” . . . never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion; against injustice, lying and greed. If you . . . will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth.” ~ William Faulkner, from a commencement speech (1952)

From the play The Cocktail Party

Thursday thoughts . . .

When everything around me begins to fall apart, I often find comfort in the words of others. Bukowski’s poem below seems especially relevant at the moment:

Aside: I’m really impressed by the YouTuber who makes these poem companion videos.


Happy Birthday to T. S. Eliot (September 26, 1888-January 4, 1965), poet, literary critic, essayist, and publisher (“The Waste Land”)

Belated Happy Birthday to WILLIAM FAULKNER (September 25, 1897-July 6, 1962), Nobel Prize Laureate and author whose work I always have to read at least twice to really understand (The sound and the fury).

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“She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, from Everything Is Illuminated

Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy Silence has Settled 1890 drohende Stille oil on canvas
“Silence has Settled or Drohende Stille” (1890, oil on canvas)
by Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy

                      

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare, from Macbeth

Alexis’s friend Jennifer died today. Jennifer, who had so many reprieves, who lived to share another Christmas and another Christmas with her young son, and even, almost a third Christmas.

When I first wrote about Jennifer it was in September of 2010, and everyone was so certain that she would die before the end of the year. I include myself in that everyone. But Jennifer fooled each of us. She left the hospital, went home, and lived. She lived through two more (three?) of her son Reilly’s birthdays; she lived long enough to come to Alexis’s baby showers and to take a bus to the hospital when Alexis was in labor.

She lived, and then, she didn’t.

As if I needed yet another reason to hate November.

“Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.” ~ William Faulkner, from The Wild Palms

You see, I feel nothing but guilt about Jennifer. I was not a good friend to her, and even when Corey mentioned that I might want to call her because she was sick again, I chose not to. I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t put aside my own feelings of dread at facing another young person’s death, couldn’t find a way around my own discomfort to call this sweet, sweet girl. God, she could talk your ear off, and the drugs made her ramble even more. I am not patient with such things, witness my attitude with my own mother.

And the whole time Alexis was pregnant, Jennifer would find things for her that she might be able to use. Jennifer was a world-class thrifter. But that’s how she was, truly, thinking about other people. Looking out for others even when she already bore so much more than she deserved.

I thought about Jennifer a lot since that September in 2010. I was beyond happy when she was around to spend Christmas with Reilly that year and then the next, and then that thing happened that always happens: complacency. Just as with my brother-in-law Patrick: you get so used to the person being in a certain state of health that that state becomes normal. So when Patrick got sick again, it just didn’t occur to me that he would die. Neither did it occur to me that Jennifer might actually die this time, even though within my heart I knew that it was a strong probability.

“How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you’d be doomed.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

Funnily enough, today I was watching Sesame Street with Olivia, and I had a flash of memory: When Lex was younger and one or more of her friends had spent the night, I used to go in and jump on the bed and use Elmo’s voice and yell at them to get up. Weird, I know, but true. I thought of that today, before I got the news. And then a few hours later a got a text that Jennifer had died.

And so I wept. I wept hot tears of hate. Hatred at myself. Hatred at fate. Hatred at cancer. Hatred at whatever it is that decides to inflict such pain upon a sweet, talkative young girl who never had all of the comforts that Alexis had, who came from a broken family filled with dysfunctions—how that girl moved beyond that and became a wonderful mother to her son, the kind of mother she never had.

I wept at myself for failing to do the right thing, and then, I realized that my tears were also selfish tears, appropriating Jennifer’s life and death to add to my own litany of loss, and I am repulsed by myself. How can I cry for Jennifer and turn it into tears for my own losses? Who does this? I am sickened, and so I weep more, weep until I cannot breathe and am on the verge of hyperventilating because the overwhelming sensation that I feel is guilt: guilt over not calling Jennifer, guilt over not keeping in touch with Patrick, guilt over not being more patient with my mother, guilt over not going back to the hospital in time to be with my father so that he did not die alone, and always, always, always, guilt over Caitlin.

“Youth offers the promise of happiness, but life offers the realities of grief.”Nicholas Sparks, from The Rescue

I won’t scream and say that it’s unfair, that it’s unfair because she was young. Death holds sway over who it will. Youth’s seeming immortality has no pardon from its sway, is impotent in its presence.

When is enough enough?

I know that I am merely screaming into the wind here, that nothing can change anything, yet I am so filled with self-loathing right now that it just makes me cry even harder.

We are careless. Humans are careless. We make assumptions. We delude ourselves. It is easier this way. We do not want cold truths. We do not want blunt realities. Allow us to coast along with our false certainties, to be comforted by our denial. Yes, that is better, is it not?

My dog Shakes used to get very worried when I had crying jags. He would come in and try to get in my lap and Alfie would bark shrilly as if that could stem my tears. It was harder to cry when that was going on. I suddenly remembered that in the middle of my keening, and then I cried even harder.

