“Like a bird on a wing . . . over the sea to skye”
Let’s see where we are going today . . .
1. Telephone calls that bring good news. Much better than the other kind.
2. Suddenly having a line from a poem pop into my head, and then being able to search for the rest of it because you can do that now so easily using the Internet.
3. When my hair doesn’t frizz all over and decides to give me a break. This seems so trivial, but my hair and I have been doing battle since I was a little girl and my mother used to do weird things to it, like cut it all off on a whim, and I don’t look good with short hair. So I have grown to appreciate very much those special days when my hair decides to cooperate with very little effort, especially now with my torn rotator cuff.
4. The song “I Will Remember You,” by Sarah McLachlan. The line, “I was so afraid to love you, more afraid to lose,” is the perfect description of my initial love for Corey.
5. “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes. When I was very little, about 5, we took a trip to Scotland and saw a pipe and drum performance in this huge arena. In retrospect, it was probably a Tattoo. That was when I first became enamored with bagpipes. I loved that way they looked and sounded and how complicated it appeared to play them. It was also when my mother bought me my first kilt. Somewhere, there exists a picture of me in full Scots regalia: kilt hose with flashes, red Stewart tartan kilt, and a beret. It was the only time in my life that I looked good in a beret.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (with Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen)
Best of List In No Particular Order
I just can’t put it together today cogently, so I’m doing something I’ve been thinking about doing: a Bests List. Feel free to tag me back with your bests if you want to play along.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. The prose is beyond eloquent. Reading this book is akin to bathing in finely-scented oils: each time you read a beautiful passage, you think that nothing can possibly be any better than this, and then a few pages later, Ondaatje takes his words and lavishes them upon you until you feel utterly immersed in the exquisite way in which he mates his words to create something incredibly beautiful:
“New lovers are nervous and tender, but smash everything. For the heart is an organ of fire.” (Almaszy), or
“We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in—like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you’ll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. The lamp has gone out and I’m writing in the darkness.” (Katharine Clifton)
Or this one: “He glares out, each eye a path, down the long bed at the end of which is Hana. After she has bathed him she breaks the tip off an ampoule and turns to him with the morphine. An effigy. A bed. He rides the boat of morphine. It races in him, imploding time and geography the way maps compress the world onto a two-dimensional sheet of paper.”
Best Character in a Movie:
This one was hard. I finally narrowed it to two characters: Henry the Fifth in Henry V, starring Kenneth Branaugh. Henry V was one of England’s great king’s historically, and his depiction by William Shakespeare made him truly heroic and larger than life, a king men were willing to fight and die for. The St. Crispin’s Day speech delivered by King Henry before the battle is an incredible piece of oratory:
My other favorite movie character is William Wallace in Braveheart. Obviously, my choices have something in common. They are both men of valor, fighting for that in which they believe. Wallace is the less regal version of Henry.
Best Movie Soundtrack:
Hands down, for me it’s the soundtrack from Philadelphia. I know that the whole movie is incredibly sad, but the music on the soundtrack is, well, not quite as sad. But I think that it’s a wonderful compilation of artists and styles. Runner up would be the soundtrack from Hope Floats, which also features many unexpected artists and an eclectic fare.
Starbucks Sumatra venti with half and half and sugar. Sumatra is a dark, bold coffee, which is the kind I prefer. I don’t like wimpy coffees, but I do like my half and half in my coffee. I’m trying to cut down on the sugar, though, since I just got the lab results back on my triglycerides (yikes!).
Best Song (five categories):
Rock n Roll: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” tied with “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos
Country: “Amazed” by Lonestar
Classic: “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
Opera: Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot, especially as sung by Luciano Pavoratti
Classical: “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber
Again, this is a category that is very hard for me to pick just one Best of, so I thought that I would make it easier on myself by creating categories.
Best Series No Longer on Television:
This one was easy: “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Set in Baltimore, this gritty cop show ran from 1993 to 1999 and featured one of the best ensemble casts ever. The only thing that I could never reconcile was the question posed in the first episode of the first season: Who killed Adena Watson?
Best Cable Series:
Again, no competition: ‘The Tudors” on Showtime. Admittedly, I never thought of Henry VIII as sexy before this finely-crafted show aired, but Jonathan Rhys Meyers changed my mind. Intrigue, deception, backstabbing, adultery, regal staging: almost American politics, but with better costuming.
Best News Show:
“Countdown With Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC. I love this guy. He appeals to my sardonic side in a way in which no other pundit ever has. He can also show emotion, such as on the night that Barack Obama was elected or on the night of Obama’s speech to the DNC. I like a human pundit who has wit and brains and a segment called “Worst Persons in the World.”
Best Ice Cream:
Edy’s Butter Pecan. Yummy. Nuf said.
“The Olive-Wood Fire” by Galway Kinnell. I could name at least fifty others, but this poem has stuck with me for a while: a man, rocking his son to sleep by the fire, dozes off, and sees images of war in the fire. Awakens to the placid picture before him: his son on his arms before the olive-wood fire.
The Olive Wood Fire
When Fergus woke crying at night.
