Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rain & Coffee

Rain. Thunder and lightening. A long wait in traffic, finally brought to an end by driving over a low median and through town, all to get my tire changed. I'd had a flat on Friday, and since they didn't have the tire in stock that I needed, they gave me a "loaner" used tire, free of charge, until mine came in. I had told the guy I had to drive to Long Island this weekend, and he didn't mind, didn't hesitate: "Don't worry," he said, "it'll get you there." He'd known my brother, as it turned out. I had to tell him that he was dead, watch his face recompose itself. They'd been friends. I'm sorry, I say, sorry. Had his problems, he says. Yes. We used to go visit your father. I shake my head. Oh. He's happy, though, to meet my mother, and the unexpected reconnection makes the events leading up to it (riding on the rim for 1/4 mile down a shoulderless country road at 1 am; a repair shop guy so lousy that I told the tow to take the car elsewhere) seem, if not providential ---we're not providential types---, then unwasted. Is there such a word ? Not "well spent," and please don't write to me about synchronicity. Somewhere between "meaningless" and "meaningful," I suppose, is the concept I want, the random very annoying event achieving some kind of found value.

I had meant to carry on a bit about one thing I've noticed of late: other people's blogs are pretty. They have lovely graphics around the frames, pictures aplenty, different colored type. Some may also not be free, either, girl, I tell myself as I tire of typing in the html code for every italicized phrase, every everthing. I have three different browsers, and not one will give me the editing features offered here. I could, though, upload images, hence the espresso machine that graces this post and, in the real, my every morning. I have an earlier version of this machine (a Krups) pumping steadily since 1997. I mean two cappuccinos a day on an average day. What html I've learned, I've cribbed and copied, and the "preview" feature here helps oodles because I can witness my mistakes before committing to them. Some people talk of "moving" their blogs. Hadya do that ? I'm not tempted in any serious way yet, but a look at blogs created with typepad and even make me yearn to do something more creative with mine. Eye candy is so, so, so... tempting. So is this:

If I win the lottery, I'm ordering the Pavoni before I do anything else. I met someone once whose life was the sort of life where she had acquired one of these as a Christmas gift. She'd never used it. It was like being handed the keys to a Porsche that someone never drove. She wasn't silly enough, alas, not to want it as a kitchen ornament.

There is something magic about that first cappuccino for the chronically underslept. I should now be logged into an online training course I must complete, I should now be in bed since I have a meeting in the morning, but neither of those things is going to happen just yet. I don't even know how I came upon it, but I've been reading a blog called "Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen" that got me started on the eye-candy issue. It's a blog, and I am suspicious of those blogs--- a good number of them seem to be (very comptetent) writers hawking their books and linked to other blogs of murky commercial intent. "Struggle" will probably get added to my blog list; I'm enjoying it and she's linked to some really excellent blogs. She links to one called Juno whose most recent post, the only post I read, says all I've wanted to say about Rove and his, I admit to hoping, comeuppance. Smug ugly little creature, isn't he ? Vanity Fair had quite a long article on Rove and his ways. The title of Juno's post is "Bead and Feather Him." Yes, do. I'm sure anyone passing by this blog has noticed my blog links to left, right and center. Well, probably to the articulate who live somewhere on one side or another of the radii emanting from common and meaningful human ground . No radical outliers, to change mathematical metaphors here. Well, enough of that. I need to go to bed, dream of Pavonis and make sure my suit is pressed. I loved today, a follow up to a late afternoon spent at the lake yesterday, bobbling in the water and drying out in the early evening sun: a real summer day. Even the rain and the traffic jam couldn't shake it from me today. After the tire was put on, I drove back through town and stopped at the ice cream parlor, brushed water off one of the benches outside and sat, vanilla fudge cone in hand, watching the cars find their way to the Main Street shortcut, the barber shop pole twirling across the street, the utility trucks making their way to a the downed pole, everything sunny and waterlogged all at once.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Dies Natalis

It is 3:46 am. I can hear rain on my roof and the cats are slumbering beside me. It is my birthday. Amen.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Green Olive Tree in the House of God

