“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Night Symphony, Paris, by Isik Mater

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice” ~ T. S. Eliot, Section II of Quartet no. 4 “Little Gidding,” lines 118-119, from Four Quartets

Monday afternoon. Sunny and colder, mid 40’s.

Couldn’t sleep last night. Couldn’t sleep this morning. So I said what the hell, and got up and started my day. I know that my heightened anxiety is affecting my sleep. It’s just hard to relax knowing that at any time Corey is going to receive the telephone call that is going to change our lives. Kind of a big thing, no?

Blue Berries in Winter in Felsőfarkasd, Pest, Hungary, by Halasi Zsolt (FCC)

Spent yesterday doing laundry and tidying the house. Cleaned out the fridge and threw away all of the leftovers that have turned into science experiments, and packed away the Christmas dishes and glasses, as well as the good silver. I’m full of nervous energy. Corey found most of his old work clothes, all except for his Carhartt jacket and overalls, both of which he needs. So I’ve been doing loads of laundry as the clothes have been bagged for a few years.

I think that I’m ready to take down Christmas, which is unusual for me. Usually, I like to leave the decorations up the first week in January, but lately when I walk through the house, all I can think about is that I don’t want to see them. I know that it’s all reactionary, and probably the last thing that Corey wants to do before he leaves is to get involved in taking down all of the decorations, so I’ll try to hold out as long as I can.

It’s just a weird beginning to the year.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

I took the time yesterday to catch up on reading some of the blogs in my blogroll and sending new year’s wishes to everyone with whom I’m in contact. Speaking of which, the number of Christmas cards that we received this year was abysmal. I did receive a late card from one of my aunt’s in Florida. This year marks her third Christmas without my Uncle Melchor. It was nice to get an update from her and to see pictures of her grandchildren.

Winter Light by Enidanc (FCC)

But other than that, we did not receive cards from about five families who normally send us cards, but I did get one new card from reader Leah in North Carolina, which was a nice surprise. I’m still receiving a card each year from the lawyer who drew up my separation agreement with my ex, which I find very odd as we did not end our business relationship on a good note. I suppose that I’m on some list that I will remain on until he retires. Whatever.

When I began this post, I didn’t think that I would have any problems in writing as I have so many thoughts coursing through my brain, but now I find that it’s hard to pick one from the stream and elaborate on it. Each time that I think that I know what I want to say, it seems to slip away like smoke. I awoke with lines from a T. S. Eliot poem running through my brain: “Teach us to care and not to care . . .” Perhaps it’s my subconscious trying to help me: care about the big things and let everything else go.

Have never been good at letting anything go . . .

“This very second has vanished forever, lost in the anonymous mass of the irrevocable. It will never return.” ~ E. M. Cioran

So I just took a little detour looking for a link, but I’m back. While I was gone I did a bit of laundry, and gave the dogs baths . . . You didn’t even miss me, did you? So where was I? Oh yes, having nothing to say . . .

Into the Blueness by ebergcanada (FCC)

The strangest thing—I seem to be off sweets, at least temporarily. I think that this may be due in large part to the frequency with which I have to use my inhaler, much more than in years past. My lungs are still crackling and heavy, and I think that the albuterol, or whatever it is they put in inhalers now, is affecting my taste buds. During the holidays, I fill a big dish with assorted chocolates, and I’m not dipping my hand into said dish all of the time, not even the peanut M&Ms . . . I even threw out uneaten pecan pie, which I found too sweet to eat.

How strange . . .

This is a good thing, of course, but I would really like it if my lungs would start to act normally again. My asthma hasn’t been this bad since I was a child, and I know that it’s an offshoot of the neverending bronchitis, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to bear.

The other downside to this continuous wheezing and tightness is that I could not uphold my pledge to myself to start my walking regimen yesterday. I fully intend to begin walking a couple of miles a day and to take the lab as she will not be getting her usual exercise with Corey, and if you know your dogs, you know that a bored lab is an unhappy lab, much like a bored child. The last time I let a lab get bored, she ate a couch (not that that would be a big loss with our current dilapidated couch).