I would carry him from his crib
to the rocking chair and sit holding him
before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood.
Sometimes, for reasons I never knew
and he has forgotten, even after his bottle the big tears
would keep on rolling down his big cheeks
—the left cheek always more brilliant than the right—
and we would sit, some nights for hours, rocking
in the light eking itself out of the ancient wood,
and hold each other against the darkness,
his close behind and far away in the future,
mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself,
I thought I heard a scream
—a flier crying out in horror
as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom,
or else a child thus set aflame—
and sat up alert. The olive wood fire
had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus,
fast asleep, left cheek glowing, God
Best Karaoke Song for Me:
“I Will Remember You,” by Sarah McLachlan. Perfect key for my voice, and I feel a connection to this song.
The Usual Suspects. The casting in this movie is pure perfection. The plot line is completely implausible, but it is a movie that I will come back to again and again. I have no idea how many times I have watched this movie.
Best line spoken by character Verbal Kint (played beautifully by Kevin Spacey): “Keaton always said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.’ Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”
Runner up (and it was hard to choose) would have to be Lord of the Rings (I’m counting this as one long, nine-hour movie). I have read the trilogy once a year almost every year since I was an undergraduate. Peter Jackson managed to do what I thought no person would ever be able to do: He brought to life a set of books about which many people are fanatical, and in a way that is beyond description. I am still willing to relocate to New Zealand to be a gopher for Peter Jackson any time he calls.
Actually, now that I think of it, it has to be a tie.
Best Female Actor:
This is close, but I think that I have to go with Cate Blanchett, simply because I have never seen her in anything in which her performance was not superb; the movie may have been mediocre, but Blanchett is never mediocre. She has that chameleon-like ability that Meryl Streep has, but I like Blanchett’s body of work better.
Best Male Actor:
Okay, I am really not basing this on looks, but out of all of the actors working today, I particularly like Clive Owen for a lot of the same reasons that I like Kate Blanchett. Owen does not choose to do the same role over and over with just a different movie title. I loved him as Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, but I also loved him as Theo in Children of Men, in which he is much more vulnerable and a victim of circumstances.
Twining’s Darjeeling, hot, strong with sugar and cream. Wonderful alone or with ginger snaps.
Best Outfit Fall/Winter:
Levi’s jeans, black leather boots, turtle neck sweater, long earrings, clunky leather watch, full-length black leather coat, Calvin Klein’s Eternity, squooshy black leather Via Spiga bag.
Best Outfit Spring/Summer:
Bathing suit and sarong, or long sun dress, 4711 cologne, and Birkenstocks.
Best Book Series for Fun:
Harry Potter, all seven books. Best book of series, book 3, Prizoner of Azkaban.
Seven-day cruise to Western Caribbean, 2006. Just Corey and me: cave-tubing, swimming with stingrays, sailing on a catamaran. Great meals. No work. Wonderful.
Black Calais. Loved that car. It had a great stereo; it was great on gas, drove smoothly, comfortable interior. Killed it in an altercation at a stoplight when right front bumper turned into accordion after tapping metal bumper of full-sized Suburban. Damage to their car: dent in bumper. Damage to my car: totaled.
Best Day That Cannot Be Repeated:
The day that Corey and I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my Mom and Dad. I hadn’t been to a theme park with both of my parents since I was a child. We had a wonderful time, and had our picture taken on the log flume. My Dad would die from pancreatic cancer less than half a year later.
So, I’m sure that most of you have heard Keith Urban’s song “Tonight I Wanna Cry.” And if you haven’t, it doesn’t really matter because it’s the title that’s relevant. I’m sitting here in my sweats, new Christmas socks (gingerbread men), a bag of Christmas peanut M&M’s (red and green only), and I’m feeling completely sorry for myself. It’s colder than a witch’s tit outside (have no idea where that completely nonsensical saying came from), my toes are cold, and my neck won’t turn to the right.
But none of these things are what’s causing me to be down. It’s more of a global kind of down, one of those system failures, you know, like when your computer just isn’t acting right but you can’t pinpoint what’s wrong with it? That would be me tonight. I wonder why they don’t have a Symantec scan for people, one that you could plug into your ear and run to find out what’s wrong: A few beeps and knocks later, and then a message appears on the screen: system infected with rhino virus, aka common cold. Take an ibuprofen, orange juice, and get eight hours of sleep. Or system screwed . . . too much information to process. Suggest shut down for 24 hours. Microsoft or Symantec could make another billion.
It’s not a holiday letdown because I never really went into a holiday high this year, too much stress from losing the wallet and its contents prevented that. In fact, it just never really felt like Christmas at all this year, just another day, too weird. I sent out the cards; the tree was decorated, packages wrapped; dining room table was put together, but none of it seemed to permeate me.
