“From the stars we come, to the stars we go. Life is but a journey into the unknown.” ~ Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books

"Nattens Helgedom (Night Sanctuary)," (oil on canvas)by Otto Hesselbom
“Nattens Helgedom (Night Sanctuary),” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Otto Hesselbom

                   

“The part of this being that is rock,
the part of this body that is a star,
lately I feel them yearning to go back
and be what they are.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, from “In the Borderlands

Thursday afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 50 degrees.

Yesterday was a crappy day, really, really crappy, and as a result, I was foul, really, really foul. Nine days into the new year, and I’m already having bad days. Sheesh.

Henri-Edmond Cross Landscape with Stars 1905-8
“Landscape with Stars,” (1905-8)
by Henri-Edmond Cross

In spite of its crappiness, I did get things done. I made those telephone calls regarding health claims that haven’t been paid. Both of the people with whom I spoke were very nice and helpful. It wasn’t them. It was just the doing of it that got to me. Does that make sense?

After years and years of always being the one to make the telephone calls, pay the bills, take care of the details with my ex, I have given up some of those responsibilities to Corey—quite willingly. I am not good at doing the finances. I freely admit that to anyone and everyone. And taking care of the details tends to make me very stressed. I don’t know why exactly. It just does. Perhaps because as the telephone is ringing, I am preparing to deal with the customer service representative from hell, so my blood pressure climbs with each successive ring, and then when someone nice answers and offers to help, I’m thrown for a loop.

Also, I think that since Corey has been taking care of so much to do with the details of life, I have allowed my patience in such things to erode. Anyway, yesterday is over. I made a few more short calls today, and my to-do-list is shorter. So enough.

“The winds that awakened the stars
Are blowing through my blood.” ~ W. B. Yeats, from “Maid Quiet”

I think another reason that I was so foul yesterday was because I forgot to take my meds the day before. Not intentionally, just didn’t remember as I was so caught up in getting things done. That happens to me—I become so focused in the midst of my OCD-fueled binges that I don’t pay attention to other things, completely leave them by the wayside.

Nicholas Roerich Royal Monastery 1932 tempera
“Royal Monastery” (1932, tempera on paper)
by Nicholas Roerich

I know. I need to find balance. Easy to say. Hard to do. Balance is always just beyond my reach. Perhaps that’s why I’m always so taken with those images of balancing rocks; they represent something for which I yearn.

Anyway, enough on that. Another thing that I did yesterday—and this is surprising—is that I went through old posts looking for poems that I might submit to a journal that is accepting work. I have to submit three poems at a time. In going through the old posts, though, I found that I have written things that I actually like, even two to three years later, which makes me think more and more that I really need to go through these posts and cull the best (or what I consider to be the best), try to put together some kind of non-fiction manuscript with what I have.

This is where I need your help. If I’ve written a post of which you are particularly fond, or that you think could be readable with some work, I’d love to know about it. You can just put the title in the comments, or if you don’t remember the title but remember what the post was about, a general description would be fine. Of course, if you said something like, “You know, the one about grief,” that might be a bit hard . . .

“And silent answers crept across the stars.” ~ Hart Crane, from “At Melville’s Tomb”

But what do you think? Am I on the right track? A couple of you have suggested something along these lines to me before, but I waffled as I never quite know if I like what I’ve written enough to put it out there (there as in beyond this forum), but I have to admit that I found more than a couple of posts of which I’m not ashamed.

Neil Welliver Night Scene 1981-2
“Night Scene” (1981-2)
by Neil Welliver

Oh, who knows. Certainly not me. But I’m willing to give it a go.

So other than that, I think that I’ve managed to move beyond yesterday’s total crappiness. I’ve gotten out of my pajamas and even put on some cologne and dark circle concealer, as if I might actually be ready to greet the world. Speaking of which, and I am almost embarrassed to admit this, I realized the other day that I have not left the house in weeks. No really, weeks. This is not a good sign. This is a sign that I am regressing.

I think that I need to make it a point to go to Lex’s apartment at least one day a week to help out with Olivia instead of waiting for them to come here. But without Brett being enrolled in school this semester, I’m sort of without a reason to leave the house unless I make one. Truthfully, I don’t want to go back to the days in which I stayed inside for weeks on end. It’s just not healthy.

I have big plans to take Tillie for walks. Perhaps I should work on that.

“It is inner luxury, of golden figures
that breathe like mountains do
and whose skin is made dusky by stars.” ~ Joanne Kyger, from “September”

Obviously, I’m still fixated on the skies, first the Northern Lights, and now stars. The moon and the stars, my life-long love affair. Did you know that the Tunisians have a proverb that goes something like “If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?”—but why not both?

Mikalojus Ciurlionis Sparks III 1906 tempera on paper
“Sparks III” (1906, tempera on paper)
by Mikalojus Ciurlionis

I have to tell you that it’s damned hard for me to write a post featuring lots of words about stars and not to use any art by Van Gogh, as I don’t think that anyone before or since has painted such beautiful skies, but I made an effort and came up with some other artists’ paintings.

