“We work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing.” ~ John Steinbeck

“After the Snowfall,” by Jonas Lie (1908, oil on canvas)

“We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We are permitted merely to sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.” ~ Milan Kundera, from Laughable Loves

Wednesday afternoon. Snow on the ground, 30 degrees.

Today is my father’s birthday. It’s strange, isn’t it, the dates that you continue to mark on your calendar? Dates that no longer have any connection to a living person, and dates that are still connected to a person, but that person is no longer in your life. For example, every year on October 1, I remember Mari’s birthday, and on November 1, Kathleen’s. Perhaps that is because of the synchronicity of their prime number. Who knows. Regardless, I still mark so many things on my calendars at the beginnings of each year, even though no celebrations or commemorations will be had.

“Barge in the Snow,” by William Degouve Nuncques (1911, oil on canvas)

Today, I’m thinking a lot about my days at the Museum. I loved that place. And I hated that place. Wait. I loved the place, hated some of the people. That’s more accurate.

I still remember using my swipe card to enter through back doors within the galleries—that simple movement seemingly conveyed so much power to me. Any time I felt nervous or anxious, I would wander through the galleries, just drinking in the colors and textures. A museum is truly a wonderful place to work, as long as you don’t have to deal with the board of directors, that is.

But I miss those days even though my tenure ended badly when the museum had sweeping budget cuts, and I was deemed unnecessary. The days that followed my departure were dark in so many ways, and in reflecting on them, I realize that they contributed directly to the end of my first marriage, not that there weren’t already problems. I spent a great deal of time away from home, just trying to lose myself, and eventually, I lost my marriage.

Not regrets. Just facts.

“We create what we remember
to survive all we never had.
In a hall, darkened by exterior glitter,
my father scolds me
for anticipating his gift more than his return.
I am small but I slide an immense distance . . . ” ~ Marlève Rugo, “On Not Being Able to Write”

Of course there are regrets. I mean, I cast by the wayside two, no three friendships from the museum that had been very important to me. I cannot tell you why, now, only that at the time, I wanted to cut so many ties because I was in so much pain, wanted to be free of everyone and everything , which, of course, you simply cannot do. Not unless you are 6 years old.

So those people who I cast off in my attempts to recapture something that I thought that I had lost? I don’t know where they are now or how they are doing, but I think of them often and wish that I had been a better friend.

“Early Snow,” by Walter Launt Palmer (nd, oil on canvas)

Actually, friendship has always been difficult for me. There have been times when I have have had brutal arguments with a friend and then immediately severed all ties. Who does that? Well, I suppose, I do, or rather, I did. But were those truly friends, or just acquaintances? It’s both hard and easy for me to make friends. I make instant connections with people, and sometimes, those connections prove to be less than healthy, and sometimes they prove to be powerful forces in my life.

My oldest and dearest friend from my youth died a few years ago from lung cancer. I did not see her before she died, just as I did not see Allan before he died. Yes, regrets, major regrets. Do I set myself up for regrets? Perhaps.

“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.” ~ George Eliot

I’ve been listening to some newer artists and some old favorite artists in an attempt to populate my posts with new tunes to accompany my words. I’ve found quite a few already. Let me know, dear reader, what you think of those I’ve included recently, or if you have any suggestions.The weird thing is that when I stopped writing, I also stopped listening to music all of the time. I couldn’t possibly explain why that is, especially as music has always been a very important part of my life.

I’m particularly partial to the Sara Bareilles’ tune “She Used to be Mine.” It hits very close to home. I feel as if I’ve been so many people over the years, none of them traditional or expected or normal, whatever that is. I truly wonder if everyone feels like that. I mean, it’s more than having certain attitudes in your teens, and then different attitudes in your 40s. I would expect that such things happen to everyone.

“Albany in the Snow,” by Walter Launt Palmer (1871, oil on canvas)

It’s more that when I look back on my life, I see different people. I see someone who was fiercely aggressive in her career while working for the government contractor. I see someone who loved to be at the front of the classroom, making wisecracks and listening to students while at the university. I see a woman who refused to compromise and then one who compromised too much.

