“You, in your innocence, what do you know of this world?” ~ Louise Glück, from “Quince Tree”

Pillars of Maymont Park, VA, by Watson Media (FCC)

                   

“Change, when it comes, cracks everything open.” ~ Dorothy Allison

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and warm, mid 70’s.

I had a very weird spike in my stats yesterday, with over 1300 hits in one day. I have no idea as to why.

So . . . the past three days have been so incredibly stressful that I couldn’t sit still long enough to write, so I immersed myself in chores long overdue: cleaning out the Rodeo completely, cleaning the leather seats, putting protectant on the dash, cleaning the windows, using a wisk broom to clean up most of the stuff on the carpeting, scrubbing (really scrubbing) the wheel rims.

Black and White Drip by Peter Baker (FCC)

Of course I overdid it, leaving my back screaming at me, and having sore muscles in places that I had forgotten I had muscles. But at least I was able to sleep.

The cause of my misery? Corey forgot his Merchant Mariner’s Document. Very important. Late Sunday/early Monday he called me very upset because they were threatening to put him off the ship. On Monday, I called around and no one overnights to Lithuania, the fastest would be Wednesday sometime, no guaranteed delivery time. So I decided to use UPS as I thought that it might be cheaper than Fed Ex. I never even thought of the USPS; isn’t that terrible?

Okay, this next part is my own stupidity: Who knew that you were supposed to lie about the value of the items that you’re shipping overseas? I didn’t. As a result, the package, which weighed 1.6 pounds, cost $233 to send two-day to Lithuania; add to that the number of phone calls that Corey has made at roughly $4/minute, and the bills just keep expanding. I beat myself up pretty bad over shipping error, but at least I knew that Corey would have what he needed well before the anticipated Saturday departure date for the Ship.

Right? Wrong.

“What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.” ~ René Descartes

Corey called me yesterday while I was at ODU waiting for Brett. I was in the middle of cleaning the car, and he told me that he was sitting in a hotel. They had put him off the ship and given him a ticket home. What???

Esso Black and White by Beadmobile (FCC)

He told them that the package was due to arrive on Wednesday, only not actually, as the tracking showed that there had been an unexplained delay . . . I got in touch with the captain, who said to send him the tracking number and he would take care of it. Did taking care of it mean that they would let Corey wait, or did it mean that they were sending him home anyway, and they would reroute the package? Sending him home will cost the company another $1300; even I can see that they would save money by putting him in a hotel for possibly another night, but no. What the hell?

I have no idea.

So the last I heard, Corey was due home at 11:27 tonight. I’ve been unable to get in touch with him, with anyone, so I don’t know if he’s on an airplane halfway across the Atlantic, or if he’s sitting in a hotel in Lithuania. I don’t know anything except that if he is indeed on an airplane flying over the Atlantic, then when he arrives, he is in going to be in bad shape.

I don’t know how it is that we went over our checklists so many times, and neither of us remembered the damned MMD. How did that happen? Why did that happen? Are we cursed?

“We are less permanent than thought” ~ Basil Bunting, from “Villon

Was it too much to hope that our luck had really changed, that we might actually be making headway towards getting back on a normal path? I suppose so.

Swan in Black and White by Martyn Wright (FCC)

I broke out in hives on both Sunday and Monday nights. That hasn’t happened in a long time. And in spite of my attempts, I don’t think there’s enough manual labor in the world—little of which I am capable of performing, I have to add—that would tamp this stress and worry. And trust me when I say that this is not helping with my attempts to cut most of the sugar from my diet. On Monday morning around 8 when I got up to let the dogs out, I found myself standing in front of the fridge with a fork, eating Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake straight from the box (thanks, Mom).

To be honest, I feel quite like an old watch spring that has been too tightly wound, as if at any second the winding will stop and I will spring backwards and kind of bob back and forth. And while I have slept from exhaustion, the dreams have been bad. Take last night, I dreamt that one of my former students had put a hit out on me, and several different people were making attempts to fulfill the contract, not just one contract killer, but three. All of this happened at the local grade school. Guns were involved. It was not pretty.

