62, 22, 9, 4, 32

 

“He described feeling an aversion to other people. Not a murderous rage, but a cold, dismissive hate. He hated others, he explained, the way some people hate broccoli.” ~ a reference to Aurora, Colorado gunman james holmes in a Washington Post ARTICLE (March 15, 2018)

Tuesday afternoon, cloudy, 79 degrees

Today’s Two for Tuesday does not feature poetry. Unfortunately, it features two mass shootings in two days: El Paso, Texas (22 dead, 26 injured) and Dayton, Ohio (9 dead, 27 injured in 32 seconds). Less than a week ago, 4 people were killed and 12 injured in Gilroy, California. Nowhere else in the world do events such as these happen with this frequency.  Yes, there are other mass shootings in other countries, but nothing like what happens here in the USA.

Tampa Bay Times front page

Yesterday, the Dumpster Fire in Chief actually used a medium besides Twitter to address the nation in a stilted speech in which he condemned the very racism and white nationalism that he continually stokes, in which he got the massacre locales wrong (Toledo for Dayton, and Houston for El Paso), and in which he tried to pin the blame on video games and mental illness. Consider, video games flourish all over the world. People suffer from mental health issues all over the world. But these things do not happen with this frequency anywhere except here.

Researchers do suggest that certain factors can be predictors as to whether or not someone can become a mass shooter: “a strong sense of resentment, desire for infamy, copycat study of other shooters, past domestic violence, narcissism and access to firearms.” However, according to criminologist Adam Lankford, a country’s rate of gun ownership is a far better predictor of public mass shootings than indicators of mental illness; Lankford, a University of Alabama associate professor, published a 2016 analysis of data from 171 countries in the journal Violence and Victims.

Additionally, the attempt to link violent video games to mass shooters only perpetuates a falsehood. Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, states that there is no statistical link between playing violent video games and shooting people. A 2004 report by the Secret Service and the Education Department determined that only 12 percent of perpetrators in more than three dozen school shootings showed an interest in violent video games.

Time magazine created a chart showing the number of mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982; below is the section for 2019 alone (totals do not include the shooters), indicating that 62 people have been killed by mass shooting so far this year. We still have four months left in 2019, people. The statistics are grim:

Mass Shootings in 2019 (Time Magazine)
“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.” ~ President Barack Obama (August 5, 2019)

In 2007, after the shootings at Virginia Tech, I thought that there might actually be some leveling of the gun laws in this country. Then, in 2012, I believed that surely after the Newtown shooting of school children that we would come together as a nation and actually do something. Then in 2017, when one man killed 59 people and injured 527 in Las Vegas, I thought to myself, “surely now something will happen.”

I can be incredibly naive at times.

But something feels different this time. At least, I like to hope/think so. Consider—news organizations and pundits are actually calling these heinous events what they are: DOMESTIC TERRORISM. So many of us like to sit on our sofas within the safety of our homes and decry the terrorism that may be visited upon us by Al Qaida or some other group of Muslims or Mexicans or whoever we happen to most fear and loathe in our ignorance. But we need not look to the other to find the real threat, the true enemy. We need not worry about those who worship differently, or those whose skin isn’t Caucasian, or those whose accents aren’t ‘merican.

The enemy is within. It is us. The enemy frequents 4Chan or 8Chan or whatever other forum happens to be exploding with venom shared by the disaffected or outlying or just plain evil individuals who post their screeds in the ether. And as one commentator pointed out, these are not manifestos; labeling them as such gives these rants too much credit.

These terrorists are incubated and bred right here at home. They haven’t invaded, to use the dumpster’s term for anyone who has immigrated or who seeks sanctuary. The killers come from a few states over, or a nearby city or town, or even next door. The people responsible for slaughtering scores of Americans in recent years are more often than not white males who feel that the world just isn’t fair, who may or may not have been bullied, who contend that a brown man or black woman has stolen the job meant for them, who believe the Kool-Ade that this administration spews from the sacred pulpit of Twitter or proclaims vociferously at red-hatted events. And some simply want to be famous, or infamous, as the case may be.

