“More and more I found myself at a loss for words and didn’t want to hear other people talking either. Their conversations seemed false and empty. I preferred to look at the sea, which said nothing and never made you feel alone.” ~ Paula McLain, The Paris Wife

The Needles, Cannon Beach, Oregon
by Steven Pavlov (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“I am obsessed at nights with the idea of my own worthlessness, and if it were only to turn a light on to save my life I think I would not do it. These are the last footprints of a headache I suppose. Do you ever feel that? — like an old weed in a stream. What do you feel, lying in bed? I daresay you are visited by sublime thoughts. Dearest, do write to me; for I long for your words. Do tell me you wish to see me.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a letter to Vita Sackville-West dated 18 August 1929

Friday afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, low 70’s.

Seaside Beach Oregon Sunset
by The Knowles Gallery (FCC)

It’s been a hellacious few days. My dog Shakes is not doing well. That I am alone in this, or rather, without Corey, is exacerbating the pain. I spent last night intermittently listening to him wheeze, a strange reassurance that he was still breathing. Sleep, when it came, was uneven and troubled.

We humans are a funny lot, what with our emotions, our needs, our desires. But I do not believe that we are the only sentient beings in existence. Each day, science reveals yet another way in which members of non-human species possess the ability to reason, the ability to care, the ability to protect. Sentience, though, is truly a double-edged sword: it makes us aware, even when remaining ignorant would be so much easier, even when an ability to emote sometimes results in feelings akin to being slammed against a cement wall, the wind knocked from our lungs.

Sentience is the price we pay for free will, I suppose, and sometimes, it is an exorbitant price.

I think that I finally understand that line from Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”—”I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” After all, if that were my only lot in life, I would not care about everything happening around me, would not be aware that the world is so much more—bad and good.

What you can’t get over,

You must get past. Through a haze of smoke and rum,
What’s left of me squints at the odds and ends.” ~ Elton Glaser, from “Downloading the Meltdown”

Of course, because I’m already vulnerable, I came across a Springsteen song that I had completely forgotten about—”If I Should Fall Behind.” Man, what a song. And because I have a very morose personality, such songs pierce my heart quite acutely, make me think about what ifs, whens. hows.

Sunset at Haystack Rock
by Wes Rogers (FCC)

The other day I was trying to tell Brett about the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, what a force he was, how he played the saxophone  like he had a direct pipeline to the gods. How Springsteen and Clemons were an incomparable duo. Man, I miss Clemons.

Music has always been one of my primary ways of reflecting my mood, but of course, this is a trait many humans share. Music has been a part of life far longer than most people realize. In 1995, a Slovenian archaeologist discovered a bone carving with evenly spaced holes. This carving, believed to be about 43,000 years old, was named the Divje Babe flute. Other flutes made of bird bone and mammoth ivory have been carbon-dated as being approximately the same age.

I find it fascinating that early humans integrated musical sounds into their societies for whatever reasons. It is entirely possible that we have sought sounds to soothe for millennia. And we are not alone. Consider whale songs—those intricate, long underwater melodies.

“What uniform can I wear to hide my heavy heart?
It is too heavy. It will always show.” ~ Jean Cocteau, from The Holy Terrors

Don’t really know how I got off on that particular tangent. My mind is not exactly cohesive of late. More often than not, I realize that I am sitting in front of this computer screen, and nothing is happening—no music, no words, just my wallpaper and icons.

An example of the state of my mind? Yesterday I went to pick up prescriptions. I got home with only one, even though I had paid for four, and didn’t realize it until hours later. I haven’t been back to get the others as that would take so much effort. Just writing about it makes me tired all over.

Haystack Rock Sunset, Oregon
by Gary Halvorson (Wikimedia Commons)

Actually, this post is making me tired all over. I don’t know that I’m getting anywhere, that I’m saying anything. If feels more like an exercise in futility. I’ll leave you with a few things that I’m pondering:

  • When will I be able to read again? I hate it when this happens, when I cannot still my mind enough to become absorbed in someone else’s words.
  • Which plot idea will I actually begin to work on when I start this project?
  • How long before I give up this project, convince myself yet again that I have nothing to say?
  • How will I ever make it through the upcoming holidays? The thought of getting the house ready, preparing the meals—it all makes me so very, very tired.
  • How can October be two-thirds over?
  • How will I ever find the energy to  make Brett’s costume for him?
  • How much of my life has been spent in dwelling on the imponderables?

“I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.” ~ Anne Sexton, from “The Ambition Bird

Just a few more . . .

  • I have no idea as to what kind of images I can pair with these words. Nothing fits.

    Oregon Coastal Sunset
    by Malcolm Carlaw (FCC)
  • My words feel hollow. I wonder if they read that way . . .
  • I’m already regretting signing up for NaNoWriMo.
  • At this very second, I have a spot almost in the middle of my scalp that feels like someone is picking at it with a sharp object.
  • I did not realize until now that I am squinting.
  • The last two items mean that a headache is coming.
  • Can I please just hide in my bedroom until the year is over?

