“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.” ~ Douglas R. Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop

"Tiergarten im Winter," by Lesser Ury (German, 1892)

                   

“Truth doesn’t run on time like a commuter train, though time may run on truth. And the Scenes Gone By and the Scenes to Come flow blending together in the sea-green deep while Now spreads in circles on the surface.” ~ Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion

Saturday evening. Cloudy and mild, high 50’s.

6:30 a.m., I heard the songbirds outside my window and watched the sky begin to lighten. Sleep eluded me for the longest time, possibly because I stayed up to finish the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockinjay, but more likely because I found it impossible to get comfortable in any position. Unfortunately, my back has been quite out-of-sorts in the past few days. Of course. My headache has subsided, so the back decides to kick in.

"Gardasee mit Monte Baldo," by Lesser Ury (1914)

I had almost forgotten how painful my back could get, and it actually took me a while to connect this new source of pain, so focused have I been of late on the head pain. Now, the pain is centered squarely on the operation site at the base of my spine, and when this happens, there is actually little that I can do other than to have Corey apply patches and keep myself plastered to my heating pad.

When I finally got up this afternoon, I went into the garage to the get the dogs’ food and dropped the cup that I use to scoop out their servings from the big bag. When I bent over to retrieve the cup, this pain shot straight up my spine. And as always when some part of my body really acts out or up or whatever, I think oh so fondly of the Social Security judge who declared that I was not disabled.

Like the character Katniss from the books that I just finished, I think often of revenge. Think.

“Where does a thought go when it’s forgotten?” ~ Sigmund Freud

A few days ago when I sat down to do my mini posts, I was quite perturbed as I had had a thought as to what I might write an actual post about the next time I got a chance, but for the life of me, I could not remember what this great thought was. Of course, I had the thought as I was lying in bed trying to will myself to sleep, and since I was awake, I thought that surely I would remember the idea.

"London im Nebel," by Lesser Ury (1926)

It took me three days to remember, and when I did, I realized that it wasn’t the wonderful creative spark that I had thought that it was.

Memory is tricky like that: one minute something enters the brain and seems brilliant, full of promise, and then later, when recalled, the original idea has lost its luster. The brain, after having a bit of time to mull over the concept, throws it out, rejects it as nothing more than fodder. That used to happen to me a lot when I fancied myself a poet: I would come up with concepts for new poems, and then as I sat down to write the masterpiece there would be . . . nothing, or what came out was so much less than I had originally envisioned.

I don’t know about others, but I do know myself, and when I force an idea or concept, it never works. Never. The result is garbage that I wouldn’t let my dogs read as I am certain that my dogs are much more discerning than most of the general public, the only problem being in the actual physicality of reading; although Alfie, the smallest, has taken to jumping into the dining room chair at the end of the table and staring at the screen on Corey’s laptop as if he is perusing the pages.

“These are reprieves. Respites
in the demands of sensation
and flow. Know this: you can you can
you can you can you can.” ~ Margot Schilpp, from “Advice in the Form of Confusions

So Friday came and went, and Corey still did not hear anything from the shipping company. I think that it is safe to assume that he is not leaving tomorrow or Monday.

"The River Thames, London," by Lesser Ury

He is getting so frustrated, second-guessing himself as to whether or not he should have taken the Pacific ship, as to whether or not this is actually going to happen or if he is just being strung along again as he was with Vane Brothers, who never came through after promises and promises.

I tried to reassure him that the company must be more frustrated as the longer the Coast Guard holds up the vessel in the shipyard, the more money that the company is losing. The other thing that I did not mention is that even though the hold-up is because of the Coast Guard, I am happy if they are in fact being stringent about the seaworthiness of the ship. Just saying.

But he still feels as if he’s on tenterhooks, swinging in the breeze.

He was involved in a bit of excitement the other day, though, albeit on the periphery: He had gone to Best Buy to see about having my new motherboard installed, and the price has gone up again, from $100 to something like $220, but that’s not the story. As he was leaving the parking lot, several police cars pulled up, and there was much running. As it turns out, a couple of kids tried to steal some games; they were chased by a store security guard and a couple of concerned customers. When the teens were confronted, one of them pulled out a sword and cut someone. Here’s the link.

Needless to say, we didn’t put the computer in for service with them, and luckily, Corey was at the front of the store when all of the excitement was happening in the store’s rear. Wild.

“The lightning has shown me the scars of the future.” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “The Nails

One thing we did learn from the Best Buy computer tech is that my graphics card is also fried. No telling why no one pointed that out the other two times the computer has been in their hands. Corey can replace the graphics card, but we’ll have to find somewhere else to take  the computer to have the motherboard installed as that is definitely more complicated.