“Which are the magic
moments in ordinary
time? All of them,
for those who can see.” ~ Tim Dlugos, from “Ordinary Time

Corey and I are going to try to see a movie tonight and perhaps eat sushi—our date before he leaves. We have to snatch these moments while we can.

I know that last year passed so quickly. Outside it was spring, while inside I was still trapped in January. I would wager that this year will pass interminably slowly. I have a list of things that I’d like to accomplish while he’s away. Who knows how much I will actually do, but I would hope that I use this time apart wisely.

Snow Covered Blue Dawn, Elmhurst, IL, by clarkmaxwell (FCC)

I know that I’ve said this before, but in my mind, it seems as if the two of us have been together for years and years. It’s hard for me to remember a time when Corey was not in my life. And yet, it seems that the eleven or so years that we have actually been together has gone by so quickly.

It always  mystifies me, this notion of time, but as I’ve gotten older, time has become less linear and more cyclic. I find myself back in memories, remembering times in which good girls didn’t get tattoos, in which television only had three major networks, in which there was no such thing as Starbucks. Am I dating myself? Probably.

But some of you will understand what I mean: how we continue to move forward but things from the past loom largely, and not necessarily because they were important. I don’t speak of the past that much, and when I was younger, I used to wonder why my mother was always living in the past. I’m not living in the past, nor do I have any desire to do so, but flashes of the past come at me from nowhere, and it’s, at times, a bit unsettling.

I think of things like Hula Hoops and ice pops. I think of my orange Super Beetle and how I could drive around for more than a week on one tank of gas. Things such as this, nothing of significance, but there still, locked somewhere in the recesses of my mind’s many rooms.

“ . . . we are each of us made up of a cluster of appurtenances. What do you call one’s self? Where does it begin? Where does it end? It overflows into everything that belongs to us—and then flows back again. One’s self—for other people—is one’s expression of one’s self; and one’s house, one’s clothes, the books one reads, the company one keeps—these things are all expressive.” ~ Henry James

I suppose that as we age we tend to gain perspective, or at least, I would hope that we do. Youth and perspective do not seem to be compatible, and that is truly unfortunate as we probably need perspective the most when we have it the least.

Winter in Blue by Roger Smith (FCC)

Consider: We make some of the most important decisions of our lives in our 20’s, at a time when we think we know everything, but in actuality, we know so little. We decide what our college majors will be; we decide what fields we wish to pursue for our careers—all things that would best be considered with experience. There is something to be said for living a life backwards.

Yes, I am more than a wee bit melancholy. Titirangi Storyteller posted a photograph that she had taken of a three-week-old boy. It’s an amazing photograph in that it captures the newborn’s fascination with everything and anything. I commented to her that it made me wish for the times when we as individuals could still find everything new and interesting. I wonder when that feeling actually begins to fade, when we no longer see the wonder in the smallest things, when we no longer look with awe and surprise on the seemingly insignificant—a fabulous sunset, the sun through the trees, a bird in flight, the reflections in a pool of water.

Pity, really, to lose that. But lose it, we do. And we begin to view the world through eyes that are tainted with experience, colored with fragments of anger and loss, heartbreak and sadness. And when we do see something truly beautiful, remarkably breathtaking in its brilliance—if we even take the time to notice—then, and only then, do we remember that long-lost feeling of innocence.

“This I know at great cost:
all life is not outward,
nor is all death from within:
time writes in the ciphers
of water and rock for no one at all,
so that none may envision the sender
and no one be any the wiser.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “The Traveler” in Five Decades: Poems, trans. Ben Belitt

Trees in Rich Light by Snipps Whispers (FCC)

As Walt Whitman said,

O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

To these questions, I have no answers.

More later. Peace.

I found most of today’s quotes on Proustitute’s blog, A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, who will no longer be posting on tumblr, so I have added him to my blogroll, Poietes’ Recommended Reading.

