The foggy ruins of time

November 28, 2016

This has been one unholy bitch of a year.  Bob Dylan comes to mind, as he does any time I have a bitch of a year, and there’ve been very few. Which is to say Dylan doesn’t often come to mind any more, especially since that horrible concert I went to a couple years ago during which I couldn’t make out a single note of anything played and CERTAINLY nothing he sang.  A concert we left early, sadly disappointed, especially since it was a small venue and you’d think, a great event.

So where was I?

Oh yes, hey! Mr. Tambourine Man–play a song for me. 


Because if you’d played it last summer after I flew with an upper respiratory infection, well, I wouldn’t be able to hear anything in the jingle-jangle morning because I had no damn hearing. Or rather, very little damn hearing.  And it took weeks of steroids (and aren’t THEY fun, especially in massive doses) and then weeks of waiting to get relatively normal hearing back.

But, as I said to my doctor, It’s not cancer!

So back to Mr. Tambourine Man:

Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping

Yes, left me blindly here to stand.


Because mere months after my sense of hearing went all old-age on me, so did my eyesight, as I sat eating Indian food with my gay husband and some spirit took a big calligraphy brush and exploded a big Z for Zorro! across the field of vision of my left eye.

cancerMy instant phone call to my internist and the ride to Stanford,the visit the next morning to the eye institute, the follow up visit to my retinologist and the news that I had something like a split retina and we’d wait and see another month. Maybe we’d laser it to prevent a detached retina (which I’ve already had in the other eye) but really, not unless we have to because the laser will rob a little of your vision, Carol, they said.

Did I mention the gift it left me? That big, new floater in that eye that wreaks havoc with reading?  At least it isn’t the Z. THAT was disconcerting.

But as I said to my doctor, It’s not cancer!

That’s the benchmark now for any ailment. It’s not cancer. 

All my senses may be stripped as I age, but I’ll be DAMNED if I get cancer.

You’ll have to excuse me if I relate this story to the news of the day, the week, the month and the year, and that is to say that maybe it’s a damn good thing some of my senses are dulling so that I don’t have to see and hear a fascist regime take over America. Just maybe I’m better off, as Dylan says, disappearin’ down the foggy ruins of time… with all memory and fate driven deep…let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Here’s that excerpt, and the song in a version when Dylan actually had a voice we could understand.

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

39 comments on “The foggy ruins of time
  1. I sometimes wonder if our senses slowly leave us so we don’t see our own decay (or the decay of society around us). I’m off for my breast scan tomorrow – hate them with a passion but I refuse to die from cancer too!

  2. Not quite as poetic as Dylan, but on the same track: “After all, tomorrow is another day” (Scarlett O’Hara) Sometimes we just have to put stuff on a shelf for a day or two because it does get too overwhelming to deal with in the here and now. P.S. Seeing Dylan’s words in writing makes me appreciate his poetic talent anew.

  3. What a beautiful post! Thank you. Sorry to hear what a bitch of a year you’ve had. As I read your post, I am sitting beside my 97-year-old mother in Hospice House as she lingers through her final days. In the past 2 months sitting with her, I have had so much time to consider the “foggy ruins of time” and the “twisted reach of crazy sorrow”. I assume I’ll find joy again in the coming year, but I’m not too sure about that, yet.

    • Paula kiger says:

      Sending so much support,Carol/Mimi — our 87 year old father in law lives with us and seeing his declining senses (and cognitive abilities) is a HUGE eye opener/soul searcher. Wishing you peace as you walk this path with your mom.

  4. Haralee says:

    Boy I forgot his petty is very good! Sorry to hear your senses are revolting on you. Setting the bar as ‘not cancer’ is a good thing. I say, ‘not life threatening’. It does seem we both are setting the bar low but as we age this is the reality! Wishing you a healthy 2017!

  5. Paula kiger says:

    Good gracious, Carol, you’ve really had a year. Here’s to a better 2017, for sure.

  6. Mary says:

    Carol, here’s to 2017! I’m hoping for you and I it will be better than 2016. It has been a bitch of a year!

  7. Music is always my go to to work out my emotions. For anxiety, it’s yoga. I’m going this afternoon.

  8. I hope your eye issue resolves without the lazer. Jeeze. I remember that trip you had with that infection, awful!
    Hopefully 2017 will hold something wonderful for you. I’m working on something you might like, can’t wait to share with you.

  9. I feel like everyday it’s something new and seems to travel through different parts of my body. For a while, it was my feet. Now it’s my neck and shoulders. I’m not too fond of this getting older thing. But, as you said it isn’t cancer, so it’s just another annoyance to deal with.

  10. BerryRipe says:

    Wow, what a year! Thanks for sharing.

