“The lights dim and everyone moves in amber. They flicker like votives. That’s what we will all be one day, insects in sap, strange jewels.” ~ Vanessa Veselka, Zazen

"Winter" (1902, tempera on canvas)by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
“Winter” (1902, tempera on canvas)
by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

                   

“There’s a space at the bottom of an exhale, a little hitch between taking in and letting out that’s a perfect zero you can go into. There’s a rest point between the heart muscle’s close and open—an instant of keenest living when you’re momentarily dead.  You can rest there.” ~ Mary Karr, from Lit: A Memoir

Wednesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and unseasonably warm, 72 degrees.

Finally got all of my meds refilled, and with the beginning of the year deductible, it almost cost $200. Painful. Everything hasn’t kicked in yet, so I’m still feeling a bit out-of-sorts.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela Snow-Covered Cliffs at Kalela, 1901 tempera on canvas
“Snow-Covered Cliffs at Kalela” (1901, tempera on canvas)
by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

On Monday I allowed myself to get caught up in Dave Cullen’s book Columbine (my other birthday book), and I never wrote a real post; however, I’ve been saving the NASA Gangnam style video for one of those days, so it all worked out. Columbine is an incredible look at the events leading up to that fateful day, as well as events afterwards. So much of what I had come to believe was based on the myths perpetuated by the media: that the two shooters were outcasts (they weren’t), that the two belonged to some group called the Trench Coat Mafia (they didn’t), that they targeted jocks (they didn’t), that the two were goth kids (they weren’t).

I found the book fascinating in its straightforward presentation of facts based on countless interviews, journal entries, videos, police reports, etc.; I also appreciated the ways in which Cullen addressed the prevailing myths and then debunked them.

“Sometimes I dream a sentence and write it down. It’s usually nonsense, but sometimes it seems a key to another world.” ~ Anne Carson

Last night I dreamed that someone wanted to borrow my car to make a drug deal. I was uncomfortable with it but too afraid to say no. Then I was back in the small apartment that appears frequently in my dreams, and I was trying to figure out why one half of the kitchen was on one wall and the other half was across the apartment and why there were so many beds, five or six.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela Imatra in Winter 1893 oil on canvas
“Imatra in Winter” (1893, oil on canvas)
by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

A few nights ago I dreamed that my dad and my Aunt Remy had decided that Corey and I should move to South Carolina to run the fish business. I didn’t really want to go, especially because we would have to live in a trailer, but I didn’t want to disappoint my dad or my aunt. As an incentive, my aunt offered to pay for me to get my hair done. It was a very strange dream.

Then the night before I awoke Corey by saying out loud, “You act like you’re still single.” Apparently I had been having a dream in which the two of us were arguing about something, and I said that to him in the dream, only I actually said it out loud. He was very confused.

Still not as funny as the dream that Corey had last week in which he dreamed that his mother had starting calling him Hot Dog, and when he asked why she was calling him that, she told him it was because he was a little slow. Boy was he upset over that dream. I assured him that his mother would never call him Hot Dog and that no one thought for a second that he was slow.

“And that sound, that single sound,
When the mind remembers all,
And gently the light enters a sleeping soul,
A sound so thin it could not woo a bird” ~ Theodore Roethke, from section 3 of “The Rose”

Yesterday we were watching Olivia, who has recently begun to eat baby food, which is fun yet still a reminder of just how quickly time passes.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake Keitele 1905 oil on canvas
“Lake Keitele” (1905, oil on canvas)
by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

I called my mother to let her know that Olivia was at our house, and of course she arrived when the baby was sleeping. I offered to awaken her, but thankfully my mother declined. Olivia’s naps are too short as far as I’m concerned, and if’s actually sleeping, then I want to leave her alone. Not sure what Alexis was planning to accomplish  (if anything) while we had Olivia, but I’m just glad to spend time with her.

I kind of wish that I had thought to tell Alexis to send the stroller as it was amazing outside, and I don’t think that Olivia gets outside very much. When the boys were small, I had a double stroller, and I would take them for walks all of the time, Eamonn sitting in the front, and Brett usually napping in the back. Ann and I would walk to Lex’s school to pick her up, babies in tow, Rebecca in Ann’s stroller, and first Eamonn and then both boys in mine. Those were good days.

