“The day exhausts me, irritates me. It is brutal, noisy. I struggle to get out of bed, I dress wearily and, against my inclination, I go out. I find each step, each movement, each gesture, each word, each thought as tiring as if I were lifting a crushing weight.” ~ Guy de Maupassant, from “Nightmare”

Emil Nolde Reading 1908 watercolor in black, washed india ink on fine laid paper
“Reading” (1908, watercolor in black, washed india ink on fine laid paper)
by Emil Nolde

“But there’s a litany of dreams that happens
somewhere in the middle. Moonlight spilling
on the bathroom floor. A page of the book where we
transcend the story of our lives, past the taco stands
and record stores” ~ Richard Siken, from “Snow and Dirty Rain”

Wednesday evening. Rainy and cold, 46 degrees.

In this dream, I am back at the department store, but by accident. I began on some kind of motorized scooter, and I was traveling through town, but turned down a road that I knew might be dangerous. At the end of the road, I saw four figures who looked very menacing, so I turned around, but the scooter sputtered and died. I rolled it to the bar where my father worked, only it wasn’t my father, it was someone else, but he was my father, and I told him that I really needed this scooter to be fixed so that I could get to where I needed to be, which was another town, apparently. I could hear music from the band playing on the upper floor, and my father said that he would fix the scooter.

Fred Williams untitled c1958 gouache on paper on board
Untitled (c1958, gouache on paper on board)
by Fred Williams

While I was waiting, I wandered through an underground mall, only to realize that if I went all the way through the mall, I would end up where I needed to be, which was across town at the store. I got to the store, but I was still dressed casually, and there was a store inspection, and I couldn’t be seen by the general manager until I changed clothes. I ducked into a bathroom, that was more like a spa, and I asked one of the other manager to grab me some clothes and shoes to put on, and I said that I would pay for them later. I just couldn’t be caught dressed as I was. There was a hound dog asleep in the stall next to me, and the general manager came in to inspect the spa, and I pretended to be taking a shower. He wanted to know who the dog belonged to, but we all pretended that we didn’t know, even though we knew it belonged to one of the other managers.

As I was rushing to get dressed, and I grabbed some make up samples that were on a counter in the spa. I began to put on foundation, but it went on much thicker than I expected, and I had way too much on my face, and I couldn’t get it off even though I kept wiping and trying to blend. My father came in and said that the scooter had been fixed, but he wanted to know why I looked so funny. I told him about the makeup, and a lawyer who was with him suggested that I try to blend it better. I gave her the dirtiest look I could imagine even though I thought that I probably looked like a clown, and then I went to find my students because suddenly it was a teaching dream.

It turns out I hadn’t been assigned a classroom, so I was trying to teach the small writing class in front of the elevators in the store. I hadn’t graded their papers, and one of the students insisted that he had turned in the paper to the office, but I couldn’t find the office. I looked down, and I was wearing a cocktail dress with blue tights and silver pumps. I knew that none of it matched. I suddenly realized that I didn’t have a copy of the schedule, so I didn’t know when I was supposed to work next. Dan (a real person from my past), gave me a hard time for never getting anything right.

blowing from the east
west south north . . .
autumn gale ~ Issa

I think part of the dream may have arisen from reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children yesterday. Great book, full of mystical creatures and fantastical people. I need to order the sequel.

Anyway, last night was hellacious outside and inside. The winds were so fierce that the wind chimes in the front yard sounded like someone was beating them, and this morning, the floor of the garage near the back door had standing water from the wind and rain. Inside, I was unable to get to sleep after I finished reading until sometime around 3:30 or 4, partly because of the  trigger point injections I got yesterday from my head to my buttocks and every point in between, and I was completely unable to get out of bed until well into the afternoon because I slept so poorly.

Victor Hugo Torquemada ink wash on paper
“Torquemada” (nd, ink wash on paper)
by Victor Hugo

Part of the problem today stemmed from being sore, and just thinking about  trying to get all of the preparations done for tomorrow kind of left me overwhelmed and unable to get much of anything done. The house still needs to be vacuumed, and the dining room table is covered with all sorts of domestic detritus, the kind that accumulates whenever Corey is home because the table is a convenient place on which to lay anything and everything.

