“The world breaks us all. Afterward, some are stronger at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, Farewell To Arms

Where does this road lead? (photographer unknown, Pixdaus)

                   

“I speak to you over cities
I speak to you over plains
My mouth is against your ear
The two sides of the walls face
my voice which acknowledges you.
I speak to you of eternity.” ~ Paul Éluard from “Absence”

Kusugawa Trail, Yakushima Island by caseyyee (Flckr Creative Commons)

Thursday, late afternoon. Thunder storms approaching.

I want to write, but then when I sit down at these keys, nothing happens. So much to say but seemingly unsayable, as if rooting around in my head trying to find words that I know, words that I know I know, but words that have become lost or have taken to hiding in the small creases in my brain.

Here is what I know:

The warmer temperatures are muddling my brain, making me dream of buying air conditioners with my mother and ex-father-in-law. But I become distracted in the dream, and look at plants instead—purple and pink plants in black pots. And I fill my cart with plants and Christmas place mats that are on clearance. This is better than the dream before of a killer chasing me down a yellow stairwell.

I awake sweaty and tired, feeling as if I have slept much too long, and I have, but I cannot get out of my bed. For days now, I cannot get out of the damned bed. Yesterday, I had another medical test done, then came home and went back to bed. I barely remembered the drive to and from the facility. Out-of-body driving?

My body feels spent and heavy with heat, and I long for tall glasses of umbrella drinks with rivulets of sweat running down the side of the glass. Not the alcohol, just the idea of the tall glass, the fruit, the paper umbrella—as the collection of these things would mean that I am not at home. I am somewhere else, anywhere but here.

It seems that the coming storm has taken days to get here. The air has been still, and yesterday evening thunder rumbled in the distance for hours, but nothing materialized. Then suddenly, just a few moments ago, rain began to fall, hard rain, hard enough to drive out the ants that have laid claim to the dirt mounds in the garden, the mounds that have been taken over as ant castles, forbidding the shoots of flowers and vegetables from breaking through. Now the mounds are mud puddles, and I can see green.

A tornado warning south of here. More tornadoes encroaching on this area of hurricanes. More proof that the earth is in turmoil.

“If you can read and understand this poem
send something back: a burning strand of hair
a still-warm, still-liquid drop of blood
a shell
thickened from being battered year on year
send something back.” ~ Adrienne Rich, from “Coast to Coast”

Tree Tunnel, Shirebrook, UK, by James Hill (Wikimedia Commons)

I slip through virtual pages on this screen, looking for the source of a line I cannot get out of my head. “Jesus Love You” pops up right above a line advertising Mexican food and good prices on gold.

The Interwebs have a warped sense of humor.

My body is still in recovery from the preparation needed for Wednesday’s test. A purge, if you will. I find myself craving fresh fruit: peaches and red pears. The orange juice Corey bought me is not enough. My body wants vitamins from the source. I feel as if everything has been leached from my system, not just impurities, but the good cells as well, the ones that make me who I am.

I think constantly of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. I have no idea why.

Speaking of the Fitzgeralds, I read an article that said that the mansion that may have been his inspiration for The Great Gatsby had been demolished to make way for several mcmansions on the same plot of waterfront land in Long Island. I shudder to think about the former grandeur being reduced to rubble so that some developer can erect those paeans to conspicuous consumption that I abhorred even when I was in real estate.

Progress is not always better.

I remember the dark enclosure in my grandmother’s house in the Philippines. In the kitchen. Water from the well in the backyard. Coffee tins filled with this water, and how this was the only space in the house in which to find relief from the heat. I think of my father. I do not want to think of my father, not right now. The loss is acute today.

“I sing the wind around
 And hear myself return
To nothingness, alone.
The loneliest thing I know
 Is my own mind at play.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “His Foreboding”

The Gate To . . . UK (Wikimedia Commons)

I read other people’s words, wonder how it is they are so talented, wonder where my words have gone, wonder if there are any new poems left to write, any new stories left to tell.

