not post until today is immaterial. I wrote it yesterday, but didn’t post it yesterday. A mere technicality. But there was a point . . . oh yes, spent too much time looking into the bright light of the computer screen for yesterday’s post that went up today, so today’s post that is also going up today is essentially going to be a whole lot of nothing. Some meandering. Don’t expect much.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Hubble Sea of Stars
Hubble Sea of Stars

Random Observations:

Food manufacturers who use MSG should be required to put a big label on the front of their product stating that such is the case rather than forcing consumers to read the list of ingredients. I have severe reactions to MSG, and I’m tired of finding out that it was contained in a seasoning packet only after the migraine has hit.

Don’t ever try to tell me that dogs are dumb animals that don’t have sneaky streaks. Tillie has taken to hiding her favorite ball in the couch. Yes, deliberately hiding it. Both Corey and I have watched her do it. Too funny.

 I don’t understand what passes for language on LOL pictures (e.g., “Can I has it plez?”). Is this an offshoot of texting? Are we now to believe that the keyboard that comes with a computer is too taxing to use properly? Twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Not a thousand. Why on earth do we want to make our pets look stupid by imposing bad spelling and bad grammar on them?

 Still reeling over the fact that 14 people, mostly females, were arrested at Brett’s school yesterday. Also incredibly thankful that no one had a weapon.

 Very dear friend of mine is going through hell because the courts have ordered mandatory visitation rights for her ex-son-in-law, who happens to be a violent drug addict and just had a shootout with the police. Shootout was caught on local news and broadcast, yet he deserves to have visitation because his grandmother is an upstanding citizen? What in the hell kind of logic is that? Infuriates me just to think about it.

 If you read my blog and also have my telephone number (very few applicable parties here), don’t bother to call me because the phone has been turned off, and frankly, I don’t care. As long as we have one working telephone in the family and can call 911, having my own phone is superfluous. Besides, I only get calls from bill collectors anyway.

 I was not allowed to see my pain management doctor the other day when I went for my appointment because my past due balance is so high. My past due balance is so high because my insurance company is not paying my claims as it should be because of the ongoing saga with insurance company. I have been making it a point to pay my co-pays every time I go to the office. Hence, I left the office in tears, and cannot even begin to discuss this issue without getting mad, upset, and generally beyond apoplectic.

 Why do I remember so much more about the details of WWII than WWI when I studied both? Selective memory? Generational? What? Just curious.

 Oh, by the way, the sitting President of the United States won the Nobel Peace Prize. Just in case you were trying to forget. Not going to let you. It’s a big deal and something to be proud of, not to mock.

 Check out the little diamonds that I’m using for bullet points. Small things for small minds.

 I just spilled hot tea on my keyboard, but I am on a roll, so liquid air has to be a sufficient clean-up for now.

 It’s getting cool enough to begin to wear sweaters. I’m starting with my cotton sweaters first. Most of my cotton sweaters are white (it was a phase). The one that I am currently wearing is sporting a very large hot tea stain that has taken the shape of a paw print. Kind of fitting since there is a muddy dog paw print directly to the left of the tea stain from when Tillie hugged me earlier.

 Somehow, while looking for something on the Internet, I came upon a portable dog bath to put by doors to wash your pets’ muddy paws before they enter the rest of the house. How quaint. I’ll be ordering one of those right away, especially if it continues to rain everyday (kidding). I can just envision it: Tillie comes bolting in the door from the rain. I try to wrestle her into the portable dog bath. One of us lands butt first in the bathing tub. Odds are good that it won’t be the labrador with the strength of a rottweiler.

 Corey has been having strange dreams involving three of everything. Have absolutely no idea what that means. I continue to have strange dreams in which I get in the wrong elevator and end up on the wrong floor of the office building in which I work. I wonder if I will continue to have work dreams for the rest of my life. Probably, especially since I still have algebra dreams: Arrive on campus only to realize that I have been enrolled in an Algebra class that I have forgotten to go to all semester, and now it’s time for the final exam.  

 As with all people, I tend to make the same typos repeatedly, even more so when I type without wearing my glasses. I almost always type not for now, expecially for especially. But tonight was a new one: carp for crap, hence the big old picture of a carp.  

“A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Continued thanks to those of you who read and send your support. You stay with me on my roller coaster life. You read when I’m sad. You read when I’m snotty. You read when I’m completely offbeat, irreverent, and insane, and you read when I am beyond words. It’s kind of like having friends . . .

Closing with Sarah McLachlan’s “Answer,” which is more than appropriate.

 

More later. Peace.

                                                                                        

Answer by Sarah McLachlan

I will be the answer
At the end of the line
I will be there for you
While you take the time
In the burning of uncertainty
I will be your solid ground
I will hold the balance
If you can’t look down

If it takes my whole life
I won’t break, I won’t bend
It will all be worth it
Worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
When the stars have all gone out
You’ll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently
Into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a
Place so holy
That I can wash this from my mind
The memory of choosing not to fight

If it takes my whole life
I won’t break, I won’t bend
It will all be worth it
Worth it in the end
‘Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
When the stars have all burned out
You’ll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently
Into morning
For the night has been unkind