Monday, September 30, 2013

Jon Frankel

by Jon Frankel

The living tree
Rings up years
In narrow bands

The time we see
Is parsed by gears
With minute hands

And eternity
Turns fertile spheres
To fossil sands


Ray Bradbury

[I love my work] intensely — I wouldn’t be in it if I ever stopped loving it, I would shift it and go over into something else. … I don’t think life is worth living unless you’re doing something you love completely, so that you get out of bed in the morning and want to rush to do it. If you’re doing something mediocre, if you’re doing something to fill in time, life really isn’t worth living. … I can’t understand people not living at the top of their emotions constantly, living with their enthusiasms, living with some sense of joy, some sense of creativity — I don’t care how small a level it is. … I don’t care what field it is though, and there’s gotta be a field for everyone, doesn’t there?

I discovered very early on that if you wanted a thing, you went for it — and you got it. Most people never go anywhere, or want anything — so they never get anything.

I never went to college — I don’t believe in college for writers. The thing is very dangerous. I believe too many professors are too opinionated and too snobbish and too intellectual, and the intellect is a great danger to creativity … because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be. I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads “Don’t think!” You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway.

My aunt and my mother read to me when I was three from all the old Grimm fairy tales, Andersen fairy tales, and then all the Oz books as I was growing up… So by the time when I was ten or eleven, I was just full to the brim with these, and the Greek myths, and the Roman myths. And then, of course, I went to Sunday school, and then you take in the Christian myths, which are all fascinating in their own way… I guess I always tended to be a visual person, and myths are very visual, and I began to draw, and then I felt the urge to carry on these myths.

If I’m anything at all, I’m not really a science-fiction writer — I’m a writer of fairy tales and modern myths about technology.

The great thing about growing up with science fiction is that you have an interest in everything.

The ability to fantasize is the ability to survive, and the ability to fantasize is the ability to grow.

Save the City Opera

New York City Opera, which was founded 70 years ago to bring opera to the masses, will be forced to cancel most of its current season and all of its next season if it fails to raise $20 million by year’s end, company officials say.

The cash crisis that City Opera is trying to overcome threatens the very survival of a company that has made opera accessible and cultivated important singers over the years, including Beverly Sills, Plácido Domingo and Renée Fleming. And it raises the question of whether New York will again be able to count itself among cultural capitals like Berlin and London that can support more than one major opera company.

“The company’s been living on the edge and hand-to-mouth for a number of years, and we’ve gotten through our own share of financial troubles,” George Steel, the company’s general manager and artistic director, said in a telephone interview last week. “We’ve had balanced budgets for the last two years, and we’ve been doing, I think, incredible work onstage. But we can’t forge ahead without a significant infusion of capital.”

The company’s $20 million fund-raising goal is nearly twice the $11.5 million it reported raising last year. And it is more than the troupe was able to raise in better times, before the recession, and before its squeezed finances forced it to abandon its old home in Lincoln Center, where it used to give more than 100 performances a season. The company has led a nomadic existence since leaving Lincoln Center in 2011, performing fewer than 20 times a year, often to critical praise, at theaters around the city. City Opera has tried to tap as it works to reinvent itself, the company will seek to raise $1 million of the $7 million it needs to raise by the end of the month through an online Kickstarter campaign.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Keys for Getting Free

When my neighbors were moving their last box out I rushed over to the fence and gave their 12 year old daughter a hardcover copy of my first book: Avi's Punch with Judy, as a goodbye gift. I asked her if I could write in a dedication with a drawing of Sammy and Lily? "Are you ready for your new school," I asked.
"I hope I can make new friends - figure out who to trust, and they don't abandon me," she said. I feel like through this book I am giving her messages of hope hidden woven inside like a prayer rug in Sufi tales. These are the keys for getting free. Serena loves to read and we often talk about books when we are not talking about Lily Sammy and glucose monitors and the latest neighborhood drama. Serena's dad Mickey told me his ex wife abandoned Serena last year running away with a truck driver to travel the highways of Florida with him. Serena now lives full time with her father and step mother Lanie. They have fun. They just bought their own house in the suburbs and they have a pool and acres of land and Mickey drives a sit down lawn mower that came with the house. Serena told me she has celiac disease and is allergic to everything with wheat or milk and she has diabetes. She is slender petite and blonde with clear blue eyes. She lifted her shirt to show me she has scars on her stomach and thigh from having to wears a glucose monitor pump attached to her skin but under her clothes. She goes to a special summer camp for diabetic kids every year. Lanie came out to show me the special corn pasta they buy at a gourmet store. I wished I could bring over my pasta machine to show her how to make her own healthy corn noodles. I told her having to be careful about your food will make her a great cook and she will continue to have perfect skin when everyone else is getting zits. There's a plus side to everything. I said and we laughed.

