“Gaze into the fire, into the clouds, and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak . . . surrender to them. Don’t ask first whether it’s permitted, or would please your teachers or father or some god. You will ruin yourself if you do that.” ~ Hermann Hesse

The Fairy Host
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law*


“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still” ~ Sylvia Plath

Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy, showers, much cooler, low 60’s.

Well, Corey is in the Ascension Island for a few days. He hasn’t seen any giant sea turtles, but he says that the island is beautiful, crystal blue waters, clean beaches, no touristy stuff. Apparently, the turtles nest at night, and the road to their nesting ground is actually closed to traffic at night so as not to disturb the turtles. Isn’t that cool? Unfortunately for him, his watch shifts haven’t allowed him to be off the boat at the time the turtles are on the move, but he has seen the tracks in the sand, and he says that they are huge.

A Dream of Grace
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

From there, the ship is supposed to head to Brooklyn to go into the yard, where it will be for a month or so. He sounds content, but tired. I haven’t heard that tone in his voice in quite a while, so it’s very nice. I can’t express how wonderful it is to know that he’s doing something that he loves and is very good at doing, especially after four years of a roller coaster ride.

Four years? Yep, since 2008. Wow. That really is a long, long, long time to be unemployed and underemployed, but I know that we are fortunate because many people who lost their jobs when the recession hit are still out of work. I truly fear for this country, its shortsighted leaders who continue to believe that the struggling lower classes are lesser citizens, and who continue to reward the elite.

What happened to equity? Democracy? The American Dream?

“What syllable are you seeking,
Vocalissimus,
In the distances of sleep?
Speak it.” ~ Wallace Stevens, from “To the Roaring Wind”

I don’t want to go off on a socio-political rant as it will just depress me, and I’m actually feeling a bit better emotionally. I haven’t been weepy in several days, so that’s a good thing.

White Knight of Bright Morning
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

We got a graduation announcement from Corey’s niece, his older brother’s daughter. Apparently Steve texted Corey twice for our address, which just stymies me as we send them a Christmas card every year, and have done so for over a decade. Anyway, his daughter is graduating, which is kind of weird as I remember when she was just a little girl who followed Eamonn around Corey’s parents’ house when we were visiting at Christmas.

They refuse to stay young.

In ten years they will all wish that they were just approaching their 20’s again. After ten years of the stresses of young adult life, they begin to see how easy life really was. I’m not at all saying that being a teenager is easy, because it’s not. The stressors are there, just of a different nature. And far too many young people come out of their teen years scarred and scared, with absolutely no idea of what the future might hold for them.

I never thought I’d be talking about today’s youth in that same tone of voice that I hated when I was younger, so I try to remember that all of those things that seemed terribly important, life-changing, heartbreaking, all of those things really did matter then. Only now am I able to place them in context.

“I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways.” ~ Rumi

I ate a snack bag of Cheetos last night, really wanted them, but today I’m paying for it as I can feel the migraine creeping into my head. MSG. I don’t understand why food producers continue to use MSG when so many other things are available and so many people are sensitive to the additive. I try to tell myself that it won’t bother me, but 98 percent of the time when I ingest something with MSG I get a migraine. It’s that two percent that I’m hoping for.

Filling Up the Sea
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Silly me.

Last night Richard Gere and Mari were in my dream. Very, very strange. Apparently, I knew Gere. In the dream I’m taking Mari to the airport, but we’re in the Underground in Crystal City, Arlington, and we keep making wrong turns. At some point, the cast from “Law & Order” makes an appearance, and Jack McCoy is standing outside of the courtroom talking to Abby. I think to myself that Abby really is just as beautiful in real life as she is on television. Then I notice that she has a scar running down the side of her legs, and I think that she’s had an operation to make her thighs smaller. Richard Gere is wearing a white dress shirt but no tie, and he’s going in the same direction as Mari and me. The newspaper is across the street. Mari tells me that she has chronic pain but wonders why she didn’t get my old job at GW. There is a yellow Volkswagen Beetle.

Make of that what you will.

“Whatever I looked at was alive, everything had a voice,
but I never found out were you a friend, an enemy,
was it winter, summer? Smoke, singing, midnight heat.
I wrote thousands of lines. Not one told me.” ~ Anna Akhmatova, from “Fragment, 1959,” (trans. Stephen Berg)

That creative spurt that I was going through a few weeks ago seems to have dried up. Gone. For a while, I had poems running through my brain constantly. Lines upon lines kept appearing. Now the only thing in my brain is pain and bad dreams. I knew that it wouldn’t last.

Tam Lin the Knight
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I’ve started to request galleys of books again. I thought that I would try to get back into writing reviews, like I was doing a few years ago. I had stopped requesting galleys when I stopped reviewing the books I was being sent. Knowing the publishing process, it didn’t seem right to request an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) without writing a review.

I’m also trying to stay caught up on Goodreads. I hadn’t updated my profile in ages, so I set a reading goal for myself in 2012: 60 books. I’m a little behind, but I should be able to make my goal by the end of the year. I don’t really do the social part of Goodreads—chatting with other people about what they’re reading, making friends, all of that. I just don’t get into that whole social networking, even if it is a reading site.

I know. I’m a curmudgeon. But you can’t say that I’m not honest about it.

If you’re an avid reader, and you haven’t discovered Goodreads yet, you should click on the link on my sidebar. It really is a nice resource for readers; they do book giveaways each month, and people do write some good reviews of books. At the very least, it is a great site for keeping a record of your books and for finding literary quotes.