I have been collecting phrases as possible book titles. I don’t know why. I think I have six or seven. This is a recent event in my life; it means that I am acknowledging that the book is there. I think. Maybe not. But why need a title? I love book titles, book jackets. Clever book designs remind me of studying for my publishing degree. I still owe the university a fee. They are holding my diploma hostage until I pay this fee. I wonder if I will ever bother to pay the ransom.

In all of the medical tests that I have had done in the past six weeks or so, this is what I have learned: I do not have sleep apnea. I have a digestive system that does not work at the top or the bottom, and is sluggish in the middle. To learn these things, my body has been assaulted with tubes in various orifices. I think I already knew all of these things about my body and probably could have saved myself the insult of the tubes and the associated costs which will soon begin to turn up in the mail.

I have stopped reading about politics again. It has become too weighty and unbearable once more, and my minds needs a break from the madness, not just in this country, but all over the world. I prefer to live in ignorance for a bit, that is until I begin to seethe in righteous indignation over some maligning phrase out of some politician’s mouth. Then I fear it will be once more into the fray for me.

The wind outside is whipping the trees about as if they are being tugged on by giants. I like that image.

“The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking
into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind.” ~ Jorie Graham, from “Mind”

Lane by Derek Harper (Wikimedia Commons)

As the moveable slab upon which I lay slides into the scanner, I look up and am surprised to see the image of cherry blossoms on branches reaching across the faux-skylight above me—a vertical trompe l’oeil, and the technician tells me to hold my breath, and I do and do and do, and wait for her to say breathe, but the word does not come, and my lungs fill to bursting, and then she says breathe, and I do, and I realize that it has been mere seconds, and I think to myself that I have absolutely no stamina left.

I’ve been trying to learn Adele’s “Someone Like You,” but her voice is so powerful and the song so complicated, that it’s just not working. As with almost everything else, my voice is not what it used to be.

But the cherry blossom branches make me think of how wonderful it would be to have a real skylight, preferably above a bathtub, so that I could soak beneath the stars and ponder words, only to forget them as I dry myself with a towel.

I remember when I was about to graduate with my bachelor’s, and I had an interview with a small local paper in Maryland. An editor at the paper for which I worked arranged the interview for me. I stayed with a nice couple who owned a large old house that they were refurbishing. In one bathroom, they had built a wooden bathtub directly beneath a skylight. I had forgotten about that until just this minute.

I turned down the job, or more accurately, withdrew my name from consideration as I was in love, could not bear to continue my long-distance relationship with my ex. I wonder where life would have taken me if I had opened myself to that possibility.

Possibilities . . .

Studying abroad, visiting Greece, seeing the Great Wall, taking hundreds and hundreds of photographs of verdant Ireland and windswept Wales. Drinking wine at a small restaurant in Basque country.

Walking on a beach in Queensland with my flannel trousers rolled. Eating a peach. T. S. Eliot wondered if he dared, as do I.

Will I ever hear the mermaids singing, each to each? And how should I presume?

More later. Peace.

Music by Lanterns on the Lake, “You Need Better”

                   

My Life by Someone Else

I have done what I could but you avoid me.
I left a bowl of milk on the desk to tempt you.
Nothing happened. I left my wallet there, full of money.
You must have hated me for that. You never came.

I sat at my typewriter naked, hoping you would wrestle me
to the floor. I played with myself just to arouse you.
Boredom drove me to sleep. I offered you my wife.
I sat her on the desk and spread her legs. I waited.

The days drag on. The exhausted light falls like a bandage
over my eyes. Is it because I am ugly? Was anyone
ever so sad? It is pointless to slash my wrists. My hands
would fall off. And then what hope would I have?

Why do you never come? Must I have you by being
somebody else? Must I write My Life by somebody else?
My Death by somebody else? Are you listening?
Somebody else has arrived. Somebody else is writing.

~ Mark Strand

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

Parrot Tulips, 1988

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More later. Peace.

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

“Cry,” by James Blunt