Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BIRTHDAYS, GIFTS, AND LOVE

This morning I was awakened by noises from the street. I didn't sit up nor find my glasses to look out the window at the source. It was as if a short round of a sweet sound was blowing by, momentarily stopping outside my window. The voices, female, were an interesting and melodic combination of twittering bird cacophony and the tinkle of wind chimes. Their "song", whoever they were, just went on for a minute or two, and then the general noise of morning cars and parent-child steps swelled to the forefront again.

I am still in a "feted" tizzy from the birthday wishes. My friend R took me out to a nice sushi dinner tonight.

As a child I remember being so delighted and excited by my presents that I couldn't bear to part with them even when going to sleep. When I bought my mountain bike (many years ago now), I wanted to park it in my bedroom when I slept. (I resisted the urge.) But I am so enjoying my birthday gifts, I want to take them to bed with me and pile them around. I have a silly pleased smile most of the time. I am grateful and embarrassed by these offerings of love.

"An honorable human relationship, that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word love, is a process of deepening the truths they can tell each other. It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation."
— Adrienne Rich

For all of you who share with me, and for all of you with whom I share, I love you. Thanks for the support.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MAKE A RICH NOTE OF THIS

A reference point:
A friend of mine was very excited when he moved to New York. He knew he was really in New York and on his way to being a New Yorker when on the subway he observed a tired African-American woman with two young children. The woman just wanted to close her eyes and forget about the world. The children, on the other hand, were having fun being children on the subway. The woman finally sat up, unable to rest with their continued merriment and shenanigans so nearby. She snapped at them: "Children, I have two words for you: Bee-Have." (That's behave.)

So I now have two words for you: Lemon Meringue Martinis. Learn them. Fear them. Drink them.

Iris and I went to The Graduate Center to hear a talk about The Science of Sweets. I now can make blueberry foam and caviar if need me. At least, I can give it a good try. There was a reception afterwards with so many sweets the mind reels. And Lemon Meringue Martinis. Sorry. I am not one who can resist such a cocktail.

Truthfully, I am still recovering from my birthday fun. The cards and gifts continue to trickle in. I scarcely know how to react from such demonstrations of affection and esteem. And all so yummy. There were two boxes from Amazon on my doorstep: one with The Poets Laureate Anthology and another with Just Kids by Patti Smith and Blood, Bone, And Butter. Between those books, the Aretha Franklin on Columbia Box Set, and the cupcakes from Tim and Melissa with the special crack-additive, I could just hole up here in bed and go on a bender.

Here's a little morsel from The Poets Laureate Anthology


from Conrad Aiken's Time in the Rock

Not with the noting of a private hate,
as if one put a mark down in a bok;
not with the chronicling of a private love,
as if one cut a vein and let it bleed;
nor the observing of a peculiar light,
ringed round with what refractions peace can bring—
give it up phrase-maker! your note is nothing:
the sum is everything.

Who walks attended by delight will feel it,
whom sudden sorrow hushes, he will know.
But you, who mark the drooping of an eyelid
or in a wrinkled cheek set out a reason—
sainted! But only if you see—

                                 and only then—

why, that the sum of all your notes is nothing . . .
Make a rich note of this—and start again.

SMACKDOWN: MORPHEUS VERSUS CALLIOPE

"It's always tomorrow yesterday." - John Volny/Sally Anne Syberg, 3/26/2011

That's for true, right? I can't remember which one of us actually said it, I think it was John in response to something I said. Then we burst into hysterical laughing.

Today wasn't so bad, although I did have to take two naps. And in order to sleep, I took some trazadone. And now I am too sleepy to write.

In the spirit of the princesse I have been treated as for the last couple of days, and knowing the kitchen is reasonably in order, I am succumbing to the charms of Morpheus instead of Calliope, thinking this endeavor is closer to epic poetry than lyric.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ANOTHER CYCLE OF THE SUN

Why yes! I did have an AWESOME birthday. I would have to look hard to see who and what was missing. As a matter of fact, I did get what I need.

I did spend a good portion of the day feeling relaxed, lucky, and blessed. Friends bestowed wonderful wonderful perfect gifts, a true embarrassment of riches. So fun to feel known and loved. And quite quite indulged.

By now it is well after midnight, and we are into Robert's birthday! I am feeling slightly slightly blue, milky white blue, probably because the wine I had between 3:30 and 7:30 is pretty near worn off. And the excitement has died down.

Two of my dear friends had tough days. Perhaps I should let that go and just enjoy my own ride. I feel for them and I know that I can help neither of them, save to leave them be.

So perhaps I am on the wistful side and I have a bit of tristesse, rather than the blues.

You can't always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need


 I thank so so many of you for your messages of love, cheer and encouragement. 


And I bid you goodnight,
Goodnight,
Goodnight...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

DURéE ET DORéE

Birthday eve, but just barely. I had plans to be introspective and treat this occasion as another kind of New Year with a stock-taking and some resolutions. But, alas or not, this is not to be.

When I worked in publishing, back in the late 1970s, I met a woman, Martha, who is, to this day a dear and close friend. Martha married another workmate of ours, Jay, who was from Westchester, NY, and they settled there. Their oldest, Brett, was born on March 29th, two days after my birthdate. They had two beautiful daughters, Anna and Emily. Brett now lives in Williamswick/Bushburg. His girlfriend, Allison, lives about four blocks away from me in Windsor Terrace.

