“I am always tuning my orchestra. Somewhere deep inside there is a sound that is mine alone, and I struggle daily to hear it and tune my life to it.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, from My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Thomas Alexander Harrison La Mer nd oil on canvas
“La Mer” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Thomas Alexander Harrison

                   

“There is not so much, not so much as I had thought, not much though it is enough, I thought, though I think, though I say, though I will never say it cannot be enough, I was once a child, it is enough to have been a child and to have known this, to know and to be, to ferry, to cross, to apprehend is to remember and it is enough, I know.  And so the music makes me.” ~ G. C. Waldrep, from “What is a Hexachord”

Sunday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 72 degrees.

Well, it took two days, but Corey’s ship finally got under way last night around 9 p.m. On Friday morning I was in my doctor’s office when Corey called to find out where I was. He had been told to take his truck home and get back right away because the ship was going to get under way at 3 p.m. It was impossible for me to leave, so we decided that he would just park the truck, and I would get one of the kids to help me pick it up later.

Lowell Birge Harrison Fifth Avenue at Twilight
“Fifth Avenue at Twilight” (1910s, oil on canvas)
by Lowell Birge Harrison

I left the doctor’s office as soon as I could and went to the pier where I sat around for two hours waiting for Corey to be able to come out and say goodbye. Then he realized that he had forgotten his shaving kit, so I drove back home, grabbed it and Tillie, and drove back to the pier. Tillie and I said goodbye (again), and we left. That was around 2:40.

Corey texted me at 4:35 to see if his truck was still in he yard. It was. Apparently, they were not getting under way until 1 p.m. the next day (Saturday). I drove to the yard, gave him his keys, and we went back home. Saturday morning I drove him back to the ship and said goodbye again. The ship didn’t leave at 1 p.m. Pushed to 3 p.m. Didn’t leave at 3 p.m. Finally, finally, left last night.

It was an exhausting goodbye. It’s hard enough when we have to leave one another, but to have to do it three times is just nerve-wracking.

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking how you’ll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” ~ John Green, from Looking for Alaska

Last night I slept fitfully, waking every two hours or so. The dogs were so confused. I had spent a lot of yesterday trying to keep busy, trying to get caught up on here, spending some time with Tillie one-on-one because she gets so sad when Corey leaves. Then she jumped in the pool after we played stick, so I went ahead and gave her a bath, and since I was giving Tillie a bath, I gave Bailey a bath. I was soaking wet when it was all over.

Thomas ALexander Harrison Venice in Moonlight
“Venice in Moonlight” (c1885)
by Thomas Alexander Harrison

I thought that I had exhausted myself, but apparently not. Today, I’m sore, and that shot that my doctor gave me on Friday to try to alleviate the pain has had absolutely no effect. There is a spot on my left shoulder that is simply one big knot, and no matter what I do, it won’t release. It’s hard to stick your own thumb into a spot on your back to try to effect a release in a muscle, and obviously, it’s not working.

So today I’m trying to go easy, not make any plans to accomplish much of anything other than some laundry and some writing. We’ll see how those plans go. I was supposed to watch Olivia last night, but that fell through, and even though I miss any chance in which I do not get to spend time with her, I was really not in the best shape to have her here, so I guess that worked out for the best.

“Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding
and beauty. ~ Linda Hogan, from “The Way In”

On Tuesday, I have an appointment with the long-term disability guy again to go over my current status. I was turned down by Social Security yet again. This when I am about to be referred to a hand surgeon because of the constant pain in my left hand which is exacerbated anytime I try to write anything (left-handed, you know). I was appalled by how my penmanship looked on the latest form I had to complete, but hey, they get what they get. I tried.

Lowell Birge Harrison Moonlight on the River
“Moonlight on the River” (1919)
by Lowell Birge Harrison

In the short time that Corey was home he was able to do a few things, like change the igniter in the oven, except he changed the wrong one and had to do it over, and the one that he took out mistakenly broke when he removed it, so I need to order two more because the damned double oven takes three in all. He didn’t have the time or energy to do any kind of work on the bathroom, not that I expected him to do so, but he did get a chance to switch out the old television in our bedroom for the older television in Eamonn’s former bedroom because ours was on its last leg, and even though Eamonn’s was older, it still works. Get all of that?

Mostly he tried to relax when he could and to spend some quality time with Tillie. He enjoyed spending time with Olivia, who really loves him. Unfortunately, while I had her I took her over to my mom’s house, and Olivia didn’t seem to recognize her and wouldn’t let my mom hold her, which was sad for my mom, I know.

“The simple things come back to us. They rest for a moment by our ribcages then suddenly reach in and twist our hearts a notch backward.” ~ Colum McCann, from Let the Great World Spin

Anyway, what else is new?

I’m trying to stave off this depression, and sometimes it seems as if it’s working, and then I’ll be somewhere, like in the car, and I suddenly tear up because of a song on the radio, or a smell that wafts in through the open window. Fall just kills me.

Lowell Birge Harrison The Evening Star nd oil on canvas
“The Evening Star” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Lowell Birge Harrison

I feel as if I have so much on my plate right now, but I suppose as compared to most people, it isn’t that much. I don’t know. My ability to handle things when I’m feeling like this is pretty much altered for the worse. I spend my time watching things like “What Not to Wear” and wonder how these women have a hard time spending $5,000 on a new wardrobe. As I said to Corey, I could do that in an afternoon just buying shoes, boots, and purses. He nodded knowingly.

I want ………………………., hell, I don’t know what I want, cannot even begin to formulate what I want, what I need, what I feel. I know that I’m kind of lopsided emotionally at the moment because Corey has just left again, and neither of us want him to be going to sea forever, but for now it’s the best, perhaps only option. I hate having no options. Just makes me feel so trapped.

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from To the Lighthouse

Thomas Alexander Harrison Seascape nd oil on canvas
“Seascape” (nd)
by Thomas Alexander Harrison

I’m remembering Falls from the past, when the air would begin to cool, and the Literary Festival was just around the corner, and the campus was full of life and possibilities. That’s the word: possibilities.

I wonder when my life stopped having possibilities. If it did stop, or if I’ve just forgotten how to latch onto them, forgotten how to recognize them. I wonder so much that I’m whirling around in a maelstrom of my own construction. I just want to come up for air.

Bah. Bah, I say. Blue art by the artist brothers Thomas Alexander and Lowell Birge Harrison (American), and blue music for my mood.

More later. Peace.

Music by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, “Ain’t No Way”

                   

Fragments for the End of the Year

On average, odd years have been the best for me.

I’m at a point where everyone I meet looks like a version
of someone I already know.

Without fail, fall makes me nostalgic for things I’ve never experienced.

The sky is molting. I don’t know
if this is global warming or if the atmosphere is reconfiguring
itself to accommodate all the new bright suffering.

I am struck by an overwhelming need to go to Iceland.