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So that’s life at the moment. Too full, too intense, too much on the razor’s edge. Fast or feast, but not like this. Not like this. I should be reveling in the warmer weather and the sunshine. I should be appreciating the fresh air that I’m pushing into my lungs and savoring the feeling of having a vehicle that is sort of mine, again.

Black and White Boat Ruins by cubanjunky (FCC)

But I cannot, and that sucks.

Eamonn just called, and he won’t be home for a while, so I don’t have to rush through this post as I had originally thought. So in a lame attempt to try to still the madness of my mind, I thought that I would just throw out some randomness:

  • What is going on with all of these words on Tumblr, WordPress, and wherever else that are highlighted all by themselves? Who asked for you Enhance, anyway? It’s like fairies are dusting everything with link dust, and I don’t like it. Let me add my own links and emphasis, thank you.
  • Is my hair thinning? I don’t want to be one of those old ladies whose parts are about an inch wide. Yuck.
  • The soundtrack from A Knight’s Tale is awesome, and I had forgotten that tidbit until I unearthed the CD recently: “Low Rider” and other classics.
  • Alexis called me last night to complain that she had to buy a bra as big as her head because of her expanding chest size. She wanted to know if I got that big when I was pregnant. Nope, not even close, and truly thankful for that. I hate to wear a bra. I gave them up in the 8th grade, and concede only when going to work, which is not any more.
  • I still haven’t done the taxes or FAFSAs. Had planned to do so this Sunday, but well, you know where that went.
  • I used to give up chocolate for Lent, not for religious reasons, but because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I never once made it all the way through.
  • Did you know there is a show on SciFi called “Face Off”? It features contestants who want to make it big in character special effects. They do things like prosthetics, masks, latex, body paint, whatever. I mention this only because I caught a few minutes of one episode solely because of one of the judges. I couldn’t change the channel because this guy looked like he was wearing some kind of special effects make-up, but turns out it was just his face. Weird.

“You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?” ~ Rumi

Here is some more nothing fluff:

  • Today I used my last $10 to put gas in the Rodeo. I got exactly 2.7 gallons. What the hell? The gauge didn’t budge. Okay, maybe it budged a millimeter, but definitely not more.

    South Georgia Ice Company by holia (FCC)
  • My ex takes up way too much space in my dreams; admittedly, the dreams in which he appears are almost always violent, but still . . .
  • I probably read more poetry now on a regular basis than I did while I was an undergrad, grad, or instructor. I find that a bit odd.
  • Man I hate Fox Noise.
  • Eamonn wants to move to France. Brett wants to move to New Zealand or Australia. I want to move to Ireland. Alexis wants to move into a house. Corey does not want to move. This scenario could become problematic at some point.
  • I wonder if published and/or famous writers are as tortured as those of us who remain wannabes? I wonder if Tolkien ever sat around thinking, “What’s the point? No one is going to read this anyway.”
  • I wonder when I’ll get motivated enough to get off my ass and do something.
  • Did I mention that I hate everything?

I think I’ll go take a muscle relaxer and take the dog for a walk—no worries, they affect me not at all other than to make the spasms stop, so I won’t be walking into street signs; that’s the kind of thing that I do all by myself, without any pharmaceuticals.

Seemed like a good day for black and white, especially the “Not for Human Consumption” sign. Kind of like my mood and this post.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cary Brothers, “Take Your Time” (this might be a repeat, oh well . . .)

                   

Trillium

When I woke up I was in a forest. The dark
seemed natural, the sky through the pine trees
thick with many lights.

I knew nothing; I could do nothing but see.
And as I watched, all the lights of heaven
faded to make a single thing, a fire
burning through the cool firs.
Then it wasn’t possible any longer
to stare at heaven and not be destroyed.

Are there souls that need
death’s presence, as I require protection?
I think if I speak long enough
I will answer that question, I will see
whatever they see, a ladder
reaching through the firs, whatever
calls them to exchange their lives—

Think what I understand already.
I woke up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given to me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until that word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.

