“Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Cedar Waxwing and Berries in Snow

                   

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” ~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, early evening. Cold.

It’s hovering around 40° F; yesterday it was 78° F. That’s how it’s been for the past five or six days. One day, unseasonably warm winter temps, and the next day, temps at least 30 to 40 degrees lower than the day before. I seem to have developed a scratchiness to my voice. Could be the temperature fluctuations, or it could be pollen. Then again, it could just be Wisconsin Governor Walker grating on my nerves (and why is the mainstream media totally ignoring the Wisconsin situation?)

Just for fun, I thought that I would interrupt regular posting to insert Jon Stewart’s latest commentary on the Wisconsin happenings:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Crisis in Dairyland – Angry Curds – The Daily S…, posted with vodpod 

We now resume regular posting . . .

Sharing a Perch in the Snow

Today I had the first of three gastro tests to try to find out why my system does not work like a normal person. I’m not even going to list the name of the test that I had to undergo. Suffice it to say that personal privacy and boundaries are not respected during this test and that it involved barium, which, if you have never been near this contrast medium, you should thank the powers that be as barium is made of chalk and bird poop, which is what gives it its lovely white consistency and delectable flavor . . .

Thankfully, I did have two really great radiology technicians, which helps the nerves. Next test involves having to swallow a contrast marker and then have x-rays taken on day five; I already swallowed the marker last week because the woman in the doctor’s office did not tell me not to take the marker before today’s test, which means that I have to do it all over again. Third test involves putting a tube in my nose for 24 hours. Just typing that makes me shudder, no lie.

February was spent in a haze of doctor’s appointments. Little wonder that it is the first of March, but my brain is still January-engaged.

“The visible exhausts me. I am dissolved in shadow.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Snowy Owl by John H. Gavin

Two Fridays ago I had my eye exam, the first one I’ve had in a couple of years. It was only after this exam that I found out that the vision rider for which I am paying is essentially worthless. “Well it covers this, but there is a fitting fee . . . but if you want to get glasses, then you have to pay $80 for the contacts today, but if you want contacts, then we deduct this and add that and if you’re really lucky, on the full moon, you can wish for glasses or contacts, but not both. Whatever.

I went back last Friday for the optometrist to check the contacts that she had prescribed. I told her that I was having problems seeing out of my left eye. We talked for a few minutes about my previous experiences with contacts, and she said—I kid you not—”Well, you are older now, and your eyes are older, so you can’t expect to see the way that you used to.”

Really? No shit? I’m older? Thank you so much for that moment of truth. I was completely unaware that I had gotten older. In her favor, she just seems like a very matter-of-fact person, not snotty, just telling it like it is.

So my old eyes tried another contact prescription. I could tell before I left the waiting room that they weren’t working. Another hop onto the exam chair (which is really hard to do, hopping, that is, when you’re old), and we decided to go with two different lenses: near vision in the left eye, and distance in the right eye. I was certain that my brain would rebel, but it actually works perfectly. I can see everything on the dash in the car, and I can see the computer screen. I always find it beneficial to see the car’s dash, so I’m feeling better. Now I just have to wait for another payday to get updated glasses.

(Oh, this part made me feel old as well). Corey and I were looking at frames, and I picked out a frame that pretty much mirrors my current frame. I know what flatters my face and what is comfortable. Seemed like a no-brainer to me . . . Corey says something along the lines of shouldn’t I try something that is a little more stylish?

What??? My frames are old-fashioned? Is that what you were implying with your comment? Poor man. Simply cannot catch a break. We left Costco with neither of us very happy. As it stands now, I don’t have a clue as to what kind of glasses I want to get. Every pair that I try on leaves me feeling less than attractive. I mean, if Sophia Loren can put her name on a line of glasses frames, why can she not append her visage with the frames? Loren looks cool in glasses. I look like . . . well, probably what I am: a bookish teacher type.

“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again.” ~ Frank O’Hara

Blue Jay on Ice

In other news, remember that poetry contest that I entered? Well, I didn’t win, but I was a finalist. Pretty cool, huh?

Now if I were an optimist with a good self-image, I might see this as a sign that I should probably work on my craft more and actively work on sending things out for review. However, we all know that this is not the case, so my immediate first thoughts were, “A finalist? Are you kidding me? Did you not have a lot of entries?”