“‎When you do not speak, the thousand stars that lay upon your tongue slide back down your throat only to be swallowed one by one, jagged, pointed and weighing more than planets.” ~ Tama Kieves

Speaking of age, as I was earlier, the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys are touring. Aren’t they all 100 or so? I mean, even though Mick Jagger is ancient, I can kind of see him touring (not really sure why), but these guys? Whenever I think of the Beach Boys, unfortunately I think of Charles Manson. I know. It’s a weird association, but Manson’s desire to be taken seriously as a singer, his relationship with Dennis Wilson, are all part of what drove him to do the crazy things that he did.

Climbing the Dragon Gate
by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

You know what’s really crazy? Manson’s music was actually used by some bands after he and his followers killed all of those people. Guns ‘n Roses and Marilyn Manson have covered his songs. Weird, huh?

If anyone does not deserve that kind of recognition, it’s Manson, but hey, we’re that kind of society: desirous of fame no matter what. Okay, maybe I’m generalizing, but I remember as a youth I wanted to be famous, wanted to sing on Broadway. Of course, my dreams of fame had nothing to do with being infamous, but I wanted that recognition, nonetheless.

The desire for fame is as old as time, though. As long as humans have been able to speak, someone has chosen to be the one to lead, and people have followed because of what they have heard. Even before speech, someone always stood out, took charge, and others went along. It’s a pack mentality that has evolved into the kinds of government that exist today. Think about it: Are our Congressional members really so different from the early hominids? In both cases, someone pounded their chest (literally or figuratively) and declared that he should be heeded because he, and only he knew what was right . . .

Yep.

More later. Peace.

*All images used with permission from the Fairy Tales and Mythology Gallery on Shadowscapes, the website of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. I recommend clicking on each image to see full size.

Music by the Alialujah Choir, “A House, A Home”

                   

Of Distress Being Humiliated by the Classical Chinese Poets

Masters, the mock orange is blooming in Syracuse without
scent, having been bred by patient horticulturalists
To make this greater display at the expense of fragrance.
But I miss the jasmine of my back-country home.
Your language has no tenses, which is why your poems can
never be translated whole into English;
Your minds are the minds of men who feel and imagine
without time.
The serenity of the present, the repose of my eyes in the cool
whiteness of sterile flowers.
Even now the headsman with his great curved blade and rank
odor is stalking the byways for some of you.
When everything happens at once, no conflicts can occur.
Reality is an impasse. Tell me again
How the white heron rises from among the reeds and flies
forever across the nacreous river at twilight
Toward the distant islands.

~ Hayden Carruth

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“But suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but my god you’re alive and its spectacular.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Monet's "Water Lilies" at the MOMA (detail)

“We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy with dropping temperatures.

The headache is gone for now.

So earlier this afternoon was for cleaning. Corey gathered up clutter from outside and took it to the dump. Brett polished the furniture, and I swept the hardwood floors and cleaned off the dining room table. Eamonn is off at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ocean View, a continuation of his 21st birthday celebration. As I’m writing this, Corey is washing his truck; Tillie is helping. Need I tell you how happy he is to be doing this?

Anyway, I’ve done all that I can do for today, so it’s time to write. I’ve been thinking a lot about the word above—commuovere (pronounced kum-wo-ve-ray, with the emphasis on the first syllable). It’s Italian in origin, and while it has no direct English translation, the closest would be to touch, to affect, to stir, to move to tears.

What stirs me, touches me, moves me to tears? Wow. I’m not talking about grief or sadness; rather, it’s a matter of stirrings in the heart. Still, it’s a long and complicated list, but I thought that I would try to share some of the things in life that have moved me or do move me, so much so that I get misty-eyed.

“I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from“ Clown in the Moon”

Believe it or not, I don’t cry often, at least not as often as I used to, but I am very sentimental, which is why I don’t watch many movies on the Lifetime channel because they always have very sad endings. But what genuinely moves me, touches that tender spot in my heart? Here is a partial list, starting with movies:

  • The death of a beloved character in a book or movie. Oh I cried when Dumbledore died, and the death scene for Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring went straight to my heart.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life. Who can watch that movie and not be moved? George Bailey as everyman? Clarence the awkward angel? Slays me.
  • Wall-e. Okay, he’s a little robot, but he has such sad eyes, and he’s in love.
  • And speaking of Pixar, when Nemo’s mom dies in the beginning of Finding Nemo? Why do the moms always die in Disney and Pixar movies?
  • That scene in The Lion King when Mufasa, the daddy lion dies. Omigawd. Even though I love Jeremy Irons as Scar, I hated him at that moment. Yes, it was animated. What’s your point?

    The English Patient
  • I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, but when he does the St. Crispin’s Day speech, I literally get chills and tear up. I want to join the fray for England. Take me, take me!
  • Yes, Dead Poets’ Society was overly sentimental, but that didn’t stop me from liking it, so when Neil stands before the open window, I feel complete dread, but when the guys stand on their desks in the final scene? Oh yeah, I’m weeping. Every. Single. Time.
  • And then there is The English Patient. Almásy rubbing saffron across Katharine’s dead lips. Katharine’s final journal entry in the Cave of the Swimmers. Hana’s final injection of morphing into Almásy. What doesn’t make me cry in this movie.

“Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path — but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on earth, again and again.” ~ William Stafford, from “Cutting Loose”

I remember when I was a child there was this commercial with a supposed Native American man paddling in a canoe amidst pollution. The camera zoomed in on his face to show a single tear. That commercial made me cry, as did the Miller (?) beer Christmas commercial that showed a couple in a sled traveling through the snow with “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” playing in the background, no words. I cried. So here are some of the epic moments in television show that have tugged at my heartstrings:

  • When Mark finally succumbed to his brain tumor on “ER.” Agony. Another devastating ER episode was “Love’s Labours Lost,” in which Dr. Green tried to deliver a baby, ultimately losing the mother. Oh, how I cried.
  • When Bobby Simone dies in “NYPD Blue.”
  • When Radar comes into the operating room to tell everyone that Colonel Henry Blake’s plane went down.
  • On “Criminal Minds,” the “Riding the Lightning” episode in which Sarah Jean Dawes, who is an innocent woman, goes to her death in prison to protect the son that she gave up years before. Gideon’s complete helplessness rips my heart into pieces.

    From Dr. Who Episode "Vincent and the Doctor"
  • Two “Dr. Who” episodes in particular: “The End of Time,” in which David Tennant (10) says, “I don’t want to go.” His face in that scene is so sad. And the other one is “Vincent and the Doctor.” In one scene Vincent, the doctor, and Amy lie beneath the night sky as Vincent explains the stars as he sees them. In the final scene, Mr. Black (played by Bill Nighy) tells the doctor that Van Gogh was “the greatest painter of them all” and “one of the greatest men who ever lived,” while a stunned Van Gogh looks on in tears. Yep. That one is always good for a cry.
  • The ultimate crying fest came in the “M*A*S*H” episode, “Goodbye, Farewell, Amen” when Charles learns that the Chinese musicians that he had been teaching were killed. At that moment, I felt the absolute futility of war as only a civilian can.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” ~ Rumi 

Another weepy trigger for me is music, and this really depends upon my mood. Anything by Chopin really moves me. Apocalyptica’s “Nothing Else Matters” stops me in my tracks. When I’m crashing, certain pieces of music absolutely slay me, take Annie Lennox’s “Why,” for example. Before the bathtub developed rust holes, I would run myself a hot bath, light the candles, and set up my CD player in the bathroom. Then I would listen to the selected CD and weep until the water became too cold. Very cathartic, in an odd sort of way.

  • “I Hope You Dance,” be Lee Ann Womack. The first time I heard this song, which is about a mother and daughter, Alexis and I were going through a very rough patch. I think she was about 16 or 17.
  • Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” If you’ve never heard this, you are missing out on one of life’s true beautiful mysteries.
  • The swelling soundtrack from Legends of the Fall, which incorporates the same type of violin that was used in Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary. I firmly believe that incorporation of beautiful string sections is a deliberate attempt by composers to cut to the heart.
  • Okay, this is a combination of music and a scene in a movie: “Everything You Do” (not with words) in the scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in which Marion is going across the water through the mist. Something about that scene just gives me chills. I know. I’m a sucker for soundtracks, especially by James Horner or Howard Shore, both of whom know how to use a string section for maximum effect.
  • I’m also a sucker for country love songs, especially when Corey isn’t home or if we’ve had an argument. A few that get to me are “Whiskey Lullabye” and “Please Remember Me” do me in, but Garth Brooks’s “The Dance” is one that I listen to to torture myself.
  • Speaking of country songs, “Christmas Shoes” by New Union is one of the saddest songs ever. It’s about a little boy who doesn’t have enough money to buy a pair of shoes for his mother who is in the hospital dying. Can you think of anything sadder to write a song about?
  • One more: the sax solo in Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungle Land.” It is so beautiful and epic that it never fails to make a chill run down my spine.

“One must look for one thing only, to find many.” ~ Cesare Pavese

There are other things, of course. Works of art, like seeing Monet’s massive “Water Lilies” for the first time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Images of animals that are hurt or sad kill me; I thought that if I saw that commercial for the SPCA with Sarah McLachlan one more time during the Christmas season, I was going to jump off a building. I mean some things are just too much. And then there are the words: passages, poetry, drama, memoirs—far too many to begin listing.

Homeless Man with His Best Friend

I was once in an Italian restaurant, and one of the servers sang “Nessum Dorma.” I cried into my Napoleon pastry. I used to drive through the cemetery with David Lanz’s “Cristofori’s Dream” cranked all the way up on the tinny car stereo, weeping at the splendor and the sadness.

I suppose that for me, it’s the beauty behind it all, the beauty behind the music, the beauty behind the visual, the beauty behind the combination of colors and swirls, or sounds and echoes. Or perhaps, it’s knowing that for many of those who create the stunning and the sublime, a little piece of the person creating goes into the finished product. I think of Beethoven and Van Gogh, of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, how they all suffered for their art, how they poured that pain into everything that they created so that the world could have a measure of that beauty, how that breath-taking beauty was birthed from suffering and sorrow.

I don’t know. I say that I don’t cry that much any more, which is true, yet I still can be reduced to weeping when faced with the ineffable, especially in nature, whether it is a breathtaking sunset, or the color of leaves in the fall, or a night sky. Serendipitous instances of kindness and caring, love and tenderness where it seems there should be nothing but sorrow.  I am a walking contradiction, and life is both my passion and my poison.

More later. Peace.

Music by, who else, Apocalyptica, “Nothing Else Matters.” Turn it up.

                   

The Hollow Men V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men V

“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


“Sometimes it’s harder to deprive oneself of a pain than of a pleasure.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night

 “Boulevard vu d’en haut,” Gustave Caillebotte
(1880; I was completely unfamiliar with this particular Caillebotte, so glad I came across it as I love it.)

                   

“My memories have turned into anxieties.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

“Le Brusq,” Lucien Pissarro (1925)

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and windy.

I wonder if it’s possible to catch a computer virus because I’ve been flat on my back for days. Wednesday, when I tried to get back to the post, the one that never ends, the computer had a major temper tantrum, kept inserting <div> codes everywhere. Internet Explorer kept locking up, giving me those errors, even after I downloaded the most recent version. Finally, I said “Fine. You win,” and I went and watched “Criminal Minds.”

