Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's no secret that one of my favorite things about the world is how often it makes something drab so beautiful, how sometimes just for a day or a week a place you might never have noticed flames into something you might never forget. Like my favorite part of a Tony Hoagland poem:
so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.

I am heading back to Florida in a few days for the memorial. I haven't been back since the last memorial. The last few years have seen trips back only centered around sickness and death and while I always dreaded the hot slap of the weather and the overwhelming noise of it all I even more these days dread the memories and the increasing absence of everyone. Knowing how the times when we might all have been happy and all alive, there, are flowing further and further away. 

For distraction I have been feverishly seeking out stories of these flashes of beauty, realizing over and over again that the reason they're so rare is because they can only happen in the perfect conditions, when everything comes together just before it slips away again. It is comforting, how something so rare happens so often, in so many ways. In the same way that the space between all of us has, I guess, even if some of us are now gone.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I forget in between how grief cleaves the landscape right in half, leaving me with half a brain for living my actual life and half a brain for trying to reconcile this new world with the old one. Each time--and the each time of it is exhausting in its own way, since I find myself awake at dawn tabulating how many family members I have left and wondering how I ended up with so many--it's a process of trying to build a new world out of fewer materials. I am tired.

There was an article a while ago that explained how the reason we don't like the sound of our own voices when we hear them played back because the voice we hear when we speak is conducted by our bones. Our skeletons lower the frequency of our vibrations, and so hearing our voices without them makes the air uncomfortably dissonant with what our brains expect to hear. Increasingly I find myself thinking about grief in these terms, how part of the disconnect between the world with and the world without is that we have suddenly lost something that we've always had all through our bones. Even when I am not thinking about it the world just sounds wrong, and it will take some time to right it again.

Friday, June 14, 2013

If there is one thing we have learned around here over the last few years is the solid round of loss and then grief, the phone call and then the long road back from being afraid of the phone. And here we are again, in this place all familiar and dark.

The older I get the clearer it becomes that the danger of all this love is all this loss, the constant struggle to avoid holding back on new love because there are already so many people to lose. It's been a while since I've talked about this, but I go back to this PZ Myers piece a lot:
One of the lies we always tell ourselves is that the pain will go away with time, that we’ll get over it, that time heals all wounds, and it’s not true. Every loss is forever raw, and we can feel it all again with just a thought or a reminder, like a Christmas phone call to the family. The older you get, the more of these moments of grief you accumulate, and they never leave you....Grief can grow, but so can joy. We can find delight and contentment in moments that balance the grief, without detracting from the honor we give the dead, and those moments also accumulate and never diminish in the happiness they bring to us....We embrace both the sorrow and the joy, letting neither reduce the other, and fill up our lives with everything. Hail and farewell, goodbye and greetings.
My nana had Parkinson's Disease, which hit her hard and fast and young. It's a horrifying disease that we still know so little about, and it was awful to watch her recede into herself, trapped inside an immobile body. To a certain extent, the hardest part of this time right now is acknowledging that the hardest part is past, that the person we loved has really been gone for a long time now--that this new  hole in our fabric is no longer filled by someone who has been suffering.

The geographical distance between my family and myself has shielded me from keeping the long watch, which obviously is terrain just riddled with guilt, but leaves me in the position of mainly remembering the time before. It's uneven comfort, but it might just be the most useful thing in the weeks to come.

Monday, June 10, 2013

In a dream we were required to select our favorite poems for submission to something, and so of course I feverishly combed through books and reminisced fondly and savored all of those words in the same way I do anything else delicious. I woke amused and ran through the poems I had been dreaming about, only to discover that while the usual suspects where there most of what I had been reading didn't actually exist. What are these poems, living written only inside my sleeping brain, and who writes them? Probably they are communications from the other me who lives just on the far side of where this me is, codes to a place that slips from my fingers as soon as I wake up.

In any case I of course went researching to see what the meaning is in dreaming about poetry, which turns out to lead in delightful research circles of poems about dreaming. The most pervasive of these is Dreams by Langston Hughes, which I encountered as a child around the sixth grade in the first book of poetry I bought for myself. We have talked about the poems in this book before, but one of the best things about it is that it specialized in the kind of poems that are easily memorized and fill the cracks in a person before they even know that they're there. My copy of that book is all cracked and stained, but then so am I, and anyway we have made it through all of these years together. The best thing about poems is how you grow to fit them.

Which, the more I think about it, may just be the sort of circles the other me was leading this me in. Of all the circles I've been in lately, anyway, this is certainly not the worst.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

It should not have come as a surprise, I suppose, but it turns out their are other options in the self-mummification game than eating seeds and drinking poison. I won't say that I've discovered a self-mummification rabbit-hole, because gross, but in the usual way of things one anecdote seems to have lead to another. The universe is always on the side of patterns.

And so this is how mellification came to my attention, through the interference of the universe. The self-mummification aspect is what makes it different from any other human body preserved in honey, I guess, since that's where it all starts--with honey. To become mellified an elderly man near the end of his life would stop eating and bathing in anything but honey. At his inevitable death he would be buried in a stone coffin filled with honey and and buried for a century. Once he turned into mummy candy he'd be sold in markets in pieces for curing broken limbs and other wounds.

In my head this looks like those lollipops with crickets inside of them, but really none of this should be news. We've been eating the dead to cure the living since forever, if not usually with living volunteers. Since mellified men have never been officially acknowledge they also haven't been officially banned, which leads to the remote but still creepy possibility of old men out there honeying themselves up in order to save the world. And in all cases I think the moral of all of this so far is to never open mummy boxes, not even if they promise to have candy inside. You're never going to like what you find inside a mummy box.