Despite all awful variables, we are still full of ideas
as possible as unsexed fruit.

I was terribly sorry to be the one to explain to the first graders
the connection between the sunset and pollution.

On Venus you and I are not even a year old.

Then there were two skies.
The one we fly through and the one
we bury ourselves in.

I appreciate my wide beveled spatula which fulfills
the moment I realized I would grow up and own such things.

I am glad I do not yet want sexy bathroom accessories.
Such things.

In the story we were together every time.

On his wedding day, the stone in his chest
not fully melted but enough.

Sometimes I feel like there are birds flying out of me.

~ Jennifer K. Sweeney

“There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it. It is the same tantalising sensation when you almost remember a name, but don’t quite reach it.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from The Journals of Sylvia Plath

Eilif Amundsen In the Window nd oil on canvas
“In the Window” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Eilif Amundsen

                   

“I am a collection of dismantled almosts.” ~ Anne Sexton, from Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters

Thursday afternoon. Rainy and much cooler, 77 degrees.

So . . . ten days since last real post . . .

Eilif Amundsen House in the Park 1994 oil on canvas
“House in the Park” (1994, oil on canvas)
by Eilif Amundsen

So many reasons why, but better just to move on. First, status report on the bathroom renovation:

  • Tub has been installed. This after Corey had to take back the first two tubs to Home Depot (missing parts, cracked rim).
  • Almost all wood work has been done: joists, studs, ledgers; only need to frame the niches.
  • Toilet has been installed. Had to take back the first one because of a crack. Nothing is ever easy.
  • Sub floor is down as well as additional piece of wood to bring floor level with tub
  • Most of the plumbing is in place.
  • Wiring for tub is done; luckily, we had one breaker that only had a ceiling fan on it, which never made any sense to me.

What’s next?

  • Installing Hardiebacker board on floor and walls
  • Laying Ditra (waterproofing membrane)
  • Installing glass block window
  • Patching ceiling and painting (primer and paint)
  • Sanding door and painting
  • Installing vanity, cabinet, light fixture, ventilation fan
  • Tiling . . .

I’m sure I’ve forgotten things in both categories, but it’s nice to spell it all out. I’m itching to start the tiling, but can I just take a moment to say hooray for indoor plumbing?

“When you have nothing to say,
the sadness of things
speaks for you.” ~ Ruth Stone, from “Interim”

I’m still in one of those writing funks, the kind in which finding words is such a chore, rather than being a pleasurable experience. It’s hard for me, especially since most of the time words are my boon companion, my constant in a sea of change. Anyway, I decided I’d just do a random thoughts post and see where that takes me. Here goes . . .

  • I did one of those random tumblr surveys (McPoverty Calculator) about how much more I would be willing to pay for a Big Mac to help fast food workers make more money. I put in the highest amount, which was a whopping $.22. Based on their calculator, workers would make $15.23 per hour, or $31,671.83 per year as a result of this increase.

    Eilif Amundsen Danish Still Life, Window 2000 oil on canvas
    “Still Life, Window” (2000, oil on canvas)
    by Eilif Amundsen
  • Isn’t bettering someone’s life worth $.22, especially since what you are paying for is so bad for your body?
  • I don’t understand our society: We let people kill other people based on some kind of weird social indicator that points to our possessions being more valuable than people’s lives (like the law in Texas that allows you to shoot anyone who trespasses on your property that you deem could do you harm).
  • We are supposed to be a great country, yet one in almost four children live in poverty. Tell me, what is great about that? Dites moi . . .
  • Did you know that the most recent data show that over 16 million children are living in food insecure households (tenuous access to food)?
  • Contrary to what the Koch brothers contend, raising the minimum wage would benefit the nation as a whole because more people would be able to live without subsistence. That’s a good thing, right?

“Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.” ~ Meg Rosoff, from What I Was

Okay, so I went off on a bit of a political rant, but it can’t be helped. Blame it on the Big Mac . . .

  • Bailey the Puppy has adjusted very well to life here. Only a few accidents here and there, mostly if it rains. I tried taking her out with an umbrella, but she was too afraid of the huge golf umbrella and ran inside, leaving me standing in the wet grass.

    Eilif Amundsen Atelier Mirror 1985 oil on canvas
    “Atelier Mirror” (1985, oil on canvas)
    by Eilif Amundsen
  • Tillie is loving have a puppy to play with. I’m so glad this worked out well.
  • In between renovations, Corey has been taking some amazing photographs. I’ll post soon.
  • I feel terrible that I haven’t spent any time with my niece Hannah, but in between renovations and battling bubbly face, it hasn’t worked out. I’m hoping to see her this Saturday.
  • Brett officially changed his major from physics to English. I’m secretly delighted. Okay, maybe not so secret.
  • I finally gave in and expanded my LinkedIn profile. It’s not social like Facebook, so I think that I can deal with it.
  • Have I mentioned how glad I am to have indoor plumbing? I did? Well, it can’t be stated enough.

“Reality is yours, and your spirit is your own.
Stand here, or anywhere, long enough, and you will learn that.
It’s not the stream or the bridge; it’s where I stand
At a precise spot of nowhere and timelessness
Within myself, a door I can go through and be invisible” ~ Douglas Dunn, from “Just Standing There”

Let’s see . . . what else is going on in my mind or otherwise . . .

  • So I saw my new pain doctor on Monday and got a shot in my knee, so painful, and a series of shots in my right hand and wrist.

    Eilif Amundsen Green Backlight 1977
    “Green Backlight” (1977, unknown media)
    by Eilif Amundsen
  • Apparently, the x-rays I had done last week show arthritis in both of my knees. Lovely . . .
  • Of course because I just saw my doctor, I am now on day two of this particular migraine.
  • Speaking of my knees, can’t wait until I get to tile the bathroom floor, he, he, he.
  • The doctor was not amused when I told him that I was thinking of holding off on the wrist shots because I was getting ready to do a tiling project. His comment? “You should hired someone.” My response? “Are you paying?” (at least that was the response in my head)
  • I dropped by Lex’s apres le docteur so that I could see Olivia. If I waited for Alexis to come by, the baby might be in preschool . . .
  • That last comment was snarky, wasn’t it? Well . . . is it still snarky if it’s true?
  • I’m a little perturbed at her for various reasons, but I’ll get over it.
  • Olivia has more teeth coming in. I’ll be glad when we’re finished with the renovation, mostly because I’ll be able to have the baby over again . . . well, there’s that, plus the new bathroom and jetted tub and no holes anywhere.

