Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chinese Proverb

If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.
-Chinese Proverb

Wallace Stegner

A place is not fully a place until it has had its poet.
-Wallace Stegner

John Wayne

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself into our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.
-John Wayne

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bob Dylan

Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.
-Bob Dylan

There is nothing so stable as change.
-Bob Dylan

All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.
-Bob Dylan

People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around - the music and the ideas.
-Bob Dylan

People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.
-Bob Dylan

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.
-Bob Dylan

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.
-Bob Dylan

All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
-Bob Dylan

If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I'd probably think that Bob Dylan has a lot of answers myself.
-Bob Dylan

Basically you have to suppress your own ambitions in order to be who you need to be.
-Bob Dylan

When you cease to exist, then who will you blame?
-Bob Dylan

I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be.
-Bob Dylan

Monday, May 23, 2011

Edna O'Brien

My hand does the work and I don't have to think; in fact, were I to think, it would stop the flow. It's like a dam in the brain that bursts.
-Edna O'Brien

When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.
-Edna O'Brien

Writers really live in the mind and in hotels of the soul.
-Edna O'Brien

Recollection is not something that I can summon up, it simply comes and I am the servant of it.
-Edna O'Brien

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Musicians and Painters

At the beginning of the 20th century, the ambition of the great painters was to make paintings that were like music, which was then considered as the noblest art.
-Brian Eno

I believe that the great painters with their intellect as master have attempted to force this unwilling medium of paint and canvas into a record of their emotions.
-Edward Hopper

I'm very happy to hear that my work inspires writers and painters. It's the most beautiful compliment, the greatest reward. Art should always be an exchange.
-Nick Cave

Many Japanese painters and calligraphers would change their names intentionally to keep their relationship to the art always fresh. This way, others' expectations can be avoided.
-Tina Weymouth

Today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source. They work from within.
-Jackson Pollock


I restore myself when I'm alone.
-Marilyn Monroe

I'm not, by nature, a collaborator. My biggest influences were people like painters and poets. These are solitary workers.
-Robert Wyatt

My friends tend to be writers. I think writers and painters are really all the same - we just sit in our rooms.
-Howard Hodgkin

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bird Moments

On the way walking to the library I was eating an apple. I threw my apple core into the bushes, and as soon as it landed in the grass a sparrow swooped down and flew off with it.

I was walking home from school when a robin hopped onto the sidewalk directly in front of me. The traffic was zooming by, but she didn't seem afraid. I stood still to watch her hop, gathering up very thin twigs and dry grasses that had blown onto the sidewalk. She methodically loaded up her beak and then flew up to the nearby tree, dropping a couple of the twigs.

Witness (Week Seven)

Take a look at that and I'll be back.
She placed a letter on the table and walked down the hall. I picked up the paper. It was a restraining order, stamped, dated, and filled out in black and white. When she came back I said, How does it make you feel?
Safe. I get to make a copy for the school and a copy to carry.
Good, I said.

There's a side to me that's not very nice, but you don't see it. My mother does. She had a childhood way worse than mine, she was beaten every day by her father. She still was better behaved than me.
You've had a lot to deal with and your mom has too. I'm concerned that the two of you get tangled up.
I'm afraid my mother will go back to sleeping on a mattress on the floor eating potato chips day and night like she did back when she caught my father having an affair with a man.

My mom says you probably don't like me anymore now that you've gotten to know me.

That's not true. I don't feel that way at all.
Nobody loves me. My teachers don't love me. I don't have friends anymore.
You have a lot of angels here looking after you.
I just needed to unload. I'll be okay.

My mother thinks I don't love her. When I say I'm sorry she says, You said sorry last time.
I think she knows deep down that you love her.
No she really believes deep down that I don't love her.

I have a confession to make. I had a fight with my mother while we were making chicken. I had a fit and grabbed the kitchen scissors and stabbed my cheek. When she tried to stop me I cut her fingers. She needed stitches but she didn't want to go to the hospital because she'd have to tell them what happened and they could take me away.

