“We are as forlorn as children lost in the woods. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours?” ~ Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollak
Friday afternoon. Sunny, hot, and humid.
It is beginning to hit me—the insidious thing called grief—waves of sorrow and sadness and regret and loss, pouring over me. I hear it in the strains of the music playing in the background. I see it in the brilliance of the late summer day. I feel it in the silence of the walls surrounding me.
I do not like this.
I wish that there were a lantern festival somewhere in the area. You know, the festivals to honor the dead in which participants float paper lanterns, sometimes with personal messages, sometimes not. I’ve always thought that these festivals are beautiful homages to the spirits.
Speaking of homages, yesterday, I spent hours and hours working on the family pictures for the college. Perfectionist that I am, I could not simply place the pictures onto an 11×14 rectangle. I had to despeckle, fix the contrast, touch up the color. I added a border around each picture, something that should have been quite simple but was not because I have forgotten how to place pictures into frames, and the copy of Photoshop that is on this particular computer is not my full version from Adobe, but rather a temporary version which Brett downloaded.
It’s better than nothing, but aggravating in its limits nonetheless.
I finished the collage around 10 last night. It’s a huge jpeg file. Corey is going to take the disk to have the enlargement and prints made for me because, of course, I could not upload the file onto the Costco site. I acquiesced rather than spend another hour trying to figure out why I could not upload. Then I went and threw up. In the past few days, I have been living on anti-nausea medication and muscle relaxers. Neither are working.
“A life is such a strange object, at one moment translucent, at another utterly opaque, an object I make with my own hands, an object imposed on me, an object for which the world provides the raw material and then steals it from me again, pulverized by events, scattered, broken, scored yet retaining its unity; how heavy it is and how inconsistent . . .” ~ Simone de Beauvoir
To say that I slept fitfully when I actually slept is, alas, understatement. I turned off the television around 2 a.m. The last time I allowed myself to look at the clock it was 4:30. The dogs sensed my restlessness and acted accordingly: they got up and down all night, and I got up and down with them, walking to the back door to let them out, only for them to sit down at the door and look at me expectantly. My patience was sorely tried.
I had to get up early to take Brett and Em to ODU, and I’m afraid I drove while unconscious, or at least it seemed that way. I only remember one part of the drive, the part at which I had to pass police and rescue cars surrounding a pedestrian who had been hit by a car. The universe is fucking with me.
I came home and rubbed Blue Emu into as much of my back and neck that I could reach, took muscle relaxers and ibuprofen, and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.
All of the knots that were released by the trigger shots on Tuesday are back, probably thanks to the floor cleaning and then sitting at the computer for half a day. I am my own worst enemy. I could go back to the pain doctor today and probably need another 18 trigger shots. My wrist is marginally okay, as long as I don’t turn it certain ways, the same with the neck—limited range of motion. I realized last night that I was walking through the house with my shoulders hunched.
Did I mention that I’m losing my voice as well? Perfect, absolutely perfect.
Last night (this morning?) I had a Dillard’s dream, which is usually what I dream when I am intensely stressed. I had been accused of saying something that I hadn’t said, lots of drama. Blah, blah, blah.
In the midst of trying to steel myself to take another look at the eulogy that I wrote a few weeks ago, I’ve been going around with my health insurance people who told my neurologist that they couldn’t find me in the system to approve my Botox injections for migraines. However, when I called the health insurance people, they found me just fine. Forget the Botox and just give me a hammer.
I need to make changes to the eulogy, but since I’ve already had one meltdown this afternoon, I dread opening the file. But I’m out of time. Tomorrow is the service. I need to iron dress shirts and pants for Corey, Eamonn, and Brett. Eamonn cannot find his dress shoes, of course. What other crap can happen? Please, let it rain down on me now so that I can just get this over with, seriously.
Apparently, there is a dead sea turtle floating near where Corey is working today. I’m glad that he did not send me a picture of it as I happen to love sea turtles, think they are beautiful creatures. He called the local marine institute, and they are coming out to retrieve the body. Encounters with dead things. Perfect.
Do I believe in omens? You bet I do.
“Pale Death with impartial tread beats at the poor man’s cottage door and at the palaces of Kings.” ~ Horace
I think that I’m running out of steam. The other sections of this post wrote themselves. Then I got up to check the dryer, folded some clothes, came back, and now I find myself staring at the screen, which, without my glasses, looks like a mass of white with black blurry lines and a few blocks of color here and there.
I don’t wear my glasses when I write as I have no need to seen either the screen or the keyboard. I look when I’m inserting the images and deciding on a color for the headers. Other than that, I just let my fingers serve as a direct conduit to my brain, my thoughts. Looking just means that I focus, and when I focus, I lose the thread of what I was saying.
