“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” ~ Lawrence Clark Powell

Alley in Kayserberg, Alsace, France by Martien


“Very jaded and tired and depressed and cross, and so take the liberty of expressing my feelings here . . . I’m brain fagged and must resist the desire to tear up and cross out—must fill my mind with air and light; and walk and blanket it in fog. Rubber boots help. I can flounder over the marsh.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 30 November 1939

Saturday evening. Sunny and hot.

Locronan, Brittany, France

Of course because I wrote about how I’m sleeping better, I slept horribly last night. My head ached, and I was very sound sensitive, which meant that the AC in our bedroom began to make this lovely, loud grinding noise. So I couldn’t fall asleep. Then when I finally did around 4 a.m., I awoke frequently.

The Virginia Woolf quote is quite apropos as I am brain fagged and cross. I love the British usage of the word cross; it’s a much stronger way of saying angry, or mad, or perturbed. I am quite cross and have no particular reason for being so. I just am. Possibly it’s the tightness in my forehead. On days such as these it’s best to keep to myself so as not to pick fights unnecessarily. So I’ll write for a bit and then read or watch a movie.

Corey has to go in at 7 tonight and work until 7 in the morning—a long shift, but at least he’s getting better hours this week. In the past few weeks his shifts have been scarce. Currently, he’s filling out applications for city and state positions. Before he was a merchant marine he had very good training in the Coast Guard in acquisitions and reconciliation. If he can get a position that allows him to use this training, it might actually work out better for his planned return to school. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

“To be a strong woman, to be a fierce woman, to be a true woman, to be a leader, to be truly powerful, you have to get to place where you can tolerate people not liking you. And know that when you actually do that, you have to fall back on your own moral imperative in your own moral trunk and say, ‘I don’t care, this is what I believe. This is who I am.’” ~ Eve Ensler, Beautiful Daughters

Eus: One of the Most Beautiful Villages of France (Wikimedia Commons)

This quote showed up on my Tumblr dash, and I immediately grabbed it. I love it for several reasons:

  1. It talks about being a strong woman.
  2. It incorporates one of my favorite words: fierce.
  3. It speaks of moral imperatives.
  4. It references being able to move past the desire to have all people like you.

I’ve discussed all of these items before in other posts, but this particular quote takes four things in which I believe strongly and combines them into one perfect quote.

Even in my weakened physical state, I still consider myself to be a very strong woman. Most people who know me would agree. I’m not boasting; rather, I’m merely stating a fact. I have a steel backbone, metaphorically. I have withstood much, and I’m still here, still spouting my beliefs, still standing up for those things that I hold dear. In my mind, I am a fierce, powerful woman, a natural leader. I do not think that my beliefs are delusional.

Consider the word fierce:

mid-13c., “proud, noble, bold,” from O.Fr. fers, nom. form of fer, fier “strong, overwhelming, violent, fierce, wild; proud, mighty, great, impressive” (Mod.Fr. fier “proud, haughty”), from L. ferus “wild, untamed,” from PIE base *ghwer- “wild, wild animal” (cf. Gk. ther, O.C.S. zveri, Lith. zveris “wild beast”). Original English sense of “brave, proud” died out 16c., but caused the word at first to be commonly used as an epithet, which accounts for the rare instance of a French word entering English in the nominative case. Meaning “ferocious, wild, savage” is from c.1300. Related: Fiercely; fierceness. (from the Online Etymology Dictionary)

I love etymology, finding out exactly how a word came into the lexicon, what its origins are. Few people today would relate fierce to being proud, noble, or bold. I think that more people are familiar with the colloquial definition of fierce: savage, intense, ferocious. I also believe that fierce is not a word traditionally associated with women, but in reality, I think that it’s a very apt description of many women, especially mothers.

Most mothers are fierce protectors of their offspring, whether human or other. But how many women would actually describe themselves as fierce? Politicians? Perhaps. Although I cannot think of many female politicians who I view as being fierce, at least not in the true sense. I do think that there is a crop of young women who are coming into their own who would willingly take on the mantle of being fierce. These young women know what they want, and they aren’t afraid to do what it takes to get it. I only hope that they learn to temper that fierceness with compassion.

