“When your neuroses become your style, you’ve got it made. Everybody has a personality composed of neurotic patterns. I’ve given up thinking I’ve got to go through the eye of the needle and become psychologically sound. I’m always going to be a mess!” ~ Ram Dass

Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles: Number 11 (1952, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Australia)

                    

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Monday afternoon. Not too hot, mid-80’s, sunny.

Jackson Pollock, Ocean Greyness (1953, oil on canvas, Guggenheim Museum)

It’s been a long six days since I last posted, during which I have wanted to post several times, but for various reasons, have been unable to do so. In finishing the big furniture shuffle, we have the house in better shape, but as usual, I overdid it and was down for several days. Have I mentioned how much I hate the fact that I have to rest for days after I clean my house or do anything strenuous (not strenuous for most people)? Sucks, really.

Of course, the last room to be put back together is our bedroom, and once again, half of it is in order, and half of it isn’t. Since we moved my desk into Eamonn’s room, I was left with various items without a home, so to speak. But I took the opportunity to throw away more stuff and to clean the stuff that I’m keeping. Hence, the overexertion.

As I mentioned, on Tuesday everyone went to Bush Gardens, and they seemed to have a good time, although everyone came home tired and grouchy, which is always the case after spending ten to twelve hours in the heat. Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded, so they didn’t have to wait in long lines.

Last Thursday, Phillip and a few of Eamonn’s buds came over to hang out. Corey and Phillip ended up playing XBox at 2 in the morning. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Then Friday night Corey, Phillip, Patrick, Lucas, and Shawn (Patrick’s former aide) went out for a boys’ night out. And Saturday, we all got together at the beach house before the Germans were to leave on Sunday.

By the way, Phillip corrected the usage of the phrase the Germans to describe our relatives who live in Germany because as he pointed out, he and Hannah were born in the U.S. and have dual citizenship. I just found it amusing that after I had been mulling over the correctness of using such a collective he made a point of negating it. He is very much like his father in being exact about things.

Anyway, they were to leave yesterday, but because of severe weather in the north, all flights in the direction were delayed three hours, which would have made them miss their connecting flight. And in addition, Patrick’s wheelchair and a few other necessities were locked in the trunk of the rental car along with the keys. It was not the best day for them. As it turns out, they left today. I did not go to the airport as I’m still feeling melancholy and sad, and frankly, I did not want to say goodbye again.

“It is so hard to learn to put sadness in perspective so hard to understand that it is a feeling that comes in degrees, it can be a candle burning gently and harmlessly in your home, or it can be a full-fledged forest fire that destroy almost everything and is controlled by almost nothing. It can also be so much in-between.” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel

Jackson Pollock, Number 23 (1948, enamel on gesso on paper, Tate Gallery)

Corey had to work both first and third shift yesterday, so he is sleeping today. When I got out of bed today, I could barely move because my back was so stiff, and it made me feel so old and decrepit. Hate that too.

A few nights ago, I kept smelling something burning, and for a brief second, I thought the house was on fire. Turns out the fires in the Great Dismal Swamp are still burning, and the wind had shifted, resulting in a very smokey evening for our area. My asthma was quite irritated, and we had all of the fans in the house turning to try to clear the house. But it resulted in yet another evening of restless sleep for me as I actually had to use my inhaler twice during the night, which is quite unusual for me.

I haven’t mentioned it yet because as I said I haven’t really been able to write, but my other m-in-law is in the hospital. It seems that she developed a high fever, and Ann was with her in the emergency room last Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning. She has a UTI and an infection in her lungs, but thankfully, not pneumonia. She is doing better, but I haven’t been to see her yet, which really makes me feel like crap.

Ann has decided to move her mom from the rehab home that she was in, and I am so glad. My line of thinking is that someone should have noticed that she was ill before she spiked such a high fever. And the fact is that I spotted pus in her catheter line and told the nursing staff that she had a UTI the last time, and even then, it took two days before they tested her. Ann has found a place that is closer to home, and she toured it the other day. Another good thing is that the request can be made not to have any male attendants, which is also a relief.