Granted, it has already been a very shaky November so far as it was apparent that I was well on my way to a major fall. But now? I don’t even know how to think. I’m just letting my fingers form the words for me as I do not want to think about anything too much. I do not want to see Jennifer’s face in my mind, especially as I cannot recall Caitlin’s face. I know. That makes no sense, but it feels like yet another betrayal.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” ~ C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed

Jennifer was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s lover, and someone’s mother. Jennifer used to put baby oil in her hair when she was a teenager because it was curly and she wanted to make it lay flat. I’m certain that Jennifer is the first person Alexis got drunk with, and for a while I would not let Alexis spend the night at Jennifer’s apartment. Turns out my daughter was probably the instigator all along, but I blamed Jennifer and Amanda. Not my Alexis.

But we do what we can as parents. We try to make the right decisions. Try to guide our sons and daughters into having the right relationships, and even when they don’t, we make excuses for them because after all, they are our sons and daughters.

After today a young son lost his mother. Reilly will not have his mommy to spend Christmas with him, to celebrate his birthday with him, to see him go on his first date, to watch him graduate. His drug addict father hasn’t been in the picture in years. He will have his uncle who helped Jennifer with Reilly after she got out of the hospital. But no matter how much the people in his life who love him may try, they will never ever be able to fill that void. No one can replace your mother, especially when you are young.

” . . . you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.” ~ Mitch Albom, from For One More Day

I haven’t talked much about suicide on this blog for many reasons. I will only say this: that knowing what it would do to my children kept me from making foolish mistakes. Jennifer had no choice in this. And try as she did, the fates were against her. Her death will affect Reilly in so very many ways, ways in which people could never predict.

Caitlin never had a choice, nor did she have a chance, but that never kept us from hoping until hope was taken away.

Hope. That four letter word that is probably more powerful than love or hate. Hope allows us to fool ourselves in ways that love and hate never do. Hope keeps us coming back. Hope carries us to places we might not dare to travel. And then when hope is lost, that my friends, that is the worst loss of all.

Goodbye, Jennifer. I hope you were loved much as you deserved.

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
~ W.B. Yeats, from “The Stolen Child”

A song I used to play over and over on my piano: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

“I write only for my shadow which is cast on the wall in front of the light. I must introduce myself to it.” ~ Sadegh Hedayat, Boof-e Koor

Moonlight over Sandesfjorden by eivindtjohei (FCC)

Note: I could not get my computer to work yesterday evening, so this post is backdated. Sorry . . .

“I desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world.” ~ James Joyce, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Thursday afternoon. Very humid, mid 80’s.

Moon on the Lake by villemk (FCC)

I showered today. To most of you, this might not seem like such a big deal, but since yesterday I never made it out of my pajamas, and spent almost the entire day in bed, it’s a big deal for me.

So much has gone on in recent days that I feel as if I’ve run a marathon in combat boots: my entire body aches and is rebelling at just the idea of sitting here.

We found out the total amount needed to bring our mortgage current plus the attorney’s fees, and it isn’t pretty. I had to tap a source that I really did not want to tap, a relative (indirectly). Not my mother as she does not have the funds, nor do I want to have to hear from her about what a failure I am again. Unfortunately, this source could very easily let slip to my mother what’s going on.

I know that I just have to suck it up and deal with whatever fall-out there is, but the thought of the what-ifs is significantly adding to my stress level. This whole mortgage fiasco is beyond anything we have faced in years. The idea that I could lose this house—as old and decrepit as it is—just breaks my heart. The idea that we could become displaced scares the crap out of me. So if I can secure the funds from someone who is willing to help, I cannot allow my pride to stand in the way.

“I count the clouds others count the seasons
Dreaming of archipelagos and the desert
I have lived through weeks of years.” ~ Susan Howe, from “Hinge Picture

Acitrezza Faraglioni Moon Rise, Sicilia, Italy by gnuckx (FCC)

Oddly enough, I began the week on a good note, but that was doomed to pass quickly.

I saw Dr. K. on Monday and talked out the whole issue of going back to work, the possible risks and possible benefits. I told her that I would be pursuing this particular position purely for the money, not because I’m interested in the job itself. She then put it to me in a way that I could really appreciate: If I went back to work for a job that I was not invested in emotionally, a job—just a job—then the chances of my health problems being exacerbated would be greater than if I went back to work for something that really meant a lot to me, like a university teaching position.

When she put it that way, it made complete sense to me. Sometimes it takes an objective third party to make you see what’s been in front of you the entire time, the reality of it all.

And for me, the reality is that if I could go back to teaching English for a college or university, I wouldn’t care about the salary because I would be doing something that I really love.

Anyway, that was Monday. It’s been downhill, full speed ever since.