“I am an old boudoir full of withered roses.” ~ Charles Baudelaire, from “Spleen”

I really love this quote

  • I haven’t read much Baudelaire (any?)
  • Another pitfall of this funk—haven’t been able to read either.
Eilif Amundsen Chair, Table, Window, oil on canvas
“Chair, Table, Window” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Eilif Amundsen
  • Because of the renovation, I’ve been doing most of the cooking, which reminds me that I hate to cook. I used to love it, but not so much any more.
  • Last night I made Mongolian Beef, which I’ve been thinking about cooking for a while. I don’t think that I like it any more.
  • I finally made Chicken Pad Thai for Corey. That was a hit.
  • Oh, did I mention that our refrigerator is broken? Probably not because I’m in denial, although why I couldn’t tell you. I mean, it’s so just our luck that our refrigerator would stop working now that we’re making real progress in the bathroom. Can’t be 100 per cent operational in this household.
  • I still contend that one of those crazy bitches I used to work with put a curse on me, but don’t ask me which one . . .
  • Speaking of which, last night I had a department store dream again. I was in the dog house for something, which is pretty close to the reality that of that period of my life.
  • My back is killing me. I think I’ll stop for now and go have some puppy time.
  • I do want to mention, though, that I think this random post helped. I’m been feeling progressively more comfortable with the words with each bullet.

Belated Happy Birthday wishes to my father-in-law John. Hope it was happy!

More later. Peace.

All images are by Norwegian artist Eilif Amundsen (1930-2007).

Music by Sara Bareilles, “Breathe Again”

                   

Rembrandt’s Light

We’re crossing Depression Era bridges
and she is becoming more beautiful,
driving with both hands on the wheel
as we head inland: away from saltwater eddies
where every few months an empty row boat
falls victim to the current, recirculates
against the rocky shore for weeks
before splintering its wooden hull
on the land’s dull and uncompromising teeth.
Rembrandt’s light always came from the left.
He painted and hoped the canvas would keep
his shadows, the eye drawn to where the flesh
was softest and the most tired: just beneath
the eyes where we keep our hurt and our joy,
where we seldom touch for how easily
the thin skin can bruise. Evergreens
invite us to agree on beauty. The fenced-off pier
begs for passengers. She says the light
is bleeding from the clouds. The pavement,
the undersides of leaves: every darkness shining.

~ Luke Johnson

“Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” ~ Stephen Fry, from Moab Is My Washpot

John Piper Covehithe Church 1983 oil on canvas
“Covehithe Church” (1983, oil on canvas)
by John Piper

                   

“All morning I was at my notes, ferreting through my life records, wondering where to begin, how to make a start.” ~ Henry Miller, in a letter to Anaïs Nin

Monday, early afternoon. Partly cloudy, 80 degrees.

Well, I made it through another Father’s Day. The hardest part of this particular holiday is seeing all of the cards on display. I don’t know why, but that always gets me. I had made a few revisions to “My Father’s Hands,” so I decided to post it again.

(c) Mrs Clarissa Lewis (daughter); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“A Ruined House, Hampton Gay, Oxfordshire” (1941, oil and Indian ink on canvas)
by John Piper

This year Corey wasn’t here as he’s in Ohio visiting his family for Father’s Day. It was a surprise for his dad, which is nice. Of course, his trip wasn’t without the usual hitches; this time, he missed his connecting flight in Atlanta and had to spend the night at the airport and pay $50 to change his ticket. It’s a good thing we hadn’t paid all of the bills yet so there was money on the card. He’s also getting to meet his newest nephew, Ian. I’m so jealous, as you know how I am about babies.

Speaking of which, I want/need to have Olivia over this week, but I’m not feeling up to doing this on my own, so I guess I’ll wait until the weekend when Corey is home.

“Tears were warm, and girls were beautiful, like dreams . . . I liked the deep, sad summer nights.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Dance Dance Dance

Life around the house has calmed a bit since Jake was taken back to the shelter. I made the mistake of going on the site to see if he’s featured, and it made me feel guilty all over again. He was such a wonderfully loving dog; I can only hope that someone full of love adopts him and gives him the home he deserves.

John Piper Seaford Head, 1933, mixed media
“Seaford Head” (1933, mixed media)
by John Piper

But I must admit that I’ve been able to focus better on training Bailey (yes, she officially has a name now!), and she’s catching on very quickly. Far fewer accidents and more going to the door when it’s time. The real plus is that she and Tillie seem to get along very well. They have play fights and tug-of-war, and it’s great to see Tillie back to her old self again, not hiding from Jake under the bed, only coming out when she absolutely had to. She’s asserted her place as queen of the household pack, and Bailey is learning the routine from her.

But I just keep picturing Jake sitting there in his cage at the shelter wondering what happened. Oh well . . . We did the right thing, so why does it feel so wrong? That’s usually how it is, though.

“The whisper of leaves, water running down gutters, green depths flecked with dahlias or zinnias; I deviate, glancing this way, or that way, I shall fall like snow and be wasted.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

I must sound like a fruit loop sometimes, the way I go on about dogs, but dogs have been a major part of my life since I was a child. I can’t imagine living without at least one in my life.

(c) Mrs Clarissa Lewis (daughter); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Welsh Landscape” (1950, oil on canvas)
by John Piper

In other news . . . I’ve actually been able to float in the pool a few times. It hasn’t been deadly hot and humid, and yesterday it was just the dogs and me and the sky. Very quiet.

I put Bailey in the pool, but she’s not quite pool-adept yet. Her big paws just pound the water. Tillie looks on with a bit of disdain; she hardly causes a ripple when she swims. Too funny.

I need to do some basics around here—laundry, paper work, some official replies—but I cannot for the life of me find even a spark of energy. Things haven’t gotten completely out of hand yet, but the mail is starting to make a small pile, and I have two baskets of clothes that I need to put away. The one good thing about Eamonn moving out is that the laundry has been cut in half. He routinely changes clothes at least twice a day.

Small favors.

“In my journal I write—I belong in this place of words. This is my home. This dark, bone black inner cave where I am making a world for myself.” ~ Bell Hooks, from Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood

Well, it’s the middle of the year, and I have yet to do anything about taking the GREs so that I can apply to GW’s doctoral program. This song and dance is not new for me. I have gone back and forth for so many years over whether I should pursue a doctorate. The truth is that having a PhD would probably do nothing for me professionally as there is a plethora of post-docs looking for work.

John Piper Park Place, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire 1941 oil on canvas on panel
“Park Place, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire” (1941, oil on canvas on panel)
by John Piper

Is it enough to go through all of this simply because I have always felt that I should do this? When I say always, I am not exaggerating—I have always, since I was an undergraduate, seen myself as holding a doctorate, teaching at some college somewhere.

I certainly don’t need the degree to pursue my writing. Lots and lots of successful writers out there who don’t hold degrees. For the writing I just need to write, and we all know that I haven’t done so well on pursuing that front either.

So what gives? Why oh why do I believe that I need this thing so much . . . I have no more answers than the last time I pondered this situation. Maybe I’ll just spend the rest of my years having this inner debate ad infinitum.

“An inheritance of wonder and nothing more.” ~ William Least Heat-Moon, from Blue Highways

I’ve spent the last few nights in my past again. Mari has made several dream appearances, as have the people I used to work with at Dillard’s. I have no idea if it means anything or not, but it leaves me feeling limp in the morning, as if I’ve traversed hundreds of miles in my sleep.

