“I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless.” ~ Albert Camus

George Bellows Churn and Break oil on panel 1913
“Churn and Break” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

                    

“Why walk in the eye of a private tornado,
looking as if your life depended on taking cover
sooner rather than later?” ~ Rachel Wetzsteon, from “Questions and Answers”

Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, sixty-two degrees.

A very bad night, restless, a creeping headache. Then this morning the pain medication caught up with me, and my body began to itch all over. Why am I telling you this? Who knows. A preamble to what is to come? Perhaps.

George Bellows Tang of the Sea 1913
“Tang of the Sea” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Burrows

You see, my mother is driving me crazy. For the past few weeks she has been calling me, nearly hysterical over her car. Right after she broke her leg she bought a new Honda. I tried to talk her out of it, but she would not hear of it. I think she felt she needed a new Honda mostly because Lex and Mike had bought one. Anyway, I was not involved in the financing of it; why would I be? But she had a balloon payment at the end of three years. Ever since the Honda finance people contacted her about said payment and her options my world has turned to crap.

At one point I intervened and spoke with the general manager of the dealership that sold her the car. We had things straightened out. Then my mother got back on the phone, and chaos ensued again. Now she is calling me, telling me that the stress of this is making her heart race, saying that she just can’t take it.

Which leads me to this: Does the woman ever stop to think that perhaps someone else is having a really bad day? That the person on the other end of the telephone my be a tad overwhelmed with stress?

Short answer: No. Never.

“And somewhat as in blind night, on a mild sea, a sailor may be made aware of an iceberg, fanged and mortal, bearing invisibly near, by the unwarned charm of its breath, nothingness now revealed itself . . . that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.” ~ James Agee, from A Death in the Family

So today there have been at least two calls and two messages, during which she yells at me and tells me not to argue with her. This when I am only trying to get a telephone number from her.

George Bellows The Gulls, Monhegan
“The Gulls, Monhegan” (c1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

In the meanwhile, I’m stressed beyond belief over Corey leaving Sunday for his training. The trip is open-ended. He may or may not be back at the end of the week. He may or may not go straight to a ship. He may or may not be here for Christmas . . .

Unfortunately, at the moment we are existing on two paychecks from Louisiana unemployment, which is at least $100 less/week than Virginia unemployment, and we just had to drop almost all of that on the plane ticket for him to attend new hire orientation and training. I’m stressed because I hate for him to leave without having sufficient money in the bank for him to fall back on. Who knows what circumstances may arise. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to pay the utilities, phone, cable, etc. with imaginary money.

“My stoic, unconvinced world,
world of the paper heart,
is it that you don’t know grief
or haven’t had enough of it
that you let yourself
be governed so?” ~ Katie Ford, from “Overture”

Now that everything is set, and Corey is definitely going to begin a new job next week, it’s time for me to worry. While he was worrying about his medical tests, I was fine. I mean, I wasn’t worried because I just knew that everything was fine (I had that feeling, you know?), and it was. The urine test showed a false positive on his bilirubin levels, but the blood test showed that it was fine. That being said, now that he’s beginning to allow himself to become adjusted to this new phase in our lives, I am becoming less adjusted.

George Bellows Sunlit Surf, 1913
“Sunlit Surf” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Bellows

It’s the yin/yang thing, I suppose.

Mostly, though, it’s worry over bills. With the transition to any new job there is always a hiccup in income, waiting for the new pay period to kick in. For him, the first one is going to be December 20. My disability comes in at the middle of the month, but that is always spent before it ever hits the bank.

Add to this the fact that I am completely unprepared for the holidays, have done absolutely no shopping, and I’m getting that sinking feeling. So let’s just make this state of affairs completely unmanageable by adding my mother’s drama because, gee, why not?

“My soul is so heavy that no thought can carry it any longer, no wing beat can lift it up into the ether any more. If it is moved, it merely skims along the ground, just as birds fly low when a thunderstorm is blowing up. Over my inner being broods an oppressiveness, an anxiety, that forebodes an earthquake.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard, from Either/Or, Part I: Kierkegaard’s Writings, vol. 3

I feel the need to scream, silently, of course because of the head thing. Loud noise = migraine . . . (by the way, did you know that sensitivity to smells is called osmophobia? I didn’t until my pain doctor used the term, but I digress . . .) And then whenever I think about screaming, I think about Edvard Munch, and then I forget because the painting is too good.