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up . . . This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” ~ Terence McKenna

Farmhouse in Rural France, by Joose J. Bakker (FCC; can be downloaded as wallpaper)

But what about the phrase moral imperative? For some people, that would translate as morality as prescribed by a religion. Not so for me.

I view my moral imperatives in life as being rather simplistic, if you will. I believe that I should—

  • Do no harm to others.
  • Protect those who need protection.
  • Be honest, honorable, and forthright.
  • Love freely, truly, and completely.
  • Stay true to myself, my beliefs.
  • Blame less and forgive more.
  • Know glitter for what it is.
  • Keep my expectations realistic.
  • Fight for what is right.
  • Use the Golden Rule.

Even though I think that these elements of my moral compass are all fairly straightforward, they are not always easy to adhere to, and it has taken me years to get to this point. Perhaps you are wondering what I mean by glitter . . . those things that appear to be beautiful on the outside but which are not necessarily beautiful on the inside, whether that is in a person, a place, or a thing.

I know that when I was younger, I would be taken in by the shiny and pretty—beautiful people, for example—only to find that inside there existed a deep ugliness. When I worked in northern Virginia, I remember becoming friends very quickly with a young man who had the most disarming smile. At first, I found him to be intriguing. That is until I realized that there was nothing underneath. He was one of the most shallow individuals that I have ever met. When I told him that he strutted like a peacock, he was actually insulted.


“Nobody is going to pour truth in your brain. It’s something you have to find out yourself.” ~ Noam Chomsky

Dieulefit, Francy, by sammydavisdog (FCC)

As I’ve said before, women are conditioned to believe that they should make themselves affable, that they need to be liked by everyone. I have mentioned how when we returned from England I had such a hard time in my grade school: proper British accent, almond-shaped eyes, olive skin, funny name.

Oh how I wanted to have blonde hair and blue eyes and to be named Patty. I hated who I was, and I thought that no one would ever like the person I was. Conformity—that was the answer.

How can a child of seven or eight understand that it is our very differences that make us who we are, our differences that make us strong, our differences that teach us how to understand others? At that age, all that matters is that we are not different, not in any way. Different is bad. Difference doesn’t get your name called at recess for kickball. Different does not get you invited to birthday parties.

But different I was, and I knew it. At my very core, I knew that I was different. I would ride my bike to the library in the summer and stay for hours, pulling books of the shelves, flipping through them, deciding which four I would take home with me, for four was the maximum allowed. And then I would ride home, and I would immediately immerse myself in the pages. Other young girls in the summer joined softball teams or went to camp. Not me.

Certainly I had my friends, and we did the things that kids do: we went roller skating, and we built forts, and we played with Barbies. We put on music and pretended to be in bands, and we brushed each other’s hair. My friends didn’t care that I wasn’t named Patty, and after a while, neither did I.

Perhaps I reached a point at which I used my very otherness to my advantage.

“The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth” ~ Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

St. Paul-de-Vence, France

In the past few years, I have actually encountered more than my share of individuals for whom truth is not a constant but rather a variable. What I mean is that for these people, truth was subjective, was dependent upon circumstances, was malleable.

This way of thinking baffles me. One woman I worked with truly believed that she was a victim, even though she went behind my back to my boss constantly, told tall tales that may have initially had a basis in truth but that truth had become so skewed that it was unrecognizable. This woman always had a crisis—with her son, with her husband, with her lover, with her lover’s girlfriend, with her health.

When she told me that her cancer had returned, I was overwhelmed with sadness for her. I offered to drive her places, bought her little presents to cheer her. Tried to be a friend to her. She stopped eating. She lost so much weight that she looked skeletal. Everything focused on her. I become so embroiled in her life and all of its problems that I found myself not eating. It was strange, weird, and definitely, not healthy.

It was not until my boss actually told me who had been talking about me that I faced the truth, the real, verifiable truth. It never occurred to me that my friend, this woman with whom I spoke all of the time on the telephone when I was not at work, that she was actually the one sabotaging me.

Need I say that things ended badly? A few years removed, and Corey, ever the voice of reason, asked me a question: Did she really have cancer? Was it possible that she had made up the whole thing.