“We walked on the river bank in a cold wind, under a grey sky. Both agreed that life seen without illusion is a ghastly affair.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Diary Entry, 10 November 1917

I read the most depressing news story today: A teenager who performed in the inaugural festivities just a few weeks ago was killed in a gang-related shooting. Fifteen-year-old Hadiya Pendleton and one other boy were shot near King College Prep on the South side of Chicago.  According to the Chicago Tribune:

Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Frosty Birch Trees, 1894, oil on canvas
“Frosty Birch Trees” (1894, oil on canvas)
by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Friends of the slain girl said King was dismissed early today because of exams, and students went to the park on Oakenwald—something they don’t usually do.

Friends said the girl was a majorette and a volleyball player, a friendly and sweet presence at King, one of the top 10 CPS selective enrollment schools. Pendleton performed with other King College students at President Barack Obama’s inaugural events.

Neighbors said students from King do hang out at Harsh Park, 4458-70 S. Oakenwald Ave., and that students were there this afternoon before the shooting took place. A group of 10 to 12 teens at the park had taken shelter under a canopy there during a rainstorm when a boy or man jumped a fence in the park, ran toward the group and opened fire, police said in a statement this evening.

Gun violence is nothing new in Chicago, but poignancy of this story brings it home: She was just celebrating in the nation’s capital, participating in something incredible, especially for someone so young, and then in just a blink, she is gone.

The U.S. averages 87 gun deaths a day, according to most sources. It just befuddles me how we as a nation are so inured to gun violence.

“I wanted silence. My daydreams were full of places I longed to be, shelters and solitudes. I wanted a room apart from others, a hidden cabin to rest in. I wanted to be in a redwood forest with trees so tall the owls called out in the daytime.” ~ Linda Hogan from “Dwellings”

I think that I’ll probably spend the rest of the afternoon absorbed in another book. I still feel a real lack of energy, and my concentration is not strong, so it would not be a good day to tackle the taxes, too likely to make stupid mistakes.

I do wish that Eamonn would complete his paperwork for his merchant mariner’s documents, but I’m not going to nag. This has to be his decision, and he has to be the one to do the work for it. It’s hard, though.; it would be so easy for me to sit down and complete the paperwork for him, but then what would I be teaching him? That if he procrastinates long enough, Mom will do it for him?

Akseli Gallen-Kallela The Lair of the Lynx 1909
“The Lair of the Lynx” (1909, oil on canvas)
Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Not good. Not acceptable.

Still, my need to take care of things for my children threatens to come to the forefront all of the time, but if I am to be honest, that need is selfish as it allows me to rescue them, and perhaps they don’t need rescuing, at least not in the way that they did years ago. Perhaps if left to their own devices they will do just fine. It’s such a weird balancing act, this whole parenting thing, how to know when to and when not to, how to decide when help is more hindrance and when help is truly helpful.

I know that I was fortunate in that my parents helped me tremendously when I was my kids’ ages, but at the same time, I had a very, very strong streak of independence, and I never would have dreamed of asking my mother to fill out paper work of any kind for me. I must remember, must remind myself that they are not me. And how wonderful that they are not.

More later. Peace.

Music by Morcheeba, “Crimson”

                   

This Hour and What Is Dead

Tonight my brother, in heavy boots, is walking
through bare rooms over my head,
opening and closing doors.
What could he be looking for in an empty house?
What could he possibly need there in heaven?
Does he remember his earth, his birthplace set to torches?
His love for me feels like spilled water
running back to its vessel.

At this hour, what is dead is restless
and what is living is burning.

Someone tell him he should sleep now.

My father keeps a light on by our bed
and readies for our journey.
He mends ten holes in the knees
of five pairs of boy’s pants.
His love for me is like his sewing:
various colors and too much thread,
the stitching uneven, But the needle pierces
clean through with each stroke of his hand.

And this hour, what is dead is worried
and what is living is fugitive.

Someone tell him he should sleep now.

God, that old furnace, keeps talking
with his mouth of teeth,
a beard stained at feasts, and his breath
of gasoline, airplane, human ash.
His love for me feels like fire,
feels like doves, feels like river-water.

At this hour, what is dead is helpless, kind
and helpless. While the Lord lives.

Someone tell the Lord to leave me alone.
I’ve had enough of his love
that feels like burning and flight and running away.

~ Li-Young Lee

“I flee from those who are gifted with understanding, fearing that all their great and illuminating invasions of my being still won’t satisfy me.” ~ Robert Walser, ”The One of Fairy Tales”

“Swoosh”
by markus43 on DeviantArt (link is broken)

                   

“As a blind man, lifting a curtain, knows it is morning,
I know this change:
On one side of silence there is no smile;
But when I breathe with the birds,
The spirit of wrath becomes the spirit of blessing,
And the dead begin from their dark to sing in my sleep.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “Journey to the Interior”

I have posted a poem by Olena Kalytiak Davis before, but I came across a few lines of the following one on my tumblr dash, so of course, I went in search of the entire poem. I found it on a lovely site that I’ve recently added to my blogroll: Dragonfly’s Poetry and Prolixity. If you love poetry (and dragonflies, which I do), you might enjoy this new gem.