“I am not good at noticing when I’m happy, except in retrospect. My gift, or fatal flaw, is for nostalgia. I have sometimes been accused of demanding perfection, of rejecting heart’s desires as soon as I get close enough . . . I know very well that perfection is made up of frayed, off-struck mundanities. I suppose you could say my real weakness is a kind of long-sightedness: usually it is only at a distance, and much too late, that I can see the pattern.” ~ Tana French, from In the Woods

Fratarski Otok Moonlight by cinemich (FCC)

I’ve been trying not to just sit around and eat chocolate, even though it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Those 90-calorie fiber brownies? Yep, those? They taste like powdered cardboard. They’ll do in a pinch just to get the flavor of chocolate near the taste buds, but as far as filling that need for chocolatey smoothness . . . nope, not even close.

Then there are the 100-calorie snack packages. Do you know how many chocolate chip cookie thingies they put in one package? Eight, and they are the size of a quarter. Yep, 100 calories of pure chocolate air.

What I want is a carton of some kind of Ben and Jerry’s, preferably with the highest fat content possible, and a big spoon, and no one around to see me indulge. That or a bag of Pepperidge Farms cookies. Those would be good too.

Instead, I’ll just sit here and type and hope the cravings go far, far away. Men simply do not understand the whole chocolate thing. It’s not just for PMS. It’s for stress. It’s for depression. It’s for happiness. It’s for celebration. It’s dopamine with calories. Given a choice between Godiva and heroin? Godiva, hands down. Adult acne be damned.

“A dreamer is one who can only find their way by moonlight, and their punishment is that they see the dawn before the rest of the world.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Lunar Reflections, Fort Fisher, NC by Donald Lee Pardue (FCC)

Well, that little interlude helped a bit, that is until I remembered that yet another Law & Order franchise has been ruined for me. “Law & Order UK” killed off the Matt Devlin character, played by Jamie Bamber (who was also Apollo in “Battlestar Gallactica”). I loved him. I was already pissed at the loss of Ben Daniels, whose Crown Prosecutor James Steel was as sharp as Linus Roache’s character of Michael Cutter.

Bamber’s departure comes as a result of his casting on “Precinct 17,” of which I know absolutely nothing.

And “Law & Order SVU” is also going down the tubes with the departure of Christopher Meloni and the addition of two new cast members. Okay, so this is not important in the grand scheme of things, but as I am a diehard fan of all things L&O (with the exception of LA, which I cannot bring myself to like), the loss of the original, the tossup of SVU, and the big changes to UK make me terribly unhappy, which, as you know, is so unusual for me.

“It’s like morphine, language is. A fearful habit to form: you become a bore to all who would otherwise cherish you. Of course, there is the chance that you may be hailed as a genius after you are dead long years, but what is that to you . . . Time? Time? Why worry about something that takes care of itself so well? You were born with the habit of consuming time. Be satisfied with that.” ~ William Faulkner, Mosquitoes

Moonlight at Redang Island, Malaysia by Christian Haugen (FCC)

So, here I sit. The house is quiet. Everyone is at school or at work. Everyone, that is, except for me and the dogs and the dust bunnies . . . I’m sitting here with the sun in my eyes, the afternoon sun that is streaming through Eamonn’s bedroom window. If I do that thing that kids do, you now, close my eyes almost all the way, then I can see light refracting off my eyelashes.

Remember when you first discovered how to do that? I don’t either.

For some reason, I cannot get my YouTube to work at the moment. I keep getting a 502 error, whatever that is, whenever I set a playlist to play. I tried signing back in, but nothing. So I don’t have a song for this post, which is okay, I suppose, as I don’t yet have a theme in mind for the images to go with the words. It’s that kind of post: disjointed, fragmented, bumpy.

I prefer for my posts to be like the kind of ride you get in an Infiniti, or something along those lines: smooth, comfortable, almost quiet. Instead, I have a 4×4 kind of post going on, and I keep hitting all of the potholes. My suspension is shot, and I’m badly in need of a tune-up.

Oh well, never going to own that muscle car that I always dreamed of having. You know, the one with the motor that growls low at stop lights, the one that slides in and out of cars. Nope. Not going to happen . . . ever. A muscle car needs to be low to the ground, something that my body just won’t do.  No black Ford Mustang with a sunroof and speakers that make my tummy vibrate.  Just please don’t put me in a white sedan. I think that would be the end of me.

What am I going on about? Who the hell knows.

More later. Peace.

Music by Tom Waits, “The Part You Throw Away”

                   

“Since I last wrote summer has gone. It’s autumn. Now Jack brings home from his walks mushrooms and autumn crocuses. Little small girls knock at the door with pears to sell & blue black plums. The hives have been emptied; there’s new honey and the stars look almost frosty. Speaking of stars reminds me—we were sitting on the balcony last night. It was dark. These huge fir trees ‘take’ the darkness marvellously. We had just counted four stars & remarked a light, high up—what was it? on the mountains opposite, when suddenly from far away a little bell began ringing. Someone played a tune on it—something gay, merry, ancient, over and over. I suppose it was some priest or lay brother in a mountain village. But what we felt was—it’s good to think such things still happen to think some peasant goes off in the late evening & delights to play that carillon. I sometimes have a fear that simple hearted people are no more. I was ashamed of that fear last night. The little bell seemed to say, but joyfully: ‘Be not afraid. All is not lost.’” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from a letter to Richard Murray, September 5th, 1921

“Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” ~ W. Eugene Smith

A perigee moon rises above the Almudena Cathedral (Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images)

                            

“It shocks me how I wish for . . . what is lost and cannot come back.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story

Sunday afternoon. Cold and cloudy. Below normal temperatures.