John Piper Seaton Delaval 1941 oil on canvas laid on wood
“Seaton Delaval” (1941, oil on canvas laid on wood)
by John Piper

Last night I dreamed that I had a phone altercation with a bill collector who was looking for Corey. That was very, very strange, but the strangest part is that I have a feeling it actually happened. I’ve been known to carry on entire conversations in my sleep. I can only hope that it was indeed a dream and not an actual occurrence.

I just remembered that part of my dream last night involved me floating about five feet off the ground on what can best be described as kind of a magic carpet, only it wasn’t a carpet, it was white and silky. I’ve had this dream many times before, and I’ve had the sensation of being able to float from place to place. These floating dreams are usually very enjoyable, for obvious reasons, but last night’s included a pit bull jumping up and grabbing me while I was floating. He was grey. No idea where that came from.

“Few people realise the immensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.” – H. G. Wells, from The War of the Worlds

(c) Mrs Clarissa Lewis (daughter); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Coventry Cathedral 15 November (1940, oil on plywood)
by John Piper

Corey will be home Wednesday evening. I couldn’t tell you why this particular trip hit hard, especially as it’s only for a few days. I guess it’s just an accumulation of things. I hope that I’m feeling better by then as I am so tired of feeling tired, so tired of feeling less than myself.

It’s hard to describe sometimes, this enervating lethargy. It’s not just feeling tired, but more of feeling like a rag that’s been wrung tightly and left to dry—shapeless, limp, used up. I’m not sure if I’m in the tail end of this particular depressive episode, if it is bodily aguish as a result, or if the body is causing the mind, or if it’s all unrelated.

When I finish this, I just may crawl back into bed. Even floating in the pool feels like too much work. I suppose the cobwebs will just have to wait another day.

More later. Peace.

All images by English artist John Piper (1903-1992)

Music by Gretchen Peters, “Five Minutes”

                   

Celestial Music

I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks
to god,
she thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth, she’s unusually competent.
Brave, too, able to face unpleasantness.

We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling
over it.
I’m always moved by weakness, by disaster, always eager to
oppose vitality.
But timid, also, quick to shut my eyes.
Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out
according to nature. For my sake, she intervened,
brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down across
the road.

My friend says I shut my eyes to god, that nothing else
explains
my aversion to reality. She says I’m like the child who buries
her head in the pillow
so as not to see, the child who tells herself
that light causes sadness—
My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me
to wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person—

In my dreams, my friend reproaches me. We’re walking
on the same road, except it’s winter now;
she’s telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial
music:
look up, she says. When I look up, nothing.
Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees
like brides leaping to a great height—
Then I’m afraid for her; I see her
caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth—

In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;
from time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.
It’s this moment we’re both trying to explain, the fact
that we’re at ease with death, with solitude.
My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar
doesn’t move.
She’s always trying to make something whole, something
beautiful, an image
capable of life apart from her.
We’re very quiet. It’s peaceful sitting here, not speaking, the
composition
fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air
going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering—
it’s this stillness that we both love.
The love of form is a love of endings.

~ Louise Gluck

“The weather varies between heavy fog and pale sunshine; My thoughts follow the exact same process.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 21 April 1918

Leon Spillaert, L'Arbre au Bout de l'Escalier
“L’Arbre au Bout de l’Escalier” (nd)
by Léon Spilliaert

                   

“Who will you be tonight in your dreamfall into the dark, on the other side of the wall?” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from Dream, trans. Alastair Reid

Monday, early evening. Intermittent thunderstorms, high humidity, high 70’s.

It was nice to sleep later today after having Olivia for two days, but it was nice to have her on Saturday and Sunday as I had really missed spending time with her. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t the best circumstances in which to introduce a baby . . . Awoke last night several times with a headache, a different headache each time. It was very strange, but all included extreme light sensitivity and nausea. Not sure if it’s the barometric pressure or the powder keg pressure that is the current state in our house.

Leon Spilliaert Clair de lune et lumières vers 1909
Clair de Lune et Lumières vers (1909)
by Léon Spilliaert

Even Corey, even-keeled as he is, admits that the stress is really getting to him, and he wants nothing more than to be left alone.

It’s an amalgation of many things: Tillie’s heightened stress over the battle with Jake; the whole idea of taking Jake back to the shelter from which we adopted him; the futile attempts at training the puppy (whose name is still not quite fixed because no one (myself included) seems to find Kopi fitting); Corey’s upcoming trip to Ohio, which, coming at a really bad time, means that we need to resolve so much before he goes; the broken air conditioner in the living room, which is making the front part of the house unbearably hot and uncomfortable . . . and on and on and on.

It’s no surprise that we are all feeling the pressure, and less of a surprise that the dogs are reading it and reacting to it.

“There are a thousand things I want.
Each begins with going back in time.” ~ Jill Alexander Essbaum, from The Devastation

I suppose much of it goes back to bringing home two dogs at once. If we had just brought home the puppy, she and Tillie might be bonding by now, and the puppy might have been able to pick up on Tillie’s demeanor. Instead, the puppy and Jake seem to bring out the worst in one another, and Tillie spends most of her time hiding and trying to get away from both of them.

XIR213998
“Green Seascape” (1909, pencil and watercolor on paper)
by Léon Spilliaert

When we brought Tillie home, we had both Jack Russell boys, but everything integrated so smoothly that I suppose we have been thrown off-kilter by how very different this experience has been so far. Tillie seemed to house train herself. She never chewed on furniture or shoes. She was an amazing puppy, and she has grown into an amazing adult dog.

The recent additions? Not so much.

I have taken to spritzing hairspray on the bottoms of some pieces of furniture to try to curb the chewing. Water mixed with hot sauce only seemed to make the furniture more tempting somehow. If the hairspray doesn’t work, I’ll buy some bitters. Granted, our furniture is far from top of the line, but we do have a few pieces that I really cherish, like my Bentwood rocker, which seems to having glowing lights around it serving to lure in the two miscreants. That rocker is over 30 years old, and I love it.

“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways . . . Without it, no species would survive.”~ Yann Martel, from Life of Pi

That paralyzing lethargy that I spoke of in the last post? Well it’s traveled to Corey, and now he feels completely unmotivated to do any of his projects, including installing the new air conditioner. I can hardly say anything to him as my own desire to accomplish anything is fueled only by the compulsive desire for the house not to be in a constant state of disarray, and a keen need for the living room not to smell like a kennel.

Leon SPillaert, Longing
“Longing” (nd)
by Léon Spilliaert

I keep washing throw rugs and pillows, and am doing a lot of moving things out of reach, but the puppy grows more each day, which means that things which were inaccessible three days ago are now within reach.