  11. YOU, my dear, are my kind of woman. I love how you express yourself and how you can relate things to what’s around you. BTW, I’m glad I’m not an American in these tumultuous times.

    I’m now 62 and my body no longer likes me. New things arise on on annual basis. I guess it’s part and parcel of aging, or maybe not having good genes.

    My adoptive Mother has been declining these last 6 or 7 years, and it’s very difficult to watch. She once was (til she turned 80) a very vibrant, independent woman. This year, her driver’s license was taken from her (a huge blow, but a necessity).

    I guess shit happens to all of us on this journey. But if it could all wait a little longer, I”d be much happier.

  12. Lee Gaitan says:

    Here’s to a better 2017 on all fronts! I always say, “but I’m not bed-ridden.” Although lately I’ve wished I could be–stay in bed and block out the reality I don’t like. We’re still here and we’re still kicking,so on we go!

  13. Chloe says:

    Hey at least you look for the silver lining! Here is to a better year in 2017!

  14. Sorry you had a rough year. I hope 2017 is better.

  15. Wren says:

    I hope 2017 is a better year for you. Your positive outlook is amazing.

  16. sue says:

    You have certainly had a year Carol but in the words of another song ‘things, can only get better!’. Wishing you a healthier 2017.

  17. lori says:

    Sorry it’s been a bad health year for you. Here’s to a better 2017. My mantra, “just keep moving!”

  18. I am so sorry to hear that you are going through so much, Carol. Yikes…..My husband and son are crazy Dylan fans. Our daughter, Sarah….is not quite as nuts for him. One year we all went to a concert for David’s birthday…. I had the same experience you did. I couldn’t understand one word he sang. Still, David and Jack were thrilled, while Sarah and I had a great mother/daughter catch up session. And……..once the deal with that showing up to receive the Nobel Prize for literature??? Really……are you so important that you can’t go and except this most amazing honor???? I just don’t get that……………….

  19. Amber Myers says:

    Oh wow. I hope 2017 is kind to you.

  20. Elizabeth O. says:

    This year was crazy wasn’t it and we still have a month to determine whether it will be bad entirely or not, lol. I’m still glad that regardless of your ailments, it’s not cancer. I hate that disease and I’ll be damned if I get it too.

  21. Here’s to a better 2017. Boy, reading Dylan’s words in print makes it easy to understand how he won a Nobel Prize.

  22. Music is my escape. I hope that you will be able to end this year on a high note and have an even better 2017. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  23. Vyjay says:

    I have seen a few people close to me suffering and also dying of cancer. Yes I think the best way to fight is SAY NO TO CANCER.

  24. I’m so sorry you had such an ordeal! Fingers crossed 2017 will pay you back in good times!

  25. Similarly, we had a cancer scare in the family a few weeks back. My grandmother discovered a big lump on her breast which sent everyone into panic mode. Thankfully, the results showed that it’s benign and not cancerous. *heaves a sigh of relief*

  26. Glenda says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you have been having issues with your eyesight and hearing. My sister is almost deaf. She started losing her hearing in her mid 30’s and the doctors don’t know what caused it. Try to stay positive that everything will eventually fall into place.

  27. Ourfamilyworld says:

    I relate on this post.. I’m wishing you to have all the blessings and happy life this coming year.. You are very strong after all..

  28. Julie says:

    I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough year. Health issues so easily throws life out of whack, sometimes for so long. I hope next year treats you better!

  29. Trials are sure to come and go. The most we can hope is to grow stronger from them and endure! Good outlook to have about at least it isn’t cancer.

  30. kellyreci says:

    Hoping you have a wonderful and better year to come.. You inspire me to be strong from all the problems i will face.. Great post.

  31. ourfamilyworld says:

    This year is very tough and hard for you but it doesn’t mean that you are not lucky. It just made you to be more stronger. Your story is very inspiring.


    Omg what a post!! So sorry about this year! Hopefully things start to look up

  33. MJ says:

    2016 has been a year to remember and sadly not because of great things but there is always light at the end of the tunnel and in a few more weeks we can say bye bye to this ot so great year…
    XO, MJ

  34. Sa cre says:

    Cheers to an amazing 2017! This year seemed to be a test for many of my friends but the rainbow never fails to appear after the storm ❤️

  35. Rosey says:

    I love the ‘it’s not cancer! I didn’t know steroids were hard on your body. I’m glad they worked for your hearing to come back though.

  36. angie says:

    So glad to hear that your hearing came back. I understand that steroids are hard on the body but they do so much good for it as well. I am looking forward to an awesome 2017 hope you have one as well.

  37. Lisa Rios says:

    Such a wonderful post and I like your positive attitude. I can see you have gone through so much this year, but hoping that your eye problems gets solved sooner and that everything gets better in 2017.

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