Thursday, October 30, 2008

I read some

...more last night of The Things They Carried
and remembered why I had to reread it.

There is simply no way to know the things people
carry around with them every day. Even when they
open themselves as much as they can, you can't know
what they really carry. Tim O'Brien opens himself
so honestly and matter-of-factly that sometimes
it's hard to think how much he carries around with him.

I can't believe I have been working for a month now.
It seems like years some days and like it was just
yesterday I started this journey.

I have been asked in the past why I've never written
anything about my work. I've always felt it would
be such a violation. And I wonder how the WCWs
made their peace as they wrote about some of the
experiences. Even though I would never be specific,
I would know in my mind how much I would think I
was violating some trust. It's been equally hard
to write about my family. Though there are many
stories that many days find themselves shaping
into a poem of sorts, I can't do it. So my focus has been
rather narrow and self-absorbed, my work filled with
banalities of my day.

I guess what I am thinking and feeling is that I can never
give myself over completely to the muse. Too much conflict.
Too much truth to be told that is, perhaps, better left unsaid.

Sometimes I feel I am just conceding to the nagging voice
that continues to say You have no talent. Let those who do
write the words and you just revel in them, swallow them,
cry over them, laugh over them, hug them tight to your chest
because you know they speak your langauge. Maybe that
is just the way it is to be.

And if it is to be, then just keep reading and loving and feeling.

Here's one:

Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .

Jane Kenyon

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Breaking Through

Today she said to me I'll sleep when
I'm dead, and I couldn't help
myself so I said That's a great Warren Zevon
song, and she turned her head to look at me,
the tears gone now but their path etched
down her cheeks, and she laughed, and said
Get outta here, really? I gotta listen to this

And so the days pass, and the people come
and go, and my head hurts from the sound
of walls crashing down and water flowing over.

And I think about something I read at some point
in time and can only remember these lines:
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace
where there is hatred, let me sow love

and that's all I remember. And I don't know about
a lord or a god or only one or maybe none, but I'm all
about believing that people can be an instrument of peace.

And oddly enough, it is a strange peace indeed
that fills me up to overflowing. And even the restless
nights don't own me the way they once did.

And that's all I can say.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nirvana - Lake of fire

Started singing this at work today--we were slap happy goofy thank god it's friday crazy this afternoon.

By the way, I can't post anything on my blog. I sign it, I get the page for new post, and then it vanishes. Boo. Things I want to say.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nude Descending A Staircase, No. 2, 1912
Marcel Duchamp

Nude Descending a Staircase

X. J. Kennedy

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh--
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.

One-woman waterall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Street
Balthus, 1933

The Street

Across the street, the carpenter carries a golden
board across one shoulder, much as he bears the burdens
of his life. Dressed in white, his only weakness is
temptation. Now he builds another wall to screen him.

The little girl pursues her bad red ball, hits it once
with her blue racket, hits it once again. She must
teach it the rules balls must follow and it turns her
quite wild to see how it leers at her, then winks.

The oriental couple wants always to dance like this:
swirling across a crowded street, while he grips
her waist and che slides to one knee and music rises
from cobblestones--some days Ravel, some days Bizet.

The departing postulant is singing to herself. She
has seen the world's salvation asleep in a cradle,
hanging in a tree. The girl's song makes
the sunlight, makes the breeze that rocks the cradle.

The baker's had half a thought. Now he stands like a pillar
awaiting another. He sees white flour falling like snow,
covering people who first try to walk, then crawl,
then become rounded shapes: so many loaves of bread.

The baby carried off by his heartless mother is very old and
for years has starred in silent films. He tries to explain
he was accidentally exchanged for a baby on a bus, but he can
find no words as once more he is borne home to his awful bath.

First the visionary workman conjures a great hall, then
he puts himself on the stage, explaining, explaining:
where the sun goes at night, where flies go in winter, while
attentive crowds of dogs and cats listen in quiet heaps.

