“If I am not better, at least I am different.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

                   

“The sound of winter is the hum of wind through bare trees and the creaking of those wise branches, so like these brittle mortal bones save in their innocence. On frigid mornings I hear my humanity coming in from the cold.” ~ Christopher Troise, from See Troise Write

Friday afternoon. Rainy and unseasonably warm, 57 degrees.

There is no snow here. No cold. No flakes falling and collecting, amassing into unknown structures, waiting to be unburied with the sun’s warmth. I know that I should be happy that we don’t have a lot of cold and snow here as neither are good for my bones or my back, but I long for snow, wet flakes on my face, the chance to photograph the vast whiteness, the trees cloaked in inches of froth, the dog carefully stepping so as not to sink.

Snow would be nice, would be lovely and white and banking. Instead, we have rain and mud puddles and lethargy, so I will write about nothing and nothingness and nothings.

Random thoughts:

  • Post-rock is an actual category in music, but I find the term to be grossly uninventive. Is not everything after the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin post-rock?
  • I have deliberately not learned how to make GIFs as I know that I would spend a disproportionate amount of time playing.
  • Who are these people who can watch a show and do screen captures while watching and post them immediately?
  • Am I being left behind technologically?
  • For someone who lives in the past so much, someone who loves ancient ways, I love technology.
  • I am using quotes in this post by two people I found on tumblr.
  • We have raccoons living in our attic, and Corey thinks they are cute, she said, apropos of nothing.

“Time takes life away
and gives us memory, gold with flame,
black with embers.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from “Shell”

Odd memories out of nowhere:

  • Two scents I used to wear along with my power suits (neither of which exist in the original formulation any more): Lauren and Dioressence. Everyone else wore the first, so I switched to the second, and people either loved it or hated it.
  • Power suits with shoulder pads and pumps. What were we thinking?
  • I miss dressing for work, the whole thing—hair, makeup, jewelry, but I don’t miss pantyhose at all.
  • Does anyone still wear pantyhose?
  • I remember years ago when I worked at the newspaper there was a woman who wrote about fashion, and she always complained that the women in this area were so unimaginative because they only wore suntan-colored pantyhose. Funny the things you remember.
  • Another odd memory from the newsroom days: There was this reporter who had a terrible crush, bordering on stalkworthy on a male reporter who I happened to be dating casually. She would come into the newsroom and stand and stare at his empty chair. Sometimes she would stare at me. Very, very creepy.
  • During that same period in my life I kept a journal called “Dear God.” In a word, embarrassing.

“I go through phases. Somedays I feel like the person I’m supposed to be, and then somedays, I turn into no one at all. There is both me and my silhouette. I hope that on the days you find me and all I am are darkened lines, you still are willing to be near me.” ~ Mary Kate Teske

List of minutiae:

  • I wonder if I still believe in angels.
  • If I wonder, that is probably indicative of a negative, isn’t it?
  • Whenever I dream of my friend Mari, I awaken with a hard spot in my chest, as if the dream has carved a scoop of flesh from me and left a hollow impression.
  • I always feel strangely accomplished once I have calendars throughout the house, but I have to wonder about this obsession with time. Does recording it slow it?
  • I discovered Adam Zagajewski quite by accident when I unearthed a book of his poems in the ratty old bookstore that used to occupy the corner of the local shopping center. The store is long gone, which is sad as they had the most amazing undiscovered poetry section living on the bottom two shelves in the far left corner. I think that’s where I found my first Rilke book.
  • Oh how I long for the day when all of my books of poetry can reside on shelves again and not in storage tubs.
  • I am still thinking about the concept of holding sadness in my spine.

“I love the dark hours of my being
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Ich liebe meines Wesens Dunkelstunden” from Book of Hours (trans. Anita Barrow and Joanna Macy)

Did you know?

  • Brett has synaesthesia. He once told me that a cologne that I like smelled too green.
  • Apparently, synaesthesia is fairly common in newborns, which makes sense when you think about it. Newborns have so many capabilities, but they cannot tell us, so they get no positive reinforcement, which helps to explain why these capabilities might fade.
  • I remember an episode of “Criminal Minds” (of course, I do) in which the killer saw people’s names in color, and if the name was red, the killer knew that the person was bad.
  • Having a killer with synaesthesia would be a pretty cool plot device, don’t you think?
  • My preoccupation with killers has nothing to do with my childhood, which was the epitome of normal, except for the travel.
  • I really wish that I had come of age in a time in which it was quite possible, normal even, for women to become criminal profilers.
  • Did I ever mention that I once applied to the FBI? It was for a marketing position, and I really didn’t want it. Who wants to say that they do marketing for the FBI. Not at all cool.