Put all of this together, and you have one pitiful soul, completely unprepared for tomorrow’s festivities, as it were. At least the menu has taken shape: the two turkeys a la Mike and Corey; oyster stuffing, compliments of Eamonn; deviled eggs and cake, compliments of Lex and Mike; sweet potato casserole and banana cream pie, compliments of Brett and Em; and sausage stuffing, greens with smoked pork, whipped potatoes with heavy cream, kale crisps with sea salt, steamed green beans (maybe), yeast rolls (not homemade), and gravy, compliments of me. Oh, and we picked up a sample box of cheesecake squares to go with the other desserts.

So there you have it. Too much food, more than enough for the eight of us, and that we can do such a thing after years of want does not go unnoticed by any of us.

I hope your plans for Thanksgiving offer you some measure of peace and plenty.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jamestown Revival, “Heavy Heart”

                   

November Rain

How separate we are
under our black umbrellas—dark
planets in our own small orbits,

hiding from this wet assault
of weather as if water
would violate the skin,

as if these raised silk canopies
could protect us
from whatever is coming next—

December with its white
enamel surfaces; the numbing
silences of winter.

From above we must look
like a family of bats—
ribbed wings spread

against the rain,
swooping towards any
makeshift shelter.

~ Linda Pastan

 

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“see how weak I am, a mere breath on the air, a gaze observing you, a formless thought that thinks you.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from No Exit and Three Other Plays, trans. S. Gilbert

Victor Hugo Ma destinée 1867 ink and brown ink wash
“Ma destinée” (1867, ink and brown ink wash)
by Victor Hugo

Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall. ~ Adelaide Crapsey, “November Night”

Monday night. Windy and scattered showers, 74 degrees.

Victor Hugo The key is here, the gate elsewhere 1871 Pen, brown-ink wash, black ink, graphite, black crayon, charcoal, reserves and fingerprints or dabbings with highlights of white gouache on vellum paper
“The hey is here, the gate elsewhere” (1871, pen, brown-ink wash, black ink, graphite, black crayon, charcoal, reserves and fingerprints with highlights of white gouache on vellum paper)
by Victor Hugo

Did not have Olivia today. Instead, I took Alexis and Olivia to Lex’s doctor’s appointment in Virginia Beach. It was a brief but nice visit. Olivia is such a chatterbug, and she doesn’t miss anything. I’ve taught her two new things: the word terrible, and the sound that crows make “caw.” She has also discovered the deliciousness of soft pretzels, thanks to me.

I do what I can . . .

Anyway, I took them home and then came home and collapsed. Not really sure what’s going on, maybe my sugar levels, but I was quite dizzy. The same thing happened when I was out with Brett the other day; I actually had to find a place to sit down before I fell on my face. I’m not even going to bother to call my PCP. I mean, what’s the point? I’m dizzy . . . I’m not dizzy. Whatever.

But as a result, no productivity today—no post, no poem lurking somewhere in the recesses of my brain. Just this wonderful passage by Ray Bradbury and these ink drawings by Victor Hugo, both of which I’ve been holding,  waiting for an opportune moment, like now for instance. By the way, the periods in the Crapsey short poem above are in the original as posted.

More later. Peace.

                   

Victor Hugo Vianden Through a Spider's Web pencil, Indian ink, sepia on paper
“Vianden through a Spider’s Web” (nd, pencil, Indian ink, and sepia on paper)
by Victor Hugo
For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them. ~ Ray Bradbury, from Something Wicked This Way Comes

                   

Music by Ray LaMontagne, “Jolene”

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~ Charles Dickens

                    

“They are trying to make me into a fixed star. I am an irregular planet.” ~ Martin Luther, c. 1530

Early Saturday evening. Sun and clouds. Scattered showers.

National Poetry Month (2002)

I haven’t done a regular post for days. The usual factors at work: health, bills, anxiety . . .

Corey finished his first week at his new job. He really seems to like being back on a boat, doing the things that he likes to do. At least it’s not the constant monotony of maritime security, with long stretches in between of nothing upon nothing.

