“The smell of the sea swept over the wall and in through the empty window-hole, wide and wile with a million intoxicating secrets. I don’t trust that smell. It hooks us somewhere deeper than reason or civilization, in the fragments of our cells that rocked in oceans before we had minds, and it pulls till we follow mindlessly as rutting animals . . . That smell is bad medicine. It lures us to leap off high cliffs, fling ourselves on towering waves, leave behind everyone we love and face into thousands of miles of open water for the sake of what might be on the far shore.” ~ Tana French, from Broken Harbor
I dreamed I had a migraine. I tried to give myself a shot. The first shot didn’t work because I had twisted the cap. The second shot worked, and it didn’t hurt at all. It was all a dream. I awoke with the migraine and gave myself a shot that was indeed just as painful as I had anticipated.
I had recorded these quotes from Tana French’s book Broken Harbor because I thought they were just beautiful, but I never did anything with them. So instead of waiting for my words to use with her words, I decided I’d just put her words out there and let that be sufficient.
“The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen.” ~ Tana French, from Broken Harbor
Dublin murder squad books by French:
In the Woods
The Secret Place (September 2014)
“Geri bent back long blades of grass one by one and scooped away handfuls of sand like she was freeing something that could shatter.” ~ Tana French, from Broken Harbor
The timing of this post as related to my earlier post about Ireland is pure coincidence. I have never had any real hankering to see Dublin, and in my mind, Dublin is colorless, no grand swaths of green, hence the black and white images.
“I live my own life and nurse my own wounds. It’s not the best way to live. But it’s the way I am.” ~ Jeffrey Eugenides, from Middlesex
Early Wednesday evening. Cloudy, 56 degrees.
Last night I had a cousin dream again. At first, we were in a high school, and we heard shooting, so two of us hid in a classroom beneath a science fair project. I thought it was a stupid place to hide. The gunman came into the room and just stood there. I tried not to breathe.
Then somehow we got away, and then we were on a ship, and the ship was constructed so that all of the decks opened onto the middle of the ship, which was a swimming pool, and I thought about jumping from the third deck down into the pool but then decided against it, especially after these figures in white robes began to round up all of the people in the pool. The robed people didn’t have faces. Then it was time to eat, but there wasn’t any food except for pears.
Then the scene changed and Corey and I were on some wildlife preserve on an island, and we had no idea how big the preserve was, and we were walking on these trails, and suddenly I was attacked by a giant frog that was the size of a small dog, and Corey was running from frogs and foxes. I finally found a map of the island and realized that we were never going to find our way back.
Make of it what you will, I only know that too much was going on, and I was so tired afterwards.
“I’m writing against my own blankness, to record this life that I’m living mostly lonely or hopeful.” ~ Nate Pritts, from “All Those Sweet Things”
I’ve had a hard time focusing lately. When I sit down to write, nothing comes. I’m thinking about a million different things: the situation in Steubenville, Ohio, the prevalence of rape culture throughout the world, whether or not what I write here is writing, the idea of privacy in a world filled with technological gadgets that wash away any veneer of privacy to which we might aspire, and how I’m so tired that there actually exists a school of thought that the concept of feminism is just another word for lesbianism.
Can you understand why I cannot focus? I have so very much to say, so many thoughts bouncing around in my head, but I am as yet unable to focus enough to write intelligently about any of it. Not to mention the whole thing about me having to take care of the bills and make the telephone calls and straighten out why my health insurance was cancelled once again and how that affected my upcoming doctor’s appointments and my medication refills . . . in other words—blech, double blech.
I did get a bit of a boost when I read selected sections of Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Reading these published writers when they talk about how they write always affects me in two ways: At first I am excited, and then I’m depressed, first because what they have to say makes so much sense, then the downside of realizing that the perch from which they speak is one share by that group of writers of which I hold no membership—the published writer who is selling his/her work.
“Over time, the ghosts of things that happened start to turn distant; once they’ve cut you a couple of million times, their edges blunt on your scar tissue, they wear thin. The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen.” ~ Tana French, from Broken Harbor
I also fear that one of my new medications is messing with my head as well as my body. Since I don’t know a lot about Verelan, I looked it up, and of course, I have a host of the side effects, but mostly the ones dealing with stomach upset and pain.
Have I mentioned lately how very much I hate medications, doctors, medical tests, the medical industry in general, the medical treatment we receive, ya da ya da ya da? My neighbor’s elderly mother fell a few weeks ago and hit her head. She suffered from dementia. When when she got to the hospital, she must have told them she didn’t have insurance. She did. But the hospital was quick to do a CT scan and then send her home. Her son did not think she should be sent home. Then he noticed that her discharge papers said self-pay. He called to straighten out the insurance problem. Meanwhile, she got very sick at home, wouldn’t eat, and ended up having a fatal stroke.