                    

The Panic of Birds

The moon is sick
of pulling at the river, and the river
fed up with swallowing the rain,
So, in my lukewarm coffee, in the bathroom
mirror, there’s a restlessness
as black as a raven.
Landing heavily on the quiet lines of this house.
Again, the sun takes cover
and the morning is dead
tired of itself, already, it’s pelting and windy
as I lean into the pane
that proves this world is a cold smooth place.

Wind against window—let the words fight it out—
as I try to remember: What is it
that’s so late in coming? What was it
I understood so well last night, so well it kissed me,
sweetly on the forehead?

Wind against window and my late flowering brain,
heavy, gone to seed. Pacing
from room to room and in each window
a different version of a framed woman
unable to rest, set against a sky
full of beating wings and abandoned
directions. Her five chambered heart
filling with the panic of birds, asking: What?

What if not this?

~ Olena Kalytiak Davis

“We must leave evidence. Evidence that we were here, that we existed, that we survived and loved and ached. Evidence of the wholeness we never felt and the immense sense of fullness we gave to each other. Evidence of who we were, who we thought we were, who we never should have been. Evidence for each other that there are other ways to live—past survival; past isolation.” ~ Mia Mingus

The Milky Way above a Volcanic Crater, Somuncura, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)*

“How fragile we are, between the few good moments.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Vinegar and Oil”

Saturday, early evening. Showers and much cooler temperatures.

So . . . long time no real post. One week, actually. So what’s new with you?

To the Stars, Buenos Aires, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)

I did manage to post the really big news in my life this past week, which is that my computer is back home, new motherboard and graphics card installed, and it did not cost me a fortune as I did not take it back to the geek squad or whatever they are called at Best Buy. Instead, I took it in to a local computer repair place, and the guy there was wonderful and more than reasonable. I will be taking all future problems to his store, for certain.

The other big news is that I’ve spent just about every day with Alexis and Olivia, much to the chagrin of my boys at home—all of them—and the sole other female in the abode, Tillie the Lab. As a result, I’m feeling tugged in a million different directions at once. I want to help Alexis get adjusted, and I want to spend these early days with Olivia, but I am also missing being at home and having some semblance of a routine.

Then, to make everything a thousand times more complicated, Corey got a departure date: this coming Wednesday. I am more than a little discombobulated.

“ . . . there is luxury in being quiet in the heart of chaos.” ~  Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 23 June 1927

I simply cannot fathom that he will be leaving for three months again in just a few short days. We haven’t even gone on a date since he’s been home as the baby’s arrival threw everything out of kilter, and he’s been spending his days trying to tame the wilderness that is our backyard. Now he’s scheduled to leave, and I feel as if we haven’t spent any time together.

Little Boat on the River, in Zárate, Buenos Aires, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)

My middle name is guilt.

I wonder how I balanced all things when I was working full time. Was everyone so needy then? I’ve been coming home from spending time at Lex’s apartment, and then I do dishes and laundry here and try not to let myself just fall on the bed in a sweaty, exhausted pile of nothingness. The weather certainly hasn’t helped with heat index temperatures above 100 degrees and 150 percent humidity (at least that’s how it feels).

I feel as though even the Beta (Capt. Jack Harkness) is giving me the evil eye for neglecting him. Is it possible to spoil a pet fish?

“It’s odd how the objects of our lives
Continue to not define us,
no matter how close we hold them unto us.
Odd how the narrative of those lives is someone else’s narrative.” ~  Charles Wright, from “Bees Are the Terrace Builders of the Stars”

So all of the big plans to see movies together, to eat sushi, and everything else . . . these things now have to be crammed into a few days.

Lobos Lagoon, Buenos Aires, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)

Of course, I also need to spend time scanning and printing photographs of the baby as my mother is demanding pictures to send to relatives. Pictures need to be inserted into thank you notes. The computer’s hard drive needs major cleaning as I made duplicate backups of my files when it seemed that everything would be lost, and consequently, I have way to0 much duplicate data.

I need to go through two weeks of unopened mail, because, well, no one else has done it, and a million other things that are demanding my attention. At least the OB cleared Alexis to drive at yesterday’s appointment, not that that means much as she is still quite uncertain of herself and her ability to do thing with the baby by herself.