A Poet Reflects, the blog that hosted the contest, asked poet Allen Braden to judge the contest, which is why it took longer to find out the results.  I had decided that because so much time had passed between submitting my entry and hearing anything that I was definitely out of the running. This is how my mind works: no news = bad/horrible/catastrophic news.

Anyway, after I received the good news, I got an e-mail requesting that I create an MP3 of myself reading my poem. Seriously? I hate my voice whenever I hear it recorded; it always sounds like a little girl. I don’t mean that I have one of those Jennifer Tilly squeaky, breathless voices, just that I would prefer a Lauren Bacall timbre.

So after I get over the request itself, I realize that I have no idea as to how to create an MP3. I know. I know. It’s really not hard, but what can I say? I panicked. Then I settled down and gave it some thought and realized that Brett’s gaming headphones have a microphone on them. Voila! Recording action can be had.

Several attempts later, I finally came up with a reading with which I was actually pleased, so I shipped it off before I could change my mind. My poem and the reading are supposed to appear on tumblr tomorrow or the next day. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to post them here, although I’m not sure why this blog or that blog really makes a difference. It’s not like I’m beholden to my privacy or anything. I do plan to post some of the other finalists’ poems as well as the winner. Stay tuned.

“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people . . . Certain heads, certain colors and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me. Other things, too.” ~ J. D. Salinger

Robin in the Snow by Noël Zia Lee

So that’s how things have been around here for the past week or so. Each time that I’ve sat down to write a post, something has kept me from achieving said goal. For example, on Friday night/Saturday morning, I didn’t fall asleep until 9:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I felt less than creative on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was not much better. I have been trying to put up a few small things here and there (I loved the no elephants picture).

Meanwhile, Corey has already lost two shifts this week, but last week he worked 55 hours. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If I were responsible for scheduling these people for shifts, I would make darn sure there was more balance. I mean, that’s one of the things I had to do in retail, schedule over 50 people at a time, and believe me, it’s not easy.

Speaking of retail, a Marshall’s is opening in the shopping center just down the road; I’m talking a mile away. Part of me longs to apply for a management position there, but who am I kidding? Retail management means working at least 50 to 60 hours a week, and a lot (emphasis on lot) of physical labor. How do you think those clothes get on those racks? Oh well, I can wish.

Not much new on the kids’ front. Spring break is sometime in March. Neither son has anything exciting planned (that I know about). Alexis? Well, that’s a post all by itself and a subject that I’m honestly not up to dealing with at the moment. So that’s it for now.

By the way, I have changed the name of my tumblr from “Slow Dancing in Quicksand” to “Frenzy and Lightning,” which is the url. It just seemed to make more sense, at least, to me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

“Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Waves Crash Down
                    
“Midway in the
Journey of life
I came to myself in a
dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.” ~ Dante, Inferno
 
Waves on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, by Nico Nelson (Flckr Creative Commons)

Friday night now after a blastedly hot, tumultuous day. Details aren’t necessary. Suffice it to say that our lives just took yet another step down in our continuing downward spiral, the one that is taking us to the fringes of society, making us—more and more—mere onlookers. 

If I sit and reflect, which I try not to do lately, I wonder how our lives came to be this way. Which decision altered the fabric, imperceptibly but devastatingly? Was it the one that I made, when I felt that my body could not withstand the daily onslaught of full-time work? Was it the one that Corey had made a few months before that had him leave once company to return to his original employer—a decision made for all the right reasons that had all of the wrong results?Or do the threads begin to unravel long before that? Who can know really? This remark, that argument, this choice over the less obvious one? Could it go so far back as to my youth, my decisions to fall in with one group, my natural alliance with one editor over another? Not going abroad to study? Did it happen in Norfolk, Blacksburg, Alexandria, or some other city? 

A person could go mad, well and truly mad if left for too long with unanswered questions in the silence of an empty house. 

“Her career of ups and downs had rubbed most of the hall-marks off her, so that it was not easy to guess at her age, her nationality, or the social background to which she properly belonged.” ~ Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie 
California Waves by Isolino (Flckr Creative Commons)

Serendipity: “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” appears on the playlist. “Fear is the heart of love, so I never went back . . .” 

Is it fate or is it free will? Joss? Karma? 

When I was about six-years-old, and we were still living in London, I told my first big lie and broke a big rule. I remember spending the evening in my bedroom imagining god with a slate, marking infractions. I prayed fervently that night. The prayers of the innocent are almost, dare I say, angelic in their sweetness. 

