some peace to gather my addled thoughts….

So I have gone. There were days when I felt I had already gone and so all I wish for now is a cool, quiet room and some peace to gather my addled thoughts. I think I was good, although I could have been better.

—  Terry Pratchett, “I think I was good, though I could have been better’: Terry Pratchett and the writing of his life”. Pratchett had Alzheimer’s. Five months before he died, Terry Pratchett wrote five letters, sealed them in envelopes and locked them in the safe in his office to be opened after his death. This was the one he addressed to Rob Wilkins. Through the 1990s, Terry sold an average of 3 million books each year. Nobody in Britain sold more. (The Guardian, Sept 17, 2022)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Five years ago, you were teacher of the year and now this.

All this would be fine—well, not exactly fine but manageable—if you were not due at this faculty meeting in half an hour. You look at the other drivers—some passing you, and some you are passing. You look at their faces and wonder how great the gap is between who they are and who they know they could be. You’re on Interstate 10. The I-10 is known to locals, depending on your direction, as the San Bernardino Freeway or the Santa Monica Freeway. Freeways here, true to the romantic nature of the West and its ever-hopeful revision of the life that came before, are made for movement and the future and they’re named for where you’re going—not where you’ve been.

The past, well, that’s for when you turn around. Where you’ve been is only important in the context of where you are. And if where you are this moment is good, the past makes sense and every moment of horror and dread seems worth it. If where you are is terrible, the past just seems like an accumulation of data that confirm you were on this path all along.

How things end up matters.

Rob Roberge, Liar: A Memoir (Crown, February 9, 2016)


Photo of Santa Monica Freeway (10)

Walking. The Day After.

4:14 a.m. Dark Sky app: 60° F.

Out the door.  Morning walk @ Daybreak @ Cove Island Park. 402 consecutive days. Like in a row.

Man Fishing. GIANT man. Long, LONG fishing pole. Ex defensive lineman type. He lumbers towards his bike, dwarfing his two wheeler. Eyes closed, it’s his third attempt to swing his leg up and over, and he’s successful. He pauses, composing himself, letting the pain subside.

Man. Senior citizen. Walking a senior dog on a long leash. Both laboring to advance. That’s me in 20 years. Without a Dog. Sigh.

Woman. Cargo shorts. Long dark hair. Neatly kept. Shoes off. Sitting cross-legged on rocks. Hands in her lap. Meditating.

Egret, snow, snowy white, lands a few feet away.

Flock of geese quietly pass overhead.

The shimmer of pink reflects on the stones and water. Nice. I snap a shot. That shot up top.

And all of This, somehow, isn’t enough today.

After the Ring of Fire yesterday, that Big Show, this was too quiet, too normal, too SAME. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

There’s a certain point in life at which you realise it’s no longer interesting that time goes forward – or rather, that its forward-going-ness has been the central plank of life’s illusion, and that while you were waiting to see what was going to happen next, you were steadily being robbed of all you had. Language is the only thing capable of stopping the flow of time, because it exists in time, is made of time, yet it is eternal – or can be. An image is also eternal, but it has no dealings with time – it disowns it, as it has to do, for how could one ever in the practical world scrutinise or comprehend the balance sheet of time that brought about the image’s unending moment?

— Rachel Cusk, Second Place: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 4, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. 5:44 am, May 3, 2021.

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Can you not sometimes feel how all pasts
grow light, when you’ve lived a while,
how they gently prepare you for amazement,
companion each feeling with images,—

Rainer Maria Rilke, from “The Singer Sings Before a Child of Princes,” The Book of Images, Trans. Edward Snow.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak, 6:08 a.m., 35° F. March 26, 2021. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Poem Source: Thank you The Vale of Soul-Making
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Light child, lightly.

