“I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals . . . ” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Parrot Tulips, 1988

 

“I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine,
and still stand on the edge of a lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes!'” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

A bit better today. It’s amazing what 12 hours of sleep will do for a person. Of course, if that were 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep it might be a different story, but in my case, it’s an hour here, and hour there. Very strange dreams last night: something about painting the kitchen, stepping into a puddle of paint on the floor, driving, getting pulled over by state troopers, and Corey having to take a Rorschach test, you know, the ink blots? Have no idea what any of that meant.

Yesterday was such a hard day; I even had two anxiety attacks, something that hasn’t happened in years. My heart began to beat rapidly, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I just felt as if the entire day was an out-of-body experience that I would have much rather avoided. I ended up picking an argument with Corey in the evening that left him thoroughly confused and which resulted in my feeling even worse than before I posted. If only such days had a rewind button, or maybe even an erase button.

I’m beginning to move into the predictable regret stage after cutting my hair. It’s too short in the front, and as a result, it’s doing this curly thing that looks absolutely ridiculous. The end result is that I’m just pulling it back into a pony tail again. But it doesn’t really matter as the only people who see my hair are my family and the dogs, and the dogs wouldn’t care if I were bald.

“It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when its not pretty every day . . .” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Anyway, reading the news today felt a bit like peering through the looking glass:

  • People who are depressed eat more chocolate. But which comes first—the depression, which leads to craving chocolate, or the chocolate, which causes depression?
  • Medications that treat depression can sometimes cause significant weight gain. Really? You’re kidding. I’m so surprised.
  • A British woman who suffered from a severe migraine awoke with a Chinese accent. Apparently it’s a phenomenon called Foreign Accent Syndrome. After my next migraine, I’d like to have Marlene Dietrich’s accent.
  • But the most horrific story concerns a homeless man who came to the aid of a woman in NYC. Apparently the homeless man was walking behind a couple who began arguing. The homeless man tried to intervene and was stabbed by the man who had been arguing with the woman. The injured man then chased his attacker for a few feet before he fell to the sidewalk. He lay there for over an hour while 25 people walked by. One man took a picture with his cell phone. Another lifted the victim’s body, revealing a pool of blood beneath him, then dropped the body and walked away. The 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant was dead by the time emergency workers arrived. But wait. There’s a psychological explanation for this as well: the Bystander Effect in which the more people who are present, the less likely it is that someone will intervene because everyone believes that someone else will do something. I think that it’s just more of the inhumanity that prevails in today’s society.

“I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself,
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Outside, I can hear an approaching thunderstorm. Just a few minutes ago, the background noise was coming from the park. For me, that noise is indiscernible; I no longer notice it. But now, there is the sound of a hard rain and distant thunder. It is a good sound, a calming sound.

Yesterday, I felt as if I was immersed in a storm, a pelting, loud storm. Today, there is a storm, but I feel none of the turmoil.

The entire Oriah Mountain Dreamer passage from which today’s quotes are drawn is called “The Invitation,”  and it is much longer and very lovely. Some parts of “The Invitation” do read like something written by a Native American mystic. However, Oriah is not—as many people have mistakenly claimed—a Native American elder. She is a writer who took the name Oriah after she had a dream in which several elderly women told her to take the new name. Mountain Dreamer is the name a shamanic mystic gave her after a healing. Personally, I find it to be a very poetic name and don’t really care about its origins.

I wonder if I renamed myself  Lola Proceeds with Pain, if I could sell books and be labeled a visionary . . . Probably not.

More later. Peace.

All images are photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, from his less controversial images of flowers.

“Cry,” by James Blunt

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” ~ Henry Miller

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Massive thunderstorms this afternoon. Loud thunder booms, but no major downpours in our area. The flower garden could use a good dousing. Corey was out doing errands and said that it was raining hard in other parts of the city, but nothing here.

Eamonn is disgustedly happy to have the Trooper back in his possession, even though I told him that we still need to do a few things to it. I’m hoping that the smoke coming out of it is leftover from the problems that we just had fixed and that once it gets a good drive on the Interstate, she’ll start to run like her old self again. Corey said something about the rings, which sounds expensive. I’m ignoring that pronouncement in favor of bad gas (for the Trooper, not me).

I’ve been pricing tires, and of course, what we need won’t be cheap. Nothing ever is. Moving right along . . .