Super Moon in Pembroke, NY by jimsanders52

I finished the taxes; we owe for state, but we’ll be getting a federal return, which will immediately go towards getting a new back door. Now I need to do the FAFSA’s for Eamonn and Brett; of course, I am past deadline. I had such good intentions about getting those done in a timely way, but my health hasn’t been cooperating for a few months now.

I had wanted to post yesterday so badly, but just sitting here for an extended period was too painful. At such times, I long for my old laptop, the one that crashed and burned when I finished grad school. Maybe one day, but too many other pressing things for now.

Yesterday was Caitlin’s birthday. I didn’t even make it to the cemetery, didn’t make it out of sweats, actually. I have bought new flowers, spring colors.

 Were she still alive, she would be 23. It pains me to think of what kind of young woman she might have been. Would she have gone to college? Would she have been as driven as I was at that age? What would she have looked like; who in the family would she have resembled with her dark hair and almond eyes?

These are the things that I contemplate as each year takes me farther and farther from that painful point in my history. Yes, I know. Such extended grief is not normal, but it has been a part of me for so long that I would not know how to live without it. Truth be told, I have no desire to live without it. I mean, I am no longer consumed by my grief, but it remains with me like an old sweater that I notice occasionally when I open the drawer, and sometimes, I am so chilled to the bone that I must take out this well-worn sweater and put it on. I believe that this is a comfortable place in which to reside. It may not work for someone else, but it works for me.

“Grace is what matters in anything, especially life; especially growth, tragedy, pain, love, death. About people, that’s what matters. That’s a quality I admire quite greatly. It keeps you from reaching for the gun too quickly, keeps you from destroying things too foolishly. It keeps you alive and it keeps you open for more understanding.” ~ Jeff Buckley 

Super Moon behind St Michaels Tower on Glastonbury Tor Hill (Ben Birchall/PA/AP)

We do have good news in our house, though. Corey got a call from Precon, one of the two companies that he had been counting on. This was his second choice, but it’s still good. He starts work on Monday as a deck hand, working locally, daily.

I told him that I think that it’s actually good that he got this job first as it will allow him to readjust to being back on a boat, get his sea legs, if you will. The pay is just a bit more than his maritime security job, but he will definitely be working 40 hours a week, with probably overtime. So we can count on a regular base pay each week, something we haven’t had for three years.

It’s also good that he doesn’t have to travel as the truck is not yet working. Ford still has not come through with their buyout of the Windstar. They have paid so much more in rental fees than they owe us for the recall, but we have no control over the situation. As long as they are providing Corey with a vehicle, we are good.

Anyway, I know that Corey is quite anxious about going back on a boat. I have assured him that it will all come back to him once he is in the midst of things. Then, if and when the second company calls, he’ll be ready. Since company-hopping is pretty much standard in the industry, he shouldn’t feel any qualms about taking the much better-paying position should it be offered to him.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose providence dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of events, but some of us feel it always.” ~ William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Super moon over Prague by Benjine

I know that Corey is also carrying around a sense of loss these days. He has been thinking quite seriously about taking guitar lessons. It’s something that he has wanted to do ever since I met him, take guitar, piano, and/or voice lessons. He has a wonderful voice, and he wants to improve his range, just for personal satisfaction, which I think it lovely. He had wanted me to teach him how to play the piano, but I had to disappoint him because I know that I would not be a good teacher to someone with whom I have a personal relationship. My standards are incredibly high, and my patience is incredibly bad.

So Corey found a woman in Suffolk who teaches music with whom he made an appointment several weeks ago. We’re going Tuesday night to meet her before making any commitments.

What has Corey so disappointed is that his father had a 1960 Gibson Les Paul electric guitar that his father gave to him when he was a teenager. I have heard about this guitar for years; Corey has spoken of it in such loving terms, has told me the family history of how it was passed around, of how his older brother tried to sell it for $50 to make a quick buck. A few years ago, both of Corey’s brothers tried to convince his father to sell the guitar on E-Bay. Corey talked his father out of it—or so he thought.

Turns out, his dad sold the guitar three years ago to someone to use for parts. Seriously, I thought that Corey was going to cry. That guitar was the one thing that he has always talked about wanting to keep in the family, and I know that he was working up the nerve to ask his dad if he could have the guitar to take lessons. To find out that the guitar is gone, that it’s been gone for years, was such a blow.

He’s been heartbroken, and to tell him that we’ll find him a vintage guitar sometime in the future doesn’t quite ease the sting. It won’t be his father’s guitar. It won’t be the one his grandfather bought.

I really do understand because my mother is always threatening to sell things in her house that I cherish. My mother has never been the sentimental type, as I’ve said before, but some of those things are part of my history, just as this guitar was part of Corey’s history.