Well, they all converged here in Park Slope for presents and dinner. For a single person, without children, there is something pretty wonderful about the love, affection, and respect of your dear friend's children. That the friendship you might have nurtured and cherished for years can translate across generations. And all the kids clearly have affection and respect for the relationship that Martha and I and Martha and Jay and I have. I am kind of an "auntie," but also an esteemed and valued person in my own right. All of us, Brett, Anna, Emily, and even Allison, and I have our own relationships.

All I can say is that it feels good.

Maybe we can make our own families out of more than just blood and traditional kinship. There is a kinship of like minds, history, and durée. Oh, and did I forget to mention love?


Friday, March 25, 2011

ROMANTICISM AND LAUNDRY

I have long been a James M. Cain fan. Given that I love Kate Winslet, too, you can imagine I am looking forward to the HBO adaptation of Mildred Pierce this weekend. Hilton Als in The New Yorker wrote an insightful article about Cain and Mildred Pierce.

I few days I ago, I began to write of my "struggles" with Romanticism. I think Als nailed my affliction and behavior here:

"Mrs. Pierce is the quintessence of American New Deal ingenuity, hard work, and fighting spirit. She is also a romantic, doomed to keep reinventing herself, because, like most romantics, she is repeatedly disappointed in her hopes both for herself and for others..."

The end of the article is also damned great:

"Discussing Mildred Pierce," Cain explained, "This books simply says that perhaps a dream come true may be the worst possible thing that can happen."


I was just on the horn with my dear friend Pammie talking about expectations, particularly our expectations of people. We act in a particular way and EXPECT to be responded to, treated in the way that we treat people. Often those expectations are not met. We respond by getting hurt, angry, and disappointed. It ends up being as predictable as the laundry: wear them, wash them, wear them, wash them ... I think laundry is the true cycle of life.

And we also expect things to be unpleasant or negative, like taking the time to straighten up the kitchen before bed. My expectations were multi-layered there.

I expected to be impatient to get out of the kitchen;
I expected to be annoyed at the amount of time it took to clean up;
I expected to be okay with the messy kitchen in the morning;
I expected that I couldn't change my expectations (or habits).

Turns out I was wrong. I still do start to dash off, but I almost always slow down, stay in the moment (and the kitchen), do some clean up, and change my habit. Now, on the occasions when I don't have most of the room looking spiffy, I am disappointed that I didn't take the time the night before.

Perhaps this is rambling. I didn't expect to write so much tonight. I'll circle back to expectations and romanticism later.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

BEWITCHED, BOTHERED, AND BEFUDDLED

I don't know what medical science is doing with its time and money, but doesn't it seem a little bit strange that the intravenous morning caffeine drip has not been invented? Or time-released caffeine? Alors! The closest metaphor for me approaching a waking state, (and that is an ocean of stumbling away from alert or an ability to operate the heavy machinery that is my person), is evolution from a primordial ooze. Seriously. From newt to chimp as I struggle toward homo sapiens. That's a lot of ground to cover in 30 minutes or so.

Hope, that thing with feathers, got plucked in the Spring department; it's cold and snowy again. There are only moderate patches of snow on the ground, but we were getting out our cottons and linens. Putting on our puffy coats again is some kind of return to incarceration.

One of my street finds in the short moments of good weather was Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking. And while it is a glib and entertaining book, she does capture some of the ineffable aspects of depression. Those of you who never experience some of these things can count yourselves lucky in these respects. Some of these feelings are inexplicable and alienating even when you are feeling them. "Really? Gosh, this is NOT what I want to be feeling or thinking. But this damn brain and my broken heart [not a romantic broken heart, a life spirit broken heart] won't stop."

By the way, I do not feel this way at the moment. But I HAVE felt this way. And this is a good description.

"...I'd been feeling overwhelmed and pretty defeated. I didn't necessarily feel like dying—but I'd been feeling a lot like not being alive.  ... my mood disorder, which was, no doubt, the source of the emotional intensity. That's what can take simple sadness and turn it into sadness squared. It's what revs up the motor of misery, guns the engine of an unpleasant experience, filling it with rocket fuel and blasting into a place in the stratosphere that is oh-so-near something like a suicidal tendency—a place where the wish to continue living in this painful place is all but completely absent."


The questions when feeling this way are two: why and how can I get out of here (the feeling not necessarily life)? As you might guess, it takes a lot of courage and energy to hang through that kind of feeling repeatedly.

Neither Sisyphus nor Atlas are trying to cavort with me at the moment, so I will return to Ella Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, and das kittehs.

EXCUSES EXCUSES

Well, that Sugar-Magnolia-mind has not left me all day. (Hal, you can skip this link. I think you heard this song enough when you lived next door to me in the dorms.)

I woke this morning looking up into tree branches limned with snow! Very beautiful, even without my glasses. The snow sugar dusting was on all the cars, but not sticking to the sidewalks and street. The day was cold and dreary for the most part, but full of weather surprises. Standing in the kitchen, motion outside the window caught my eye. Snow flakes as big as dimes (I wanted to say quarters but you'd accuse me of exaggerating) fell softly. It crossed my mind to throw on some clothes and run to the park, but warmth and another cup o' joe won out.

This evening we had slush, snow, thunder and lightning all at the same time. Most peculiar. And torrential rainfall after that.