We had moved the dry dog food into the dining room this past winter to keep the raccoons from getting into it. Unfortunately, the puppy has realized that if she hurls herself at the bag, she has a good chance of knocking it over, which means FOOD NOW! Yeah, I know.

This morning we woke up to find that the whole house had been t-p’d—inside. One or both of them had unrolled a full roll of toilet paper from the bathroom to the dining room.

To say that I’m hating life right now is a massive understatement.

“What remains of its beauty yesterday?
I have kept all its feathers.” ~ André Gide, from Prometheus Illbound

I suppose I should be happy at the good news, which is that I seem to have lost a few pounds since Alfie died, but I’m too stressed to be looking at the glass half-full thing. I mean, I spent an hour sweeping the floors and wiping things down once I was able to get out of bed this morning.

Leon Spilliaert 1908 The-Royal-Galleries-of-Ostende
“The Royal Galleries of Ostende (1908)
by Léon Spilliaert

The guilt-infusing reality is that we have made arrangements to surrender Jake to the shelter on Wednesday. The woman with whom I spoke yesterday was able to reassure me a bit by telling me that all of Jake’s brothers have already been adopted, so chances are good that he’ll be able to find a new home, but I’m so worried that he’s going to end up back in that cage just wondering why? I’d be wondering why, and yes, I’m human, but dogs are sentient beings. Never doubt that.

Every time that I think about it I can see him sitting there with his beautiful dark eyes filled with sadness. Coward that I am, I don’t think that I can go with Corey when he takes Jake back. I mean, I actually started to tear up on the phone when I was explaining the situation to the woman on the phone. I have never in my life given up a dog, taken a dog to a shelter, albeit a no-kill, extremely clean and well-maintained shelter with lots of volunteers.

It’s all too much, and the thought of Corey going off and leaving me in a few days, even though it’s for a good reason, just makes me sad and more stressed.

Stressed. Stressed. Stressed.

“I’ve always been dark with light somewhere in the distance.” ~ Dallas Green

Leon Spilliaert-Wharf-with-Fisherman-on-a-Mooring-Post-1909-large-1340860501
“Whart with Fisherman on a Mooring Post (1909)
by Léon Spilliaert

So let’s recap shall we?

  • I made the mistake of adopting two dogs at once too soon after the loss of Alfie
  • The dog who has been queen of her doman is now living in constant fear
  • The dogs we adopted are feeding off each other’s energy, resulting in massive entropy
  • The little decent furniture we have has become chew toys
  • The barometric pressure is wreaking havoc on my sinuses
  • The humidity is thick enough to bottle
  • Everyone in the house is overwrought
  • The house that I have been OCD’ing over cleaning seems to be falling to pieces before my eyes
  • The puppy still needs a name.

Yep. That’s about right.

More later. Peace.

All images by Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert (I was able to find the associated medium for only one image).

Music by Lucie Silvas, “Place to Hide”

                    

At Half Past Three in the Afternoon

On one side of the world
I was watching the waterfall
shake itself out, a scroll unfurled
against a grey sky slate wall,
when on the other side—
it would be half past nine, and you
in bed—when on the other side
the night was falling further than I knew.

And watching the water
fall from that hole in the sky
to be combed into foam, I caught
a glimpse in the pool’s dark eye
of us, eating our bread
and cheese, watching the fallen light
crash into darkness. “Look” you said,
“a rainbow like a dragonfly in flight.”

On one side of the world
at half past five in the afternoon
a telephone rang, and darkness welled
from a hole in the sky,
darkness and silence. Soon,
in search of a voice—how to recall
“a rainbow like a dragonfly
in flight”—I walked back to the waterfall.

The trees had lost their tongues—
as I did, coming face to face
with the glacial skeleton hung
behind our picnic place.
The spine was broken, cracked
the rib-cage of the waterfall.
The pond under its cataract
knew nothing of us, knew nothing at all.

And what did I know, except
that you, the better part of me,
did not exist? But I have kept
your anniversary
today—or there, tonight—
returning to the creek, and trying
to understand. I saw the light
falling, falling, and the rainbow flying.

~ Jon Stallworthy

“I can’t feel a thing; All mournful petal storms are dancing inside the very private spring of my head.” ~ Franz Kafka, from Letters To Milena

Claude Monet The Seine at Port-Villez, Blue Effect 1894
“The Seine at Port-Villez, Blue Effect” (1894, oil on canvas)
by Claude Monet

                   

“And what were they anyway, sprigs of grass, things of blue? For a long time I wanted to use words, then didn’t.” ~ Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

Friday early evening, 80 degrees. Tropic Storm Andrea warning in effect.

I know. I know. The time between real posts seems to stretch on inexorably. The truth is, writing is hard at the moment. The truth is, I find myself in the midst of a major depressive episode, the likes of which I haven’t seen in many years.

Isaak Brodsky, New Moon, 1906, oil on canvas
“New Moon” (1906, oil on canvas)
by Isaak Brodsky

Why?

If I knew, I might be able to find some kind of resolution, but there really is no why. Not really. I’m just kind of empty, kind of numb, kind of unable to string together words to form sentences, sentences to form paragraphs. Mostly, I can write about why I can’t write, and I’m not really sure what kind of post that will produce, but I thought that I’d at least try.

If you’ve never suffered from depression, you simply cannot relate. You might try to understand, but it will be hard. It’s hard enough for the person who is suffering from depression. And because it is to hard for her or for him, it is hard for anyone who might happen to be in the vicinity.

I can only say in advance, that I’m sorry.

“—You’re very poetic.
—No, just sad.” ~ José Saramago, from Blindness

I think that this started about six weeks ago, but to be honest, I’m not sure. I know that it started while Corey was still at sea. It didn’t abate once he returned home, and it (the depression) took a major hit when I held my small dog Alfie’s body in my arms as Brett dug a grave beneath his bedroom window.

Georgia O'Keeffe Untitled paren Night City paren 1970s
“City Night” (1926, oil on canvas)
by Georgia O’Keeffe

In an attempt to alleviate my pain and sorrow, I convinced everyone that it was time to visit the human society from which we had adopted Tillie so that we could find a playmate for her, someone closer to her size. The reality is that it was too soon; I realize that now, but of course, it’s too late as we came home with two new dogs: a hound mix 8-week-old puppy I named Kopi, which is Indonesian for coffee (I had wanted to call her Gilly, but Tillie kept getting confused), and a 17-month-old named Jake, for Jack Kerouac (his name was Jack, but we all kept saying Jake, so that was obviously what he was supposed to be called).

You would think that the adoptions would have made some of the sadness go away, but instead, Jake reminds me of Shakes because he is an obvious mama’s boy who clings to me, and this made me think of Alfie, who was never loved enough because of Shakes, and it made me sad all over.

Add to this that the playmate we hoped Jake would be has not turned out as planned: Jake and Tillie do not get along at all; in fact, they seem to despise one another, but everyone gets along with Kopi.