~ Louise Glück


“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” ~ René Descartes

These pavement cracks are the places where poets pack their warrior words ~ Lemn Sissay, Tib Street, Manchester UK*

                    

“All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. It is just an illusion we have here on earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Monday late afternoon. Mild temperatures, 50’s.

I slept. A lot. How unusual. Not complaining.

These pavement cracks are the places where sleeping shadows of moving bridges stole ~ Lemn Sissay

I think that I fell asleep around 1 a.m. I got up at 12 to take Brett to school, and then came home and slept for a few more hours. Obviously, my body needed sleep. I did the usual awakening around 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. to let the dogs out, but I had no problems in getting back to sleep as soon as my body hit the mattress. I know: this is not remotely exciting in the way of readable copy, but you have to understand that deep sleep is so unusual for me that I feel a great need to shout it from the rooftops.

Consider the shouting over.

So anyway, Corey had to work third shift last night, and so far today, he has not received any telephone calls from the shipping line. He’s walking back and forth in the house and doing a lot of heavy sighing. This is not a big house, so his path is pretty limited, which I suppose sort of defeats the purpose of intent pacing. I’m not making fun (well, actually, I am, just a bit), but he is so restless that even Tillie, who usually follows him wherever he goes, has taken up position on the couch and just raises her head as he passes by to see if perhaps he’s going someplace that she needs to follow. Then she puts her head down and goes back to napping.

Dogs. Incredibly discerning creatures.

“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but  they appear almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster,  cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than  anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Actual quote from my mother: “You’ve gotten really grouchy now that you’re old.”

How does one respond to something like that? Gee, thanks mom. You say the sweetest, most uplifting things.

Where the dying dust of dreams slides where the slits silt turns to food ~ Lemn Sissay

As I’ve said, I know that I’m particularly impatient with my mother, and trust me when I say that it comes from years and years and years of the same conversation, rehashed, reshaped, repeated ad nauseum. That’s not fair. I know. But I just cannot help it. Well before my mother entered her 70’s she repeated herself constantly, and I got impatient with the repetition. My father used to say, “Yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh, yeh.” Five of them in a row, and I swear the first time that came out of my mouth, I was horrified yet still oddly satisfied.

So when my mother comes out with things like this, inevitably I turn to Corey and say something along the lines of “and you wonder why I have no self-esteem.”

Look, I’ll admit that I’ve never been a heaping pile of optimism, nor has anyone ever accused me of walking around with a stupid smile on my face for no reason. That’s just not who I am. Does that mean that I’m not happy? No. It does mean that I am more often than not in contemplation over this or that, and in that sense, I married the perfect person to complement my personality. Corey is not one of those mindlessly happy individuals either. But we make each other laugh, and we take pleasure in the same things. Mostly.

People who smile easily—there’s something to be said for that. Being cheerful—that’s a good thing. I’ve always envied people like that, but I know myself too well, and I’m not one of those people. Like the lyrics in that Chorus Line song: “Mother always said I was different, different with a special kind of personal flair.” Whatever.

“You simply keep putting down one damn word after the other, as they come to you. You can either set brick as a laborer or as an artist. You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time. You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

So where was I before my mother interrupted? Who knows.

Where rain rushes down grit rock faces where the heartless heat crouches beneath the cold ~ Lemn Sissay

I do believe that some people are born happy and that other people are born sad. And sometimes that changes, and those who were born sad manage to morph into fundamentally happy people, people who can engage in witty repartee, who can smile without any effort; and then those who were born happy have some event in their lives that causes a shift, and they no longer smile, and their wounds, whatever they are, consume every waking moment.

And then there are the others, and this is the category into which I believe I fall: We feel things intensely, and when we are happy, we are happy beyond measure so that even the smallest thing can conjure a smile, but when we are sad, the pain of that sadness overshadows all of our features, leaving our faces pensive and closed. It’s a matter of knowing how to be happy, of having had experiences that were completely blissful, yet at the same time, having experienced tremendous pain and always being cogent of the fact that such pain can come back.