Speaking of Van Gogh, did you know that there are new claims that the artist did not commit suicide but instead was shot by teenagers? I know that I’m behind on this, but I find it fascinating. Apparently a book was published last year in which authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith claim that Van Gogh was fatally wounded by a friend’s teenage brother. The book is called Van Gogh: The Life, and I would love to read it.

Van Gogh has always fascinated me. He created such incredible beauty out of such immense pain. It’s as if he couldn’t create fast enough to release all of the demons inside.

When I was walking around the museums in NYC years ago, I was finally able to see some of Van Gogh’s works of art at the Met and at the MOMA. My god, they took my breath away. I would love to visit more museums housing the artist’s work.

“She was one of those stars, a bright dot in blackness, without home, without a companion, in eternal cold and silence.” ~ Maxine Hong Kingston, from The Woman Warrior

I spoke too soon. I just lost the last fifth of this post when I went to save. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Moving right along . . .

Wassily Kandinsky Moonlight Night 1907 linocut
“Moonlight Night” (1907, linocut)
by Wassily Kandinsky

I once met Maxine Hong Kingston when she was participating in the ODU Literary Festival years ago. She is such a tiny woman, and her presence was almost dwarfed on the big stage until she began to read. Later, at an after-reading cocktail party, I mustered the courage to talk to her and tell her how much I loved her work.

Just thought I’d throw that out there.

I suppose I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today after going through posts past and thinking about those wonderful afternoons at the museums. One day, I’m going to visit the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay, spend hours upon hours, days upon days, just meandering through the galleries, and I’ll take Corey because I know that he will appreciate the beauty just as much as I would.

One day. Until then, I suppose I’ll just hang out here in my yoga pants, thinking about things to come, things that have been, places to see, and places I have gone. Kind of reminds me of The Beatles’ song, “My Life.”

More later. Peace.

 Music by Aesthesys, “I Am Free, That Is Why I’m Lost”

                   

Every Time

Do you have stars
in your mouth?

she asks
and I laugh,
she’s never tasted
winter like I have,
midnights that linger
for days. Yes,
I tell her. Come see.

Will there be breath?
For a while, I whisper
and blow on her hands,
but you will sing
and the aurora lights
will walk across the ice.

She lets me
put my hands on her.
Will I die? her hair
like snow.
Yes.  I tell her.
Every time.

~ Jude Goodwin

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“I never knew what was meant by choice of words. It was one word or none.” ~ Robert Frost

Waterfield Booksellers, UK

                   

“How far, how far we’ve come
together, tumbling like stars
in harness or alone.” ~ David Malouf, from “Stars”

Tuesday early evening. Sunny and warm, not humid.

Corey is still here. The ship’s radar is out of commission, and they are awaiting parts. Tentative day of departure is Thursday. I’m not complaining. Even though he’s working weird hours ( 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., back at 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., which is a little better than the 11:45 p.m. to 10 a.m. he worked for two days), it’s nice just to be able to sleep next to him. I’ve missed that, as have the puppies.

Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico

The past three or four days have been pretty bad for me physically. I think that I’m having a bout with my fibromyalgia as all of my joints hurt, and I am extremely fatigued. Yesterday and today I have gotten quite dizzy if I stay on my feet for too long. I have felt this coming on since mid last week, but was really hoping to avoid any down time while Corey is home.

Alexis’s shower at her friend’s house was Sunday, and it was really lovely, but I was completely exhausted afterwards. I told her that she really has a nice extended family and group of friends. Her father and his girlfriend went in with the evil stepgrandmother and bought her crib, mattress, and changing table. I was genuinely surprised by the extravagance. I suppose his girlfriend is a good influence on him. Must say that I’m disappointed, though, as I didn’t think that anyone would buy it, which would allow Corey and me to give it to them.

Oh well. She needs plenty of other things. I’m planning my shower for June 10. I need to print and mail the invitations, but I need ink cartridges. Always something.

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

As I’m typing this, I’m on hold with the IRS. It’s been 16 minutes so far of really bad hold music, same four or five chords over and over, with a little bongo drum thrown in for rhythm, I suppose. Can I just tell you how utterly disheartening it is to (a) call the IRS in the first place, and then (b) have to clarify something that I’m 99 percent certain I did not do wrong.

Selexyz Bookstore (a converted Dominican church)
Maastricht, Holland

Bureaucracy—it’s what runs this country, and it is the bane of my existence. After my call to the IRS, I still need to call Sentara to set up payment arrangements for my ER visit back in the winter because, oh, there’s that pesky thing called a deductible, plus 20 percent of major medical, bringing me to a grand total of almost $1400 for five hours in the emergency room, during which time they did an x-ray and listened to my chest and did little else.