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison  

CharacterDumbledore Half-Blood Prince
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tomorrow night Corey, Brett, and I are going to eat sushi and then go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is part of Brett’s birthday present. He is the only one of the kids who actually likes sushi, so that gives us something to look forward to this weekend.

On other fronts, I happen to know that Janson and his wife are currently in the hospital awaiting the birth of their daughter Aurelia. He has been Twittering about the progress most of the afternoon. I love the name Aurelia. It lilts on the tongue and sounds like a fairy.

My friend Maureen who lives in Australia is awaiting news from her doctor, so I’m keeping a good thought for her as well. And David Bridger’s wife Janette is scheduled for surgery at the end of July. Finally.

Even though the medical system in this country needs fixing, I have found from hearing from people in other places that national healthcare does have some major drawbacks—like waiting for operations that are necessary or having some doctors refuse to do procedures that must be performed by other doctors. However, I still believe that this country needs a healthcare system that is available to all, and not just to those who can afford to pay the premiums.

As usual, the blogging community is awash with action. My best to everyone. I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts.

“It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

Okay, this topic is from David Bridger as well: You are stranded on a desert island, and you can only take ten things. You are one of the ten things. Who or what would you take with you? I’m assuming that food will be on the island so we don’t have to worry about that.

I’m thinking that I need a few different versions of this because, as you know, I have such a hard time making up my mind.

List One: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am not alone in the world, that I have family and pets.

  1. Corey, Alexis (and her significant other), Eamonn, and Brett plus myself. That’s six right there. Must have family with me on this desert island.
  2. Tillie, Alfie and Shakes. Another three. Must have the dogs, even though they take up three spots.
  3. My Lord of the Rings (three books but one story so it only counts as one. I know. I cheat). Must have reading material. But I would give up the books, I suppose, if my sons had companions.

List Two: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am alone in the world, no pets or familydeserted island 1

  1. Myself (1)
  2. My Lord of the Rings (1)
  3. A copy of The Odyssey (because I’ve never made it all of the way through) (1)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A fully-loaded MP3 player and back-up solar batteries (3) (Do solar batteries exist?)
  6. A huge bottle of 4711 cologne to remind me of civilization (odd choice, I know) (1)
  7. A dog for companionship (1)

List Three: This one is compiled with the understanding that I must take that which I need to survive and gather food

  1. Myself (1)
  2. A machete (1)
  3. Two dogs, male and female (2)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A spade (1)
  6. Something reflective (1)
  7. A bottle of 5,000 Ibuprofen (since I cannot have all of my meds) (1)
  8. A bucket
cast-away-tom-hanks-2
Tom Hanks and Fed Ex boxes in Castaway

Now the reality is that if I were to be stranded on a desert island a la Castaway, I would hope that some things washed up on shore with me, one of which should be my carryall bag. I could survive months with just the contents of my carryall bag as it contains meds, scissors, a mirror, candy, a pocket knife, my inhaler, a notebook and lots of pens, a mini screwdriver, and sunglasses.

In Lola’s system of counting, the carryall bag counts as one thing just as the Lord of the Rings counts as one thing.

And if I had my purse as well as my carryall bag, I would be in fine shape. Also, if I washed up on a desert island wearing the things that I usually leave the house with, I would have a watch, my glasses, my cross, some earrings (okay, those I can do without), and probably a book and/or notebook.

Look, I’ve always been a pack rat, ever since grade school when I decided that I needed to take a satchel to school filled with things that I might need. Alexis inherited this tendency, so if she were with me and we got stranded, you can bet that we’d have a lot of things one might need just in case.

I’m not sure about the whole ice skate as dental tools as in Castaway, but the blades would be handy as would the laces. Don’t know if I have it in me to use an ice skate as a dental tool. But unlike Tom Hanks’s character in the movie, I wouldn’t be waiting to open all of the Fed Ex boxes. He was being honorable.

I say that if you are stranded, sealed Fed Ex boxes are fair game. Although given that attitude, the boxes that would wash up on shore with me would probably be things like government proposals, mortgage payments, and car parts. I’m not sure that side steps for a truck would come in that handy on an island  . . .

 “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

deserted island 3I wish that my lists were more creative, but I think that they actually reflect more about me than at first glance. For example, I could survive without another person with me as long as I had a dog to keep me company. Implements with which to write and record things are very important to me. My choice of a machete instead of just a plain knife show that I am my father’s daughter.