“People often ask me questions that I cannot very well answer in words, and it makes me sad to think they are unable to hear the voice of my silence.” ~ Inayat Khan

And then there is this:

  • I’ve been so poor that I combed the house for change to buy gas for the car.
  • I once claimed that I was sick at work so that I could leave and go for a drive. I got in the car and drove for two hours.
  • While I was an undergraduate, I routinely ate Nacho Cheese Doritos and hot pepper rings for dinner.
  • When I was sixteen, I picked out the names of the six children that I was going to have with the boy who was the love of my life. Nothing about that was correct—the boy, the names, or the number of children.
  • When my contemporaries were listening to Jethro Tull and Deep Purple, I was listening to Broadway soundtracks and singing to myself in my bedroom.
  • I think that people find it easy to lie to me.
  • I do not miss the 80’s like some people do.
  • I fear that I’ve already had the life-defining moment, and I didn’t realize it.

More later. Peace.
*All snow GIFs taken from a tumblr post; sorry, don’t have better source than that.

Music by The Smiths, “Asleep”

                   

Strange Little Prophets

When is the smell of a blackberry tree
a harbinger of  violent movement
rather than simply the recollection of
a childhood Sunday dress hem-dipped
in mud, handprinted with juice and seeds?
Hard to say. A mind, when playing tricks
is at its most sincere — at home raking
through the body’s history, repeating
the strange and nostalgic. The taste of
dirty copper, the imagined cockroach
in the corner, the sluggish slow of  the clock
— doctors call these strange little prophets
warning signs of a seizure, synaptic misfires
looming like a song discordant, until the body
— an unplucked string — is finally strummed.

~ Barbara Perez

“Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always better than the words we write for others?” ~ Mike Rich from Finding Forrester

U. S. Postal Service Parcel Post Truck, ca 1950*

                   

“Nostalgia, more than anything, gives us the shudder of our own imperfection. This is why with Chopin we feel so little like gods.” ~ E. M. Cioran, from The Book of Delusions

Wednesday evening. Much too warm (mid 70s) and intermittent showers.

It’s unseasonably warm, so of course, I’m thinking of snow.

Mail Trucks on Parade, 1956

Another sleepless night. Watched the clock hit 7:30 a.m. Not sure what’s going on with this most recent bout of insomnia unless I’m just getting myself too amped for the holiday stress. Stressing over impending stress?

Yesterday I had out of control back spasms. Corey worked on the knots a bit, but I really need some trigger shots. My appointment is in two weeks, which means two more weeks of knots in my back and now, also in my right hand. I don’t know if I have a pinched nerve in my hand, or if such a thing is even possible. I suppose if it’s possible, then I have it.

Brett finishes his scientific writing class with his power point presentation on Thursday, and then he has a presentation in public speaking on Friday. Oral presentations used to really worry him, but he’s gotten much better. Unfortunately, he’s still unsure as to what he wants to declare as his major. That’s problematic as he’s entering his second semester of his sophomore year.

Corey is at work, although his shift today was cut by two hours because of ship departures. His shift yesterday at the boatyard was completely cancelled, but he did manage to pick up a two and a half hour shift at the bank. Some bank in Virginia Beach hires security to walk their employees to their cars once Daylight Savings time kicks in, which is actually a good practice. The downside is that the shifts are very short.

“I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking along green embankments;”~ Theodore Roethke, from Section 1 of “Fourth Meditation”

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and much cooler, 50° 

Rural Letter Carrier in Sleigh, 1918

So I just couldn’t finish yesterday. Too lethargic. Of course, now that it’s 24 degrees cooler than yesterday, my cough is acting up. I’ve almost emptied a new inhaler with this bout of bronchitis. Simply cannot win.

House to myself. The dogs are off napping somewhere, and it’s pretty quiet. Corey’s shift today was supposed to be extended by two hours to compensate for yesterday, but unfortunately, not so.

Very good news though: he now has his merchant mariner’s documents in hand, updated licenses and credentials. Hooray. With any luck, he’ll be back on a boat of some sort by 2012. You should have seen how happy he was when he opened the mail yesterday, and his package was there. I haven’t seen a smile that wide in quite some time.

