Saturday, November 01, 2014

Stephen King

Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.
- Stephen King

Story

They say there is a way to tell a story with a beginning a middle and an end but I've never done it. The way I tell a story is the way I look at a painting or a photograph. My eyes dart around from shape to shape making my own path.

Dream

I dreamed there was a woman repeatedly sleeping in our backyard. Bill looked out and saw a sleeping bag in the tree. I looked out and saw blueish feet dangling from behind a red sleeping bag. She's dead. I was horrified and I phoned the police. "A woman hung herself by a rope in our tree," I said. As I was on the phone I heard coughing. Bill had untied the rope and the woman was alive. "She's alive! She's alive," I shouted into the phone.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sketches

"Guys, don't come to work with the rage inside. If you need to chill out just ask. The last thing we need is aggression leftovers, you know what I mean? That's how people get hurt. It's not a weakness if you need to take ten and sit in the dark during your shift. Policeman's meditation. I don't mean to sound all crunchy granola but this is important. If you've had a fight with your wife or neighbor don't take it out on your community. We've all done it. We've all had bad days that we drag in here with us. Just don't be too proud to take ten. Practice the chill drill."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Leonie, lean on me. That's what your name means to me. Leonie baby! Did your mom plan for your name to be Leo if you were a boy?"
"Yeah, and my sister Georgette was gonna be George. They was hoping for boys but they ended up with six girls!"
"I think people shouldn't name their kids right away. They should find out what they're like and then decide. Is she a Margaret or a Cynthia? There's a big difference and God forbid you're saddled with the wrong name. It can ruin a person."
"You can change your name you know."
"I know but it's not the same. You want your parents to see who you really are. They're the first ones - and they ought to pay close attention. Growing up Rosalie is not the same as growing up Edna."
"I kinda like them cow names - Betty, Abby, Florence, Matilda . . ."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If we had some heat in this damn place maybe I could think. I'm just shivering all the time. I drink so much hot coffee I got a hole in my stomach and then I'm awake all night. Well, I'm not awake, I'm dreaming.

That's called hallucinating.

I'm not hallucinating. I know what that is but I'm awake during my dreams. I'm participating in them, making them go. Then, in the morning I'm exhausted and my mouth is dry. It feels like a herd of camels walked across my tongue.

Wow, maybe if we put in a wood stove that would put an end to the coffee and the camels.

Nah, life would get boring.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's Friday but it feels like Saturday. Yesterday felt like a Friday. Last week was all Fridays. Did you ever see days of the week as colors? Fridays are red. Saturdays are wide and brown. Mondays are pale yellow, Tuesdays are beige. Wednesdays are wide and maybe pink, Thursdays are orange, Sunday is light blue. Or maybe Fridays are purple. Saturday is black and skinny, Sunday is white, Monday is gray. Tuesday is chartreuse, Wednesday is yellow with orange polka dots, Thursday's magenta.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She eats bugs.

No!

That's what she said. Bug soup, bug sandwiches, and just plain bugs. Buttered bread with bugs, fried in oil bugs. She said if you close your eyes you can do it and they're not bad.

How about worms?

No way. Not unless they're dried on the sidewalk. She says the flat ones can be slipped into a sandwich.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I heard Jess' uncle shot her dad and he's at corrections.

Is that where they teach you to read and write?

Only if you shoot someone.

I didn't shoot anyone so why do I have to go to corrections?

You're in school silly, not jail. Corrections is jail, prison.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I told you not to buy it. I told you forget about it but no, you fuckin' didn't listen to me," Rick shouted, raising his hand.
"Rick no!" Angie yelled.
"Why don't you ever listen to me Angie?"
"I do. I do!"
"No you don't." His hand slammed down on the table. "That's how we got ourselves into this fix."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sarah's mom can't leave the house without opening and closing all the doors and windows. She has to retie her shoes over and over until the laces are perfectly matched.

It's a disease.

I hope I don't catch it.

Me too.

Julie's mom screams curses in her sleep.

Where'd you hear that?

Alice told me. She slept over once at Julie's.

Alice's mom danced until her feet were bloody stumps.

Where did her feet go?

They wore off. That's what happens to ballerinas. Her shoes hold pretend feet.

Is that why she's in a wheelchair?

Don't ever ask Alice's mom about her feet.

If you eat blueberries you become blue. That's why I always count mine and stop at 99.

When you eat beets you get red poop. It's true! And if you eat corn and beets you get red and yellow polka dotted poop.

We cover the electric sockets so the electricity doesn't leak out. It's expensive and you don't want to breathe it cuz then you glow in the dark.

I'd love that, then I could see where I am at night.

But it's dangerous, you could get hit by lightning. It's better to be invisible.