And all of this has led to more guilt on my part for not waiting longer, guilt for bringing home two new pets without considering that Tillie might not like it even though we took her to the shelter with us, and she played with both of them without any problems while we were there. And of course guilt that life sucks for everyone when it sucks for mom.

“In my mind I am eloquent; I can climb intricate scaffolds of words to reach the highest cathedral ceilings and paint my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, everything collapses.” ~ Isaac Marion, from Warm Bodies

Depression is so insidious and unpredictable. It creeps up like a slow-moving fog, or it hits like a mighty nor’easter, all at once and unrelenting. This time, it was a bit of both. There was the gradual descent, and then the sudden appearance of a precipice. I was unprepared.

John DUncan Fergusson The Troacadero, Paris ca 1902
“The Troacadero, Paris” (ca 1902, watercolor)
by John Duncan Fergusson

As many of you know, I am on antidepressants and mood stabilizers, so some of you may be confused as to why I am depressed. The truth is that there is only so much that medicine can do. The brain is a funny thing. Somewhere within mine, a switch didn’t throw all of the way, or a connection was broken, and now, there is this, this nothingness, this painful numbness.

Depression comes from the brain, but it is felt in the heart.

I try very hard not to let mine show too much, but I know that I’m not very successful in doing so. And now we have two dogs and a plus one, for whom a future is uncertain. I know that we cannot return him to the shelter; that would be too cruel, for him to live with a family, get lots of attention, have a yard in which to run and play, and then to find himself inside a cage? I couldn’t do that to my worst enemy. And so we are searching for a family that can give him love. Unsuccessfully, so far. Ideally, behavior modification would be possible, and we could live happily with all three dogs.\

Ideally . . .

“I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.” ~ Robert Hass, from “Faint Music,” in Sun Under Wood

Outside, nature seems to be a perfect reflection of my state of mind: It is at once sunny and partly cloudy, and in the very next instant, grey with whipping winds. Who knows how intense this storm will be. We may have a fierce tropical storm or a short-lived thunderstorm, but I’m trying to pen this before everything hits and before Alexis arrives with the baby.

Edvard Munch, Starry Night, 1924
“Starry Night” (1922-24, oil on canvas)
by Edvard Munch

Even though my heart isn’t quite in it, we are taking Olivia for tonight and perhaps tomorrow night. It is going to be a task to continue to try to keep Jake and Tillie separated, try to watch over Kopi to make frequent trips outside for the potty training, and then, add to the mix the curious 11-month-old that Olivia has become, but I haven’t seen her in many days, and I miss her terribly.

Part of me thinks “to hell with it” as what’s a little more stress added to the mix, and part of me thinks this is another bad decision atop other bad decisions, and yet another part of me just doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.

The air outside is like liquid as the humidity is climbing to 100 percent, and my sinuses are constricting with the climb. A smarter person would crawl into bed for the duration, but a smarter person would not have brought home two new dogs so soon after the loss of long-time pets.

If I only had a brain . . .

“I wanted my own words. But the ones I use have been dragged through I don’t know how many consciences.”—Jean-Paul Sartre, from The Wall

It all goes back to my first section: Why?

August Strindberg, Jealousy Nigt, 1893
“Jealousy Night” (1893, oil on canvas)
by August Strindberg

I read an interesting piece about Stephen Fry, who I love in every single thing he does. Apparently, while working on a project in 2012, he had a major episode and attempted suicide by taking a bunch of pills with vodka. Fry, who suffers from bipolar disease, described it better than I could, although I must emphasize that I am in no way feeling suicidal:

“There is no ‘why’, it’s not the right question. There’s no reason. If there were a reason for it, you could reason someone out of it, and you could tell them why they shouldn’t take their own life.”

I mention this only because of Fry’s phrasing that there is no reason, and while he may have been talking about someone who is thinking about committing suicide, I apply the words to my own depressive episodes: There is no reason. Sometimes there is, but more often than not, there just isn’t. And so people on the outside sometimes think reductively, as in, “it’s all in her head,” and funnily enough, it is—in a way.

I’ll try to put together another post in the next few days, and maybe by then I’ll be able to express myself a bit more cogently, until then,

Peace.

Image theme: Blues

Edward Potthast Seascape moonlight
“Seascape Moonlight” (date unknown, oil on canvas)
by Edward Potthast

Music by S. Carey, “In the Stream”

                   

The Truth the Dead Know

For my mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my father, born February 1900, died June 1959

Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.

We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one’s alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.

~ Anne Sexton

“Follow the tugs in your heart. I think that everyone gets these gentle urges and should listen to them. Even if they sound absolutely insane, they may be worth going for.” ~ Victoria Moran

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1990, oil on photograph
“Untitled, 1990” (oil on photograph)
by Gerhard Richter

                   

“Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.” ~ Simone Weil

Friday, late afternoon. Sunny and quite windy, 61 degrees.

I’m hoping that I”ll be able to write an actual post today. I mean, I have my quotes, and I have chosen an artist for my images. Let’s just see if the brain can manufacture some cogent thoughts, string them together well enough that I actually have something to say.

Gerhard Richter, Abstrakt 1989, oil on paper
“Abstrakt 1989” (oil on paper)
by Gerhard Richter

I just came in from playing a rousing game of stick with Tillie. She has been so neglected lately (she says), especially because I keep bringing that new puppy around and paying so much attention to her, holding her, talking to her, playing with her. Tillie just doesn’t understand what the attraction is and quite frankly, she’s very perturbed with me that I am choosing the new puppy over her. I try to explain that Olivia will be leaving to go to her own home soon, but Tillie isn’t having any of it.

Hence, the undivided attention this afternoon. Dogs are funny, as I’ve said many times before, but dogs are also quite possessive and jealous, which I know from experience, but every time I have the baby for more than a few hours, both Tillie and Alfie start doing things to make me pay more attention to them. All of this makes me wonder if Tillie would actually want us to get another lab for her to play with . . . hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .

“We have only fragments—but even this seems fitting, for what is the moment but a fragment of greater time?” ~ Mary Ruefle, from Madness, Rack, and Honey

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1984, oil on paper
“Untitled 1984” (oil on paper)
by Gerhard Richter

So I have a real treat for Corey when he gets home: the History Channel show “Vikings.” I’ve recorded all of the episodes for him. I know that he’ll really like it. I’ve watched a couple of episodes, but I’ve decided to wait until Corey is back so that we can watch the rest together.

I have always been intrigued by Vikings, how their clans worked, the loyalties and the familial lineage. I have also always found it very unfair that Vikings were not given the proper credit for finding North America. Oh well, at least they are recognized more in recent history for their successes. Anyway, the show is very well done, and I’m so glad that I stumbled upon it late one night while I was channel surfing.