Monday I go back to my gastro doctor to follow-up on three of the tests that they have done so far. They’ve scheduled another one for later in the month. Lovely. Can I just tell you how much I like discussing the inner workings of my intestines?  I have to admit, though, that always lurking in the back of my mind is my dad’s pancreatic cancer, how all of that started with a bunch of stomach-related problems, how they did test after test.

To put my mind at ease, I’ve decided that I’m going to remind my doctor about what happened with dad (same doctor), just to bring it to the forefront of his memory when we are discussing possibilities. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that I have pancreatic cancer. That’s not it. I just remember all of the tests that he had to endure, driving him back and forth, and watching him suffer and lose more and more weight.

I don’t have that problem, as my mother reminded me the other day when she pulled into the driveway and blew the horn (always such a pleasant way of announcing her arrival). I went out to her car, and she put her window down to talk at me (yes, I mean at); then, she ever-so-pleasantly put her hand out the window and patted my stomach and said, “Why are you so bloated?”

Just thought I’d remind you guys as to why I have such horrible self-image problems.

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” ~ Victor Hugo 

National Poetry Month (2009)

But, just to remind me of why it’s better that my mother honk from the driveway . . . she came inside the other day to bring me a bunny rabbit head decoration for Easter (?). She walked in, looked around, and then, looking me dead in the eye, said, “I don’t think that I’ve ever seen your house look so bad.”

Thanks, mum. You’re the best. Actually, I had been thinking that it’s really been looking fairly good lately. We’re keeping it picked up. Vacuum, polish the furniture, mop the floors, clean the glass on a pretty regular basis. I clean the bathroom at least three times a week. But to her, it looks bad. Why?

Because in the corner of the living room we still have the very large wardrobe that Corey and I purchased over five years ago to put into the bedroom once we move things around. Yes, it is a big piece of furniture, but it doesn’t look bad in the corner, and in spite of her protests, she has seen this particular piece of furniture several times. Yet she insists that she has never seen it, wants to know where it came from, when we got it. I bite my tongue to remind myself that discretion is the better part of valor.

The fight simply isn’t worth it, and she probably won’t step foot into my house for another three years. At least, one can hope.

“There is goodness in blue skies and flowers, but another force—a wild pain and decay—also accompanies everything.” ~ David Lynch

National Poetry Month (2006)

April is Poetry Awareness Month, which makes me aware that I am not nearly as up on my contemporary poets as I used to be. The Academy of American Poets first designated April as such in 1996 in an attempt to increase the awareness and appreciation of poetry in the U.S. Of course, we’re talking about the same country that is cutting arts funding like it’s a budget for unnecessary Snickers bar, has stopped funding the Reading is Fundamental program, and wants to get rid of NPR.

Culture? Beh. Who needs it? (I like the 2009 poster with the T. S. Eliot quote the best)

There was a time when I knew who the up and comers were, when new books were going to hit the stands. Now, I mostly rely on the people I follow on tumblr to find new poets.

Sad, really.

I have learned of several Polish poets of whom I had known nothing previously. I like the idea of Polish poets, mostly because the whole (American) concept of world literature used to be such an oxymoron: World literature might include a few famous South Americans, lots of British and French writers and poets, perhaps a Russian or two. Now, the writings of  people from every little corner of the world are available just from a Google search.

I would love to be sitting in a world literature class now, absorbing the words of people I have never read. I mean, even the old style European literature classes were so narrowly defined. Not so, any more. European actually means European, not just three countries in Europe.

But back to the Polish poets. Take this section from “Going On,” by Bronislaw Maj:

Unattainably beautiful 
for those who like me—slovenly, 
chaotic, from day to day—go on 
dying.

Or “The Moment of Reconciliation,” by Anna Kamienska

Take in your hand the gray wafter of day
for the moment of reconciliation has arrived
Let there be reconciled
apple with knife
tree with fire
day with night
laughter with sobbing
nothingness with body
Let there be reconciled
loneliness with loneliness

Of course, these are in translation, so they probably are not as powerful as in the original Polish, but they are still so full of the kind of angst that I appreciate. I love the pairing of slovenly and chaotic, the poem that can include an apple and sobbing and still be moving.

“It must be those brief moments
when nothing has happened—nor is going to.
Tiny moments, like islands in the ocean
beyond the grey continent of our ordinary days.