Misbehaving Computer

You sound good. My computer is lettipne leermeat a imeicked uputeris not ing!mpute rkingHoy crap! I puching ut nces at'noorking right.
ve,mily

Dreams within Dreams

I dreamed I sliced a loaf of bread using the edge of my hand.
I dreamed I was in a parade.
I dreamed I bought a shack at Carpenter's beach and it was painted blue inside and was set up like a concession stand with a soda counter. Where would I sleep? I was having buyer's remorse.
I dreamed I was with my dog Lily. I ran into a friend selling hot dogs and I was telling her about my beach shack dream.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Snippets

'Wanda Lee Jones, what the hell are you doin' out there?" Clara yelled from the kitchen window.
"I'm letting them suck on my fingers."
"Them baby cows think your fingers are going to sprout milk, They think you is their new mama."
"I don't mind, I like it."
"Now go on wash your hands and scrub 'em good. You don't want them cow slime germs in your food."
Wanda washed her hands and sat down close to the window.
"You're a dreamer, girl. You just dream all the time. What we gonna do with you?"
Clara was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Wanda and one for herself. They sat opposite each other at the small wooden table.
"You're a dreamer too," Wanda said.
"I am not, I am no dreamer," Clara stated.
"We're all dreamers watching the leaves wiggle and the cows graze and the sky with clouds moving," Wanda said.
"That's you, not me. I don't have time to stare at clouds and leaves. I got work to do, washing, mending, baking, cooking, cleaning. By the end of the day my body is so sore my bed is the only dream I have. I lay down and say thank you Lord for my cozy bed." She got up and took the empty plates to the sink.
"Wanda, you go on out and play but stay out of trouble, ya hear?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"The hell you say, you expect me to believe that? I caught you! I fucking caught you, so don't tell me your lies. I've had it!" Jack yelled.
He reached into the closet and grabbed his suitcase, opening it on the bed.
"No Jack you have to listen."
"I'm done listening. Now I'm packing."
"Packing? Where are you going?"
"Out of this mess."
"This isn't a mess, this is a misunderstanding."
"Then my life is one big misunderstanding. And I'm done."
"Don't say that. Don't talk like that."
"What do you expect me to say? I come home and find you in the bathtub with another man. And don't tell me he's the plumber testing the drain. Bubbles, candles and champagne. I'm a fool to stay another minute."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Why is everyone so afraid of things?" Skipper asked.
"What do you mean, honey?" replied her mom.
"Well, Mrs Robinson won't drink tap water. She says the government puts dangerous chemicals in it. Mrs B cooks her dog supper because she doesn't trust dog food. And Mr Leonard won't let anyone shake his hand."
"I don't know why, Skipper, but everyone is afraid of something. It's just that some fears are more interesting than others."
"I'm afraid of finding a dead finger on the sidewalk" Skipper said.
"That's an interesting one," her mom said.
"Molly's dad had that happen to him. He's a fireman and he found a loose finger on the ground. It still had the wedding ring on and red nail polish."

Noir Vignette

She felt like a mermaid in her silver shimmery dress. The headlights flashed across her hips as they passed. It was hot and damp and dark. She was hypnotized by the reflection of car headlights on wet asphalt. A dark green Jaguar stopped at the curb.
"Excuse me," a voice said from inside. The passenger window was open. "Do you know if this road leads to Ribbons Lane?" The man asked.
"Sorry sir, I've never heard of it," Gloria replied.
The electric window zipped shut and he sped away. She noticed his car had apothecary-shaped tail lights. That's a new one she thought. Apothecary tail lights. I wonder what that means? Her toes felt cramped in her black velvet high heels.
"Barb, Do you have a light?" Gloria asked her comrade who was leaning against the gray stucco wall.
"Is the Pope Catholic?" Barb replied, taking the silver lighter from her pale pink leather purse and lighting Gloria's cigarette. Gloria took a huge drag.
"Thanks, Barb, I can always count on you," Gloria said while exhaling smoke.
"Got that right Honey," Barb said. "Something's not right tonight. I dunno if it's the stars, the moon, the weather, but I'm not likin' it. Last time I felt like this was when Stevie got shot dead on Cowell Dixon Road. I swear to God I felt that bullet at the exact moment. I grabbed my chest the pains were so sharp, I sat down sweating and spinning, all dizzy from it," Barb said.
"You in the wrong business, girl, you need to read tarot cards or people's palms, an' tea leaves. You got the gift," Gloria said.
"Nah, I'm terrified of that voodoo shit.That's like black magic. Whew! It mess with your mind. Crazy, crazy, stuff. I believe in all that, that's why I won't go near it. No. No. No. I'd rather sell pussy any day than mess with witchcraft," Barb said.
"Really? You don't want to have a nice cozy booth at the fair or storefront with a crystal ball and regular business hours?" asked Gloria.
"No way, never, that mystery voodoo is not for me," Barb replied.
"A three-car garage, an in-ground pool, a handsome husband in a three-piece suit?" Gloria asked.
"Girl, you talkin' crazy. This is the only work I know," Barb said.
A shiny white Mercedes pulled up and stopped. Barb walked up to the open passenger side window.
"Good evening sir, would you like some company? Which way you headed?" she asked, climbing in.
Gloria spotted the red leather interior and heard the door close. That was the last time she saw Barb, alive.

Dream

I dreamed we took a two-person water taxi across a big river. We drove our car into the mini ferry and off we went. I asked you if you were scared and you said yes. I said I know how make floats if we need to. We tie a knot at the bottom of each leg of our jeans and blow air inside inflating them. Then I noticed our jeans had holes in the knees.