Remember those cat scratches on my arm from two weeks ago? That wasn't by a cat it was me cutting myself. My mother called the psychiatrist and he said I'd have to take more medication and maybe get sent back to residential. Do you know what that is? It's where they keep you until you're eighteen.

You have to promise not to tell.

But if I think you are endangering yourself I have to talk to my colleagues. We want to keep you safe.
You mean like if I say I'm planning to jump off a bridge?
Yeah, I said, grabbing hold of her wrists. I wouldn't let you go.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Therapy comes from the Greek word therapeia, which means 'to be attentive to.'

Monday, May 16, 2011

Louis "Studs" Terkel

Why are we born? We're born eventually to die, of course. But what happens between the time we're born and we die? We're born to live. One is a realist if one hopes.
-Louis "Studs" Terkel

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hotel Dream

I dreamed that I visited a big hotel on the water in Woonsocket, a place I'd never been in before. I saw a tall, slender woman at a Sunday brunch buffet helping herself to a pile of scones to bring to her table of grown sons. I was speaking with the manager, a young woman in a business suit. My dog Lily was patiently sitting and waiting next to me in the dining room. Nobody minded her. I told the manager that I too could see the water from my house.

I went into the kitchen and saw that the chef was a midget, his legs were only about a foot tall. A young boy about eight years old came in and hugged him, saying I missed you. The chef replied that he had been very drunk all night. I remembered that alcoholism could be a problem for midgets. When I woke, I wondered where my water view had gone.

Utah Phillips

Sing your song
Dance your dance
Tell your story
I will Listen and remember
-Utah Phillips

The big system can be pretty overwhelming. We know that we can't beat them by competing with them. What we can do is build small systems where we live and work that serve our needs as we define us and not as they're defined for us. The big boys in their shining armor are up there on castle walls hurling their thunderbolts. We're the ants patiently carrying sand a grain at a time from under the castle wall. We work from the bottom up. The knights up there don't see the ants and don't know what we're doing. They'll figure it out only when the wall begins to fall. It takes time and quiet persistence. Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they're going to run out of money before we run out of time.
-Utah Phillips

Time is an enormous, long river, and I'm standing in it, just as you're standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through and everything they gave their lives to, and every song they created, and every poem that they laid down flows down to me – and if I take the time to ask, and if I take the time to see, and if I take the time to reach out, I can build that bridge between my world and theirs. I can reach down into that river and take out what I need to get through this world.
-Utah Phillips

Katherine Anne Porter

Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning.
-Katherine Anne Porter

I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction.
-Katherine Anne Porter

Love must be learned, and learned again; there is no end to it.
-Katherine Anne Porter

If I didn't know the ending of a story, I wouldn't begin. I always write my last lines, my last paragraph first, and then I go back and work towards it. I know where I'm going. I know what my goal is. And how I get there is God’s grace.
-Katherine Anne Porter

It is such a relief to be told the truth.
-Katherine Anne Porter

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Abraham Maslow

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
-Abraham Maslow

Martha Graham

No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time; it is just that others are
behind the times.
-Martha Graham

Pablo Picasso

God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.
-Pablo Picasso

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mary Munslow

Mary Munslow, the mother of our friend Keith, passed away recently. This is from a remembrance written by her children:
Mary Munslow's mothering was a blend of pure unconditional love, devotion, and a natural flair for knowing what kids need to grow up happy, productive and well fed. Her feeling was:

If you can get a child to love to read, he'll do just fine.

Lovingkindness equals 10,000 well-packed school lunches.

If anyone - schoolteacher, noisy neighbor, bully, or ex lover - crosses your child, stand up for her always.

The four food groups consist of: Swedish cookies, Chinese pie, Yorkshire pudding, and whoopie pies.

Never criticize, condemn, or otherwise seek to control how your child chooses to live his or her life.

Bird Bags or Sammy My Cat

Sammy is such a character. He loves to play with knotted plastic bags because they're like birds. He bats them around, carries them around in his mouth, collects them in a pile. He comes running anytime I rustle a plastic bag. I have to hide any plastic bags I get from the store or he will find them and make them into his next bird victim. I have gotten used to what sounds like my grandmother unloading her bundles in my kitchen all the time. It's Sammy having the time of his life batting his bird bags. I have even gotten used to the raggedy knotted bags lying all over the house because he loves them so much. In the first few weeks after Sammy started playing with the bags I was running around picking the tattered ones up and throwing them away. Not any more, now I leave them be. Sammy has about seven or eight long-dead birds in my kitchen, cellar, and office.