I know. It’s a horrible thing to think, but the fact is that this woman was so delusional and felt such a need to control every situation that it is entirely within the realm of possibility that she made up the whole thing. The very thought sickens me.

I vowed that once I was away from that situation that I would be more discerning, that I would not accept readily things that I was being spoon fed. This decision has served me well, especially in the last six months or so, when I find that I am once again at odds with someone whose reality is continually shifting.

Truth should not be subjective. Reality may be subjective, dependent upon our roots, our families, our communities. Civil wars are viable proof that one person’s reality can be another person’s lie. But truth? That my friends, should be constant.

Whether or not we can accept truth as reality is another story.

More later. Peace.

Music by Glass Pear, “Say it Once”


Adam’s Complaint

Some people,
no matter what you give them,
still want the moon.

The bread,
the salt,
white meat and dark,
still hungry.

The marriage bed
and the cradle,
still empty arms.

You give them land,
their own earth under their feet,
still they take to the roads.

And water: dig them the deepest well,
still it’s not deep enough
to drink the moon from.

~ Denise Levertov


“Wound me . . . I can only feed on my humiliated blood.” ~ Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions: Vol. I

Budapest Chain Bridge by Széchenyi Lánchíd (Pixdaus)


“Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” ~ Martin Heidegger, Who is Nietzsche’s Zarathustra?, tr. by Bernd Magnus

Wednesday afternoon. Warm and humid.

Mist, by Alexandra X (500px.com)

It’s an unseasonable 69° F here; elsewhere, in the north, people are experiencing blizzards and traffic-stopping white-out conditions. This time we were spared the snow and were given warmth. Never fear, though. The temperatures here are supposed to plummet to the low 30’s by tonight.

And people wonder why so many people in this area suffer from sinus problems and allergies.

So I’m having a pretty bad day in spite of the fact that I have confirmation that I have health insurance. Waiting for the new cards to come in the mail so that I can make those appointments I was talking about previously. In spite of this very good news, I feel wretched.

Yesterday, I took the now dry, previously water-logged pages of my poem’s draft and tried to type them into Word. Aside from the fact that this computer only has Works on it (what a crap program) because we’re not loading anything on it until we can do a complete reload (another story), I realized while typing that what I had been so impressed with only days before was pure and total crap. Drivel. Snot. Yuck out loud.

I really hate it when that happens. I tried working and reworking and finally stopped myself because the more I did, the more that it read as being overworked and perfunctory, and the spark that generated the idea for the poem had been completely lost beneath forced wordsmithing. The deadline has been extended, which is good, I think, but now I don’t know if I have it in me to enter the contest. (Correction note: First prize is book of poems by Pablo Neruda, not Pessoa; don’t know what I was thinking.)

Of course, all of this mulling is giving me a low-grade headache, one of those tension bands around my entire skill. Love it.

“Sharp like a razor’s edge, the sages say,
Is the path, difficult to traverse.” ~ Katha Upanishad

Foggy Night #89, by Dimitri Bogachuk

Outside I hear the rumblings of a storm approaching. Meanwhile, Tillie the Lab has nested on the old futon in here and is currently telling me off for not paying much attention to her. She has this thing that she does whenever she feels neglected: She puts her head down and grumbles just once, a single quiet protest. She’ll repeat this little nudge until someone stops whatever they are doing and plays with her for a few minutes. Have I mentioned lately how much I think that dogs are wonderfully sentient beings? She seems to know that I’m struggling as she is pacing her grunts to meet the pauses in my typing.

Yesterday I was working on a post about HR3, that infuriating bill supposedly about abortion being proposed by a bunch of neanderthals, most of whom have male genitalia. I became so incensed over their new definitions of rape that most of the post was pure rant, so I stopped that too. Maybe I’ll go back to it later today, depends on what my mind does, where it goes in the next few hours.

Speaking of hours, I had very few consisting of real sleep last night/this morning. I fear that the insomnia is rearing its ugly head again. The alarm beeped at 5 a.m. for Corey to get for watch, and I was still awake, watching some movie that I had seen before. I had deliberately chosen the movie because I thought that it would put me to sleep.