Of course, it will be a radical change for our daily way of life. I’m so used to him being here, taking care of the things that I cannot handle, you know, simple things like picking up the groceries. But the biggest change will be that he’s physically away. We’ve gotten quite used to daily living together. I’m not complaining. We did the sea thing before, just not for the past three years. I am happy for him, though. I know that he’s looking forward to the change. I’m just hoping that he can still fit in at least one online class next semester. I guess we’ll just have to see how things go on that end.

“he told again our great race through the stars
and how the world can’t keep up with our dreams.”~ William Stafford, “Living on the Plains [1990]”

So I’m sitting here as the sky darkens, cup of hot tea on the desk, and Christmas socks on my feet. I wish that I had something interesting to say, but I really don’t. My mind is kind of fuzzy today, probably from the weird sleep patterns of late. It bugs me, though, when I do have the time and access to write, and then when I sit before the keyboard, nothing seems to come forth.

Puttling a Letter into a Doremus Mailbox, ca 1880

Wish that I could ring a bell or respond to a herald: Go forth ye and write . . . No such luck. I’m really hoping that this doesn’t turn into a three-day post. It just seems so lame, somehow.

Last night I had a very strange dream in which I was cleaning out the refrigerator and cabikitchen cabinets in my my-in-law’s house. The kitchen had begun to smell because food from the funeral was still in the fridge. Of course, this never happened. So odd.

I also dreamed that I was walking down a major highway, and in a field off to the right were three young men with a pack of dogs. Tillie was with me, and she ran towards the dogs. The young men told me to be careful because their dogs had ticks. Also strange.

Then in another part I was counseling two men who had just been released from prison. Where does this stuff come from?

“I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.” ~ Robert Haas from “Faint Music”

Well bugger. I just lost the entire last section of what I had typed. Hate it when WordPress does that.

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and 61º.

Yep. It’s turned into a three-day post. I had thought that I’d be feeling much better by now, but between the coughing, wheezing, and hacking, it’s just not happening. Nice image, I know. I have an idea that I probably waited too long to go to the doctor, so the ordinarily miraculous z-pack is not working as well.

Mail Van in the Snow, ca 1953

When I saw the doctor, he gave me a script for Prednizone, which I did not have filled. I hate taking Prednizone as it blows me up like a turgid balloon, but I think that I’m going to have to just suck it up and take it.

So between the time I first began this post and today, Corey has spoken with the representative from the shipping company that was interested in hiring him right after he had started classes. He seemed to remember Corey and told him that he would move his file to the top of the pile for the next crew change, which is scheduled for early January.

We’re both kind of in shock that things seem to be going smoothly. I supposed living in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop makes one terribly gun shy. Daring to hope? Hoping beyond hope? And then when something actually does change, daring to believe that this is so?

It’s hard because we’ve become so accustomed to things not going our way, so inured to the seemingly endless doses of bad luck, so when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel begins to come into focus, we do a double take.

It’s more of the do I dare? mentality. Do I dare to eat this peach in my hand? What if it’s the very last peach I ever have? Should I savor it or save it?

“It is hard
in the radiance of this world to live
but we live.” ~ Campbell McGrath, from “Storm Valediction”

Last night (after finally falling sleep sometimes after 4), I dreamed that I had been invited to this feast. The hosts were a rich family in New York, and the dinner was at a big, fancy restaurant. What’s significant about this dream is that I could not get anyone to serve me. People all around me were being served food, delicious food, but not a single server would pay attention to me. I wanted to order wine, but no one would take my order. I wanted a steak and asparagus spears, but no one would ask me what I wanted.

Letter Carrier in Snow, 1920

All around me, people were dining on lavish dishes: caviar, mango strips, lobster, crepes, exotic fruits, shrimp. I got a taste here and there, but no plate of food. Corey had food. Somehow, he had a plate, and he was able to take things from here and there, but I had nothing. The sommelier finally came to the table, and seemed surprised that I ordered a bottle of wine without a screw cap, but he never reappeared with my wine.

So does this dream mean that good things are within reach but not quite attainable? Or does this dream mean that everyone gets some except me? Or does this dream simply mean that I went to bed hungry?

Who knows. But now I’m craving steak, button mushrooms, and asparagus. I suppose I’ll munch on a few Wheat Thins . . .