"Am Gardasee," by Lesser Ury (1897)

Fortunately, a new graphics card is not expensive. By the time everything is done to my computer, it will have a new power supply, a new cooling fan, a new motherboard, and a new graphics card. The darned thing had better work after all of this. I’m just a wee bit (more than a wee) frustrated with more delays as I would very much like to be at work on my own system at my own desk. But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this delay is relatively minor.

I did want to mention that I enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy more than I had expected. After I ordered it, I heard from a few people that the writing wasn’t that great. It’s considered a young adult (YA) series, which brings up comparisons to J. K. Rowling, and admittedly, it wasn’t Harry Potter level, but the dystopic scenario was believable, and I sped through all three books. There was a quiet strength to Katniss.

Next on my reading list is the Game of Thrones four-book set that I ordered. In between I might read the book that I bought Eamonn for Christmas about the Bataan death march during WWII. He’s finished it and passed it along to me.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ~ Epicurus

Let’s see, in other news . . . Eamonn has asked for Rosetta Stone French for his birthday, which is in March. As it’s his 21st birthday, we’re going to try to get it for him. I’ve managed to find it at a relatively good reduced price (down from the $300-400 retail price). His friend Sean, who is Army reserves, has free access to any Rosetta Stone, which I think is a really great perk for our service people.

"Landscape," Lesser Ury

Brett is coming along in school. He likes two out of four of his classes. His math and computer science classes are basic classes, so he is bored out of his mind. But he is enjoying his creative writing and art classes. I’m glad that he has decided to take up his sketching and drawing again as I found it very disheartening when he let the comments of his high school teacher dissuade him from drawing. Her emphasis was on trying to meet the standards for the IB exam, which didn’t leave all that much room for personal creativity—yet another instance of teaching for testing.

Alexis is doing well. We speak to each other much more than we were, and she has taken to dropping by unannounced again. We have all missed her, so the change is nice. At the moment, she is waiting for her updated registration to arrive in the mail to make her car legal again. In Norfolk (perhaps all of Virginia, unsure), the city government does not allow drivers to renew their annual registrations if they are behind in their personal property taxes, which was one of the things that we had let lapse in order to pay other bills, like the mortgage and groceries. When Corey went to register his truck, you know, the one that is still not on the road, we had to pay our back taxes, which was a huge chunk of change.

It’s hard to shell out money for personal property taxes when you are just making enough to get by. I find the whole idea of personal property taxes abhorrent in that I don’t feel that the Commonwealth of Virginia uses the money for the right things, but what do I know?

“At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.” ~ Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Well, tonight I’m hoping for a more restful, normal night. Although, normal in my world is anything but. It seems that I am always pinning my hopes on something to come: When Corey leaves, I will start my walking regimen. When Corey leaves, I will try to get to sleep by midnight and awaken in the morning instead of the afternoon. When this stuff clears out of my lungs, I will try to be more active. If . . . when . . .

"Landscape," Lesser Ury

At the moment, I don’t want any changes in my routine as I am too concentrated on spending as much time with Corey as possible, so if that means that we start watching a movie at 2 a.m., so be it. I’ll have time to change my schedule later.

Later.

Such a seemingly innocuous word. As if there will always be laters, as if there will always be tomorrows. At what point in our lives to we begin to accept that we have had more yesterdays than we have tomorrows in store for us? Is acceptance of such a thing resignation? I hope not.

Later. Tomorrow. Whenever.

Words that imply promise, words that connote hope, possibly? We must have hope, even if the sunsets loom closer than the sunrises.

More later. Peace.

Music by Cary Brothers, “Something”

                   

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone.  As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions.  To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings.  Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.  You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.  All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.

~ David Whyte

“It was a dark and stormy nightmare.” ~ Neil Gaiman

take-on-edvard-munchs-scream

My Take on Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

Nightmare: Vivid, distressing dream that lasts until I wake up or my head explodes . . .

” . . . it is sitting on your chest torturing you, giving you nightmares.” ~ Bhagwan Shree Raineesh

the-scream-maskI awoke again this morning from another nightmare. This state of affairs is becoming increasingly intolerable, especially since this time my awakening was accompanied by a migraine that felt as if someone was trying to rip out my right eyeball.

The fact that I am even writing about ripping out eyeballs should be indicative of my state of distress: I hate anything to do with eyeballs. I refuse to watch any part of a movie that has any kind of object within range of the eyes. I don’t even think that I could get laser surgery on my eyes because I am so timid about eyeballs. It’s amazing that I can wear contacts.

