“If I keep still enough inside this shadow, it is as if I am not here. If I keep still enough, there is no proof you are not here with me.” ~ Conchitina Cruz, from “Disappear”

Pacific Grey Blue by Russel Tomlin flickr
Pacific | Grey Blue
by Russell Tomlin (Flickr)

“As my mind tries to settle on it, it flutters away, like ashes caught in a breeze, and I realize that in my life there is a then, a before, though before what I cannot say, and there is a now, and there is nothing between the two but a long, silent emptiness that has led me here.” ~ S.J. Watson, from Before I Go to Sleep

I came across a new poet (new for me) whose words speak to the numbness that controls my body today. I am hollow, all played out from yesterday’s break. I want to do nothing more than nothing. I have not had such a bad break since my father died. It’s not all about Jennifer. It’s about all of them, all of the losses, all of the unspeakable losses that I am constantly trying to speak of. People lost. Dreams lost. Friendships lost.

I Will be Silent by augenweide deviantART
“I Will be Silent”
by augenweide (deviantART)

Sometimes, I live in a shadow world, one filled with grey clouds and white mists, and I hide myself there, the better to protect my heart, yet once I am within, my heart becomes laid bare, so much easier to pierce with pain again and again. There is no place I can hide. I should not want to hide. I should be stronger. I am not strong.

I feel like the French Lieutenant’s woman, standing on that spit in the middle of a gale, the wind buffeting my body from all sides, and all I have is a thin cloak about me, and it offers so little protection. If the wrong gust hits me, I will fall off, yet I do not attempt to move back from the edge.

“Nothing has an unlikely quality. It is heavy.” ~ Jeanette Winterson, from Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles

My body aches from the inside all the way to the tips of my fingers. The wracking sobs left me with a fierce migraine and sore eyes. The only thing piercing the numbness is the physical pain. The emotional pain is flat, a straight plane, extending into infinity from all directions. It is an exacting lassitude, a profound stupor, a dull torpor of the body and soul.

Yet there is no cave in which I can find shelter, no bulwark behind which I can find protection. I am alone out there on the rocks, slick from the water of waves and rain.

It may take a while to recover from this. I will write my way through . . .

Samuel Barber, “Adagio for Strings”

                   

Morning

You never know when somebody will walk away from you on a bright day on a busy street, never looking back and

you cannot believe the slow disappearance, cannot believe what is moving away from your reach until the busy street no longer needs its presence to look the same, because it is the same.

And the city offers you its fruits and fish, and the churchgoers life their veils as they step out in the open

and you know the picture is incomplete but it can stand for itself

and who are you to ask for more, who are you to insist on hunger?

~ Conchitina R. Cruz

“At the heart of the emptiness there is born in me a sudden understanding.” ~ Fabienne Veridier

Autumn in the Orchard by Russel Tomlin Flickr
Autumn in the Orchard
by Russell Tomlin on flickr

                   

Marginals

To me lying near sleep, at the pale edge
of dark, sounds wrestle the gray beyond, and trains
at the outer margin slide and weave, the diesels
shudder their strings of cars and eat their noisy
miles, and lone farmlights star the black between.

To me lying near sleep the near leaves bind
my walls in hush of green gloom merged in still
and ebony and humming waves of leafed
midnight, where the small insect noises drown
in those deep currents that close in my walls.

To me lying near sleep the shuttered blinds
spill in a float of morning colors, wash
and rinse my eyes, disturb the escape of dreams
upon the white awakeness lying beside
my wakening in birdsong and drenched day.

~ Richmond Lattimore

                   

Music by The Magnetic North, “The Bay of Skaill”

“Ignorant free speech often works against the speaker. That is one of several reasons why it must be given rein instead of suppressed.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Oregon Coast 1 by russell.tomlin*

                   

“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday night. Still hot and humid.

Oregon Coast: Huge Surf 11-6-09 by russell.tomlin

First let me say that I have no idea what is going on with my fonts. Everything on my WordPress is smaller. The fonts on my dashboard are smaller, and the internal header sizes that I’ve been using for months are now smaller than before. Please let me know if my pages look funny, or if the formatting seems off.

Now on to other things . . .

I need to preface what I am about to write with a short background story: When I was in charge of the computer labs while teaching in the English department at ODU, I had a run-in with a colleague who had been a bit shirty with the students who worked for me. I fired off a memo to this colleague, and did not listen to my own inner voice, which said, calm yourself first.

We had a tiff. We got over it, but I felt terrible. I learned a valuable lesson: retorts need time to bake properly and should always be allowed to simmer for a while. Or as the old Klingon proverb states: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

However, this is actually not about revenge; this is about justice.