“There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Jackson Pollock, Number 16 (1949)

Last night I dreamed that the crazy woman I used to work with called me just to talk, and I knew that it wasn’t just to talk. I knew that she wanted something from me, but I could not figure out what. Then the dream shifted, and I was supposed to get on a flight with a bunch of Jedi younglings, and I knew that Darth Vader was going to be on the flight. Darth and I decided not to fight on the flight because of all of the children who could get hurt, and he took off his helmet. The whole Jedi thing probably came from my watching part of Men Who Stare at Goats before going to sleep.

A totally silly movie, but I love Ewan McGregor. I may watch the rest of the movie tonight, but really, it was more to pass the time than anything.

Undoubtedly, one of the stranger sci-fi dreams I have ever had. Especially since at some point we were on a bus instead of a plane, and the bus driver decided to drive in the water so that we could see all of the creatures in the water around us, and I saw a turtle with long, female legs . . . Not even going to try to decipher this one.

I do remember getting off the bus and seeing a woodchuck in the middle of the road. I startled the woodchuck, and it began to hop. The kids on the bus laughed. Other animals that we saw included a jaguar, a hippo, koi, female lions, and gators. The bus driver recited this litany of animals as she drove maniacally through the water, and no one seemed too bothered that the bus was in the water.

When I’m dreaming things like this, something in my subconscious registers and thinks that the dream would make a good movie or a good book, usually a good book, and then I wake up and think to myself, “Who would buy a book about a bus driving through the water?”

Oh, well . . .

“A doctor once told me I feel too much
I said so does god
That’s why you can see the grand canyon from the moon” ~ Andrea Gibson, from “Jellyfish”

Jackson Pollock, Guardians of the Secret (1943, oil on canvas, SFMOMA)

Last night because I couldn’t sleep I watched the movie Pollock, with Ed Harris in the title role, and Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, his companion/wife/promoter. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while, but I knew that it would be an emotional roller coaster, and it was.

Harris is wonderful as the artist, portraying his struggles in attempting to bring his true vision to the canvas via his drip and splash method (action painting), and Harden won an Academy Award for best supporting actress as Krasner.

I remember the first time that I saw a Pollock painting; I was totally confused. Admittedly, I knew nothing about abstract expressionism and had little appreciation for the movement. But I have found in recent years that my appreciation for Pollock, de Kooning, Diebenkorn, and Rothko has deepened. The lack of a focal composition point makes sense somehow.

What I have come to appreciate is the immediacy of the work done by artists during this period. I’ve never been a fan of Picasso as I find his work to be quite disconcerting, which is what it’s supposed to be. And while I also know that Picasso and other surrealists influenced the abstract Impressionists, cubism befuddles me. Not so Pollock.

The years between 1947 and 1950 Pollock produced the works for which he is most famous. Instead of using brushes, Pollock dripped, flung, and splashed paint; he used sticks, knives, and hardened brushes, among other implements to move his liquid paint onto his huge canvases, which were laid on the floor of his studio.

Pollock maintained that through his technique of working on the floor, he was able to see all sides of his work: “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”

I suppose what appeals to me is how Pollock’s paintings reflect so much of his inner turmoil, how his subconscious defines the art. I can appreciate that. If I were to attempt to paint (which I would not presume to do as I have no talent in that area), the visceral approach employed by Pollock would be something that I might try.

“”The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny—it is the light that guides your way.” ~ Heraclitus

Jackson Pollock, Mural (1943, oil on canvas (97 1/4 x 238 in), UIMA)

Let’s see . . . what else?

I feel as if I’ve eaten nothing but junk food for a week: chips, crackers, dip, other stuff that’s not healthy. I have been on a fresh fruit binge, though, to try to counteract the empty calories. I need some fresh vegetables, yogurt, and fruit for the next few days.

I seem to have run out of steam for this post. I had another tangent in mind when I began this section, but I drifted off while I was listening to Melody Gardot sing “The Rain.” Her voice is like smokey silk, half what I imagine I sound like but probably do not.