Are they all the same me? No. Yes. I don’t know.

Damn. Shouldn’t I know who I am, by now? People think that I’m joking when I say that I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But truly, I still don’t know, and chances are good that I won’t know when I close my eyes for the last time.

C’est vrai.

“There are men who carry dreams
over mountains, the dead
on their backs.
But only mothers
can walk with the weight
of a second beating heart.” ~ Ocean Vuong, from “My Mother Remembers Her Mother”

I’ll tell you something else that’s strange, even though I’ve said it before in different ways: I miss being pregnant. My body responded well to being pregnant, mostly. Perhaps my body, not so much, but more my spirit. When I was pregnant, I felt completely at home in myself. There have been no other times in my life when I have felt that way.

“Approaching Snow,” by Tom Thomson (1915, oil on board)

Fore more years than I can remember, I have wanted to have another daughter, another girl child to birth and to care for, but that never happened, and now, it’s much too late. And is that fate? Karma? What? God knows millions of women who want children are never able to have them, so am I being selfish in wishing that I could have had just one more? Maybe I am, but wishing never made it so, and so the point is moot, is it not? Regardless (once upon a time, I thought the word was irregardless), I still feel the desire keenly, and I find that strange as I always believed that the older I became, that the wiser I would be, and I truly believed that I would not still have yearnings that were impossible. Odd, that . . .

And now Olivia lives hundreds of miles away, and every day I wonder if she remembers me. I never understood before how a grandchild could affect me in so many ways, but it is completely unlike your own child, a different kind of love, a love that is somehow less selfish because in a grandchild, you do not invest your own future so much. Am I confusing you, dear reader? If so, I do apologize, but it’s not something you can really understand until it happens to you, and then it’s not something that you can understand losing until it happens to you.

“I would listen to my heartbeat. I couldn’t imagine that this sound which had been with me for so long could ever stop.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Stranger

The afternoon wears on, and the sky seems to be darker than when I started, and it’s definitely colder. I worry that the horses are cold, even though all of the reading that I have done says that as long as they are eating well, they will not be cold. They definitely have plenty on which to graze. But still, I want to put blankets on them. I shall resist. For now.

I just had a strange memory: I remember being 15 and sitting in my boyfriend’s den and just weeping and weeping. My father was at sea, as usual, and I missed him desperately. My boyfriend’s mother was not a particularly nice woman, or maybe she was just plain-spoken, and I was too young to appreciate it. Anyway, she told me that it was just growing pains. I left in such a huff.

“After the Snow on the Field,” by Gustave Loiseau (1899, oil on canvas)

I mean, growing pains? Could anything be more insulting? or more accurate? I do not look back on my teens fondly. Everything was too intense. All of the new feelings and emotions, the new ways in which my body did what it wanted without my having any power over it. It was all just too much. I was so very certain that my first love would be my love for the rest of my life. Gawd. Thankfully, that proved to be very wrong.

But there really was a point to this reminiscence, a non sequitur though it be: I have always had a strong affinity with animals, and I have always anthropomorphized them, had ongoing conversations with them, given them human personalities, likes and dislikes, so the feelings about the horses are not unexpected. Nevertheless, I realize that if I’m going to survive on this farm that I’ve going to have to toughen my outlook somewhat. Still, I think the horses need blankets.

More later. Peace.


Music by Finneas, “Break My Heart Again”

Coming Home

When we’re driving, in the dark,
on the long road
to Provincetown, which lies empty
for miles, when we’re weary,
when the buildings
and the scrub pines lose
their familiar look,
I imagine us rising
from the speeding car,
I imagine us seeing
everything from another place — the top
of one of the pale dunes
or the deep and nameless
fields of the sea —
and what we see is the world
that cannot cherish us
but which we cherish,
and what we see is our life
moving like that,
along the dark edges
of everything — the headlights
like lanterns
sweeping the blackness —
believing in a thousand
fragile and unprovable things,
looking out for sorrow,
slowing down for happiness,
making all the right turns
right down to the thumping
barriers to the sea,
the swirling waves,
the narrow streets, the houses,
the past, the future,
the doorway that belongs
to you and me.

