“The universe lies before you on the floor, in the air, in the mysterious bodies of your dancers, in your mind. From this voyage no one returns poor or weary.” ~ Agnes De Mille

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia (Wikimedia Commons)

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, early evening. Cloudy and quite chilly, low 50’s.

Lighthouse, Sälskär in Hammarland, Finland WC

Corey left port today, 11 a.m. our time, 6 p.m. his time. I am posting pictures of lighthouses that I imagine he might see along his route home. Of course, I have no way of knowing if he will be able to see any lighthouses once they leave the Baltic Sea. But I would like to think that the beams from these beacons will shine upon their bow if only ever so lightly.

We will be out of touch for approximately 19 days. I don’t know why this did not occur to me sooner, the fact that he will be out of touch. I think that I am so used to living in this technology-driven society, that I never stopped to think that in the middle of the ocean, there is no signal, no one can hear you now because cell towers are not scattered along the Atlantic Ocean at strategic outposts.

The idea of not being able to contact him, even via text, is a bit jarring; how often, any more, are we actually out of touch, we as a society in this supposedly advanced world? I  mean, if I ever do go live on that remote island somewhere, there will be no cell tower nearby, and that appeals to me, that is if I have my loved ones with me.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” ~ St. Augustine

The lighthouse at Skansin, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, Denmark

When I was a little girl, I loved the idea of lighthouses to make the path clear for my father while he was at sea. I suppose I imagined that he was standing on the deck somewhere, and the rotating light cast its beam upon him, and he felt safe. Of course, he was actually below deck, in the engine room, and because of his seniority, he never had to stand watch. He absolutely hated to stand watch, and the ship captains for whom he worked knew this, and they agreed to his requests because he was that good at his job.

Corey is also very good at his job. The crew with whom he works (several of whom are Filipino and have taken him under their collective wings) has already given him the responsibility of being helm watch. He says that working on big ships is nothing like working on tugs, and not nearly as labor-intensive, but in spite of that, he misses being on tugs.

Oh my. Just had quite a scare. The whole post disappeared, and when it came back, it appeared to have only the quotes and nothing else. Luckily, I reopened Firefox, and it was here. I really hate it when that happens in the middle of writing.

“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” ~ William Least Heat Moon

Aside: I love Native American names: Least Heat Moon got his name from his father, who called himself Heat Moon; as William came after his brother, he was Least. If I had a Native American name, I think it would be something along the lines of Troubled Heart or Broken Path.

Väderöbods Lighthouse, Sweden, by Lars Reidar (Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway, back to the whole idea of journeys, voyages, travels.

So while Corey is making his way from the North Atlantic to the upper lower Atlantic (?)—or whatever Florida is considered in relation to the Atlantic Ocean—I’m hoping that he gets rid of the cold/sinus troubles that he has had ever since arriving in Lithuania. He said that the weather there has really been beastly; it snowed on Easter. I have not told him how temperate it is here, except for today, that is.

The cold was one of the things that my father absolutely hated about Europe, especially when he was doing the run from Rotterdam to New York. I imagine that working on the cold on the water is doubly fierce: the wind and the spray from the water.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware” ~ Martin Buber

I’m also hoping that this trip brings Corey a certain measure of self-satisfaction, something that has been missing from his life in many ways since he was laid off.

Lighthouse at Carraig Aonair, Ireland by Richard Webb (Wikimedia Commons)

He has been so unsure of so many things for so long. Going back to school was great for him, and I know that he really enjoyed it, but he still felt restless because he wasn’t working at a job in which he could make any kind of money or that had any room for advancement. So with any luck, he will finish this hitch feeling better about himself, about his abilities, about his training. He needs the kind of validation that I simply cannot give him, regardless of how much I care or how much I respect his abilities.

And with any luck, he’ll be able to find something afterwards that still allows him to take some classes. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly;” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, early evening. Sunny and low 60’s.

Penmon Lighthouse at the Isle of Anglesey, Wales, UK, by Alistair Young (Wikimedia Commons)

Well, this has to set a record for the post taking the longest to finish. What I started on Wednesday I was unable to finish that evening as Eamonn came home from work and wanted his room. Can you imagine? And I couldn’t use Brett’s computer as I had to pick him up from school early that evening as he wasn’t feeling well. So no Wednesday night writing for me.