The MRI was not done on her until the second time she was taken in, and by then, it was really too late. She was 95. I would see her out in her yard pulling weeds. She talked to anyone who would listen. When her son tried to tell the hospital people that his mother was definitely not acting normally, they told him that they found no problems with the CT scan and insisted on discharging her.
I suppose I am lucky. I am still cogent and ornery enough that I insist on knowing what’s going on with my treatment. I won’t be ignored. But the stress of fighting for inherent rights as a patient certainly does not add to overall well-being.
“It is this backward motion toward the source, Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in, The tribute of the current to the source. It is from this in nature we are from. It is most us.” ~ Robert Frost, from “West Running Brook”
And then there are the raccoons. I know that I’ve mentioned them before, how Corey thought they were cute. Well . . . they are not huge, and they are doing terribly non-cute things like eating bags of dry dog food and opening the tubs in which we store chips and bread. Not cute, definitely not cute. These things are so fat that it sounds as if they are going to come crashing through the ceiling. Something has to be done. I have a solution but not the means by which to implement it.
And then there is the dry rot. I know in my heart of hearts we have dry rot forming beneath our bathroom because of the leaky tub. Corey doesn’t like to go beneath the house, and I don’t blame him, but if we don’t do some shoring up soon, one day I’m going to be in the shower and the whole bathtub is going to fall through the floor. Of course I will be the one in the tub when it happens because that is my own personal Murphy’s Law at work.
I know. I know. Bitch, bitch, bitch, but really, my head feels as if it’s going to explode from all of the worrying that I’m doing over these things—large and small. Add to this, of course, my ongoing worries about eldest son and his total and complete lack of direction in life as well as his significant drinking, my worries about youngest son and what he’s going to do with his life, worries about daughter and her continued withdrawal, worries about my mother who seems to be in the initial throes of Alzheimer’s.
It’s too much, I tell you. Too much.
“I am the shore and the ocean, awaiting myself on both sides.” ~ Dejan Stojanovic, from The Shape
And at times such as these I think longingly of that other generation of writers, the ones who subsisted on booze and cigarettes, the ones who never seemed to care how much or how little money they had, and still they pressed on, putting their words down on paper, sending them out, getting published, being read. I think of Carson McCullers and her penchant for drinking bourbon for breakfast, and a wee small part of me wishes that I could live with such abandon, but of course, I cannot because, well because that’s just not a healthy way to live, and I know that I couldn’t do that to myself.
Two weird memories came to me in the car on the way home from taking Brett to campus today (will he ever learn to drive???). I heard the song “Closing Time,” which I heard for the first time many years ago when I was on a blind date with a firefighter. A teacher with whom I taught at the public school was married to a firefighter, and he had a friend who was looking for someone to date. Natch, a blind date was arranged. He was a very nice man, soft-spoken, attractive, and I felt absolutely no attraction to him whatsoever. I couldn’t wait for the night to be over, and I didn’t give him my telephone number. Of course, my automatic guilt mechanism kicked in and I wondered if I should have given him a chance, but I held firm.
The second memory came immediately after when the song “Come My Lady” came on the radio, and it was one of the first songs to which Corey and I danced, and he has always called me his butterfly. If I had gone on a second date with the firefighter, would I have ever made it to the point at which another man would call me his butterfly? Thankfully, I don’t really have to worry about that one.
More later. Peace.
All images by British painter Peter Wileman, President of the Royal Institute of Oil Pointers.
Music by Erin McCarley, “What I Needed”
Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.
Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren’t good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.
But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.
Moonlight over Sandesfjorden by eivindtjohei (FCC)
Note: I could not get my computer to work yesterday evening, so this post is backdated. Sorry . . .
“I desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world.” ~ James Joyce, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Thursday afternoon. Very humid, mid 80’s.
I showered today. To most of you, this might not seem like such a big deal, but since yesterday I never made it out of my pajamas, and spent almost the entire day in bed, it’s a big deal for me.
So much has gone on in recent days that I feel as if I’ve run a marathon in combat boots: my entire body aches and is rebelling at just the idea of sitting here.
We found out the total amount needed to bring our mortgage current plus the attorney’s fees, and it isn’t pretty. I had to tap a source that I really did not want to tap, a relative (indirectly). Not my mother as she does not have the funds, nor do I want to have to hear from her about what a failure I am again. Unfortunately, this source could very easily let slip to my mother what’s going on.