I have my blues playlist running in the background—Tom Waits, Melody Gardot, B. B. King. Anything else would grate on my nerves. The songs come in and out of my consciousness, sometimes hearing, sometimes not. But right now, Waits’s scratchy voice has entered into my consciousness, and I am close to tears again. That’s the kind of voice that he has, full of sadness and melancholy. Corey asks me why I do this, torture myself. He doesn’t understand that these sad, melancholy songs are sometimes the only thing that serve me well.
It’s hard to explain, but my playlists are the soundtrack for my life, sometimes full of catchy melodies, sometimes heavy with nostalgia, and sometimes, just pure gut-wrenching.
Today is a gut-wrenching kind of day. Having said that, I suppose I should just go ahead and open the wound a little more and take a look at my eulogy. If I put if off any longer, it’s going to be night, people will be in the house, I won’t be able to concentrate.
More later. Peace.
Music by Kate Rusby, “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?”
Try to Praise the Mutilated World
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
~ Adam Zagajewski (Translated, from the Polish, by Clare Cavanagh
Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles: Number 11 (1952, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Australia)
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Monday afternoon. Not too hot, mid-80’s, sunny.
It’s been a long six days since I last posted, during which I have wanted to post several times, but for various reasons, have been unable to do so. In finishing the big furniture shuffle, we have the house in better shape, but as usual, I overdid it and was down for several days. Have I mentioned how much I hate the fact that I have to rest for days after I clean my house or do anything strenuous (not strenuous for most people)? Sucks, really.
Of course, the last room to be put back together is our bedroom, and once again, half of it is in order, and half of it isn’t. Since we moved my desk into Eamonn’s room, I was left with various items without a home, so to speak. But I took the opportunity to throw away more stuff and to clean the stuff that I’m keeping. Hence, the overexertion.
As I mentioned, on Tuesday everyone went to Bush Gardens, and they seemed to have a good time, although everyone came home tired and grouchy, which is always the case after spending ten to twelve hours in the heat. Thankfully, it wasn’t too crowded, so they didn’t have to wait in long lines.
Last Thursday, Phillip and a few of Eamonn’s buds came over to hang out. Corey and Phillip ended up playing XBox at 2 in the morning. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Then Friday night Corey, Phillip, Patrick, Lucas, and Shawn (Patrick’s former aide) went out for a boys’ night out. And Saturday, we all got together at the beach house before the Germans were to leave on Sunday.
By the way, Phillip corrected the usage of the phrase the Germans to describe our relatives who live in Germany because as he pointed out, he and Hannah were born in the U.S. and have dual citizenship. I just found it amusing that after I had been mulling over the correctness of using such a collective he made a point of negating it. He is very much like his father in being exact about things.
Anyway, they were to leave yesterday, but because of severe weather in the north, all flights in the direction were delayed three hours, which would have made them miss their connecting flight. And in addition, Patrick’s wheelchair and a few other necessities were locked in the trunk of the rental car along with the keys. It was not the best day for them. As it turns out, they left today. I did not go to the airport as I’m still feeling melancholy and sad, and frankly, I did not want to say goodbye again.
“It is so hard to learn to put sadness in perspective so hard to understand that it is a feeling that comes in degrees, it can be a candle burning gently and harmlessly in your home, or it can be a full-fledged forest fire that destroy almost everything and is controlled by almost nothing. It can also be so much in-between.” ~ Elizabeth Wurtzel
Corey had to work both first and third shift yesterday, so he is sleeping today. When I got out of bed today, I could barely move because my back was so stiff, and it made me feel so old and decrepit. Hate that too.
A few nights ago, I kept smelling something burning, and for a brief second, I thought the house was on fire. Turns out the fires in the Great Dismal Swamp are still burning, and the wind had shifted, resulting in a very smokey evening for our area. My asthma was quite irritated, and we had all of the fans in the house turning to try to clear the house. But it resulted in yet another evening of restless sleep for me as I actually had to use my inhaler twice during the night, which is quite unusual for me.
I haven’t mentioned it yet because as I said I haven’t really been able to write, but my other m-in-law is in the hospital. It seems that she developed a high fever, and Ann was with her in the emergency room last Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning. She has a UTI and an infection in her lungs, but thankfully, not pneumonia. She is doing better, but I haven’t been to see her yet, which really makes me feel like crap.
Ann has decided to move her mom from the rehab home that she was in, and I am so glad. My line of thinking is that someone should have noticed that she was ill before she spiked such a high fever. And the fact is that I spotted pus in her catheter line and told the nursing staff that she had a UTI the last time, and even then, it took two days before they tested her. Ann has found a place that is closer to home, and she toured it the other day. Another good thing is that the request can be made not to have any male attendants, which is also a relief.