Glass half full or half empty—in the truest sense—or glass simply there as a container.

“I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly. Why muck and conceal one’s true longings and loves, when by speaking of them one might find someone to understand them, and by acting on them one might discover oneself?” ~  Everett Ruess

I know that I’ve said this in another post, probably more than once, but one of my keenest memories of my mother giving me advice when I was a teenager was that I needed to read happy things and think happy thoughts. I remember the exact moment acutely: I was in the store with her, and as usual, I was in the book section, and I had picked out the book The Holocaust. I think that I might have been about 14. She made me put the book back on the shelf because it was depressing.

And perhaps the pavement cracks are the pattern of concrete butterflies ~ Lemn Sissay

Of course I went back another time and bought the book anyway.

Look. I’m not saying that my approach to life is the best approach. Far from it. I’m merely being brutally honest. I know myself, know my limitations just as surely as I know my capabilities. And it’s a situation of what if: What if my mother had been more attuned to my needs? What if my mother had been better able to offer the kind of advice that would have actually been helpful? What if my mother had nurtured my talents instead of trying to rein them in?

I must sound awful, as if I hate my mother, and that’s so far from the truth. I love my mother, but I also am a realist. I know that my mother is a product of her environment, a child of the Depression, the daughter who lost her mother at a very early age and had to look elsewhere to fill that gaping hole. All of these factors shaped my mother, and the advice that she gave me made complete sense to her even if it didn’t to me. I know that my mom had her own dreams and that many of them did not come true, and that breaks my heart.

“The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s  neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that  came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.” ~ William Styron

Happiness is a strange thing, and if we are being truthful, probably rarer than most would admit.

Like us they hold the people of a modern earth this world between the windswept flags ~ Lemn Sissay

When were you last happy? What was the exact moment of your bliss?

I know that as a child, I was happy. I was happy and creative and friendly. I got along as well with adults as I did with children. I think, no, I know that my personality changed drastically when I hit puberty. It wasn’t the rebellion. It was the sadness, the deep abiding sadness that I simply could not explain and that I did not understand. Of course I realize now that with puberty and the great hormone surge came my depression.

I have another vivid memory from my early teens: sitting on the corner of the street under the street sign, just sitting and crying. People passed me in cars, some slowed, concern obvious on their faces, and I turned away. I just wanted to be left alone in my sadness. I could not have told you why I was so sad that day. I really had no idea; I only knew that my heart felt so heavy with a sadness that I could not name that feeling anything else would have been relief. Oh god, the angst. I probably went home and wrote one of my maudlin poems.

The teen years: more bad poetry produced by the misunderstood than can ever be read.

I did not tell my mother. And truthfully, I still cannot tell her.

Oh. The answer to that question I posed? I’ll get back to you.

More later. Peace.

*Images are of  verses from Lemn Sissay’s poem “Flags,” which was commissioned by The Northern  Quarter and laid into Tib Street in Manchester, England.

Music by The Wellspring, “The Ballad of El Goodo”

                   

The Crunch

too much too little

too fat
too thin
or nobody.

laughter or
tears

haters
lovers

strangers with faces like
the backs of
thumb tacks

armies running through
streets of blood
waving winebottles
bayoneting and fucking
virgins.

an old guy in a cheap room
with a photograph of M. Monroe.

there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock

people so tired
mutilated
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place
alone

untouched
unspoken to

watering a plant.

people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.

I suppose they never will be.
I don’t ask them to be.

but sometimes I think about
it.

the beads will swing
the clouds will cloud
and the killer will behead the child
like taking a bite out of an ice cream cone.

too much
too little

too fat
too thin
or nobody

more haters than lovers.

people are not good to each other.
perhaps if they were
our deaths would not be so sad.

meanwhile I look at young girls
stems
flowers of chance.

there must be a way.

surely there must be a way that we have not yet
though of.

who put this brain inside of me?

it cries
it demands
it says that there is a chance.

it will not say
“no.”

~ Charles Bukowski