My other recent television obsession has been HLN’s coverage of the Jodi Arias trial. I have never really watched anything on HLN that has anything to do with current trials, and I find Nancy Grace to be so damned annoying. My mother used to watch the Casey Anthony trial coverage on Nancy Grace, and she would call me up and want to talk about it. Not so much. But I happened upon the Dr. Drew show, and it’s not him that I like so much as the women he has on his panels, criminal psychologists and lawyers. They are a funny group of women, biting wit, and they tell it as they see it. I probably won’t continue to watch after this trial is over, but for now, it’s pretty entertaining.

“Vitrac called chance a ‘lyric force.’  He’s absolutely right.  There’s a kind of dreamy exhilaration in not knowing where one is going.” ~ Charles Simic, from section III of The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks

Yes, my life does seem pretty boring most of the time, doesn’t it? Fortunately, I had a very nice afternoon yesterday. After Olivia went home, my friend Rebecca and I had lunch/dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. I used to work with her at the realty company. Now, she runs her own wedding photography business and is quite successful at it. She’s really come so far from being the marketing assistant I met ten years ago.

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1985, watercolour and oil on paper
“Untitled 1985” (watercolour and oil on paper)
by Gerhard Richter

Anyway, we/I decided that it’s really unfortunate that we don’t see each other on a regular basis. She was living in Suffolk, and now she lives outside of Richmond in a suburb with her new husband and her son. I’m making a promise to myself that I’m going to make a real effort to see her at least once a month. Friendship has to be maintained, just like a hairstyle or a diet, and frankly, you get a lot more out of a friendship than a workout.

Don’t ask me. I was going somewhere with the metaphor, but it wandered off in the middle, which is happening more lately. I’m really worried that one of my new medicines is beginning to wreak havoc with my cognitive abilities, kind of like the Topamax did. I know that my mind goes all over the place, but it’s really a pain when I’m looking at something on tumblr, and it causes me to think about something else, and then I blink my eyes, and the thought is gone.

I can’t really figure out any other way of explaining it. Simic (above) says that there is a dreamy exhilaration in not knowing where you’re going, and that can be true, but lately, it’s just plain irritating to get lost in the middle over and over again.

“For we are all bound in stories, and as the years pile up they turn to stone, layer upon layer, building our lives.” ~ Steven Erikson, from The Crippled God

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1994, oil on photograph
“Untitled 1994” (oil on photograph)
by Gerhard Richter

Along those same lines, I’m wondering if I am actually physically and mentally capable of going back to get my doctorate. I can’t string together coherent thoughts beyond the first couple of levels. Perhaps it’s a temporary thing, tied in with my inability to write, my inability to concentrate. Hell, I wish I knew what was going on. It’s little things, like not being able to find my download file any more.

Here’s a really stupid example of what I mean: I’ve been trying to remember for over a week something minor that I wanted to mention here, nothing of importance, just one of those “oh, by the way” kind of things, and for the life of me, it won’t come, and then I remember what I’ve forgotten at odd times, like at 3 in the morning when Tillie decides that she really needs to go out.

What is it? Nothing really other than I’ve discovered that centipedes can fly. Those nasty little critters of which I am terrified are back with the warm weather. I saw my first one on the bathroom wall, and as I was watching it—I swear this is true—the bugger jumped off the wall, flew towards me, landed at my feet and started scuttling across the floor at me.

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1991, oil on photograph
“Untitled 1991” (oil on photograph)
by Gerhard Richter

Our bathroom is small, which means I didn’t really have anywhere to go, and I was trying not to scream out loud because the boys would laugh at me. I stood on the side of the bathtub until it went under the cabinet.

So………………that’s what I’ve been trying to remember to tell you, and now that it’s out there, I kind of wish I had forgotten it.

Speaking of the bathroom, Corey gets to work on it when he gets home, and I know that he’s really excited about it . . . not. The floor is buckling. I think that we’re going to have to go ahead and gut it, even though we don’t have a secondary bath yet. Too much is falling apart in there, directly tied in to water damage, and it’s the kind of thing that can cause mold, dry rot in the wood, all things we can’t let go without dire consequences.

“Her life—that was the only chance she had—the short season between two silences.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Voyage Out

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1985, watercolour and oil on paper2
“Untitled 1985” (watercolour and oil on paper)
by Gerhard Richter

So I was looking for a file, of course I don’t remember which one now, but in searching I came across a paper I had written for one of my publishing classes. I opened it and gave it a quick read, and this is what I have deduced: I can write one heck of an academic paper if I want to. I’m not bragging—really—because I’m actually astonished. This has happened to me before: reading something I wrote years ago and being kind of surprised that I was the one who wrote it.

Example—I wrote a paper on Algernon Charles Swinburne in graduate school on his poem “Hertha.” When I ran across that paper many years later I was astounded to see that I had tied the poem’s lyric style to a particular symphony (of course, I can’t remember which one, at the moment), and I had brought in Norse mythology as a back story to Swinburne’s meaning. Who does that? I did, I guess, but be damned if I see that academic in me now.

Gerhard Richter, Untitled 1994, oil on paper
“Untitled 1994” (oil on paper)
by Gerhard Richter

Was I just faking it? Really, was I just playing the game?

I am so lost sometimes when it comes to understanding myself, my abilities, my strengths and my weaknesses. I hate to say this, but I think that I really am the kind of person who needs external validation for just about everything aspect of my self, or rather, the self that I know is created by others, or something like that.

What do I know, anyway.

More later. Peace.

All images are by German visual artist Gerhard Richter (b. 1932). I was particularly intrigued by his overpainted photographs. To see more of his work and to read about his history, click here.

Music by Night Beds, “22”

                   

Waking

Waking, I look at you sleeping beside me.
It is early and the baby in her crib
has begun her conversation with the gods
that direct her, cooing and making small hoots.
Watching you, I see how your face bears the signs
of our time together—for each objective
description, there is the romantic; for each
scientific fact, there’s the subjective truth—
this line was caused by days at a microscope,
this from when you thought I no longer loved you.
Last night a friend called to say that he intends
to move out; so simple, he and his wife splitting
like a cell into two separate creatures.
What would happen if we divided ourselves?
As two colors blend on a white pad, so we
have become a third color; or better,
as a wire bites into the tree it surrounds,
so we have grown together. Can you believe
how frightening I find this, to know I have
no life except with you? It’s almost enough
to make me destroy it just to protest it.
Always we seemed perched on the brink of chaos.
But today there’s just sunlight and the baby’s
chatter, her wonder at the way light dances
on the wall. How lucky to be ignorant,
to greet joy without a trace of suspicion,
to take that first step without worrying what
comes trailing after, as night trails after day,
or winter summer, or confusion where all
seemed clear and each moment was its own reward.

~ Stephen Dobyns

“My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn.” ~ Louis Adamic

Stormy Seas by Jake Pike
Stormy Seas by Jake Pike (cc)

                   

“She was feeling the pressure of the world outside, and she wanted to see him and feel his presence beside her and be reassured that she was doing the right thing.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Great Gatsby

Saturday afternoon. Partly cloudy, 63 degrees.