No joy.

I think that I fell asleep around 6 a.m., only to awaken after 11. I poured coffee down my throat and drove Brett to his afternoon classes. Perhaps the sleep deprivation is a contributing factor to the headache.

“If I stare into it long enough, the point comes when I don’t know what it’s called, a condition in which lacerations are liable to occur, like a slip of the tongue; when a drop of blood might billow in a glass of water, blooming in velvet detonation and imparting to it the colorless, tasteless and originless fear in which I wake. ” ~ Franz Wright, Blade  

Red in the Mist by Viktor Minchenko (Pixdaus)

A few nights ago Corey had to waken me from a nightmare. I awoke screaming, “I hate you. I hate you.” and slapping at his hands as he tried to calm me. I had dreamt that Corey told me quite matter-of-factly that he had picked up and had sex with (and this part was very specific) 32 women.

Thirty-two? Where did that come from? How can I be my own worst enemy in my dreams too? I don’t remember much else about the dream, even though I recounted it for Corey when I was awake. Numbers in dreams always unnerve me a bit, and I don’t really know why; perhaps it’s because they are so arbitrary. I mean, if dreaming is the brain’s way of sifting through the detritus of the day, where do these numbers come from if not life?

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

I have been having very vivid dreams again, lots of people from my past popping up and intruding into my subconscious. Have you ever had a past dream intrude into a current dream? That happened to me. Don’t remember the exact circumstances, but a scene that happened in a former dream involving my ex unpacking dishes in the kitchen recurred in a more recent dream. The actual event never occurred in real life.

I wonder if this could be considered a rerun dream . . . Does this mean that my lack of originality has crept into my dreams, as well? Well crap.

“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.” ~ Douglas Coupland

Crook in the Mist by Basil G (Pixdaus)

I find myself missing my dad a lot these days, probably because he is one of those people who keeps popping in and out of dreams lately. I wonder if he ended his life filled with regret over things he  hadn’t yet done. I wonder if he realized how close he was to his death and if he was filled with fear. I wonder how many dreams he had fulfilled and how many he still hadn’t achieved.

Last night Corey said that he hated that his life was mediocre, and I said that his life wasn’t mediocre, but perhaps his current state was mediocre because he felt stuck. But truthfully, I understand exactly what he meant. It goes back to my “I hate my life” statement of before.

Sometimes it all just seems so pointless. I mean, what are we really doing here? Are we making any forward progress? We as in individuals, we as in this country, we as in this world. Everywhere I turn I hear hateful things and see so much pain, and then if I narrow my vision just a bit, I see glimpses of beauty and grace, which reminds me that it isn’t pointless.

Yes, yes. I know. It’s February, the longest month of the year for my psyche, but as with my current contradictory state, it’s February, and it feels like spring, but it smells like winter. Is it any wonder that I’m conflicted?

Truth time: the poem is supposed to be about preferences, as in what do you prefer, coffee or tea, only not that simple. But maybe it is that simple and like everything else, I have made it too complicated. Preferences. For me, that is such a loaded word. The answer is that what I prefer depends on the day, the weather, my weight, whether or not my face has broken out in adult acne, how bad my headache is, if the dogs have decided to go dumpster diving in the kitchen trash, how overwhelmed I feel when I go through the mail and realize that the “to be paid” pile is seemingly insurmountable.

Preferences? I would prefer to be working as opposed to not working. I would prefer to be pain-free as opposed to pain-laden. I would prefer not to owe so much overdue money to so many people as opposed to owing my soul. I would prefer that the sliding glass door did not have spiderweb cracks in it from where Tillie hit it head on, and I would prefer that we could install our good water heater so that taking a shower did not have to be timed to coincide with the availability of hot water.

Preferences? Yes, I have a few. Most aren’t even noteworthy, but perhaps a few are worth a word or two: I prefer moonlight and water. I prefer the smell of fresh herbs and flowers. I prefer paper books to their bastardization. I prefer long hot baths at the end of the day with candles lit, casting orange and red glows on the tiles. I prefer songs that touch my heart rather than rattle my brain. I prefer to live a full life rather than merely exist.