But that is exactly what this pain felt like. I was whimpering so much that the dogs became distressed, and Shakes crawled up my chest, with all of his Polar Bear bulk, and began to lick my chin. Tillie started whining, and Alfie jumped off the bed.

Need I say that this was not a pretty sight?

“I couldn’t awake from the nightmare/That sucked me in and pulled me under/ Pulled me under.” ~ Jeff Buckley

pink-floyd-screamIn this particular nightmare, I was working for the realty firm again, the one for which I was marketing director.  Almost all of my nightmares or anxiety dreams involve something about work or going to work or leaving work. (Could be that I still have unresolved feelings about being on disability, especially since I’ve worked almost my whole life?)

So in this nightmare, I was at some boring realtors’ dinner, and I needed to leave in time to pick up my daughter. Now this scenario does not seem to be the standard material for a nightmare. Seems pretty lame, in fact.

I won’t go into all of the details because they continue in the same vein. Nevertheless, turn into a nightmare it did, along with the accompanying feelings of helplessness, distress, and heightened senses. This particular nightmare would be classified as a perceived assault on my self-esteem as opposed to an assault on my person. Okay, whatever.

I just know that when I awoke, my heart was pounding, and I was breathing in short, shallow gasps. The bonus was the throbbing, pulsating pain in my head and the rotating spots in my eyes.

But the most awful part is that after I woke up and Corey shoved an axert down my throat, the nightmare continued once I was able to go back to sleep. Tell me this isn’t weird.

“Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?” ~ John Lennon

humancerebralcortex10xsmall1
Human Cerebral Cortex: My Brain in Overdrive

I did a little reading on nightmares, and apparently, they are most common in children, but adults do have them. The causes range from stress, real-life trauma, fevers, anxiety, bereavement, heredity, and reactions to medicine.

Since this onset of nightmares began when I changed medicine, I think that I can deduce the cause of these nightly forays into fright land. But I also think that the more that I have them, the more that they are going to occur—sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are breeding and multiplying in my subconscious like some amoeba on Viagra.

I want to send a cease and desist signal to my cerebral cortex: Stop with the creative nocturnal psychosis, please. I don’t mind if my cerebral cortex goes into overdrive when I want to be creative, but this is too much.

“This has got to be a nightmare . . . I haven’t woken up yet.” ~ Curtis Sliwa

zachary-goodson-scream
"Scream" by Zachary Goodson

There is actually something called “Nightmare Disorder” (of course there is). The criteria are the following:  

  • Repeatedly wakes up with detailed recollection of long, frightening dreams centering around threats to survival, security or self-esteem, usually occurring in the second half of sleep or nap period.
  • Becomes oriented and alert instantly upon awakening.
  • Results in distress or impairment of occupational, social or other important areas of functioning.
  • Symptoms are not caused by general medical condition or by use of medications or other substances.

  • I have the first three, but am not sure about number four. According to the Psychology Today Diagnosis Dictionary, a tendency towards nightmares can be inherited (http://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/nightmare.html). I remember when I was a child, my father used to have these screaming nightmares. He would thrash about and wake up wild-eyed. Unfortunately, sleep apnea can also be a cause for nightmares, and my father, being a Filipino, had a predisposition to sleep apnea.

    Sleep apnea is a very common occurrence in Filipino males; very often they stop breathing, and then gasp and begin breathing again. My father used to do this, and it was scary as hell to see when it happened. A few times, my mother would pound him on the chest to make sure he started breathing again. But being a stubborn man, he never saw a physician for his condition.

    The syndrome actually has a name: Sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome, and it occurs predominantly in Southeast Asian males. Filipinos call it bangungut, which is Tagalog for “to arise and moan,” the word for nightmare.

    Another symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring. My father’s snoring was incredible. Sometimes I would lie in my bed at night and just listen. The snoring wasn’t  just an inhale/exhale normal kind of snoring. It had tonal variations, and one inhalation seemed to go on forever. Apparently, well not apparently but decidedly, I too have an incredible ability to snore. It wasn’t always like this, but in recent years, I have begun to wake myself up with my snoring. The only being in the house who snores louder than I is Tillie (this according to Corey who must sleep next to my noisy self—now that’s love).

    “Dreams are often most profound when they seem most crazy.” ~ Sigmund Freud

    the-simpsons-homer-scream
    Homer's Simpson's "Scream"

    The number of theories about dreams abound. Freud believed that our dreams were a reflection of our unconscious desires. I don’t agree with that one. Some researchers say that dreams are the cortex’s way of  finding meaning from random signals that are sent out during REM sleep and then creating a story from these signals. Others say that dreams are the mind’s way of sifting through the detritus of everyday life and getting rid of the things that we don’t want to warehouse in long-term storage.