Pulp Vignette

She leaned from the bed, sniffed the holster and gently pulled the gun out. She warmed it between her breasts.
"What the hell are you doing?" he asked.
"I was just sniffing the leather and I got curious." she replied.
"Curious?"
"And I decided the sad and lonely gun needed some warmth and maternal affection. I've always wanted to warm a pistol between my breasts . . ."
"Oh really? Tell me more," he said.
". . . and a few other places," she said, smoothing her slip.
"You are one wacky woman. Now can I please have the gun?" he said.
She slipped the warmed pistol between her legs.
"Oh I get it, You think the gun needs some of your special cologne. You're dangerous."
He reached down to find it and she was on fire.
"Be careful, don't slip," she whispered in his ear, then circled it with the tip of her tongue.
"Hey, I'm a professional," he said
He took her wrist and kissed the underside of it. She went slack, throwing her head back.
He grabbed her other wrist and pulled her forward, pressing his lips against her throat.
He lifted her up.
Thud.
The gun fell. He cuffed her.
"Darling, you're under arrest."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

John Arden

Theater must celebrate noise, disorder, drunkenness, lasciviousness, nudity, generosity, corruption, fertility, and ease.
- John Arden

Dream

I dreamed I rang T's bell unannounced. I was at her door feeling heat leaking out from the rim of the door. She's got heat, I thought. Then I was embarrassed that I rang unannounced so I stepped back and hugged a porch pillar. When she opened the door I said I was just tree hugging.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Neighborhood Blues

The tenement garages were open as they are on most days. Guys stand around with car hoods open tearing apart their run-down cars drinking beer talking yelling all day and into the night.

The drug dealer kid next door has a steady stream of friends coming to his apartment. They are all desperate for drugs, 'round the clock. When I catch them in the alley I tell them they can't come on my property. They do this every day, banging on the dealer's window to get drugs without his mom knowing.

The landlords are never around and the tenants know it's a free for all. The same is true across the street where there is another bunch of packed-in unsupervised tenement buildings.

The whole city knows this major intersection is the heart of illegal activity. The police know too, and they get here in a hurry when the calls come in.

Radio

I have a love-hate with my radio. Sometimes I crave her company and other times I unplug her. I took her out of my kitchen because I feared she might wake the kid next door. His bedroom window is eight feet from my kitchen window and he goes to sleep just as we are waking up.

I brought the radio up to my studio but her volume knob is stuck at medium which is too loud for me. I want a faint whisper of classical music, not too loud as to drown out my inner dialogue. So I covered her with a National Geographic magazine and three smocks to quiet her down.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Skid Row Artists

I just watched a fascinating PBS documentary called HUMBLE BEAUTY about skid row artists.

Harvest

We just picked yellow delicious apples from the tree our friend John takes care of on Rathbun and Privilege Street. Most of the apples were very high up so we used our picking basket that is on an expandable pole. Then we ran into Billy and he invited us to pick pears from the trees in his yard right around the corner. It was so much fun to pick the fruit using this tool. The apples are so sweet and the pears are as juicy as watermelons.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Hunt

I love the hunt whether it's visual research, finding a pet to adopt, or doing detective work. When employed the hunting mechanism generates a buzz. It's addictive!

The Agonies

I have a case of the agonies. When walking Lily this morning I knew it was crucial to keep walking in order to alleviate suicidal thoughts. This is just how it is in what I call "receive mode."

Another lady I know understands the mental health necessity of walking. "I hear you," she said when I ran into her on my afternoon walk. I feel shame sharing this but perhaps that is the best reason I should.

When the agonies come there is no logic as to why, it's just a cycle. Everything hurts emotionally, and anxiety and anguish swirl within a sea of drowning desperate inner voices.

But there is hope. There is proper self-care. This knowledge comes from years of learning that this is half of my yearly cycle and always has been.

The simplest little things can be restorative and crucial: taking a shower, walking my dog, smiling at a person I pass on the street, keeping my routines of writing and home chores.

I told a friend who has this same cycle that I see my moods divided but necessary, like antique stereoscope cards. The two different views create the image of three dimensions. In other words I cannot have this mood without the other. The contrast in moods is profound and would be dangerous if I didn't constantly monitor and employ them, creating balance. Writing, walking, painting, all build a home for me in both my inner and outer worlds.

Maybe we need to discuss the taboo of depression and its turmoil to open the dialogue and shed the shame. This is how we were made.

Making Paintings

Sometimes the paintings invite me in and other times they shout go away, leave us alone.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dream

I dreamed I broke into Robert Bly's house to bake him a surprise bread for his birthday. He had a huge ornamental cast iron cookstove in the center of his kitchen. I opened an oven door that was a drawer and I put in the raw bread dough. Somehow it was pre-sliced at the unbaked stage. He and his wife seemed happy about the fresh bread.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Curtains

Venetian blinds are fun because you can direct the light, but when I walk into my back room my abdomen flies out the window between all of those little horizontal slats. I needed something solid so I hung curtains. I can still see out over the top and get light yet the curtains provide psychic protection and help me focus.

Sometimes it's best not to see everything.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Correspondence

We play on the word trapeze
I catch your ankles
and you catch mine

Dream

I was about to drive a vintage French car. It was indoors surrounded by antique wooden benches and dark wooden furniture. I was nervous about starting her up.

I noticed the hatch back doors were held together by thin metal hasp resembling a button on a dress shirt. Only the French would make something so elegant, I thought.

In another room there were harvest figures with limbs made of thick woolen braids seated upright on a wooden bench. They were goats and they smelled of wet wool. I loved the smell and thought it was sexy. I flirted with them and they became animated.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dream

We drove up to Vermont to see a friend in her farmhouse. It was cold and there was snow on the ground. The minute we arrived she brought out lasagna and cups of tea. I saw her cut two slices of lasagna, one for each of us and then pat down each portion to appear larger on our plates.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Anaïs Nin

Great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.
- Anaïs Nin

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Siri the Sidekick

Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”

Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”

Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”

Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”

Gus: “Oh, O.K.”