*All images taken from the Flickr Smithsonian Institution’s Photostream, Collection on Postal History

Music by the Perishers, “Sway”

                   

Shopping for Pomegranates at Wal-Mart on New Year’s Day

Beneath a ten-foot-tall apparition of Frosty the Snowman
with his corncob pipe and jovial, over-eager, button-black eyes,
holding, in my palm, the leathery, wine-colored purse
of a pomegranate, I realize, yet again, that America is a country
about which I understand everything and nothing at all,
that this is life, this ungovernable air
in which the trees rearrange their branches, season after season,
never certain which configuration will bear the optimal yield
of sunlight and water, the enabling balm of nutrients,
that so, too, do Wal-Mart’s ferocious sales managers
relentlessly analyze their end-cap placement, product mix,
and shopper demographics, that this is the culture
in all its earnestness and absurdity, that it never rests,
that each day is an eternity and every night is New Year’s Eve,
a cavalcade of B-list has-beens entirely unknown to me,
needy comedians and country singers in handsome Stetsons,
sitcom stars of every social trope and ethnic denomination,
pugilists and oligarchs, femmes fatales and anointed virgins
throat-slit in offering to the cannibal throng of Times Square.
Who are these people? I grow old. I lie unsleeping
as confetti falls, ash-girdled, robed in sweat and melancholy,
click-shifting from QVC to reality TV, strings of commercials
for breath freshener, debt reconsolidation, a new car
lacking any whisper of style or grace, like a final fetid gasp
from the lips of a dying Henry Ford, potato-faced actors
impersonating real people with real opinions
offered forth with idiot grins in the yellow, herniated studio light,
actual human beings, actual souls bought too cheaply.
That it never ends, O Lord, that it never ends!
That it is relentless, remorseless, and it is on right now.
That one sees it and sees it but sometimes it sees you, too,
cowering in a corner, transfixed by the crawler for the storm alert,
home videos of faces left dazed by the twister, the car bomb,
the war always beginning or already begun, always
the special report, the inside scoop, the hidden camera
revealing the mechanical lives of the sad, inarticulate people
we have come to know as “celebrities.”
Who assigns such value, who chose these craven avatars
if not the miraculous hand of the marketplace,
whose torn cuticles and gaudily painted fingernails resemble nothing
so much as our own? Where does the oracle reveal our truths
more vividly than upon that pixillated spirit glass
unless it is here, in this tabernacle of homely merchandise,
a Copernican model of a money-driven universe
revolving around its golden omphalos, each of us summed
and subtotalled, integers in an equation of need and consumption,
desire and consummation, because Hollywood had it right all along,
the years are a montage of calendar pages and autumn leaves,
sheet music for a nostalgic symphony of which our lives comprise
but single trumpet blasts, single notes in the hullabaloo,
or even less—we are but motes of dust in that atmosphere
shaken by the vibrations of time’s imperious crescendo.
That it never ends, O Lord. That it goes on,
without pause or cessation, without pity or remorse.
That we have willed it into existence, dreamed it into being.
That it is our divine monster, our factotum, our scourge.
That I can imagine nothing more beautiful
than to propitiate such a god upon the seeds of my own heart.

~ (January 11, 2010 New Yorker)

“She had burning things inside her that would not keep quiet.” ~ Kerem Mermutlu

Italian Winter Night
                   

“I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.” ~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Friday afternoon. Not too cold, 40’s. Melting snow.

Big Ben in the Fog

Well, I have had a fairly productive afternoon. I called my gynecologist’s office to see how much an out-of-network visit for an established patient would cost, and quelle surpise! Turns out they do accept my new health insurance—even though they weren’t on the website’s list of providers.

When I spoke with one of the women in the billing office, I think that I confused her by saying that I wanted to pay the out-of-network price for an exam, but then she said, “We do accept XXX insurance.” Really? You’re not kidding, are you because that would be too cruel . . .

Hmm. Things that make you go hmm . . .

So I called my gastroenterologist’s office just out of curiosity. Turns out, they also accept my new health insurance, and no, they were not on the list of providers on the company’s website.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I called the mental health provider that I want to change to, but seems they take Friday afternoons off. Lucky them. So two out of three today isn’t bad at all. I must say. Not that I’m going to take back any of my ranting and railing at the complete and utter nonsense that I went through the other day. I don’t do take backs for corporations or politicians just on principle (since neither the former nor the latter have any, principles, that is).