“America’s is not a uniquely cruel culture, but it is a culture awash in guns. While bullies exist everywhere, the United States has one of the highest gun-ownership rates in the world. That’s what makes social rejection in this country so uniquely deadly.” ~ from “Why Many Mass Shooters Are ‘Loners’” (The Atlantic, August 5, 2019)

To label these hate-filled people as being crazy or mentally ill does a great disservice to those who actually suffer from mental illness and do not go on killing rampages. I would also contend that blaming mental illness alone for their actions gives them yet another excuse that they don’t deserve. True, some may have suffered from untreated conditions such as depression or schizophrenia, but the Dumpster’s “focus on ‘mentally ill monsters’ oversimplifies the role of mental illness in public mass shootings and downplays the ease with which Americans can get firearms” (ABC News).

No one forced any of these individuals to acquire a gun or several guns; no one filled their arms with multiple rounds of ammunition. That being said, they were not created in vacuums. They were indoctrinated into a world of hate via online chats and inculcated via televised screeds, and for some, their mental illness may have led them to be more easily swayed. Some, but not all. We must not downplay the role of hatred in all of this.

The enemy is us, and we are him. This enemy wants us to be afraid of the other. I would prefer to be angry, not at the other, but at the system that nurtures the environment responsible for gestating such people. I would contend that righteous indignation is the best response to such ignorance. I would aver that abiding intolerance should be directed at those elected to represent and protect us, the ones who refuse to do what is needed and right, the ones who so fear a gun lobby that they remain silent, offering only the standard thoughts and prayers, as if those thoughts and prayers could actually shield us.

I’m tired of hoping that things will change. I’m past the point of being shocked at the numbers. The numbers don’t lie; they leave the lies to the selectively impotent politicians, the ones who decry loudly that the concept of healthcare for all will destroy our national way of life, but remain mute in the face of the actual death knell to a free society: unabated killing after killing after killing.

We should all be mortified that our school children are now routinely taught what to do in the case of an active shooter. We should be weary that yet another candlelight vigil for families and survivors brings no actionable change. We should be embarrassed that the rest of the world views us as little more than savage heathens who strap on our guns before going to church or out to dinner and who love our guns more than we love our citizenry. How much longer must we be strong and resilient in the aftermath of gun violence? When will we finally get off our knees and do something more concrete after offering feeble thoughts and prayers that do nothing to assuage the violence. We should do all of this and more, but I fear that we will not, at least not in my lifetime, and I fear that we shall all continue to slow dance in this quicksand.


Advertisements

A Murmuration of Starlings

Murmurations: Spectacular Starlings Signal Winter Is On Its Way

A Murmuration of Starlings arriving at Gretna in the Scottish Borders on November 1, 2011
by Owen Humphreys (PA/Landov)

by Sonia van Gilder Cooke
Time Lightbox (click through to see all images)

Click here to find out more!

A Murmuration of Starlings (4)
by Owen Humphreys (PA/Landov)

No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock. Despite their show of force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a drop in nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after the evening’s ballet.

Sonia van Gilder Cooke is a reporter in TIME’s London Bureau.

Note: Murmuration . . . isn’t that the best word? It deserves to encircle the tongue lovingly. I love this word.

                   

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

~ Mary Oliver

“Time will reveal everything. It is a babbler and speaks even when not asked.” ~ Euripedes

Vintage Zenith Clock Sign in the Carrer de l'Espaseria, Barcelona, Spain, by Arjan Richter (FCC)

                   

“Time has no mercy. It’s there. It stays still or it moves.
And you’re there with it. Staying still or moving with it.
I think it moves. And we move with it. And keep moving.” ~ Simon J. Ortiz from “Time as Memory as Story”

Monday, late afternoon. Sunny, 68 degrees.

The ticking clock? What was I waiting for on Friday? News. A delivery. A decision.

