Saturday, March 23, 2013

Goodbye, Aunt Joan

Death is a Dialogue between by Emily Dickinson
Death is a Dialogue between
The Spirit and the Dust.
"Dissolve" says Death -- The Spirit "Sir
I have another Trust" --

Death doubts it -- Argues from the Ground --
The Spirit turns away
Just laying off for evidence
An Overcoat of Clay.

 I have mentioned my Aunt Joan a few times in my blogs. She was always an inspiration, she was funny, and always had a smile on her face! Joan dropped out of high school and decided to take a correspondence course to graduate, which was very good for me because she took a couple literature courses, one I know was American Literature. This was in the 1970's! I couldn't wait to get my little hands on those literature books, I first started out by looking at all the fascinating pictures! Then after I learned the basics of reading, it was on! This is where I developed my love for poetry, writing, and Emily Dickinson. I should add that I also learned quite a bit from her algebra books, but that's another subject altogether.
     Joan is my Daddy's  baby sister, she is also my favorite Aunt! She was a very non-traditional woman! She played guitar, drums, raced cars and was a great mechanic! She always had jokes and made me laugh. She was my confidant and a very good friend as well. (Joan never met her Dad, Clay, my grandfather, because he died from a rock fall in the coal mines in southeastern Kentucky in July of 1956, my Aunt Joan was born one month later. She also had a hard life...she married my Uncle Bill in 1976 and he committed suicide in 1977. She worked as a housekeeper in Ohio for the last 30+ years and it was very hard work. She also loved me more than anything! She is a very special lady, who always encouraged me to get a good education and to read.
     Today is an especially hard day for me because you see, Aunt Joan had something happen to her, not sure what yet, but she has been brain-dead for the last 3 days and has been on life support, they pulled the plug today @ 11:00 am. I didn't get to say my goodbyes, again. I hate goodbyes. But I wish I could have told her that it is going to be alright and that I love her more than she probably knew, and to let her know what an inspiration she has been on my life. It was actually Joan, who introduced me to music, rock and roll to be exact, one day, when I was very little, she played Loco-Motion by Grand Funk Railroad on her record player, it was a 45 LP, and I was hooked! I have loved music since and the lyrics to songs can be so poetic. I like the form(s) that poetry takes and music is the same way for me. All I can say at this point is Joan will be sorely missed by me and many others! I love you Joan and goodbye for now, until we meet again!

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

My Aunt Joan!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reading and Daddy

My love for reading comes from Daddy. He was always reading things! One of my fondest memories is of Daddy stretched across his bed reading his Bible! He did this every single night! He always bought us (my siblings and I) books of all sorts. I grew up reading everything around, including the cereal box! By 5th and 6th grade, I was discovered horror, thrillers, and true crime. In 6th grade I read Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. I found it very interesting. I have since read it 2 more times. It has been three years since I have read a good horror story! I have, over the past year, read quite a bit of poetry and American Literature! Which I love as well!
I no longer have my dearly missed Daddy. He lost his battle to cancer, July 14, 2009. He has truly been my main inspiration in life, Daddy loved the Lord, was full of life and had great integrity. He is the one who encouraged me to return to college, after dropping out of high school in 1986. I did return in 2010 and have never been happier with the direction my life is going!
Daddy had an 8th grade education, but he was one of the smartest and wisest people that I knew! Like I said, he always read things-books, magazines, and especially the Bible. After Daddy was diagnosed with terminal cancer, one of my uncles asked what we all wanted to ask, and that was "Are you afraid of dying?" Daddy then explained that he was going to a much better place to be with God, and the final answer to the question was a simple "No."  I miss Daddy like crazy but I thank God for my 39 years of happy memories!
Daddy and my oldest daughter, 1989
**Another fond memory of Daddy, his love for all babies and children, they always had a special place in his heart, especially for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren!**
As a well spent day brings happy sleep,
so life well used brings happy death.
-Leonardo DaVinci