We are all products of the soil from which we were grown. Sometimes that soil is rich and nourishing; sometimes it is fallow. Sometimes it’s better to leave that soil behind, and sometimes we want to take some of that soil with us when we put down new roots. What happens when that choice is taken from us?

“Who am I, in fact, as I sit here at this table, but my own past?” ~ Katherine Mansfield

Supermoon over Upper Makefield, Pennsylvania by Mark Setash

Ah well, onto other things. I went to see my other mother-in-law at the rehab center this past week. It was terrible. She would only open her eyes once in a while; she mumbled; she couldn’t feed herself. All of these things have happened in just the last week.

I didn’t go see her on her birthday because my ex was going to be there for the family get together, but Ann, my sister-in-law told me that she was jolly and singing the Montana state song. That was on St. Patrick’s Day. Two days later, she was completely changed.

In between the mumbling, she would say something audible, and at one point, she said, quite clearly, “I’m at the end of my rope.”

I did not allow myself to cry while I was there. She didn’t need to see my tears. And as heartless as it sounds, I sort of understand why people stop going to see family members when they are in those places: It’s damn depressing. But then I think about the individual who is there, in and out of moments of lucidity, and they must wonder why they are there; they must wonder where their family is.

I’ve decided that I’m going to try to go at least a few times a week and read to her. She used to love to read, and we used to exchange books. Since Corey will be gone throughout the day with his new schedule, I’m thinking that I can drop off Brett at school and then just go the few miles down Hampton Boulevard and stop in and read for a bit.

I don’t know if it will help, but it certainly can do no harm. I know that her decline is really getting to my own mother who is only one year younger, but my mom won’t say anything.  But I can tell you this, after seeing this vital woman being reduced to a shell of herself, I vow that there is no way that I will go through the same thing. I don’t want my family to see it, and I don’t want to be trapped inside my own mind.

Perhaps you may think this a cowardly decision, but I do not. Sometimes, it’s better not to overstay. But don’t listen to me. I’m a tumble of emotions at the moment, and I know it. I think that I’ll stop now.

More later. Peace.

(All pictures are from the super perigree moon on March 19. This perigree or supermoon is visible when the moon’s orbit position is at its closest point to Earth during a full moon phase. The perigree moon, which occurs approximately every 18 years, appears 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. Unfortunately, it was not clear here, but people all over the world got some wonderful pictures.)

Music by Jonathan Czerwik,  “Tears and Laughter”

                   

Resurrection

Poetry slips into dreams
like a diver into a lake.
Poetry, braver than anyone,
slips in and sinks
like lead
through a lake infinite as Loch Ness
or tragic and turbid as Lake Balatón.
Consider it from below:
a diver
innocent
covered in feathers
of will.
Poetry slips into dreams
like a diver who’s dead
in the eyes of God.

~ Roberto Bolaño, from The Romantic Dogs, trans. Laura Healy

“I go from exasperation to a state of collapse, then I recover and go from prostration to Fury, so that my average state is one of being annoyed” ~ Gustave Flaubert

Il Labirinto Villa Pisani Italy*

                   

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.” ~ Carl Sagan

Wednesday evening. Very cold; winter storm predictions.

Maze at Reignac sur Indre, France

A bit of a strange and vexing day. Did you know that if you unplug your keyboard to clean it, and then sit the keyboard back on the desk but fail to plug it back into the CPU, typing with all your might will not produce anything on the screen? See? I can be amusing as well as informative.

I must have failed to make this connection as this afternoon I was reading my e-mail, and I started to reply to someone, but nothing happened. I thought to myself, “Stupid computer. What’s wrong with you now?” I tried typing harder. Nothing. Reopened my mail. Nothing. Rebooted the computer. Still nothing. Completely vexed, I decided to abandon the mail and do a bit of browsing on tumblr.

I swear, completely truthful here, it took me almost three hours of mulling it over in the back of my mind before I realized that the keyboard was unplugged; hence, no typing, no words on the screen. Isn’t that just pathetic? Here I had blamed the computer for obvious operator incompetence, but to be fair, it’s usually the computer. Really. It is.

“I felt like an explorer who had been handed a map written in invisible ink. … The library was a place where most of the things I came to value as an adult had their beginnings.” ~ Pete Hamill, “D”Artaganan on Ninth Street”

The Imprint Maze, Gloucestershire (Footprint of a Colossus)

I also spent an inordinate amount of time today discovering that the new health insurance policy that went into effect January 1 is a great, big, piece of crap. Okay, health insurance is better than no health insurance. However . . . health insurance that does not include any of your current doctors in the list of providers is reprehensible.

I know. GW changed carriers because of cost concerns. That’s the reality. But the reality for me is that I am paying the same amount for a policy that isn’t doing me much good. I now have to decide whether to pay the out-of-network cost to see all of the doctors with whom I have established a relationship or to play craps with a list of providers with whom I am not familiar in the hopes that I can find a new gastroenterologist, a new gynecologist, and a new neurologist.