I think that I can attribute this low partially to two things: Sarah McLachlan and Carnival Cruises. It seems that whenever I turned around, there was Sarah Mac on late night television singing “Angel,” and if I didn’t turn away quickly enough, I would see pictures of dogs and cats with one paw wrapped up, one eye missing, clawing to get out of a cage, a beagle shivering in the cold, a beagle of all things. Sarah Mac is evil I tell you. She has this angelic voice, and that’s what sucks you in, but then she shows you these pictures of these poor animals, and you want to run to the nearest shelter and bring all of them home, especially the beagle and the old golden retriever who is trying to get under the gate.
Why is that evil, you might ask? She is only trying to do a community service ad. Oh, but you don’t understand the evil intent behind it. You take Sarah Mac’s beautiful voice and these helpless, beautiful animals, and then try to look away. You can’t, you simply can’t, and that’s the point, and she knows it. At Christmas, she changed the song to “Silent Night.” How much can one person take?
Corey had to put the television on mute for my own good. If not, I’d be coming home with about six more dogs, and the reality is that this home is way too small for six more dogs. We’re pushing it with three. I cannot go to a shelter and leave without an animal. I simply can’t. They are all calling my name and wondering why I’m not taking them home. It’s much too painful.
And as far as Carnival Cruise Lines go, the economy is obviously hurting them because they are sending me e-mails every other day offering me wonderful prices on 5, 6, and 7 day cruises as a return guest. Belize is calling my name, they claim. And you know what, I can hear Belize calling my name. I can hear fruity drinks with umbrellas and white sand calling my name. I can hear total irresponsibility calling my name. I can hear a suite upgrade calling my name. And boy does it sound good.
I’ve had 365 days of pure crap, and 7 days of cruising around the Caribbean sounds like bliss to me. But it isn’t going to happen any more than I’m going to win the Lotto, so I’m sitting here shoving M&Ms into my mouth and wondering how it got to be 2009 with no major changes happening.
An old friend of mine used to jokingly say that if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. I know that’s from an old country song, but damned if it isn’t true still. Then another person said that you make your own luck. I thought about that, and I wondered how exactly you make your own luck. Is it the thinking happy thoughts, looking on the bright side of life kind of thing?
Well, what if I were born on a Wednesday? Remember that, Wednesday’s child is full of woe? I used to think that that was the most unfair rhyme ever. Only Wednesday got the short end of the stick because someone couldn’t figure out a better way to fit the rhyme scheme. Great. I’m given woe because of some bastard’s laziness. Figures. At least I have a beautiful portrait to look at by Maureen Mahoney.
But as usual, I digress . . .
Why so blue, you might ask? as if there were one thing in particular bringing down the Lola, the Carlotta, woman of many guises but no single self. Well, it’s the new year, so new things should be on the horizon, but nothing is looming, no Fata Morgana, no signs of change, and I do not think that I can take months and months more of this sameness.
I feel as if something bad is waiting on the periphery, but I cannot see it yet; I can only begin to feel it, and it does not feel friendly. Attribute it to my signs, if you will. I have no way of holding it at bay any longer. Too many signs are pointing in bad directions. My empty wallet never turned up with just my pictures in it as I had hoped; who would need the picture of Caitlin that I had carried around for 20 years? I know that they just trashed it, and that breaks my heart.
No signs yet that Corey is going to get the Coast Guard approval that he needs for his upgrade, and until he gets that, he cannot apply for the jobs that he wants, and near-coastal jobs are at a standstill. Everyone has boats tied up in the yard for lack of work. No signs that Eamonn is going to come around any time soon, and I am just numb to that situation because I simply don’t have anything else to give at the moment.
I had hopes that we would do more on the house after Christmas, but that momentum seems to have died already, and I can’t really say anything about it because I don’t have any momentum left in me. I can’t even get out of bed in the afternoons, and I honestly don’t know what is wrong with me. I want to get up. I want to do things. But I simply, physically cannot. I am drained to my last corpuscle.
Hence the need for a system diagnostics and reboot. I wish that humans could do what computers do when they go off track. I don’t even have the energy to read one of my new books or to watch a DVD. And this pity party is starting to wear on me. Even the dogs are looking at me cock-eyed as if to say, “Hey. Enough. We haven’t played in days. What’s your problem?” And I can’t say that I blame them. Being this run down makes you more tired than you should be, and even a dog can only sleep 22 hours a day.
Snap Out of It
I know that it’s bad when my new Christmas socks don’t really make me happy. I’m hoping that this down time doesn’t last too long. I don’t handle them as well as I used to, and Corey isn’t as empathetic when he is already down himself. My mother is no help. Remember, she’s the one who used to say, “snap out of it. Watch something happy on television. You just make yourself sad.”
Her latest thing is that my antiques make me sad, keeping things from the past, like some of my Dad’s old things, make me sad. If she had her way, she would throw out anything old and buy new everything. No nostalgia for her. No sir. Why have memories. They only make you sad. “That’s why they’re called memories, Ma. Because you remember.”
“Who the hell says I want to remember anyone or anything. Get rid of it. That’s what I say.” She kind of reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker in an oddly strange way: “Why so sad?” Neither of them can understand why people might want to feel things.
Oh well, enough of the pity party. Maybe I’ll try going to be early and see if that helps. Yep. Whatever. More later. Peace.