Music by Tom Waits, “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda)”


                   

dreaminginthedeepsouth: (via The Literature Collection: Light made from nothing: poems: The difficult simplicity of certain contemplations) By Susan Elbe

~ Susan Elbe, from Light Made from Nothing: Poems (couldn’t find a better copy but wanted to use, sorry)

“Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.” ~ Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Honister Pass Stone Bridge, Cumbria, UK (WC)

                   

“My tears are like the quiet drift
Of petals from some magic rose;
And all my grief flows from the rift
Of unremembered skies and snows.” ~ Dylan Thomas, from “Clown in the Moon”

Tuesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 60’s.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter Caitlin’s death. The weather this week is very much as it was 23 years ago: sunny and mild, and the entire time I thought that there should be storms, massive gales and torrential downpours. But no, sun. I remember standing at the cemetery after the service in just my long-sleeved dress, thinking that it should be cold, but it wasn’t.

Old Stone Bridge at Twizell, UK (WC)

The little things that come back to you.

I had very intense dreams last night, quite a detailed one in which I was having a conversation with my deceased m-in-law in her dining room, and she was talking about the treatment that she had received in the first long-term facility, and she commented that they managed to neglect her until it was too late. I told her that I had tried to help, but I knew that I hadn’t done enough.

Then she told me that she had an envelope full of checks for $10 each, all made out to the grandchildren for when they won things at school or had recitals. But she couldn’t remember where she had put them, and asked me to find them for her.

At some point I got in Corey’s truck to drive to school to  take an exam, but I couldn’t see over the dash.

The dream switched, and I was in a big room that turned into a nursery, and I was showing the babies to my friend Sarah, and I pointed out a little girl, and I told Sarah that no one had been in to feed the baby girl all day, and I just didn’t understand how people could act that way. Then I was showing Sarah pictures of the kids, and there was one of me standing in front of my m-in-law’s house, which was decorated for Christmas, and I was holding a baby. Then the nursery turned into one of my old offices, and I was alone, but I was supposed to be at the other location.

I hadn’t called in, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I knew that I was in trouble, but my speech kept coming out garbled. I had a meeting with someone from a company that I was supposed to be reviewing a proposal for, and she pulled away from me even though I told her that I wasn’t contagious, but I couldn’t get my words out straight, and I’m certain that she thought that I was drunk.

Then a runner from the newspaper brought me proof pages for a Christmas ad, and I knew that he had been looking for me earlier in the day.

“I am a part of all whom I have met.” ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, from “Ulysses”

So much of my past in these dreams, so many people, too many to name. So many things left undone, responsibilities that I had shirked, that I knew that I had shirked. So much like life itself.

Old Stone Bridge over the Allt Shuas in Fin Glen, UK, (WC)

I had very much wanted to write yesterday, but Eamonn came home and wanted his room. C’est la vie, I suppose. So I read instead, Stephen King’s The Shining, a book that I read a lifetime ago. It holds up fairly well, one of his better books, before he began churning them out like cookies. But I didn’t really find it scar.y. Perhaps I’ve read so much true crime in the years between that the tale of a man possessed by a hotel full of ghosts pales somewhat in comparison.

Or perhaps there is no going back. More likely, the latter.

I did not make it to the floral warehouse to buy new silk flowers, nor did I make it to the cemetery as I had no vehicle. Perhaps that’s why I was trying so earnestly to drive a vehicle in my dreams.

As I sit here, I have a huge pile of dishes awaiting me in the kitchen. But the smell of last night’s scrapings is making me feel rather ill. I haven’t had a migraine since the botox, but I awoke with a killer sinus headache today. You know the kind: when you touch your eyeballs, they sound crunchy from all of the built-up fluid. I’m telling myself that I’m waiting for the Sudafed and Ibuprofen to kick in before I tackle the kitchen, but the truth is that I simply do not want to do it.

I’ve gone out to the kitchen three times to survey the wreck, if you will, and each time, I walk out and come back here.