Just say No

Years ago I slept over at my sister's new house. It was identical to our brick Georgian style childhood home except a miniature version including the pond opposite and the same type of Westchester County neighborhood but in New Rochelle instead of Larchmont. I was to sleep in the guest room. She told me she locked the guest bedroom bathroom door from the other side. I assumed it was because it joined the master bedroom where she and her husband slept. No big deal. I did wonder why she didn't trust me to share the adjoining toilet. I wasn't going to barge in! When I woke up to pee in the night I went down to the hallway landing and crossed over to go up another staircase to the kids bathroom.  
She got up the next morning and glared at me "Were you sleeping with your shoes on? Wearing shoes to bed?"
"No," I replied.
"I heard you clomping over to bathroom in the middle of the night!" she yelled, agitated. "Why the fuck did you ask to stay here?" She shouted at me running out the door in her skin tight gray sweat suit.
"Wait, come back," I said.
"I have to go" she said, impatiently sighing and putting her had on her hip. Her hair was tied up in a leopard skin scrunchy.
"Why did you accept when I asked to come see your new house?" I asked.
"You should know," she said. 
Then I realized she didn't know how to say no.

Beautiful Brenda Lee

The mayor, he's like a bowl of milk!

We all survived the grainy black and white footage of the sixties.

-Brenda Lee, Woonsocket RI

Saturday Saturn

I go to sleep at 8PM and wake at 3AM these are hours I am choosing. When the sun the shadows of the equinox are amazing. I love the long shadows. Lily and I are shadow hunters, shadow harvesters.

Lily is a magical dog. She pulled me off Main Street onto Federal Street and then I hear a voice, "Emily, Emily a man trying to reach Bill to hire him to tune The Stadium piano. then he tells me a story about when he died for a few minutes and came back because his mother already dead said "You're not ready yet!"

Last night Bill called Dennis to setup the tuning appointment for today and he said "I was working upstairs and something told me to go downstairs and outside to the alley, and there was Emily and Lily walking by"

Have a sweet SATURday, from Saturn!

B.B. King Nobody Loves Me But My Mother
Lyrics Songwriter, B.B. KING

Nobody loves me, but my mother,
And she could be jivin' too.

Nobody loves me, but my mother,
And she could be jivin' too.

Now you see why I act so funny, baby,
When you do the things you do.

Sweet and Crisp

I fell asleep at 8PM and woke up in a flash at 2:45.

In honor of the nail polish kids and Bill's new eyesight, I bought maroon lipstick for my fingers at Job Lot and painted them. I bought green purple shimmer, green, and black too. The sign said 30 percent off the one dollar marked! "It's expensive not to buy it" I say when I see a bargain. I loved nail polish when I was a kid and had to hide my fingers whenever I used it. I still wince and apologize. "You look like a streetwalker, a whore" my grandfather would say. Lipstick and nail polish is not for girls! Yesterday we got a flu shot from a thick needle from a sweet gal with eyelashes longer than Bambi. "They're real" she said about her lashes. "Everyone asks me" My brother has them too!" A little pain now is better than the flu. It could kill me with asthma, I could drown in my bed on the third floor. So I get the shot every September. "My husband brings home the germs" I say, "He teaches at a school" then we drove to the big apple orchard in the sunshine, and got half a bushel of Macouns and a box of yellow peach seconds, and began nibbling on the way home. The apples were so spicy and sweet and crisp and the peaches were juicy.

I took a nap. I heard classical music but it is inside my head It is really the fan humming replaying the music I've heard on the radio all day. When I got to my desk at three AM I heard words inside my head but it is really the words I've heard spoken all day.