How do you know if you are broken? I suppose it’s the same way that you know if you are insane. You don’t.

More later. Peace.

Music by Butterfly Boucher, “A Bitter Song”


on Joy & Sorrow

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

~ Kahlil Gibran

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little . . . ” ~ Tom Stoppard

Law and Order Optical Illusion Billboard


“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.” ~ W. S. Merwin
Berger Paints Billboard Illusion

Watched Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead last night (1990 starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman); hence, the Stoppard quote. Thought that it would be a good movie to watch before going to sleep. Good movie, yes. Sleep, no. 

Speaking of sleep . . . I haven’t been getting much—yet again. The past two mornings have seen me sitting at this computer at 7 a.m. and not because I’m an early riser. Au contraire. I am having a hard time falling asleep again. Who knows the whys or wherefores of my body, why I can sleep for 10 hours one night and four hours on another, why I can fall asleep without any pharmaceutical assistance one night but not so on another. Regardless, I am watching dawn break, morning rise, and everything else in between. 

I do know the heat really affects me—headaches, mood swings, appetite—and it has been hotter than hades here for several days. I suppose, though, that we are quite fortunate considering the bizarre weather patterns to the north: a tornado in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a major twister in Eagle, Wisconsin that damaged or destroyed 125 homes and killed one person, flooding in the midwest after severe thunderstorms, a 5.0 earthquake that struck in the Quebec/Ontario border region with tremors felt as far away as Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Toronto. 

A good rain here would be nice, but nothing too drastic. 

“When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep, and you’re never really awake.” ~ From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Maker's Mark Billboard Illusion

 One of the things that I did when I couldn’t sleep was to organize my music on my YouTube channel, break it down into more categories as I had reached my 200-song-limit in my main category. One of these days I’m going to follow progress and get an MP3 player. Of course, those are really better for people who actually leave the house, go places in cars, or maybe even on walks. 

Yep. We’ll see about that. 

I’m actually a bit hungry today, craving chocolate and salt. Unfortunately, slim pickings in the house at the moment, so I don’t anticipate that carving being sated anytime soon. Just read an article that states that adults should not ingest more than one teaspoon of salt a day. I’m so busy worrying about sugar and fat; now I have to worry about salt? Sometimes I think that existing on crackers or cereal is really the best way to go. 

I’ve been counting calories recently, and Corey asked me how I’m going about determining calories. I told him that I’m estimating what I think something might be and then doubling it. I watched some show about Americans and food, and it was actually quite revealing. This university professor (cannot remember who or where, sorry) studies food habits. He had this study group divided into two subgroups. Each group was served the exact same meal, but their reactions were very different. The meal was a taco salad from Taco Bell. 

The first group was served the meal on the plastic plate, and they were told that it was fast food. When asked their opinions, most of the individuals said that the taste was mediocre, and they were pretty accurate in estimating the calories at around 1,000. Group two was served the exact same meal, but it was placed on nice dishes, and they were told that it was from a bistro that served health-conscious food. These people claimed that the food tasted great, and they estimated the calories between 300 and 450. 

So interesting how presentation can affect perceptions. But of course, being in marketing, I knew that. 

It’s the same thinking that advises people not to eat standing up over the kitchen sink (Corey does this), and to set the table for at least one meal a day. The mind affects the enjoyment of a meal as much as the meal itself. 

“I’ll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time.” ~ Emily Dickinson
Mini Cooper Underpass Advertisement Optical Illusion

Aside from those tidbits, not much seems to be stirring in my right brain at the moment. I suppose it’s because I know that Corey is in the dining room trying to make less than three hundred dollars cover about one thousand dollars worth of stuff. Alchemy. That must be the answer because working 11 hours a week certainly isn’t creating optimum cash flow. 

I’m not disparaging. On the contrary. If not for Corey’s creative right-brained abilities with the minimal income we have, we would have been out in the cold (or heat, as it were), a long time ago. Just knowing that he is doing this always brings about two diametrically opposing emotions in me: awe and sadness. 

In keeping with the whole concept of creating something out of nothing, the images are optical illusion billboards from around the world. Enjoy. 

More later. Peace

Music by The Pretenders, “I’ll Stand by You”