“There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.” ~ Hermann Hesse
Last night I dreamed that the crazy woman I used to work with called me just to talk, and I knew that it wasn’t just to talk. I knew that she wanted something from me, but I could not figure out what. Then the dream shifted, and I was supposed to get on a flight with a bunch of Jedi younglings, and I knew that Darth Vader was going to be on the flight. Darth and I decided not to fight on the flight because of all of the children who could get hurt, and he took off his helmet. The whole Jedi thing probably came from my watching part of Men Who Stare at Goats before going to sleep.
A totally silly movie, but I love Ewan McGregor. I may watch the rest of the movie tonight, but really, it was more to pass the time than anything.
Undoubtedly, one of the stranger sci-fi dreams I have ever had. Especially since at some point we were on a bus instead of a plane, and the bus driver decided to drive in the water so that we could see all of the creatures in the water around us, and I saw a turtle with long, female legs . . . Not even going to try to decipher this one.
I do remember getting off the bus and seeing a woodchuck in the middle of the road. I startled the woodchuck, and it began to hop. The kids on the bus laughed. Other animals that we saw included a jaguar, a hippo, koi, female lions, and gators. The bus driver recited this litany of animals as she drove maniacally through the water, and no one seemed too bothered that the bus was in the water.
When I’m dreaming things like this, something in my subconscious registers and thinks that the dream would make a good movie or a good book, usually a good book, and then I wake up and think to myself, “Who would buy a book about a bus driving through the water?”
Oh, well . . .
“A doctor once told me I feel too much I said so does god That’s why you can see the grand canyon from the moon” ~ Andrea Gibson, from “Jellyfish”
Last night because I couldn’t sleep I watched the movie Pollock, with Ed Harris in the title role, and Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, his companion/wife/promoter. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while, but I knew that it would be an emotional roller coaster, and it was.
Harris is wonderful as the artist, portraying his struggles in attempting to bring his true vision to the canvas via his drip and splash method (action painting), and Harden won an Academy Award for best supporting actress as Krasner.
I remember the first time that I saw a Pollock painting; I was totally confused. Admittedly, I knew nothing about abstract expressionism and had little appreciation for the movement. But I have found in recent years that my appreciation for Pollock, de Kooning, Diebenkorn, and Rothko has deepened. The lack of a focal composition point makes sense somehow.
What I have come to appreciate is the immediacy of the work done by artists during this period. I’ve never been a fan of Picasso as I find his work to be quite disconcerting, which is what it’s supposed to be. And while I also know that Picasso and other surrealists influenced the abstract Impressionists, cubism befuddles me. Not so Pollock.
The years between 1947 and 1950 Pollock produced the works for which he is most famous. Instead of using brushes, Pollock dripped, flung, and splashed paint; he used sticks, knives, and hardened brushes, among other implements to move his liquid paint onto his huge canvases, which were laid on the floor of his studio.
Pollock maintained that through his technique of working on the floor, he was able to see all sides of his work: “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”
I suppose what appeals to me is how Pollock’s paintings reflect so much of his inner turmoil, how his subconscious defines the art. I can appreciate that. If I were to attempt to paint (which I would not presume to do as I have no talent in that area), the visceral approach employed by Pollock would be something that I might try.
“”The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny—it is the light that guides your way.” ~ Heraclitus
Let’s see . . . what else?
I feel as if I’ve eaten nothing but junk food for a week: chips, crackers, dip, other stuff that’s not healthy. I have been on a fresh fruit binge, though, to try to counteract the empty calories. I need some fresh vegetables, yogurt, and fruit for the next few days.
I seem to have run out of steam for this post. I had another tangent in mind when I began this section, but I drifted off while I was listening to Melody Gardot sing “The Rain.” Her voice is like smokey silk, half what I imagine I sound like but probably do not.
It’s quite easy at this moment to become distracted as clouds are rolling in outside this window, and the room is taking on the hues of dusk. I have my blues playlist running in the background, and the house is fairly quiet. The temperature is dropping, and thankfully, the nights are becoming cooler. It feels a bit like fall, although if you were to ask me exactly why, I could not pinpoint a particular reason.
I would live in fall perpetually given the chance, which is why I believe I am so enamored of living in Ireland. Who knows if that will ever happen. The likelihood is slim as Corey has no desire to leave the country, which I can certainly understand. It’s not that I want to leave this country, but it’s more that I want to live in Ireland, a desire I have long harbored. The history of poet and writers, the verdant landscape, the smaller villages. Of all of the places that I have dreamed about and given character to, Ireland comes the closest to my imaginings, or at least that’s what the people who have been there tell me.
It’s quite easy to build up a scenario in your wild imaginings about how a certain town or country might be, but it’s quite another thing to encounter the brutality of the reality of that place. The few places that I think would actually live up to what I have imagined are Ireland, New Zealand, New South Wales, and perhaps Wales and the Netherlands.
I wonder if I will ever get to compare my imaginings with the realities . . .
More later. Peace.
Music by Tom Waits, “The World Keeps Turning” from the Pollock soundtrack
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.