Pretty soon it will be too hard to get up at three AM but for now it is the best way to live and I cherish the open space. At these times words flow in the darkest hour. Once November hits it will be too cold in the house and I will be too sad to face the day a moment earlier than necessary and I will try to stay awake as late as possible watching television hoping to lift off from my gloom. I'll greet the morning at 8AM with dread and walk for miles to clear my head. I will paint pictures in the afternoon. I hate the holidays. I can't choose where I'll be but I can learn to appreciate the ride. Learn to love the intervals. The day and the night the sun and the rain, the pauses for breath, between the words.

Sunny Sunday pumpkin waffles and a walk to the peach tree. All of Great Grandpa French's peaches are touching the ground due to a few broken branches. I climb the hill and sneak one and have an asthmatic coughing fit, from the pollen. Today I will ask him about the abandoned peaches touching the ground. Ginger-peach-jam anyone? Billy at the mashed potato house is French's grandson and Spud the min-pin tater-tot is his great grand dog.

I Am a Pencil

I Am a Pencil by Sam Swope
A Teacher, His Kids, and Their World of Stories

A teacher discovers how reading, writing, and imagining can help children grow, change, and even sometimes survive.

A few years back, children's-book writer Sam Swope gave a workshop to a third-grade class in Queens. So enchanted was he with his twenty-eight students that he "adopted" the class for three years, teaching them to write stories and poems. Almost all were new Americans (his class included students fom twenty-one countries) and Swope was drawn deep into their real and imaginary lives, their problems, hopes, and fears. I Am a Pencil is the story of his years with this very special group of students. It is as funny, warm, heartbreaking, and hopeful as the children themselves.

Swope follows his colorful troop of resilient writers from grades three to five, coaxing out their stories, watching talents blossom, explode, and sometimes fizzle, holding his breath as the kids' families brave new lives in a strange big city. We meet MeiKai (whose mom was a Taoist priestess), Aaron (who cannot seem to tell the truth), and Noelia (a wacky Dominican chatterbox). All of the children have big dreams. Some have big problems: Miguel, an Ecuadorian boy, must cope with a strict Pentecostal father; Su Jung mystifies Swope with sudden silences-until he discovers that her mother has left the family. Preparing his students for a world of adult dangers, Swope is astonished by their courage, humanity, but most of all by their strength.

Sam Swope


by Sam Swope, Author of I am A Pencil
Mr. Krick was my grade-school art teacher, and I always looked forward to his weekly visits to our class. Given my vivid recollection of the man, it's strange that I remember only one of his lessons, but I suppose my memory chose it as the archetype. At any rate, Mr. Krick gave us crayons, then asked us to draw while listening to Copland's "Appalachian Spring," Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and something atonal, I think by Schoenberg. He said, "Don't think. Just listen to the music and draw." And I did, my heart racing as I channeled music into three very different and passionate pictures. Mr. Krick never knew what he'd done for me that day, and when I heard a while back that he'd died, I felt a twinge of guilt, wishing I'd thanked him for that pure creative moment.

Some years ago I taught creative writing to immigrant grade-school kids in New York City. Wanting them to have similarly powerful memories to sustain them when they grew up, I asked them to write outside at night and under a tree. I had them curl their bodies into magical islands that then became the settings for stories. We did countless exercises. Which ones (if any) will my students remember? It's possible I'll never know, because after we said goodbye, they gradually fell out of touch. This is natural; children need to move on. But I'll always wonder what became of them, and a few, especially the unhappy ones, will haunt me forever.

Recently I published a memoir about teaching those kids and was interviewed about the book on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Far-flung family and long-lost friends happened to be tuned in and sent congratulatory notes, including my high-school English teacher.

I hadn't seen Mr. Witt in decades, but I pictured him immediately--young, tall, earnest, clean-cut. He'd been an easygoing, intelligent teacher who directed the school plays, and sometimes he and his wife invited students over for soda and conversation. As with Mr. Krick, I recall just a single lesson. Mr. Witt, wearing a light blue cardigan, is seated on a high stool while reading aloud Shelley's 1818 sonnet "Ozymandias":

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I was Mr. Witt's student in 1970. Like me, most of my classmates were anti-establishment. I vaguely recall some joking comparison of Nixon to Ozymandias, his famous nose crumbling in the desert, but mostly I remember how quiet we all got when Mr. Witt focused our attention on the poem's stark implication that everyone and everything will ultimately be forgotten: Nothing beside remains. In a voice so quiet it startled me, he said, "This isn't a poem I can think about when I'm shaving."

