“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” ~ Violette Leduc, from Mad in Pursuit
Mid August already. Here are two that I had originally planned for Tuesday, but hey, it was #1000, so they’re here on Wednesday (still with me?):
This is the plum season, the nights
blue and distended, the moon
hazed, this is the season of peaches
with their lush lobed bulbs
that glow in the dusk, apples
that drop and rot
sweetly, their brown skins veined as glands
No more the shrill voices
that cried Need Need
from the cold pond, bladed
and urgent as new grass
Now it is the crickets
that say Ripe Ripe
slurred in the darkness, while the plums
dripping on the lawn outside
our window, burst
with a sound like thick syrup
muffled and slow
The air is still
warm, flesh moves over
flesh, there is no
~ Margaret Atwood
“East of me, west of me, full summer.” ~ Charles Wright, from “After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard
It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
What is happening in the silence
of this house? Curtains
hang heavily from their rods.
Ficus leaves tremble
at my footsteps. Yet
the colors outside are perfect–
orange geranium, blue lobelia.
I wander from room to room
like a man in a museum:
wife, children, books, flowers,
melon. Such still air. Soon
the mid-morning breeze will float in
like tepid water, then hot.
How do I start this day,
I who am unsure
of how my life has happened
or how to proceed
amid this warm and steady sweetness?
~ Albert Garcia
Music by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, classic, “Summertime”
“To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a somber background; to express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance.” ~ Vincent van Gogh, from a letter to his brother, Theo, September 1888
Friday afternoon. Sunny and warm, low humidity.
Sunrise over Salar de Uyuni
Massive migraine yesterday, so no writing. Just a dull throb today, so better.
Yesterday was a frustrating day (actually, the whole week has been that way), one of those days in which too many telephone calls had to be made, and no forward motion was made. I’m trying to ascertain whether or not my health insurance will cover Botox injections for my migraines (not for my face). I keep getting told different things with each phone call. I finally spoke with someone in my neurologist’s office who actually was familiar with how my particular insurance covers the shots, and she is going to have the nursing supervisor call me next week (when she returns from vacation) so that I can put everything in place.
I first read about Botox for migraines about five or six years ago, but at that time, it was still considered experimental. Slowly, more and more insurance companies are paying for the shots for people like me who suffer from frequent migraines and for whom normal treatment is ineffective. I’m really hoping this pans out so that I can get these shots. I’m kind of at the end of my rope as far as the migraines go; I mean, I’ve given up caffeine almost entirely, and I avoid triggers, but I still get these damned things at least two or three times a week.
I would like to preserve the few brain cells that I have left. Really don’t think that’s too much to ask . . .
When Corey got home from work yesterday, we spent a few hours in the pool just floating and talking. It was quite relaxing except, of course, for the times when Tillie would jump into the water to get her ball. She’s such a needy little bugger. Even now as I type, she’s sitting in the door whining because I’m ignoring her. It’s like having a toddler.
“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.” ~Henry David Thoreau,Walden
The World’s Largest Mirror: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Corey and I are both making an effort to get to sleep earlier, so that we can wake up earlier, as in no more 4 a.m. sleep times. Although I am sleeping better, I still wake up at least two to three times, which means the longest stretch of uninterrupted sleep that I get is about four hours. Still that’s better than the two hours I was averaging before. The dogs are still the primary reason that I wake up.
For example, last night, just as I was drifting off, I heard the unmistakable sound of Tillie retching; it sounds very much like a cat with a hairball. She’s been eating grass, so of course, it has to come up. Why do dogs eat grass? They aren’t cows. I just don’t understand how they can eat something that their bodies cannot digest, and then their bodies expel the grass only for them to go back to grazing the next day. Why? Why? Why?
I read a little tidbit from the Telegraph that describes an elk that was ignoring its drinking water. The elk was seen putting its hooves into the water and acting strangely. Then the elk stuck its head into the water and came out with a squirrel in its mouth. The elk put the squirrel down, nudged it to make sure it was alive, and then watched the squirrel scamper off. How cool is that?
How sad is it that the supposedly wild beasts have more humanity than some people? Don’t get me started.
“Now the day is over, the shadows are long on the grass. The new trees hold the light—and wisps of white cloud move dreamily over the dreaming mountains.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from a letter to John Middleton Murry (May 21, 1921)
Salar de Uyuni at Sunrise
I am finding that I have become quite fond of Katherine Mansfield’s writings, especially her letters. They remind me of Virginia Woolf’s correspondence. Both women wrote such thought-filled missives. I find both women’s prose styles to be quite poetic and vivid.
One of my readers has offered to write me a real letter. I am so excited. Of course, with the drama that has been taking forefront in our household lately, I have yet to send her my address. I am such a poor correspondent even before I get started.
