“You cannot write in the chimney with charcoal.” ~ Russian Proverb

Blue Skies by Harsh Patel (FCC)

                   

Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully. ~ Norton Juster

Thursday afternoon. Passing storm, temperatures are dropping, but it’s quite humid.

Centuri Sky, Corsica by Ornithorynque (FCC)

No one is home except the dogs and me. Quite quiet.

Such a discombobulating day. Corey worked until 7 this morning, came home and slept a few hours, then had to be at school at 1 this afternoon. He came home around 3, changed clothes, and went back to work until 11 tonight.

He’s exhausted, and I’m tired just because I can’t figure out my nights from my days.

The guy across the street still hasn’t finished the work on Corey’s truck, which means that we’re down to one vehicle, and it’s getting harder to keep up with everyone’s schedules.

Last night I had two very different dreams. In the first, I ran into a very old friend of mine, and I found out that he was dying. I met his son for the first time, and he said that he had heard about me. I asked the old friend if he had kept any of the things that I had given him, and he said that he had kept almost all of them.

We spent time going through his things, and he told me that his wife had left him for another woman, and I was surprised to learn that the other woman was a friend of mine who had never mentioned the relationship with the wife. It was a very bittersweet dream. Seeing him again even in dreams makes me very sad that he is no longer in my life.

In the other dream, I was taken hostage in a grocery store. The bad people had curved knives, and one of the women had bright red hair. She was the most savage of the group. Somehow, I made it from the store to the parking lot, but one of the bad guys was in the parking lot, and he killed an older couple right in front of me.

Then somehow a Charles Manson kind of character appeared. I realized that I had to pretend to agree with him to survive. Then, thankfully, I woke up.

“This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.” ~ Derek Walcott, from “The Fist”

Friday afternoon. Very bright and sunny, painfully so.

Sky Blue by jimflix! (FCC)

So much for posting yesterday. In the middle of writing Eamonn came home and turned on a documentary about WWII, and away flew my thoughts. Then I had promised Brett that I would look at a paper that he had due for a class today. My little sojourn into writing for and about myself completely vanished.

I ended up going to sleep about 3:45 this morning, only to get up at 8 a.m. to have a final look at the paper and then transport to school. On the way there, a vicious migraine surfaced in my eye just as the morning sun pierced the windshield of the car. It was so bright that I thought the crack in the glass would deepen from the intensity.

I lie. It just seemed that way. Back home, meds, cold eye pillow, and sleep. That is until my mother called only to ask if I wasn’t feeling well. Migraine, I said. She continued to talk. Have I mentioned that I must turn the volume down to 1 on my phone when talking to my mother? Well, I must, and I did, and then I hung up and immediately passed out again only to be awoken by . . . my mother, who wanted to know if I still didn’t feel well, and when was I going to get the Botox shots, and why hadn’t they happened yet, and was I still drinking caffeine . . .

Pain. Great pain.

“ . . . perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us. ~ Evelyn Waugh, from Brideshead Revisited

Afternoon Sun, San Francisco, CA, by mioi (FCC)

I thought that I’d try to share the bright sky with you through my choice of images, a reflection of what I saw this morning and what is still streaming through the window.

So here I am again, attempting to construct a post that is somewhat readable. I’m trying to make my cup of coffee last as we are almost out of coffee, and I fear that there will be none of this caffeinated elixir on which I depend for morning relief when I wake up tomorrow. (Don’t tell my mother.)

Eamonn came home last night with a broken finger (details not to be provided as he would not appreciate it). I had thought that I had tongue depressors in my stash of medical supplies, but they have disappeared, so I had to make do with chopsticks for splints until he could go to the doctor today. Turns out he has a ruptured tendon. No wonder he couldn’t feel anything when I tried to realign his finger.

So my plans for working on the computer last night were foiled, another reason I never finished my post. After applying first aid, I contented myself with watching “Project Runway.” Oh, don’t be that way. I love the madness of it, and for some reason, it makes me think that I can sew, which I can’t.