There, sometimes, you meet your own heart
like someone you’ve never known.” ~ Hans Borli  

National Poetry Month (2007)

Anyway, so that’s the current state of my life. Exciting, huh? Well, there is the appointment with the neurologist this Thursday—finally. The person who called me from the doctor’s office said, “Be sure to call us at least 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel this appointment, or we’ll have to charge you $100.”

I told her that there was nothing that could make me cancel this appointment. A couple of days ago I had a migraine that was on the right side of my face, including my teeth. It was the weirdest sensation. A migraine in your teeth? Whoever heard of such a thing?

Corey is working today; he picked up a 14-hour shift doing security. I asked him why in the world he would want to take a security shift on his first weekend after working on a boat? His reply was that we’ve been without regular decent paychecks for so long that he wants to do everything to get ahead.

That’s great, but I don’t want the poor man to work himself to death. He’s already too thin. But truth be told, I think that he remembered that today is opening day at the park and took the shift so that he wouldn’t have to hear the loudspeaker at 8 o’clock this morning.

There is a reason that I am not armed with any kind of weaponry. Not because I am violent or want to hurt anyone, but this morning I would have felt completely justified in shooting the loudspeaker. I hate opening day. People parking everywhere, litter strewn about as if people were raised in a barn, car alarms blaring, and idiots honking their horns at 8 a.m. At least a police car was stationed in front of our house for a time this morning to keep people from parking in the no-parking zone in front of our house, you know, where the fire hydrant is?

Apparently that bright yellow fire hydrant is easy to overlook when you don’t want to carry the cooler a few extra yards to the stands. I know. I know. I’m a bitch. You would be too if you had to endure this for months every year. I mean, when I try to be nice and tell people that it’s a no-parking zone, they just glare at me as if I’m that old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off his yard. When that happens enough times a person can become jaded. Just saying.

More later. Peace.

Music by Crowded House, “Falling Dove”

                    

Couldn’t decide between two poems, so posting both (found on Poetry of the Poles tumblr):

List

I’ve made a list of questions 
to which I no longer expect answers,
since it’s either too early for them, 
or I won’t have time to understand.

The list of questions is long, 
and takes up matters great and small, 
but I don’t want to bore you, 
and will just divulge a few:

What was real
and what scarcely seemed to be 
in this auditorium, 
stellar and substellar, 
requiring tickets both to get in 
and get out;

What about the whole living world, 
which I won’t succeed
in comparing with a different living world; 

What will the papers
write about tomorrow;

When will wars cease, 
and what will take their place;

Whose third finger now wears 
the ring
stolen from me — lost;

Where’s the place of free will, 
which manages to be and not to be 
simultaneously;

What about those dozens of people —
did we really know each other; 

What was M. trying to tell me 
when she could no longer speak;

Why did I take bad things 
for good ones 
and what would it take 
to keep from doing it again?

There are certain questions
I jotted down just before sleep.

On waking
I couldn’t make them out.

Sometimes I suspect 
that this is a genuine code, 
but that question, too, 
will abandon me one day.

~ Wislawa Szymborska (Translated by Clare Cavanagh)

                    

The City Where I Want to Live

The city is quiet at dusk, 
when pale stars waken from their swoon, 
and resounds at noon with the voices 
of ambitious philosophers and merchants 
bearing velvet from the East. 
The flames of conversation burn there, 
but not pyres. 
Old churches, the mossy stones 
of ancient prayer, are both its ballast 
and its rocket ship. 
It is a just city 
where foreigners aren’t punished, 
a city quick to remember 
and slow to forget, 
tolerating poets, forgiving prophets 
for their hopeless lack of humor. 
The city was based 
on Chopin’s preludes, 
taking from them only joy and sorrow. 
Small hills circle it 
in a wide collar; ash trees 
grow there, and the slim poplar, 
chief justice in the state of trees. 
The swift river flowing through the city’s heart 
murmurs cryptic greetings 
day and night 
from the springs, the mountains, and the sky. 