Article

Ntozake Shange

I'm a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people's lives.
- Ntozake Shange

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dream

I drove to City Hall in Providence early in the morning. There were a few women I knew from grade school who worked there. They were happy to see me. One asked me "What are you doing here?" "I don't know, I just got in my car and drove," I said. "Did you see a big yellow Labrador running around, that's my dog Lily," I said. Someone saw her outside. I panicked. I raced down four flights of stairs and met her at the door.

I was swinging on a trapeze with my friend Gordon holding me up on his lap. I had my eyes closed at first and when I opened them I saw a million little heads below. He had a nickel and a prayer hidden in his shoe. "I'll massage your feet," he said. I told him I don't let just anyone touch my feet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Olfactory Receptors

Over the last decade or so, scientists have discovered that odor receptors are not solely confined to the nose, but found throughout body — in the liver, the heart, the kidneys and even sperm — where they play a pivotal role in a host of physiological functions.
Article

Saturday, October 11, 2014

François Mauriac

If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.
- François Mauriac

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Dream

A woman was sunbathing on a hill overlooking a baseball field. When she sat up she appeared clothed but she was only wearing tattoos of ruby lips across her chest.

Jill Ker Conway

You never know what you'll want to write until it starts writing itself in your head.
- Jill Ker Conway

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

William Knowlton Zinsser

There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with being published. Writing is a powerful search mechanism, and one of its satisfactions is to come to terms with your life narrative. Another is to work through some of life’s hardest knocks—loss, grief, illness, addiction, disappointment, failure—and to find understanding and solace.
― William Knowlton Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Be true to yourself and to the culture you were born into. Tell your story as only you can.
― William Knowlton Zinsser

Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere. Try to commit an act of writing and they will jump overboard to get away.
― William Knowlton Zinsser

Don't be afraid to fail. Failure isn't fatal.
― William Knowlton Zinsser

Trust your material if it’s taking you into terrain you didn’t intend to enter but where the vibrations are good. Adjust your style accordingly and proceed to whatever destination you reach. Don’t become the prisoner of a preconceived plan.
― William Knowlton Zinsser

Friday, October 03, 2014

Front Row

I heard yelling and went to the window. Across the street I saw two men in a serious wrestling match on the sidewalk in front of the Mini Mart. I was about to phone the cops when I realized one of the men was a cop. He had a blue shirt on and was smaller than the man he was trying to control. The officer was working to get the man face down on the sidewalk but the man although bent over was still fighting hard.

People gathered in the street and on porches to watch. The uniformed officer spoke into his lapel, presumably to call for assistance. A skinny lady wearing a yellow pullover and jeans jumped in to take a photo. I saw the cop punch the suspect in his lower back twice, holding him down with his other arm. Then the officer took out his taser gun and zapped the man a few times at the punch spot. I heard sirens and four squad cars arrived stopping in the middle of the street. At one point I saw the suspect's exposed pink thigh. They cuffed him. The officers worked to pull up the suspects jeans while he was still seated on the sidewalk. Then two cops tried to get him to stand. I heard one yell "Get up!" and they led him to the back of the squad car.

By this point a bunch of unmarked detective cars had pulled up to the curb facing the wrong way, their strobe headlights flashing. One of the plain-clothed officers was a woman around thirty, with straight brown hair in a bun and khaki pants. She wore a brown leather holster. The Chief arrived and I saw the uniformed officers give him a fast salute. Now there was a huge crowd of law enforcement on the sidewalk in front of the Mini Mart and auto traffic was choked in all four directions of the intersection.

The rain started to come down hard. I saw one cop going through the suspect's back-pack, pulling out packages that had yellow tape on them. One detective was wearing a lavender dress-shirt and tie. Some of the men standing with the police chief had baseball caps with hoodies pulled over them. I bet they were undercover drug officers. Then the Chief and the detectives all went into the store. I saw my neighbor Beth come out holding a gallon of milk, ducking behind them as if nothing was happening. It made me smile. Life goes on. I'll bet the police department had a search warrant on this guy and they were just waiting for their moment and I happened to catch it from my window.

Life in the 'Hood

I thought Bill had arrived home but when I looked out I saw a big silver SUV with the motor running. I didn't know who it was and he was there for a while. I considered calling the police station to ask if it was one of their guys. I let Lily out and tried to get a good look. There was a guy in the driver's seat. With his trimmed beard he looked just like our friend Larry the psychiatrist, except Larry lives in Georgia, and he'd say hi to me and probably come in for dinner. I was too scared to confront this mystery person myself. He might have a gun, I thought.

A few minutes later Bill got home. Did you see the guy? What guy. Did you see the car? Yes I saw the car! Did you see the driver? No. He's been out there a while. Let's investigate.