And how the time doth pass. My current rationalization for not looking harder for work is that it is my birthday week! I don't usually make it into a big holiday, so I must be scraping the bottom of the excuse barrel. Can't you just picture an old-fashioned pickle barrel stuffed with excuses written on paper? "My dog ate it." "Stomach flu." "Absence of meaning." "You were mean to me." "Old age." "Temporarily mentally infirm."

Ah well, perhaps I have shared this quote before, but it is helping me to resist the temptations of (emotional) self-flagellation:

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday you will have been all of these."
— George Washington Carver.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

READY OR NOT

Back to the "heads all empty and I don't care" state of mind. 'Twas a long day for me, several appointments and out of the house for 12 hours. None of which is bad, but being out and about does not lend itself, so much, to being introspective or focused internally.

I suppose I have had the benefit of keeping my internal dialogue on most of the time, as I am primarily at home and self-motivated (and that "motivation" has been widely dissected here). Being out of my little cocoon is always a bit intellectually disconcerting.

That said, I had a nice day. I was a critic at Parsons/New School for the Narrative II studio in the MFA program. My co-critic Robert del Principe and I have critiqued together before and enjoy working together and with Stuart Cudlitz, the professor. Stuart runs an excellent and challenging class and his students are doing interesting work.

The Kids' Media Salon I co-founded a couple of years ago met. We had a great time talking about social media, games, kids, parenting, and all of the projects we individuals are working on.

All in all, a lot of stimulation, but not much introspection. I am ready for bed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

TRAPS AND BRANCHES

Tut! Tut! It's the dangerous time of the day. The kitties are circling, singing their siren song of afternoon nap. The bed looks awfully comfortable over there, what with the grey weather and all. I thought I would see if I could power through for a while with some writing.

The stout-hearted and smart women's reading group is tackling Proust as I have mentioned before. My reading progress is fine, although it ought to be as I have read this part of Proust several times. Me being me, I can't just go straight-ahead and read, of course, so I pulled an ancillary Proust volume off my shelf, Phyllis Rose's The Year of Reading Proust: A Memoir in Real Time. I haven't gotten very far, but I did enjoy this observation:

"Cardinal Newman, in his earnest Victorian autobiography describes the awful moment of realizing, from a look at himself in a mirror, that he was a monophysite. Whatever a monophysite was, clearly it horrified Cardinal Newman to be one. It was something he ha never expected to turn into, any more than I had expected to become Cornelia Otis Skinner or Gregor Samsa had expected to become a bug. We work so hard to avoid moral pitfalls, professional debasements, intellectual fallacies, only to find ourselves metamorphosed, as we could have never predicted, into alien beings. We are caught at the foot by traps we overlook while keeping branches away from our eyes."


I find myself trying to see myself through others' eyes all the time. And I try to see myself through my eyes, too. Both are difficult. If I dearly had anything in mind as I sashayed forth in life, I am quite certain that this, the this I am currently living, was not it.

Ms. Rose is correct in her metaphor; I was far busier dodging the branches and howling at the moon and stars than I was paying attention to what road my feet were on. I sallied  on will and blind determination. And the curs-ed sense of Romance that plagues me to this minute.

I cannot fully articulate what I mean by Romanticism. And I'm trying. This wikipedia definition is certainly part of it:

"The modern sense of a romantic character may be expressed in Byronic ideals of a gifted, perhaps misunderstood loner, creatively following the dictates of his inspiration rather than the mores of contemporary society."

Okay, back after finishing a book, drinking a cup of coffee, and researching Northrop Frye and Marcel Proust, again. This is getting long and have I come to the point yet?
No? The point is that my "rose-colored glasses," sense of adventure, and irrational belief that everything's gonna be all right have landed me at age 57 and, although things could be much much worse, everything is NOT all right. Not whining, not complaining, not helpless, not hopeless. Just telling you where I am. And asking myself why.

THE LIGHTING WILL

Well, it's late again. Somehow, the day got away from me. That doesn't feel like a bad thing, though.

I was doing some "visualization" work with my friend C, who studies shamanism. C and I have known each other for coming up to thirty years. Our life paths have been different and yet we repeatedly find ourselves approaching many of the same issues, spiritually and emotionally and maybe professionally, from profoundly different directions.  We find we have much to share.

One of the things that drives me, sometimes to madness, in life is the (eternal) search for epiphany and serendipity. The meanings of epiphany down the list are

 — an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being;
 — a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something; 
 — intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking;
— an illuminating discovery:
— a revealing scene or moment;


Experiences of epiphany when reading The New Yorker are the main reason I am loathe to throw them away until I have thoroughly perused them, and very often read from cover to cover. In my grasping mind and heart, to not search in those reliable pages is to throw away a chance for some enlightenment. Knowledge or understanding of something heretofore not fully apprehended. And joy.

As for serendipity

— the faculty of of phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for;


That fits in just right with epiphany. I mentioned to C today that it rather like addiction, always looking for the best, next, highest high. I love to get excited about something I found, a book, some music, a poem, an object, and then I love to share my excitement and enthusiasm. This is at least a part of my clutter problem. Looking for the epiphany and serendipity. Nothing left behind.

My image today was of holding on to lighting, or trying to. That bolt and flash of finding or discovering. And when the focus is all on the lighting, the consciousness and perspective do not take into account the thunder. The other effects of the lightning, the entire phenomenon.