However, by Thursday morning, I knew that I was down for the count. I slept on and off for most of the day, and Friday morning, I couldn’t even get out of bed. I so hate it when this happens, when the weakness (for lack of a better term) sets in, and I am completely wiped out. To put it in terms that may help you to relate, it’s akin to recovering from a bad flu, real flu, not a cold, but the actual thing. The mind is ready to get back to normal, but the body says, I don’t think so.

Last night I had jelly legs, for want of a better term. I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen, and felt a bit like a life-sized pinball, sort of bouncing between walls. So today when I woke up and felt as if I could make it to the kitchen, I was elated. I was even elated that I had enough energy to wash the dishes, Yippee skippy!

Yes, yes. I know. Strange but true.

Now ordinarily when I feel better after being down and out, I immediately use that newfound energy to do things around the house. Today, however, I thought that before I did anything else, I’d write, just in case it’s only a temporary respite.

So where were we?

“. . . well, not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others . . . Beneath it all is dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“The Room of Flowers,” Frederick Childe Hassam (1894)

Ah yes . . . that open wound in my heart . . . my daughter Alexis.

I have debated over whether I should write about this, going back and forth over the whole issue of privacy—hers, not mine—hence, the snippets here and there but no details, but in the end, I decided that as long as I did not trespass into her life when writing this post, as it were, then I needed to get this off my chest in the hopes that the pain that I am carrying will not fester and turn into resentment, or possibly something worse.

I have not seen Alexis for over two months. This might not seem all that significant to many of you since she is almost 27 years old, but I should point out that she lives less than five miles from our home. She didn’t even come over for Eamonn’s birthday dinner.  And trust me when I say that I have always given her ample space and privacy as I know how it feels to be the daughter of a mother who respects no boundaries whatsoever. And it’s not that I want her at my beck and call or that I require her presence on a daily basis. None of that is true.

What is bothersome in the general sense is that her excuse for not seeing anyone or doing anything used to be that she had no vehicle. Not so any more. She has a brand spanking new Accord, quite a nice one actually. Yet it still feels as if she lives across the country.

If you were to ask me what was wrong, I really could not say for certain. Is she depressed? Probably. Is she sleeping all of the time? Probably. Is she taking her medication? Probably not. Is she doing anything to help herself? This is the big question, the one that none of us have any kind of answer to, but the reality is that until she is ready to do something, none of us can do anything.

Perhaps it’s that I’m so accustomed to intervening on her behalf for most of her life, making apologies and excuses for her apathy, her laissez-faire approach to life that to now find myself on the receiving end of her silence and disregard is irksome and unnerving.

“What is silence? Something of the sky in us.  There will be evidence, there will be evidence. Let them speak of air and its necessities. Whatever they will open, will open.” ~ Ilya Kaminsky, “Deaf Republic: 1”

However, if it were just the silence, I don’t think, no, I know that I would not be doing such a slow burn.

“Spring in Goscieradz,” Leon Wyczółkowski

It all began when her grandmother, my other m-in-law started becoming noticeably worse right after the beginning of the year. Ann and I were talking about things that we could do, especially to take some of the burden off Ann as taking care of her mother was becoming a full-time job. Ann said that if she could just get help for a few hours in the evening, it would make such a difference.

I suggested that we ask Alexis; after all, she wasn’t working, and this would be perfect. She could earn some money by spending two to three hours in the evening with her grandmother with whom she has always had a wonderful relationship, make sure she took her evening meds, ate something, put her to bed, and make sure the house was secure (as in no stove burners left on or doors left unlocked). I felt that it would also be a good way for Alexis to get back in the habit of having somewhat of a regular schedule without jumping into full-time work right away.

Ann and I both thought that it would be a win-win situation, and I thought to myself that I might even ask my ex if he could contribute a bit of funding if necessary. All that was needed was my daughter’s cooperation . . .

I called Alexis and left a message for her to call me as soon as possible. No response. The next day I left a voice mail as well as a text that she really needed to contact me regarding her grandmother. She called me the next day. I made my pitch.

Silence.

I talked a bit more about how it wouldn’t require that much of her, just a commitment to help out five evenings a week, and perhaps some weekends.

Silence.

Apparently, I was not being clear. I mean, it was actually a fairly easy proposition, not requiring that much of her time, and as she was family, my m-in-law would be more comfortable with having her in the house. Perhaps I hadn’t explained it well. So I tried again.

Silence.

Finally, I asked what the hell her problem was that she couldn’t respond. Was she not interested in helping out? Was she not interested in picking up a bit of cash? Was she not interested in working her way gradually back into a pseudo-normal state of being?

She just couldn’t commit, she responded. She wasn’t sure if she could do it every night, and what if she had other commitments? What if she got another job?

Well, I said as calmly as I could, you would have to work around it just as you would do with any other job. You wouldn’t make commitments from five to eight in the evening. And, of course, if you got another job, then that would take precedence. I could feel myself becoming angry, not just angry, but livid, but I held it in check. Perhaps she had a really good reason for not wanting to do this.

“You suppose you are the trouble
But you are the cure
You suppose that you are the lock on the door
But you are the key that opens it
It’s too bad that you want to be someone else
You don’t see your own face, your own beauty
Yet, no face is more beautiful than yours.” ~ Rumi

“Mulberry Tree,” Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

This is what I got as an explanation: She just wasn’t ready. She needed more time to get her shit together (her words). She didn’t think that she could do it. She was really sorry to be disappointing everyone, but that’s how it was. Then she tried the guilt card:

I know that everyone is disappointed in me. I have an Oma who I never see, who calls me. I have a grandmother and grandfather who are both really ill. My best friend is dying. But I just can’t. (I’m summarizing here).