“I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sea Foam Explodes on the Oregon Coast by russell.tomlin

I recently learned that an acquaintance has been making disparaging remarks about me, using my blog as fodder in a smear campaign. Unfortunately, WordPress does not allow blocking of IP addresses, or I would have taken the simplest route. Having said that, I must admit to being a bit peeved that my own words, my precious, precious words were being taken out of context and undergoing armchair psychoanalysis.

Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . .

When I decided to begin this blog, I knew that I was putting myself out there, so to speak, that I was inviting strangers in to take a peek at my life, that I was willingly subjecting myself to possible derision. For these reasons, I have held back (no, really, I have) on certain topics and certain events. Not everything should be open for perusal by anyone who happens to stop by. I have shared information about my family, its workings, its quirks, yet I have respected the privacy of each family member.

On a few occasions, I have written posts that I have deemed too personal, and I have made these posts private.

Occasionally, I have gotten a troll, and Akismet has protected me from a boatload of spam. But there is no protection from a virtual stalker—the individual who has no problem in appropriating sections of my life whole cloth, and then making of that cloth whatever he or she deems appropriate.

This simply will not do. Aside from the blatant bad manners of it all, what has happened borders on defamation. Trust me when I say that I hold my character quite dear, as should we all, and I will not tolerate an assassination of my character or that of any member of my family. Let’s just say cease and desist is now part of my researched vocabulary.

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Big Surf Folds Over on the Oregon Coast 9-6-09 by russell.tomlin

But to be honest, what has me angrier than anything else is that I actually considered making my entire blog private for a bit, and I also considered the possibility of going on hiatus. I was going to allow myself to be cowed; I, who pride myself on my ability to reason intelligently, was going to allow this individual to affect my writing, nay to affect my life.

Nope. Sorry. I refuse to do so.

Nothing makes me angrier than when I get angry at myself, when I start to blame myself for things over which I have no control, and I certainly cannot, nor do I choose to control the actions of another person. Being the staunch believer in free will that I am, I must stand by my convictions, especially when I know that I have not acted inappropriately, that I have not broken any laws, that I have acted only in the best interests of those around me.

So, to be blunt, do with this what you will.

“Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief” ~ The Buddha

Five Layers of Movement by russell.tomlin

These things I will not do:

  • Stop writing out of fear of being misconstrued or in an attempt to calm waters that cannot be quelled.
  • Stand idly by whilst a human being—correction, any human being—is being cowed into submission.
  • Cease in speaking the truth, the truth as I see it, the truth as I know it.
  • Allow myself to write out of anger, nor will I censor myself so that I do not cause offense. Reading blogs is an entirely optional activity, that is the beauty of the Internet: the big X in the upper right hand corner that closes the page, thus ending the discourse.
  • Allow anyone to speak ill of my family under any circumstances.
  • Allow anyone to harm my family under any circumstances.
  • Tolerate personal, private information being disseminated in attempts to smear my good name.
  • Fall prey to the machinations of another individual.
  • Presume to know that which I cannot know; assume that everyone operates under the Golden Rule; resume my petty, vindictive streak which I have worked so hard to overcome.

“The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons: Greed, anger, and delusion.” ~ Bodhidharma

Yachats 10-9-09 by russell.tomlin

These things I vow to do:

  • Continue to be true to myself with no attempts to soft-sell myself or my beliefs.
  • Write and post my blogs as I feel the need.
  • Be a bit more mindful of the dangers that lurk in virtual reality.
  • Continue to work in my own way for truth, justice, and the common good.
  • Share information that I think my reading audience might find interesting, entertaining, or helpful.
  • Be true to my wit, my character, and my personae—both the real and the creative.
  • Remind myself not to allow negative external forces over which I have no control to affect me adversely.
  • Remember my Shakespeare: “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” (Hamlet I,v)
  • Kill them with kindness.

“Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

No Fear by russell.tomlin

I have at my disposal two of the greatest weapons ever given to human kind: my mind and the truth. I have no need to lie or to stretch the truth to suit my needs. I have no desire to become embroiled in an imbroglio not of my making.

I may not have the desire, but that does not mean that I do not remain an estimable force. Having said that, at the end of the day, what I feel now more than any other emotion is pity.

As that old misogynist Nietzsche said, “one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied.”

Music by Meredith Brooks . . . “Bitch”

                   

Hard Night

What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark
this difficult tree?

What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?

The sky whitens, goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.

What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.

~ Christian Wiman

*All images taken from Russell Tomlin’s photostream on Flickr. Many thanks.