Can I help you? my husband asked through the closed tinted window. His seat was way back. Maybe he was asleep, I thought. He turned towards us and flashed his badge from behind the glass. Bill laughed. I was embarrassed. I tried to phone you, he said. I could read his lips. We waved and went back in to the house. I was right, I told Bill, he does have a gun.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Call if you Need Me

If we're lucky, writer and reader alike, we'll finish the last line or two of a short story and then just sit for a minute, quietly. Ideally, we'll ponder what we've just written or read; maybe our hearts or intellects will have been moved off the peg just a little from where they were before. Our body temperature will have gone up, or down, by a degree. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we'll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, "created of warm blood and nerves" as a Chekhov character puts it, and go on to the next thing: Life. Always life.
― Raymond Carver, Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose

It's akin to style, what I'm talking about, but it isn't style alone. It is the writer's particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There's plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.
― Raymond Carver, Collected Stories

My circumstances of unrelieved responsibility and permanent distraction necessitated the short story form.
― Raymond Carver

Evan Connell said once that he knew he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting the commas back in the same places. I like that way of working on something. I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That's all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer's own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason -- if the worlds are in any way blurred -- the reader's eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved. Henry James called this sort of hapless writing 'weak specification'.
― Raymond Carver, Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose

Raymond Carver

It's possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring—with immense, even startling power.
― Raymond Carver

I am a cigarette with a body attached to it.
― Raymond Carver

Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications.
― Raymond Carver

I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don't need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing- a sunset or an old shoe- in absolute and simple amazement.
― Raymond Carver, Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories

Family is a Funhouse

Amy Bloom's essay Pushing Buttons.

Jimmy Carter

A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others. It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity.
- Jimmy Carter

Tim O'Brien

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.
-Tim O'Brien
Author of The Things They Carried a collection of linked short stories about the Vietnam war.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meryl Streep

Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.
― Meryl Streep

I think the best role models for women are people who are fruitfully and confidently themselves, who bring light into the world.
― Meryl Streep

Put blinders on to those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.
― Meryl Streep

The formula of happiness and success is just, being actually yourself, in the most vivid possible way you can.
― Meryl Streep

I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.
― Meryl Streep

I like who I am now. Other people may not. I'm comfortable. I feel freer now. I don't want growing older to matter to me.
― Meryl Streep

No one has ever asked an actor, 'You're playing a strong-minded man…' We assume that men are strong-minded, or have opinions. But a strong-minded woman is a different animal.
― Meryl Streep

Thoughts

The car whether it is a tank or a pod is a metaphor for the separate self. The home is an ego-fortress with the front lawn as its moat. Home decor is one's stage set. This was how I grew up in suburbia and I hated it.

As a pedestrian in the city I have daily opportunities to cultivate my relationships with my community. Yesterday when walking to the market to buy onions I stopped three times to converse with my neighbors. Being efficient has a price I'm not willing to pay.

Dog Nirvana

Dogs possess a quality that's rare among humans--the ability to make you feel valued just by being you--and it was something of a miracle to me to be on the receiving end of all that acceptance. The dog didn't care what I looked like, or what I did for a living, or what a train wreck of a life I'd led before I got her, or what we did from day to day. She just wanted to be with me, and that awareness gave me a singular sensation of delight. I kept her in a crate at night until she was housebroken, and in the mornings I'd let her up onto the bed with me. She'd writhe with joy at that. She'd wag her tail and squirm all over me, lick my neck and face and eyes and ears, get her paws all tangled in my braid, and I'd just lie there, and I'd feel those oceans of loss from my past ebbing back, ebbing away, and I'd hear myself laugh out loud.
― Caroline Knapp, Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Fitness is Good Medicine

Article

Robot Tongue

Article

Monday, September 29, 2014

Spindles and Slats

The happy house on the corner of Oak Hill Ave have their Christmas tree up along with their Halloween pumpkins. Their landlord replaced part of their porch with wooden slats and one section will remain as the traditional curvy white spindles.

Dinnerplate Dahlias on Salisbury Street

I took a walk this morning and spotted a yard full of colorful dahlias. I felt like I had landed in OZ.

Spaulding Gray

Journals

Television Land

Last night I saw our 1959 Thermador oven on Columbo. I remember as a kid when I saw our Flair oven on Bewitched, and I was so excited. I never paid full attention to the plots but I was always curious about what paintings were hanging on the walls. I do remember that The Brady Bunch had a few Degas in their upstairs hallway and Lucy and Ricky had a country house with a big stone fireplace. I still get distracted by the decor and whether a character forgot his hat on the chair. At night when I am walking my dog the neighborhood becomes a series of lit up doll houses with framed pictures on the wall, and the blue green flickering of TV's.

Hello Broccoli

This weekend a family grocery has just opened on the corner of Diamond Hill Road and Social Street. There are seven plate glass windows filled with produce, and paper towels. We can walk there!

I get sad on Sundays, the family day when we were small we used to spend the day around the table eating and listening to my grandparents and step-father tell stories.

I am glad I live in the city. I walk everywhere and on sad days it's the little "hello's" that save me.

Kay Ryan

Things Shouldn't Be So Hard

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small—
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

-Kay Ryan


Age

As some people age
they kinden.
The apertures
of their eyes widen.
I do not think they weaken;
I think something weak strengthens
until they are more and more it,
like letting in heaven.
But other people are
mussels or clams, frightened.
Steam or knife blades mean open.
They hear heaven, they think boiled or broken.

-Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (New York: Grove Press, 2010).

Dizzy Gillespe

Artists are always in the vanguard of social change, but we didn't go out and make speeches or say, ‘Let's play eight bars of protest.' We just played our music and let it go at that. The music proclaimed our identity; it made every statement we truly wanted to make.
- Dizzy Gillespe

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Margaret Meade

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-Margaret Meade

Wendy Rasmussen

Modern love story.
Read

Martha Weinman Lear

Women reporting the same symptoms as men were at least twice as likely to receive — no surprise here — a psychiatric diagnosis.

It’s good to be informed, not terrified. It sounds like something cross-stitched on a sampler. In my mind’s eye, it is a sampler, hanging sweetly, safely, on the wall by my bed.