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inspirational Reads

"Change your thoughts and you change your world."--Norman Vincent Peale
I love books and have quite a few in my collection; I have an old herbal book (which I do use), an old copy of Jane Eyre (a prized possession, that I have read many times over), many contemporary horror and psychological thrillers, but two of my favorites, in which I have read more than once are 12 Golden Threads by Aliske Webb and Memoirs of a Geisha, by Author Golden. These books actually made me feel so good while reading them. I honestly could not put down Memoirs, it’s weird but I have never seen the movie. (I don’t get into watching movies; I always end up falling asleep!) I found 12 Golden Threads to be very inspirational, yes, it is about quilting, (back in the day I used to quilt every day!), but it also contains some very valuable life lessons. They are very good reads! I have included summaries of each from various sources.
A lecturer on women and creativity, Webb self-published her very genuine, warmly written novel a few years ago. According to the press release, the self-published book sold 25,000 copies and also became a best-seller in Japan. A paradigm for living, Webb's narrative takes the form of quilting instructions passed down from grandmother to granddaughters over the course of a year. Each of the title's 12 golden threads embodies a "metaphor for what we need to do in life," with the mother of the young women providing narration and an ongoing dialogue that enhances Grama's lessons. As the granddaughters progress with work on their quilts, Webb portrays the close and gratifying relationship existing between three generations of women. In what is essentially a series of homilies, the positive effects of valuing such things as commitment, goals, responsibility, and cooperation are proclaimed throughout.  Summary written by: Alice Joyce
Memoirs of a Geisha is a historical novel by American author Arthur Golden**, published in 1997. The novel, told in first person perspective, tells the fictional story of a geisha working in Kyoto, Japan, before and after World War II. A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel tells with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable. (Summary from
**After the Japanese edition of the novel was published, Arthur Golden was sued for breach of contract and defamation of character by Mineko Iwasaki, a retired geisha he had interviewed for background information while writing the novel. The plaintiff asserted that Golden had agreed to protect her anonymity if she told him about her life as a geisha, due to the traditional code of silence about their clients. However, Golden listed Iwasaki as a source in his acknowledgments for the novel, causing her to face a serious backlash, to the point of death threats. In his behalf, Arthur Golden countered that he had tapes of his conversations with Iwasaki.  Eventually, in 2003, Golden's publisher settled with Iwasaki out of court for an undisclosed sum of money.
Iwasaki later went on to write her own autobiography, which shows a very different picture of twentieth-century geisha life than the one shown in Golden's novel. The book was published as Geisha, a Life. (Wikipedia)

Friday, March 8, 2013

"The Road Not Taken"

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, is one of my all-time favorite poems, because I relate to it very well. At certain times in my life I have run across “two roads diverged” and I had to make choices, some good, some not so good. But we always have to make a choice of which road to take, and realize that with every choice we make there is a consequence-good or bad.

“And I looked down one as far as I could…Then took the other…Oh, I kept the first for another day!” I feel like there are times in my life that I have faced the same roads, then choosing my path to walk , saving the other for later in my life, all the while, deep-down, knowing that I will never come back to that point and my choice cannot be undone. I find myself wondering from time to time if I have made the right choices in my life. All I really know about all the choices that I have made so far, through my journey through life, is my choice is to have faith in God and to leave everything to Him has been a blessing. In a way, I too, like Frost, “…took the one less traveled by,”

I try not to pattern my life after anyone, I do not have an idol, nor do I wish to be like anyone else. I am called weird quite often! I prefer, eccentric, but all-in-all I take it as a complement. My “weirdness” is because I am me and do things my way, not necessarily following the rules all the time. (Oops) I feel that I am a unique individual, as we all are, and we should strive to be our true selves, not patterned after someone, or should we change who we are to please someone else. (That never works anyway)  I am so glad that many times I have taken the road less traveled by, because “… that has made all the difference.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ramblings: Sexton, Plath, and Me