But we don’t need nationalized healthcare. Oh no. That would be socialism. Egads. How abhorrent.

Actually, these aren’t the rantings of someone who is taking a political stand, just the comments of a tired consumer. I get it coming and going, my health insurance payments each month, the outrageous deductibles, the endless paperwork and telephone calls . . . I hate telephone calls to nameless customer service representatives who, almost to a person, hate their jobs and pass on that dissatisfaction with their treatment of the callers.

(Update: The first woman with whom I spoke at the IRS was a peach. I take back everything I said . . . of course, I’m on hold again . . .)

“I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.” ~ Sandra Cisneros, The House On Mango Street

Yesterday I spent most of the day in bed, which gets to me as I’m thinking about the things that aren’t getting done—the laundry, the trip to the grocery store, the dishes. And Tillie is not liking my down time either as it means that I am not taking her out for our usual game of stick.

Barter Books, Alnwick, UK

Speaking of dogs, and I was, Alexis and Mike got a . . . wait for it . . . puppy. That’s right, two months before the baby is due they got a puppy. Madness, I tell you, utter madness. Her name is Roxi, and she’s a Chihuahua and Jack Russell mix, which means that she’s a tiny yip yip dog and absolutely adorable. Apparently someone in Mike’s family had a litter of puppies the last time they were visiting in Mississippi, and the two of them expressed an interest. Someone took them seriously, and when the family (Mike’s) came into town for the joint wedding reception and shower, they brought the puppy.

We are withholding this little tidbit from my mother as she will quite likely go ballistic over the news. You got a puppy and you don’t have a house! You got a puppy and you’re having a baby! Ya da ya da ya da ad infinitum . . .

It hurts my ears just thinking about the things she would say.

“All the words I collect are artifacts of sentiments that do not exist and could not even be conceived of again—ideas that once desperately needed to be expressed disappear, leaving husks of language that I save, I care for.” ~ Alice Bolin, from “I Sometimes Really Feel That Way”

Livraria Lello, Portugal

Last night I had one of those dreams that, while I was dreaming it, I thought that it would make a good story. I made a point of trying to remember the dream so that I could turn it into a story. Of course, when I thought about the dream, it made no sense, and would certainly not translate well into a story. Why does my brain do that: assemble stories in my dreams, convince my subconscious that, “Hey, this is great. You must remember it”? But then when my conscious mind remembers, it is never what I had thought it was.

I do love the way that my mind creates while I sleep, but I just wish that the dream words, the dream scenarios actually were translatable. Does that make sense? I do end up feeling as if I’m holding empty husks after having one of these episodes: Hooray, creative mind at work. No wait, sleeping mind at work. Things such as logic, linear thought, character development are nonexistent. Wake up with nothing……….

(Another update: Second person with whom I spoke at IRS was even nicer than first. I take back all of the customer service insults.)

“The boon of language is not tenderness. All that it holds, it holds with exactitude and without pity, even a term of endearment; the word is impartial: the usage is all. The boon of language is that potentially it is complete, it has the potentiality of holding with words the totality of human experience — everything that has occurred and everything that may occur. It even allows space for the unspeakable.” ~ John Berger, from And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos

So today’s post, albeit rambling and totally without substance, was initially supposed to deal with language and words. I don’t know where my focus went. Perhaps the bongos drummed it from my brain. I do know that it’s been ages and ages since I spent hours wandering around a bookstore. Hence, the images.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

I keep thinking about that Marcus Zusak quote: “I have hated words and I have loved them,” which pretty much sums up my life. Words are everything to me, but at times, they are painful. They elude me, they tease me, they wound me. I use words to inform, to woo, and to wound, if I am to be completely honest.

Corey and I have exchanged our journals for the new trip. My journal is filled with banal words about my day, about the kids, about the dogs. But I hope that he sees beneath the banality of my words, sees to the heart of my meaning, to the heart of intent. I hope that when he reads my words, that he knows how much of myself is within them. That as I write about something inane and mundane, I am telling him how much I care. And that as I write about seeming nothingness, I am weighting each word with the expanse of the four chambers of my heart.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sparklehorse, “Eyepennies”

                   

Drinking Like a Fish

Though blue at a distance,
the surface is clear
as gin with a tension
that can bob you like
an ice cube. What
you really want, though,
is to float below
in chartreuse light,
to glide through tonic bubbles
above the swaying kelp,
borne along on currents, while
your heavy body, stranded
on land, still stumbles
and gasps. This
is your true element,
where predators
ignore the pinstripe
of the inedible.
You’re even
a Pisces.

Deeper and deeper
you go, to the bottom,
fin silt that swirls
like bourbon in branch water
to darken the gloom
where things with gelatin
wings glow blue
as a gas flame.
And this is where
you want to live
forever—to grow so
transparent, so fragile,
even the weight of the sea
cannot crush you.

~ William Greenway