Monday, October 20, 2014

I Still Have Time to Enter the Gates of Hell

I'm trying not to fall asleep as it's only 7:20pm and I only slept four or five hours last night. Sitting down isn't really a good option here, but that's too bad. I really don't feel like doing dishes, stacking books on the bookshelf, or vacuuming. So, here we are.

I've been listening to Dan Brown's 'Inferno.' I like when an author is compelling enough to get me to look at art and read other books. Brown's book makes me wonder if I should read Dante's 'Divine Comedy' after this. I mean, Brown even says, through his character Robert Langdon, that I should study this book as though it's the Bible. Really? I'm not sure I want to read it or listen to it, let alone study it.

There are a huge number of art pieces that derive from Dante's work. I remember seeing Botticelli's painting in an art history class. I wasn't particularly fond of that one or others like it. They were just too icky. Yup. I wished that the professor would just stand up in front of the class and tell us that it was okay to be revolted by what I was seeing because it made my stomach feel as though it was full of worms.

I try to read the classics. I do. I've read Herman Melville, Ralph Ellison, the Bronte sisters, Austen, Steinbeck, Stegner, Shelley, Shakespeare, Stoker, Orwell, Tolkien, Alcott, Bradbury, Twain, Salinger, Pirsig, Hersey, Hugo, Henry James, Verne, and even Homer. Yes, it took the voice of Ian McKellen to get me through 'The Oddessy' and it was wonderful for it.

This is what I get for studying engineering in college. I'm stuck feeling like I have an incomplete education, but I didn't have classes to tell me what I was supposed to think either. I liked 'Moby Dick,' especially learning how a whale is rendered right on the ship and the danger of it all, but Melville needed an editor. Seriously. There were places in that book where I checked out no matter how many times I went back over it. I liked the Bronte sisters work but I only tolerated Austen. I don't know why. I even read 'The Epic of Gilgamesh' and the Bible. I have to tell you that the Bible was really, really, seriously hard for me to get through. There was so much smiting and revenge. And what is it about Leviticus? Yuck. Where is the love, people?

My favorite of the classics was 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison. Why isn't this on the goodreads list? Why? And why is 'Lord of the Flies' listed twice? You know, I tried counting how many of the 100 classic I've read, but I got bored about half way through the list. I think I cheated a little by reading 'Travels with Charley' by John Steinbeck instead of 'Pearl' or 'Grapes of Wrath.' I still have time though. I'm not done reading yet.

So, do I need to read Dante? Do I really? Can't I just read 'Lord of the Flies' instead? I'm worried that my own levels of hell will come to mind if I spend two or three weeks in Dante's hell. I will tell you that I've worked seriously to get to the level of purgatory where I currently reside. I'm not quite in paradise, but I'm seriously out of the depths of hell I endured when I was a kid, a teenager, and a young woman.

I'll let you know what I decide in the end. I still have time.

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, October 13, 2014

Don't Tell Me My Toes Are Nasty

Thank God. I can finally reach my toenails. They were growing into little claws that caught on my sheets. Mike and Nick had a long argument over who had to help me trim them. I even threatened to get another pedicure. We're trying to save money after our summer spending spree. That motivated Mike to argue more vigorously, but it didn't motivate him to capitulate to Nick's resistance. I held it out there - a pedicure. I hate pedicures. In my lifetime, I've had two. With the first, I just assumed that the woman was ham-fisted and vigorous about the cleanliness of my nasty little toes. Just in case I was wrong, I waited eighteen years before agreeing to go with a friend for another. This guy was a little gentler, but I couldn't get over the concept that a Korean man was hovering over my toes. There are so many cultural issues about kneeling in front of someone and about touching people's feet. Even my own family wouldn't do it, so it was incredibly awkward to have this immigrant, a man no less, caring for my toes.

And it still didn't feel all that good. I guess toenail clipping has so much potential for pain. And don't come near me with that exfoliating scrub.

So, when my new physical therapist told me to start stretching out in front and to the side, I thought I'd give my toes a shot. It took three days to stretch my shoulder to reach that far, but I did it. Now, my sweet little toes are nestled comfortably in a row in my wooly socks, finally shorn of their nasty claws.

It's about time. I'm going for a hike today.

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, October 6, 2014

Around the House

I don't feel like telling you how crappy I feel. I've had my MRI. It hurt. I have a new doctor that I will see in two an a half days. Everything else is the same. I'm waiting.

So, I struggle to find beautiful things like the things I am used to finding all around me on my walks. I decided that if I have to lie on the couch, that I'd have to work to find things around my own house that I hadn't noticed. Oh, maybe I'd noticed them, but I didn't really work at seeing them. I came up with a few things. I did. It seemed to ease the pain.

The frogs often sit at the bottom of their tank, looking at each other the same way I do when someone sits on my couch with me. What would they say to each other after three years together in the same three-quarter gallon tank on a shelf by the shower?

What do Mike and I talk about?

Maybe they talk about the weather, squalls that never leave raindrops in their pond. Maybe they argue about what's for dinner yet again. One of them doesn't have fingers on his left paw. Maybe they talk about how that happened. Maybe they talk about their aches and pains and how yoga and meditation doesn't always help. Maybe they talk about viruses that are going around in the wild ponds.

Mike and I have never run out of things to say. And he's the only one with which I can share a companionable silence, the only one. Maybe that's my problem with Nick, that I haven't learned to be quiet with him. Maybe I could work to listen more carefully. It's hard to listen to a fourteen year old boy who doesn't quite want to tell you stuff anyway, but he does. Quiet would help. I could learn from my frogs.

I found leaves that had fallen on my deck and in my driveway. I may be one of the few that thinks that fall's leaves may not be sad for my trees. It might be nice for them to drop all that weight for a while and sit quietly. It might be nice not to have to work so hard to be green all of the time. It might be nice to show the beauty of your bones, the elegant way your branches reach out. It might be good to focus on your roots.

I think about my Japanese tree by my front door. She has grown at least fifteen feet taller than the nursery employee said she would. I look at the robe of leaves that have fallen at her feet. I see her grace, nearly naked to the clouds.

Even when I look for beauty at my house, it is in what is living, breathing, and growing around me that stands out. It is in the quiet. It helps.

Thank you for listening, jb