    Personally, I believe the third explanation more than the other two. When I try to interpret my normal dreams, often the randomness has a pattern formed from insignificant events that occurred during the day or the previous day.  For example if I dream about my mother driving a bus, I may have had a telephone conversation with my mother about nothing, and a bus may have nearly sideswiped me on my way to the store.

    “Everything in a dream is more deep and strong and sharp and real than is ever its pale imitation in the unreal life . . .” ~ Mark Twain 

    the-scream-by-dwayne-jensen
    "The Scream" by Dwayne Jensen

    But one thing is certain about my dreams and nightmares: I can recall most of them vividly upon waking, which can be very disturbing if the dream was particularly unsettling. The feelings aroused by the dream/nightmare carry over into my day, coloring my mood and attitude. For example, haven’t you ever dreamed that you had an argument with someone, and then when you awoke, you actually felt mad at that person?

    So you can imagine my state of mind when I have a nightmare: I am mad at the world or whatever part of it inhabited my mind during REM. Luckily for the other members of the family, my nightmares rarely involve them in a negative light.

    I told Corey this morning that I thought that one of the reasons I had a migraine was that I must have been clenching my jaw during my nightmare. My jaw has hurt all day, just like it did when I had TMJ and used to clench my way into a migraine either from anxiety or anger. Luckily, I managed to teach myself not to clench, especially after two jaw surgeries, and I have no desire to reacquire that painful habit . . .

     “Those with the greatest awareness have the greatest nightmares.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

    dreaming-big-by-steve-roberts
    "Dreaming Big" by Steve Roberts*

    I don’t know that I necessarily have more awareness than most people, but I definitely have more nightmares than anyone I know. Maybe I have nightmares because I can’t deal with reality. Who knows?

    But one thing is certain: If these nightmares, vivid dreams, whatever, don’t lessen, I may never be able to look forward again to a good night’s sleep as I once did.

    “To sleep, perchance to dream” has taken on a whole new meaning, and that connotation is not particularly welcoming.

    There will be more later. Peace.

    *http://www.steverobertsart.com/images/dreaming_big–small1_a7sz.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.steverobertsart.com/Announcements.html&usg=__AmTOf15OSxc_AU1OLXoSe70hE50=&h=336&w=448&sz=16&hl=en&start=38&tbnid=EFoz060Yka4ePM:&tbnh=95&tbnw=127&prev=/images%3Fq%3Ddreaming%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D20

    We’re Down to Hours, and the Silliness Begins

    Mommies, Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Rebels

    Pepé Le Pew Couldn’t Have Done It Better

    When I was a child, I loved that French skunk Pepé Le Pew: “Ah, chérie. Where are you? It is I. Pepé. I am looking for you.” And poor Pepé. He could never quite understand why the female cat would run away from him, why people would faint when he came around. And so, when the governator received a call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, of course she was all aflutter when that accent came through le telefone pour le governor Sarah P.

    What she didn’t know was that she was being punked, on air, by the Quebec comedy duo, “The Masked Avengers.” Now I do have to give them props, they gave her several clues along the way that she was not speaking with the real president, aside from the Pepé Le Pew accent. For example, the shooting the animals from the helicopter comment? Or how about his special American advisor Johnny Halladay (French singer)? Too remote? Okay, I’ll let her pass for not knowing the translation for lipstick on a pig (de rouge a levre sur un cochon).

    But really, she didn’t get an inkling something was up when he said, “the prime minister of Canada Stef Carse” ? I mean, she’s the one who is always bragging about being next door neighbors with Canada, but she didn’t know Stephen Harper’s name . . . and then the Prime Minister of Quebec versus the Premiere of Quebec (okay, maybe splitting hairs, but she still didn’t recognize that the name was wrong). And come on, did she really think that a head of state was going to tell her that his wife was “hot in bed”? But worse than that, she said to “give her a big hug for me.” Omigawd. You do not tell a head of state to give his wife a big hug from you. Jeez-o-pete. Were you raised in a barn?

    Moving on. Marcel the guy with bread under his armpit? Okay, I snorted out loud with that one. To which she replied: “Right, that’s what it’s all about, the middle class and government needing to work for them.” I think that it was at this point that the guys on the other end decided that they probably couldn’t go on much longer or they might pee in their pants.

    To which I have to ask, who are her handlers? What numbskull handed her the phone? Don’t they know anything about protocol? Are they for real? Is this aide now looking for other meaningful employment at a nearby McDonald’s as she should be for allowing the Republican VP candidate to be embarrassed for seven minutes on international radio and television, even more than usual? Good golly miss molly.