Okay, showing my grey-hair roots, this reminds me of G. Dead song, The Wheel. (It's kind of a turgid song. And this version is long. And Donna sings, so that's usually an issue, too.) Here is a link to the lyrics. Oh, here's another version,

You can't go back
and you can't stand still
If the thunder don't get you
then the lightning will,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

DAWN AND DUSK

Creeping dawn. I had never really seen that before, a milky whiteness infusing a lightening blue. This was viewed through still-skeletal branches whipping and bending with a daybreak wind. Spring may start tomorrow, but a nip still spices the air.

The day, for me, has been a bit lost. Saturdays are broken up with therapy at 11:30. The subways are funky on the weekends, so I need to leave a bit more than an hour to get up to the Upper East side. As time goes on, I will probably head up to the Met for some art since I am out and the in the city anyway after the session, but tonight is Richard Thompson at Carnegie ... not until 10:00 pm ... and I might just drop by a poetry reading at the Bowery Poetry Club. I came home so that I would neither be rushed nor overly tired.

I am finding that the late afternoon/early evening is a strange, and somewhat/sometimes delicious time of day. As I was talking to K today, I observed that perhaps late afternoon/evening is the most intimate time of the day. The great majority of people head home, either to stay home or get a respite before another foray into the wider world. Families get together for a head count, a recount of the day's events, and likely a meal. There is a communal pause then. Not as much rushing, anxiety, distraction, or the kinds of thoughts that go into getting started on the day. The light softens, inside and out. The hurly burly of life quiets.

The strange? Maybe it is more estranged. This is the time I feel most alone. Being single, that "gathering around the fire against the night" doesn't happen. And although I always think I am going to work or do something, I wind up napping, or playing solitaire, or eating something I would probably be better off without. I haven't been aware of feeling lonely, but maybe I do. Maybe I nap or eat for comfort. My feelings are more wistful or poignant than howling. More of a look into other lives and wonder how they put it all together.

And here's a first, ME(!) quoting a Carpenters' hit:


Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothing to do but frown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

Here's Dave Alvin's song about Karen.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE

I don't know how long it has been, (maybe since childhood?) if ever, when I felt so much that I lived in a real neighborhood. And I have lived in real neighborhoods: the Haight in San Francisco, Gourmet Ghetto in Berkeley, Beachwood Canyon, which is right below the Hollywood sign, in Los Angeles, and even Greenwich Village. In none of those places did it feel as if the neighborhood had such a "breathing" quality.

Because I am home so much, like all the time, I am quite sensitive to the rise and fall of energy and noise outside.

Ladybird Bakery has a couple of customers whose dogs bark while they wait for their owners inside, Thursdays and Fridays around 10:30. I am not sure if it is the same dog, but maybe I will make a closer survey.

Besides Ladybird, there are two bodegas, two restaurants/bars, and a Chinese Mexican food place, Yummy Taco, which is neither yummy nor taco according to a friend from East LA who ventured there. This makes for quite a bit of traffic what with provisions and beer delivery. Engines are often on, and there are those nutty back-up beeps. If the delivery trucks leave their motors running for too long, I get the numbers and report them to the home offices.

Eighth Avenue is a fairly wide, and therefore busy street. Today was extra crazy with deliveries, construction in a couple of places, and one of those giant trucks with a bunch of cars getting delivered. There is the dance of cars jockeying lanes so that they can run the light (and be stopped a short block away). Still and all, the cars were civilized, without too much honking or roaring of engines. I can't speak for internalized frustration or externalized hand gestures.

The weather, beautiful, sweet, and serene, might have kept people in better moods.

The neighborhood feeling is comfortable and comforting, even with the rowdy barflies and the traffic of parents and children going to and from school twice a day ... when I am trying to nap! I realize that being noise sensitive is antithetical to life in New York City and I am doomed to complain ... sometimes.

Here's Jimi's take: Crosstown Traffic.

Tomorrow night, Richard Thompson at Carnegie Hall.

.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NOW WHO SHRUGGED?

When you don't have any money, job, or prospects, it absolutely feels as if you will never have any of these things again. The combined entropy in the negative space of those three vacuums or lack, is emotionally and psychically leaden. Whoa! Block that metaphor! Atlas holding up a spinning world is losing his balance. No one, nothing can help.

I wonder if Atlas felt trapped. That's the other feeling; you are in an ever-shrinking room with time speeding up. Close your eyes and imagine you are a trapped animal in pain. And then that the weight of the world is on you. Stressful, right?

I've long since been a solitaire player, but I had really given it up. Carl, my younger brother who passed away two years ago, was so depressed he played the easiest kind of solitaire, Klondike, and reduced his possibility of failure by turning over every card in the non-layout pile (I imagine there is a term for that pile). This was a person who seriously avoided challenges. When I was at my mom's visiting Carl in the hospital, I started playing again.

I play a lot of solitaire. I play as avoidance. I play to be numb. I play when I am musing.  I play when I am impatient on a telephone call. I play to wake up. I play before sleep. And I often think of my brother, unknowingly dying, growing progressively ill, growing progressively deaf and indifferent to life, obsessively playing one-turn Klondike. I think about him a lot when I play. It makes me so sad for him. And it does cause me to wonder what I'm doing, clicking away. Tuning out possibility.

On the other hand, it is a time waster, but hey, doesn't get you drunk, fat, or appreciably broke (just thinking one could be doing something financially productive with the time.

