“As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.” ~ Fortune Cookie*

The Hermit 

The Hermit Tarot Card

“Dont forget, you are always on our minds.” ~ Fortune Cookie

“You are more likely to give than give in.” ~ Fortune Cookie

Headache was much worse today. Alternating between heat and ice. Anyone have any suggestions? The magnesium may be helping in the prevention, but the duration is ratcheting back up. The Topomax was great as a preventive and in shortening the duration, but the side effects were just too severe. The worst one was the effect on my cognitive abilities: I found myself always searching for words and had no memory of any kind.

Playbill for A Dolls House wGillian Anderson @ Donmar Warehouse
Playbill for "A Doll's House," with Gillian Anderson at Donmar Warehouse

Anyway, that’s the news on that front.

I reread Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” today. Brett is studying the play in school, and his English teacher said that “Medea” and “Doll’s House” would be two big subjects on the IB exam. I want to be able to help Brett prepare, and besides, I love that play. I had forgotten, though, how much I absolutely despise the character of the husband, Torvald Helmer.

I know that he is a reflection of the times, but please. Referring to Nora as his little songbird, his this, his that. Even though Ibsen wasn’t that big on women’s rights, his play was revolutionary in presenting a woman who ended up rejecting the traditional role of wife and mother. Brett’s instructor said that they will be doing Kate Chopin’s The Awakening soon.

That’s another piece that I really love. I used to teach that book in my literature classes back in the day. Chopin’s book was also considered revolutionary in its presentation of a strong female protagonist.

“A thrilling time is in your immediate future.” ~ Fortune Cookie

As for the rest of my evening, I’m not really sure if I want to watch a Korean horror flick that’s on cable freezone, or just play Mah Jong on the computer. I just know that I don’t want to do anything that involves too much thought. At the moment, I’m enjoying a reprieve on the migraine. It has lessened to the point of lingering just behind my eyes and forehead. Much better than this morning when it felt as if someone was drilling inside my head directly behind my right eye. That sensation is always so pleasant . . .

I’m hoping that the abatement will continue until the headache goes away, but I never try to predict these things. That’s just asking for trouble, ensuring that the headache will last for three or four more days if I dare to think that it may be ending. Superstitious? Who me?

Actually, I’m not really superstitious, until I am. It’s more that I believe in signs, kind of like Corey having continued dreams involving the number three. I don’t know what the signs are portending, but I think that they are there sometimes just waiting for us to pay attention.

It’s kind of like predestination, as in, do you believe that things have already been determined so that if you make a decision and a certain outcome results, was that outcome always going to result anyway? Fate . . . Joss . . . Karma.

Tim Roth in Lie To Me
Tim Roth Facial Reading in "Lie to Me"

One of these days I’m going to have someone do a Tarot card reading on me, just for kicks. This is hard to explain, but I am very, very cynical/skeptical about most things, including fortune telling and Tarot cards, but I’m also fascinated by these things (in a coincidence, earnest probing kind of way . . . sort of). I mean, all of the little tricks that fortune tellers use. Someone close to you is trying to reach you from the other side. Well, odds are fairly good that if you are alive, someone in your life has died. That one’s not hard. Or how about, you are going to meet someone soon who will have a great effect on your life . . .

Okay. Could be the IRS telling you that you are up for an audit. Could be the checkout person at the grocery store who points out that you just dropped your wallet. Could be the pizza delivery person bringing you heartburn in a box. When don’t you meet someone who will affect your life in some way?

But the Tarot cards themselves can be absolutely beautiful. Decks come in so many variations, with artwork ranging from sparse black and white line drawings to elaborate, full-color images.

I do have one question, though. Exactly how does one get a reading over the telephone? I mean, I thought that there needed to be some kind of physical contact, if for nothing else but to assess a client’s eagerness for revealed truths as indicated by facial expressions and pupil dilation.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Lie to Me (love Tim Roth) and getting into the whole body reading thing. Okay. I’ll stop. Just thinking out loud.

“Your everlasting patience will be rewarded sooner or later.” ~ Fortune Cookie 

As you can probably tell, I’m just meandering here. Too much concentration would be called for if I were to try to put together a linear post. I mean, I had considered doing the whole post about “A Doll’s House,” but thinking too much hurts, and that play is just ripe for all kinds of discussions: the roles of men and women in society, free will, symbolism, societal proscriptions, the concept of self-ideation solely through the relationship with the male (father then husband). Heady fodder for a post, just not tonight.

Have I mentioned that I miss teaching? Didn’t think so.

“Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.” ~ Fortune Cookie 

Let me finish up with one of my dreams: Last night I dreamed that I was saying goodbye to Tom Cruise before he was about to take off on a deployment in his fighter jet. This is curious for a couple of reasons. I used to be a TC fan before he lost it and went overboard with the whole scientology scenario, but not so much any more. So for me to be giving him a big old smooch goodbye is weird.

The other weird part of the dream was that immediately after kissing Tom goodbye, I walked over to Corey, who had a boot camp haircut and was wearing fatigues, and kissed him goodbye. After I kissed Corey, I assured him that I was going to break it off with Tom, but I didn’t want to do that right before he deployed.

Clive Owen in Children of Men
Clive Owen in Children of Men

These two men have absolutely nothing in common. One is tall, the other short. One is sane, the other not. And one is rich and the other is my spouse.