~ Mary Oliver

“Here among the thirty thousand days of a long life, a single day stands still.” ~ Donald Hall

“Silent Dawn” by Walter Launt Palmer (1919, oil on canvas)

A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future.  ~ Leonard Bernstein

Frozen Afternoon on Indian Lake, by L. Liwag

Cold and grey here today, this after temperatures in the high 50’s yesterday. All fleeting feelings of spring fever have evaporated. 

Big loss for the Democrats yesterday in the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Senator Kennedy’s seat. We were spanked. Hard. 

Of course, everyone is commenting that this win by a virtually-unknown Republican is a clear indication that the country’s support for President Obama is waning fast and that the mid-term elections could be a toss-up. 

A few reminders: The mid-term elections are almost always a toss-up when a new party takes office. There is no stopping that trend, which results from the incredible impatience of the American voter. That’s right—impatience. 

Might I just suggest that since President Obama has been in office just one short year, those of us who are complaining might want to exercise a bit more of that commodity that is so lacking. One year. No, all the change hasn’t happened. Get real. Did we really expect it all to happen in the first year? And yes, people are afraid of the healthcare bill, mostly because it has been labeled as a giant tax increase, the death of Medicare, a deficit buster. Excuse me, the majority of Americans polled said that they wanted healthcare reform. 

Now that the hard work is under way, people are backing off, saying that they never agreed to higher taxes. Ya da ya da ya da. Tax and spend Democrats. Ya da ya da ya da. Look, Corey and I are already in a fairly high tax bracket, not because we are rich, because if we were rich, we would have all of those wonderful loopholes to keep us from being in a high tax bracket. But I would pay a bit more in taxes if it meant real healthcare reform, available healthcare for anyone who needs it. 

Personally, I have always favored a flat tax: Everyone pays the same percentage, no deductions, no loopholes. If everyone paid the same flat rate, we could get rid of much of the IRS (save a whopping amount there), and the system would be fair. Just imagine if everyone who pays taxes paid a flat 10 percent. For us, that would be a huge savings. For the budget, it would mean an incredible influx of cash from the wealthier sector, you know, those really wealthy people who, in the end, pay about 6 percent. 

Ah. I can dream, can’t I? 

“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other” ~ Erma Bombeck

Lita looking decidedly unglamorous while freezing at Indian Lake

Yes, I am disappointed in President Obama in some ways, but at the same time, I remind myself that it’s only been a year. Given the eight years that W. had to run this country in the ground, I think that we can allow the POTUS a bit more time to try to enact his proposed changes. I can be more patient, and so can you. 

So the stars are coming out for Haiti. Telethons. Glitz, million-dollar donations. I say, let them. It makes them feel useful, and many of those who are on the forefront are known for their charitable giving anyway. 

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes because those ceremonies bore the crap out of me. However, I will admit to watching the after shows in which the fashion police bash the people who appeared on the red carpet. Apparently, ruffles are big this year. Some women looked like they were going to the junior prom in a dress made by their mom. I’m sorry but peach colored ruffles? Yuck. 

Of course, I can sit here in my flannels and holiday socks and say such things because I do not walk red carpets. No one is shoving cameras at me and asking me inane questions. Personally, I’d rather sit here like the lump that I am than have to endure that kind of mob mentality: Ryan Seacrest leering at Mariah Carey’s over-exposed chest yet again. (When is that woman going to realize that she is not 20; her shoulders are really wide, which is not diminished by her humongous globes, and she just looks baaaaa-d in the clothes that she chooses?) 

But I digress . . . 

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedures is everything and outcomes are nothing.” ~ Thomas Sowell

Corey in his shades, what else?

