Tag Archives: England

Advanced Retreat Into A Sunny Day

23 Sep

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Like zero sleep last night. 

…Started off with a ridiculous cat in heat who decided to yowl right outside my bedroom window.  I kept telling her to shut the hell up and have some dignity, but she refused to listen to me.  Around two or so she must have stopped, cuz the next time I opened my eyes to look at the clock, it was five.  This time, it was Mrs. Johnson’s fault.  She wanted her pill-cocktail, so I had to get up, shove some food down m’throat and toss back the meds, then go back to bed clutching my guts and moaning.

…I put on Netflix to keep me company.  Ancient Egypt.  Mostly stuff on King Tut.

…I’m a little obsessed with mummies and tombs.

…And also serial killers and the Holocaust.

…If my theory is correct, (that whatever you are obsessed with in life, is because you have some sort of formal connection to it in the past…not necessarily in a “past life” per se, but possibly, and at the very least you were somehow present in a spirit or energy form around a person who was having that experience  at the time…kinda like a cling-on to a host), then I’ve witnessed me some SERIOUSLY disturbing shit in my time.  And yet where I can watch endless documentaries on it without residual affect (besides weeping), I CANNOT watch any of those things in a Hollywood film with viscera and guts just flying all over the place.

I don’t know why.

The REAL things are so much more disturbing.  You’d think THOSE would be the ones to haunt me. But no.

…I got this idea for a book a couple years ago, based on the Jack the Ripper case and spent the better part of NINE MONTHS with my nose in German Victorian dissecting books, and pouring over the snapshots of every attributed victim’s remains.  It was completely disgusting (and necessary…and gory…and disturbing as hell), yet it needed to be done in order to get the thing done correctly.  I’m talking some TRULY gorrific stuff, here.  And yet, I can’t even watch Hospital dramas or detective junk on T.V. without nightmares.

…I went through most of my childhood COMPLETELY surrounded in Holocaust literature and history books, because the empathy (yes, “empathy,” not “sympathy”) for these people was totally unexplainable. 

…The Romanov family massacre, and possible survival of one of the children, completely fascinates me.

…The tombs of the ancient Pharaohs, are crazy interesting, and I will watch anything regarding Egyptology, at any time.

…The era of WWII in general, (from it’s music to social customs) feels like a natural default that I could easily slip right into, were I to magically teleport into it one day.

…England is clearly my main base “home”…it just calls to the roots of me.

…And I relate to Bronte & Austen era books, character feelings, and frustrations far too much to NOT have (in some way) participated in them, historically.

So, when I can’t sleep…these are strangely, the places I retreat to…either in book form or film…to ease me back to an even keel and drift me off to sleep again.

Weird, I know.  But what are yuh gonna do?

…So through five, six, seven o’clock this morning…I soaked up History Channel explorations and tried not to think about how badly my stomach hurt, and how The BFF was gonna be leaving today. 

It was a good sidetrack for a while. 

Until it wasn’t, anymore. 

She and The Fella buzzed the door at nine, with coffees in hand.  A last “hurrah,” before they started their week-long road trip enroute to L.A..  First stop: the ocean for the night, then onto Ashland for a couple of plays at the Oregon Shakes…then two days in Vegas with The Fella’s aunt, and next to visit her brother in S.F..  Then: L.A. 

…I’ll be pickin’ The Fella up from the airport next Saturday.

Our coffee was had.  Ridiculous teasing and riffing, took place.  I gave her a monster hug. And she was on her way.

…I’m really excited for her.  And really bummed for me.  And the thing I wanna do most right now is just hermit away this sunny day by watching incredibly depressing history lessons of my possible past lives on Netflix, until rehearsal rips me out of my moroseness at four P.M.

That’s all I wanna do right now.

…But in my head, I can hear her say something like, “Fuck that shit!  It’s sunny!  Get out in that and play!”

I’m negotiating with Mrs. Johnson right now to see if she’s either with me on this, or I need to beat her into submission. Cuz moping is NOT the answer.  And I know it.

…SEE how good The BFF has trained me?!

FUCK it’s really gonna suck to be without her.

~D

Austenian Thoughts, On A Holiday

15 Sep

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I feel like I should work extra hard on today’s blog, on account of just breezing through it yesterday.

…I’m gonna do the weekly blog challenge, write up.  The one where you have to write in the style of a favorite author.  Only I’m gonna take it one further and do it while still narrating in the essay form.  And I want it to be a ridiculous juxtaposition. So I’m gonna pick a wildly opposite writing influence and run with it. In short: What would SWAL sound like if Jane Austen was penning it?

It would sound like this:

***

I cannot help but wish I had not lost the funds once supporting the allowance of a servant.  This morning, it was I who was left to set the tea to steep and pick the eggs.  A bothersome business, when all which you desire is to rest, uncorseted between the bed linens…stretching upon occasion at your leisure.