“And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself—

Surely you see that.” ~ Bertolt Brecht, “And I Always Thought”

Random thoughts:

  • I should have used yesterday afternoon to write a few cards, but it seemed too hard.
  • I greatly fear for the future of this country, that we will see more of the bad times before it gets better.
  • I need a haircut.
  • We will probably not make a trip to the mountains again this fall.
  • The spider in the corner of the bathroom is still there, and I have decided to see just how long he survives if left alone.
  • I can go an entire day without speaking to another human being as long as the dogs are around to listen to me babble.
Stone Bridge at Wycoller, Lancashire, UK (WC)
  • I’m moving towards another birthday, and I have yet to do anything substantial with my life.
  • I do not want to die without having lived, as Thoreau said, but the marrow of life eludes me.
  • I miss friendship on a daily basis.
  • Oreos are actually soul food.
  • Tillie thinks that peanut butter is doggie crack, and it probably is.
  • I have to stop snacking in the middle of the night when the dogs awaken me.
  • It would be nice if the dogs did not awaken me in the middle of the night.
  • I wonder if I could be one of those women who looks stylish with grey hair . . .
  • I’ve decided to name my fancy-tailed Beta (if I ever get him) Captain Jack after Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood,” not Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, although either captain would do.

“Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.” ~ Gabrielle Zevin from Elsewhere

More random thoughts:

  • Some of my personalized ringtones include “No one said it would be easy,” “Wreck of the day,” and “Why?” Do you sense a theme?
  • When I lived in my small apartment near ODU, I would put Janis Ian on my record player, and sing “Seventeen” at the top of my voice without any inhibitions.
  • I just remembered that both my dad and my Uncle Nick were in my dreams last night.
  • I wish that I knew someone who had all of the answers because I would go up to that person and say, “Get over it. No one has all of the answers.”
  • Not really.
Stone Bridge at Low Crag, UK (WC)
  • I stack the dishes at our table when we eat in a restaurant. I’ve always done this.
  • Eldest son is taking dance lessons. I’ve always wanted to take dance lessons, to dance a real waltz at a real ball.
  • My bucket list is overflowing.
  • I want so much and so little.
  • Are my expectations too high?
  • I had a strand of purple love beads that are long since lost. I loved them because everyone else had grey love beads.
  • I used to climb trees every chance that I got.
  • The more stories I read on the 99 percent, the luckier I feel.
  • I shouldn’t have to feel lucky because I have healthcare and a house.
  • My father, who traveled the world, never go to see the Great Wall of China.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere—on water and land.” ~ Walt Whitman,  from Leaves of Grass

Just a few more:

Stone Bridge, Clare Glen, Tanderagee, Ireland, UK (WC)
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the wrong side of the fork in the road . . .
  • I wonder how many times I have chosen the right side . . .
  • How can you ever know?
  • I once had an English professor tell me that Emily Dickinson was the only female poet worth anything.
  • He pronounced the w in my last name as a Germanic v, and I despised him.
  • I once had an English teacher tell me that my poem wasn’t a poem because it didn’t have a da-duh da-duh da-duh rhythm.
  • He had dandruff and smelled.
  • If I had listened to every man who ever told me that I couldn’t, I would have never.
  • What happened to that fortitude that I used to possess?
  • I should have bought that catamaran when I had the chance.
  • Few of us realize how much our lives shift permanently because of the decisions we make between 18 and 22.
  • I was never 18 mentally or emotionally.
  • Exactly what constitutes a marketable degree any more when no one is hiring in any field?
  • Four o’clock in the morning is a very lonely hour.
  • Some people are born evil, others good, and then the rest of us struggle to figure out the difference.
  • I’m afraid it’s all been wasted time.

Enough navel-gazing for today. Dirty dishes await, and the sky has turned white.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve” from City of Angels OST

                   

Solitude

The changing seasons, sunlight and darkness,
alter the world, which, in its sunny aspect
comforts us, and with its clouds brings sadness.

And I, who have looked with infinite
tenderness at so many of its guises,
don’t know whether I ought to be sad today

or gladly go on as if a test had been passed;
I’m sad, and yet the day is so beautiful;
only in my heart is there sun and rain.