My pain doctor is also not in-network, but I really cannot even conceive of changing back doctors. The only doctor that is still in network is my PCP.

So aside from cursing at the computer for its inability to put words on the screen after I had typed them on an inoperable keyboard, I also spent a lot of time cursing at the computer screen for showing me a whole lot of nothing good. As it stands, I am six months overdue for my annual humiliation in the stirrups, three years overdue for breast-smashing, and several years overdue for a checkup on my digestive system. I will run out of my cymbalta within the next three weeks, and I don’t have an appointment with an in-network mental health care provider.

Ah, the rich pageantry of life.

“Pointless . . . like giving caviar to an elephant” ~ William Faulkner

Castlewellar Peace Maze, Northern Ireland

So in essence, the entire time that I thought that I was being productive was actually yet another exercise in futility. I should probably have those three words—exercise in futility—tattooed across my forehead, as nothing could possibly be a more fitting description of my life at the moment.

I did manage to make an appointment to get my eyes examined, something that I have really needed to do for months now. My new policy does have a vision rider, which means that my exam is covered at 100 percent, and I get a deduction on my glasses and/or contacts. Of course, the eye doctor that I had wanted to go to is not in network . . . so I settled for someone else. I’m seriously thinking of going back to contacts; I haven’t worn them for over a year now. I’ll probably do both glasses and contacts and then depending on how lazy I am in the morning/afternoon when I get up, I’ll slap on glasses or take the few extra minutes to put in the contacts.

This is what I am left with: six possible names from which to choose a gastroenterologist, and seven possible names from which to choose a neurologist. Well at least they gave me a choice. Hmm . . . choosing someone to mess with my brain and choosing someone to mess with my innards up close and personal. Excuse me if I don’t feel terribly excited by the prospects.

So many decisions. You would think that some of this stuff actually mattered. But I know better.

“I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard

Longleat Hedge Maze, UK

Other things that got on my nerves today:

YouTube suddenly turns of the shuffle mode when I am playing a playlist, and I will listen to the same song three times in a row without noticing it.

The tumblr dashboard was acting up, and whenever I tried to reblog something, I got the error page, which means that I either did not get a reblog, or I reblogged twice—and I realize that this means absolutely nothing to you if you don’t use tumblr, but it’s rather vexing, so it needed to be included in today’s list of things that make me crazy.

Oh, and Alexis dropped by this evening to grocery shop in our pantry. She also picked up the laundry that she sent over. It must be nice . . . While she was here, she also scavenged in Eamonn’s room to see if there was anything in here that she might want. Who is this person?

She moves through the house like a cyclone, grabbing things in her wake until she is satisfied, and then she leaves, after gracing us with her presence for less than a half an hour. She always says that the next time she drops by she will stay longer. I don’t know if we have enough stuff that she wants to warrant an extended stay.

Ooh. That last bit was snarky. Wasn’t it?

Honestly, this post was not meant to be one long bitch-fest, but that’s what has happened. Isn’t it? I would apologize, but I’m not really sorry. Sometimes, it’s important to vent. It keeps the stomach-aches away. Or is that yogurt that does that?

I feel a great need for chocolate and caffeine, and I don’t believe that I will restrain myself since I have been on an eating binge for the past two days, which makes sense since I have to get on doctor’s scales next week, and being weighed while bloated and full will only help my general disposition.

I think that I’ll stop now with this wonderful quote by David Suzuki which pretty much sums up the day: “We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.”

Music by Simon Wilcox , “Empty Sky”

*Today’s theme: Mazes (more than one entrance and exit) and labyrinths (only one entrance and exit), for obvious reasons

I slept the sleep of the tortured: fitful, broken, and too short. And when I awoke, I knew that not enough time had passed, and so I tried to sleep more, but it never came. ~ L. Liwag

Flower Shop in Paris 

  

“The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time’s scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your life’s strength: that page will teach you to write.” ~ Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

On Saturday, I finally made it into the pool. The dogs have been swimming for a few days, but I wanted sun. The air was filled with the sweet smell of my gardenia bush in bloom, and there was just enough breeze to fool me into thinking that it wasn’t that hot. I was lulled into a wonderful feeling of comfort, arms flung wide, staring up into the clear blue sky, just a few cumulus puffs dotting the sky here and there. 

Silly me. I didn’t even think about putting on sunscreen except for my face. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I stayed out for hours, just enjoying the water, the breeze, the dogs . . . I got sunburned on my arms and chest. 

Beh. 

I never used to get sunburned. Ever. I would give my friends a hard time whenever they burned, taunting them with my olive skin. I suppose this is payback. The other thing that I got from the sun was a migraine, a killer migraine, one that has only this afternoon subsided into a tightness in my forehead. Poor, poor, pitiful me. 