George Bellows Rock Bound 1913
“Rock Bound” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

Nevertheless, a scream might release some of this pent up anxiety, or barring a scream pounding my fist into something, but it would do nothing about my mother, and I would be left with more stupid pain.

In the back of my mind I have a song refrain playing: “Leave me alone, oh leave me alone, oh leave me alone, oh leave me alone. Won’t you leave me, leave me alone?” So of course I had to hunt it down. It’s an old Helen Redding song called “Ruby Red Dress” (that’s Redding of the “I Am Woman” song), and the actual lyrics are these:

Leave me alone, won’t you leave me alone
Please leave me alone, now leave me alone
Oh leave me alone, please leave me alone, yes leave me
Leave me alone, won’t you leave me alone
Please leave me alone, now leave me alone
God leave me alone, just leave me alone, oh leave me . . .

But while I was looking that up, my mother called again, yelled a lot more, and then ended the conversation by saying to me, “I can’t talk to you. You’re just like your father.”
Have I ever mentioned that my mother has perfected the art of hanging up on people? It’s quite obnoxious.

“This is what it feels like to split the shell of a woman.
Shards of her everywhere. Animal light spread across

the walls.” ~ Raven Jackson, from “My First Lover Speaks to Me as I Sleep With Her”

Sorry this whole post has been a rant. I actually do not feel as if I am in rant mode. Rather, I feel particularly heavy—heavy heart, heavy mind. All of my thoughts feel too heavy for my head. The air feels too heavy to breathe. My neck feels to heavy to hold up my head, and my eyelids are too heavy for consciousness.

George Bellows Green Breaker 1913
“Green Breaker” (1913, oil on panel)
by George Wesley Bellows

At times like these, I wish that I could breathe under water. How wonderful it must be to dwell beneath the sea—stippled sunlight, brilliant colors, muted sound, as dark as you care to go deep, or as light as the space just beneath the surface.

Unfortunately, not a possibility, gill-less that I am. Still, it’s my whole love affair with the sea that holds sway with my thoughts. To that end, today’s images are by American Realist George Wesley Bellows (August 12 or August 19, 1882 – January 8, 1925), who died at the age of 42 from  ruptured appendix. Bellows was well known for his boxing paintings, but I prefer his land and seascapes, particularly the churning sea depictions as they match my mood today. As a bonus, I created a gallery to go along with this post. (Playing with art soothes me.)

I need a vacation from my life.

More later. Peace.

                    

Music by Lucie Silvas, “Cry a Little More”

                   

Untitled

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoyevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward us
impossibly.

~ Charles Bukowski

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“I never know when I sit down, just what I am going to write. I make no plan; it just comes, and I don’t know where it comes from.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

“Double Image,” August Strindberg (1892, oil on canvas) 

 

“The paper I write on or you write on, every word we write, every cross and twirl of the pen, and the curious way we write what we think, yet very faintly . . . In them realities for you and me—in them poems for you and me . . . In them themes, hints, provokers.”  ~ Walt Whitman
"Wonderland" (1894, oil on canvas)

Rarely do I know what I am going to write when I sit down at this keyboard. I may have an idea generated from a dream or something that I have read in the news, but most of the time it’s more a matter of touching the keys and letting the words come out. No great creative genius is involved. Rather, it is more a matter of need: I need to write, to release, to ponder, to construe, to evoke. I need to do this as naturally as I need to breathe. 

That is my reality, and truthfully, it has always been this way. I have been writing about things since I was very young, before I even knew how to string letters together to form words. I would put pencil to whatever scraps of paper I could find in the house, and I would write. Of course what I wrote made no sense to anyone but me, but I knew what I was saying. And I had such a need to share my thoughts that I would take these scraps of paper and slip them under the doors of my parents’ neighbors in the large apartment house in which we resided in London. 

Some of the people knew that these notes were from me, but others were confused by the nonsensical missives that appeared under their doors with no regular schedule. The doorman in our building knew what I was doing, so he ever so kindly explained to the confused tenants that it was the little girl in apartment 13 who had been writing to them. 

Then when I went to school and learned how to form words, I wrote more. I wrote poems, letters, stories. But my dream at that time was not to become a writer. I wanted to be a hairdresser . . . 