Granted, wanting to take along a bottle of cologne might seem crazy, but if I had nothing else on this island to remind me of home, a smell would suffice. Smells are very important to humans: they conjure happy thoughts, trigger memories, even help with digesting food. The German cologne 4711 would do that for me. It would allow me to remember that piece of me that once belonged to society.

And if possible, having an MP3 player that is full of my personal music choices would serve as a connection to the world. I would have Chopin and Beethoven, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, Sarah McLachlan and Annie Lennox, Pavoratti and Broadway musicals. Music, in its varied forms, is communication, and it is something that is universal.

Having music with me would help to alleviate the loneliness, even if there were no chocolate to be found anywhere.

I wonder what other members of my family would choose to take: How Brett would survive without electronics . . . How Eamonn would survive without his cell phone . . . What Alexis would choose of her multitude of things that she must have . . . What Corey would want with him for the rest of his life . . .

Each list would be very different. Of that, I am certain. What and who we value as people is as varied as the sunrises. Not surprisingly. After all, it is that which makes us individuals, unique and the same, as unpredictable as the tides.

More later. Peace.

If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers . . .

 

Key West lightning by Janson Jones

Key West Lightning by Janson Jones

 

Daniel: Don’t you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.

Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance? 
Daniel:  Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

justdrops by Reys from The Gold Puppy
"Just Drops" from The Gold Puppy

Massive thunderstorms in the area last night. I had to turn off my computer as I did not want to chance another freak power surge like the one that took out half of the house’s electronics a couple of years ago. So unfortunately, I did not get to post.

It was an incredible storm: brilliant flashes of lightning and resounding thunder. I’m glad that none of our current dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. Murphy, our last lab was terrified of storms and fireworks, and it just broke my heart to watch her. Her eyes would get big, and she would try to crawl under any piece of furniture that she could find, which is kind of hard for a lab.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that with Tillie, Alfie or Shakes. I believe they could sleep through just about anything, unless of course air happens to be circulating outside the door, in which case, they must move en masse to the living room and bark hysterically until someone yells at them to shut up. Then they all retreat back to the bedroom and become sleeping lumps again.

Miyagi: [shrugging] … Because sometimes, what heart know, head forget

Well Eamonn penned his first batch of thank you notes today. I was very proud of him; even though I gave him the three basic sentences that any thank you note should have—acknowledgement of being remembered, thanks for specific present, and closing thanks—he took it a step further and personalized all of his notes. How nice.

And he hasn’t given me any grief about imposing the thank you note restriction before he can actually have gift in hand. I thought for sure that he would quibble with me, but he has surprised me, so I need to take back any mean things that I may have been thinking about him, not that I would ever think any mean things about eldest son—after all, I’m his mother, and in my eyes, he can do no wrong . . .

Far North Bicentennial Prk Anchorage by JJ
Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones
Perhaps he is on a new path. We’ll have to wait and see. Let’s move along. Shall we?
 

Daniel: Hey, where did these old cars come from?
Miyagi: Detroit.

The gardenias are in full bloom, and I’m keeping the house full of freshly-cut blooms. The front butterfly garden is starting to come into bloom as well. I’ll try to take some pictures and post them once we begin to attract butterflies.

GardeniasThat’s the highpoint of the summer season for me: watching all of the butterflies and moths dance through the blooms and leaves. I know, small things, but hey, I believe in appreciating beauty wherever I can find it.

About beauty, I’m featuring a few more picture from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog in this post. He has been doling out the photographic gems from his Florida trip in between other posts, and I’m loving all of them.

Miyagi: Daniel-san, never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose.

Speaking of Janson’s blog, I had to pause when I read his most recent posts on what is going on in Anchorage. Apparently there is a big brouhaha in the Alaskan city over a proposed gay rights ordinance. According to Janson’s post, the protests are over “Anchorage Ordinance Number 64, which is intended to provide extended and protective rights to gays and other minority groups in Anchorage.”

Ordinance 64 anti protest sign2Now let me pause here. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know how I feel about this issue. I am completely stupefied that society is still fighting over whether or not the GLBT segment of society deserves to be treated just like everyone else. But after seeing some of the signs being hoisted by the opposition, I must confess that I am beyond stupefied, beyond mortified. I am flapping my gums speechless (well, almost).

As you can see from the smaller sign in the picture on the right, the holder is purporting that “gays recruit children.” I thought that Ellen Degeneres clarified this particular nonsensical position years ago when she made it clear that for every person recruited, said gay person receives a toaster oven. It’s a joke, people. I mean really: “recruits children.” That is just feeble, uninformed, and sadly ignorant.