Article

Inward Episodes

Sometimes I imagine life itself as merely a long preparation and waiting, a long darkness of growth toward these adventures of the spirit, a picaresque novel, so to speak, in which the episodes are all inward.
― May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing

A Reckoning

Laura opened her eyes, feeling like a stranger in her own garden. But if she was a stranger here, where was home? And who was she herself now? The real panic was a loss of identity, for she seemed inextricably woven into her body's weakness and discomfort, into her struggling sick lungs. What essence was there to be separated from her hand, her flesh, her bones. Laura lifted her hand, so thin it had become transparent. Is this I? This leaflike thing, falling away, falling away, this universe of molecules disintegrating, this miracle about to be transformed into nothingness.
― May Sarton, A Reckoning: A Novel

Griefs so Loud

There are some griefs so loud
They could bring down the sky,
And there are griefs so still
None knows how deep they lie,
Endured, never expended.
There are old griefs so proud
They never speak a word;
They never can be mended.
And these nourish the will
And keep it iron-hard.
― May Sarton, Selected Poems

Orphanhood

“...Failure cannot be erased. It is built in to a life and helps us grow. Failure cannot be erased, but it can be understood.

Most people carry around a load of feeling that they bury or pretend is not there because it is too painful and alarming to cope with or because it involved unbearable guilt. Anger against a parent, for example.

I knew the tide of woe was rising, that woe that seizes me like anger, and is a form of anger, and I didn’t know what to do to stop it, so I got up and picked flowers, cooked my dinner, looked at the news, all the same usual routine that can ward off the devils or suddenly clear the air as when a thunderstorm seems to be coming and then dissipates….it always happens when there is a galaxy of problems that get knit together into one huge outcry against the sense of being abandoned or orphanhood…”
― May Sarton, Recovering: A Journal

The Mystic

The creative person, the person who moves from an irrational source of power, has to face the fact that this power antagonizes. Under all the superficial praise of the "creative" is the desire to kill. It is the old war between the mystic and the nonmystic, a war to the death.
― May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing

Think Like a Hero

One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.
― May Sarton

New Wings

The more our bodies fail us, the more naked and more demanding is the spirit, the more open and loving we can become if we are not afraid of what we are and of what we feel. I am not a phoenix yet, but here among the ashes, it may be that the pain is chiefly that of new wings trying to push through.
― May Sarton, Recovering: A Journal

Bedrock of Truth

It always comes back to the same necessity: go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.
― May Sarton

Rest

I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.
― May Sarton

Imitate the Trees

I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep.... Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.
― May Sarton

Love

I loved them all the way one loves at any age -- if it's real at all -- obsessively, painfully, with wild exultation, with guilt, with conflict; I wrote poems to and about them, I put them into novels (disguised of course); I brooded upon why they were as they were, so often maddening don't you know? I wrote them ridiculous letters. I lived with their faces. I knew their every gesture by heart. I stalked them like wild animals. I studied them as if they were maps of the world -- and in a way I suppose they were.
― May Sarton

One has only to set a loved human being against the fact that we are all in peril all the time to get back a sense of proportion. What does anything matter compared to the reality of love and its span, so brief at best, maintained against such odds?
― May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Words are Powerful

Words are more powerful than perhaps anyone suspects, and once deeply engraved in a child's mind, they are not easily eradicated.
― May Sarton

May Sarton

A house that does not have one worn, comfy chair in it is soulless.
― May Sarton

For any writer who wants to keep a journal, be alive to everything, not just to what you're feeling, but also to your pets, to flowers, to what you're reading.
― May Sarton

Half the World

If art is not to be life-enhancing, what is it to be? Half the world is feminine--why is there resentment at a female-oriented art? Nobody asks The Tale of Genji to be masculine! Women certainly learn a lot from books oriented toward a masculine world. Why is not the reverse also true? Or are men really so afraid of women's creativity (because they are not themselves at the center of creation, cannot bear children) that a woman writer of genius evokes murderous rage, must be brushed aside with a sneer as 'irrelevant'?
― May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

May Sarton

I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
Solitude exposes the nerve,
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.
― May Sarton

Articulate

The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.
― May Sarton

May Sarton

There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.
― May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

Shunryu Suzuki

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few.
- Shunryu Suzuki

Dream

I dreamed I was playing with a black and tan coon hound puppy. It was still tiny with long floppy ears and four mandalas on its belly. I was falling in love with him.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Mystery

Twice I have passed the black high heeled open-toed velvet left shoe next to the telephone pole. I want to know what happened.

Rumi Mood

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
― Rumi

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
― Rumi

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
― Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
― Rumi

The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.
― Rumi, The Illuminated Rumi

What you seek is seeking you.
― Rumi

Constellations

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
― Anaïs Nin

Loneliness

I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don't know why, some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness. In reality those who satisfy me are those who simply allow me to live with my 'idea of them'.
― Anaïs Nin

When you Surrender

When you surrender, the problem ceases to exist. Try to solve it, or conquer it, and you only set up more resistance. I am very certain now that, as I said therein, if I truly become what I wish to be, the burden will fall away. The most difficult thing to admit, and to realize with one’s whole being, is that you alone control nothing.
― Henry Miller, A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953

Sheds ones Sickness

One sheds ones sickness in books- repeats and presents again ones emotions, to be master of them.
― D.H. Lawrence

With a Book

You forget everything. The hours slip by. You travel in your chair through centuries you seem to see before you, your thoughts are caught up in the story, dallying with the details or following the course of the plot, you enter into characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating beneath their costumes.
― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright...Haven't you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you've had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?
― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Waiting