And just to end on a up note here, I got up read the NY Times and started writing. That's right, kids. First thing in the morning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WALKING OFF MALAISE

This morning's surprise was the failure of the hard drive on my mothership iMac. An additional pall was cast across the day, but hey, I had at least backed it up last week. Yes, there are some inconvenient losses, but nothing breast-beatingly-bad. Given my ... oh, let's call it malaise about the catastrophes in Japan and the concern about how that might all play out, down to the world economy, I did fairly well. I may not have the bucks to get a new hard drive and all, but I have another perfectly fine computer.

The brightest, silver-lining side of the sidelining of the Mothership iMac, is that I cleaned up/off more of my desk. The mobile unit computer has a much smaller footprint, so there's more room to make piles of paper. And the feng shui changed a bit. This is all encouraging right?

Okay, back after a walk. I haven't been walking as much or as regularly. I barely opened my front door over the weekend. It's lovely crisp evening out there, so I did a mile-and-a-half down my street. Lots of churches on 8th Avenue, including one which I believe is Russian Orthodox. My spirits seemed raised.

John's family found a nursing home for his mom. She'll be moving there on Friday. Nothing makes you more of an adult than dealing with aging parents. He invited me up for a glass of wine, and, although tempted, I declined. I had some wine with Ms. B last night and that was enough for this week.

Now for some last minute kitchen items to resolve, and then I can try to sleep. Not expecting that to happen as I took a lovely 90-minute nap, joined in the afternoon sun by Cooder and Miep.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IDE(A)S OF MARCH

Cue Billy Idol. I will pogo around my apartment singing "Wrassling with myself..." Maybe the exercise will blow me out of this stupid mood. Or alternatively, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," that place being my head.

I need to move up this post to earlier in the day. So often, as you dear reader know, I am quite sleepy.

The situation is Japan is casting a serious pall over me. While I am not obsessing about it, it is in the back of my mind all the time, like looming exams, only much worse. On edge all the time, wondering how it is going to play out and when we will know we have hit the horrible(ness) bottom.

Then these words come to mind

May the good lord
Shine a light on you
Make every song you sing
Your favorite tune ...

Bonnie and Mick sound good together. And that's as good as blessing as one is likely to get.

I was perusing one of my "spiritual guidance" books, and, although I did not read it closely, there was an exercise about thinking of happy or pleasant things and really focussing on that and trying to "stay there."

I'm going to take my creeping unease to bed, but also, to think about my favorite tune and try to enjoy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BLUESY GREY


In the immortal words of Scarlett O'Hara, "as god is my witness...," if I ever have free flowing cash again, I am going to buy those lights for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Nothing bad or remotely negative (that I can think of) happened today, yet I am bluesy. Didn't eat too much, drink anything, spend much, what? Took my meds. Took my mile walk. Wrote some personal mail. What?

I would rather be depressed and know why than drift in this free-floating anxiety. 

Seriously, it might just be the state of the world, which I detailed yesterday. The headlines of the Times look fairly dire. I haven't watched much video from Japan. I'd probably be bedridden with the weight of the world on me if I had.

I was thinking earlier how terrified I was back in 7th or 8th grade when we were told we were going to be writing essays. And here I have assigned myself the task of a short essay every day. I have yet to assign myself a length. I waver on the actual topic. But address myself to the task, I do.

The leftover snow on the north sides of the street has finally melted. As I walked back from the post office and grocery store, I saw the strong shoots of early bulbs, mostly crocus, but some tulip-ish leaves, iris, and daffodils. The crocuses seem most likely to bloom first. Here and there, I saw (ambitious!) flashes of color, white and purple. 

People are putting things on the curb again, now that there is room on the sidewalk for furniture and walking. When the snow was piled high, it was single-file, and careful stepping so as not to slip. There were a few items of a nearly tantalizing sort, but I wasn't really in any mood to drag anything home. 

There's a very sad house on 11th Street between 6th and 7th. I will never understand how this came to be a good idea, but it was covered in asbestos tile, now falling off in disrepair. The front window was full of religious icons, Jesus, Mary, Infant of Prague, the whole crew, all dusty and faded. The steps had not been shoveled all winter. Today, there was a dumpster out front, a wrecking crew tearing out the house, and a line of religious statuary on the curb in front of the dumpster. I was tempted by the Infant, but I didn't want to cart it around. I picked up a small figurine. I think it is one of the wise men, but then again, it is in bad shape so it could be some kind of monster.

No wise words. No insight beyond, "I need to do sama vritti before bed."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

THE TIDE IS LOOSED

I don't know about you, but I am in one of those "slouching towards Bethlehem" moods. What with the chain-reaction of tragedy in Japan, which for a few moments has taken our attention from Wisconsin, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Darfur, the US Senate, Wall Street, and Charlie Sheen. The news just isn't very good.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere...

And then the time change. That lost hour we pay for spring and the coming of more light. Oh, we will forget all about it in a few weeks when we are strolling around Prospect Park at 8pm, but now it throws many of us into further discombobulation. There were reports of howling hipsters, the young and the drunk prowling around the Village, Greenwich and East, as they were cut off an hour early last night. And it was warm enough to prowl and howl in reasonable comfort.