Unaware of one another, these nine people circle around
each other on a narrow city street. Each concentrates
so intently on the few steps before him, that not one
can see his neighbor turning in exactly different,

yet exactly similar circles around them: identical lives
begun alone, spent alone, ending alone--as separate
as points of light in a night sky, as separate as stars
and all that immense black space between them.

Stephen Dobyns

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Fall of Icarus
Pieter Brueghel

Musee des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Out of it

Deep sigh. Very much in need of some sleep but found
that I could not sleep in late. I am getting used to the up
at 6 a.m. thing again. I am not a morning person, which makes
it extremely difficult to function in the morning person world.
But, the good news is that I will be full-time in the Mad city
starting Monday. I am most happy that I will be working in town
and will not have to make that almost 80 mile round trip to
work each day.

The work is fascinating. I confess to feeling overwhelmed. There
is so much to learn. I did my first solo assessment yesterday.
I think it went well, and we have a solid plan in place.

I have been absorbing so much new info, and I've been on the road
so many days, and I've gotten home late so many days that all other
interests have been shoved aside. I do so want to write. So much has
happened in the last three weeks. Some of the lines are so ready
to make their way to the page, but I just don't have the energy to get
them there. Soon, I hope.

Cooking has also become a pasttime. I simply can't stand the eat out
thing, so I am going to have to get some kind of plan in place
to make sure we have things in the fridge that I prepare
over the weekend or that are easy and healthy meals to make
through the week.

Tonight I am making an arugula and pear salad with shallot, balsamic
and dijon dressing. I am going to serve it with spinach and gruyere
stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in prosciutto. I'm also going to make
an herbed couscous pilaf (it has carrots, green onions, green peas,
basil, & oregano in it). I think the chicken will go great with the couscous.

The replacement windows arrived today. The color we chose
for the house is called Warm Sand. The trim with be white.
Shutters black. Very classy look. Very appropriate for this
house. I'll have to post pictures when the whole thing
is complete.

I'll have some landscaping to do in the spring.
I had a huge holly tree cut down (broke my heart--
I hate to cut down a tree!), but it was way too large for where
it was. It extended over the driveway and covered about
1/2 of the front dining room windows. So, in the spring,
I'll decide what to plant there. I also had two rather
overgrown shrubs near the front door cut down.
It looks bare, but much better.

Time to go grocery shopping and to get clothes washed and
to clean house and to read a bit and rest a bit (I hope!).


The Happiest Day

It was early May, I think
a moment of lilac or dogwood
when so many promises are made
it hardly matters if a few are broken.
My mother and father still hovered
in the background, part of the scenery
like the houses I had grown up in,
and if they would be torn down later
that was something I knew
but didn't believe. Our children were asleep
or playing, the youngest as new
as the new smell of the lilacs,
and how could I have guessed
their roots were shallow
and would be easily transplanted.
I didn't even guess that I was happy.
The small irritations that are like salt
on melon were what I dwelt on,
though in truth they simply
made the fruit taste sweeter.
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee. Behind the news of the day--
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere--
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then...
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected
color of lilac. Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee.

Linda Pastan
In Memory Of William Patrick Rudd

This is the first night I've cried for him. And for
his mom and sister, his father and stepmother and stepbrother,
and all who loved him. He was too young. He was a good
man, a good son, a good friend, and a person who gave his life
for what he believed in. I am so filled with sorrow.

In his short time on this earth, he sure did a lot of living.

May the universe surround his parents and loved ones in this
time of loss.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The one moon among the many moons

Friday, October 10, 2008

How terribly strange

I remember lying on my mother's bed, looking out
the window at the snow falling, listening to Bookends
and thinking only about how sad the music was.

I didn't even know exactly what those boys
were singing. How could I know or imagine ever being seventy?
But I thought, even then, what a rare thing it would be
to have a friend with whom you'd spent years together,
sharing a park bench with you at seventy.

So, I guess that means I was thinking about what those
boys were singing after all and not just about how sad
the song was or how much it made me feel better to feel
sad like that. Melancholy. Filled with longing. Filled
with an aching. Oh, those boys.