Or let’s take this sign: 98.5% of America is straight. That one really blew me away. I’m sure that it would shock many of these sign holders to find out just how many people in their lives are gay.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Nearly 550 people have signed up to testify on the ordinance, which would add ‘sexual orientation’ to the list of classes protected from discrimination. Classes already protected include race, ethnicity, age, sex, marital status, and others.”  For me, this just seems like a logical addition, an affirmation of civil rights, if you will.

The article continues: “In general, they argue that gays and lesbians shouldn’t be protected because of their immoral lifestyles, or that protection isn’t needed because discrimination doesn’t occur, or that passing the ordinance opens the door to same-sex marriage in Alaska and they don’t want that.”

I had my Irish up (which is pretty hard when you’re Filipino, and I hope that that idiom is not considered derogatory as I’ve used it for years) over the whole situation, but Janson, ever the logical, reminded me that “the fact that there were only three cops (that I saw) standing watch and smiles on most folks’ faces (most, but not all) is a reminder of what we do and can have in this country (violent nut-jobs excepted)—non-violent, peaceful activism, regardless of the merits or rationality of any given side’s actual argument. A few decades ago, rocks would’ve been thrown at the pro gay rights crowd and they wouldn’t have been able to demonstrate side-by-side.”

Janson’s observations were that instead of the opposing sides being physically separate, the pros and the cons were on the same side, mingling, and there didn’t seem to be any hate-speak going on.

Obama signing GBLT memoPersonally, I find that pretty amazing. I know that I fly off the handle pretty quickly when I learn of or see such things, and it’s nice to have a calmer voice reminding me of just how far those of us who believe in equal rights for all people have actually come.

That being said, we still have so far to go. Even President Obama’s recent Presidential Memorandum allowing for some extended benefits, such as visitation or dependent-care rights, to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees seems like a grain of sand in an hourglass that is bypassing the candidate of change.

DADT (don’t ask/don’t tell) was supposed to be repealed. Remember that promise? We’re still waiting . . .

Perhaps Obama plans to mete out change in tiny increments so that he isn’t shoving it down the throats of the Neo-Cons. But geez. DADT seems like such a no-brainer, at least to me.

Daniel: You think you could break a log like that??
Miyagi: Don’t know. Never been attacked by a tree.

Praying Mantis from Natl Geo
Praying Mantis from National Geographic (has nothing to do with this section; I just love the picture)

On to other things . . .

I learned today that the insurance company through which I receive my long-term disability benefits is denying my request for an upgrade of 6 percent as I paid for that option when I was actively employed by The George Washington University. Quelle surprise. The upgrade is supposed to be allowable for any non pre-existing conditions.

Well, my fybromyalgia was not diagnosed until November 26, 2007—after I had already been put on LT disability. However, just as I expected, the company found four pages of reasons as to why I do not qualify for this additional benefit for which I paid. Apparently, the doctor who diagnosed me did not list all of the criteria needed for a diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the “American College of Rheumatology criteria.”

What is it with insurance companies that they will gladly take your money in premiums, but they will nickle and dime you to death over benefits owed you?

I really hope that Obama’s supposedsocialist health care reforms will somehow trickle down to me because my monthly premium for health care is unbelievably high, and it only covers me, not the rest of my family. Thankfully, the boys are covered by their father’s policy until they are 19 unless they are in college. Corey was covered by his former union, and that’s one of the things that we’re keeping our fingers crossed over until he gets his new job.

Daniel: Wouldn’t a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

I wonder if there is anything else that I can bitch about in this post? Not in the mood to tackle Rush today. That’s usually a post by itself. The situation with the mortgage? Too depressing. The Virginia Gubernatorial race? Not ready for that one yet. The current state of Izzie the Trooper’s health? She’s in the shop now getting an estimate on how many arms and legs they want to make her run again.

I did see something completely sweet today, though. Brett’s two gerbils—Ben and Jerry—were snuggled up in the corner of their home, spooning. It was an aww moment.

Mr Miyagi with Chopsticks
The late Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi

Let me leave you with this tidbit of information: PETA (yes I believe in treating animals well, but these people are way over the top), objects to the way in which President Obama killed the fly that was dive-bombing him during a television interview. If you recall, Obama slapped the fly in a Mr. Miyagi move and nailed it. PETA has sent the President a fly trap that will catch the fly, and then said pest can be released outside.