~ Adam Zagajewski (Translated by Clare Cavanagh)

“You burn with hunger for food that does not exist.” ~ David Foster Wallace

Fire and Ice: Art of Nature, by Henri Bonnel(Pixdaus)

                      

“I am a jumble of passions, misgivings, and wants. It seems that I am always in a state of wishing and rarely in a state of contentment.” ~ Libba Bray

Colorful Winter's Day (Pixdaus)

Thursday evening. Clear and cold. Third day of this migraine.

Is the knot in my neck causing my migraine, or is my migraine causing the knot in my neck? These are the things that I ponder as 2010 comes to a close. I’ve been working on this particular post for two days, maybe three; it’s hard to remember. You see, I choose the quotes based on my mood, which guides the theme for my quotes, my images, and the accompanying music.

I love the David Foster Wallace quote that I am using as the header for this post. It’s not a new quote for me, but its meaning is  a constant in my life: the search for that which isn’t, the need for that which has yet to appear, the yearning for that which may never exist in this lifetime.

For the past two nights, I have stayed up quite late and slept into the afternoon, a habit that I thought that I had broken during  my stay with my mother. But it’s so cold everywhere—outside in the brisk air that makes my lungs seize up, and inside my brain, which refuses to thaw long enough to create—so cold that I cannot will myself to face the day. And then there is this days’ old migraine. So very tired of the omnipresent brain constriction; I have to wonder what this is doing to my grey cells in the long-term.

And so contentment, shall we say, continues to elude me on this, the almost eve of a new year.

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” ~ Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel)

Winter Sunset on House (Pixdaus)

By the way, does anyone happen to know a good curse-breaker because there is definitely some bad mojo at work on this family: This morning the police knocked on our door looking for Alexis. Her permanent address is still here. Seems that both of her cars were involved in an accident. Okay, yes, I know. Not the best way to be awakened, but luckily, not bad news in the police-at-your-door vein of bad news.

The good news is that the cars were parked outside her apartment. The bad news is that both cars were totalled by the huge-ass Suburban that slid on the ice and slid into the Civic that my mom just gave to Alexis; said civic was pushed back into the old Civic, which was pushed about 15 feet with the parking brake on. Neither car survived the encounter well.

Oddly enough, that’s how I lost my favorite car, my Oldsmobile Calais, in an encounter with a big-ass Suburban. The right front fender was pushed into an accordion into the passenger seat. The Suburban has a small dent in its bumper. The Calais never recovered.

So I suppose a few lessons can be learned from this experience:

  • Buy an old Suburban if you want a vehicle that is built like a tank.
  • Don’t count on  the fact that you did not slide on the ice as a sign that all is well because other people are out on the ice with bigger vehicles than yours.
  • Always have car insurance (which we do), and always be glad when the other driver also has insurance.

So now Alexis and Mike have the onerous task of dealing with insurance companies, adjusters, and trying to find two new/used vehicles, and Mike is due back on site in Northern Virginia on January 3.

So about that curse-breaker?

“Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Entrance”

Winter Sunset through Trees (Pixdaus)

The snow is gradually melting. In the past few nights the temperature has dropped below freezing, which means black ice on the roads, something that Brett and I experienced on our way home on Tuesday evening.

We went out Tuesday afternoon while Corey was trying to sleep before having to go back to work for another 11 hours that night. Brett wanted to look for yet another vintage coat at is now-favorite surplus store. No-joy on the coat, but he did find a great hood that fits on his jacket, and it was $10. Excitement all around. Then we went to another store to exchange a couple of presents, which meant that we found ourselves driving home after dark.

The Rodeo has a winter drive mode the same as my old Trooper Izzie did, and it’s a great feature. Just push that button, and feel the traction increase. We did hit one spot of ice but had minimal slippage. Luckily for us as just a few feet ahead of us was a car that had not made it over the patch quite as well and was in the median, which on that particular stretch of road has a dip. State Police were already on scene, but we didn’t see any injuries.

The best practice this week has been to stay inside and off the roads as much as possible. My mother had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, which I was planning to drive her to, but she canceled it as she was certain that the roads would be horrible. I tried to explain that in the afternoon, things were fairly good, mostly slush, but she wasn’t having it, so she has rescheduled. That being said, she drove herself to bingo this evening. Does anyone else notice the illogic that rules my mother? 