My radical wild moon woman friend and I once talked about
a picture a friend of hers took of two old women walking the beach.
She said, That's us. We'll be doing that.

I hope we will.

It does seem so terribly strange to be 50 (will be in just a few
weeks). Everyone on staff is so much younger than me.
The oldest person is 14 years younger than me and the youngest
is 26 years younger. I wonder if they see me as an "old" woman.

So many changes for me. So many things to be grateful for.
So many other things that sadden me and are heavy on my heart
tonight. The death of a young man. The losing of friends.
The passing of years.

I hope I can hang with it all. Fatigue wants to claim me.

I think the loss of my job took so much out of me on a
cognizant level, an intelligence level, an emotional level,
and certainly on a physical level.

Gotta regroup and hang with it.

Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'. I want to get busy livin'.

Can you imagine us years from today...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

When the broken-hearted people living in this world agree/there will be an answer

Back to me

Spent all day yesterday in a nonviolent crisis
intervention training. Very interesting. Helpful things
to know. Today was more on-the-job work. Tomorrow
more training. It's all been interesting and exhausting.

We really do start to stagnate in so many ways when
we aren't engaging on a mental or physical level in a number
of months. I keep thinking about the "can't teach an old
dog new tricks" thing knowing that just can't be right.

Someone just didn't try hard enough with the old dog.
Or maybe the old dog didn't like the new tricks.
Or maybe the reward was not worth the effort.
Or maybe the old dog was just plain old tired and didn't
want to learn any new tricks.
Or maybe the old dog was a bit stubborn and set in his
ways and wasn't sure how much a new trick would matter.
Or maybe the old dog just lacked some confidence that
she could master the new.

I am thinking of a Sexton poem, so I'll post it.

Music Swims Back to Me

Wait Mister. Which way is home?
They turned the light out
and the dark is moving in the corner.
There are no sign posts in this room,
four ladies, over eighty,
in diapers every one of them.
La la la, Oh music swims back to me
and I can feel the tune they played
the night they left me
in this private institution on a hill.

Imagine it. A radio playing
and everyone here was crazy.
I liked it and danced in a circle.
Music pours over the sense
and in a funny way
music sees more than I.
I mean it remembers better;
remembers the first night here.
It was the strangled cold of November;
even the stars were strapped in the sky
and that moon too bright
forking through the bars to stick me
with a singing in the head.
I have forgotten all the rest.

They lock me in this chair at eight a.m.
and there are no signs to tell the way,
just the radio beating to itself
and the song that remembers
more than I. Oh, la la la,
this music swims back to me.
The night I came I danced a circle
and was not afraid.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


I went off on the happiness tangent Sunday and posted the
mess below--a diatribe of sorts. Within 5 minutes of posting
it, my sister called me. Her best friend's son was killed in action
in Iraq. Her friend had been notified about 30 minutes before
I posted this ridiculous thing about happy people.

Her son was also one of my daughter's high school friends.
They didn't hang out often, but often enough that they
were good friends.

It's been days of calls and taking food and trying to arrange
travel and that sort of thing. I know his mother and father
well. I didn't know him well. Long story. Send prayers.
Light candles. Whatever you believe offers comfort.

Been in training all day and will be all day tomorrow.
I will be working, when I am on call, at a psychiatric
hospital. The training is designed to help us know some
techniques to use when we are verbally or physically
assualted. Much, much to learn.

Heart heavy. Tired. Wondering what it all means.

and so here is the Sunday post I pulled--it is clearly
so ridiculous I don't know why I am posting it.

LIfe. Ever changing. Who ever knows.

Where are the happy people?

I wonder. I know people who seem content
with their lives. I know people who enjoy going
places, doing things, their work, their families,
their lives. I know people who have a positive attitude
about life in general. And I know people who laugh
often and laugh robustly and who never seem to take
themselves or this life too seriously, but happy? Maybe
those are the happy people.

happy: Lots to read about happy. Let's try this.

unhappy: Pretty much just a matter of adding "un" before many
words under the happy definition.