I know that I just have to suck it up and deal with whatever fall-out there is, but the thought of the what-ifs is significantly adding to my stress level. This whole mortgage fiasco is beyond anything we have faced in years. The idea that I could lose this house—as old and decrepit as it is—just breaks my heart. The idea that we could become displaced scares the crap out of me. So if I can secure the funds from someone who is willing to help, I cannot allow my pride to stand in the way.
“I count the clouds others count the seasons Dreaming of archipelagos and the desert I have lived through weeks of years.” ~ Susan Howe, from “Hinge Picture”
Oddly enough, I began the week on a good note, but that was doomed to pass quickly.
I saw Dr. K. on Monday and talked out the whole issue of going back to work, the possible risks and possible benefits. I told her that I would be pursuing this particular position purely for the money, not because I’m interested in the job itself. She then put it to me in a way that I could really appreciate: If I went back to work for a job that I was not invested in emotionally, a job—just a job—then the chances of my health problems being exacerbated would be greater than if I went back to work for something that really meant a lot to me, like a university teaching position.
When she put it that way, it made complete sense to me. Sometimes it takes an objective third party to make you see what’s been in front of you the entire time, the reality of it all.
And for me, the reality is that if I could go back to teaching English for a college or university, I wouldn’t care about the salary because I would be doing something that I really love.
Anyway, that was Monday. It’s been downhill, full speed ever since.
“I am not good at noticing when I’m happy, except in retrospect. My gift, or fatal flaw, is for nostalgia. I have sometimes been accused of demanding perfection, of rejecting heart’s desires as soon as I get close enough . . . I know very well that perfection is made up of frayed, off-struck mundanities. I suppose you could say my real weakness is a kind of long-sightedness: usually it is only at a distance, and much too late, that I can see the pattern.” ~ Tana French, from In the Woods
I’ve been trying not to just sit around and eat chocolate, even though it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Those 90-calorie fiber brownies? Yep, those? They taste like powdered cardboard. They’ll do in a pinch just to get the flavor of chocolate near the taste buds, but as far as filling that need for chocolatey smoothness . . . nope, not even close.
Then there are the 100-calorie snack packages. Do you know how many chocolate chip cookie thingies they put in one package? Eight, and they are the size of a quarter. Yep, 100 calories of pure chocolate air.
What I want is a carton of some kind of Ben and Jerry’s, preferably with the highest fat content possible, and a big spoon, and no one around to see me indulge. That or a bag of Pepperidge Farms cookies. Those would be good too.
Instead, I’ll just sit here and type and hope the cravings go far, far away. Men simply do not understand the whole chocolate thing. It’s not just for PMS. It’s for stress. It’s for depression. It’s for happiness. It’s for celebration. It’s dopamine with calories. Given a choice between Godiva and heroin? Godiva, hands down. Adult acne be damned.
“A dreamer is one who can only find their way by moonlight, and their punishment is that they see the dawn before the rest of the world.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Well, that little interlude helped a bit, that is until I remembered that yet another Law & Order franchise has been ruined for me. “Law & Order UK” killed off the Matt Devlin character, played by Jamie Bamber (who was also Apollo in “Battlestar Gallactica”). I loved him. I was already pissed at the loss of Ben Daniels, whose Crown Prosecutor James Steel was as sharp as Linus Roache’s character of Michael Cutter.
Bamber’s departure comes as a result of his casting on “Precinct 17,” of which I know absolutely nothing.
And “Law & Order SVU” is also going down the tubes with the departure of Christopher Meloni and the addition of two new cast members. Okay, so this is not important in the grand scheme of things, but as I am a diehard fan of all things L&O (with the exception of LA, which I cannot bring myself to like), the loss of the original, the tossup of SVU, and the big changes to UK make me terribly unhappy, which, as you know, is so unusual for me.
“It’s like morphine, language is. A fearful habit to form: you become a bore to all who would otherwise cherish you. Of course, there is the chance that you may be hailed as a genius after you are dead long years, but what is that to you . . . Time? Time? Why worry about something that takes care of itself so well? You were born with the habit of consuming time. Be satisfied with that.” ~ William Faulkner, Mosquitoes
So, here I sit. The house is quiet. Everyone is at school or at work. Everyone, that is, except for me and the dogs and the dust bunnies . . . I’m sitting here with the sun in my eyes, the afternoon sun that is streaming through Eamonn’s bedroom window. If I do that thing that kids do, you now, close my eyes almost all the way, then I can see light refracting off my eyelashes.