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

That sounds like the bar across the street. My windows were wide open over my bed. The springchill air felt great until this morning. I woke up around 6, only to hear my SMS chirp. As I need to crawl toward the loo, I picked it up. Another non-sleeper in the quiet morning light. We talked on the telephone for an hour until the wind picked up and we each felt sleepy at our ends of the line.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

My dear friend John whose Mom is aging, is dealing with family problems mostly associated with all those difficult decisions that arrive just at the moment the reality of finality does. Finding a suitable nursing home. Dealing with MediCare. Grieving AND financial planning. Everything hurts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

STICKY BUNS AND SHAKESPEARE

I haven't hit the witching hour yet and I am sleepy. I am also at loose ends. And it is damned hot in this apartment. Very little respite. I like this place, but this heat is crazy.

I spent a fair amount of the day in good spirits. The downturn came gradually. I really have to get more organized about eating. When I am distracted and under-shopped, I don't eat, then I get depressed. And then I eat things I shouldn't, and get more depressed. Today it was a phenomenally good sticky bun from the Ladybird Bakery across the street.

I can commend myself for not having gone through the bakery door in probably two months. And the temptation is there all the time. And I decided I needed a special treat, although once I had consumed it, in a leisurely fashion, I didn't feel particularly great. I should post a photo of what great stuff they have.

Here. You can look at Ladybird's cakes and pies and tarts. On weekends they make outrageous pastries. Besides sticky buns, croissants, real cheese danish, croissants, almond croissants, chocolate croissants, etc., etc...

Then a friend called from California. Not only did we discuss aspects of the world political scene, but we find ourselves at similar professional impasses. Regretting our decisions. Rueing our choices. And maybe kicking ourselves some. Add that to having just gotten up from a nap and not eating and you have one cranky, not entirely stable female on your hands.

But but but ... there were some great things today. A beautiful sunny day for most of it. A day that is softly crisp as only late Winter/early Spring days can be. These kind of days are light and fresh. No other time of year has that breath of hope tempered with a dash of bracing chill. A patient calm emanates from the trees and people rushing on the streets, still bundled, but easier now.

I was on the F train when I noticed a tall young man, dressed in a very hipster style, rush onto the train and prowl for the right seat. He sat and I went back to reading. When the doors closed, another young man, gruffly scruffly handsome began speaking in a loud voice.

Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my
cause, and be silent, that you may hear: believe me
for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that
you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and
awake your senses, that you may the better judge.
If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of
Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar
was no less than his. If then that friend demand
why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:
--Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I lovedAt 
Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and
die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live
all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition. Who is here so base that would be a
bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If
any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so
vile that will not love his country? If any, speak;
for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.


By now, the hipster boy had risen and approached, listening intently. He responded

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.


They were fine fine actors. Everyone on the train was riveted. They passed the hat and I think they must have pulled in around $10, which is more than I ever make going under the East River.

One of those glad-I-live-in-New-York moments.

Friday, March 11, 2011

ROASTED ON PROMISES

Walking down Beach Street to work today, I saw a deli sandwich board sign that read "All meats roasted on promises." How much do you love that concept, "roasted on promises?" Is that phrase related to "the road to hell is paved with good intentions?" (I didn't think corollary was really the right word there.)

In a romantic situation, roasted on promises is heat generated between lovers vows.

Also applies to the stock market, where Madoff's investors were more than roasted, they were singed, burned, and incinerated.

Somehow it seems related to hoist on one's own petard. Over-promising and under-delivering has roasted many a production company.

Digression, digression, digression. Mental meandering, where is thy sting?

Yes, okay, so I am a little lost. Life on Planet Earth seems extra-fragile, tenuous, and ... I don't know ... weird and insecure. I realize that in historical terms, the long view, this may not be so very extra-ordinary. But the Japanese earthquake, tsunamis, nuclear meltdown, Libya, Somalian pirates, Afghanistan, Wisconsin, a  ludicrous noise in our political system, ridiculous economics, etc ...

I needn't go on, right? I am finding difficult to find energy and optimism. Still, the dishes are done, the desk is looking better, I was conservative in financial and caloric matters, today. I am sober. And I am nearly done with a post before midnight.

Perhaps some sama vritti will raise the spirits and soothe the mind for sleep.

THEY NEVER LEARN

I might have to do something with the concept of "The Reluctant Nightowl." I don't really mean to be up so late, but when it gets quiet, I find myself more stimulated than calmed.

No matter what they tell you, kids, getting older is even stranger than it seems.

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement. I did more or less fine today. Most of the mood of intensity was gone. And what ho! perspective and possibly even a more level-headed course of behavior and discourse sets in.

On another hand, I am finding that discipline is more than the plan or even commitment to stick to something. There are levels of pain, boredom, and maybe even disappointment in the calm repetition of behavior. I suppose there is a downside to controlling oneself.

At this time, however, I am going to relinquish control of myself and, instead of sensibly going to sleep, I am going to watch the last 23 minutes of the DVD I have been consuming.

Maybe they never learn.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TRAINSTOPPING

Early in witching hours. And I took a nice nap today, so sleep might be aways away. Actually, it was more than a nap; it was a needed escape from some stress and reality, a time-out from an emotional day.

What I don't talk about so much here is how difficult it is for me to act as my own advocate. I am such a natural born brainstormer/cheerleader/enthusiast that I am always ready to put on a show in the barn and I'll sew the costumes, and make sure the hard-to-get moneybags banker is there or his softer-hearted wife. The show goes on. The money is raised. The star goes off to bigger and better things. And I am left with not too much.

