“Aren’t we all waiting to be read by someone, praying that they’ll tell us that we make sense?” ~ Rudy Francisco

Don Hong-Oai, Untitled
Untitled
by Don Hong-Oai

                   

“Beneath my consciousness I’m sad. And I write these carelessly written lines not to say this and not to say anything, but to give my distraction something to do.  I slowly cover, with the soft strokes of a dull pen (I’m not sentimental enough to sharpen it), the white sandwich paper . . . for it suits me just fine, as would any other paper, as long as it was white.  And I feel satisfied.  I lean back.  The afternoon comes to a monotonous and rainless close, in an uncertain and despondent tone of light.  And I stop writing because I stop writing.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from chapter 66 “With a Shrug”

Saturday, late afternoon. Cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.

My tumblr dash today was filled with incredible quotes, passages and artwork, which might seem like a good thing, and it is, but it makes it so hard to narrow my choices. I ended up opening a draft post just to paste in about 12 quotes and three poems to use at a later date. I am so glad that I decided to start following people on tumblr as it makes the framing job for my posts much easier, providing me with words and images and inspiration—all at once.

Don Hong-Oai, Solitary Wooden Boat
“Solitary Wooden Boat”
by Don Hong-Oai

I know that the above quote is a bit long, but I couldn’t really find any part of it that I wanted to leave out, hence, all of it.

I think that I’ve stopped playing with my new theme for now. I got some feedback, and I changed my header image to one taken by Veronica McLaughlin at Titirangi Storyteller, just added my blog name in a new font. All in all, I think that I’m rather pleased with the combination, so I’ll leave everything for now . . . she says not quite believing herself . . .

“Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Today”

I’m of two minds about poet Mary Oliver: Some of her work really moves me, and then some of her work seems almost formulaic. But this particular passage is quite apropos as regards my mood today. Part of me really wants to just go back to bed and lie there with a cold pack on my head, but part of me wants to get something done, anything done. I know that I had big plans to take down Christmas today, but the head isn’t cooperating, and eldest son is missing, and I quite need someone’s help for all of the bending and stooping, so no progress on that front.

Don Hong-Oai, Drying Cloth, Vietnam 1970
“Drying Cloth, Vietnam, 1970”
by Don Hong-Oai

I’ve had this headache on and off since a few days before New Year’s, and last night I gave in and asked Corey to rub some Blue Emu into my aching shoulders only to wake today with a worse headache and the back pain now firmly planted in the lower quarter. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Blue Emu (or the generic Blu, I think) is a wonderful muscle rub, doesn’t smell like menthol, and goes deep. FYI.

So is the pain from the cold? Is it from the stress, which is different how, exactly? Is it my diet, which has been horrible? Who knows. I suppose I should just go take my meds and hope for the best. I mean after all, what else can I do?

“Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I write in my dreams. Several nights ago I wrote a short poem while I was asleep. Of course when I remembered hours later, I couldn’t remember a single word or even the subject matter. Two nights ago I dreamt that I wrote over 25,000 words in my new novel in one sitting. I was quite pleased with myself in the dream, especially after I did a word count. Now, ask me what it was about. Go on. Ask me.

Don Hong-Oai, To the Market
“To the Market”
by Don Hong-Oai

Yep. Gone.

Last night I had a very strange dream about being with Tom Cruise in Wal-Mart, and I was standing in the checkout line with a basket full of groceries and he disappeared only to reappear with a half-empty package of turkey lunch meat. Seems he had been testing all of the turkey lunch meat and found out it was processed. How could he not know that? But more importantly, why was I in Wal-Mart with Tom Cruise?

I hate dreams like that. Would much rather dream I was writing, as painful as the realization is that nothing is actually there, or better still, dream in French, something I haven’t done in a while. Speaking of French, I had big plans to tackle Proust in the original French this year. Wonder if I’ll get around to that . . .

“Writing down verses, I got
a paper cut on my palm.
The cut extended my life line
by nearly one-fourth.” ~ Vera Pavlova, poem “59”

Vera Pavlova, on the other hand (see above comment about Oliver), has such an economy of words, yet says so much. I think that I have a deep-seated affinity for Russian and Polish female poets, but I could not tell you why that is. Anyway.

