September 6, 2001
I tried to not write any diary stuff these days while doing Lynx, but there were just too many ideas in my head that I refused to let go. Two nights ago, David and Julie called to tell me Julie’s mom had died on the 24th. They had a lot to unload, to go over as they attempted once more to rearrange their lives and their memories. I had not known Jean, her mom, so most of the time my feelings were for these two friends. And I was very proud of them for the difficult decisions that were made in the final frantic days of Jean’s life. They had chosen to bring her home from the hospital so she could leave her body in her own rooms and then they found out what a job this was. Hospice was not supportive; in fact, it seemed they had only made their job harder by being inadequate. Naturally, this inadequacy appliquéd itself to their own inherent views of inadequacy. Even during Jean’s illness, Julie had often said how inadequate a housekeeper, cook and nurse, she is. Usually Julie (and David) understand that the artist in Julie is bigger than the mother / homemaker, but now that she needed these skills and attitudes for her mom, they were not there. She truly loved her mom and wished to give her everything – even the skills she did not have.
Julie and David had done some shamanic journeying to check out Jean’s voyage where they could not yet go. Both of them saw the usual scenes, the bright light, the soul journey ever higher, but Julie related that at one point, her mother turned back to her to tell her, "The way I raised you has made you be the daughter you are. I do not expect you to be any different." The clarity of the statement hit me like cold water.
After we all hung up our phones, I continued to think of this. Then it hit me that Grossmutti’s death day was August 26th and my own mother’s death date is September 6th. So I still had stuff to process in these days. In the resting between typesetting I thought again and again of the experiences of David and Julie.
And then today, in celebration of my mother’s death day in 1988, Erma Marie (Bible) Styer gave me this dream. Or did I give it to myself? Or maybe we were finally working together.
I was living in a huge high lodge made of logs, with a wooden floor with several gigantic riverstone fireplaces along the walls. Normally, the man I lived with, I knew we were not married, seemed to use only a corner of the great area for our daily lives. We lived very simply, but well, in a peaceful atmosphere. As winter approached, I began to prepare for a Winter celebration. Finally the day came when the guests began to arrive.
Instead of my usual panic about being a hostess and entertaining others, I was calm and serene. At first my self-assurance was almost an uncomfortable feeling as I experience this state so very little. But as the crowd increased, so did my own self esteem, my joy and my merriment.
When I noticed that there laden tables, I realized I was going to have to feed this ever-expanding group, and for a second my old panic came up. As my face must have registered this, a matronly woman, put out her hand with reassurance saying, "Don’t worry. We have also brought food. I have jams and jellies, and I have brought corn." I realized that if I had been planning the menu myself, I would not have included sugar-filled foods but that for such a celebration they were exactly proper. Still trying to find an inadequacy in me, I asked her if she needed me to cook the corn and she said, "Yes the corn needs cooking, but I will do the work. Your only job is to greet your guests." Before I left her, though, I helped her push together some iron plates before one of the fireplaces, so she could easily set a kettle of water on to boil. As I walked away, I realized that my old nightmare had again shown me it had no power over me anymore.
I decided to use the moments I had to check on all the other aspects of the fest. I walked around the great hall, making sure the plates and silverware on the tables were in place, the decorations were still straight. As I reached out my fingertip, the candles took light and blazed forth. I laughed in excited delight as I tried the magic trick time and time again.
Off to one side was a white tent where billows of smoke came with the good smell of meat was being cooked. As I peeked in, I saw my first husband, standing over the grill pit where great sides of beef, lamb and pig were barbequing. I did not speak to him, but went quickly back outside. As I looked at the top of the tent, I saw that it had been improperly erected. Along the ridge the fabric was bunched up. As I looked at it I judged that the tent would not fall down, but it only showed that he had not adequately supported the roof. With a sigh, I just let those thoughts pass. That was his thing; not mine.
Just then, a gay group of newcomers greeted me and I realized that it was time to turn on the displays. Together we walked over to a Christmas scene such as the stores in big cities have in their windows. Lots of snow, lots of glitter, velvet covered figurines with quaintness and cuteness. Then I flipped a switch and listened to their intake of breath as lights flowed into the figures making them move in their jerky mechanical way. Then I walked around the hall, flipping on the power that made all the other scenes come to life. Each one seemed more miraculous than the previous one. The hall was lined on both sides with these animated scenes which had given me such pleasure to make .I had known they were well-done when I did them, but to now see them around the festive tables, with the guests own pleasure up against them, they were better than ever.