Old Clock in Salzburg by Kitti Jakobovits (FCC)

The shipping company called Corey on Friday and said that they had an immediate opening if he had gotten his credentials back. The UPS tracking said that the package was due to be delivered that day. Should he stay or should he go? We decided that if everything worked out as far as timing, he should go.

In my heart, I knew that going back would be the only way that Corey would be able to redeem himself in his eyes. So we waited. The package was delivered around 3:45. Corey called his contact and left a message. On Sunday he got a call back: Expect to leave on Tuesday. Then he got another call: make that Monday night.

He left today at 2:54, going to Dulles, then to Copenhagen, then to Lithuania.

We checked and rechecked everything. He repacked to make his suitcase lighter. We checked again. If he didn’t have it by the time his baggage was checked at the counter, then he doesn’t have it. But we know for sure that he has his MMD, his passport, his computer and the USB, his phone and the charger . . .

“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

I’m much weepier than when he left the last time. Part of it is timing, part of it is my breakdown on Sunday, part of it is today. It’s just too much to absorb in just one day. Sometimes absolutely nothing happens in a day, and other days, everything happens, and when that’s the case, it’s just too much.

Station Clock, Cobh Heritage Centre, Ireland, by Athena's Pix (FCC)

Let me give you an example: the song “Mandolin Rain,” by Bruce Hornsby showed up on the right side of my YouTube today. I’m not sure what I was searching for that would make that song appear, but “Mandolin Rain” was the song that my ex listened to over and over after we lost Caitlin. It’s a song full of meaning, so of course, it comes blasting back at me like some kind of rocket from the past.

Time is funny that way. It can move along sequentially, and then it can seem to run parallel, and then when things really get crazy, it can seem as if tangents of time are running wildly out of control. As I stood at the airport demarcation between passengers with tickets and the rest of us, I was caught in one of those sequences. Time was moving forward, taking Corey across an ocean away from me. Time was moving backward, bringing back memories of a March afternoon on which I gave birth to my second daughter, and time was standing still as I waited for that final wave—I was static, standing in one place as people came and went all around me, some leaving, some arriving, some running to say hello, some clinging as they said goodbye.

I had all of time in one moment.

“In the yellow time of pollen near the blue time of lilacs
there was a gap in things. And here we are.” ~  Luke Davies, from “from Totem Poem [In the yellow time of pollen]”

Yesterday afternoon I collected these quotes, thinking that I might go ahead and write another post, but after I found the quotes and found the images, I couldn’t write. Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes I find the quotes and write the post but cannot find the right images, and sometimes I find the quotes, but nothing else comes.

Brighton Station Clock, UK, by Elsie esq. (FCC)

Everything happened so fast between the quotes and the telephone calls. He was going. He was going on Tuesday. He was going Monday night. He was going Monday afternoon.

Last night we lay side by side holding hands and talking—was this the right thing to do? Yes, definitely. Probably. Maybe. Finally I found a way to put what I was feeling into words: Even though I don’t have a lot of faith in this company to come through with a complete hitch for Corey, right now it’s available, and it’s good money. In the meantime he has his other applications out, and he can explore other avenues. This trip gets him back on the water, gives him some ocean time as opposed to near-coastal sea time (it makes a difference, believe me), and he can use however many days he does with this company to put towards a few more certifications, like Tanker Man.

So while the leaving is less than perfect, not nearly enough time to take in everything, the going is good. At least that’s what I keep telling myself even as my chest tightens and I begin to get watery eyes.

“A special kind of silence prevailed, a silence that figures neither in musical nor in philosophical dictionaries, as if time were coming apart and flying off in different directions simultaneously, a pure time, neither verbal nor composed of gestures and actions.” ~  Roberto Bolaño, from Amulet

So after Corey fell asleep last night, I wrote him a letter and left it on his laptop where he would find it later. I told him that I believe in him and that I believe that this is the right thing to do. I assured him that we would all be fine, and asked him to concentrate on his job and not worry about what’s going on at home.

Pocket Watch by Ludmila Vilarinhos (FCC)

Then I tried to go to sleep, unsuccessfully. I had a stomach ache. I had a pain in my chest. Nerves, all of it. Eventually I did fall asleep, even as my mind went through a checklist of things that I needed to make sure were in the suitcase.