This came as a revelation. I'd never realized poetry could have so powerful an effect, and because I wanted that intensity of feeling, too, I read "Ozymandias" until I'd memorized it. In the end, it never unnerved me as it had Mr. Witt, but over the years it's been a valued companion, helping temper my pride and ambition.

Mr. Witt must be in his 60s now. He told me when he heard my name on the radio that he'd thought, "Can that be my Sam Swope?" Realizing it was, he tracked me down to let me know he'd always wondered what became of me and was pleased to find I'd landed OK.

Do we ever stop craving the approval of our teachers? I was glad to learn I'd been remembered, and replied immediately, thanking Mr. Witt and telling him I thought of him whenever I thought of "Ozymandias," which was more often than he might expect. I also mentioned his comment about shaving, which he didn't seem to recall, but he was clearly pleased to learn he kept company with such a great poem.

Mr. Witt appears to have made his peace with Shelley's sonnet, and seemed content with a lesser form of immortality. The torch had been passed--from his teachers to him, from him to me, from me to my students... although I can't yet speak for mine, of course. That part of the chain must be taken on faith, as I wait for a student to happen on my book about our time together, discover with delight he's been remembered, then drop me a line to tell me I have, too.

Three NYT Articles

Bob Dylan

Artistic Collaboration

Women Studies

Jane Philips

Transforming Fear

Understanding Fear

What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

If you've ever had a panic attack, you know what it means to be paralyzed by fear. They are among the most uncomfortable sensations imaginable, and for many people, enough to keep them from going places, and trying new things, or even having a conversation with someone new. Fear has a function in our myriad emotions—a warning signal, designed to put us on heightened alert. But living from a place of fear is both dangerous and exhausting, and most of the time, unnecessary.

Living from a position of fear is like building a wall around oneself that shuts out all life. Fear can paralyze us in a multitude of ways. Procrastination is one of its forms—masking fear of failure, or more deeply, fear of success. We prevaricate on taking a position or accomplishing what we might, because we are afraid of where either success or failure may lead.

Our armed society is indication of the role fear plays in our lives. If you need an automatic weapon with a thirty-round clip to feel safe, the enemy is not without, but within. When we respond to attacks by reloading and rearming, we create a culture of fear in which tempers are hair-trigger and any provocation can lead to disaster.

What is needed, as Krishnamurti says, is to learn about our fear, not to run from it, and certainly, I would add, not to arm against it. Understanding fear, even panic attacks, helps to diminish them. Taking that step into the unknown in spite of fear is what brings courage. Putting oneself out, even if the response is rejection, brings understanding that we need not be paralyzed by fear of failure. We will survive it and try again. We can, by facing fear, take the wall down one brick at a time.

Jane Philips is a fabric artist, writer and retired counselor in Birmingham Alabama
Her daily blog is called Spiritually Speaking.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Save your Soles

The local Woonsocket shoemaker on Elm street, fixed and polished up my 37 year old authentic Mexican hurrachis - the dark brown leather ones with tire tread soles. Lily had jumped up on the buckle and it tore off. I carried the tiny metal buckle in my change purse all summer wearing the sandals unstrapped. When I realized how long I've had these sandals and how great they are, I had to fix them.
I gave the shoemaker Bill's brown leather clogs, in perfect shape but the rubber soles from shoddy shoe repair, in a nearby town, had popped off. Our Woonsocket shoemaker has offered to take the taps off my tap shoes too. I may do that. This trade is rare and it is this repair work that saves us during our most challenging economic decade.

Pierannunzi Shoe Rebuilding is a small mom and pop shop that was originally established in 1902 by Carmillo Pierannunzi. It was subsequently handed down to his son, Carmello Jr., who in 1947 hired Norman Decelles. In 1993, Norman took over as the shop's new owner and although he is now retired, he still opens his shop five days a week. After more than 100 years at his initial location on Court Street, Norman moved to Elm Street due to the schedule demolition of the old building. Pierannunzi's repairs shoes and handbags - mainly leather - and offers shoe shines while you wait. The equipment is kept in fine working condition, and Norman can still give the best shine in town. He states that as long as he still feels good (he is now 71 years old), he will continue to open the shop. He began shining shoes when he was just 13 years old; "It's something I've done all my life... I love my work." When he goes, he states, the name will go with him.