Okay, so this is not a perfectly formed metaphor, but I let my generosity for people, ideas, and causes get the upper hand on what I need and worked for, and quite possibly deserve. Between the idealism of the 1960s and the importance of helping one another from my socialist-raised mom, it feels like that was the only message I got. Take care of and help others and they will take care of and help you.

Not so.

I am not whining here. This is not to say that everyone fucks me over. I'm saying I don't take care to make sure I am valued and properly protected. I'm pretty sure this is connected to those BOUNDARY issues we hear about so much. Oh, and the low self esteem stuff.

So today, I had to stop the brainstorm and enthusiasm trains and take a minute to express my concerns and discomforts. And being that it was with someone very dear to me, it was enormously difficult. And hugely important.

Stop That Train.

I'LL GET UP

I have determined that my witching hour is about two hours long, starting at 10:00. About an hour before that, I plan to finish up my work, write this post, and then head to bed. Then, I disappear into something. Suddenly, it is midnight and I am wide awake, deeply involved in chasing some chimera of interest.

My mom used to tell me to go to bed. Now she calls me from California around this time.

I'm rather sliding back into some of less than stellar patterns, like everyday drinking ... or most days having a beer or something. It is not so bad if it is only one because then my sleep is okay. It is mostly that I am not staying conscious, aware, and making better choices. Fighting with food, not terribly, but not feeling really good about it.

Are the dishes put away at this late hour? That would be a no.

Is the sink all cleaned off? Ummm not so much.

I am not devastated by my ... lapses. Not happy about them, but not despairing.

As Jackson Browne suggested, I think I'll

lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I'll get up and do it again

Monday, March 7, 2011

THE WAS-OR-WILL-BE

I love that Proust engenders so much conversation, here and on FB. Reading Proust is a practice in itself, for me at least, the narrative gobbler, to slow down to read his complex sentences and to absorb the details. Inasmuch as a reader can "drive," I drive, fast, and kind of recklessly. I have been known to skip around, read the beginning and then the end, and who-knows-what-other methods to get my narrative itch scratched. I am quite sure I miss a lot. And I likely miss some nuanced writing.

M. Proust  does not allow for this so much. If you aren't drinking it in and swimming with the current, to throw up some mixed metaphors, you aren't anywhere near water. (I hope that holds up. I can see myself cringing in the morning.)

Slow down
You move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy ...

There's likely some philosophy there. I don't yet know enough about Proust or his intellectual mentor/inspiration (and cousin by marriage), Henri Bergson, but from the bit I do know, there is a focus on time and the old mind-body split. Our friends the Buddhists and the Stoics work on this issue as well.

And I have a hunch that paying attention to here-and-now and not so much to the was-or-will-be might improve one's qualities of mind and life.

Here's a random link to a new song from the guy from the Fleet Foxes.

CERTAINTY AND IMMOBILITY


Shall I begin? Do you find it all funny that even as we are grown-ups in charge of our own schedules we continue to stay up too late, knowingly, as if we were still children? I want to sit and play solitaire, watch the last two episodes of another BBC Masterpiece Theater serial, and continue to putz around. I have to get up at a normal person hour, take the subway and work tomorrow. Hellation. 

The fabulous smart-women's reading group to which I now belong is reading Proust. I believe I have mentioned that recently. As we are, those of us who have any leisure, going to a talk at the Brooklyn Public Library on Wednesday, I thought I ought to give the book a look-over again. 

I do love Proust when I can give over to his very slow and laborious writing style. The fellow really had some beautiful insights. 

"Perhaps the immobility of the things around us is imposed on them by our certainty that they are themselves and not anything else, by the immobility of our mind confronting them.'

Oh, so it might just be our moribund and small-minded way of perceiving things that gives us a limited vision of the world, is it? An open mind might allow for some kind of movement? Some greater mobility in the world?

I'll take my madeleine and sleep on that.






Sunday, March 6, 2011

PEACE, LOVE, AND UNDERSTANDING?

"It was a day, much like any other day..."

I cannot report any sort of transcendental breakthroughs. But I allowed meself to sleep late and relax. I watched the last 3.5 episodes of Downton Abbey. Just my cup of frivolous tea, with excellent writing and acting.

I did enjoy it eversomuch.

I am pondering the nature of mistakes, misapprehensions, mis-speakings and the like. I just called across the street, here at 12:29 am, to ask that the bar across the street monitor the smokers, ebullient and inebriated, from expressing their pure pleasure at a loud volume. I prefer to call the bar and not the police. I suppose this will be an ongoing problem. But the bartender took umbrage at my request and my comment that I would prefer to call them and not the police.

As the bartender and I were in agreement about the need for quiet and a preference for not calling the police, why should she nearly hang up on me? I did not mean to threaten, really.

What I am really thinking about is the intensity that can arise between people who barely know one another, if indeed they DO know one another. A moment of disagreement and bickering leaves a bad taste and a bad impression in one another. That feels hurtful and unnecessary.

i would that society and manners gave us a mechanism to apologize or forgive or come to another understanding in these circumstances.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

ACCOMPLISHED SPIRITS

Today passed in a kind of haze. I woke up and got out of bed at a reasonable hour. I toddled around the internet reading the morning news and made plans for the day.

Out of the ... pale blue at least, Robert, with whom I am working on a nifty small project, sent a text. Eh voila! I was pressed into service doing a short series budget and schedule. I am not sure whether it was the additional anti-ADHD med I took, but lordy, I sat here and worked steadily, and largely on my own for about four or five hours.