I remember endless summer days spent in the sun, lying on the beach with my friends, or on the catamaran with my friend John, or water skiing with the guys. Good times. Never burned, just browned. When I worked at the newspaper, I finished at 3:30, still early enough to catch some afternoon rays. The summer before I got married to my ex, I worked and sunned. Last summer of my life in which I was able to be carefree and careless with time and money.

an orchid’s scent
its incense perfuming
a butterfly’s wings ~ Basho
Flower Shop in Kuala Lumpur

So today, it’s 75 degrees, almost 20 degrees cooler than this weekend. There were a few thunder boomers last night, but nothing major. 

Last night I watched the movie Memento, with Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano, and Carrie-Ann Moss. Wow. What a puzzle, but very deftly done. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie combined two different timelines, one ongoing and one flashback. Lots of visual clues, riddles, a few red herrings. The plot revolved around memory, what is real, what is thought to be real, what is imagined. The main character, Leonard (Pearce), suffers from anterograde amnesia: he cannot make new memories. 

I would highly recommend this movie if you liked The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense. That being said, Memento is not as easy to discern as either of those two, not that either of those films were straightforward in any way. Nolan directed the movie in 2000, followed by a few movies with which you may be familiar: the two new Batman movies, The Prestige. If you are interested in an analysis of the movie, Andy Klein wrote a thorough deconstruction for Salon.com. 

Memento had been on my list of movies to see, and I find it very rewarding when I finally see something I’ve had on that list and it turns out to be worthwhile. The other movie that I watched was Valkyrie, with Tom Cruise. This was another one that has been on my list, and unlike many people, I liked it. No, Cruise does not attempt a German accent, but that didn’t bother me, better no accent than a poorly executed accent. 

The plot, in case you don’t know, is based on the July 20 plot to kill Adolf Hitler and real-life Operation Valkryie, which was a plan to call up the German reserve army to maintain order in the case of an emergency. The historical drama depicts the plot, led by Claus von Stauffenberg, the last of 15 failed plots to assassinate Hitler.   

The 2008 movie had quite a cast; aside from Cruise as von Stauffenberg, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp, and Tom Wilkinson all had roles in the Bryan Singer (X-Men) film. I remember that there was a big controversy in casting Cruise because of his scientology beliefs. 

“Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony.” ~ Lou Reed

 


Flower Shop in Bath, England 

 

Alexis came by on her way home from work today. I helped her to find some information on patient assistance with some of the medications that she takes. Having filled out numerous forms for myself, I am fairly familiar with the process. She will not be able to get health insurance at the thrift store as they do not offer it to their employees, even the full-time people. Yet another reason to hope for some kind of healthcare reform. 

I know that I’ve been featuring more political posts than usual, but it seems that every time I sit down to read the daily news, I come across yet more inanity, something that I find very hard to ignore. Ignorance, racism, sexism, hate-mongering—it’s all so disconcerting. 

What is happening to us, to American society? Has the election of a man of color caused so much unrest among those who oppose him—or liberals, or Democrats, or blacks, or whatever it is—that seeing conspiracies and promoting fear have become the societal norm? Has the so-called American way-0f-life been imperiled by putting a black man in the Oval Office, in the same way that electing a Catholic in the 1960s threatened the very fiber of our being? 

I see a lot of similarities to the 1960s, and that’s not a good thing. Yes, the unrest of the 1960s caused major social changes, changes that were desperately needed. But the 60’s also saw discord elevated to levels unparalleled, discord that morphed into senseless violence (race riots, Ohio State), attempts at oppression (Hoover’s FBI). Chillingly, the war in Iraq has now surpassed the Viet Nam War as the longest American war (eight years, eight months, and counting). And the country had a young, idealistic president who many feared just because of who and what he was. 

Remember, the 60’s led to the election of Richard Nixon, gave power to men of questionable scruples, such as Henry Kissinger, and led to a political climate that fostered the events of Watergate. Remember?

“Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash, your picture in the paper nor money in the bank, neither. Just refuse to bear them.” ~ William Faulkner
Flower Shop in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

I know. I am still a starry-eyed idealist in many ways, but that is balanced by my stark realist side. I believe in equality for all peoples, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, or creed. I don’t understand why that is such a hard concept. I also believe that children should not die of hunger or dysentery, that there is no difference in the capabilities of the sexes, and that there is no such thing as a good war. At the same time, I know that people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Steve Blair—who thrive on discontent, who cultivate a fear of otherness, who opine loudly as if the tone and timber of a voice is all that is needed to make it right—people such as these have millions of followers. 

And quite frankly, that scares the hell out of me. It also frightens me that I sometimes self-censor on this blog because I do not want the crazies to find me. In essence, I am allowing myself to be repressed out of my own unwillingness to cater to confrontation. Bearing that in mind, I do not apologize for my political posts, even though this is not a political blog. I do not apologize for who I am, for what I believe, or for where I stand on the issues that are important to me. 

I’m certain that I will continue to have political posts because people will continue to amaze me with their brazen bigotry. People will continue to astound me with their asinine declarations. As long as events continue to occur that make me stop and say WTF, I will continue to opine, and if you find my posts offensive, then exercise your Constitutional freedom not to read me. 