I never had a pen pal as a child, although I know that several of my friends did. I imagine that the notion of a pen pal is quite outdated in today’s virtual world. I mean, first, no one writes with a pen any more, and second, corresponding with someone across the world is no longer something that takes time or effort, really. There is e-mail, instant messaging, tweeting, and Facebook, among other things. If you want someone to know what you are doing or what projects you may be involved in, you can tell them in 144 characters or less. How prosaic can one be in 144 characters?
I gave up Twitter ages ago. Who really needs to know that I’m buying groceries? That’s not to say that Twitter is not a good medium. For example, writer Neil Gaiman uses his Twitter to talk about his writing, his projects, and to promote reading. That’s the kind of information for which Twitter was made. I see no reason to update people every time I leave the house. I mean, who cares really?
I’m reminded of an episode of “Criminal Minds” in which Agent Rossi makes fun of Twitter: “Eating sushi. Yum.” And then he says something like “who are these people that they think their every movement is so important?” The killer in that particular episode was using social networking to stalk his victims. Virtual stalking . . . yep, I can relate.
“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” ~ Isabelle Eberhardt
Salar de Uyuni (can be downloaded as wallpaper)
The pictures in today’s post feature one of the places on my list of places to see before I die: Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa).
Salt Mounds on the Salar de Uyuni
This place, which at times can appear to be the world’s largest natural mirror, is actually the world’s largest salt flat. Located in Bolivia near the Andes, the Salar (Spanish for salt flat) is covered by a flat salt crust atop a brine lake. This brine lake, rich in natural minerals, contains 50 to 70 percent of the world’s lithium reserves. The Uyuni salt flats contain over 10 billion tons of salt, 25,000 tons of which are harvested annually.
The Salar is a major transport route, even during the rainy season when it is covered by a thin sheet of water, which produces the mirror effect. Because it is a prime location for photographers, the Salar attracts tourists from around the world. Many Bolivian tourist sites use the phrases “where the earth meets the sky” or “the border between heaven and earth” in their promotional hype.
I found out about Salar de Uyuni completely by accident when I saw a photograph. The image was mesmerizing, and I looked closely to make sure that it wasn’t photoshopped. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a real place and that people can actually go there.
I have lots of places on my list for lots of different reasons: the castles in Scotland, the reefs in Australia, the ruins of old churches in Ireland, the Maldives while they still exist.
One day . . .
Salar de Uyuni: Walking on the Boarder between Heaven and Earth*
More later. Peace
Music by Shawn Colvin, “Never Saw Blue Like That”
*Access used to be limited to hot air balloon, but this is no longer the case. Access is usually via 4×4 vehicles.
City of Lavender
I had everything I ever wanted to say to you organized in my head but forgot it all when you took my palm in your hand and with your index finger wrote “disaster.” If you were to ask me how I ended up here, I don’t even know. Every night at 8:25 I can’t believe it’s already 8:25 and I’m so happy it’s only 8:25. Sometimes I find tragedy reassuring. Sometimes the cat licks my neck. I don’t want to think about where I’ve been or where I’m going anymore. Sometimes I just want to cry. Sometimes I just want to sit in a quiet space. It’s within me to rip my own head off. Let me tell you about the city. It’s a city of lavender. I can’t remember its name. There aren’t enough bank holidays. Someday you’ll read this and understand what type of person I am.
“Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again . . .” ~ Frank O’Hara
Well, hey. How have you been? Long time no words between us . . .
First, my computer died, an unanticipated immediate death, requiring the ordering of parts and much finger crossing. Said computer is still sitting forlorn in the corner of the bedroom, collecting dust and serving as a clothes stand. Ah, such is life.
Then I appropriated Corey’s computer, which is no easy feat. Adjusted myself to his scratchy mouse and a different corner of the house, this one an apparent heat sink of a spot as all afternoon heat collects in this corner. Not to mention that his computer’s speakers sound tinny, an observation that made Corey reply haughtily, “Well, we can’t all have Bose speakers.” What? Was it something I said?
Then, the Internet was shut off, so between the breakage, moving, and lack of payment, my posting has been, shall we say, bereft?
In such a short space of time, summer is waning right outside my door. Oh, it’s still beastly hot, but leaves are beginning to appear on the surface of the pool. Speaking of which, my forays into the pool this summer have been few, not because I have developed an aversion to floating about on water but because the interminable headaches make it hard to be in the heat and bright sun. Tillie the Black Lab has been sure to jump into the pool as much as possible, and I’m sure that it’s only to make me feel better.
“She would never change, but one day at the touch of a fingertip, she would fall.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir
As I said in my brief post yesterday, I found my blog’s theme changed when I was finally able to log in. How disconcerting. Apparently, WordPress is updating some themes and deleting others. Mine, which I mistakenly believed was Pressrow, was Cutline, which (as Isaak Mak pointed out—thanks), has been morphed into Coraline. Progress is fine, but change is not always necessarily good. It took me almost two years to switch from the first theme that I had, and now I am breaking in a new theme again.
