“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