Okay. I don’t believe in killing crickets or praying mantisssses or ladybugs or similar beautiful insects because it’s bad joss. But flies create maggots. Maggots make me gag. Big time. Flies also transmit diseases. The Black Plague of Europe anyone? Remember rats? Flies? Lots of dead people. Unfunny.

PETA needs to get a grip. The President wasn’t shooting wolves from a helicopter or field dressing a moose in the Rose Garden. Those things are appalling, and we all know of someone who boasted about doing them. Killing a dirty fly that feeds on feces? I’m sorry, but I have to give the Prez a big Miyagi “hai” for that one.

I need to go read and put ice on my head. More later. Peace.

Daniel:You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.
Miyagi: You… pretty okay, too.

Oh yeah. The whole Karate Kid thing? I know. I’m a dork.

                                                                                                          

If you are interested in becoming a part of a blogging community, go to Condron.us, where you will find blogs on a variety of topics. Click on “Add Your Blog,” and select the category that best describes your post. While you are there, peruse the blogrolls or add comments to the forums. Condron.us is a wonderful way in which to increase your blog’s traffic as well finding blogs with similar focuses as yours.

“Dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask.” ~ The X-Files

gustav-klimt-water-serpents-ii-c-1907-detail

“Water Serpents II” by Gustav Klimt (detail), 1907

Random Thoughts On Nothing At All

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday: The rain subsided today, for a while at least. I just saw on the TV ticker that severe storms are on the horizon—lightning, heavy rain, winds up to 60 mph. Can I just say that as much as I love a good storm, this whole rain thing is really getting old.

Last night (early morning), I fell asleep to the sounds of a major thunderstorm. When Corey and I first saw the bright flashes, we turned off all of the computers as we did not want a repeat of what happened a couple of years ago when a major portion of our electronics were fried in a storm. The insurance covered it, but there was a hefty deductible.

“Dreams say what they mean, but they don’t say it in daytime language.” ~ Gail Godwin

Thunderstorm from Albany University
"Thunderstorm" from Albany University Dept of Atmospheric and Environmental Science

I had the strangest dream last night. Apparently, I was supposed to be getting married. One of the strange parts was that I was wearing a wedding dress around town to do my planning for the wedding. None of my friends thought to point out that this was a mistake as I had not pulled the train to the dress up, and consequently, the dress was getting filthy.

The wedding was the next day, and I had a filthy, torn dress. I went into a what was supposed to be a tailor’s shop, but the people in the shop just looked at me as if they had never seen a needle and thread. They suggested that I try the tailor down the road. Now, in those lovely leaps of logic that a dream takes, as I was going to the next tailor, I suddenly realized that the previous tailor’s shop was a front for a drug cartel, and I decided that I needed to spy on them. None of the friends who were with me disagreed with my decision, so we circled the building and snooped.

At this point in the dream, my white dress turns black, solid black, and I begin to realize that it doesn’t mattter if my dress gets a little dirty because it’s black. In the meantime, I still haven’t bought the invitations to the wedding or picked out the flowers.

All of my friends want to go to lunch, and I agree, but I remind them that we only have a few hours left to accomplish everything, at which point they remind me that it’s my own fault for procrastinating.

That’s the dream. Way too much symbolism for me. I just know that I awoke with the headache creeping around the outside of my skull, preparing to take residence in my eye.

“What I take from my nights, I add to my days.” ~ Leon de Rotrou, “Vencelas,”  (translated)

As a result, I have spent another day lying on the bed in the fetal position, whimpering, while my two Jack Russells view this as an opportunity to cuddle around me, making me too hot. Let’s face it—I’m in for the long haul with this headache. The dogs may not mind, but as with the rain, I am so completely over it.

I had wanted to begin reading Bruce Hood’s book, Supersense, but the headache is preventing any reading. I know that I have mentioned Bruce’s site and his book before, but if you have never visited and are interested in quirky topics, just click on the Supersense link under my Recommended Reading list. Trust me, it’s a great site for people like me who question everything. I’m hoping that tomorrow can be a reading day, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

I do have a couple of draft entries that I had wanted to finish and post, but they require real thought, rather than meandering around my brain and putting down whatever happens to wander by. Sometimes, though, meandering can be quite interesting, especially when your thoughts land on something that at first appears to be a complete non sequitur, as in ‘where in the hell did that come from?’

Just a short post for now. More later. Peace.