Pierannunzi Shoe Rebuilding
534 Elm St, Woonsocket, RI 02895
(401) 767-2948
Hours: Mon, Tue, Fri, 8:30am - 2pm; Thu, 8:30am - 5pm; Sat, 8:30am - noon; Wed, Sun, closed.

Prison-Ashram Project

Read about it here.

Bo Lozoff

The cause of all our personal problems and nearly all the problems of the world can be summed up in a single sentence: Human life is very deep, and our modern dominant lifestyle is not.
- Bo Lozoff

B.B. King

Nobody Loves Me But My Mother

Nobody loves me, but my mother,
And she could be jivin' too.

Nobody loves me, but my mother,
And she could be jivin' too.

Now you see why I act so funny, baby,
When you do the things you do.

Songwriter: B.B. KING

by B.B. King recording 1970
from King Of The Blues 4 CD Box Set

Friday, September 27, 2013

Maria Popova


Debbie Millman

If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.
-Debbie Millman

George Orwell

One strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes.
-George Orwell



Ray Bradbury

I always have taken naps. That way, I have two mornings.
-Ray Bradbury

Balthus + Cats

But one thing turns this exhibition and our understanding of Balthus on its head: a fifth gallery that contains 40 ink drawings that have never been exhibited before. Made in 1919, when Balthus was 11, they tell the story of his beloved tomcat Mitsou, a stray that entered his life when he was 10, stayed a while and then disappeared forever, leaving him devastated.

Soon after Balthus made them, he showed them to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, a close friend of his mother’s. Enchanted, Rilke arranged for them to be published in a little book for which he wrote the introduction. Pierre Bonnard admired them. The eminent German publisher Kurt Wolff called them “astounding and almost frightening.”

These images have always been known in reproduction but were presumed lost until Ms. Rewald tracked them down through Rilke’s heirs. And to have the entire suite laid before you confirms the sharpness of Wolff’s reaction.

Barely measuring five inches on a side, the images are as impressive for their sustained narrative, clarity of emotion and easy conjuring of different settings as for their effortless pan-modernist style. They alternately evoke the Nice interiors of Matisse, the alpine scenes of some German Expressionists and the woodcuts of the Flemish graphic artist Frans Masereel.

It is not hard to imagine that Balthus, who grew up in Paris, Berlin and Switzerland, was exposed in one way or another to this art. His parents were both artists; his father was also an art historian.

In the Mitsou drawings, we see Balthus studying with his cat by his side; Mitsou presenting Balthus with a dead mouse; the two of them playing under a table. We also see Balthus hunting frantically for the missing cat and, in the final scene, crying inconsolably.

The Mitsou drawings cast Balthus’s strange career in a new light. They reveal a trauma that gives his attachment to cats a deeper meaning. (Mitsou almost feels like a lost first love.) They lay much of the groundwork for his later compositions — the scenes of children or cats playing under tables, for example — and they anoint him as a prodigy who may have been a more complete and satisfying artist in his youth than in his maturity.

Balthus’s identification with cats is announced in the show’s opening gallery with a full-length self-portrait that depicts him as a charismatic dandy with a big tiger cat pushing insistently against his trouser leg. Nearby, a delicate lion tamer’s whip rests beside an inscribed stone slab that identifies the work as "A Portrait of H. M. The King of Cats, Painted by Himself."


“Balthus: Cats and Girls — Paintings and Provocations” is on view through Jan. 12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Staircase Wit

L'esprit de l'escalier or l'esprit d'escalier (staircase wit) is a French term used in English that describes the predicament of thinking of the perfect retort too late.

Lily-Dog is my Personal Trainer

Thanks to Lily I wake up the same time each night and we have our big walk no matter what the weather. It is a lot easier for me to give her what she needs than focus on what I need. But nonetheless we both benefit. She is my canine daughter. Thanks to her charm, I have met people and made friends. What's not to love. My life improved when Lily became my guide dog, my personal trainer!