“O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning . . . or wise . . . And still one knew nothing, perhaps, was still waiting and listening.” ~ Hermann Hesse, “Narcissus and Goldmund”
"Baby's First Cradle" (1901, oil on canvas)

In many ways, this blog is like those indecipherable scraps of paper: I know what I’m trying to say, but not everyone who reads my words can discern my meaning. That’s okay, though. The beauty of blogs is that readers can just close the window if they do not find the post interesting, or appealing, or if the subject matter is not something that coincides with their personal beliefs. 

I’m not trying to please anyone but myself. In the beginning of this blogging stuff, I was more self-censoring, not wanting to offend anyone who happened to be reading. I wrote in more general terms, putting less of myself into my posts. Over the months, though, that changed, as I had thought that it might. My persona began to creep into my posts more and more. My life, my family, all of it, became fodder. So much so that now my posts are a virtual doorway into my life. 

Is this a good thing? Perhaps not. Will I change it? Probably not. Do I regret this progression? A bit. 

“The swarm of words,
and little stories
are just to loosen you
from where you are stuck.” ~ Shitou Xiqian
"The Wave VII" (1901, oil on canvas)

When I first heard about blogs—personal online journals that are available to anyone and everyone—I must admit to being personally appalled. What kind of person puts his or her life online for the world to see? It just didn’t seem right to me, someone who had always hidden my journals from other people, seeing them as both highly personal and private. 

Then a few years later I decided to create a MySpace page. I played a bit with the internal blog aspect of the page, which made me realize that the whole social networking thing was really just a collective blog—people visiting each other’s sites, sharing opinions, leaving notes, posting pictures. Then I was given the assignment to create a web page for one of my publishing classes. The site could be about anything; there were no parameters. 

I decided to create a site on which people could create a community poem. I called it The Poem Makers. In concept, it was a pretty creative idea (or so I thought): I would write the first line of the poem, and then anyone who visited could add a line and/or comment on the poem in progress. As part of the site, I wanted to include a blog page on which participants could post ongoing commentary about the project, poetry, whatever. My search for a blog page led me to WordPress. 

Essentially the project was disastrous, mostly because I didn’t know enough HTML to create an interactive site, that and the fact that I knew relatively little about promoting a site.  I eventually abandoned the website, but I took that experience and decided to keep going with the blog. My first post was in February 2008, which means that I’ve been doing this for over two years. 

“Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.” ~ K. O. Eckland, Footprints on Clouds
"Coastal Landscape" (1901, oil on canvas)

In that time I have gone from basic posts about nothing at all to posts that include images and music and cover a range of topics. I like how I have progressed. I know so much more now than I did when I began; in particular, I realize that bloggers tend to congregate in communities and that if you want other people to read and comment on your blog, then you need to read and comment on other people’s blogs—regularly. 

I have also noticed a change in my writing style: Whereas when I was writing for publication, I was much more sparse with my words, never using five words when three will do, always choosing the simpler word over the multisyllabic one. Now that I’m writing without an editor, I tend to be more verbose. I do edit myself, but anyone who writes knows the limitations of such a thing. I do go on and on, and it’s an indulgence that gives me pleasure. I also take more liberties with punctuation than before. Always a stickler for grammar, I am merciless with a red pen when it comes to editing or grading someone else’s work. Too bad I cannot admit to being as rigorous with my own. 

Oh well . . . 

“The process of writing has something infinite about it.  Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” ~ Elias Canetti
"Aleja" (1903, oil on canvas)

I remember how excited I was when the number of hits that I had received went past 200. It was a time for great rejoicing. I am now well past 300,000 hits, but I still love to see who is visiting, what they are reading, how they got here. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of paying attention to my statistics as they serve as my validation, for now. 

I suppose all of this boils down to a few simple facts: I have come to love the freedom of blogging. I sometimes resent feeling as if I have to post until I realize that no one is making me do so. I no longer feel as if blogs are an obscene violation of privacy spurred on by the blogger’s own need for exposure. I take pleasure in reading blogs that are written well, or are visually appealing, or are in line with my own sensitivities. 

For now, this whole thing is an open-ended experiment. Who knows where it will take me, but I’m going to enjoy the ride while I can. 

More later. Peace. 

All images are by Swedish novelist and playwright August Strindberg, who turned to painting during times of crisis in which he felt unable to write. 

Music from Bare Naked Ladies, “Call and Answer”