The other really weird part of the dream was the reaction on the part of the other women who were bidding adieu to their significant others. They all  ostracized me for kissing two men goodbye. One even tried to block my view in looking out the window at the fleet as they left. Then, and this is the weirdest part of all, some MP came up to me and said that I was wanted by the stage, where whoever was in charge proceeded to give me the best seat in the house, right in the middle of the first row, except my seat was a folding webbed lawn chair, and everyone else had  nice cushioned folding chair.

Were we talking about symbolism? Tom Cruise? Why couldn’t it have been Clive Owen? Him, I might not have promised to give up. Oh well. Maybe that’s why my headache was worse when I woke up: At some point, Tom probably tried to convert me to scientology, and true to form, I probably ended up bopping him over the head with a book.

Parting words: “A feather in the hand is better than a bird in the air” (Fortune Cookie)

Franco Battioto’s version of “Ruby Tuesday” from Children of Men. By the way, absolutely incredible underrated, underexposed movie but not for those who don’t care to delve too deeply.

 

 

More later. Peace.

*Actual fortunes from fortune cookies

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?

Death and Taxes

Okay, so I’m not a big conspiracy theorist. I do not believe that the chlorine in our water is actually somehow allowing the government to tap into our brainwaves. If that were the case, there couldn’t possibly be so many damned foolish politicians, and W would certainly have learned how to speak in complete sentences by now, wouldn’t he? I mean, ectoplasmic transfer, thought distillation, something should have gotten through, shouldn’t it have? Anyway, I might actually put an aluminum foil hat on my head one day just because of the scene in M. Night Shamalan’s Signs, and who wouldn’t want to put an aluminum foil hat on to thwart aliens? It seems perfectly logical to me, but that’s another story for another time.

Back to the government and conspiracies: I just finished doing our taxes. I have always been the tax person in the family, even before online programs. I remember creating my own spreadsheet in the unwieldy spreadsheet program Lotus 123 just to make sure I was doing all of my calculations properly, and I’ve never even remotely liked math. I’ve just always liked software programs and any chance to use a new one for any reason. It’s my own personal little nerd fetish (I suppose it counteracts the black boot buying compulsion). But that’s not the point. TAXES. That’s the point. Everyone always moans and complains about the new tax laws and how horrible taxes are and how imcomprehensible the codes are, and year after year I just graduate from a calculator to a spreadsheet to a computer and keep thinking to myself that I must be doing something wrong because I manage to muddle through it all, so I’ve kept my files for the reqired seven years just in case that awful unnamed A thing ever happens. And everything manages to get done (although usually at the last minute because of that procrastination thing of mine). That is, until this year.

This year, for some unknown reason, the U.S. government decided to take state taxes out on my husband’s reserve pay from his former home state of Ohio. Now, let’s try to look at this logically. My husband has not legally resided in Ohio for at least eight years. The Coast Guard managed to get his state of residence correct for the last year of his active duty and for his first part of his reserve status. And then, because last year was decidedly one of the worst years on record for us (for example, he had a torn ACL and had surgery; I had major back surgery and never quite recovered, to name just a couple of minor things), the government decided to complicate our tax filing status by sending us a W2 with Ohio as his state of residence.

Now, some of you might suggest that we should have noticed that sooner, as in when he received his pay, but when those checks are direct-deposited and aren’t your primary means of income, you don’t eyeball the paystubs quite as hard as you probably should, except to make sure the amount is correct. You don’t notice a small OH in the bottom left where a VA should be, and I didn’t notice the small OH until I was inputting the code from the W2s, and then I paused and said Hmmm . . .

Things that make you say “hmmm . . . ” and in such a way that all of the air in the house stops moving and the earth stops rotating on its axis for a moment, and everyone around me pauses and holds their collective breath in ancitipation of the next sound to come from my mouth, which I shall not repeat here. So, I shall skip a few steps for brevity’s sake, and move on to the point at which I have completed the Federal returns, and the program is now asking me which state return I would like to begin next. I’m sorry . . . “which?” The prompt clarifies for me, ‘the nonresidential state should be completed first because it may affect the return for the state of residence.’ Well then, let us proceed without haste to the state return for OH. This is the point at which my tax mojo fails me and things turn ugly.

Now my husband, who I may have mentioned is more than patient with me, has been on standby since I began the returns as he has come to anticipate my completely arbitrary questions, a la, ‘do you remember that receipt for . . .’ and he can actually produce an answer, which keeps the process going at a somewhat reasonably even rate with very little vexation on my part. That is, until I began an Ohio state return, and it begins to ask me all kinds of questions for which I had no answers, and the little bottom line at the top right–you know the one, the ongoing calculator that shows how much you owe or will get back–that one starts to blink that we owe $1400! I think the term that most aptly describes my reaction is apoplexy followed by the vapors. How, I scream at the computer, can you expect us to owe that much when we don’t even live in your stupid state? (apologies to my husband’s family at this point). It only got worse from here. After some backtracking and filling in, it turns out that we owe Ohio $2. I am not spending $29.95 to e-file a return to Ohio to pay $2, so I will just have to download a paper return and do it the old-fashioned way and enclose a check for $2.

It’s been a long day with entirely too much drama; I believe I will now seek solace in CSI or Law & Order and play with the dogs.