Remember when you first discovered how to do that? I don’t either.
For some reason, I cannot get my YouTube to work at the moment. I keep getting a 502 error, whatever that is, whenever I set a playlist to play. I tried signing back in, but nothing. So I don’t have a song for this post, which is okay, I suppose, as I don’t yet have a theme in mind for the images to go with the words. It’s that kind of post: disjointed, fragmented, bumpy.
I prefer for my posts to be like the kind of ride you get in an Infiniti, or something along those lines: smooth, comfortable, almost quiet. Instead, I have a 4×4 kind of post going on, and I keep hitting all of the potholes. My suspension is shot, and I’m badly in need of a tune-up.
Oh well, never going to own that muscle car that I always dreamed of having. You know, the one with the motor that growls low at stop lights, the one that slides in and out of cars. Nope. Not going to happen . . . ever. A muscle car needs to be low to the ground, something that my body just won’t do. No black Ford Mustang with a sunroof and speakers that make my tummy vibrate. Just please don’t put me in a white sedan. I think that would be the end of me.
What am I going on about? Who the hell knows.
More later. Peace.
Music by Tom Waits, “The Part You Throw Away”
“Since I last wrote summer has gone. It’s autumn. Now Jack brings home from his walks mushrooms and autumn crocuses. Little small girls knock at the door with pears to sell & blue black plums. The hives have been emptied; there’s new honey and the stars look almost frosty. Speaking of stars reminds me—we were sitting on the balcony last night. It was dark. These huge fir trees ‘take’ the darkness marvellously. We had just counted four stars & remarked a light, high up—what was it? on the mountains opposite, when suddenly from far away a little bell began ringing. Someone played a tune on it—something gay, merry, ancient, over and over. I suppose it was some priest or lay brother in a mountain village. But what we felt was—it’s good to think such things still happen to think some peasant goes off in the late evening & delights to play that carillon. I sometimes have a fear that simple hearted people are no more. I was ashamed of that fear last night. The little bell seemed to say, but joyfully: ‘Be not afraid. All is not lost.’” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from a letter to Richard Murray, September 5th, 1921
Isn’t Daniel Craig dreamy? There were no calendars like that available, and besides, I don’t buy man candy calendars. That would be sexist . . .
Just Like Books, You Can Never Have Too Many Calendars
So today, we did one of my favorite after-Christmas things: We went to Barnes & Noble to scope out the 50 percent off calendars. Now some years, I buy calendars for everyone before Christmas and wrap them as presents, but lately, I’ve found that buying them after Christmas is not only more cost effective, but it also allows the kids to pick out the calendars that they want as opposed to my buying what I think they might want—big difference.
I mean, when they were smaller, it was pretty easy: Thomas the Tank Engine, or then later, Sponge Bob, or something like that. But now, they have branched out. This year, Brett picked out a calendar with black and white pictures of trees. This after first picking up a star chart, then a night sky calendar.
Eamonn shopped by phone. His first choice was a Red Sox calendar, but sports calendars sell fast; then he wanted a Venice calendar (?), no Venice, but could I interest you in a landscapes of Italy? No. Then I remembered that he liked motivational quotes. I mentioned that. He wanted to know if it was too girlie, so I had to describe the pictures. That one seemed to meet his approval.
Moving on to Alexis. She has pretty eclectic tastes. One year it was Jimmy Hendrix, the next Bob Marley. Far Side always works. This year, I knew that I could win with a Family Guy, so I grabbed what appeared to be the only one in the store. I could not find, however, a daily planner, lots and lots of weekly ones, but no daily ones. That search was quickly sapping the little energy I had left (we had made two stops before Barnes & Noble). Not to mention, my daughter is very persnickety about her planners; i.e., they must be a certain size with the pages laid out in a certain way. No way I was going to chance that one.
Then it was my turn. I used to buy four calendars: one for work, one for the kitchen, one for the bedroom, and one for my purse. Now I don’t have to buy one for work, even though I dreamed this morning that I had to go back to work on Monday for a former female boss whom I absolutely loathed, and I hadn’t done any of the projects that I was supposed to do while I was out of work. Don’t you hate those kinds of dreams?
We won’t discuss the number of calendars that I actually ordered at work or you might think that my OCD was/is truly out of control. And it was three, by the way, not counting the one that I brought from home, or the one that I had in my purse. And yes, I used all of them . . . moving right along . . .