I lost it. I told her not to even attempt the guilt trip. I was the master of the guilt trip, and it wouldn’t work on me. If she was so damned concerned about her grandparents and her best friend, then why didn’t she do something about it?

She just couldn’t, you see. She wasn’t ready.

Okay, the conversation deteriorated badly at this point, but in my favor, I did not say all of the things that I was thinking. I did ask here if she knew when she might be ready, when she might have her shit together (my words). After all, it had been almost a year since she had worked, and all she was doing was sleeping. I might be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure that it’s darned near impossible to get a job when you don’t try—at all.

She just didn’t know. She was sorry. She knew that I was disappointed.

No. Truthfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I was shocked, and I was pissed. That was what I was. It ended pretty much with me saying that she should call me when and if she ever got her shit together. I told her that I loved her, and I hung up.

“. . .you and I together have gone down a single river with linked mouths filled with salt and blood . . .” ~ Pablo Neruda, Furies and Sorrows

“Vegetable Garden and Trees in Blossom, Spring, Pointoise,” Camille Pissarro (1877)

My entire body was shaking, truly. Trembling. Given all of the things that I had wanted to say, I think that I did fairly well. I didn’t want to say those horrible things that people say when they’ve lost control, when the argument has gotten away from them, and nothing but vitriol spews out, and then the words are out there, forever said, embedded in history, and no amount of apologizing will ever erase them.

I tried to process this. Corey and I talked and talked. Was I being too hard? Was I expecting too much? I mean, if anyone knows how paralyzing depression is, I do. I know that depression and anxiety can completely waylay an otherwise energetic person, and I know that those of us prone to wild mood swings (without medication) can be almost useless. So I try hard not to compare myself with Alexis as that isn’t fair; she is her own person with her own chemical imbalances. But geez, it’s as if she has absolutely no interest in helping herself. Her doctor prescribed her medicine that—when she takes it—really helps. But the key term here is taking it. She doesn’t. She doesn’t take the medicine even when someone else pays for it.

This is her logic: If she doesn’t wake up until 8 o’clock (PM not am), then it’s too late to take the medicine because she’ll be up all night. I suggested setting all 72 of her alarms (exaggeration, whatever) for 8 AM, wake up, take the medicine. No, no. That won’t work.

It feels as if I’m staring at one of those images, you know, the ones that look like a duck, but if you stare at it long enough, it’s really Albert Einstein. You get the point. I look at her, and I see my daughter, but the longer I look, the more she morphs into something unrecognizable.

“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

“Chemin Fleuri,” Emile Claus (trans. Flowery Pathway)

One of the aspects that is so hard to bear is that I have always been my daughter’s biggest cheerleader, believing in her, encouraging her, telling her how much potential she has. In my own attempt to be my mother’s antithesis, I have gone to the other extreme with my children, writing them letters on special occasions in which I extol their virtues, urging but never pressuring them to try new things, to think about life as an adventure, and always to remember that we are not alone in this life, that many, many people help us to get where we need to go.

Yes, a bit smarmy, but it’s my own version of up-with-people for my offspring. But in the end, if she doesn’t believe in herself, in her own capabilities, then what I have to say doesn’t really matter.

So that’s the story. I called Ann and told her it was a no-go and summed up my daughter’s reasons for turning down the opportunity to help everyone, including herself. Since that big conversation, I have spoken with Alexis a few times, all but one time initiated by me. When her grandmother went in the hospital, I texted her but did not hear from her until the next day. So in the interest of keeping myself sane, I have compartmentalized, big time: There is all of the regular crap that makes up my day-to-day life, you know, bills, cut-off notices, more bills . . . and then there is the Alexis box.

This box is akin to Pandora’s box. If I open it, I have no idea what will fly out or how badly I will be hurt by it. So, for now at least, I’m keeping the lid on. Does this mean that I don’t care? Of course not. (I made the mistake of saying something along those lines to my mother, and she immediately went for the guilt juggler: How can you say that? What if something happened to her?) Does this mean that I wouldn’t help her if she asked? I’d be there in less than a heartbeat. But does the decision to leave the situation and her alone for now make me a bad person? Perhaps. Does this make me a horrible mother? Probably, but I honestly don’t know what else to do, so for now, I’ll do nothing, which grates against every Type A cell in my body.

Emotionally, I refuse to give up on her. I’ve already lost one daughter; I will not lose another. But for now, I have to step back and just suck it up. There isn’t a baby book in existence that has a chapter that covers the heartbreak your children can cause. No one wants to read about that aspect when life and the future seem so full of possibilities. If we knew all of the potential heartache in store when we thought about becoming parents, would we have done it anyway? Yes. Does that make us stupid? No, just human.

More later. Peace.

*I began this post at 1:35 in the afternoon. I finished writing it around 3. It is now 6:15, and I have spent the last three hours or so trying to take out weird coding and entering coding for borders around the images since the WP feature to do that doesn’t seem to be working. This is why posting lately has been so damned taxing . . . Update: It’s now 8:08. This post is still royally f-ed up. I am considering abandoning it in between my mother calling to say that the sky is falling (tornado warnings in the surrounding area), I’m losing track of the sections that have mysteriously disappeared . . . Spell check isn’t working, so apologies in advance.

Music by Jimmy Eat World, “Hear You Me”

                   

Going There

Of course it was a disaster.
The unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.