Just what in the hell is happy? Is there a happiness gene?
If so, it didn't make its way into my system.

But the point of this little rambling message is not to belabor
my unhappiness. Just to wonder. About happiness or the lack

I don't even think I can finish reading Learned Optimism. It's
boring me to death at this point. I guess if I were more optimistic,
I would believe the best of the book is yet to come, but he hasn't
given me any reason to think so thus far.


A friend came over for dinner and a movie last night. I wasn't
crazy about the movie. She said we needed to lighten up and watch
something light. She chose Guess Who. I was largely rather bored
through the whole thing and didn't find any of it particularly funny
or even mildly interesting. However, after the movie was over,
we watched the first 20 minutes or so of SNL. Once again, Tina Fey
had me in stitches. I can say that Sarah Palin has done this for the
country--given us some much needed comic relief. Here's
what another friend sent to me about Palin in an email
I got yesterday:

Palin has revealed her real self in the Gibson and Couric interviews, and clearly knows nothing and offers only rubbery expressions and glib repetition, for all the world like a rasping myna bird, of a stream of memorized slogans that sound as though they were disinterred from a time capsule originally buried in William F. Buckley Jr.'s back yard several decades ago.


Speaking of Palin, did anyone notice during the debate
how many times the camera panned behind the podia?
If I recall correctly, we never had any a** shots of McCain
and Obama. Nor did we see any of Joe Biden's
backside as the camera panned only Sarah Palin's rear end. I suppose
we are to note the size of the ankles, the small waist, the perky butt.

My friend said that she could not, in good conscience, cast her vote
this November until America got the same opportunity to check out
the guys' rear ends. She suggested they wear speedos or biker shorts
for the next debate, and then perhaps, she could make her decision.

Good point!


I have only worked three days. I am having some pretty messed up
dreams. I always dream quite vividly, but these have been stranger
than usual.

There is just such a damn boatload of hurt out there
and I just can't figure out why people have to suffer
the way they do. I know on a macro scale, suffering
is rampant, and the degrees to which people suffer varies, but
I am speaking more today about the people I meet in my community--
the people who are very deeply wounded. I'm not talking about the
"worried well" (I fit that category--my name would be beside the
definition). I'm talking about stuff I'm gonna stop talking about!

Boatload of hurt, folks.

Wow. What an uplifting entry today. I'll just add some more to it
with some quotes (one of which Laurel had on her blog not too long

Then trust me, there's nothing like drinking
So pleasant this side of the grave;
It keeps the unhappy from thinking,
And makes e'en the valiant more brave.
—Diaz, Porfirio

One is never as unhappy as one thinks, nor as happy as one hopes.
—La Rochefoucauld, Fran c° ois, 6th Duc de

All happy families resemble each other; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
—Tolstoy, Leo Nikolayevich

Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm on your side, when times get rough/and friends just can't be found

Too drained write much. And I think I am still somewhat wrapped
in self-preservation mode to write anything coherent.

More later.


Sometimes you choose a path and sometimes the path
chooses you. It is as if it has a life of its own.

I am walking through briars, knowing my extremities
are wounded along the walk--there is so much to take
in, so many other facets of being yet to unfold that the cuts
and scrapes and bleeding don't matter that much.

Unfolding is not such a beautiful thing. The undersides
are many times coated in slime, fragile and not pretty
to view. And sometimes, the unfolding yields an even
less attractive progeny.

I'm not sure at this point if the viewing is all that
important. I'm even less sure that the
walk matters all that much either.

I feel certain only about this: I shall keep walking.

I am lighting candles tonight. I am going outside
to view the stars. I am going to sit in the cool autumn
evening until I get cold enough to come back inside.

I am going to eat a s***load of junk. Pizza. Uh-huh.

Some wine. Most likely some bad for my lungs stuff, too.

And I am going to look at the stars.