Can you not sometimes feel how all pasts
grow light, when you’ve lived a while,
how they gently prepare you for amazement,
companion each feeling with images,—

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, from “The Singer Sings Before a Child of Princes”, in The Book of Images


Notes:

  • Quote via memoryslandscape. Photo: Untitled, 2009 – by Marta Navarro, Spanish (via newthom.com)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Running. With Perforated Edges.

6:39:47 a.m. April 10th. The time stamp on photo.

I recall the moment. The end of my run, I’m rounding the last corner before home, breathing heavily.

Morning sun. A light warm hue painting the tips of trees and bushes. Beautiful.

I slip off my glove, the tip of my index finger is moist, trembling, and sticking to the screen. I wipe it dry and slide the menu bar from Pano, Portrait, Video, Slo-Mo, Portrait, and stop on Photo. Pleased, I pause for a moment longer, admiring the view, so glad I was able to catch the moment. 

I walk the rest of the way home, catching my breath.

I’m sitting in the backyard, 30° F, sweat drying, goosebumps form on skin. I shiver. Legs sore, but that good sore after finishing a run.

I open the camera app to check out the photo.

I tap the image, and it pops up. It stutters for a moment, then a series of frames, and it stops. Irritated.

I tap the image again. And there on the top of the image, a “Live” tag.  WTF is that?

I tap the image again. It stutters, pans through a series of frames, and then stutters to silence. Jesus. You can’t even get this right.

I grab the phone and slide my index finger along the menu options, and don’t see a “Live” option. Damn it!

Index finger. Dotted line. Bad outcome. Mind draws up the Moment.

35 years later, like yesterday. My hands trembling. The course of Life would change based on the GMAT test results in that ever so thin envelope. Before I tear it open, the tip of my index finger slides along the perforated edge, my skin tingling as it passes each tiny raised dot.  I don’t recall who was with me at the time: “How’d you do?” I walked away, needing to be alone, needing to be quiet, needing to be still.

I’ve been dragging that anvil around for 35 years.

I turn back to the photo. Love photos. But it’s clear, cameras, are not my thing.

The photo syncs on iCloud to my laptop. (Magic!)

I convert the Live Photo to a still image.  Upload it to the blog post.  And pause.  Didn’t notice my shadow in the photo until now.

I run my finger around the silhouette. There you are DK. 

You caught yourself in the shot.

Your legs look a bit long, but you turned out to be ok.

Yep. This Tune.

Someone once told me the reason songs get stuck in our head is because the mind wants to hear them to completion. Remembering only a refrain it’ll repeat.

The best way, then, to get a song out of your head is to listen to the whole thing.

~ Fiona Alison Duncan, Exquisite Mariposa: A Novel (Soft Skull Press, Oct 1, 2019)


Quote Source: Thanks Beth @ Alive on All Channels

“Do you have concerns over mild memory loss?”

Hell, yes. But…

This was the tag line for an ad from Prevagen.

The ad ran during the peak Nightly News time slot.

Prevagen’s estimated annual sales are $200 million +.  The dietary supplement is said to be on sale at over 20,000 retail locations nationwide including CVS and Walgreens. ($41.99 for 30 capsules at CVS)

Prior firm ads state:

“You might take something for your heart… your joints… your digestion. So why wouldn’t you take something for the most important part of you… your brain?”

Wow.


According to the company’s website, people who use people Prevagen (Quincy Bioscience) can “experience improved memory, a sharper mind, and clearer thinking. However, a review of the evidence indicates that these effects are not well substantiated. In addition, the FDA has warned Quincy Bioscience in the past against claiming Prevagen could treat conditions such as head injuries and Alzheimer’s disease and for failing to report adverse reactions. The FDA has also claimed that the key ingredient, apoaequorin, a synthetic protein, is not an acceptable ingredient in a dietary supplement. The FTC is also pursuing a lawsuit against the company regarding its promotion of Prevagen.(Consumerlab.com)