"Winter Fog"by Don Hong-Oai
“Winter Fog”
by Don Hong-Oai

So back to today and what I am not accomplishing: Capt. Jack Harkness (the Beta) needs a clean bowl, and somehow I’ve taken on cleaning eldest son’s fish bowl every time I clean Capt. Jack’s bowl, double the work. Have no idea how that happened.

Also, need to change the sheets, and still haven’t tackled the sliding pile on the desk, nor have I found my black nail file. I should just fold right now, give up, give in, and admit that not a whole lot of anything is going to happen. I think that I need some of Corey’s homemade soup to warm me on the inside, and maybe some bread, yes, bread, and butter, and tea, and ginger scones, and . . .

Stop. it. now.

Okay, I’ve reined in the subconscious voice that is obviously ravenous, and I’ll try to focus. That and I’m now munching on a Special K 100-calorie snack bar and trying to pretend that it’s a ginger scone. Not working, but whatever.

“We make our way through Everything like thread passing through fabric: giving shape to images that we ourselves do not know.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters on Life (trans. Ulrich Baer)

I know that once again I am all over the place, but honestly, I’m sitting here kind of hunched over and squinting, and I think that I’m probably just writing down the first thing that comes to mind in a vapid attempt at creating a post that I’m not completely too ashamed to publish. I mean, I have this great collection of quotes and some killer images, so I must create content to go with, mustn’t I?

Don Hong-Oai untitled
Untitled
by Don Hong-Oai

I have always loved the contractions mustn’t and t’would, and neither are used with much frequency except by people immersed in Renaissance literature, which only serves to remind me that I have let another year pass without applying to any doctoral programs in English. Not really sure where that thought came from except that that particular thought is always there, lurking, hiding and emerging at odd moments, worrying the edges of my brain like a toddler wanting more Cheerios—seemingly content for a time and then suddenly, not at all content and flailing and sobbing because the Cheerios are gone and dammit, I need attention now.

Yes. Like that. Completely like that.

And as Rilke says so eloquently,  all of the dragons in my life are in fact princesses or princes just waiting for me to act “with beauty and courage.” I do want it all, the darkness and the light, the falls and the ascents, and I am wasting my life.

Gads.

More later. Peace.

All images by artist Don Hong-Oai (gallery); good background article on the artist and his technique here.

Music by Bim (another relatively recent discovery), “Raindrops”

                   

Book of Hours: I, 14

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.
So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.
But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.
You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

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“As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.” ~ Fortune Cookie*

The Hermit 

The Hermit Tarot Card

“Dont forget, you are always on our minds.” ~ Fortune Cookie

“You are more likely to give than give in.” ~ Fortune Cookie

Headache was much worse today. Alternating between heat and ice. Anyone have any suggestions? The magnesium may be helping in the prevention, but the duration is ratcheting back up. The Topomax was great as a preventive and in shortening the duration, but the side effects were just too severe. The worst one was the effect on my cognitive abilities: I found myself always searching for words and had no memory of any kind.

Playbill for A Dolls House wGillian Anderson @ Donmar Warehouse
Playbill for "A Doll's House," with Gillian Anderson at Donmar Warehouse

Anyway, that’s the news on that front.

I reread Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” today. Brett is studying the play in school, and his English teacher said that “Medea” and “Doll’s House” would be two big subjects on the IB exam. I want to be able to help Brett prepare, and besides, I love that play. I had forgotten, though, how much I absolutely despise the character of the husband, Torvald Helmer.

I know that he is a reflection of the times, but please. Referring to Nora as his little songbird, his this, his that. Even though Ibsen wasn’t that big on women’s rights, his play was revolutionary in presenting a woman who ended up rejecting the traditional role of wife and mother. Brett’s instructor said that they will be doing Kate Chopin’s The Awakening soon.

That’s another piece that I really love. I used to teach that book in my literature classes back in the day. Chopin’s book was also considered revolutionary in its presentation of a strong female protagonist.

“A thrilling time is in your immediate future.” ~ Fortune Cookie

As for the rest of my evening, I’m not really sure if I want to watch a Korean horror flick that’s on cable freezone, or just play Mah Jong on the computer. I just know that I don’t want to do anything that involves too much thought. At the moment, I’m enjoying a reprieve on the migraine. It has lessened to the point of lingering just behind my eyes and forehead. Much better than this morning when it felt as if someone was drilling inside my head directly behind my right eye. That sensation is always so pleasant . . .