Another memory: A few years older, watching some program on television about people drowning and how the rescuers needed to take care not to be pulled down in the panic. Flash forward a few years, and my father is diving into the water to rescue a woman whose raft had been sucked under the Lynnhaven Bridge. I watched in fear and amazement as she latched onto my father’s neck and clawed at him as he tried to prop her against the beam of the bridge until more people could assist. 

Afterwards, my mother chastened him for jumping in, saying that he could have died. He replied calmly, “What should I have done? Watched her drown?” That was my father, a man of such clear intentions. He always knew what decisions to make, or at least, that is what memory tells me. So many years later, and I still immediately think of my father whenever things go terribly wrong, and I am glad that he did not have to see all of the messes that I have made, all of the wrong turns and brick walls. 

But another part of me thinks that maybe my father would have understood better than I think. The survivor of three wars, he has seen the worst of people. He has seen want and deprivation. Saw. Perhaps he would have been impatient with me for still failing to grow up and become a productive member of society. I will never know. 

 “i’m not sure what we’re running from. nobody. or the future. fate. growing up. getting old. picking up the pieces. as if running we won’t have to get on with our lives.”  ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
Rocky Shore of West Point Island

Trust me when I tell you that tonight is not the night for rationalizing, for telling myself that so many other people have it worse than I do, than we do. My brain knows this, but my heart? My heart is too heavy to be rational. 

So much in one day, like the echoing blasts of cannonade being fired in sequence. Here’s this. Oh, and here’s this. Oh, and just for good measure, here is this and this. Have a nice day . . . 

Oddly enough, just the other day Corey told me to cheer up, that one day we would be middle class again. It was an epic statement. I wonder how much of the middle class is left, really? How can an entire classification of people survive amidst such societal turmoil? 

I could not watch the news tonight as I have learned that it takes just the right frame of mind to be able to stomach the constant assault on the sensibilities. So much is wrong in so many places. So much want and need. So much fear-mongering. So much hatred and intolerance. It’s miraculous that 90 percent of the population isn’t surviving on mood-altering drugs, legal and otherwise.   

“What does it mean to know and experience my own ‘nothingness?’ It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not, and as if i were someone other than myself. This kind of self-annihilation is only a worse illusion, it is a pretended humility which, by saying ‘I am nothing’ I mean in effect ‘I wish I were not what I am.'” ~ Thomas Merton, from Thoughts on Solitude
 Rough Waters of the Adriatic Sea Beating Against the Rocky Shore

                     

It is impossible to prepare for these moments—the moments when fate and fortune ally at the worst possible point in time, to conspire against everything that makes life seem to make sense, that makes it all worthy of entering the fray yet again. 

And so it comes: The onslaught—the waves of sorrow and fear. Trepidation and uncertainty. Relentless wave after wave, so powerful and unrelenting that existence becomes reduced to how much can be withstood. The forces of fate, much like the forces of nature, toss about lives like unanchored shells, sometimes resulting in a beautifully-scoured creation, sometimes resulting in anonymous pebbles and stones which cannot be distinguished from anything else. 

Sometimes, this road that we’re on reaches a point at which a veil of thick fog obscures everything, leading us to believe that the path has been completely erased. Can it be any surprise then that the point of arrival in the distance seems unreachable? 

If I do not leave this house soon, I will truly lose my mind. 

“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing . . . We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.”
~ Rainer Marie Rilke

Music by Katie Herzig, “I Hurt Too” 

“We don’t understand that life is heaven, for we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Bateau Acadien*

“We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” ~ Henry James

Dried Fishing Boat at Udaipur Sea Beach in West Bengal

Well, Corey finally got a telephone call from the security people. He goes in tonight to fill out his paper work and to attend an orientation. It’s so funny because not even an hour ago, he was bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t received a phone call yet, and it was really worrying him. Now he is worried about going to work. As he puts it, he hasn’t worked in so long that he has no idea what to expect. I told him that I was certain he would be fine.

The company representative reiterated that they think that Corey is overqualified for this particular position, and that they will not hold it against him if he finds a better job. He said that Corey should look on this as a stepping stone.

I am so happy for him. I have a feeling that once he begins working, everything will fall into place. For now, I will have to drive Corey to work on those days that conflict with Brett’s school schedule or other appointments, but it will be so worth it.