After breakfast, a walk about the grounds, perhaps. The day is still crisp, yet the sun is out, winking through the clouds now and then.  A piece of blue sky is surly somewhere to be found.  It would do me well, I think, to chase it.  I have only this and tomorrow for the remainder of my Holiday.  A Holiday vastly having depleted of its time. 

…Were I a Gentleman, none of such limitations would stand before me.

Of no profession, I would occupy myself between travels abroad for great lengths of time.  Not merely for the sake of “travel,” mind you, rather for the purpose of experiencing the finer opportunities afforded to one who establishes themselves in pockets of friends, old acquaintance and new.  A fortnight here or there, in country seats outside our own…a sail across seas tossed lightly in a variety of climates.

To picnic beneath an ancient tree whose seed pods float every now and then to rest on the very same blanket which I too use.

…Or a Tuscan sun, shining brightly…it’s heat soaking up into the terracotta roofing tiles, and piazza stones in the square.  English Manor gardens, manicured neatly into designs brought forth perhaps one hundred years before this.  Seedlings which once grew, as that one fallen from the picnicing tree, rising now to this magnificence…offset by fusias and lavenders and great bouquets of rhododendrons, reaching outwards in every direction.

I should like to touch a Grecian stone, entertain a Spanish siesta…walk an Irish rock and peat path, once again.

…If I were of another sex, in another time, with means to accomplish these efforts as my sole earthbound duty, I should be most exquisitely content.

However, it does seem that I am not any one of such things.

I must face, as I have done…with the absence of servants and coming end of Holiday leisure…that soon I must needs return to daily occupation. Of serving others in the stead of their serving me.  I must face the dawn’s early hour, and chill of dew’d air, to travel outward, taking reins of my own small carriage which will draw me swiftly toward the lot I must bare in life. 

…Questions, ever questions, and tasks will be demanded of me, and I shall complete them as is my duty.  But I shall not draw even the slightest rise of contentment at their accomplishments.  For my life seems often anything but the showing of an artistic effort when once completed.  In that, at no time may one gesture with affection at a day’s work-end, as one would toward even the simplest of paintings upon a wall:

“This, I have accomplished,” I may, with satisfaction, proclaim.  “This I have made.”

…A substantial object which once was a mere blank canvas, and now breathes color and light and atmos throughout your day-to-day lives. 

Should I need to wake every morning, endure ice chills in winter, fingers stiff with cold, hours of wakeful unrest, worry over color mix, or stroke placement… and ration my evening’s candlelight due to price of wax thought far less precious than a stock in canvas…I should do so willingly.  If such were my occupation for life, even a Holiday would take less precedence.

…Such is not the way of things, however.

No brush or pen stroke supports the means of which I live at present, and for that, I must acquiesce to find my living elsewhere.

…So too must you yourself, I fear.

…It was for such purpose, in which a “Holiday” was thence first bourne, I think. To give us rest and peace…and to dream.  For dreams too, are of high importance.  To aspire, in our heart and minds, toward a time and place wherein this is all but a means to something finer

Some call it Heaven. 

Some, another word or world wholly separate from this.

For me, I call it: “What can be, should we but strive hard enough to attain it.”

…An ideal which aides to sooth the burn of your contemporary circumstances, whatever they may be.

“This too shall pass,” quoth words in a promise we are all too familiar with.

…If only such application could include all, but the passing of Holidays…

~D

In The Hood

3 Sep

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I’ve decided to take you on a walk with me today. 

…I’ll point out some stuff along the way, while you feel jealous because when you go on walks, you stay in your neighborhood, but when I go on walks, almost every building I pass by takes me to a totally new location in the world, and/or historical point of time.

For instance we have the English Cottage.  The wisteria-draped front door, and combination of manicured topiary enhanced lawn has no idea it is actually planted in the Pacific Northwest.   
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…But it shouldn’t feel bad about it…because this house thinks it’s in Greece.  I defy you to change it’s mind on that point.
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Here, we have our very own version of the Winchester Mansion, in that the people who live here never seem to think the place is big enough, so have continued to grow it in various directions for years now.
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…Meanwhile, this is where the Hobbits live when they move away from The Shire.
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…And this place thinks it is the starring feature of all of the Bronte novels.
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We have an actual Psycho house up on the hill…(and yes, those are mounted camcorders pointing at you.)
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We have ethnic diversity who live here, and brought the primary colors Crayola box with them.  (As a representative of said peoples, can I just ask: wtf is with the bitch-slap-you brightness of our buildings, people?)
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…There is the place that thinks it’s an English hunting lodge.
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…The one that wants to be a castle when it grows up.  (Turrets anyone?)
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…The one who thinks its in Nantucket.
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…And the one they stole out of a Dickens novel. (I give you: the place where Miss Havisham lives.)
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One of many representatives from the D.C. crowd is shown here.
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“Welcome to New England,” might as well be posted on a flag outside this door.
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This claims it’s in the Hollywood hills, circa 1920.
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And, this one actually thinks it’s the White House.
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Hey…you could move to the Mediterranean OR save your money and just pretend to, by living here.
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You can go back in time and live in this original Mike Brady design.
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Have coffee of the future.
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Eat in the 50’s.
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…Default to the Victorian.
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…Visit the Hogwarts stand-in.
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…Frequent the 40’s drugstore (that still makes deliveries)
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…Relocate to Spain.
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…Move in with the modern-day Flintstones.
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…Or, masquerade as an eternal Frat Houser.
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This is all within one giant loop of my own little home. Which I think you can agree ain’t bad for a couple mile radius that could fill an entire passport, and break some serious time-continuum laws. Not bad at all.