~ Jack Gilbert

“When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you will keep saying again and again, this is certainly not like we thought it was.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

Happy Birthday Lincoln . . . I Think

 

“The trouble lies in your not believing in yourselves enough. Because you don’t believe in yourselves you are knocked here and there by all the conditions in which you find yourselves.” ~ Lin-chi Yi-sen

So another trip to the financial aid offices at Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University for Eamonn and Brett respectively.

Can I just share with you how much fun this was—again? This time, we packed up all of our tax information, Corey’s unemployment documentation, and anything else that we thought they might need. Completely prepared, right? Not.

At TCC, we needed Eamonn’s signature on a form as well as a copy of his tax return for 2009. At ODU, we met with a financial aid counselor who obviously had no idea what we were requesting. I explained that we had already been there once and that we were told to bring in documents A, B, C, and D. Blank stare. I explained our financial situation. Blank stare. I suggested that she might want to make copies of A, B, C, and D. Blank stare as she walked away. Finally, she says, “I’ll pass this along to one of the counselors because I don’t do this.”

No. Really? I had no idea.

I must say, though, that trying to make our way through the bureaucracy would be made easier if dumbass people didn’t think that Corey was my son and not my husband. Like we look so much like one another. Yes, there is an age difference, but I do not look like his mother. Talk about depressing. And here I was thinking that I was looking pretty good.

That’s what I get.

“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.” ~ Frederick Douglass 

So we get home, and I have this sudden burst of energy, which makes me want to clean the bedroom. Bad idea. Really bad idea. What usually happens when I have these bursts is that I overdo it, so of course, I overdid it, and I didn’t even finish cleaning the room.

While I was tackling the bedroom, a cop drove by the illegally parked cars in front of our house and put a citation on Corey’s truck for having expired tags and an invalid inspection sticker. Perfect. Only it gets better: We have 48 hours to fix the situation.

The truck is dead, has been dead. To fix it requires money, a bunch of money, money that we do not have. And it’s a big ‘ol Dodge Ram truck, so we cannot exactly hide it in our back yard. Options? Rent a storage space for it until we get enough money to fix it . . . Put it in the backyard with a camouflage tarp over it . . . Go to DMV to update the tags and park the truck in the driveway in the hopes that that will satisfy the appetite of the citation giver.

I should have known that any attempts that I made to restore order in part of the house would cause an equal and opposite reaction in another aspect of the house, i.e., clean bedroom, bad truck.

The end result is that the bedroom is half clean, and the truck is halfway to truck jail. The boys’ financial aid is half done, and life is half-baked.

Short and sweet (bitter?). That’s all for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Diana Krall, “Cry Me a River”

In keeping with today’s bitchy mood, all images are from http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/.

“To find a pearl dive deep into the ocean don’t look in fountains. To find a pearl you must emerge from the water of life always thirsty.” ~ Rumi

Sailboat at Sunrise

“Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
and forget about hope. Time goes running, even
as we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.” ~ Horace

Cabo San Lucas, image by cabo-sailboats.com

Long time no post.  It’s peculiar, but every time I opened my blog, the picture of the woman with the anti-semitic posters greeted me, which disturbed me, so I closed my blog without writing. Finally, I decided that I could either keep getting put off by something in my post, or I could write a new post to replace the one that causes me so much disquiet. So I’m posting.

Besides, my stats are taking a big hit with no new posts, and I don’t need anything else to fret about in my fret-filled life.

Yesterday, I witnessed something that was astounding. Brett and I were in the waiting room at his doctor’s office. She is always running late, so spending time in the waiting room is tedious but anticipated. I usually take something to read, but not yesterday. It’s a very busy office, so the check-in window has two people sitting there to greet people, check them in, take money, make follow-up appointments—the usual. In my subconscious I heard one of the women say, “May I help you sir? Sir? Oh well, I guess you don’t like me. May I help you ma’am?

The woman was obviously joking and making light of the line of people waiting to be helped. However, when said man got to the front of the line, he demanded to see whoever was in charge, “right now!” He went off for about 5 minutes without pausing, saying how she had made a joke at his expense (for which she apologized profusely), accused the office of having deep-rooted problems (it’s a therapy office, you think there are problems?), his voice getting louder and louder with each word. By this time, the woman sitting next to me was transfixed, and the man across from me was clenching and unclenching his hands, clearly ready for a confrontation.

The obstreperous man at the window went on: It’s not so funny now, is it? I’m the one laughing now . . . How dare they make fun of him . . . ya da ya da ya da. I looked at the woman next to me, who said, “You know, I thought that he was joking at first.” To which I agreed. He obviously was not joking. I told the woman that he was precisely the kind of person who went postal.

At that moment, Brett’s doctor called us into her office. Unfortunately, the loud man had been moved into the hallway right outside Brett’s doctor’s office, and he was now yelling at the office manager, who told him that if he didn’t calm down, he would be removed from the patient list. Apparently, this man must do something disruptive each time he comes for an appointment because I heard the manager say to him that he needed to call before he arrived at the office for his appointments so that they could avoid these scenes.

Man oh man. What is it with people that they feel the need to be noticed, no matter what? If the complainer was upset by what the receptionist said, he could have just said that to her, given her a chance to apologize and moved on. But no. He had to turn it into a major case in which he, the aggrieved, was intentionally belittled and the entire office was out to get him.

At one time in my life I had thought that I would have made a good therapist. Yesterday reminded me of why that would not be true: Patience in the face of rampant boorishness is just not my strong suit.