“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet . . . maybe we could understand something.” ~ Frederico Fellini

Abandoned Fishing Boat, Threipmuir, Edinburgh, Scotland

More very strange dreams last night, very intricate. I do remember that I was doing a lot of walking to and from place to place and that I felt really good about myself for doing so much walking. Must have something to do with the fact that I planned to start walking today, but of course, I awoke to rain.

In parts of my dream, my father was going to divorce my mother; someone killed chickens in the kitchen; a man and woman moved into the townhouse next door to mine and tried to take my family and me captive; the boys were very young again; Corey and I decided to just pack what we really wanted and to leave everything else behind so that we could start over, and I was packing backpacks for all of us.

Why does the mind work in the way that it does during dreams? Whenever my father comes to me in dreams, it is almost always in some kind of bizarre form with a little bit of truth behind it. I understand that dreaming about my sons’ younger versions is my own sense of wishing that they were younger and still needed me as they did then, but why do I always dream about conflict?

I heard somewhere that every person in your dreams actually represents yourself. I don’t really think that is true because so many people in my dreams act in ways that are totally alien to me.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~ Thomas Merton

The family got together on Sunday for lunch to celebrate the three birthdays. Alexis planned everything. It was very nice, and even my mother seemed to enjoy herself—such a rarity. My s-i-l Ann and I decided that we are quite content to pass the baton for planning family gatherings to Alexis since she seems to have such a knack for it. We haven’t informed her of this yet. I’m sure she will be pleased . . . not.

Old Boat Returning to Nature

For some very strange reason, I have been craving lobster. Now if you knew me, you would know what an aberration this is. I don’t believe in eating lobsters as they can live to be incredibly old if left alone. I think that there is something very elegant about these creatures that live in the bottom of the sea, just meandering along, bothering no one. In fact, I make it well nigh impossible for anyone who is dining on lobster to enjoy their meal as I put my fingers together and say “Help me” in a squeaky voice.

So bearing that in mind, why would I be craving something I don’t believe in eating? This, too, makes no sense to me. It would be akin to my craving lamb or veal, neither of which I will eat. Is this my own version of pica, that eating disorder that occurs in very young children in which they eat non-nutrive substances for no apparent reason? Geez.

“Do you find coming to terms with the mindless tedium of it all presents an interesting challenge?” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy

Old Boat on Càrna Overlooking Caol Chàrna, Scotland

My word for the day is tedium, from the Latin taedium, which means irksomeness. I mean, that is what most days are, really. The tedium, the unending parade of washing machine commercials, telephone calls that result in no forward progress, mail from companies wanting more and more when there is less and less, the stream of cars lined up at stop lights, each individual wrapped up in his or her own world, just waiting for the light to turn green.

Life being dealt out in seconds and minutes of rushing to where exactly? Our own mortality? People going to jobs they hate but saying nothing because having any job is better than no job. Mothers and fathers waiting after school for their children to be released from school only to spend the next two to three hours shuffling them from one extra-curricular activity to another, but is there any interaction going on in the car, the minivan, the SUV between parent and child while on the way to somewhere?

The cacophony of reality television in which the people being shown are doing anything but leading real lives. Shows about fat people, famous people, people with huge families, people who are famous because they are famous, people whose vices are held up as virtues because they can win the island, people who wear seven-carat diamond rings and bemoan their inability to have real friendships, people who are hoarders, addicts, moguls, and more.

“Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits.” ~ John O’Donohue

Colbost Jetty, Skye, England, by Bob Jones (used under Creative Commons License)

And then there is me: putting my life on this page for anyone to see. Sharing intimate moments, triumphs and failures. Writing about life, love, loss, and nothing at all. Castigating politicians and talking heads. Caressing words as if they hold all of the power. But they do hold all of the power. Words. Words that pass on knowledge. Words that wound. Words that awaken the soul to beauty. Words that weave stories and morality tales and dreams. Words that are hollow and hard. Words that are sour and somber.

Sometimes, it is all so tedious, this life. One long line of I want, and I don’t have, and Why me, and What will happen? Mortgage restructuring, debt consolidation, loans and repayments. This is civilization and all of its entanglements. Pity the poor fool who yearns for this rough and tumble existence over what she already has.

Tedium. Thoroughly tiresome. Bone-shakingly, soul-achingly stultifying. The alternative? Silence and nothingness.

More later. Peace.

“Your Song,” duet with Elton John and Ronan Keating (what a great name)

*All images found on Wikimedia Commons