“Chantez, riez; soyez heureux, soyes célèbres;
Chacun de vous sers bientôt dans les ténèbres” ~ Victor Hugo
(Sing, laugh; be happy, be famous;
Each one of you will soon be in the darkness)

Silence (Pixdaus)

It’s now 9 o’clock, and I began this post hours ago. My headache is getting worse, so I need to wrap things up for now.

I just took some more pain medicine for my migraine, which reminds me of a very troubling and infinitely sad story that Corey showed me on The Virginian-Pilot’s website, pilotonline.com. It seems that in February of this year, a marine who served in Afghanistan was admitted to Portsmouth Naval Hospital for chest pains. The marine, who was suffering from PTSD, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a very treatable form of cancer, with a 90 percent five-year survival rate.

Twenty-year-old Lance Cpl. Ezequiel Freire never left the hospital. Instead, he died of a drug overdose, caused by too many doctors prescribing too many medications without taking into consideration what treatment Freire was already receiving. His autopsy showed a high dose of Fentanyl and 10 other narcotics and sedatives. This young man died of a toxic pharmaceutical cocktail, the kind of death that is on the upswing in this country because of the rampant use of prescribed narcotics.

Freire survived over 50 firefights during his six-month deployment only to die because too many doctors who were involved did not pay attention. But no firings will result from this tragedy because it’s a military hospital, and no suits can be brought because of that little thing called the Feres Doctrine, which absolves the military and the U.S. government from liability.

The other really pathetic aspect to this story is that some people used the comments section of the story to try to say that this (Freir’s death) is the kind of thing that will happen under Obamacare because healthcare will be government-run. Seriously? This kid was 20; he served his country; he was traumatized so much that he couldn’t enjoy a meal in a restaurant because of the noise, and he was given a potent mix of drugs: “first morphine, then oxycodone and its time-release variant OxyContin, supplemented by Dilaudid. Simultaneously, he was receiving a series of sedatives for anxiety – first Ativan, then Xanax, and finally Klonopin – plus Ambien and then Lunesta for insomnia.”

And you want to turn this horrible situation into a commentary on government healthcare reform? Have you no shame? You people are barbarians.

Enough. More later. Peace.

Music by Mazzy Star, “Flowers in December”

                   

Flowers in December
Before I let you down again,
I just want to see you in your eyes.
I wouldn’t have taken everything out on you,
I only thought you could understand.

They say every man goes blind in his heart,
And they say everybody steals somebody’s heart away.
And I got nothing more to say about it
Nothing more than you would me.

Send me your flowers of your december,
Send me your dreams of your candied wine.
I’ve got just one thing I can’t give you…
Just one more thing of mine

They say every man goes blind in his heart
And they say everybody steals somebody’s heart away
And I’ve been wondering why you let me down

And I’ve been taking it all for granted

 

“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.” ~ Aristophanes

Vintage Christmas Card: Christmas Song Birds (1913)

                   

“The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.” ~ Harlan Ellison

Vintage Christmas Card: Germany (1901)

Monday, early evening, Webb Center computer lab, ODU.

I arranged to pick up Brett from school today at 4:15. My phone is still not working, so I was unable to find out whether or not he wanted to stay longer. Turns out, he did, so I decided to come to the lab for a bit and work on this blog while he hangs.

We are switching my phone back to our T-Mobile plan, which means replacing the sim card. I did that, but for some reason, it takes 24 to 48 hours for my phone number (which was originally a T-Mobile number) to be transferred back from the Straight Talk plan.

Just a word of caution for anyone who is thinking of switching over to Straight Talk: Don’t. The customer service is absolutely horrible, and the plan, while it seems fairly straightforward and simple, isn’t. We had thought about switching over everyone to the Straight Talk plan to try to save some money; fortunately, we tried it with my line first while keeping the T-Mobile plan for everyone else.

The problems just weren’t worth the small savings; hence my switch back to T-Mobile. Only problem is that I don’t have service yet.

Cox Communications, our cable and Internet provider, is now offering wireless service. I suppose we’ll check that out to see what they are offering. If we can bundle all of our services, we may be able to save a bit of money. Have to see what’s going on with that.

“I responded to this development with the kind of sophisticated language for which I am famous. “Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid crap.” ~ John Green

Vintage Christmas Card: Bringing Home the Tree (date unknown)

Sunday evening, home. Windy and cold.