Obscure things tend towards clarity,
bodies dissolve themselves in a weightless flow
of colors: these then into music. To vanish
is thus the supreme fate of all fates. ~ Eugenio Montale, from “Bring me the Sunflower” (trans. by Margaret Brose)

Sun and Clouds by StefPress (FCC)

So what else is new in my little world?  I won the Lotto? I was offered the job of my dreams? I awoke in a new house that needed no repairs? My bill basket suddenly emptied itself?

No, wait. That’s just my delusions again. Hate it when that happens.

As I was lying in bed earlier, I actually thought about what I would say, but of course, I have long since forgotten that thread. I think that it was something about life, good and evil, ya da ya da ya da . . .

No, really. It was profound. Seriously and absolutely profound, or at least that’s how it seemed in my dream/wake state. I’m certain that it had something to do with the latest Kardashian circus, er, wedding, as you are all well aware of my abiding respect for people who are famous because they are famous.

I mean think about it: We’re protesting the Wall Street whore-mongers who take millions in bonuses each year without a thought about the inequities inherent in the system, but no one says a word about a celebrity(?) wedding that costs more than a school district’s annual budget. What does that say about us as a society? That we are seriously warped?

Yep. That would be it.

I am as far as the sleep of rivers
that stains the deepest sky between clouds,
you are as far as invention, and I am as far as memory. ~ Susan Stewart, from “Yellow Stars and Ice”

Sun Over Catalonia, Spain, by CarlesReig (FCC)

Admittedly, so far this post has been little more than fodder. Perhaps it’s the really screwed up sleep schedule, and perhaps it’s the migraine. Perhaps it’s eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner. I have no answers, but in an attempt to redeem myself, I will share the following:

A half a century later,

  • and I have borne four children and buried one
  • I have lost pieces of myself that I can never reclaim
  • I am incapable of letting go of the past
  • When I look in the mirror, I do not recognize the person looking back at me
  • I doubt my own worthiness as a human being
  • My dreams are slowly fading
  • The repetition of my days is slowly inuring me to possibilities
  • Instead of becoming more secure as the years have passed, my insecurities have grown exponentially
  • I fear that I will never see Ireland
  • I wonder where the words have gone

These things I believe:

  • Our society has forgotten how to feel, truly and deeply feel.
  • We exist from one byte to the next, adding to our collection of data, but failing to nourish our souls.
  • Ours is no longer a representational government.
  • How a country treats it children directly reflects how it values it future.
  • A flat tax would completely level the playing field.
  • We have abandoned our veterans, our poor, and our elderly.
  • The quality of education continues to decline, and no one in power seems to recognize what this means.
  • We communicate more but understand less.
  • Global warming is not a theory.
  • Paper before pixels.

More later. Peace.

Music by Phil Collins, I Wish it Would Rain (original video featuring Eric Clapton, watch the whole thing if you have time), for Diana, who also embraces the rain

                   

Today I planted the sand cherry with red leaves—
and hope that I can go on digging in this yard,
pruning the grape vine, twisting the silver lace
on its trellis, the one that bloomed
just before the frost flowered over all the garden.
Next spring I will plant more zinnias, marigolds,
straw flowers, pearly everlasting, and bleeding heart.
I plant that for you, old love, old friend,
and lilacs for remembering. The lily-of-the-valley
with cream-colored bells, bent over slightly, bowing
to the inevitable, flowers for a few days, a week.
Now its broad blade leaves are streaked with brown
and the stem dried to a pale hair.
In place of the silent bells, red berries
like rose hips blaze close to the ground.
It is important for me to be down on my knees,
my fingers sifting the black earth,
making those things grow which will grow.
Sometimes I save a weed if its leaves
are spread fern-like, hand-like,
or if it grows with a certain impertinence.
I let the goldenrod stay and the wild asters.
I save the violets in spring. People who kill violets
will do anything.

~ Ann Struthers

“You Can’t Be Forever Blessed” or No One Gets Away Unscathed

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken

“And many times confused
Yes, and often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’
m alright, I’m alright”

“I’m just weary to my bones”

I wrote about a commercial right before the election that featured words from Paul Simon’s song “American Tune,” and then a few nights ago, Simon himself was on “The Colbert Report” talking about his new book, Lyrics: 1964-2008. I have a real appreciation for Simon’s lyrics. In fact, when I used to teach English, I would always incorporate, “Sound of Silence” in my poetry selections because it is a wonderful lyrical poem, as are many of Simon’s songs.