Just then I met a group of young boys arrived and realized that very soon they were going to be bored with this party, but I knew just the thing that would interest them. Motioning for them to follow me, we began to ascend a long set of stairs. Halfway up was a sharp bend. As we went around this curve, the boys could hear the surprise to which I was leading them. It made a terrific thundering racket. It was a roller coaster that had been built just under the eaves of the lodge on all four sides. To get outside, to enter the chute to get on the roller coaster, one had to go through a small hole high on the wall at the ceiling. As I looked in utter dismay up toward this seemingly unattainable hole I realized that I was having my oldest birth trauma dream. As I was collecting my thoughts and trying to figure out how I was going to get from here to there without steps or stairs, the boys, in their eagerness to try out the ride, ran around me. Effortlessly they flew into the air, and like skiers getting on a lift, were off on their ride with the metallic sound of bells. I did not need to go all the way with them because their own enthusiasm carried them on. I realized did not need to go through my own birth again.
As I slowly walked back down the long staircase, I looked out across the scene and enjoyed so much the sight of the hall lit up with not only the work I had prepared but with the many, many people who were happy and celebrating. People who had come wearing their finest clothes were bringing in piles of gifts for one another, were milling around the tables which were rapidly being covered with exquisite foods – things I never would have attempted to cook.
As I walked by one of the fireplaces to check on how soon we could give the call for dinner, a little girl came up to me. I recognized that she was very dear to me, but was living a hard life that made me very sad. Her parents did not care for her properly and I had tried to make up for this, but often felt there was little for her that I could really do to change her situation at home. But I was very touched that she had gotten away from them and had wanted to come to the party. And I was even more touched to see how she had tried to find something festive to wear. She had put on a woman’s skirt, which she had bunched around her waist with a belt. On her the short skirt made a long, but slightly droopy, dressed-up garment. But instead of a blouse, the girl was wearing only a summer halter made of white knitted fabric. It was clean and bright, but hardly the thing to wear on a cold winter day. She had worn it because it was the cleanest thing she could find – not because it was appropriate. As soon as we looked at each other we both knew she had done the very best she could with what she had available to her, and I knew I wanted to help her. Taking her by the hand, I led her over to where some dolls were positioned in one of the displays. My idea was that because the dolls were so big and the girl so small, I could take a dress off the doll for her to wear. I got the dress off the doll and dropped it over her head, but we both begin to laugh as I saw this dress was as much too small as the skirt was too big. As I looked up, I saw in an alcove where people who were still ‘dressing a window’ – putting up a display of merchandise for the holidays. I realized that this meant someone had the store open and if so, they could help me to get the little girl a proper dress. I walked up to the huge glass window and got the attention of the people inside. By mouthing my request and broadly pointing, they were able to direct us to a door that was open where I could enter the store. As we walked in, the little girl dropped my hand and ran into the arms of a young man. It was her brother whom she had not seen for many years. Now I understood that he would care for her, and make sure she had the proper clothing for fest and the rest of her childhood.
As I walked alone back down the silent and deserted mall hallway back to my lighted lodge just ahead, I thought about how all my fears, ambitions, methods, inadequacies had been met and finalized.
September 2, 2001
When I got up this morning I thought, "Oh great, I am a day ahead of my schedule getting ready to begin the work on Lynx. If I take a Labor Day holiday I can even get the ghazal article done." And then Werner reminded me that we had not cleaned yesterday; that I was the one who asked to put it off until today; today was now the day to clean. I am sure that if I lived alone I would not have cleaned house today. But then I would have been unhappy with the dirt and now both the upstairs and downstairs are clean with his help. I had decided to give it a ‘quick once-over’ – just hitting the high spots and then I found myself with a brush scrubbing the cloth borders of the tatami mats. It felt good to sit after chasing dust balls with a noisy vacuum cleaner all morning so I worked on Open Mic until I was too tired to even sit.
center of the core
sweetening the bite of almond
greeting the stars
the husk of infinity stand
to assist the radiance
Will anyone notice that these pages are written, not with the freshness of my morning, but in the confusion of a full day sliding into sunset?