It is now almost two weeks since I began this particular post, and you may be wondering to yourself, ‘why bother?’ Legitimate question. Let me just say that I had already picked out all of these wonderful quotes about stupidity, and I hate to waste a good quote. So we will now be rejoining our regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

Brett finished his exams last Friday; we’re waiting for final grades, but it looks like he may be getting two A’s and two B’s. Quite happy about that. And Eamonn told me last night that he got three B’s and one C, much better than last semester. His comment was that he didn’t even try; I did not come back with the expected retort of imagine how well he would do if he did try . . .

Since I began this post, quite a few things have happened. One of which is that we learned—much to our joint consternation—that the wonderful Straight Talk phone we bought several months ago when we decided to try the switch, that phone (which is a Samsung Gravity model), cannot be used with any other system, even though it is SIM-card ready. My new T-mobile SIM card will not work in the phone. Period. Corey found out this dismaying information after several wonderful conversations with the ST customer service people. (He had to make the calls as I refuse to deal with them ever again; he now understands why that is.) We even tried some Internet sources that claim to be able to unlock any phone; well, they can’t.

So my mother, who cannot stand that she is unable to call me several times a day, is buying me a new phone for Christmas. I found a great deal on e-Bay for a similar Samsung, not one of the newer gravity models, which is fine as I don’t really like touch screens or have  need for all kinds of apps.

Once again, a word of unsolicited advice from me to you: DON’T go with Straight Talk unless you have unlimited patience and never plan to move your service again.

“The difference between stupid and intelligent people—and this is true whether or not they are well-educated—is that intelligent people can handle subtlety.” ~ Neal Stephenson

Vintage Christmas Card: German Elves (date unknown)

In keeping with tonight’s theme, I want to mention a very entertaining blog that I came across on blogsurfer.us: Losers I’ve Loved and Lost. The blog isn’t stupid, far from it, but the responses from the individuals on match.com who contact the blog’s author . . . well let’s just say that they are a bit lacking in the functioning grey cells category.

Essentially, the blog is a running list of selected letters the author has received via match.com and her responses to said letters. Now I’ve never tried online dating, and I know that it has become a staple in the dating world for many reasons, not the least of which is the ability to cull through the chaff for the wheat via profiles and responses. I will be the first to admit that this system would never work for me, ever, ever, as I would correct grammar and be generally bitchy and condescending, that is, my normal self.

So when I began to read the letters and her responses, I found myself laughing out loud as matchmaker (the blog’s author) comes across as my kind of woman: She does not suffer fools gladly. For example, she specifies that she is short, that she smokes, that she is not interested in an older man, a divorced man, or a man with children. She also specifies a locale. Do any of the men who write her pay attention to these specifics?

Of course not.

To wit:

Letter (intro paragraph): May I have the honor of inviting you for a dinner or lunch in San Francisco (I work in downtown) or a dinner in Berkeley (my neighborhood has all the celebrated restaurants)? I really enjoyed reading your relaxes but refreshing profile—you seem to be lovely person inside and out. (accompanied by photograph of obviously older gentleman)

Response (selected parts): dinner at a celebrated restaurant in berkeley sounds fantastic!  i love places that people celebrate or that others find celebrating or that celebrate regularly.  celebration is the essence of celebration.  the problem is i live in los angeles.  but it’s just a minor problem.  you sound very successful and i’m sure you could find a private jet to fly me up and back just for dinner.

i think you do meet all of the criteria for my partner.  except for the “within 5 mile radius of west hollywood” one, and the “between the ages of 34 – 39” one (as you’re 62).  and i’m glad you enjoyed my relaxes, because i relaxes a lot.  i relaxes all day if i can… and if i can’t, at least i make time to relaxes for at least half the day every day.

regarding me being a lovely person inside and out, well that’s a tough one.  i hate most people, pull the wings off of flies, and try to purse my lips in a frown like manner so people don’t approach me or try to talk to me as i don’t like strangers

See what I mean? She pulls no punches, which will offend some, alienate others, and put off those males looking for a traditional, sweet wifey type—which is obviously her strategy. And those of you out there who know me well know that I would take the same tack, which is why I am sooo glad that I don’t have to do this kind of thing. Visit LIL&L if you are into acerbic wit and rampant sarcasm.