Hope may have been lost, but at least the car engine kept running....
and run it did, taking me away from the seashore down country roads, that run, ultimately, to a big city: in the late spring rain, I followed a lumbering Coachman along a two-lane road while thinking there is a _____ job in South Dakota, near the Corn Palace. I was following the Coachman on a road that has often led me out and away on my way back from here to the midwest, so it was easy to maintain a kind of dual consciousness where I knew I was off to an interview for a better lateral option, all the while feeling that a life near the Corn Palace was at stake. The interview for the option du jour went well, and I was offered a contract on the spot. This took care of some mounting worries, and I hope my one known reader, the beautifully articulate Willoboe, did not despair of ever knowing if my request for prayers and/or kind thoughts had brought about any results. Indeed it did: it was actually fairly amazing that the week and the interview went that well, and I was determined to keep the momentum going. I downloaded the SD job description, and then it all hit the fan: illness, overworked, over-scheduled, couldn't stay awake long enough to make the deadline, couldn't blow anything off because I had to catch up on all the previously blown-off matters that I had sidelined to make room for these more urgent lateralities (hmmm.... there's a word that may have uses in this blog) and the secret afternoon trips I had to take to follow up on them. And maybe the last straw was the Omigod of one of my favorite new acquaintances, followed by the question, which is really an assertion, have you ever been to South Dakota ?, which barely required its rhetorical counterpart, you don't want to go there. If you are not from the east, but have spent time in the east, as a recovering easterner, I can tell you that this set of utterances will get you through any number of cocktail parties and backyard barbeques where the grill costs more than your car. It works like this: Person A: We were glad we held onto our Martha Stewart stock. Person B: Martha Stewart ? Have you ever really looked at Omnimedia ? You don't want to be there. You dismiss any follow up questions with a few clichés: "there is July, then winter"/"it's not real growth". For the record, I do not hate the east; I am just anthropologically minded. Back to there, it wasn't my friend's disparaging remark that did it, but it rattled around in my mind as I found myself falling asleep at my computer and wondering if a late in the season stab at regaining my former life was really all that well thought-out.

I needn't have wondered. I person I know who is in the same field and who has been enduring her own exile of sorts phoned to tell me that she was on the verge of a one year contract with a very small, uh, firm, which would mean moving all of her possessions across country with no allowance to do it, taking a pay cut and almost immediately beginning a search for something more permanent. Of course she is going to take it. I would take it at this point. I think of that bulky Coachman camper meandering on a route that has been my entry and departure to and from this part of the world for so long. I would at about this time in an ordinary world be preparing for my jaunt to here, cats riding along, presents from "the middle" tucked into the trunk. I miss those long drives: the Pennsylvania mountains, the stop at Midway for Starbucks...

Yes, I would have taken it, too. It is so hard when I am so weary to contemplate yet another "temporary" life of the kind I thought I had left behind when I found myself last in the midwest. All today, a phrase from a psalm kept making its way into my head: "a green olive tree in the house of God." The poet Louise Glück once wrote in The Wild Iris, "how lush the world is/how full of things that don't belong to me:" ah, the house of God. And we are green, aren't we ? So green: we never know what's coming, we don't expect it, them, what happened. The change, the loss. Saplings, all, so best to hold onto that image of flexibility, trees dancing in the wind, the verdancy that we carry, that is possible for us. A point of rest in this unwieldy post, in the unravelling of my exhaustion during, finally, a time to write, think, and renew.

Monday, May 23, 2005

venturi inscia aevi

Can it really have been so long since my last post ? As mentioned last post, in my car, in the morning, I think of many things to say here. Alas, it is still a really hard time. I am trying to generate some options, job-wise, and pursuing them as well as tending to the one I actually have, is causing all kinds of complications. I am so tense as of late that I haven't done much of anything without all the details of everthing hanging over my head. To make matters worse (?), in spite of years of experience in one practice of this field (here we go with the ambiguity again), I still have to complete training to do what I do now. Not that I don't know how to do it, but I need the proper credentials. This is taking up an enormous amount of money and time, and, I fear, as I fall asleep at night, taking me further and further away from what I'd really like to be doing.

On a happier note, I am raising two new cats, my previous pair lost to old age over the last three years. It is funny and charming to have all that kitten energy (they are 10 months old) in the house again, a welcome bit of life and innocence, affection and play when needed most. They are/were shelter cats, sisters to boot. A good reminder that life can be renewed and remade. The question is whether my middle-aged self can endure the process. I have been so tired and stressed these past three years that it was hard to imagine being more tired. But here I am, all the more fatigued. Just when a moment's respite seems to appear, another complication (= bad thing) snatches it away.