And then I crashed.

And rather crashed I remain.

Ready for bed. But in somewhat ... accomplished spirits.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

SPREENG IS ICUMEN INN

Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning, looked at my desk, only to realize I HAD made some significant progress yesterday. I was rather pleased.

And I needed pleasing as the fire alarms in the empty apartment next-door went off at least twice, disturbing my hard-won slumber. I knew I was too short to reach the fire alarms, even if it were a good idea to put a mostly-asleep short person without glasses on a rickety ladder. I found a long kind of stick (I don't have any idea how it got into my apartment, but there it was by the door), found the offending alarms, and bashed them off the wall. One, I think, broke. The other was merely dislodged and went off again. This time the upstairs neighbor came down with a ladder and took it apart.

I let myself sleep in some. As if I knew where my cell phone/alarm clock was anyway.

So, I felt kinda good today. I have been thinking I need a bit of a new approach to things. After all, the writing every day is working well for me (and I hope for some of you). And the kitchen cleaning is great; it gets a little bit more organized and clean all the time. The baseline or ground water has risen.

And it has been rather sunny, if cold, all week.

Maybe spring is a-comin'.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WALKING AND ESCAPING

3:15 p.m. - Again, I woke up before my alarm, although not quite as early. I was having a complicated dream about a wedding and a Grateful Dead concert with lots of people from various areas of my past intersecting. I know I got out of bed, made coffee, and feasted, over some time, on last night's left-over pizza. Business was discussed over Skype. (This just in: watched some The Good Wife ... that's where the blank happened.)

And then the dread started. The anxiety. I am trying to track down this anxiety. Part of it is the child-mind screaming "I don't want to!" and "I can't!!" in relation to really cleaning my desk. I know I harp on this and whine, but I have a crazy aversion to it. There decisions involved in throwing and putting things away. WTF?

But I am returning to it.

4:04 p.m. I pushed through some more piles, but I do have a big mess on my hands. I have an urge to climb into bed and read until I get sleepy. But I am going to walk to the post office (my shoes are on) to see if it changes my energy.

I try to motivate myself by telling me that I am doing this FOR ME. So, that I have less visual distraction, more space to write and create, and work, and one less thing to think about. So far, this has not been a big motivator for me.

6:40 I walked to the post office. I walked to Barnes and Noble to buy cards ... there are not any good card shops nearby and the Papyrus (although who knows who owns that chain now ... probably B&N) is not convenient. I perused magazines. I perused books. I walked in the Valley of Temptation, working overtime to justify the purchase of a book or magazine treat. But I was able to quell the lust for acquisition which I imagine might allay my desk-cleaning anxiety.

9:00 So, the report from the street is that there are still hither-and-yon patches of snow in some brownstone front areas, but people are starting to throw away cool stuff again and we can park more comfortably.

I managed to stay out of bed, although I haven't been terribly productive but, you know, I did some thangs.

And to encourage myself to finish the third of those long-held library books, I will share a couple of choice mots from one of those books I found while ransacking the new books shelves, A Thousand Peaceful Cities by Jerzy Pilch, It isn't long, it isn't difficult, and it is actually rather funny, but I have struggled to get it read.

"It was never like that again. White planets began to glide along the darkening horizon, stars were falling just behind our backs."


"I don't intend either to speed it up or slow it down. I intend to lend it a definitive character. Or rather to make society aware of the inevitability of history."


"Elzunia giggled, but almost immediately her slightly asymmetrical features, one that foretold incredible beauty, went into disarray. At that time, I didn't know yet that speaking with a woman with a woman with whom you are not in love about a woman with whom you are in love is a deadly transgression, but I remembered the expression on Elzunia Baptystka's face forever. It was not an expression of despair or pain, or even of distaste. It was an expression of slowly mastered vulnerability. It was the look of the helpless woman who is trying to come to terms with male thoughtlessness, since there is nothing else to be done. ..."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TAKE IT EASY

I woke up "writing" some sentence about the mechanisms of love. Then I started a dreamy, sleepy dialogue with myself about the difference between mechanisms and mechanics of love and in general. Then I wondered if anyone had written anything with that title. Then I realized I was awake so I got up before 7:00.

(I found a couple of references: Guerlain and Helen Fisher as well as a couple of short or student films with similar titles.)

I know almost everyone else gets up that early to go to work or take care of their family. I had gone to bed after 12:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.  is a little early for me. I knew I would be sleepy, seriously sleepy, by the mid-afternoon, but I decided I would push my boundaries a little and see what might happen.

When I am tired, I am a danger to myself and others. I lose things, walk in front of cars, ... kind of like a zombie. So I tend to baby myself about getting enough sleep. On the other hand, I would like to get up earlier and perhaps be more productive. In the interests of re-setting my biorhythms, I started the day.

I am too tired now to accurately assess whether or not I was more productive, but I did write, do a little work with Robert, get out, get up town to meet with Louise on a couple of projects, make it to therapy on time, get home, take a quick nap, make pizzas ... and CLEAN THE KITCHEN after.

Kathleen suggested that I have unreal or high expectations of what a person can get done in a day. Because I live alone, and believe me, Cooder and Miep are neither role models nor competition for activity, I don't really know how much a normal or even a garden-variety depressive person gets done in a day.

I came across this article in the NYTimes:

Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges.


I read it, but I am too sleepy to really understand it.

Take it easy (not the Eagles).