“In the uncertain hour before the morning Near the ending of interminable night” ~ T. S. Eliot, from “Little Gidding”
In the first part of the dream, the surgeon cuts out a small piece of my mother’s heart, about the size of a quarter. He hands it to me and tells me to pump it whenever she dies, and it will bring her back to life. I take the small piece of flesh and examine it, see the striations, wonder how I am supposed to do this. I awaken to the phone ringing.
Somehow, I go back to sleep, and the dream continues: My mother has come back to life, even though she died, even though she has been cremated (but in the dream she has been buried next to my father), she is back, and she knows that this is just a temporary pardon. For some reason, I go to a city official’s office. I don’t think it’s for a job interview, but it might be. He likes me. Not like that, but in a professional admiring way, says that he might be able to find a position for me in his government. I leave and go to a room where employees can rest. An old friend from high school is there, and she is still playing games with my head. We see a pile of shoes that someone has delivered as give-aways. I see a pair of sandals that I would like to get for Alexis, but I am not interested in the pumps with spiked heels as I no longer need to wear heels to work, but then I think that I might get this job. Someone comes to get me, tells me that the boss is waiting for me. I find out that there is a huge meeting of all the employees, and I’m late. I get a phone call at the last minute, and I find out that Corey is at work with a female co-worker, has no intention of taking care of my mother because he’s decided to stay with this woman, and I realize that my mother is at home alone, and I know that she is going to die soon. I have to decide between making the telephone call or going to the meeting. I take my phone into the meeting. My friend from high school is supposed to help me with the presentation, but she keeps messing me up on purpose to make me look stupid. I walk out, finally get my mother on the phone. She has walked down the block. I ask her why she has left the house as she knows that she is dying. She tells me she cannot sleep, and cannot stay in the house forever. I find her on the neighbor’s lawn. She is not dead yet. I put my hand in my pocket looking for the part of her heart that the surgeon has given me, but I cannot find it. I realize that no one is going to help me.
I am awakened once again by the telephone ringing…………………
Music by Andy Shauf, “Comfortable with the Silence”
Go Ahead; Goodbye; Good Luck; and Watch Out
You get to Gilead, let me know. That balm,
supposed to be so good for human hurts
—all wounds, holes, hollows, hungriness—
you tell me if it’s there, and how it works.
Till the time comes, I’ll look for further ways
with the old lack, the void, push it along
ahead of me in the only way we have
to carry this luggage of ours of hungriness
like an empty bag. You look, though. Let me know.
“The lake, as usual, Has taken its mood from the sky, Its color also, The blue that breaks hearts.” ~ Tom Hennen, from “June, with Loons”
Thursday afternoon, Halloween. Cloudy and warm, mid 70’s.
The fates have been reversed for about a week or so: I’ve been wanting to write, have had much to say, but have had no time to spare until just this moment. I’m hoping that I can finish this post before the neighborhood kids begin to roam, and the dogs begin to go crazy. We’ll just have to see.
Since I have so many different thoughts going in so many different directions, I thought I’d do a random thoughts post. Here goes:
I learned a new word the other day: deliquescent, becoming liquid or having a tendency to become liquid. Doesn’t that just sound as if it should be in a poem?
I continue to awaken each morning with a song in my head, and the song of the morning does not seem to have any relevance to anything that I can pinpoint. For example, the other morning it was The Courtship of Eddie’s father theme song.
There is a running theme that occurs in my dreams, regardless of what the main theme is: I have forgotten to feed the dogs that stay in the backyard. I only remember them after several days. I find them in various states of illness—listless, dehydrated, close to dying.
Last night I dreamt of my family in Great Bridge, all of my cousins; one of my cousins introduced me to his friend and said that I had gone off to sing. I was very confused because I didn’t remember having a singing career.
I bought Halloween candy that I’m not particularly fond of hoping that it would keep me from delving into the bag; this has not worked completely.
Does too much sugar affect your dreams?
“She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.” ~ Oscar Wilde, from “De Profundis”
So here’s the latest news from around the home:
Corey will be in port on Saturday. He’s getting off the ship before they travel to Ascension; we have to fit in the trip to New Orleans before all of the holidays roll around.
I weigh four pounds less on my pain doctor’s scale. I like that scale.
Olivia is going to be a lady bug for Halloween; I bought her some black and white Mary Janes with red bows, too cute.
I wonder how many of you remember those hard leather shoes made by Stride-Rite for toddlers, how we were all forced to wear them and then in turn told to force our children to wear them . . . somewhere along the line, the doctors who decide said that tennis shoes were better for young feet.
