Wednesday, February 14, 2007


My life has been a shambles, as of late. Last year I took hit after personal hit across any aspect of my life I care to examine. In truth, I've been taking some pretty bad hits for the past eleven years. For all of them, I was upset, then resolute and saw my way through things with mourning, tears, fear or anger, but I always had the sense I hadn't crumbled and was still moving forward through it all. There were two things that happened to me in the year 2000 I thought would kill me, but "no."

Around mid-January this year, after I had made a personal resolve that I would be gaining in strength and renewing myself, in one day I absorbed two pieces of news that flattened me. Since then, I've been living in a combined state of anxiety, fear and sorrow, and yet I still try to do things to keep me moving forward. Something about this final wall I smashed into has made me stop and reevaluate my life: not the expected endless navel gazing into the past and it's problems, but more along the lines of, "How do I survive this and how do I go on, and where do I go to and how do I get there, and how can I live my life to be a decent human being, despite what I've been exposed to in these months?" Much thinking about my future while trying to breathe in my present. I never realized how hard breathing is. Some days I feel like I have a giant sitting on my chest compressing air out of me, and I walk around with this pain. Some moments I am fine, and then I start to shake and nothing brings it under control.

One person close to me said yesterday, "You've borne up under so much in the past year (and into this year,) and you've accomplished so much. Look at how far you have come." They also said, "It's like these last things have hit you when your defenses are still down and weakened and you haven't been able to recover yet, but you will." She kept saying that. "You will." I suppose I know in my heart, I will. Some things you never do really recover from, like the death of a parent, or a lost love. You learn to cope. That's about the best you can do. Cope. I've lost both of my parents now, and both had what I would label messy, dramatic deaths with other players on the scene making the whole situation raging pits of hell. Another friend of mine lost his mother unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and after he told me what he experienced, and the savage behavior that occurred within his family, I had a strong bond of sympathy, yet there is little comfort knowing others have these difficulties as well, not when you are so deep into your own pain. He voiced some things a week ago about how he was feeling that shocked everyone in our social circle, but I knew from his words he too had hit that final wall and been smashed down.

I will be changing so many areas of my life in the next two years, my life will be upheaval. How will I achieve it? I don't know. I'm still floundering with those issues. One thing I have been doing is ripping my home to shreds: a complete deconstruction. I've always considered myself organized and able to prioritize, but in the past few years, with these problems in place, I let things slide that normally wouldn't. I've been tossing clothing, selling more books and cd's on Amazon and eBay. Did I mention my car was totaled this weekend? No? Well, it was, so now I need to replace my car. I still need to go through boxes and boxes of family photographs to organize them and get rid of surplus. Any time you tackle a chore like that, there's a huge emotional upheaval attached to the labor. I dread it, but I will do it.

This past weekend I tackled the issue of jewelry: mine (that goes back to childhood,) my mother's and my aunt. I threw some away, gave some to a woman I know, and will sell some. What remains is now organized and accessible.

My mother had a sister living in this area when I was small. She was like a mother to me, spoiled me, and gave me unconditional love. She died when I was only weeks into being seven, and it was the first serious loss of my life. I learned early on about absorbing pain, the finality of death, and coping. Some of the pieces I handled had belonged to her, and putting on one bracelet brought back floods of memories of when I would try on her jewels as "dress-up." She had a beautiful wardrobe, and my mother would have fits that she let me trapse around in her best evening clothes. Her response? "But she loves it so."

I found her wedding mitts from her second marriage. My parents took my aunt and her new husband to Union Station, as they left for their honeymoon, and she passed the net gloves through the train window to my mother with the request they be given to me so that I may have them one day for my own wedding as the "old and blue" portion of "new and borrowed."

I also found a pair of beaded shoe buckles circa 1900-1920 that have been passed down through females to finally land with me. They may have belonged to the woman I knew who had them at one point. They may have been her mother's who died when she was three. Another child learning to cope.
Then there are the hearts. The large silver heart, on a silver chain, belonged to a woman who traveled the world. I don't know where she acquired this piece. It looks like it could be from Mexico or India, but in truth it probably came from Vietnam, Laos or Libya. I am wearing it now as I type this, given the nature of the day. The small hearts belonged to my mother as a young girl. They have no monetary worth, bear lightly traced designs, and the smallest of the two held a picture of a boy my mother loved when she was young. I took these two hearts over when I was about eight years old, and I wore them a lot as a child before putting them aside. It's difficult to touch and hold the solidity of these hearts, when my own feels so fragile right now.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

He Said He'd Call

Signature of Kathryn Howard

Henry VIII of England had a habit of disappearing on his wives, with nary a goodbye. He left his first wife of 22 years, Catherine of Aragon, went he went to go hunting at Woodstock. Anne Boleyn, wife number two, he parted from at an annual May Day jousting tournament, when a courier came bearing the news of her confessed infidelity through her tortured lovers.

Queen of Sheba Window
King's College, Cambridge (1)

Jane Seymour, wife number three, died shortly after childbirth (2), and since she was the wife who produced the much desired male heir (and didn't live long enough to bore him or piss him off,) she has the honor of being buried with Henry. Four? Anna of Cleves was rejected early on in the marriage. Henry thought the men responsible for promoting her were at fault. (3) Henry left Anna after May Day celebrations in 1540, much like Anne Boleyn. Something about May really triggered him.

The site of Kathryn's execution
Tower of London

Which brings us to Kathryn Howard.(4) She is usually protrayed as a careless, flighty, boy-crazy girl. She lost her head today: February 13, 1542, after being Queen for less than 18 months and was buried in the chapel near her cousin, Anne Boleyn.

I was thinking about young Kathryn today, dead before age 21. Kathryn was executed with her lady-in-waiting, Jane Viscountess Rochford. Both ladies confessed as their last words that they desired "all goodly people to take regard unto their worthy and just punishment with death." Kathryn died first, then Lady Rochford had to lie her own head on the same block as her mistress, still wet with Kathryn's blood. (5) Henry? He married again. Henry the Eighth. The Anti-Valentine.

Tower of London Bridge (6)

(1) The Queen of Sheba Window at Cambridge University is the only recognized representation of Kathryn Howard known to exist. She bows before Henry, shown as King Solomon.

(2) Jane died of puerperal fever (a common infection of the time) following childbirth.

(3) Thomas Cromwell lost his head over her. The misjudgment about Anna as a hottie made him politically vulnerable.

(4) Kathryn has many varied spellings in that era: Catherine, Katherine, Kathryn. I went with Kathryn because it pleaseth me.

(5) Kathryn had asked for the chopping block to be brought to her chambers so that she might practice and make an honorable death. She had a day's rehearsal before the curtain rose.

(6) I've walked across this bridge. It bears traffic, but it is also a drawbridge, and as such, it is cut in the middle so that it may raised and lowered. When you get toward the halfway point, as a pedestrian, the bridge is bouncing up and down under your feet. Standing out in the middle of the Thames, it can be totally unnerving.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

February 3, 2007

Add to Technorati Favorites