Didn’t post yesterday because I was busy sorting through more forms from my doctor, trying to figure out which ones were ready to send to more prescription companies. Managed to get another four packages ready to send, one of which is for my Cymbalta. I just have three left to do, and those are for headache medications. My headache doctor, who isn’t nearly as nice as my back doctor, wouldn’t sign until he had seen me again (even though I just saw him). Luckily, I have already scheduled an appointment for February. 

I also found out today that my hearing for my Social Security benefits may take up to a year to schedule because of the backlog. Luckily, I don’t really have to do anything for that except sign papers and wait. The company representing me does all the hard work. I just show up when/if they finally schedule me. Supposedly the judge hearing these things actually looks at the paperwork and speaks to the person applying to assess validity. 

However, this drawn-out process really makes me wonder how those who supposedly con the system to go on disability ever manage to do so. There seem to be checks and balances at every single turn. But perhaps the checks and balances have been instituted in recent years because of the number of people who have managed to con the system. Who knows. Just more waiting, something I do in my sleep. 

“In its early stages, insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge.” ~ Colette

Close-up of Brett at Indian Lake

Speaking of sleep, I fell asleep around 6 a.m., only to wake up about an hour later to take Brett to school, which means that I didn’t really bed down until 7:30. This is getting to be ridiculous. Who does this? I mean, besides people who work the night shift. I don’t work the night shift, and I still don’t sleep at night. I don’t really remember what I dreamt last night, but I have this horrible feeling that Paris Hilton(?) was in it, and that’s just too depressing because it’s a waste of perfectly good dream space. 

Normally Corey takes Brett to school, and I pick him up, but I knew from listening to Corey’s breathing that he didn’t fall asleep until after 5, and he was asleep when Brett came into the room, so there was no point in awaking him when I wasn’t really sound asleep yet. That’s how insomnia is: Either you are fully awake, or you sleep in fits and starts, or the least sound will break your sleep, or all three. Bah. 

Brett has had a bad few days, and I’m not sure as to why. He had seemed to be adjusting to his new medicine, so I don’t know if this is just a hiccup or what. I’m hoping that’s what it is because he only has half a year left to graduate. I would hate for him to crash and miss a lot of school again. 

Anyway, my birthday is coming up this weekend. Have I mentioned that I hate birthdays? I really do, always have. I really don’t know that we’ll be doing anything, maybe a movie. There are a couple that I would like to see. We’ll just have to see how it goes. And then next week I’m having a caudal done on my back for some intra-spine cortisone. Love my life. 

No really, I do love my life, just hate the individual pieces in it sometimes. 

As for the not sleeping, well I imagine that sometime in the next year that, too, will resolve itself. Thankfully, it does not require a form or a signature to do so. Until then, I will try to appreciate the dawns that creep into my bedroom, moving my sight from darkness to pale light: 

It’s at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull.  I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed out that great attraction of insomnia before, but it is so; the night seems to release a little more of our vast backward inheritance of instincts and feelings; as with the dawn, a little honey is allowed to ooze between the lips of the sandwich, a little of the stuff of dreams to drip into the waking mind. ~ Brian W. Aldiss 

More pictures from Ohio trip. More later. Peace.  

Music by Enya, “Stars and Midnight Blue” (Don’t know why I don’t think of her when I cannot sleep) . . . 

  

                                                                                                                                  

The Second Room

The maple that trembles in front of our window
Is like another room we enter
Only when falling asleep and near
Dreams, when it’s difficult to know
What distinguishes the soul and the body, and the night.
Then we become little by little this foliage
That endlessly whispers and perhaps travels
With our sleep which it takes in and leads right
To where roots plunge, the very depths,
Where the top of small branches wanders under the wind.
We sleep, the tree keeps watch, it listens to the words
The dark tree of dreams murmurs as it sleeps.
 

~ Jacques Réda “The Second Room” from Return to Calm (found on Crashingly Beautiful)