I know that my daughter is not a clone of myself, nor do I expect her to be, but I think back on when I gave birth the first time, and how alone I was in everything. My ex went back to work immediately, did not take a day off work, and there I was in our townhouse in Alexandria trying to learn how to be a mother for the first time. Daunting, but nothing that millions upon millions of women haven’t been doing for millennia. Still, I found then and subsequently that motherhood came quite naturally to me. I was fortunate in that, I know.

I guess I am aware of her mental and emotional fragility and want to ease the transition as much as possible.

“The edge is what I have.” ~  Theodore Roethke

Still, I find myself torn and divided and feeling as if there is no time to do the things that I want to do, like write my posts, or reacquaint myself with this wonderful machine with the huge monitor, sort out my desk, clear off my nightstand. I feel as if everything that I want to do for myself has been placed on that proverbial back burner until everyone else is taken care of, in as much as possible.

Twilight on the Rocks, Miramar, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)

For instance: Eamonn is on a new tear about wanting a double bed; consequently, I need to be on the lookout NOW for good buys on mattresses. The dogs’ nails need to be clipped, and Alfie the Insane has developed another bump on his face underneath his left eye. Brett has been nagging both Corey and me to address the Internet issues plaguing our home network (as in it is painfully slow), and his fall semester is coming up, and we still haven’t found the funds to pay for the two summer school classes that he has taken. Corey’s unemployment still hasn’t kicked in for the time that he’s been home, and his phone, which he dropped into water, is not working and needs to be fixed before he leaves. Not to mention that neither I nor Brett have had our eye appointments yet. I need to make an appointment to have the new tires put on the Rodeo so that I can get the damned thing inspected before I get a ticket. and I need to stop by the local urgent care to get my TDAP shot, which I promised Lex I would get . . .

. . . and on and on and on . . .

And in between I try to keep myself bathed and try to remember to take my own medication, even as in the back of my mind I have the Social Security Administration’s form to complete, which should have been done months ago, and my disability provider leaving messages on my phone.

Have I brushed my teeth today?

“I want to tear myself from this place, from this reality, rise up like a cloud and float away, melt into this humid summer night and dissolve somewhere far, over the hills. But I am here, my legs blocks of concrete, my lungs empty of air, my throat burning. There will be no floating away.” ~  Khaled Hosseini, from The Kite Runner

Bitch, bitch, bitch . . . moan, moan, moan.

Jetty Blues, Buenos Aires, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)

Truthfully, though, there has never been anything in my life coming close to a happy medium. It has always been feast or famine. But currently? I am at a loss as to how I should even begin to approach this Everest.

Breathe deeply, realize that there is not enough air, try again.

I know that this post is colored in large part by the migraine with which I awoke early this morning, the residual effects of which are still creeping about my eyes. I’ve had a headache every day for the last two and a half weeks, mostly because of the heat, but it morphed into a full-blown, brutal migraine finally, and I was reluctant to wake Corey to help me as he has not been able to get to sleep for four nights in a row.

Everyone is stressed, not just me. I know that, but the environs resemble a pressure cooker about to blow, and I really want to avoid that at any cost. Unfortunately, my OCD which came back with a vengeance a few months ago will not allow me to let even one thing go, let one thing slide until later.

“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from A Book for the Hours of Prayer (trans. Robert Bly)

Sorry my first real post in a week is nothing but line after line of whinging. Allow me to switch tacks for a moment . . . good things:

  • Olivia is an adorable baby with a very calm demeanor. There are moments in which her facial expressions so keenly resemble her mother’s when she was a baby that I am lost in time.
  • My BOSE computer speakers are connected, allowing me to enjoy streaming music.
  • My new Logitech mouse that Brett got me for Christmas is very cool, a vast improvement over what I have been using, exactly what I’ve been wanting.
Selene at the Sea, Mar de Las Pampas, Buenos Aires, AR
by Irargerich (FCC)
  • We’ve gotten a break in the sweltering temperatures and agonizing humidity.
  • I stumbled upon a new blog that features really great photographs.
  • I can open Photoshop on this computer without everything locking up.
  • I can finally get back to visiting my blog community on a more regular basis.
  • I no longer have to listen to Eamonn complain that I’m invading his space by using the computer in his room.
  • I am getting familiar with my new workspace, and I’m fairly certain that I can make this work comfortably.
  • I can tell my mother that I’m feeding/changing/rocking the baby and end telephone conversations much more quickly . . .

So, enough for now. Hope to be back to regular posting.

More later. Peace.

*All images are taken from Irargerich’s photosets on Flickr (creative commons)

Music by Gotye, “Hearts a Mess”

                   

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about…

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

~ Pablo Neruda