I can transform a long winter into spring;
where the pathway in the sun is a ribbon
of gold, I bid myself  ”good evening.”

In me alone are my mists and fine weather,
as in me alone is that perfect love
for which I suffered so much and no longer mourn,

let my eyes suffice me, and my heart.

~ Umberto Saba, (Trans. by George Hochfield and Leonard Nathan)

“I shrink and grow in cycles, dazzled at the small cup that is my life.” ~ Terresa Wellborn

     

“All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.” ~ André Breton
Vintage Fence by Francoise Rachez

So where do I go now? I mean, now that I’ve reached a milestone of sorts, do I keep doing what I’ve been doing? I suppose so as this platform seems to be working for me. Somewhat. The writing, the posting—both continue to offer me a great outlet. By writing about so many different things, I am able to feel a sense of immediacy as opposed to growing stale. But there is still something that is not quite right, still an element that remains elusive.

After all, I still haven’t gotten around to starting the book. I do have three concrete ideas that could be developed. One is a fact-based story. The other is a mystery, and the other is a memoir/tribute.

Time for total truth, I think: I will never be happy until my unwritten book has been put to page. That is the one thing that I have yearned for all my life, and it is nameable. It is as tangible in my desire as it is intangible in its reality. 

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath
We Held Gold Dust in Our Hands

I realize that I’ve probably used this Sylvia Plath quote before, but it speaks to me; it is so close to what I feel—each minute of each hour of each day. In fact, all of today’s quotes are quite personal.

I suppose what got me on this reflective tack is that I received two comments recently about my writing, more precisely, about me being a writer, a good writer. Both comments made me pause. Wow. Someone actually thinks of me as a writer, someone other than me. When I list who and what I am for other people, though, I don’t usually put writer first.

By that I mean that I usually describe myself personally as a wife and mother, professionally as a writer/editor. But is my essence, the essence that I have been trying to define my entire life, that of a writer? Is that who and what I am? Thinking of myself as a writer does not negate being a wife and mother, but it does change my perspective. Consider the difference between saying “I like to write” as opposed to “I am a writer.” The first places the emphasis not on the writing, whereas the second shifts the emphasis.

For a long time I thought of myself as a poet, but I’m not a poet. What has helped me to come to this realization is this blog. I can write poetically; my phrasing can by lyrical, sometimes musical, but what I do best is not poetry even though I have written some poems of which I am quite proud. But for me, my forte seems to be this genre called creative non-fiction, for lack of a better category.

“Will secrets fly out of me
when I break open?” ~ Mary Oliver
Vintage Cameo

I know that I will probably continue to have periods in which I feel that I have nothing else to say in this blog, that what I am saying just doesn’t matter any more. Thankfully, when that has happened in the past, I have been able to get past it after a brief respite and some cheering up from friends.

But what concerns me a bit, what is wiggling around in the back of my brain is the idea that perhaps I am using this blog as yet another means of delaying sitting down to write the manuscript that I compose in my head as I lay awake at 4 in the morning, the sentences that I form in my head as I float around in the pool, staring at nothing in particular.

Am I using this so that I don’t have to do that? By turning all of my creative energies to these posts, am I negating my ability to create something else? I don’t believe that that is the case, at least I hope that’s not the case. This is something that I am really going to have to ponder. I know that I do have a tendency to set myself up for failure at those times when I am most afraid of succeeding.

It’s not fear of failure; it’s fear of success, if you can believe that.

I know that I have joked before about my head exploding and the contents running out. I also know that I tend to over think things, to go through all of the ifs, and whys again and again and again, beating the proverbial horse that is already dead (where did such a perverse saying come from anyway . . .).  But once again, am I doing this, employing these methods for avoidance?

Ah me, ah life, as Walt Whitman said. It’s enough to make a sane person crazy, and to make a crazy person absolutely batshit. I think that I had better stop for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Gary Jules, “Mad World”

Photographs with links can be found on my tumblr, Slow Dancing in Quicksand