Oh, I was thinking today of ‘eagerness’. Often I have watched myself being pulled into the excitement of living and wondered if this always required a passion. As I grow older, I find ‘passion’ too hot of a word for the pleasures of my hours. Then I began to think of the exquisite moments as ones of eagerness. This eagerness can even be the desire to get done with a unwelcome job but the emotion is the same as the one of wanting to see someone, wanting to get some thing, to buy something, to achieve something, to have a trip, a new pen. I often get very eager to go for a walk – feeling as if something very special is held out toward me and I must go forward where it is. Working with the clay gives me a great deal of eagerness. In the night when I cannot sleep, I design things I want to make, ideas to try out. My blog has given me an eagerness to get my day started with the phrases in my head, to add the rounding out for the poems. Now I will see if that eagerness can pull me through the day into the haven of sundown with its rosy golden wisps of desire.
eternal things come to join us
in our hands
the signs of exchange are shared
as a rough clay slab dries a shape
September 1, 2001
Why is it? one has a little twinge, a reoccurring pain that lasts over several weeks and finally the reluctant one decides to get it fixed. Though I hate being touched, the treatment was not what one could call painful. But today! I feel as if a truck ran over me. Of course, I am standing up straighter, which feels good, but those thread marks I am using as spine are like balls of lightning and fire.
In the waiting room of the doctor’s office in Hamburg was a framed drawing of a doctor talking to a patient. The caption was: "If you are over forty, and have pain when you wake up in the morning, it means you are still alive." I guess this means I am very alive this morning. And even thankful.
Yesterday I got the notice from Elizabeth St Jacques that her new issue of Haiku Light is up on her web site. She did a very nice memorial to Ruby Spriggs with a photo of her, comments from various persons who knew her work, and haiku and tanka dedicated to her. As good as all of this was, I would rather be alive with my aches and pains.
I had a mild dream this morning. I do not know what meaning it had, if any, but since it has remained in my memory, I will honor it by writing it down.
I was married to a Dutch man. We had gone to Holland to visit his family and they had planned for us to take a little vacation together in Amsterdam. Along with his mother and father, was his brother and sister, who were in their twenties as we were. When we arrived, the parents were all packed and ready to leave, but the ‘kids’ had been so busy with their lives that they had not yet even gathered up their things. So my husband and I helped the parents load the car while the kids quickly threw together the minimal they wanted to take. It was a strange feeling because we were the same age as the brother and sister, and yet we were, because of our actions, more in line with the behaviors of the parents. Was it marriage that aged us so? Finally my brother and sister-in-law came to the car grumbling and procrastinating. They said there was a weather forecast of a typhoon coming, but we ‘adults’ took this as more of their reluctance to go with us because everyone knows Holland has no typhoons.
In the city hotel we found out that they had reserved only two rooms, so we young people were put together in the one small and over decorated room. I was not happy about this arrangement, but made up my mind it was only for a couple of days and that I would forget this drawback in my eagerness to see the sights. But before we even got out of the room, after unpacking, it seemed my sister-in-law was very constipated and felt she could not go sight-seeing but needed to take care of this condition. Instead of one of the family going to a drugstore for a remedy, a doctor was called. I felt this was rather in the column of overkill, but kept my mouth shut as we began the long wait for the professional.
As I stood at the lace-covered window overlooking the narrow street below, I saw a black car pull up to the curb. It was like one of the very rounded models of the thirties. I pointed it out to my husband as one so rarely sees such a car. It is called a "black Maria" he said. What is it used for? I asked. Just then we saw a young man leap out and enter the hotel. It seemed he was bringing the remedy for constipation. "This is rather unbelievable service." I noted. "We have socialized medicine here." my brother-in-law bragged. I wondered if medicine needed to be this social.
There was knock on the door and the package was handed in. My brother-in-law directly handed it to me, as he took my husband by the arm leading him out the door. I was given to know that I would have to mix up two drinks, and give them to the sister at certain times and stay with her. I wanted to groan and protest that a twenty-year old woman was old enough to mix her own medicine and take it at the proper time. Also it was her job to cure herself of constipation. There was nothing I could do in that department. All my thoughts ran smack into the closed door and there was nothing to do but follow directions.
As I waited on her behind the closed bathroom door, I looked again into the street. It was really raining hard. The wind was blowing white clouds of water in sheets across the empty plaza. Suddenly I began to think it was not so bad to be inside on a day like this.
As I think about this, it seems the dream does reflect my comments above it. So I all of one piece today. Still, I always wish I understood more of my dreams. I remember the time, shortly after ready Jeremy Taylor’s book on dreams and dreamwork, when I was working very hard to remember my dreams. I had had a long, involved dream that I was attempting to remember even as I was dreaming it. Then, at the end, I saw a large marquee jutting out over the sidewalk. On it were the words "It is all entertainment" in brightly flashing lights.
of a late-morning dream
when music comes out enough
the sky caught mid-placement