Brett couldn’t go to the airport with us as he had a test at school, so it was just Eamonn and me seeing Corey off, telling him to be safe, telling him that we loved him. And I willed myself not to cry, to save the tears for later. Now here I am, sitting at the computer in Eamonn’s room, the afternoon sun coming through the window, Shakes snoring beneath my chair, and the house otherwise empty and silent.

And finally, my body is beginning to feel the exhaustion set in. I think that if I were to lie down, I would probably fall asleep in seconds. But not yet, not quite yet.

“5. I know that time is bound up with space. Time is the shadow of space. Space the shadow of time. I know that we live in the shadow of a shadow and that it returns to the light.” ~  Patrick Dubost, from “What I Know”

After leaving the airport I thought briefly of going to the cemetery, but I realized that such a move would probably do me in, and I would be right back where I was when I awoke yesterday. So I came home, and here I am, mulling over the concept of time and movement, and I have to wonder if a watch stops, does that mean that somewhere, time has stopped as well?

Conflicting Time, Chicago, IL, by dbking (FCC)

The old watches and clocks, the ones that we wound so carefully, cultivating time, harboring time, those time pieces—they were the keepers of the past and the present and the future. Now, the ones powered by batteries, those are merely mechanisms. There is nothing magical about them. I prefer the Roman numerals, the sweep of the second-hand to the digital display. My m-in-law had an old ship’s clock in her living room. It was made of brass, and it chimed the hours and the half hours, and that chime was, I believe, in the key of A, or at least that’s how it sounds in my memory. Eventually the spring mechanism broke, and the clock sat there idly, but its presence was a constant reminder of the hours that it had kept, and the time that had passed in that room.

I have an old watch that belonged to my father. It’s a wind-up, but it no longer works. I have considered taking it to a jeweler to see if I can get it fixed. It’s not a valuable watch, except to me. It has the imprint of my father’s wrist on the inside of the olive green leather strap, and I’m certain that it retains the memory of his DNA. Wearing it is like wearing a piece of him, like I’m sharing an afternoon with him, and he’s making me a cup of tea.

Whenever my father, for whom English was a second language—but he spoke it very well, more properly than my mother—whenever he left for one of his trips somewhere in the world, the last thing that he would say to my mother and me was “See you when I gets back.” I know that he knew that the gets wasn’t correct, but I think that somewhere in time, that must have been how he said it the first time, and saying those same words each time he left was like a talisman.

So I will see Corey when he gets back.

More later. Peace.

Music by Mazzy Star, “Into Dust”

                   

For What Binds Us

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

~ Jane Hirshfield

“Remembrance and reflection how allied. What thin partitions divides sense from thought.” ~ Alexander Pope

Antique Grandfather’s Clock Face

    

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.” ~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Remembrance, reflection, recrimination, and finally, regret. 

Once upon a time, I had four coffee mugs, each with a different quote by Shakespeare. My favorite mug, the one that I used at work for several different jobs, was the one inscribed with the quote above. That mug is gone now, and I have never been able to find another set of mugs like the first one. 

Odd the things you remember when you least expect it. 

“People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.” ~ St. Augustine
Antique Clock Face

I’m in a melancholy place. I realize that this state is due in part to Jennifer’s situation and my inability to separate completely what is happening to her from what happened to Caitlin. Last night when Alexis called me to give me an update, she said that she was afraid to call me because I always seemed to get upset. I told her that I wanted her to call, that I needed to know what was going on. 

Jennifer isn’t Caitlin. I know that. I also know that I harbor knowledge that no one should have to have imprinted on memory but unfortunately, too many people do: the names and categories of brain tumors, what a shunt is and how it works, the questions to ask a neurosurgeon and an oncologist. It’s the kind of knowledge that I wish I did not own, never had to incorporate into my life. 