feels sacred, a snapshot of the world before everything in it changed

The mail sat in a pile on the counter by the stove. The National Geographic was rather lackluster that month. Several years ago I found that same issue in a used book store—December 1964—and have it here somewhere between all my books and papers. I doubt a thing like that is valuable fifty years later, but to me that magazine feels sacred, a snapshot of the world before everything in it changed for me. It was nothing special. The cover shows two ugly white birds, doves maybe, sitting on a cast-iron fence. A holy cross looms out of focus above them. The issue includes profiles of Washington, D.C., and some exotic vacation destinations in Mexico and the Middle East. That night, when it was new and still smelled of glue and ink, I opened it briefly to a picture of a palm tree against a pink sunset, then slapped it down on the kitchen table, disappointed. I preferred to read about places like India, Belarus, the slums of Brazil, the starving children in Africa.

~ Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen: A Novel

I wonder how on earth we keep track of any of it

Bristling as well as warm breezes circulate among those people, and one may find oneself in a crosswind without knowing why. It must be connected to the density of memories in the room. Each person drags his past into a chair with him and then he sits down next to another person who has her past along with her as well—mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and friends and enemies and hometowns and roads and mailboxes and streets and diners and skyscrapers and bus stops are all there in the events that have stayed with him or her because the thing that happened caused pain or joy or fear or shame, and as I look back on the dinner party, I understand that the memories seated in the chairs along with the guests included dead people like Irma and Lindy and Ted Jr., yes, real ghosts borne into the present by each mind at the table—and when you multiply the pasts and memories and ghosts of everyone in the room, you understand they aren’t quiet or contained because they inevitably reappear in the conversation in one form or another, and then they begin to mingle and stir up the rest of the company, one blending into the other, and it’s not only the words of the conversation that count but the tone of voice each person uses when he or she talks, and then think of all the looking back and forth that goes on at a dinner table and the gesturing and all the visible information as well—faces that flush momentarily and tiny beads of sweat that form on upper lips and wrinkles that arrive on a face only in a smile, or the various pairs of eyes that appear cool and indifferent and other pairs that are alive with interest, or the same pair of eyes that seem far away one instant and focused the next, and every person is reading and rereading and interpreting all the big and small signals that are whirling about and that can’t be kept separate from the memories at all, and I wonder how on earth we keep track of any of it.

~ Siri Hustvedt, Memories of the Future (Simon & Schuster, March 19, 2019)


Notes: Portrait of Siri Hustvedt by Werner Pawlok

Oh, so much Truth…

Our house is quiet at night, I seem to be hearing dog paws on the stairs, but the dog lies sprawled asleep on the floor next to the bed. Maybe I’m hearing the dog we had before the one we have now? I don’t think people linger on after death, but I wonder whether dogs do. And that we can hear them scuffling about for many years after they’re gone.

Linn Ullmann, ”Unquiet: A Novel” (W. W. Norton & Company, January 15, 2019)


Photo of our Zeke on 11/17/14 (RIP).

Sunday Morning

Our time always shortening.
What we cherish always temporary. What we love
is, sooner or later, changed…
Giving thanks for what we are allowed
to think about it, grateful for it even as it wanes…
And occasionally the bright sound of broken glass.
All of it a blessing. The being there. Being alive then.
Like a giant bell ringing long after you can’t hear it.

~ Jack Gilbert, excerpt from “Burma” from Refusing Heaven


Notes: Poem via Mythology of Blue. Photo: Maximus Audacious of Bell

It has one of everything, so it is in a sense an ark

I felt at home, strangely, because it is a miniature world.… One manor house, one farmhouse. A vineyard, a field of potatoes, a field of wheat, a cherry tree, an orchard. It has one of everything, so it is in a sense an ark. It is like when you draw a place when you are a child. I don’t like large-scale things, not in architecture or evolutionary leaps. I think it’s an aberration. This notion of something that is small and self-contained is for me a moral and aesthetic ideal.

~ W.G. Sebald, A Place in the Country 


Image: Cristiana Coucerio for The New Yorker,

A Division of Labor. A Promise Kept.