Then yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment to get the shots in my back, and I had to take Brett to school. That only left the evening, and once again, Eamonn was home. Add to this that the time that I do have access to this computer is almost useless as this particular computer is definitely on its last legs. More often than not, I get the Not Responding message. May I say once more how happy I will be to get my computer up and running. Just imagine, 24-hour access to a computer that works! In my room! Oh happy day . . .

So my good intentions about sending beacons out into the universe for Corey are a little late, but the sentiment remains. Do I back post this to the 11th? the 12th? today? I guess I’ll go for the one in between.

I suppose I’ll close for now so that I might still be able to do a current post.

More later. Peace.

Music by Beth Thornley, “Everyone Falls”

Love at Thirty-two Degrees (section III of IV sections)

III

Then, there is the astronomer’s wife
ascending stairs to her bed.

The astronomer gazes out,
one eye at a time,

to a sky that expands
even as it falls apart

like a paper boat dissolving in bilge.
Furious, fuming stars.

When his migraine builds &
lodges its dark anchor behind

the eyes, he fastens the wooden buttons
of his jacket, & walks

outside with a flashlight
to keep company with the barn owl

who stares back at him with eyes
that are no greater or less than

a spiral galaxy.
The snow outside

is white & quiet
as a woman’s slip

against cracked floorboards.
So he walks to the house

inflamed by moonlight, & slips
into the bed with his wife

her hair & arms all
in disarray

like fish confused by waves.

~ Katherine Larson

“I’ve a grand memory for forgetting” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

if-i-only-had-a-brain

If I Only Had A Brain . . .

“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath” ~ Natalie Goldberg

fiber-reconstructions-in-the-brain
Very Cool Image of Fiber Reconstructions in the Brain

For the past month, my brain seems to have been losing grey cells more quickly than I am able to regenerate them. The disturbing truth is that I cannot remember anything. I had been attributing this inability to form linear thoughts solely to stress because this family seems to be mired in a stress swamp.

However, I will allow that the probability of my synapses misfiring may be directly related to the medications in my regimen. For example, I was on Topomax for my migraines. A psychopharmacologist that I consult pointed out that the nickname for Topomax is “Dopomax” because the medication has a direct effect on an individual’s cognitive abilities. I just really wish that someone had told me about this before my dosages kept increasing until I was on an extremely high dose.

Actually, I thought that my brain was atrophying as a result of my no longer being in the workforce full time. As in, the more stimulation the brain receives, the better it works, and my brain stimulation is all self-imposed these days. Of course, this is still a possibility. My interactions these days are with my family and my dogs, instead of students, professors, and marketing reps. Slight difference . . . but I have to admit that I like my dogs better than most of those people.

“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

alfie-looking-confused
Alfie Looking Confused???

All of this could explain why I can’t seem to remember things from one moment to the next. I do write things down as reminders and make lists for the store, but then I cannot remember where I put the lists. Stop laughing . . . I’m not joking here.

In some ways, I remind myself of my canine friends. You know how a dog will come running into a room, tail wagging, and then suddenly stop and look around as if to say, “why did I come in here”? Well, that’s me. I find myself retracing my steps more and more in efforts to remember why I am in the garage, or why I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Corey, as patient as always, suffers the most from my memory lapses. I’ll call him to come into the room and then forget why I called him. He stands there patiently while I retrace my thought process in my brain. Sometimes I remember. Sometimes I don’t, or I don’t remember until a half an hour later, and by then, the context is gone. What’s really annoying to me is when Corey will ask me for a word, and I cannot remember it. Being a wordsmith and former English instructor,  this need to hunt in my memory for words is frankly, demeaning, not to mention that it makes me appear to be clueless. I fear the day that Corey will turn to Brett for references as he is tired of waiting for me to get my synapses firing in order to answer his questions about words and writing.

I’m afraid that I may be rubbing off on him, though. The other day when he was going to the store, he came into the room and said, “We were talking about something that I forgot to get at the sore. Do you remember what it is?” Of course I didn’t remember. I asked him to call me once he go to the store in the hopes that I would remember by then. He called, and neither one of us had recalled what we had forgotten.

Isn’t that just terrible?