At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.
― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Courage and Marmalade

The only rule is, do what you really, impulsively, wish to do. But always act on your own responsibility, sincerely. And have the courage of your own strong emotion.
― D.H. Lawrence

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred orange and scrub the floor.
― D.H. Lawrence

Into the Forest Again

The living self has one purpose only: to come into its own fullness of being.
― D.H. Lawrence, Selected Essays

When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.
― D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence

It's no good trying to get rid of your own aloneness. You've got to stick to it all your life. Only at times, at times, the gap will be filled in. At times! But you have to wait for the times. Accept your own aloneness and stick to it, all your life. And then accept the times when the gap is filled in, when they come. But they've got to come. You can't force them.
― D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover

Sleep on a Board

A woman unsatisfied must have luxuries. But a woman who loves a man would sleep on a board.
― D.H. Lawrence

Gustave Flaubert

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
― Gustave Flaubert

There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.
― Gustave Flaubert

It’s hard to communicate anything exactly and that’s why perfect relationships between people are difficult to find.
― Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education

One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.
― Gustave Flaubert

Melt the Stars

Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.
― Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Sonny Gibbs

For 23 years Sonny Gibbs sold flowers and taught chess at the southwest corner.Story

Even in Siberia

Even in Siberia there is happiness.
― Anton Chekhov

Notebook of Anton Chekhov

If you are afraid of loneliness, don't marry.
― Anton Chekhov, Notebook of Anton Chekhov

Anton's Letter to Nickolay

Civilized people must, I believe, satisfy the following criteria:

1) They respect human beings as individuals and are therefore always tolerant, gentle, courteous and amenable ... They do not create scenes over a hammer or a mislaid eraser; they do not make you feel they are conferring a great benefit on you when they live with you, and they don't make a scandal when they leave. (...)

2) They have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats. Their hearts suffer the pain of what is hidden to the naked eye. (...)

3) They respect other people's property, and therefore pay their debts.

4) They are not devious, and they fear lies as they fear fire. They don't tell lies even in the most trivial matters. To lie to someone is to insult them, and the liar is diminished in the eyes of the person he lies to. Civilized people don't put on airs; they behave in the street as they would at home, they don't show off to impress their juniors. (...)

5) They don't run themselves down in order to provoke the sympathy of others. They don't play on other people's heartstrings to be sighed over and cosseted ... that sort of thing is just cheap striving for effects, it's vulgar, old hat and false. (...)

6) They are not vain. They don't waste time with the fake jewellery of hobnobbing with celebrities, being permitted to shake the hand of a drunken [judicial orator], the exaggerated bonhomie of the first person they meet at the Salon, being the life and soul of the bar ... They regard phrases like 'I am a representative of the Press!!' -- the sort of thing one only hears from [very minor journalists] -- as absurd. If they have done a brass farthing's work they don't pass it off as if it were 100 roubles' by swanking about with their portfolios, and they don't boast of being able to gain admission to places other people aren't allowed in (...) True talent always sits in the shade, mingles with the crowd, avoids the limelight ... As Krylov said, the empty barrel makes more noise than the full one. (...)

7) If they do possess talent, they value it ... They take pride in it ... they know they have a responsibility to exert a civilizing influence on [others] rather than aimlessly hanging out with them. And they are fastidious in their habits. (...)

8) They work at developing their aesthetic sensibility ... Civilized people don't simply obey their baser instincts ... they require mens sana in corpore sano.

And so on. That's what civilized people are like ... Reading Pickwick and learning a speech from Faust by heart is not enough if your aim is to become a truly civilized person and not to sink below the level of your surroundings.

[From a letter to Nikolay Chekhov, March 1886]
― Anton Chekhov, A Life in Letters

Wear Black

When asked, "Why do you always wear black?", he said, "I am mourning for my life."
― Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov

You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heaven for earth. I don't want to understand you.
― Anton Chekhov

Lawful Wife and Mistress

Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other.
― Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov

What a fine weather today! Can’t choose whether to drink tea or to hang myself.
― Anton Chekhov

Tight as a Drum

I have a roll of pre-primed canvas that I used over a large stretcher. It seemed to be a bit saggy in spite of using canvas pliers and staple-gun. I read online that I should spray the back with water and so I tried it and immediately the canvas tightened. It's tight as a drum!

Journal

Thursday I was feeling sorry for myself, that I failed the assistant librarian test, that I am dumb, that I have no friends, never have had any. Loneliness and bad voices were filling my thoughts.

Friday I noticed the variety store hung new colorful triangular streamers and tacked up large red and blue cloth signs out front. I gave into my introverted mood and read my favorite passages of May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude and some of E.B. White's essays from One Man's Meat. I walked a few short walks with Lily. I waved to people sitting in benches under the tree rather than stop and talk. I drank lots of tea with milk and honey and I finally finished stretching the big canvas.

I told myself I make books not shelve them!

When the sun set I could see that my neighbors put up their Christmas tree decorated with shiny read balls and the living room walls were decorated with garlands. We're a month away from Halloween. Maybe its a comfort to them to have Christmas last three months. I would prefer to not have it at all.

Last night it was warm and all the neighborhood teens were out shouting and hanging out on the wall under the yellow streetlight. It was technicolor hues reenacting West Side Story.

I dreamed I was wearing ice skates while walking Lily. I knew this was going to dull the blades. Kids were out of school playing ice hockey in the street with firemen.