We are all complicit in our own entanglements, our own failures, aren't we ? Are we ? There is a quote from the Letters of Abelard and Heloise pushing its way into consciousness, but it is not there yet. Metaphor will have to do, the res/imago problem ( rerum ignavus imagine gaudet to slightly misquote Vergil): is anyone out there familiar with the paintings of someone named Nancy Witt ? I found a book of her paintings, very strange, very lovely. One is called Hestia, and I would like, I think sometimes, to be in that rocking chair, and I even have a plant like that. Perhaps I fear that that is what will claim me, Hestia, the hearth, the call to slumber, dream, but also security. If you know the painting, yes, I see that there is a mirror where we might expect the hearth to be, and a brazier is foregrounded in the shadow. I want to be, feel I have been: Fire Lilies. The hearth, respite, fire, creativity, change: it's all there.

If you are a praying reader, please ask your god/dess to look kindly upon me this week; I really need it. If you are not, please light a candle and think of me.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Mail, II

It has been too long since I've posted. Every early morning on the drive to work, my head is filled with so many things I want to say here. It has been a hard few weeks, and in addition, Cordelia has been out there, auditioning for some of those lateral options she spoke of, and trying to engineer her way back up the ladder as well.

So, the mail, the package sent out bearing its symbolic little chocolates. In the mail, in my mail, comes a note, the daffodil stamp matching the beautiful sketch of a yellow bird on the notecard within. Thank you, she says, for thinking of me ---and I wonder, does she mean of him ? She had forgotten about that until the package arrived, she says, and I feel bad for a moment that I reminded her and maybe made her sad. But that's not what she's telling me, is it ? What I realize is how much I had waited for some response, how I waited, in small and subtle ways, the ten days between sending and receiving, holding potential rejection in abeyance, how the return card means so much. It will be too hard, soon, to risk writing at all. She had phoned once, so had I. Too many things we don't or won't risk talking about; could mean the little notes are gone forever.

I dream of it all sometimes, tea and watching his hands, my office and the trees, the way we'd all talk. Then I get up in the dark, make my espresso, and drive to work, so much to say, so much lost, between dawn and the sea.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Blessed Are Those Who Mourn..."

for they shall be comforted. If you've ever been at a funeral when this part of the Beatitudes has been read, you'll know how those words jar with your emotions, seem the most ironic and even among the dumbest things to say to a mourner. There is no comfort, one thinks, equal to the pain of grief. Hence, the mourning. Though goodness knows, the comforters try to return you to moving on and mental health as strenuously as they can.

Thomas Lynch, poet and funeral director, had a piece in the NY Times today, "Our Near Death Experience," ostensibly about what the Pope's funeral taught us about grieving, but quite pointedly about our rush toward celebration and closure. "The genuine dead, " he writes, "are downsized or disappeared...the talk determinedly 'life affirming'...where someone can be counted on to declare 'closure' just before the merlot runs out." A man after my own heart, as may be gleaned from some things I've written here already. The beatitude is jarring because our society denies that mourning carries any blessing. As a woman I know who had lost her husband of forty years about seven months before said to me in a voice not far from cracking, she was "keeping busy" and "trying not to dwell." That I find this picture of mental health (or its wording) an egregious fallacy of the midwest will have to wait. These are the signs of recovery and closure that will keep the luncheons with friends coming, and ward off their vigilance should any backsliding into mourning occur. We do not demand of each other that we forget the object of our loss so much as we close off the talking about and feeling of loss by focusing on the "positive," where meaning presumbly resides. Lynch reminds us, though, that "the good death, good grief, good funerals come from keeping the vigils, from bearing our burdens honorably, from honest witness and remembrance. They come from going the distance with the ones we love."

Today in the Anglican-Episcopal calendar it is a day of commemoration for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and so it seemed right that Lynch's piece should appear on this day. It was a paragraph from one of Bonhoeffer's works that finally made sense of this beatitude for me (though Bonhoeffer was not writing on the Beatitudes), and explains what it means "to go the distance." I had found it quoted in a prayer book and copied it into my notebook, so here it is, for Mr. Lynch, for my friend, and for anyone who still mourns beyond their allotted time, the only Bonhoeffer quote I know:

Nothing can fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try to find anything. We must simply hold out and win through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time, it is a great consolation, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; he does not fill it, but keeps it empty so that our communion with another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I try to imagine her getting the package, untying the string. Did she toss them away, or did she open the bag and take out a few pieces, and sit looking at them, as I might have done ? There is so much that likely will never be said between us. I saved her message on my answering machine for a long time, so surprised, I think, by the kindness and emotion in her voice. We don't know each other that well, really. I wonder about the little chocolate animals spilling out into her hand, if she knows how much I cared for him, because that is what I want her to know, isn't it ? How, because he wanted me to care, he would delight me by telling me stories about the two of them ?