But “American Tune” is haunting me these days for a number of reasons—politically and personally.  So I was not at all surprised that when Colbert said that Simon was going to sing a song at the end of the show, the song turned out to be “American Tune.” For me, it was one of those signs to which I allude occasionally. Simon’s voice unaccompanied is weaker than in years past, but of course, he is older; as are we all. But his scratchier voice was the perfect sound for this soulful song.

“I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered

I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees”

Do any of you know anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way by what’s going on, with what’s happening out there? I mean, stop and think for a minute. If you don’t know someone who isn’t out of work, surely you know someone who has been affected by the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Is someone you love over there? Have you lost someone you know or love? Is someone you know on the brink of losing their home because they are behind on their mortgage payments? Do you have a friend who is gay who has a longtime partner? Do you know someone who doesn’t have health insurance but has an ongoing health problem? Does your child have someone at his or her school who is homeless?

Did your retirement account lose a significant amount of its worth and now you are having to reconsider when you actually stop working? Do you have a child with special needs? Have you had to curb your spending in any way? Are you thinking of trading in your car for something that uses less gas? Were you thinking of buying a big ticket item, but now you are delaying the purchase because, well, it might be more prudent to wait and see? Are you bringing your lunch more and eating out less?

See. No one can claim to be untouched. It’s like the six degrees of separation. Even if you are on the periphery, it’s still touching you somehow. That is, unless you are part of that uber elite, and then you can turn your head and pretend that it’s not out there. But really, how can you? How can you live in your bubble world so completely oblivious to the suffering of others? But then, why do I bother to ask because as Fitzgerald said: “The rich get richer, and the poor get children.” I suppose that’s how it’s always been.

“Oh, but it’s alright, it’s alright
For we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
Road we’re traveling on
I wonder what’s gone wrong

I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong”

I wonder every day what’s gone wrong, and last night, I felt as if I were dying. I felt as if my soul rose and was looking back down on me and was wondering what in the hell had gone wrong. What’s goes wrong in a country in which a 19-year-old teen commits suicide in front of a live audience on a web cam that he had been blogging with for 12 hours. How could no one notice over that 12 hours that he was getting progressively worse from a drug overdose? Are we so obtuse collectively that we just do not notice what is literally in front of our faces?

“And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly

And I dreamed I was flying”

I used to cry a lot more, and then, for a while, I hardly ever cried.  Someone sent me one of those e-mail updates, and it had a question that asked when I had last cried, and I honestly couldn’t remember. But in the last three months, it seems that I cry all of the time. I think that it’s a combination of the larger things and the smaller things. For example, Obama’s speeches make me cry. I cried when the Democrats took Virginia. Obviously I cried when Obama won the presidency. But I also cried when I saw the “American Tune” commercial. I cried when I read about Addie Polk shooting herself in the chest so that she wouldn’t be evicted. I cried over last week’s episode of “ER” and the entire last few episodes of last season’s “House,” which devastated me. I couldn’t even delete the shows from my DVR for weeks. It was too personal.

slow-boat-to-the-moon
Slow Boat to the Moon

So last night, I had one of those cathartic cries that came out of nowhere and resulted with my body curled into the fetal position and my face in a pillow. Then, I finally realized that today is the seventh anniversary of my father’s death. November absolutely sucks for bad anniversaries for me.  Unlike with my daughter, I wasn’t with my father when he died, something that I will probably always regret.

But I still feel my dad’s presence often, not in that wacky, seance kind of your father is here, knock on the table kind of way. But at times, I know, just somehow know, that my dad is still with me. But not last night. So I had my little breakdown, which led to this entry on an “American Tune,” because in the end, even with all of the weariness and displacement of which it speaks, in the end, it’s all right. And I like the fact the we come on “a ship that sailed the moon.”

“We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the a-ges most uncertain hours
And sing an american tune
Oh, and its alright, its alright, it’s alright
You can’t be forever blessed”

There will be more later. Peace.