I also know fear, real, palpable fear, the kind of fear that takes over life and makes every second a study in emotional torture: Fear of the unknown and the known, fear of the uncontrollable, fear of that which is in our control, fear of time passing too quickly, and fear of not having enough time. It is the kind of fear that you can know intimately but be unable to articulate, and it certainly cannot be described adequately to inform someone who is in the midst of it. 

“There are places in the heart that do not yet exist; suffering has to enter in for them to come to be.” ~ Léon Bloy
Antique Grandfather's Clock in Antique Store

So many decisions still need to be made, decisions about who will care for Reilly permanently should Jennifer not recover. I remember being Jennifer’s age, remember my own fallibilities at that time, and cannot imagine having to make these decisions with my younger sense of self. 

This is part of the unfairness of fate: only having the knowledge to face the worst when the need for that knowledge no longer exists. I do not believe in that saying that a person is never given more to bear than he or she can handle. These onerous loads are almost always placed upon the people who are most unprepared. That is because most people live life forwards, hoping for the best and guarding against the worst. 

Only people who have touched the face of relentless pain and despair realize that the future is dependent upon the past, that normalcy is a myth. When the impossible becomes reality, it is almost always more than any individual is prepared or able to bear.  Survivors, those left behind, almost always wish not to be. Those who survive are forever changed and not necessarily for the better. Survivors muddle along after the life-cleaving event, never again complacent, some small part always thinking about the worst that can happen. 

The truth is that two kinds of people exist in this world: the whole and the broken. And the whole become broken after sharing intimacy with tragedy. 

“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.” ~ Pearl S. Buck
Late 19th Century Pocket Watch (Swiss)

As sentient beings we make thousands of choices during our lifetimes. Sometimes the choices are easy, requiring little thought or reflection. Other times, the choices that we make ultimately change the courses of our lives. 

I have made too many choices that I regret, choices about Caitlin, choices about my father, but the decision that I made 12 years ago is the one haunting me today. When I found out that Alan had cancer, I called his sister and asked if I could visit him. I set a date, but on that day, I stayed at school late; I don’t remember why. By the time I was supposed to drive to Alan’s house, I was exhausted. I did not go. 

Alan died before I saw him. At his funeral, his sister told me that he had gotten dressed and had come downstairs on the day that I was supposed to visit. He waited for me. It was one of his lucid days. I know that she did not tell me this to shame me; she was trying to let me know how much Alan still cared about our friendship. 

My reasons for not going that day are worthless. Some of you may wonder why I still think about something I did not do 12 years ago. I can only tell you that I am haunted by my bad decisions, particularly those that directly affected someone else important to me. 

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” ~ C. S. Lewis
Old Watches

I’m really not certain as to why this post took this turn. I can only say that after talking with Alexis last night, I was overcome with feelings of regret—the insufferable what-if of life. 

And then last night I did sleep, but it was fitful and filled with disturbing dreams: I had a baby, a girl, and I was amazed that she was talking so soon. Then the girl child turned into a boy child. I was sitting in a waiting room while Corey was in a class. Someone said, “Does anyone know whose baby this is?” 

I said that he belonged to me, but he was supposed to be with his father. The boy came running to me, and I swooped him into my arms. Throughout the dream, my ex kept appearing, and I thought it odd that he would want to spend time with me now that he is living with his girlfriend. Corey was not happy to see him. 

Brett, Alexis and Eamonn were helping their father to drag bags of empty cans into a place for recycling. My ex asked if we would help. The baby disappeared. Corey and I turned away and began walking down a sidewalk. 

I woke up with another headache. 

“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real.” ~ Libba Bray
Time with Shadows and Light

Chiaroscuro ((k-är-skr): The practice of using the contrast of light and dark pictorially; also called clair-obscur. What a great word and also the perfect description of my life. 

Sometimes I think of life in photographic terms: light and dark, what is seen versus what is shadowed. The images that are crystal clear from a distance can become unfathomable when looked at too closely. And some images that are easily interpreted upon first glance later morph into something that cannot be comprehended when revisited. 