~D

Hauntings & Old Stuff

12 Aug

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I like old stuff.

…If we’re talking books or booze, photos or furniture, film or fashion …jewelry, appliances, houses or people…I like ’em most of all. I always have.

I was the kid who’d rather love on a hand-me-down doll with one eye and lopsided stuffing than a “new” anything out of a box. The more beat up and “used” a book: the better…and if “nature” had started to take the object back at all to reclaim it, I totally understood the feeling.

When I went to England and Ireland several years ago, I nearly exploded with too much old-stuff-awesome.  Because even the rocks, buildings, and air you breathe there, comes recycled from like a gillion years ago, B.C.  It crosses the “old” and “antique” mark into just plain “ancient.” 

It was ancient. 

It felt ancient. 

It smelled ancient. 

It looked ancient.

…I’d be standing on a heath (for instance) in the middle of nowhere, a once bogged peat land where the Celts had raised a stone circle for their protections and holy workings.  Center of this thing, it was still electrifying with the network of whatever had been infused into it centuries ago.  You could honestly feel the energy of it zapping you like those electric touch-globes they had back in the 80’s, connecting through your fingertips and skin and hair…to something elemental, base…a root network of being.

We’d take a turn in old manor houses…get lost in their hallways…or stay behind on purpose to be the only one left in a room just to feel it out a little.  Like hiccups in time, you could almost swear you could see the Lady of the house sitting at her vanity, applying scent to the  back of each ear and nape of neck.  The nursery was almost spooky with children’s giggles, nurse’s admonitions, and squeek of wood coming from the direction of the old rocking horse. 

…Sometimes (for maybe only a split second), whole dinner parties were sitting at table within the formal dining rooms…candles bouncing their light off the polished silver, under-butlers in black jackets and white cotton gloves attending in silence.  The studies still smelled of cigar smoke and gentlemen’s cologne.  The library’s books, (occupied floor to ceiling with volumes whose bindings you could never touch), once rested within the palms of hands while sunning themselves, or secluded somewhere in the network of impossibly manicured gardens.

…Paintings of previous owners would watch you from the walls, enroute exiting the main floors, retreating to the bowels of the homes where their empty kitchens were still a phantom bustle of activity, heat, food smells and ever-attending duties.  Ghost horses still live within their stalls…trees that had shaded picnics, games of cricket, and formal teas: shading you right now.

Sometimes the feelings were almost overwhelming.

…But then, I’ve always been sensitive to things like that. One part imagination (no doubt), but two parts what Gram and the Great Aunts used to call, “the gift.”  Apparently all the Kelly women have it.  Some more so than others. 

I remember stories from childhood, of experiences they had had…things they had seen, or felt, words they had heard spoken, in laundry lists of eery evokings that frankly scared the hell outta me.  It didn’t, them…they seemed perfectly at peace with it.  Basically because they had to be.  Stretching back into our line as far as we can source it, strange shit has been happening “to” or “around” our family for generations. 

…Sometimes, in the form of hauntings. 
(Any number of us like to come back and visit…which is a “comfort” I never quite understood and frankly wish they’d all cut the hell out. Also, we’re susceptible to seeing and feeling the non-familial varieties.  This doesn’t mean always in a visual form.  Sometimes it’s a voice, a touch, a breath…a general acknowledgment of “not-rightness,” followed instantly by cold sweats and the desire to get the hell outta wherever it is that we are.)

…Sometimes visions.
(Countless phone calls from my Nana would stream in at all hours, day or night, directly after some family emergency had just taken place.   She would know who was the injured party, just how life threatening it was, exactly when it had happened…and upon occasion, even what had taken place. And at least once she saved a life by it. The first words upon the answer of “Hello?” having been, “Get him to the hospital now.  Don’t wait.  It’s worse than you think.”)