Granted for some people this would not present a problem, but I had everything where I wanted it, all of the widgets lined along the right side, a new header photo. Part of the problem, you see, is that I’m still not on my own computer, the repository of my vast folder of images, so I had to search for another image for my header last night. I settled on the one above, but it doesn’t seem quite right. And this blasted typeface seems incredibly big. I wonder if it is or if my eyes are rebelling?
It seems the family is experiencing its share of computer problems. Brett is supposed to submit a Writing Sample Placement Test to ODU before he can register for his freshman English class. He is most unhappy at this proposition as he believes that having survived several years of IB English should make him qualified to take freshman composition. I agree, but as I explained, everyone has to do it unless they tested out, which he did not.
To date, he has tried to take this test four times. He has written the essay two times. When he hits submit, the essay disappears, and he is locked out. The last time he wrote the essay I reminded him to copy it and paste it into a blank document so that he wouldn’t have to write it again. Brett, like his mother, becomes stymied by those things he deems unnecessary, this test being one of them. Multiply the process by four, and the result is a very unhappy son.
Meanwhile, the router, the thingy that connects all of the computers in the house to the Internet and to each other, yep that thingy—continues to go in and out.
“I want to write like August, to swim in it like a pool and forget the clock hands moving across summer’s face.” ~ Terresa Wellborn
What else is new on the home front? I would love to be able to say that I’ve been commissioned to write a screenplay, that Corey has been given his own boat, that my children are all content, that the dogs do not have fleas . . . I would love to be able to say these things, but we all know that I would be lying.
I’ve been commissioned to do nothing, so I’m thinking about selling Avon online as a way to make a spare bit of cash. Of course, I have to check with my disability people to see if I’m even allowed to do such a thing. Corey still has no boat to call his own, and he is working tirelessly at his port security job.
Alexis is frayed and exhausted from trying to take care of Jennifer’s paperwork, and son, and still be a good friend. She seems on the verge of tears most of the time, and her visits are just brief enough to drop off her laundry, which Corey has volunteered to do for her so that she has one less thing to worry about.
Jennifer is home from the hospital, and now, I suppose, we are all in wait mode. Alexis and Jennifer’s brother Christopher are trying to enroll Reilly in the grade school that is just around the corner from my house, which would allow me to walk over and pick him up from school any time needed, and Lex’s Aunt Ann has volunteered to be on the emergency list for Reilly as well.
I wish that I could say that the outlook is good, that Jennifer is rallying, and the doctors have predicted good things . . . If wishes were fishes . . .
“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer . . . It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” ~ Violette Leduc
Everything that I have written so far has been much ado about nothing. I realize that. I also realize that I am once again standing too close to a precipice to peer over the side. Too many things are stirring in the cosmos. Too many things are unsettled and being bandied about like a badminton shuttle (I’m certain that’s spelled correctly, but it looks funny).
My dreams of late have been filled with babies and confrontation, heated arguments with people in charge, those unknown faces of people who hold power over me. I wake up frantic and in pain after averting physical fights. Last night there was a knife, a group of teenagers who were shooting automatic weapons on a side street in Downtown Norfolk, and a long walk down an alley. I don’t need psychoanalysis to tell me what that means.
The end of summer used to have a curious coda to it: When I was teaching at ODU, August became a month of frenzied activity, getting ready for school, buying new clothes for everyone, trying to fit in as many activities as possible. Now, it is merely muggy and long. A part of me even misses the chaos of buying school supplies for Eamonn and Brett, the lists, the rush from store to store to find three-prong folders with pockets because all of the stores only have the ones with pockets. Buying a certain kind of pen for Brett, and another for Eamonn.
Corey, the boys, and I would try to fit in a trip to Busch Gardens, and maybe a trip to the Outer Banks. Those were heady summer days. It all seems to very far away.
“When you start to live outside of yourself, it all seems dangerous.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
Now, here with two-thirds of the year gone, I think back to the plans I made at the beginning of the new year, my resolution to myself that this would be the year that I finally did something, that I would make the telephone calls, that I would release the flow of words that are dammed within.
I have done nothing. I have moved through eight months without gaining any forward motion. If I were to disappear tomorrow, there would be nothing to show the world that I was here except as a mother, as someone’s spouse. My sense of self, though, that would disappear in an instant with me.
All of the worlds within my mind, all of the stories left untold, all of the lines left unwritten—they would cease to exist, and the fault would be mine alone, a result of my continual, ongoing paralysis of spirit.
Self-pity is heinous on a bright August afternoon.