People still ask me about my missing straw hat. It is dearly missed. Especially today, when it will be 80 degrees.

Fractions of Time

I think my secret is to use bits and fractions of time. I trained myself to do that. Anybody can do it. I could write sitting in surrogate's court answering calendar call.
-Louis Auchincloss

Friday, September 26, 2014

Local Vocal

I've been thinking a lot about the local drug dealer who stands out at the corner day in and day out shouting and laughing to drum up business. Since my office is just above his lair he has entered my thoughts more than once. I have thought about telling him to take care of his vocal cords because he is destroying his voice. In a few years he will be unable to speak above a whisper, my husband says. We should tell him, I say. He'd have to completely relearn how to use his voice, my husband says. I hear him out there hocking his wares from 11:30 AM until 10 o'clock each night. I should commend him on his work ethic. What will happen when his drug becomes legal? I'm worried. I'm not being sarcastic. In fact I have developed the ability to hear his voice above the traffic noise, chatter, and fans. While it lasts.

Mood Changes with the Trees

Article

The Joys of Being an Introvert

Article

Crazy Cat

I went to water the plants and found my big black oxford shoe in the pot. Sammy loves to play with the laces. He must've dragged the shoe out from under Bill's favorite chair and carried it fifteen feet to the picture window, where it fell into the dirt.

Surprise

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
― Robert Frost

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
― Robert Frost

Robert Frost

I'm not confused. I'm just well mixed.
― Robert Frost

Education

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
― Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Every poem is a momentary stay against the confusion of the world.
― Robert Frost

Art and Fear

Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.
-Stephen DeStaebler, quoted by David Bayles and Ted Orlan in Art and Fear 1993

Save or Destroy

If you bring forth that which is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth that which is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
-Gospel of Saint Thomas

Sarah Marquis, Wild Thing

Eventually, however, Marquis passed out of Mongol territory. The washing-machine cycle ended. Her body changed, and her mind changed, too. Her senses sharpened to the point that she could smell shampoo on a tourist’s hair from a mile away. "One day you walk 12 hours, and you don’t feel pain," Marquis said. The past and present telescope down to an all-consuming now. "There is no before or after. The intellect doesn’t drive you anymore. It doesn’t exist anymore. You become what nature needs you to be: this wild thing."
Article

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dennis Rosen, MD

A Doctor, a Rabbi and a Chicken

Forgotten

The saddest thing about love, Joe, is that not only the love cannot last forever, but even the heartbreak is soon forgotten.
― William Faulkner

Putting Love into Books

Perhaps they were right putting love into books. Perhaps it could not live anywhere else.
― William Faulkner

Lose Sight

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
― William Faulkner

Choice

Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.
― William Faulkner, The Wild Palms [If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem]

The Past

The past is never dead. It's not even past.
― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Better than Yourself

Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
― William Faulkner

Never be Afraid

Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.
― William Faulkner

Practice

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.

― William Faulkner, Essays, Speeches & Public Letters

Come to Life

Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.
― William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Dreamers

Dreams have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely.
― William Faulkner

Endure and Prevail

I decline to accept the end of man... I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among the creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.
― William Faulkner

Dylan Thomas

Poem in October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in shower of all my days
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
Summery
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sunlight
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and the sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singing birds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

-Dylan Thomas

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Central Casting

She would sit down after supper with her black address book and call all of her friends to tell them she might have breast cancer. She told them that she was leaving a copy of Informed Consent next to the fridge, to kill her appetite. Then she laughed. I retreated to my bedroom. At one point she raced up the red-carpeted stairs and barged into my room screaming "You want me to die!"

High on Drama

Today I was remembering when my brother cut himself cleaning the glass guinea pig cage in the yellow bathtub. Our mother phoned the police department and asked to be escorted to the hospital. I was holding up my brothers wrist wrapped in a dishtowel as we sat in the back seat of the ugly brown station wagon. Our mother got on the highway and drove 90 miles an hour. The police man followed us.

Houses in Your Heart

No good friends, no bad friends; only people you want, need to be with. People who build their houses in your heart.
― Stephen King, It

The Water is Free

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. ...this book...is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.
Drink and be filled up.
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Sweet and Wild

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.
― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons

Oneself

The person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reality—for this touchstone can be only oneself.
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Cannot Afford to be Fooled

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
― James Baldwin

One's own Experience

One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
― James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

The Effort is Real

If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; if you're not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you. What you really need at the beginning is somebody to let you know that the effort is real.
― James Baldwin

The Summer Ended

The summer ended. Day by day, and taking its time, the summer ended. The noises in the street began to change, diminish, voices became fewer, the music sparse. Daily, blocks and blocks of children were spirited away. Grownups retreated from the streets, into the houses. Adolescents moved from the sidewalk to the stoop to the hallway to the stairs, and rooftops were abandoned. Such trees as there were allowed their leaves to fall - they fell unnoticed - seeming to promise, not without bitterness, to endure another year. At night, from a distance, the parks and playgrounds seemed inhabited by fireflies, and the night came sooner, inched in closer, fell with a greater weight. The sound of the alarm clock conquered the sound of the tambourine, the houses put on their winter faces. The houses stared down a bitter landscape, seeming, not without bitterness, to have resolved to endure another year.
― James Baldwin

A Lover's War

Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is a lover's war, and he does, at his best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to himself and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.
― James Baldwin

Conundrum of Life

It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death-- ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
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