…Or, prophetic dreams. 
(A car and motorcycle accident, one leg breaking from falling off a roof, a death in WWII, and one of the creepiest actual preventative stories of Gram as a little girl getting a yellow dress for her birthday, twirling too near a fire, catching light and getting burnt to death. The identical dress was in fact gifted, and destroyed, directly upon opening.)

Some were flat out spoken to.
(In most cases as a sort of “conscience-driven” inner-voice stipulating things needing to be done, or not, or fixed or rendered.  Sometimes: a literal voice, a whisper, a declarative warning. Often mixed in what I suppose you could categorize as “hauntings.”)

…And some just had the uncanny ability to read a person or a room, instantly.
(Bad things “were” or “are” done here. Something about him just isn’t “right.”  She’s hurting a lot, it’s all around her but no one is noticing. There’s something big about to happen…a lot of energy…its “full” right now.)

…Apparently, I deal mostly with the past-tense.  So I suppose it isn’t’ surprising at all that me and old things are attracted to one another.  We are lovers from the past, connecting again.

I’ll forget to actually “read” a book, I become so consumed in touching and smelling it…tracing my fingers over the signatures of it’s previous owners, trying to get a grasp on them. I can’t just “look” in antique stores, I have to skim and make contact…hold the things in my hand and get the weight and history of them in my grasp.  As a kid, I collected buckets full of rocks, and trinkets…not like other kids collect them…but because they had been hand selected, and adopted from places I had been (a camp site, a lake, a hike, a cave) and “felt” things at.  One of my favorite places to visit are old cemeteries…not for the morbidity, but the life and history still wandering around them.  I’ve been the only person in a room full of “others” I can’t see but fully know are there.  I’ve stepped into houses where bad things have happened and know it, with the kind of instant terror they can’t breed into you with the most horrifying Hollywood thriller. I get deja vus like crazy, will stop cold in a doorway or while standing on a piece of land to “listen”…because I could swear that something just told me to.

…For the parts of this that I am “comfortable” with, it’s been a strange life of feeling like I was born out of order and don’t actually belong to this time.  People don’t always understand my consuming fascination of history and “the past,” that I am completely delighted that I have.  For the parts that freak me the hell out,  I fought it (believe me) and tried to pretend it was all a load of fantastical nonsense.  Until I couldn’t anymore.  I certainly do not “encourage” it.

…But what was amazing…what blew my mind those years back on that trip abroad, (and still does when revisiting my thoughts and dreams now and then, as it does from time to time), is that being there in those places…particularly in the oldest outer-reaching ancient parts of Ireland, it was probably the first time I was “at peace” with whatever gifts had been handed down in the bloodlines. 

It was intense, and full and populated with air and energy and presence.  It was jerking in time from then to now.  It was peaceful, then bloody, then peaceful again.  I could almost hear the people’s words in a language I couldn’t understand, and smell the fires that had cooked their suppers.  Tiny cottages and ramble roads seemed like old friends. A rock wall and I could have a whole conversation almost, just sitting side-by-side and though I’ve never in my life smelled such a thing as burning peat…the fireplaces stoked with it brought the kind of memories back that only things like lifelong Christmas traditions do.

I can’t explain the connection with things that I had there. But I “belonged” to it.  I knew that.

…Which goes back to the old man in the pub, in Avoca: a tiny village, where we sat one afternoon over a Guinness, ‘tween ongoing rambles across the countryside.

Old Man On A Stool: “Americans, is it?  And how do you like us?”

Ma: “We love it.  I’ve had this aching pain to come here, as far back as I can remember.”

Old Man On A Stool: “You’re Irish then.  What name?”

Ma: “Kelly.  How’d you know?”

Old Man On A Stool: “Because that’s the way of it.  You can take the Irish out of Ireland but not the other way ’round.  We always find our way home again, else never feel ‘right’ about it.”

Me:  “What do yuh mean?”

Old Man On A Stool: “The roots, girl.  It’s in the roots, in here. (grasping his upper gut)  Can’t escape it.  And you feel it too…don’t you?”

…Only every second I spent on the land, is all.

Being in the “old country” just re-energized everything.  Like coming back to the absolute roots of me and plugging into the network that my blood first came from…fighting battles and building this intense bond with the land, the type of nature, the rocks that built their houses, the people that lived inside of them.  I remember extreme specifics of the places we visited…far out-of-way roads we travelled.  I can remember accidental monuments and churches and villages and homes we stumbled upon.  Conversations with people we met.  Comparing separate experiences we’d had at day’s-end.  I can remember this one turn in a garden path, and that bush over there…the feel of the mossy stone with tiny wildflowers growing out of a ruin.

…When I dream of it, they are always really intense dreams…where I can actually feel the texture of things when I touch them and smell the smells.  I get totally lost in it and wake up a little sad to see I’m not actually there.  It’s very like the opening of “Rebecca,” launching into this singsong, haunting rhythm…

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

And last night, I did.

I miss it.

~D

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