Saturday morning. Bird song, many species, ease softly through the window. The body, the bones and the mind at rest. The peace and sanctuary of Saturday morning. Bliss.

Until, it’s not.

For most, the smell of freshly cut grass conjures warm images of youth, of order, of parallel lines, or of a task completed. Or perhaps it’s the smell of rich, black soil, or the solidity of earth under one’s feet. Or perhaps a feeling of rebirth or growth.

For most.

But not for me.

This past, this dipping back into youth, of weekend chores, of hundreds of yards of uncut grass, of an aging push mower, of a hot sun bearing down, of a rush to finish – offers no such relief.

[Read more…]

Back…back…back.

Am I as old as I am?
Maybe not. Time is a mystery
that can tip us upside down…
Who was I at age seven?

Sixty-eight years later I can still inhabit that boy’s
body without thinking of the time between.
It is the burden of life to be many ages
without seeing the end of time.

– Jim Harrison, from Seven in the Woods from Dead’s Man Float


Notes:

  • Inspired by – “We go back … and back … and back … through the layers of fear, shame, rage, hurt, and negative incantations until we discover the exuberant, unencumbered, delightful, and lovable child that was, and still is, in us.” By Melody Beattie (via Bright, Shiny Objects)
  • Photo: Ivanovo detstvo (Ivan’s Childhood) • Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky 1962 (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Thousands pass every day, not one of them seeing the same thing

You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, ‘It happened overnight.’ But of course it didn’t. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can’t remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people’s other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing.”

– Colson WhiteheadThe Colossus of New York


Notes: Quote via Schonwieder. Photo by PWH3 of New York City side street

A good memory moves me through the current

I hear birds and whispers
Like water gnawing a hull

I build a fire
In the bottom of my boat
A good memory moves me through the current

Frank Stanford, from “If She Lives in the Hills,” What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford

 


Notes: Poem: via Vale of Soul Making. Photo (via The Guardian) by Cherry Kearton in 1890s: Dartford warbler and chick on Richard Kearton’s hand: ‘By the exercise of a little patience I tamed the adult female until she would at last alight on my hand and feed one of the fledglings, at rest on my wrist, without the slightest sign of fear or nervousness.

 

It’s been a long day

It is dusk. The birds sweep low to the lake and then dive
up. The wind picks a few leaves off the ground
and turns them into wheels that roll
a little way and then collapse. There’s nothing like branches
planted against the sky to remind you
of the feel of your feet on the earth, the way your hands
sometimes touch each other. All those memories,
you wouldn’t want them over again, there’s no point.
What’s next, you ask yourself.
You ask it ten thousand times.

~ Roo Borson, “Ten Thousand” from  Night Walk: Selected Poems


Notes:

 

Riding Metro-North. With Aglets & Eyelets.

Irritated. 

I’m not going to lay down words here about my non-eventful walk to the train station, the brooding weather (light rain), what morning train I’m running to catch, or what day it was. DrossWho cares?

No. I’m not going to spew my wonder (disgust) as to how it’s possible, on the 3rd train of the morning (pre-6am) to be standing. Standing, Again, on a 56 minute ride to Grand Central. There are worse things you ingrate. Hmmmmm….possibly one or two things worse.

I carve out my less-than-a-square-meter of space in the vestibule, among the other Unfortunates. I set my bag down, and grab the stainless steel pole. Relax. Take a deep breath DK. Look at the others around you, in exactly the same situation, yet remain poised, calm, accepting. 

And then there’s you.

Unmoored by a slight ripple of inconvenience, and your mind is chattering, battering, judging.  Me vs. Me, both sides punching.  This whole meditation thing, is just not there, not in the wiring.  It’s like you wish you had copper piping running through the entire house, but it’s plastic. It will always be plastic. It will only ever be plastic.  So accept ‘that.’ [Read more…]

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