I won’t hold it against you. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Mazzy Star, “Take Everything” 

“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” ~ Stanley Kubrick


“Apple Tree,” Gustav Klimt (1912)

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Viae Alberato," Gustav Alberato

Sometimes when I cannot find my focus in order to post, I visit certain blogs to see if I can find inspiration. One such blog is Luke Storms’ blog, Crashingly Beautiul, which Storms calls his commonplace book, a collection of images and words. Very often, I will find the perfect quote which makes my thoughts begin to move in many different directions, allowing me to find the path that I wish to take to fill my empty page.

This post is a good example of my use of that particular creative process. For example, although I have read a lot of Emerson, the quote above is not one with which I am readily familiar. I thought that the image of many-colored lenses would be a good starting point for today.

It’s not that I don’t know what to say today, but more that I have so many things to say, and I don’t know how to make my thoughts slow enough to translate them into a post. Where do I start?

Probably with the most pressing concern: my mother is angry with me again, and I have no idea as to why. Today, Corey opened the front door to find a small box containing some odd things, and a dress bag containing my daughter’s first prom dress. All of these things were at my mother’s house. For some reason, she left them on my porch. No explanations. No note. Nothing.

She contends that she isn’t upset but claims that I asked for these things. I did not. They are a diverse collection: a miniature tea set that I bought at a flea market when I was a child. As it turned out, the tea set is an antique. Also in the box: A mother’s day plate that I gave my mother over 20 years ago, two figurines that are chipped and worth nothing. A couple of decorative plates that I bought for my mother’s kitchen years ago, a Waterford crystal swan that I won in a contest when I was the Homestore Manager at Dillard’s, and my daughter’s old prom dress. Oh, and the fax machine.

If I am supposed to be able to ascertain the meaning behind these items, I cannot. My mother said that she is giving us the fax machine because she is having her telephone disconnected because no one calls her except for telemarketers. All rightie then. She also said that she is cleaning out her house so that she can sell it and move into an apartment. I cannot begin to count the number of times that she has said this before.

“All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.”  ~ William Faulkner

"Field of Poppies," Gustav Klimt (1907)

Alexis called me this afternoon, and after speaking for about ten minutes, she told me that she had lost her job. I was afraid that this would happen once her medical tests came back without any specific disorder. Turns out she overslept again and went into work late. They terminated her with cause, which means that she cannot collect unemployment.

This is, obviously, terrible. I told her that I thought that perhaps she was oversleeping because she hated her job so much, kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy. I just don’t know. I have been worried for months that she would lose her job because of her erratic attendance. I don’t want to be like my own mother by just commenting on the negative all of the time, so I tried very hard not to let on as to how upset I was. After all, she is a grown woman with her own life. I can only fear for her so as not to interfere.

She really wants to work as a bank teller. That’s something that she has wanted to do for years. Unfortunately, she has no bank contacts. I know that she could actually be very good as a teller as she is very careful with money and very honest. I really think that if she liked her job better, then she would be more reliable as far as the oversleeping goes.

I know too well how hard it is to pull yourself out of bed when the place that you are going to is filled with stress. If only I still had that magical ability that all mothers have when their children are small, when mommy kisses are magic, and the monsters and goblins cannot come in because mom has all of the power to keep the bad at bay. But that’s not how life really is, unfortunately, and mothers lose their omnipotence right about the time when their children begin to have best friends who are so much more interesting than their mommies.

So my mother is acting strange, and my daughter is now unemployed. Life just keeps getting better and better.

“What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.”~ David Foster Wallace

"Roses Under the Trees," Gustav Klimt (1905)

I haven’t really had the energy to post in the past two days. I am suffering from furious bouts of chills. I called my doctor’s office to see if perhaps my symptoms might be hormonal. The nurse said that it could be my thyroid. Just had that tested and already on medication for that. So no, not the thyroid. My fibromyalgia, but of course, because that particular disorder is so non-specific, there is no definitive way of knowing if the chills are related.

I suppose that I should be thankful that I’m not having hot flashes, but this chills thing is pretty disconcerting. It’s warm and sunny outside, and I’m wearing sweats and long-sleeved shirts and sitting with a blanket around me. My body is so messed up. I do appear to be losing a little weight, but I think that that’s probably just a result of the lack of snack food in the house. I’m not big on sandwiches. We have a few things in the freezer, but mostly, I still eat the one meal a day. I really don’t eat much, which is why I have no idea as to why I can’t lose weight. Whatever.

Corey’s last two shifts at work were cancelled because of the ship’s schedule, but he’s on the schedule for four more shifts. Here’s hoping that everything is in place for him to work. If the ship is loaded sooner than expected, it leaves early, which cancels the need for anyone to stand watch.  This is what happened for yesterday and today.

Other than those tidbits, not too much going on around here. Actually, it’s probably better that nothing else is going on because chances are good that anything else would land jam-side down in the dirt. In other words, not good. We’ll just go with what we have, shall we?

More later. Peace.

“Love Me Like a River Does,” by Melody Gardot