So I found my first calendar right away, the kitchen calendar: it was an orchid calendar, beautiful miniature orchids in very simple vases with lots of open light. The bedroom calendar was giving me fits. That’s the one that I write all of my doctor’s appointments on and keep on the wall next to the computer, so it needs to have fairly big boxes, and be of good quality paper. I also need to like it a lot. I looked at the motivational one that I had picked out for Eamonn, which is why I knew about it in the first place.
I looked at other flower calendars, a Celtic calendar, a wildlife calendar, a fairy calendar (I like fairies if they don’t look too overdone), and a Dalai Lama calendar. I knew that I wasn’t in the mood for a country (as in Italy or France or whatever, which I’ve had before) or an animal (which I’ve also done before). What I really wanted was black and white, and the only one that I had seen was the tree one that Brett grabbed. And then there it was, on the bottom shelf of course where it is hard for me to bend down to see, a black and white Zen calendar. I grabbed it and put it in the basket.
Then I picked up a small weekly planner for my purse to duplicate all of the doctor’s appointments, etc. But I still manage to confuse times and days somehow, even though I check the calendar on the wall and the calendar in my purse. Don’t ask me how I do that because I’m still trying to figure it out. And don’t suggest that I use the calendar on the computer, because I’ve done that, too, with the reminder system and everything. I still show up at the doctor’s office on the wrong day or at the wrong time because I really don’t remember what day it is.
I didn’t have this problem so much when I worked because my body clock was set the same as normal people’s, but when you find yourself finally closing your eyes at 5:35 in the morning, it’s hard to be in sync with the rest of the world, and unlike one of my regular correspondents who can get by on four (4!) hours of sleep a night, I now need at least 9.
What’s really hard to believe is that I used to get by on five hours of sleep without any problem, and I would wake up early on purpose to get in at least 30 minutes of work out time, including 150 crunches every week day morning. This was when I was a single mom and had to fit in the work of two parents into one parent’s body.
You adapt. Then, I was buff and strong. Now, I’m a slug.
So back to Barnes & Noble . . . Brett and Corey are off looking for reading material because Brett has decided to try to spend less time playing video games and more time reading, and I am trying to find just one book (which is very restrained of me): the sequel of Into the Woods by Tana French. I don’t know the name of the sequel, but I know that it is out because of Publisher’s Weekly, a really wonderful online publication that I receive that keeps me up-to-date on new releases and things that are happening in the publishing world.
So Corey finds out from the help desk that the sequel is indeed out, that there is supposed to be one in the store, and an associate walks him over to where the book is supposed to be located, but of course, it is not there. Of course it isn’t because I could spend all day in bed tomorrow reading it. It would be wonderful. I can just imagine it. Ah me. Reading nirvana.
By the way, if you like mysteries, read Into the Woods. It’s a first novel by French, and it is masterfully written. I finished it, and I started having a tantrum to which Corey asked, “What’s wrong now?”
“It’s just not fair,” I whined in my most petulant only child voice. “This is her first book, and it’s wonderful. And, it’s a cliffhanger. I hate her and I want to be her.” Yes, Lola logic at work once again.
So we left the store with just one little problem: I set off the security alarm, which I had done when I walked in. I had asked the people at the checkout to scan my purse and explained to them that I had set off the alarm when I came in, and when I entered and left Kohl’s and had no idea why. They obligingly scanned my purse, said there was nothing there, asked if my coat was new, to which I replied, “nope.” We walked out the door perplexed until I realized that I was wearing new jeans that Corey had bought me for Christmas from Old Navy. Maybe there was a magnetic strip somewhere inside one of the seams?
Why me? When I get home, I take off the jeans, and lo and behold, there is one of those bulky tags that says, “remove before washing.” It’s one of the new security tags. No wonder I’m setting off alarms. I’m just glad that I look too much like a goofball to be thrown to the ground and manhandled by some security guard because my back couldn’t take it.
Speaking of Kohl’s, Brett’s jeans were exchanged, and so ends the great Levi’s 569 saga of 2008. Let peace reign again. I left a message on his father’s voice mail and told him that we were near a Kohl’s (true) and that we exchanged the jeans without any problems (also true), so everything was taken care of (also true). Now if he can accept that, everything can be fine. (We’ll see).
Also ends the great calendar quest as well as the jeans saga of 2008 as we approach the end of the year, and I have to say that I am awaiting 2009 fervently hoping that I can find a curse breaker to end this long-running streak of bad juju that has befallen our family. If you know of any good curse breakers who aren’t complete frauds and charlatans, ask them to send some good juju my way.