“I don’t know where I was going to lead these thoughts, or where I might want to lead them. It’s a foggy, humid, hot day, sad, without threats, monotonous for no reason . . . I’m slowly filling white paper—the paper for wrapping sandwiches they give me at the cafe, because I don’t need better and any will do, so long as it’s white—with lazy traces made with a rhombic pencil. And I’m satisfied. I sit back. The afternoon fades monotonously, without rain, in a discouraged, uncertain tone. And I stop writing because I stop writing.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet

Sailboats in Sydney Harbour

So, the temperature around here went from the 60’s to a current high of 88 degrees. It’s muggy, humid, and too warm for April. Why am I not surprised?

I spent the weekend doing taxes: our taxes and Eamonn’s taxes, federal and state for both. We already received notification that we will not be getting our federal refund again this year because the government needs the money more than we do. Not. We are getting a small state refund, but of course, that is already spent.

So I worked on taxes for two days, and then spent yesterday recovering. When we got home from Brett’s appointment, I read. I thought about posting, but just couldn’t find the energy to do so. Brett is on spring break, and I am on perpetual break.

I had asked my ex if he would contribute towards all of the senior fees that Brett has upcoming. When I first mentioned it, he was reasonable and said to tell him how much I needed. When I told him now much I needed (which was half), of course, he balked. Surprisingly, he did manage to come through. I mean, we have to order Brett’s cap and gown, pay for his graduation announcements, buy his yearbook, on top of paying for his SAT, college applications, etc. I don’t think that I was being unreasonable to expect him to come up with half. But quite frankly, I don’t really care if he thinks that it was unreasonable. I have let him slide on so many things over the years because it is easier than dealing with his attitude.

Wednesday is Alexis’s follow-up appointment with the neurologist in which he is going to discuss her MRI and her EEG and come up with some kind of game plan. I want her to talk to him about her sleeping habits as she has missed work a couple of times because she has not heard all of the alarms. One day she woke up at 3 in the afternoon. Her friend had called her. Mike had called her. Her boss had called her. Four alarms went off. She slept through all of it. How is that possible? Fortunately, the people at her job are being very understanding at the moment, but I expect that that will not last after this appointment with the neurologist. It’s been a wait-and-see for them (wait to see what caused her seizure before deciding how to handle it).

“An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man’s entire existence.” ~ Honoré de Balzac

Sailboat at Porto Koufo, Greece

Corey has a spring cold. The pollen is not helping. This week, he only works two days, and both of those are for training, which means he will make less per hour. He has told me that when he is at a port and sees the tugboats, he longs to be on one. I know how much he misses doing his real job. He read an article in his work magazine that said that shipping is not picking up as fast as they had anticipated for 2010. Really? I think that we knew that.

I really thought that he would be working for Vane Brothers by now, but they are still not bringing on any new people. The unfortunate reality is that Corey made more money on unemployment than he is making at this job, and the logic escapes me. I mean, port security is kind of a big deal around here. Port security has been a big deal ever since 9/11. Given that reality, am I the only one who thinks that the people tasked with watching these boats should be paid more than someone who is selling men’s clothing at a department store?

Apparently, I must be. Of course, there is that whole thing about being glad for what you have, being grateful for having a job, which of course, we are. But both of us also know that Corey would be much happier on a boat doing what he has been trained to do and earning what he is worth. It’s not the money that he loves about being on a tugboat. It’s the job itself. The money is nice, but the satisfaction means more.

Anyway, that’s about all for now. More later. Peace.

Music by Regina Spektor, “Field Below”

                                                                                                            

I read this on Crashingly Beautiful, and it seemed appropriate to my discussion about boats:

Cradles

Along the quay, the great ships,
that ride the swell in silence,
take no notice of the cradles.
that the hands of the women rock.

But the day of farewells will come,
when the women must weep,
and curious men are tempted
towards the horizons that lure them!

And that day the great ships,
sailing away from the diminishing port,
feel their bulk held back
by the spirits of the distant cradles.

 ~ Rene Francois Armand Prudhomme

“Words are the voice of the heart.” ~ Confucius

This is my attempt to recreate the post that was eaten by my computer last night . . .

 

“The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Things I accomplished yesterday:

  1. Finished addressing Christmas cards, ready to go to the post office today
  2. Finally packaged my friend Mari’s birthday present along with her Christmas card in a mailer, also ready to go to post office
  3. Did not eat an entire one-pound bag of peanut M&M’s whilst doing the above
  4. Cleaned off most of my desk in an attempt to find the Christmas stamps for the cards; did not find stamps on desk as I had put them in a very safe place (always risky)
  5. Also managed to find paperwork that I had put in a very safe place, just not the same very safe place as Christmas stamps
  6. Did not put fist through computer monitor when I lost blog post that was almost finished
  7. Realized that I am not supposed to try to accomplish two major tasks in one day as one of them most certainly will become an epic fail

Felt rather pleased with myself right up to the moment when I went to save my post, was redirected to the WordPress sign in page (for some unknown reason), and then returned to blog post only to find that nothing, absolutely nothing that I had written was there save for the quotes.

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” ~ Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

I’ve been having very vivid dreams lately. One that was particularly disturbing dealt with my mother dying. My Aunt Ronnie, who died earlier this year, was walking me through my mother’s house, pointing out things. I remember feeling very comforted that she was there with me. Woke up crying after that one.

But two dreams in particular have stuck with me, and both of these dreams dealt with words and my relationship to words.

The first dream:

This dream was very long and detailed. I was back in college as an undergraduate. I sat down in the common area of the Arts & Letters building, and the person next to me turned and spoke to me. I hadn’t realized that I had sat down next to one of my creative writing professors (it was him, but he looked different in the dream). He asked me if I was going to show up for his class that night. I replied that I had only missed two classes because of my illness, not dropped out, and reminded him that I had submitted the work that was due.