Well a front moved through yesterday, and temperatures are more like April. However, the bouncing temperatures are wreaking havoc with my head. I just haven’t had any energy at all in the past few days, but today I was feeling a bit better, that is until my mother called.

Apparently someone called her number looking for Corey and me, and my mother went off the deep end, and now she thinks that the police are going to show up at my door and haul me off to jail. It does no good to try to explain things to my mother because she makes up her mind, and always, always, it is in favor of whoever is not me. So I have to listen to how I’m a deadbeat, and so is my husband, and what in the hell are we doing anyway.

Stormy Sea 3 by Ldmondjinn deviantArt cc
Stormy Sea 3 by Lemondjinn on deviantArt (cc)

It’s unfortunate that these people called my mother, especially because she has an unlisted number, because she thinks that I gave these people her name and phone number. Like I would ever be stupid enough to do that. I tried to explain that Corey will be in port on Monday, and we’ll talk to the bank then, but noooooooooo. Not good enough. Consequently, the almost better mood that I was cultivating when I woke up has fast fled the premises.

I really, really hate days like these. I hate bill collectors. I hate everyone. Well, not everyone, but definitely bill collectors, especially as we have made a true effort since Corey went back to work to get back to erasing our debt. Nothing is worse than trying your best only to have it boomerang and slam you in the face.

“—tomorrow is our permanent address

and there they’ll scarcely find us(if they do,
we’ll move away still further:into now” ~ E. E. Cummings, from “all ignorance toboggans into know”

E. E. Cummings is appropriate for my mood: convoluted and obscure.

I just don’t know how or why or who or what. I just don’t know. I only know what I don’t know. I feel like I’m drowning here. I feel so overwhelmed and so tense. My neck is hard with knots. My shoulders hunched and hurting. Yesterday afternoon I tried to read a book of poems that Brett had lent me, but I couldn’t because of the spots in front of my eyes. They’re still there, but it doesn’t matter so much when I’m writing because I don’t need to focus on anything, not the screen, not the keyboard, nothing.

Stormy Sea at Coldingham Bay by Walter Baxter CC
Stormy Sea at Coldingham Bay by Walter Baxter (cc)

I realize what’s happening: I’m going into insular mode, retreating into myself beneath my invisible protective shell. It’s probably a good thing that invisibility cloaks are only the stuff of fiction, because if I had one, I’m not sure if I would ever poke my head out, choosing instead to remain cloaked and therefore, safe. So instead I’ll just hide here in my corner of the room in my corner of the house in my corner of the world, trying very hard not to draw any attention to myself.

Who have I become?

“I somehow have a feeling of being senselessly drawn, wandering senselessly through a senselessly obscene, absurd world.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 12 March 1928

I’m not at all certain that I like this woman, this person I am describing, the one who cowers and hides instead of facing things head on, shoulders back, an imperious glare daring the world to bring it on. What happened to that person, to that woman?

I feel so beaten down, so powerless, and it’s so much more than the telephone calls and my mother. I mean, it’s almost mid-April, and what happened to my big plans for the GRE, for my graduate school application? Is my desire for the doctoral program only so that I can retreat into the world of academia once more in order to avoid reality for another prolonged period?

Stormy Seas, Scarborough, UK WC
Stormy Seas, Scarborough, UK (Wikimedia Commons)

I’m sorry if I’m not making much sense, but I’m not making that much sense to myself either, if that helps . . . Hell, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say here. I feel like a walk-on player in the theatre of the absurd, one of Shakespeare’s fools, except the fools were the ones who actually saw what was going on and dared to comment on it. The fools, the japesters, the clowns—they sat back and observed and then pretended not to know or understand when in fact they saw things more clearly than the greatest kings and queens, but their lowly stature kept them in positions of obscurity.

So probably not a fool or a jape, or perhaps a fool or jape but without the wisdom. They had the wisdom but none of the power. I do not feel wise or powerful at the moment.

“My love,
for one hour, let’s sink into
the mercy of being irrelevant.” ~ Rane Arroyo, from “Surviving Utah

It’s as if I’m standing on the bow of a ship facing the wind head on, and the only thing keeping me from being tossed overboard is a very thin tether, and I’m dependent upon my knot-making for security, and, well, my knot-making is limited. I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it, let’s just say.

Stormy ocean 03 San Diego by  by Melissa Schranz cc
Stormy Ocean, San Diego by Melissa Schranz (cc)

Who is this person I’ve become? I honestly don’t know any more. All I can think of are nautical metaphors: lost at sea, thrown overboard, jettisoned with the waste, tossed in a gale.

When you have spots in your eyes, it’s hard to see what’s in front of you. Couple those spots with a tumultuous soul and a racked body, and the resultant being is hard to identify. Indefinable, nondescript, untethered.

Perhaps I have become the living embodiment of a 404 File Not Found. I would laugh if it weren’t so close to the truth.

“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd—the longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

I just took a time out to play stick with Tillie and take a shower. I didn’t realize just how sore I was until I threw the stick. Man, my body feels like it’s 80 years old.

Speaking of bodies, and I was, you know how I’ve always said that I don’t believe in plastic surgery? I think I’ve changed my mind. I cannot stand my bat-wing arms; they make me so self-conscious about wearing anything sleeveless. I don’t want bigger boobs, and I don’t want a nose job. I don’t want a butt implant, and I think my ears are just fine the way that they are, but seriously? I’m wishing I had the money to do something about my arms.

Stormy Seas creative commons
Stormy Seas (cc)

Vain? I know. I also know that fixing my arms won’t suddenly make me write better and won’t get me published. Fixing my arms won’t fix my relationship with my mother, and fixing my arms won’t make my kids decide what they want to do with their lives. But fixing my arms would make me a little more comfortable in my skin. And precisely because of this unbalanced list of pros and cons, without even going into the money that doesn’t exist, I will never get my arms fixed.

But I thought that I needed to end this post on a completely different note, not necessarily a positive note, but a different one.

More later. Peace.

Music by Birdy, “Terrible Love”

                   

Cityscape

I have a word for it —
the way the surface waited all day
to be a silvery pause between sky and city —
which is elver.

And another one for how
the bay shelved cirrus clouds
piled up at the edge of the Irish Sea,
which is elver too.

The old Blackrock baths
have been neglected now for fifty years,
fine cracks in the tiles
visible as they never were when

I can I can I can
shouted Harry Vernon as
he dived from the highest board
curving down into salt and urine

his cry fading out
through the half century it took
to hear as a child that a glass eel
had been seen

entering the seawater baths at twilight —
also known as elver —
and immediately
the word begins

a delicate migration —
a fine crazing healing in the tiles —
the sky deepening above a city
that has always been

unsettled between sluice gates and the Irish Sea
to which there now comes at dusk
a translucent visitor
yearning for the estuary.

~ Eavan Boland