It’s quite easy at this moment to become distracted as clouds are rolling in outside this window, and the room is taking on the hues of dusk. I have my blues playlist running in the background, and the house is fairly quiet. The temperature is dropping, and thankfully, the nights are becoming cooler.  It feels a bit like fall, although if you were to ask me exactly why, I could not pinpoint a particular reason.

I would live in fall perpetually given the chance, which is why I believe I am so enamored of living in Ireland. Who knows if that will ever happen. The likelihood is slim as Corey has no desire to leave the country, which I can certainly understand. It’s not that I want to leave this country, but it’s more that I want to live in Ireland, a desire I have long harbored. The history of poet and writers, the verdant landscape, the smaller villages. Of all of the places that I have dreamed about and given character to, Ireland comes the closest to my imaginings, or at least that’s what the people who have been there tell me.

It’s quite easy to build up a scenario in your wild imaginings about how a certain town or country might be, but it’s quite another thing to encounter the brutality of the reality of that place. The few places that I think would actually live up to what I have imagined are Ireland, New Zealand, New South Wales, and perhaps Wales and the Netherlands.

I wonder if I will ever get to compare my imaginings with the realities . . .

More later. Peace.

Music by Tom Waits, “The World Keeps Turning” from the Pollock soundtrack

                   

Stone

Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

~ Charles Simic, from The Voice at 3 A.M.

“Words form the thread on which we string our experiences.” ~ Aldous Huxley

“Winter Morning,” by Igor Grabar (1907, oil on canvas)

“After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own.” ~  Oscar Wilde

"Clearing Skyes," by Igor Grabar (1928, oil on canvas)

Unbelievable. Snow. Again. That’s three times in two weeks, more than we’ve had in years. It’s no longer snowing, but the wind is fierce, and boy is it cold. Earlier today the wind had that rumbling sound, not quite a freight train, but very, very loud and prolonged. For a moment I thought about the old oak tree right outside our bedroom window, but then I figured that since it had survived three hurricanes, it was probably not going to be taken out by the gusts.

Removing that particular tree is one our very long list of things to do around here once Corey starts back to work. The list continues to grow despite the lack of job. Funny how that works.

Last night I played music in my dreams. I’m pretty sure that it was a Chopin prelude, but I can’t remember which one. How strange.

I looked at the calendar and realized that I haven’t posted very much at all in February, despite my intentions to post every day. Quite frankly, I just haven’t had it in me. Between the excruciating back pain, and this headache (not quite a migraine) which has been around for over a week, I’m just not feeling very prolific. I mean, I sit here at the computer each day, open the screen that says Add New Post, and just look at the blankness before me. And then nothing. Nada. No joy, as it were.

I know. I know. I’m letting the blank white page (so to speak) get to me, letting it cower me into submission, allowing it to intimidate me. But any writer will tell you that the blank white page is a living, breathing nemesis. It chuckles softly at my inability to put down the opening sentence. Mocks me. And no, I’m not hearing voices in my head. Things haven’t deteriorated that badly—yet. But the white page, the blank rectangle stretched out on my screen fears nothing, which makes me fear everything.

I begin, and then delete. It’s part of the curse of technology. When writing in longhand, it’s so much harder to undo the words that have been written. Now it’s just a matter of holding down the backspace key or the delete key, and voila: Gone. Blank again. I used to hate to cross out my words. It seemed like such a violation, so I would write and continue to write. Maybe I could put something on my backspace key to make it painful to the touch, train myself, you know, like Pavlov’s dog.

Right.

 “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.” ~ Alice Hoffman

"February Day," by Igor Grabar (1904, oil on canvas)

Anyway, on to other things. Corey called his contact at Vane Brothers, but hasn’t been able to speak to him. Considering Baltimore is crushed under the weight of yet another storm, it’s very possible that the office is not open. No need to read too much into things.