    Who We Are is What We Put on Our Walls

    I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but my new masthead is actually an inset of a picture of one of my collages. I kept trying to find the right picture for my masthead, something that would reflect the real me, and then it dawned on me: nothing would reflect me better than a piece of me. So I took a picture of my last bulletin board at work, and I cropped a piece of it. I really wish that I could have put more of the whole picture up there, but there is only so much space allowed for the image, so I took what I could get, and I really wanted to get my ERA NOW pin in the shot.

    My offices have always been very, very cluttered, by choice. I have always reasoned that if I am going to spend over one third of my life in some place, then I need to feel comfortable in that place, and so I nest there. I bring in books, mostly reference books, but a few philosophy books, lots and lots of pictures of my family, but also pictures that I have taken of various landscapes, and then my little collection of minutiae that I have built up over the years—an ashtray from Paris, a running gnome with chipped feet, a Waterford business card holder, a clay fish that my son made in Bible school, a German knife letter holder that I traded an old Volkswagen for (long stupid story), and then my collage collection, which has taken many years to amass, and I have to tailor to fit my office size.

    I mention all of this because I just read an article by Bill Bishop in “Slate Magazine” that talks about a very interesting theory: Republicans tend to be neater than Democrats. Really? Apparently, Sam Gosling, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, and three other colleagues, have posited In an unpublished paper that liberals and conservatives differ in “two major personality dimensions.” Their paper, which is titled “The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives,” looked for the underlying personality traits that defined left and right.

    It seems that we liberals are more open to experiences, and more motivated by the curiosity and diversity of the experiences. Whereas conservatives are conscientious, follow the rules, have self-control, and like order. The professors used college students as their test subjects, and took polls, asked questions, and looked at the students’ rooms for information. Conservative subjects had more cleaning products!

    Now there is just one thing wrong with the professors’ study. They didn’t break it down by gender. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be stereotypical here, but I think that gender, in a study about neatness, would make a difference, regardless of political leanings. For example, when I was in college, my OCD was rampant. I not only cleaned my apartment, I cleaned friends’ apartments. No kidding. One of my best male friends happened to be very, very Republican. He was a complete slob. His apartment was filthy. I cleaned it—when he let me. However, the reverse can also be true. My oldest son and daughter for example, are both liberals, and when my daughter was 16, my father asked if someone had robbed her room (I don’t think that he was kidding). My son, who has since moved on from his neat phase, used to keep his room impeccably clean. You just never know who will be neat and who won’t.

    Now as to the other part of their study on carrying over to work life and offices, the professors claim that conservatives’ offices “tended to be more conventional, less stylish, and less comfortable compared with liberal offices. Liberals’ offices were more colorful and contained more CDs and a greater variety of books.” I would have to agree with them on this point. Not just because of my own track record with offices, but because of my observations of other people’s offices. At ODU, for example, in the English Department, most professors’ offices were filled with wonderful, eclectic things. Whereas at the government contractor where I worked in Northern Virginia, it was predominantly rigid, and boring. The most exciting thing in one of my boss’s offices was a Porsche magazine.

    And then there was the time in which I was stuck in a cubicle. Omigawd. Just send me into the circles of hell, why don’t you. But, hundreds of push pins and a lot of tape, and voila. It was just like a cubicle covered with as much crap as I could fit into a 10’x10′ space without the walls falling down. And boy did my boss hate it . . .

    A Little Ironic Night Music

    Found this little tidbit on the web, and while it happened months ago, I just had to share:

    Rupert Murdoch must have been gnashing his big teeth. Apparently, the owner of Fox News and The New York Post, has no control over daughter Elisabeth’s guest lists. It seems that since Elisabeth Murdoch left her father’s employ to run her own television production company, Shine, Ltd., she has definitely formed her own alliances, and one of them is Barack Obama.

    Perhaps daughter Elisabeth’s fondness for Obama comes from her first marriage to Elkin Kwesi Pianim, who is Ghanian, and with whom she has two children. Murdoch is currently married to public relations guru Matthew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud.

    Murdoch, a citizen of both the U.S. and Great Britain, is herself known as a shrewd businesswoman. She grew up primarily in New York. In April, she hosted a Notting Hill fundraiser for Barack Obama with co-sponsors that included Gwyneth Paltrow.

    Can’t you just imagine daddy Rupert’s delight? Gnash, gnash, snarl, snarl.

    Whoo, boy. Two days to go. Be prepared to stand in line. You’ll be part of history, whether you are a neat Republican, or an expressive Democrat.

    More later. Peace.