“The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess . . .”  ~ William F. Allman

neurons-in-the-hippocampus-by-tamily-a-weissman
Neurons in the Hippocampus (detail) by Tamily A. Weissman

So I did my usual bit of research on the brain just so that I could appear to know something about that which I am deprecating: my brain. One of the things that I discovered earlier is that scans of the brain make beautiful pictures. If the viewer does not have the least inkling of what she is seeing, the images resemble everything from tree branches to colored sperm to an intricate root system.

What I learned on my most recent exploration is that people who know these things or postulate about these things are now beginning to rethink the whole mediotemporal lobe as the memory center. Apparently, two of the key parts of this lobe, the hippocampus and the perirhinal cortex function alone and in different ways.

The hippocampus, which is shaped like a seahorse is more focused on consolidation of new memories; it is responsible for converting short-term memory into long-term memory. The hippocampus also helps humans to recall spatial relations, emotions, and navigation. Navigation? As in what tells me how to get to Baltimore, Maryland? Actually, I think it means more that if my hippocampus were functioning at full speed, I would have remembered that there are three steps leading into the garage instead of thinking that there were only two, which led to the fall and subsequent sprained ankle. (http://biology.about.com/library/organs/brain/blhippocam.htm).

perirhinal-cortex-in-brain
Perihinal Cortex in Brain

The perirhinal cortex plays a role in encoding object recognition memory. Studies have been done in which subjects are shown a series of images. They are later shown the same series of images and asked to identify those which they remember (“familiarity-based recognition”). Through imaging, scientists have been able to determine that the perirhinal cortex resets itself between sessions, which I find to be pretty cool. Sort of like hitting control/alt/delete when you need to reset your virtual brain. This resetting indicates that this part of the brain is working actively rather than passively. ( http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(08)00634-X)

Amazing what you can find with a Google search.

“Brain: an apparatus with which we think that we think.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

jws_winnie_the_pooh_classic_with_butterflyWhich leads me down another path . . . what if my brain is just getting old? I mean, what if my brain has begun to sprout brain grey hairs in the same way that my temples have? Fixing the hair problem is easy enough: a visit to my stylist and a loss of money. But do they have Miss Clairol for brains, and if so, how do I go about getting some?

I know that I’m probably over-thinking this (audible groan), but I mean, come on. Don’t you get just a wee bit concerned when you feel like Winnie the Pooh—all stuffed with fluff and a mind that is fixated on only one thing? Of course, there aren’t many things more adorable than Pooh, but it’s a bit embarrassing for a grown woman in her after-30’s to have the thinking power of A.A. Milne’s most beloved creation.

“The existence of forgetting has never been proved: we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.” ~ Friederich Nietzsche

Which brings me to the actual reason for this post: I joined Condron.us just after it appeared in my blog stats. Condron is a new blogging community that is fast becoming as popular as that other blogging community whose name I shall not put in my blogs any more.

fruitfly-on-appleWhen I joined Condron, I had great plans to be a contributor to its forums and to visit the site with every new post that I published so that I could seek out other interesting blogs on which to bestow my words of wisdom and praise.

But then I forgot. Completely forgot to comment, forgot to visit. Mind wiped clean. I would remember to list the site in my tags, but that was as far as it went, and if I am to be truthful, I remembered to list Condron in my tags because it’s a most-used tag.

Now, my stats have been lower of late, and I’ve been pondering the reasons why. But in pondering, I would be distracted by something else on my stats page, like a new link or something like that, and then I would forget to ponder the problem any longer.

I know, I’m making it sound as if I have the attention span of a fruitfly. Trust me, the fruitfly is more focused. At least it knows what its purpose is in life and why it has landed on an aging apple.

“It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

So my whole point is this: I need brain stimulation. I need to do more exploring of other people’s blogs and let my mind be filled with new voices (not the ones in my head—admit it: That’s what you were thinking), new ideas from different places.

condron_usDon’t misunderstand: I love my little community of blogs that I visit daily. It feels as if we’re having coffee together all over the world. I find that immensely gratifying. But I want to find more people to collect, which means that I need to start visiting Condron.us regularly.

If you’ve never visited a blogging community before, and you are interested in seeing who is out in the blogosphere and what they are writing, then I would highly recommend that you visit one soon. It’s a great way to get people interested in your own site and to share information and comments with other people who might be writing about the same things that you are posting.

So don’t be like me, or like I was. Visit Condron.us soon at http://condron.us. It’s worth remembering.

More later. Peace.