Perhaps this accounts for my preoccupation with the sky: my love for blue skies is matched only by my love for night skies. I am a study in contradictions:  I am comforted by the mountains as well as the sea. What wounds me also nourishes me.

Would that I could be the kind of person who accepts things at face value, who moves through life unfettered by the need to question, to analyze, to disseminate, to cull. Would that allow me to move past the past, to bury all of the speculation and regret? Or perhaps it is just as Oscar Wilde once said: “One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.” 

More later. Peace. 

Music by One Eskimo, “Kandi” 

                                                                                                                                         

Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint 

Never let me lose the marvel
of your statue-like eyes, or the accent
the solitary rose of your breath
places on my cheek at night. 

I am afraid of being, on this shore,
a branchless trunk, and what I most regret
is having no flower, pulp, or clay
for the worm of my despair. 

If you are my hidden treasure,
if you are my cross, my dampened pain,
if I am a dog, and you alone my master, 

never let me lose what I have gained,
and adorn the branches of your river
with leaves of my estranged Autumn.

~ Federico Garcia Lorca

Treading Water in a Waterfall

Panchghat Waterfall 

Camels’ Backs, Quicksand, and Occam’s Razor

Treading water in a waterfall is similar to slow dancing in quicksand: No forward motion. Movement without gaining ground. Empty gestures. Hopeless endeavors that do not compel any sort of resolution or solution, only convolution, dissolution, disillusion.

Quicksand
Slow Dancing in Quicksand

When I was married to my ex, I had regressed to a point at which my life was balanced precariously on eggshells: One wrong move, and everything would come crashing down about my ears. His anger, always keenly beneath the surface, could arise at any given moment. The spectre of it loomed, clouded everything. The arguments grew exponentially in caliber and sound, until at last, I realized that neither of us could thrive in such an existence, and those with the most to lose—our three chidren—were powerless to effect a change.

It was not until later that I began to realize that this constant assault on my psyche had changed me in terrible ways. I was quick to anger, loathe to retreat. I would assess blame even when blame was not justified. And the most horrible aspect was that I was unable to forgive, to apologize and mean the words truly. Apologies had become a sign of weakness: I would never admit weakness.

It took years for me to learn how to apologize and mean the words wholeheartedly. It has taken what seems like eons not to blame everyone but myself, and at times, I think that I have flipped a complete 180° in that I am willing to blame myself for so many things.

These things are touchy, personal, private, perhaps not for general consumption, but they reflect my inability to see things clearly. For example, Corey’s desire to look at pictures of other women I blame on my weight gain, my feelings that I am no longer sexy, no longer desirable. The time that Corey spends on the computer I blame on the fact that I do not offer stimulating conversation, am not good company.

But what if Corey is just bored? Does it follow that he is bored with me? To assume so is pretty egotistic, to say the least. What if Corey spends so much time on the computer because he doesn’t have a job and feels completely lost? Should I not afford him that benefit of the doubt? These, too, are possibilities.

However, the anger that is boiling in Corey—to what do I attribute that? Is it me? Have I once again driven another spouse to distraction with my incessant bitching, with my neediness? Is this who I really am? Perhaps. I honestly do not know, do not have perspective. I have lost my true north. I feel as if I am traveling back in time to a period that is best forgotten. I feel as if I am being tugged, inexorably, to a situation that had no winners, only losers.

Dark clouds hangin’ over me
When will they go away ~ From “Cloudy Days,” by Alison Krauss

Wave clouds over Mt Pisgah NOAA
Wave clouds over Mt. Pisgah (Image by NOAA)

Corey and I have been living with each other for almost two years now without any kind of buffer, the kind of buffer afforded by a job, the kind of buffer that comes from not spending 24 hours a day with each other, the kind of buffer that is gained by having conversations with other adults. How people who are married manage to work together is beyond me. I have never viewed such as thing as a positive situation. Even when Paul and I both worked at the medical school, we were in different departments, on different floors. Eventually, we were in separate buildings. We did not see each other unless we wanted to. We ate lunch together sometimes but not always.