I read where Kate Middleton’s sister Pippa bought the young prince silver casts of his hands and feet for a christening gift, and media voices were calling the gift creepy. How is that any creepier than bronzing baby shoes like everyone in my mother’s generation did?
My current fascination with all things make-up related continues. Don’t ask me why as I haven’t the faintest idea.
Lately, I’m fixated on just the right make-up brushes.
“And if all that is meaningless, I want to be cured Of a craving for something I cannot find And of the shame of never finding it.” ~ T. S. Eliot, from The Cocktail Party
Funny, I thought that I had so much to say, but the last few hours have had so many interruptions that I cannot seem to find my train of thought.
It’s far too muggy to be October.
I just remembered that I had another dream about the real estate firm where I worked. In these dreams I’m always trying to please my boss, unsuccessfully.
I don’t want to think about how many jobs I have failed at; it’s just too depressing.
Neither Brett nor I went to any Literary Festival events this year.
I finally watched the movie Sylvia in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath and Daniel Craig plays Ted Hughes. The movie wasn’t bad, but I think it soft-pedaled the depiction of Hughes.
At the moment I’m feeling very displaced, as if I’m on the verge of something without really knowing what or why.
The other day I realized that this year marks 25 years since Caitlin. It still feels so immediate, so close, yet not.
I wonder if anyone else can understand anything I am trying to say.
“But mountain weariness and mountain hunger — how few know what these are!” ~ John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir
She said, apropos of nothing . . .
My mother ordered me some strange gadget from QVC. I told her that I didn’t have room for it, and I didn’t really need it. She insisted that I had told her I wanted it. This would be hard as I have no idea as to what it is. Patience. Patience.
QVC preys on the shut-ins, the elderly, and the lonely.
I probably won’t see the mountains again this year.
Obviously, I’m not going to apply to the doctoral program at GW since I have made no further efforts in preparing.
I am my own worst enemy.
Now that Corey is coming home, we can finally finish the bathroom, all of the things we couldn’t do before he left, and all of the things I couldn’t do on my own—not a whole lot, actually. Still, unfinished is unfinished.
I have the strangest feeling that I have forgotten to do something really important, but I have no idea as to what it might be.
“While the earth breaks the soft horizon eastward, we study how to deserve what has already been given us.” ~ William Stafford, from “Love in the Country”
On a more serious note . . .
I think that my mother is deteriorating mentally faster. I have noticed more things in just the last few weeks.
I really need to investigate what kind (if any) of support there is for seniors, as far as keeping house, running errands, that kind of thing.
We are not a society that values the aged, not like the Asians do.
I constantly berate myself for not having enough patience with my mother, yet when I’m around her, I just cannot seem to summon the patience I need.
I feel like a horrible daughter.
I am praying to the gods that be that I can teach myself more of how to live in the moment, something I have never quite mastered.
Am I too old to learn such things?
When I am with Olivia, I am forcing my mind to rest, not to think about this bill or that problem, but to just enjoy this time because I know all too well that it passes quickly.
I would give anything to have another fall afternoon with all three of my children when they were still young.
I happened upon the most wonderful site: Lancaster Center for Classical Studies, which posted pictures of cloudy weather for today, just as I have here. I wonder if they do that every day . . .
More later. Peace.
Music by Rosi Golan and Johnny McDaid, “Give up the Ghost”
You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or in the silence after lightning before it says
its names — and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles — you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head —
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.
“There is a fissure in my vision and madness will always rush through. Lean over me, at the bedside of my madness, and let me stand without crutches.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from “House of Incest”
Friday, late afternoon. Cloudy, drizzle, liquid humidity, 80 degrees.
Now on day 8 of this particular migraine. Would someone please explain to me how this is even possible? My body is so full of pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, steroids, Botox, and nausea medication that I couldn’t pass a drug test in any quarter of this world, yet I am still in pain. Added to this was a brand new twist with my vision—as in I was rendered temporarily blind, could only see lines for about 15 seconds.
Very, very freaky.
Do not like stuff messing with my vision. I remember well the onset of a migraine while I was out on my daily walk (years ago when I did that); suddenly, layers were coming off the hot street, and I saw horizontal bands everywhere. Today’s visual anomaly was a hundred times more unsettling.
Not good. Not good at all. So I’m sitting here typing blind, hoping that my fingers on are on the right keys because I’m trying not to focus on anything.
“When I can’t make you understand I repeat myself I repeat
If you don’t stop asking me all these questions how Will I understand anything” ~ Robert Polito, from “Please Refrain from Talking During the Movie”
Monday evening. Sunny, hot and humid, 90 degrees.
Obviously, never got back to the post on Friday. So many good things have happened since then that I feel a need to share them with you . . .
