Monday’s quote of the day, the one with Hades, was illustrated on Friday afternoon, as I always do them on the weekday before I intend to post them. About forty-five minutes after I finished it, while I was working on one of my novels, there was a tremendous explosion outside, quite nearby. Huge sound, unbelievably loud, with a wrenching metal component and a brilliant flash of light. The electricity went out. Before I had time to think more than “What?” there was another explosion, just as loud and brilliant. I had just another a moment to begin to be terrified when there was a third loud and flashing explosion.

I was really terrified by then, but thankfully there were no more explosions. I sat in a daze, wondering what had happened. Had a plane gone down? If so it must be lying in the street outside. Was it a bomb or a natural gas explosion? If so, again, it had to be very close by. I thought I’d better go outside and see if my house was okay or if I should evacuate, but when I looked outside, everything appeared normal. My neighbor across the street was out in his front yard looking south, however. My view of things to the south was blocked by two walls and some trees so I wandered outside and yelled across the street, “Do you know what that was?”

“It looks like one of the underground electrical vaults about four houses down exploded. I can see smoke pouring out of it.”

My next door neighbor to the south came out and said, “Be careful. There’s a live electrical cable lying in the street.”

By this time we could hear sirens and I thought the best place for me would be back in the house, out of the way, but I was badly shaken. My electricity came back in fairly short order. We have a lot of backup systems in this neighborhood because we’re on the same power grid as LAX. Thankfully, none of the houses were damaged, no people harmed, just the street. But I kept thinking about how we sit atop all of this infrastructure and think nothing of it when at any moment the apocalypse beneath our feet can happen.

And then I thought of that Hades quote and how one shouldn’t mess with him or the domains named for him. It had gotten kind of funny by the time I got around to that thought and I’d calmed down somewhat.

The power company was outside with jackhammers until just before 1 a.m. and massive trucks blocked the street almost all of Saturday. But everything was neatened up. Time to slip back into complacency.

Except that I got a phone call that same Saturday afternoon. A friend is dying of cancer, has only weeks to live, and K*iser Permanente dropped the ball numerous times, delaying diagnosis until it was too late. This is not the first time I have heard of K*iser doing that. They are great for preventative medicine but if you get really sick sometimes their follow through is lacking or disorganized. I am trying not to let my fury crowd out the attempt to find acceptance, but it’s hard. I remind myself it’s not about me, it’s about my friend, and she doesn’t need my anger to add to her own. I remind myself to honor my own feelings, but it’s too early for that, so instead I swallow them, down into the netherworld, deep dark Hades.

April has been an especially cruel month. As I posted here, I got two death notifications on April 2.

All of these are also apocalypses. They happen every day all around the world to millions of people and their families. We sit atop these imminent explosions and must, for our sanity, pretend they aren’t waiting. But when one of them goes off close to home it’s yet another reminder that time is not our friend and we must get busy with the work we must get done.

I first saw Notre Dame from a boat on the Seine, slowly gliding towards those magnificent flying buttresses and the spire, a vision that has vibrated in my mind for years and years. That vision will never die. I can hardly process that it no longer exists. Heartbroken.


Random quote of the day:

“You are permitted, in time of great danger, to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge.”

—Bulgarian proverb

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?”

—Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions, LXVI (tr. William O’Daly)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Last week, thanks to a link provided by asakiyume, I read an absolutely riveting article from the London Review of Books, 6 February 2014: “Ghosts of the Tsunami” by Richard Lloyd Parry. In it, Parry discusses the paranormal experiences had by people after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. He speaks a lot about the difference between “contained” ancestral spirits and the wild or “hungry ghosts” unleashed by natural disaster and also by having their ancestral shrine anchors destroyed by natural disaster. He writes about spirit-ridden people and a spirit-ridden society, survivors guilt, paranormal experiences, and exorcisms. It’s a long article but absolutely worth the read. Very, very moving.

It also reminded me of something I’d read somewhere a long time ago about the hungry ghosts created after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I couldn’t find the specific reference, but I did find a passage in Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton. He speaks of how many of the survivors of the A-bomb blasts were haunted—whether psychologically or spiritually—by hungry ghosts, a literalization of survivors’ guilt. He writes:

“Japanese Buddhist tradition has stressed ‘quick separation of souls from physical bodies’ so that they ‘became ancestral souls, gradually became calm, settled in dwellings in high mountains, and came down to their children’s homes and rice fields on certain occasions.’ These calm and appropriately placed ancestral souls are the antithesis of the homeless dead—of the ‘wild souls’ and ‘hungry ghosts’ whose way of dying, or neglect by survivors, caused them to be denied proper separation from, and continuity with, these same survivors. Significantly, at the annual Bon Festival, the time when visits from ancestral souls are expected, special offerings of food are also put out for anonymous ‘hungry ghosts’ who, it is thought, might otherwise have no one to provide for them—another expression of survivors’ sense of responsibility for their ‘homelessness…’ For the survivor must reject the dead (particularly the newly dead) until he can place them safely within a mode of immortality: in Japanese tradition, permit them to become ancestor souls (or gods); in Christian tradition, immortal souls.”

Similar things were reported in the aftermath of the horrific tsunami which hit Thailand and other spots in the Indian Ocean in 2004. The fear of hungry ghosts kept many Asian tourists away from these spots. Maybe it still is.

(On hearing tapes of spontaneously-generated “spirit
voices,” so-called EVPs: Electronic Voice Phenomenon)

The mumbling dead
speak non-sequiturs
as if they have forgotten
language, that thing
which made them most human.

“I came up with Betty;”
“I went to see the war”—
one-phrase grooves
clicking on and off
with ancient preoccupations.

Sometimes what they say
freezes in my heart
and turns my lungs cold.
“The soul stays down here,”
says the voice from the crypt,
and I cannot catch my breath.

Are the souls of the dead
crowding round us even now,
like ekimmu out of Babylon,
jealous of the air we breathe,
hungry for the touch of flesh
they cannot possess?

Then give me oblivion.

If not the golden light,
if not even the fires below,
then I want nothing, nothing.
Anything but wandering feet
which cannot feel the road.

—PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:


“Natural disasters are a good career move for a man in my line of work.”

—Chris Rose, newspaper columnist, 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

(Mr. Rose speaks from deep heartbreak and survivor shock here. This book is a harrowing look at the first four months after Katrina. Composed of the columns he wrote for the Times-Picayune after he returned to the city days after the disaster struck, it’s moving, despairing, cynical, with sparks of humor. It details the flailing attempts of the city to cope and struggle back on its feet, and the frightful impact on the poor people often forgotten in the aftermath of the storm.  It’s an amazing piece of journalism, an amazing testament.)



Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

If you would actually like to check off ticky boxes for this poll, you can go here.

If the giant killer asteroid was projected to hit your home town in the next 24 hours, what would you do?

Hit the highway with the 5,837,934 people trying to escape the area.
Shelter in place. They could be wrong!
Shelter in place. I wouldn’t want to be part of the dystopian society left after it hit.
Finally tell my parents I’m gay/an atheist/polyamorous/a 9th level wizard/other.
Finally take up gender experimentation/prayer/polyamory/D&D/other.
Hold the mother of all block parties.
Return ET’s phone call.
Loot and pillage.
Tell everyone how much I love them and curl up into a whimpering ball.
Give up the last seat on the last ‘chopper so the pregnant lady can escape.
Hold onto the skids of the last ‘chopper out of town.
Fall off the skids of the last ‘chopper out of town somewhere really dramatic.
Ticky doesn’t care for any of these options.