Some individuals have incredible patience and an ability not to be affected terribly by circumstances beyond their control. Admittedly, I am not one of those individuals. And while Corey is patient, I know that he is well beyond his acceptance level of the current situation and all of its ramifications.

Family is not supposed to be a 24/365 proposition. It was never meant that way. Even our forebears from ages ago did not live under such circumstances. Depending upon the region, either the male or the female went out as a hunter/gatherer, and the respective partner would stay in the village and care for the younger members, keep the huts maintained.

When neither partner in the relationship is the hunter or the gatherer, an imbalance occurs. One or both become obsolete. It can’t be helped. In a home in which the only diversions are the dogs, books, music, the computer, the backyard, how does one find amusement? Or enjoy what is now coming to resemble escape? Even Brett gets to leave the house to go to school.

Alternatives? Hard to find. Spending time in fixing up the house is not possible without funds. Funds are not available without a job, and so the cycle continues.

One of my favorite pastimes, taking long drives to clear my head, is also not on the list of available things to do. Long drives require gasoline. Gasoline requires money. Money requires a job. Again, another impasse.

And still another aspect of so much imposed isolation and confinement arises unbeckoned: differences become heightened. Currently, well actually, for months now, Corey and I have been having skirmishes over one particular personal preference, his, not mine. Neither of us is willing to yield.

My reasons for opposing this preference are many fold and to go into them would be airing Corey’s business to strangers. I don’t think that I should do that. But how do I get out of my system the need to talk with someone about this particular problem? The person I would normally talk to is on the opposing side. My other avenue for working through things is limited as I do not want to violate my spouse’s personal privacy. But again, at what cost to me?

I can say that my reasons are long-standing and result from situations in which I have been involved that were not positive. These situations all involved persons who were very close to me in one way or another.

I don’t like feeling as if my marriage is being affected detrimentally by this one issue, but I also know that just one issue has caused more than one marriage to fall by the wayside, whatever that issue may have been.

Do I compromise my personal beliefs for the sake of harmony? Does he? Wouldn’t that be disingenuous? What happens in a situation in which neither side is willing to give in to the other? Nothing good, that’s fairly certain. It’s not the Gaza Strip, but it’s our Gaza Strip.

Neither of us seeks for the conversation to turn to this onerous topic. Most of the time, we pretend that there is no elephant in the living room. But one of us will bump into the elephant accidentally, usually me, and then the illusion is shattered. We retreat to our individual sides of the proverbial battle line and wait to see what happens next.

Rain is in my eyes and I can’t see
Life’s become just cloudy days~ From “Cloudy Days,” by Alison Krauss

Anglo Saxon SwordThere is a term in flying called the point of no return. This is the point at which there isn’t enough fuel to turn back, and the journey must be completed. More and more, I feel as if I am flying straight into the sun to the point of no return. The heat is both warming and deadly, but I cannot turn back. To do so would be a betrayal of self. Although, part of me has been so beaten down by this issue that I feel myself willing more and more to cede in the name of peace. I wish that I had the foresight to know how to act in order to save everyone and everything.

Discretion may be the better part of valor, but discretion does not always invoke the truth. And I don’t care who you are: A marriage cannot survive on a lie.

Hence, I feel as if I am treading water in a waterfall: to what end? Too many times in my life I have felt as if the sword of Damocles was poised above my head, just waiting for me to make the wrong move. One horse hair’s breadth away from having the brief moments of happiness in my life taken away.

If I stay in the waterfall, my vision will continue to be occluded, but perhaps that is not such a bad thing as it allows me to delude myself, escape reality. Is my desire to stay in the waterfall motivated by my belief that eventually the water takes everything and washes it clean: pebbles, bones, beliefs? I have no answers, only questions, theories, if you will, that need to be pared down to the simplest terms if they are to be seen clearly. My Occam’s Razor.

If X = harmony, and Y = friction, can Z ever result in anything that can be counted on? If X²-Y²= Z , and X and Y are considered equal, then Z, my friends, can only equal zero, which is nothing at all.

 

 

More later. Peace.