Let’s see, first, I’m having a severe reaction to the Botox, at least that’s what I think it is. I cannot get my doctor’s office to return my call, so let’s just hope that I don’t go into anaphylactic shock over this. The soft tissue above my eyebrows is very swollen; my cheeks feel taut, and I cannot open my mouth all the way. My eyes feel as if something is inside both of them burning. I looked up my symptoms and it’s either the Botox, or an extreme mold reaction, or cellulitis. All good things . . .
But believe it or not, this is the good news. You see, we have water damage and rot down to the joists. Yes, the joists. You know those big pieces of lumber that keep the house up, that make it possible for the house not to sink into the crawl space, the ones that are long and unwieldy. Yes, the joists.
I tried to put this into perspective for Corey by telling him that had we hired a contractor, that discovery would have tacked on at least another $6k to the job. Perspective is not exactly what he’s looking for. Help would be the operative word. I cannot help in the wood replacement, just don’t have the strength. It’s definitely not a one-person job. At times like these, Corey really misses his brothers and cousins, all of whom are very, very handy.
“A trap is only a trap if you don’t know about it. If you know about it, it’s a challenge.” ~ China Miéville, from King Rat
We knew we had water damage, and we suspected that it was in the studs, but not the joists. That just seems too traumatic somehow. It’s a wonder that no one fell through the floor before now. If you could only see this—it’s amazing in it’s thoroughness, complete and total breakdown of the foundation. It’s everywhere.
As I sit here, I can actually feel all of the muscles in the top of my back and shoulder contracting. What does anaphylactic shock look like? I know. I’m a drama queen, but hey, now’s the time, if ever.
So in between trying to identify my symptoms as some new rare disease, I’m researching joist repair, adding it to the list of E-How printouts that are piling up on the dining room table. We might get to tiling sometime next week. Meantime, did I mention this is our only bathroom? Only. Bathroom.
I’ve raised three children, three teenagers with only one bathroom. It seemed like quite an achievement before. Now the real achievement is that no one has been killed by the structural failure that is our house.
“Your home is regarded as a model home, your life as a model life. But all this splendor, and you along with it… it’s just as though it were built upon a shifting quagmire. A moment may come, a word can be spoken, and both you and all this splendor will collapse.” ~ Henrik Ibsen, from A Doll House
I don’t know. Somehow, I’m not really terribly surprised by this turn of events. Our life tends to unfold based on the application of Murphy’s law and all of its corollaries. Not by choice, mind you, but by happenstance. I knew that once we pulled things up and off that what lay beneath would be ugly, but I never thought that it would look like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie in which basic structures have disintegrated into something indeterminate.
Anyway, as I try to complete this post it is now Tuesday, but I saw no point in declaring that with yet another subhead. I stopped writing this post last night to go and cook dinner and then got completely distracted in researching joist replacement, calculating wood needed, etcetera ad nauseum.
This whole project has turned into one massive pain in the tuckus. The only good thing that I can say about all of this is that I am so glad we are undertaking this at a time in which finding out the correct way to do something is only a mouse click away. I cannot imagine trying to do a major renovation without Internet access. By the way, the people who frequent DIY forums are seriously serious about their opinions. Every thread that I have followed has had some element of one-upsmanship as well as snarky comments along the lines of “I can’t believe you just told X to do that! Everyone knows that’s now how you do it!”
Just want to point out that most of the DIY forums are inhabited by people with XY chromosomes. Perhaps that’s why there is so much competition, such a need to have a bigger . . . wrench (not saying that women aren’t competitive, so don’t even go there).
“I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken—and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.” ~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
I suppose I’ll close with a bit of good news: My doctor’s office finally called me back yesterday evening to reassure me that I am not suffering from a progressive case of anaphylactic shock (which I knew, really, I did, it was just the whole vision thing), just good old side effects from the Botox. My eyebrows aren’t quite as huge today, and the lower half of my face/neck/throat no longer feels as if it’s closing.
You know, I really just want to take a Xanax and lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, and since Brett is on campus, and Corey is out buying wood, I just might do that. I mean, I began the day by taking a shower at my mother’s house, which is enough of a story for a post of its own, and the day does not promise to get any better as the hours pass, so why not just bypass all of that? Don’t you agree? I thought that you might.
Besides, if I can’t float in the pool (because of the prednizone and sun being a bad mixture), and I can’t soak in the tub because it’s in a box in the living room, I’ll just have to settle for thinking abou floating in these natural pools until my skin is all wrinkly.
More later. Peace.
*All images are of the Natural Rock Pools of Pamukkale, Turkey.
Music by Future of Forestry, “Someone”
These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out
This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it
The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world