“An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.” ~ Victor Hugo 

Vintage Victorian Christmas Card (via vintageholidaycrafts.com)

Let’s see . . . what else is happening? I have on my list of things to do addressing Christmas cards, with any luck, perhaps even tonight when I finish this post. May I just pause here to say that I am terribly saddened by the fact that no one, no one sends cards any more. To date, we have received two cards.

What is up with that? I read recently that more and more people are sending e-cards in lieu of paper cards. I know, a greeting of any sort is lovely, but I want that tactile sensation. I want to ooh and aah over the images, to read the short notes hastily scrawled inside in an attempt to be more personal. I mean, a recent study revealed that children are using less of their brain potential because they do not write with pens and pencils any more. We have an entire generation coming up that will have no idea as to how to pen a letter, literally.

Such a waste. I mean, what about doodling? All of those doodles with colored pens, matching your own name with some boy’s name, drawing little hearts and curlicues. Or the mad doodling in which the pen is pressed to the paper so hard that you form wholes and tears. A child who does not know how to take up a writing implement is being deprived, much in the same way as the child who is read to from an e-reader (another subject worthy of pages and pages of ranting).

Big I digress as usual . . .

Famous Louis Prant Christmas Card (ca 1882) via Card Museum

Holiday cards: Yes, that was the subject. No one sends them any more. It’s not like they are expensive. Boxes of beautiful cards can be bought at after-Christmas sales for a few dollars. I know because I’ve been doing that for years. And postage? Okay, send ten cards, just ten. It’s still about the same as the cost of a caramel machiato at Starbucks. Which one lasts, and which one goes straight to your hips?

Okay, before you accuse me of being the curmudgeon that I am, know this: I am a foolishly sentimental curmudgeon. And it’s not that I don’t embrace change. I love technology, love the gadgets and hoo-has, but I sincerely believe that in this, as with everything else, there must be balance. I mean, think about it. Are we going to progress so much that wedding announcements will be received via Blackberry and iPhone?

If you really don’t understand why I’m making such a big deal out of this, then you have never had a love affair with paper. You have never obsessed over the perfect pen. And if that’s the case, then there really isn’t any point in continuing this discussion.

More later. Peace.

Music by George Winston, “Variations on Pachelbel’s Canon in D”

I read banned books . . . as often as possible because that’s just how I roll.

“Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting” ~ Aldous Huxley

I was preparing this post to promote Banned Books Week on the evening of my mother’s accident. Since I had almost finished, I thought that I would go ahead and backdate and post. I mean,why give up a chance to stand upon my soapbox? The dates may be over, but the problem still exists.

I consider the banning of books to be a heinous crime against humanity. In my mind, there is nothing more beautiful than a book, nothing more enriching, nothing more enlightening. As I have mentioned, if I were stranded somewhere, anywhere, one of the things that I would have to have would be a book, any book, and I would probably read that one book until I knew every word, every comma, every quote.

One of my favorite quotes by Harper Lee

My love for reading was fostered greatly by both of my parents, but particularly my father who, when he grew tired of reading to me at any free moment, told me at four years old that if I liked reading so much that I should learn how to do it on my own. So I did.

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” ~ Victor Hugo

I view the censorship of books much in the same way I view censorship of television: so many alternatives are out there; what does it matter that something exists that you find evil, or dangerous, or sordid, or salacious, or seditious, or whatever . . . Don’t read the book. Don’t watch the show.

It’s your choice, and just as you have yours, I have mine. It’s called free will people. Think about it.

Now go read a book, any book. As Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

From the American Library Association Site
September 25−October 2, 2010

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please see Calendar of Events and Ideas and Resources. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at  1-800-545-2433, 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or bbw@ala.org.

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

 

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Myracle, Lauren
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26 .Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy:  A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89.Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Graighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by Frank, E.R.

More later. Peace.

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” ~ Victor Hugo

Happy mother’s day to all of the beautiful women in my life, children of mothers all.

 

 

More later. Peace.

Music by Ronan Keating, “I Hope You Dance”