He said that the work was substandard, which really surprised me. Then he told me that the final exam was that very night. I panicked and began to hyperventilate. I told him that I couldn’t possibly take the exam because I wasn’t prepared. I begged him to let me take the final later, but he refused. I went to the department chair’s office and explained the situation. I reminded him that I had doctors’ letters explaining my health issues, and I asked him to give me some leeway since I was a member of the department.

The chair spoke to my professor who asserted that I wasn’t sick; I was on acid. I argued that I wasn’t on acid, that in fact I had never in my life taken acid. My professor again said that I was a drug addict and that he wasn’t going to do anything for me.

I sat down in the common area and put my head in my hands. Two female professors from the department walked by and said loudly enough for me to hear that they thought that my writing professor was only doing this because he hated women (not true in real life). I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who were enrolled in the class with me; several of them were holding papers—newspapers, pages torn from magazines, cards. One person said that I had to do something extraordinary to prove to my professor that he was wrong about me.

I asked him what I should do. He said that I needed to take the pages that they had all collected for me and create something. I began to look through the pages, and words started to stand out. I began ripping words from the pages and arranging them on the floor. I was creating a poem from the words. Someone gave me scissors, so I began to cut out more words.

My writing professor walked up and observed what I was doing, but he said that he wasn’t impressed, but by that point, I no longer cared about him or his class. I was creating for myself. I couldn’t collect the words quickly enough. The poem soon grew to be about five feet long and just as wide. It was massive, and I wasn’t finished. I needed more words.

I looked up and realized that below where I was working on the floor was a gap and that trains were moving through the gap, but instead of coal in the cars there were small colored rocks, larger than sand, but much smaller than coal—vivid blues, bright yellows, greens. I realized that I needed to get to the other side of the gap to collect more words, so I jumped down onto the first car, which contained blue rocks, My feet began to sink into the rocks, and the blue began to swirl about my legs. I jumped from one car to the next until I was on the other side. When I reached the other side, I suddenly realized what Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” really meant: It was his poem about life, only with paint. I smiled to myself and went in search of more words.

The dream ended there.

“The smell of ink is intoxicating to me—others may have wine, but I have poetry.” ~ Abbe Yeux-verdi

Second dream:

I was working in the newsroom again, but this time, I was a clerk responsible for typing and filing. I was speaking with a reporter with whom I had a good relationship, telling him how glad I was to be back in the newsroom again, even if it meant that I had to do grunt work.

I remember the hum of the actual newsroom in which I worked while I was an undergraduate. An undercurrent of creative energy was always suffused in the air. I felt that in my dream. I looked about me at all of the reporters and editors, and commented that I wished that I could be out there in that pool of people and not stuck in a clerical position.

The person with whom I was speaking asked me why I didn’t apply for a position. I told him that I didn’t think that I was good enough, but I remember thinking to myself in the dream that that was not a true statement, that it wasn’t a matter of being good enough but rather, a matter of being afraid. He told me that I should apply.

Many people who I had actually worked with walked through this dream. Some stopped to chat, others just walked by and nodded. I inquired about the City Editor who had been in charge when I worked there, and my friend told me that he had died. Soon after, I awakened, feeling very calm and reflective.

There is a saying that people who work for newspapers have ink in their blood. I know this to be true. The slow death of printed newspapers saddens me in a way that cuts to my very heart as I wrote my first pieces for publication for the local paper.

“Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in flight, searching the skies for dreams.” ~ Haruki Murakami

I have rerun in my mind both of these dreams several times, and what strikes me is that my psyche is sending me a message: I need to return to my writing full time, or rather, on a daily basis, which is full time for me. Obviously, I have words within me that need to be released, to be massaged into something concrete, and I have not been doing that of late. I must recapture the passion with which I first began writing this blog, and I must return to the discipline with which I so carefully honed my writing method: working at it for at least two hours each day.

The brain is but another part of the body that requires regular exercise lest it atrophy. By not working on my craft, I have regressed to my former state of writing only when the creativity hit me, rather than forcing myself to cull to the surface the creativity which resides within me.

In fact, I have been very lackadaisical when it comes to writing daily, and I know this to be true however painful it is to admit. But something inside of me is quietly rebelling at the passive approach to writing that I have been taking. Something—my inner muse, inner self— is sending me signals that there are words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs all waiting to be created, and that if I ignore these signals, then I am doing myself a disservice.

My birthday is next month. I will be yet another year older and no closer to achieving my dream of having a book published. I have no one to blame for this but myself as no one else controls my mind, my thoughts, my muse.

My love affair with words goes back to my childhood, to the time that I composed my first poem when I was five. Believe it or not, that poem had rhyme and meter: a quatrain with six beats per line. From that moment, I knew that I wanted to do something in my life that involved words, just as some people know innately that they want to work with numbers.

As any of my regular readers know, I have a passion for quotes; I have always had this passion. I have collected quotes for as long as I can remember, mostly because they inspire me. I used to use one quote repeatedly in cards that I sent to new graduates: “Only the dreamer can change the dream,” which is actually the title of a book of poems by John Logan. I don’t know when I picked up this quote, but it has always been very special to me.

My dreams about words were a reminder that only I can make possible what I want to achieve, that I am responsible for my path, that I must do all that I can do to make my dream become a reality.

Thanks to Crashingly Beautiful for the Marakami quote. More later. Peace.

I know that you have probably seen this video, but I love it, that and the fact that any videos of TSO in concert are bootleg, and the quality isn’t great. I did find a concert on Good Morning America in 2005, but it’s not the same in a small venue, and the light show really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated; otherwise, it’s just blobs of light in some parts. I give you the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: “Wizards in Winter”