Did we all want the same thing ?

Smoke and Lying Vanities

Today while I am driving home, I see an older, gray, boxy Beemer in the far left hand turn lane ahead. I can't see the driver. Its plates read: LIETOME.
I would like to know that story.
Rejoice, and let your heart cheer you indeed !

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

O Animula Vagula Blandula

A plate full of spaghetti and another round of lying phone calls also yielded last night to myself, but I was too tired to write more. There has been a development of sorts, a test that was really no contest. When friends couldn't decide something, really couldn't decide something, I would tell them to flip a coin, not because it would absolve them of intellectual and moral responsibility in their quest for authenticity, but because I held that it would make the wrong choice immediately clear. Having the coin go the wrong way seems to evoke some limbic knowledge of what we really wanted all along.

So for my restless soul, my dear wandering soul. Though I must say, I think I knew, no I know I knew; I just didn't want this very particular choice to come my way now. To GET OUT of where I have ended up, professionally and possibly geographically, I had applied to a selective agency that could find me a better position doing what I have ended up doing (is this vague enough ? sorry. I am too tired and not yet ready to get into it), so a lateral move to a different sector of the same profession, which is not what I want to be doing. They accepted me and sent my credentials to a number of places, and as I received contact information, I started to realize that I would not be happy doing what I'm doing, even in more elite conditions, i.e. if I have to stick with this, I might as well stay where I am (if I live. It is midnight. I have to get up at five. I get home at three, and today, thought for certain that I would not nap, I would stay awake, but the migraine had done me in, and now I am trying to write this up before I go back to bed. Had slept til 10:00 pm. Whole evening gone, whole life gone, but I digress...). So I haven't been following up on the possibilities, except to not apply or inquire further. Then, no sooner had I written yesterday, then a place in the exact region I miss terribly contacted me with an opening. Would I be interested ?

I don't know what possessed me. I answered with a few follow-up questions, saying yes, sure, I'd like to discuss this wonderful opportunity. They are apparently very, very eager, as they phoned all my phones and wanted to talk tonight, a time difference not withstanding. I will e-mail them and put them off til Friday. God help me, I can't do it. I don't want to move again for something I don't really want to do. Would move almost anywhere (let's face it, anywhere in the continental US) to be doing what I used to do. I am working on that, too, that is what holds out hope to my soul in these barren places...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"Who Shall Be True To Us/When We Are So Unsecret To Ourselves ?"

This is not about the decoupling of a romance, as neither is, come to think of it, the quote above. This is about exile, and the quote is not about that either.

Alas. Betrayal can put an enormous dent in, as we say, one's phenomenal field. Getting back to what, by implication, never was seems to be all a matter of intepretation. Or seeing your misinterpretation. And/or, as friends (people who still talk to you) put it, "moving on." To go or stay was not an option, but to want to stay is hanging, not moving, on: unhealthy, we think, not to "make a new life." But never mind. I don't believe in reincarnation, not even in this dense, nouveau-monde sense that a new self is to be had for the choosing, that one's past is wiped away and one's enemies conquered by shopping a new self out there, in the world.

I liked my life, and I intend to fight for it: Caelum, non animam, mutant qui trans mare currunt. (Horace)

"Ad mare" is the case here, but it was a forced run at that, to pay the bills, pay the rent, not to fall through the floor of the profession entirely (though to some, myself included, what I do is another profession all together. You will see). More accurately, in the lingo of it all, I've re-applied a fairly esoteric skill-set. I loathe this in a fairly profound ---both deep and very thoughtful--- way.

The epiphenomenon of the moment is a giant, whacking headache over my right eye and across the top of the same hemisphere of my skull: a day stolen from the aforementioned locus of the reapplied skill-set, too much to do, including jobs to apply for and inane things to do for the one I have. A white bitter pill with a large engraved "E" and a cappucino have set things straight for the moment.

Two things: 1) No, the quote is not from "Lear;" 2)Yes, please comment.