I called my mom today (phones are back on as of yesterday) to check on her, but she didn’t answer. It’s entirely possible that she’s mad at me again for not calling her even though Corey went by to check on her while he was out last week and told her that the phones were off. I never know when or why my mother is mad at me. It’s kind of like the phases of the moon: they happen all by themselves (well, not really), and if you wait long enough, a full moon will come around again. That’s my mother.

Who knows the whys and wherefores of her logic. I should talk. But now that the phones are back on, I really need to call my gastro doctor and make an appointment; it’s just the thought that he’s going to put me through some kind of uncomfortable test really sets up an internal roadblock, making me put off making the call. Going to a gastroenterologist is never just an office visit. I mean, there’s the visit, but then, without fail, there is some kind of test involving a tube, or a nasty drink, or something of that sort. I cannot fathom why anyone would become a gastroenterologist. But then, I cannot imagine why anyone would become a podiatrist.

Actually, it’s hard to imagine doing a lot of things that different specialists do, which is precisely why my pre-med major did not last very long in undergraduate school. The first time we had to dissect rats that were still warm I realized that perhaps touching things for a living was not for me, and I retreated to books. They’re safe. They don’t smell (unless they’re old), and they don’t bleed or ooze.

My uncle was very disappointed in me for not going to medical school. For some reason he had it in his head that I would make a really good doctor. When I told him that I was thinking about law school, he had a cow, told me I was wasting my brain. Of course, law school didn’t happen either as I became pregnant with Alexis. I don’t really have any regrets about not becoming a lawyer. I love the research, but cannot see myself working for a corporation or representing some of the people who need lawyers. Of course, my view is skewed from watching years and years of Law & Order.

That particular uncle died just a year after my dad. He actually wasn’t my uncle, but my dad’s childhood friend, and everyone knows that when you are Filipino, you have lots and lots of uncles and aunts who aren’t related by blood. That’s just the way that it is. I think that it’s kind of neat, actually. Anyway, I still dream about both my father and my uncle as he was such a big part of my life.

 “She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half-words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.” ~ Robert Graves

"Frost," by Igor Grabar (1905, oil on canvas)

Valentine’s Day is coming up in just a few days. I have very mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. Mostly, I think that it’s a big ripoff. The cost of flowers doubles, even triples. People who have no one special in their lives are made to feel inferior, especially when the florists deliver bouquets to co-workers. The greeting card industry makes a fortune, as do the manufacturers of stuffed animals and chocolates. There’s something wrong with setting up one day of the year on which to display affection for your significant other.

Expressions of love should be a continual thing. I don’t mean flowers and cards. I’m talking about hugs, kisses, saying I love you. Doing thoughtful things for one another.  I think that our society in particular has these manufactured holidays that set up people to fulfill ridiculous expectations. My boyfriend didn’t send me a dozen red roses. He must not love me as much as he says that he does.

Please. If it only takes a dozen roses to prove love, then our expectations about relationships are too low. Let me tell you a true story: A radio station was running a contest; I don’t really remember the exact nature of the contest. The DJ’s had a woman on the line, and they called her boyfriend to tell him that he had won a drawing for a dozen roses. They asked him who he wanted the flowers to be sent to, and his response was his wife. He gave the DJ’s the name of his wife, at which point, his girlfriend interrupted and said, “Your wife?” The DJ’s cut the feed.

My point exactly. Roses do not define a relationship. If Corey spent $60 to send me roses, I would be too bothered about what that $60 could have been used for to enjoy the roses. Buy me a card and write something lovely inside. Tell me every day how you feel about me. It means more. Maybe it’s age, or maybe it’s wisdom, or maybe it’s a combination of things, but now that I have someone in my life who lets me know every single day how much he cares about me just in the way that he treats me, I don’t need the roses.

Now diamonds. That’s another story.

Quotes found on Crashingly Beautiful. More later. Peace.

Music by Chopin: Etude in A Flat Major, Opus 25, No. 1

 

 

*All images are by Igor Grabar (1871-1960), a Russian post-Impressionist painter.