“L’acte d’écrire prend le dessus et devient son propre sujet.” (The act of writing takes over and becomes its own subject.) ~ Robert Wasler

Charles Bridge at Dusk, Prague, Czech Republic

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last real post (Dr. Who poster doesn’t count as a real post, at least not in my mind, even though it’s fun) is that I submitted my poem for the contest. After leaving it alone for several days, I went back to it and found that it was a completely different poem than the one with which I had begun. The new poem actually hummed in its rhythm. I realized that my first concept for the poem was truly too structured for me to progress.

Quatrains. I have written in quatrains before, but the subject of this poem did not require such structure. It needed to be allowed to flow and to roam, and the words needed to be married and separated and allowed to run into each other if need be.

Then I left it alone for a few more days while I pondered an appropriate title. I’m still not certain about the title that I chose to use for the submission, but unlike some writers, I am not always loyal to titles when I revise. I have gone back years later to a poem and realized that the very thing that kept the poem from working was the title that I had originally bestowed upon it.

Anyway, I submitted it a few days before the deadline, and now we’ll just have to wait and see. I may or may not post the poem on this blog, just depends on . . . well, depends on lots of things.

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.” ~ Saul Bellow, Herzog

Castel Sant'Angelo and Bridge, Rome

All of the snow from two nights ago has melted. In fact, most of it was gone when I woke up yesterday. I remember looking out the bathroom window around 3 a.m. (Thursday), and it was absolutely beautiful. Part of me wanted to run outside and take photographs. The other part of me, the cold part, decided against shooting photographs in my pajamas (as if my neighbors don’t already think that I’m more than a bit whacky).

Now that it’s gone, I sort of wish that I had followed my impulse. It’s probably because I don’t live in an area that gets lots of snow, but I just love it when it snows here. The air has a certain clean smell, unlike anything else, and in the middle of the night, when no cars are about, it’s completely silent. The world is blanketed and beautiful and seemingly full of possibilities.

I suppose if I lived up north somewhere, like Michigan or Alaska, I would probably not find the snow quite so mystical. Who knows.

I remember a particular snowfall in Blacksburg. It had snowed hard during the night and all of the next day. That night my ex and I went walking. It was very quiet as we were just about the only people out. We climbed one of the hills, and looked out. The sky had cleared, and the stars were out. I still remember that night so clearly. Everything looked and smelled so perfect. One of those moments in time, I suppose. 

“often i ask myself in the dark whether you feel
the glitter of words and see their souls unfurled.”~ Tzveta Sofronieva, from “(m)other words”, trans. by Chantal Wright  

Chaing Bridge at Night, Budapest

If I were ever to live somewhere where the winters were very cold, and it snowed frequently, there are a few things on my list of preferences that I would have to have:

  • A gas insert for a fireplace for warming hands and feet after being out in the cold
  • A deep, claw-footed bathtub, preferably with a fireplace or radiator in the room, for long, hot soaks, and a skylight above the tub to see the night sky
  • A towel warmer (Okay, don’t have to have this, but have you ever used one? Oooh. Pure luxury.)
  • Radiant heat below the kitchen and bathroom(s) floors. Mike Holmes (“Holmes on Homes”) swears by this stuff
  • A camera that can shoot snowflakes as they fall
  • A hot tub. Okay. I want this one no matter where I live because I know that my back would thank me for it each and every time I used it. But sitting in a hot tub while surrounded by snow is just so cool. And yes, I have done this, and I loved it.
  • Some very cool lined rubber boots. I love rubber boots, always have, but they have just come back into style in the past few years. I suppose that I could buy some to wear in the rain here, but honestly, there are so many other things that money could be spent on that I just can’t justify buying fashionable rubber boots.
  • Oh, and a Samoyed. I love those dogs, had one once for a few months but it caused a very ugly scene with a roommate. It’s just too hot and humid here for them to be really comfortable. Other than Labradors, Samoyeds and Huskies rank up there in my list of dogs that I would own.

Obviously, I’ve given some thought to this list. However, I don’t foresee moving anywhere cold anytime soon. Corey hates the cold, and is not that crazy about snow, either. Probably comes from growing up in Ohio, which can get pretty cold and tends to have snow. He wants warm to hot. I’ll settle for temperate.

Of course, all of this is pure pipe dream at this point, but that’s what we’re living on: a hope, a dream, and a prayer.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sheryl Crow and Sting, “Always on Your Side.” Love, love this.