(Decided that sunset on the Oregon coast seemed to fit somehow.)

Music from the Boss, “If I Should Fall Behind” (couldn’t pick my favorite version, so I posted both)

                   

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

~ Jack Gilbert

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Is it timing, or is it signs?

My husband Corey likes to give me a hard time about one of my favorite phrases: “It’s a sign.” I’m a big believer in signs, for example, the appearance of mourning doves versus the appearance of ravens. If I awaken to the caw caw of ravens, I always have a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s going to be a terrible day; whereas if I hear the soothing coo of a mourning dove, I feel that it will be a good day. I have absolutely no scientific study to back up my morning bird meter. That’s just the way that it is for me.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have believed in signs or portents. Now don’t go off half-cocked and start to classify me as a wiccan, not that I have any particular feelings about wiccans; I don’t. I’m just not a wiccan. If anything, I’m a pantheist; to clarify: a pantheist is someone who believes that the greater being exists in all things in nature, including humans beings. It’s not any sort of religion. It’s just a belief system. I don’t carry it to extremes; by that I mean, I don’t believe that flies or cockroaches are sentient beings and deserve to be left alone. I’m sorry, and perhaps someday I’ll come back as some kind of insect, but I just absolutely hate cockroaches, having once lived in a townhouse in Alexandria that had a basement and as a result, suffered co-existence with cockroaches the size of small rodents. I have never quite gotten over the trauma of having one of these giants crawl across my arm while I slept. I cannot even find the words to describe the physical reaction that my body still has whenever I recall the memory of waking up to that. So let us move on.

I was expounding on signs and the role that these illusory portents have played in my life. For example, for as long as I can remember, I have been hyper-sensitive to smells, as they evoke instant associations in my subconscious. I remember looking at clouds when I was a child and trying to find meaning in the shapes. And I would look for four-leafed clovers and press them between the pages of favorite books to save up luck for the future. If I found an oddly-shaped rock or shell, I would save it, just in case. I was never quite sure what “just in case” meant, but for me, it meant something. Admittedly, I was an odd duck of a child. But only children tend to have wild imaginations, especially pre-cable, pre-video games. Egads! However did I survive?

When I became a teenager, I suppose I continued to feel things, although I was much too busy to notice. But the telephone rang one time, and I knew that I did not want to answer it. I answered anyway only to hear my uncle’s strangled voice on the other end telling me that my cousin had been hit by a truck at a rest stop, and he had died at the scene. I did not know this cousin very well lest you think we talked frequently, and we had some kind of connection. The same thing happened with another telephone call years later when the phone rang and rang and I could only stare at it. I would not answer it. Later, when my mother came home, the phone rang, and she answered it, only to find out that one of her brothers had shot himself. I did not know this uncle at all. I know, I know. It’s weird. Coincidence? Probably. Was it just timing that somehow on those days I had an aversion to the telephone? Perhaps. Who knows.

Electric Sky

I love a good thunder storm, and I don’t find lightning scary in the way that many people do. In fact, I find it very comforting in an odd way. That’s not to say that I don’t respect its power in the same way that I would respect any force in nature. I’m not an idiot. But the ocean and water are my elements and where the water meets the sky is always fascinating to me. I’m not sure how that fits in with signs exactly, except that I always tend to feel very much in touch with my inner being when I’m on the open water, and thunderstorms have such a calming effect on me that there must be something in the electricity that connects with me. Just a thought.

I’ll share just a few more signs or moments in time. After my baby daughter died and I thought that I couldn’t go on, I received what I believe was a very significant sign. One night, it was the night before Easter, the children were with their father. I was newly single, and I was having a very hard time understanding how I had arrived at this place in my life. I sat on the living room couch by myself for hours trying to decide if I had anything left to contribute to this world. I had written for hours, and I had nothing left to say. The house was completely quiet, and dawn was very near. Then suddenly, I began to hear the soft, sweet sound of a mourning dove right outside my living room window. She started cooing slowly, and then her song grew stronger. She didn’t move from my window for what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes. When I finally looked out, she flew away. And that is why awakening to the sound of mourning doves is a good sign for me because it is a sound that saved me. I met the dawn with peace in my heart.

And I will close with this: On one of the last days that my husband was to drive me to Alexandria for class, we got in the car, and I turned to him, and I said, “I have a funny feeling. Do the speed limit today.” He looked at me oddly, and then said he had the same feeling. On the way to Alexandria we normally see three or four state troopers. That day we saw 22. Timing? Maybe we’ve just been together so long that I’ve rubbed off on him. I’m not sure what the omen is for state troopers. And don’t even get me started on my dreams and how they’re signs for things because we could be here for another three pages.

I will end with this: I don’t read Tarot cards, but I do have rune stones that I have had on a string in my car for over a decade. But I tend to rely more on my funny feelings and my connections with nature. But as I said, I am a bit of an odd duck. But you already knew that. Didn’t you?