Sammy is part dog and part monkey. He just wears a cat costume. He is fast and clever and can hide easily, but he always comes running when I rustle his bird-bags. The other day after Bill left, the house seemed eerily quiet. I called Sammy and rustled his "birds." I finally spotted his paw poking out from under a closet door. Now I always try to locate him is before I leave the house.

Puzzle Dream

I dreamed of a small ceramic puzzle. It didn't look like a puzzle, It looked like a flower the size of a silver dollar, with petals like a rose. I was walking with an Indian guru, and he said "You appreciate the puzzle and understand the risks of the puzzle, so you can teach the puzzle."

Fish Tank Dream

I dreamed I was walking down a street in lower Manhattan with my husband, and we saw a fish tank in a restaurant window with three goldfish swimming in it. They're so beautiful, I said. Then I was back home telling the owner of the local fish and chips place that if he installed a big enough tank I'd be happy to swim in it wearing a mermaid tail. I pictured a very long tank encircling the dining room with me swimming round and round.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Billboard Dream

This morning I dreamed I took a trip to a friend's house out in the country and discovered in place of the house a huge billboard-sized drawing of the house. I started crying thinking the house had been leveled. It turned out the house was there, behind the billboard, but parts of it had been relocated to two other buildings on the property. One of the structures was a modern sixties-style house which, when I was inside, seemed to have no walls. I wondered about security, but it turned out the walls were white and everything else was dark and they had seemed invisible at first.

Her Dream

My student said, "I wish I was Eminem's daughter."
"Why?" "So you can sing with him?" I asked.
"No, because he sings about his daughters. He loves them."
I looked at her and we both felt the moment. My eyes teared up. "I know how you feel. I felt that way when my favorite poet talked about his daughter."
Each time I tell this story my eyes fill up with tears.

Beagle Dream

Last week I dreamed I met a stray beagle in the park. It was a sweet dog and I fell in love with it. It was missing an eye; the eyelid was closed. In the dream I described him to my husband as having brindle facial markings like pink Westerly granite.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Gabriel Fauré

For me, art, and especially music, exist to elevate us as far as possible above everyday existence.
-Gabriel Fauré

Friday, May 06, 2011

Jackie Royster

The very act of writing, especially for people who do not occupy positions of status and priviledge in the general society, is a bold and courageous enterprise.
-Jackie Royster

Saul Bellow

A writer is a reader moved to emulation.
-Saul Bellow

Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
-Saul Bellow

A man is only as good as what he loves.
-Saul Bellow

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Graham Swift

One of the attractions of being a writer is that you’re never a specialist. Your field is entirely open; your field is the entire human condition.
-Graham Swift

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

May Sarton

You choose to be a novelist but you’re chosen to be a poet. This is a gift and it’s a tremendous responsibility. You have to be willing to give something terribly intimate and secret of yourself to the world and not care, because you have to believe that what you have to say is important enough.
-May Sarton

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Ram Dass

The trouble is, we can only tell the truth when we cease to identify with the part of ourselves we think we have to protect. If we're afraid of being laughed at or taunted or killed, we can't tell the truth; we can't tell the truth if we're busy guarding some position. It's only when we realize that we're not as vulnerable as we fear we are that we can afford to tell the truth. Let's say I tell you the truth, and you don't like it, and you get up and walk out. That's your problem, not mine. But if I need your love, your interpersonal love, then I can't risk having you walk out on me, so I can't tell you the truth. I can never be straight with you if I need something from you. So in order to tell the truth to you, I have to give up whatever that need is in myself.

There is a very far out thing about Truth: That when you are rooted in Truth, really rooted in Truth, your word takes on power (and this is in fact is exactly what "powers" are all about), such that when you say something, it is so.

-Ram Dass, Paths To God p147