Anne Sexton

“Live or die, but don't poison everything.” Anne Sexton
I had never read Anne Sexton until now- I rate her with the best, in my opinion, with Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. I find it tragic that both Sexton and Plath committed suicide at fairly young ages- Sexton was 46 and Plath was 31. They were great poets with their feelings and emotions coming alive. I wonder what else they could have created, what other poetry did they have within themselves? I feel, in a way, we were cheated!
I understand all to well Sexton's stanza from Sylvia's Death which reads: "into the death I wanted so badly and for so long" and Plath's: "Dying/Is an art, like everything else/I do it exceptionally well" taken from Lady Lazarus. You see, I too, like these ladies, was suicidal- I was hospitalized 3 times in 2004, twice court-ordered and once voluntarily, for either being suicidal or suicide attempts. I know how these women felt; I know about the mental breakdowns that Sexton was prone to. I thank God that my attempts failed! I love life and each and every day that the good Lord gives me!
Life is never easy and it seems to, sometimes, have more downs than ups, but nothing is worth suicide. Why rush it-death will take me soon enough-ready or not. Emily Dickinson said it best: "Because I could not stop for death/he kindly stopped for me-" I will not stop for death either- he will stop (kindly, I hope) for me! (This is my favorite all-time poem, well, along with Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken)
I admit I get more from writing poetry than reading it, but I enjoy some poems tremendously-you never know until you read them! Poetry is good for one's soul. Poems are personal to me, I feel that one should not interpret poetry in a broad spectrum sense, but to discover what it is saying to us personally. We should strive to gain something from poetry, perhaps an insight to ourselves. (By the way, I loathe most love poems.)
Writing poetry is a good stress reliever and you can get out thoughts, emotions and feelings, plus it is a fun way to play with words. I really enjoy keeping a poetry journal-sometimes I just write down words that sound interesting and play around with them, it's also a good idea to have a good dictionary and thesaurus- I have an excellent one on my smartphone that I use daily, it is available on Google Play (Android) and is called ColorDict.
Sorry I got off the main subject-Sexton and Plath, when it comes their suicides, I feel lucky to have the help that I have had and continue to get. Back in these gals' day, there was little help but hospitalization, and patients were usually treated cruelly and inhumanely, so many people did not seek treatment and suffered alone. This finally started changing in the 1950's when deinstutionalization was enforced, with real change coming in the 60's and 70's. It is so sad that these gifted women cut their own lives short. I would like to have read more!
                                                                             Sylvia Plath
"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again." Sylvia Plath

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Take on Realism and Naturalism: Twain and Bierce

     As you can probably tell by now, I am a bit of a naturalist and realist myself- I can relate in a few ways to Twain and Bierce. Both stories contain a bit of nature, well Twain has quite a bit!
     I like the following passage from Huck Finn, in which Twain describes a glorious thunderstorm: "It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby: and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale underside of the leaves...when it was just about th bluest and blackest--fst! it was as bright as glory and you'd have a glimpse of the tree-tops a-plunging about, way off yonder in the storm..."
     I find this to be a beautiful description of a storm, because I truly love thunderstorms! I am looking quite forward to spring for the magnificent Indiana thunderstorms! Storms, to me, are both, exciting yet peaceful, and Twain gave delightful description.
     My favorite story that we have read to date is An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge. To read the story then to get to the ending was a total shock to me-I was not expecting it at all, after the description of Peyton Farquhar's journey homeward bound, to really be having his life flash before his eyes as he died was shocking. The nature descriptions weren't really there but you could catch a glimpse. I did like the description of the sand looking like jewels.
     I have written quite a bit of poetry over the last nine years and lately has more of a naturalist theme, but not all of my poetry relates to the beautiful side of nature. Some of it is a bit bizarre and some is Sylvia Plath-like. I have written many suicide and bloody death poems-many my thoughts at that time of my life. Although I love nature and all its glory, I still like my oddities too. I have learned a lot about myself through my not-so-normal thoughts and poems and through reading other's work, especially Dickinson and Plath. It's good to know that I am not the only one! That's one reason I like Bierce- I like the dark, if not gory (I didn't care for Crane's RBOC, but then again I liked the nature and the gore).
     I tend to romanticize death-no I do not want die, nor do I have a death-wish. I am just a realist! Death is a part of life and I learned that at an early age. My biological mother passed away when I was 7 weeks old, my uncle committed suicide when I was 7 years old and had seen quite a few dead people by the time I was 16. I have since lost many family and friends. Death is no stranger to me. Dying is as natural as birth-it is just moving on to something, but while I am here breathing I will keep on enjoying nature with all her splendor and gore! 
Here is a poem that I'd written sometime in 2004 (what a frame of mind!)

 Heart, dark and heavy-
cold as a corpse.
So full of hate-
for the past,
for the future.
Heart so full of rage and anger,
screams so loudly
it hurts
Sympathy for none
yet I love so deeply…
So afraid of it
I’d rather hate.