I’m hoping that the abatement will continue until the headache goes away, but I never try to predict these things. That’s just asking for trouble, ensuring that the headache will last for three or four more days if I dare to think that it may be ending. Superstitious? Who me?

Actually, I’m not really superstitious, until I am. It’s more that I believe in signs, kind of like Corey having continued dreams involving the number three. I don’t know what the signs are portending, but I think that they are there sometimes just waiting for us to pay attention.

It’s kind of like predestination, as in, do you believe that things have already been determined so that if you make a decision and a certain outcome results, was that outcome always going to result anyway? Fate . . . Joss . . . Karma.

Tim Roth in Lie To Me
Tim Roth Facial Reading in "Lie to Me"

One of these days I’m going to have someone do a Tarot card reading on me, just for kicks. This is hard to explain, but I am very, very cynical/skeptical about most things, including fortune telling and Tarot cards, but I’m also fascinated by these things (in a coincidence, earnest probing kind of way . . . sort of). I mean, all of the little tricks that fortune tellers use. Someone close to you is trying to reach you from the other side. Well, odds are fairly good that if you are alive, someone in your life has died. That one’s not hard. Or how about, you are going to meet someone soon who will have a great effect on your life . . .

Okay. Could be the IRS telling you that you are up for an audit. Could be the checkout person at the grocery store who points out that you just dropped your wallet. Could be the pizza delivery person bringing you heartburn in a box. When don’t you meet someone who will affect your life in some way?

But the Tarot cards themselves can be absolutely beautiful. Decks come in so many variations, with artwork ranging from sparse black and white line drawings to elaborate, full-color images.

I do have one question, though. Exactly how does one get a reading over the telephone? I mean, I thought that there needed to be some kind of physical contact, if for nothing else but to assess a client’s eagerness for revealed truths as indicated by facial expressions and pupil dilation.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Lie to Me (love Tim Roth) and getting into the whole body reading thing. Okay. I’ll stop. Just thinking out loud.

“Your everlasting patience will be rewarded sooner or later.” ~ Fortune Cookie 

As you can probably tell, I’m just meandering here. Too much concentration would be called for if I were to try to put together a linear post. I mean, I had considered doing the whole post about “A Doll’s House,” but thinking too much hurts, and that play is just ripe for all kinds of discussions: the roles of men and women in society, free will, symbolism, societal proscriptions, the concept of self-ideation solely through the relationship with the male (father then husband). Heady fodder for a post, just not tonight.

Have I mentioned that I miss teaching? Didn’t think so.

“Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.” ~ Fortune Cookie 

Let me finish up with one of my dreams: Last night I dreamed that I was saying goodbye to Tom Cruise before he was about to take off on a deployment in his fighter jet. This is curious for a couple of reasons. I used to be a TC fan before he lost it and went overboard with the whole scientology scenario, but not so much any more. So for me to be giving him a big old smooch goodbye is weird.

The other weird part of the dream was that immediately after kissing Tom goodbye, I walked over to Corey, who had a boot camp haircut and was wearing fatigues, and kissed him goodbye. After I kissed Corey, I assured him that I was going to break it off with Tom, but I didn’t want to do that right before he deployed.

Clive Owen in Children of Men
Clive Owen in Children of Men

These two men have absolutely nothing in common. One is tall, the other short. One is sane, the other not. And one is rich and the other is my spouse.

The other really weird part of the dream was the reaction on the part of the other women who were bidding adieu to their significant others. They all  ostracized me for kissing two men goodbye. One even tried to block my view in looking out the window at the fleet as they left. Then, and this is the weirdest part of all, some MP came up to me and said that I was wanted by the stage, where whoever was in charge proceeded to give me the best seat in the house, right in the middle of the first row, except my seat was a folding webbed lawn chair, and everyone else had  nice cushioned folding chair.

Were we talking about symbolism? Tom Cruise? Why couldn’t it have been Clive Owen? Him, I might not have promised to give up. Oh well. Maybe that’s why my headache was worse when I woke up: At some point, Tom probably tried to convert me to scientology, and true to form, I probably ended up bopping him over the head with a book.

Parting words: “A feather in the hand is better than a bird in the air” (Fortune Cookie)

Franco Battioto’s version of “Ruby Tuesday” from Children of Men. By the way, absolutely incredible underrated, underexposed movie but not for those who don’t care to delve too deeply.

 

 

More later. Peace.

*Actual fortunes from fortune cookies