Elephants and Oranges

At the newly opened National Elephant Center in Fellsmere, Fla., the pachyderms have discovered how to pluck the fruit from the trees with their trunks and pop it into their mouths.
If you are really trying to do what's right for an elephant, you would be providing a lifelong home for these animals and you would be trying to establish larger social groups that were stable and permanent.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Namesake

Remember that you and I made this journey together to a place where there was nowhere left to go.
― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.
― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

You are still young, free . . . Do yourself a favor. Before it's too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.
― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Unaccustomed Earth

And wasn't it terrible, how much he looked forward to those moments, so much so that sometimes even a ride by himself on the subway was the best part of the day? Wasn't it terrible that after all the work one put into finding a person to spend one's life with, after making a family with that person, even in spite of missing that person...that solitude was what one relished the most, the only thing that, even in fleeting, diminished doses, kept one sane?
― Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

Jhumpa Lahiri

The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail. They remain the test, whether or not to read something. The most compelling narrative, expressed in sentences with which I have no chemical reaction, or an adverse one, leaves me cold. In fiction, plenty do the job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates.
― Jhumpa Lahiri

Words and Light

All words are spiritual---nothing is more spiritual than words. Whence are they? Along how many thousands and tens of thousands of years have they come? Those eluding, fluid, beautiful, fleshless, realities, Mother, Father, Earth, Me, This, Soul, Tongue, House, Fire.
-Walt Whitman

Words and deeds are…modes of divine energy.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need—a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink, for thirst is a dangerous thing.
-Jerome Klapka Jerome

Open the Ziti

Control freaks lose out on keeping the ziti open thereby preventing flow.

Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

You shall have joy, or you shall have power, said God; you shall not have both.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
-C. S. Lewis

Polar Bear Swims

The months of September and October or March and April are the months I like to swim in ponds or the ocean. I like the chilly water and the solitude.

Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.
-Michelle Held

The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea.
-Isak Dinesen

Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.
-Robert Henri

Southern Hospitality: Shirley Abbott

Tradition and manners are repeatedly framed as the glue that binds the South together, distinguishing it from other regions. This is a familiar mantra, one linked to the "famous" southern hospitality capitalized on by many of the tourist attractions highlighted earlier in the book. Contemporary fascinations with the "grandeur" of the Old South depend on a certain sense of decorum, and this genteel mise-en-scene of southernness is constructed via a carefully manipulated stage set of moonlight, magnolias, and manners. White southerners frequently stress the importance of keeping up appearances; for example, in her Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South, popular writer Shirley Abbot describes the "natural theatricality" inherent in southern hospitality. It requires "a talent for taking on a special role in a comedy of manners that will apparently run forever, no matter how transparent its characters and aims". This maintenance of an aura of tranquility despite a certain degree of transparency suggests that southern hospitality is a performance, a masquerade, an agreed-on social fiction, albeit a powerful one with material effects.

Southern Hospitality

reposted from here.

If you don’t believe in ghosts, you’ve never been to a family reunion.
-Ashleigh Brilliant

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.
-Shirley Abbott

When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.
-George Bernard Shaw

There’s nothing quite like spending time with a true Southern family to make you understand why, “Lord have mercy!” is so much a part of our vocabulary. Southern families are at once loving and caring and diabolical. One of the things we never do is let the dead rest in peace. We drag up history, both happy and murderous, and relive it with all its original clarity. We talk as much about the dead and gone as we do about the living and breathing. Maybe families from other places do the same thing, but I doubt they do it as colorfully as we do.

I had some great-aunts who were school teachers back in the days of one-room schools. As college educated women in a small mountain town, they were a bit out of reach for most mountain men. They never married and so, never had children of their own, but they emotionally adopted one of their nieces, Ruth, who lived with them much of her childhood. When I came into the family in the late 1940’s, I heard stories about Ruth, how smart she was, how beautiful. All her clothes were hanging in an upstairs closet, all her shoes were there. It was only as an adult that I learned that Ruth had been dead for decades, run down by a drunk driver at sixteen while walking home from school---in 1929. Lord have mercy!

Many of us try to distance ourselves from our families. We do everything in our power to not be ‘like’ our families, but it is a futile endeavor. We may change our location, our orientation, our vocabulary, our look, our interests, but the very same blood is coursing through our veins and the very same DNA is cranking away inside our cells. We have a shared history and a shared heritage. We are one with our families and embracing that is an important step in growing up. Every time I look in the mirror, my mother’s face is staring back at me. Every time I curse, my daddy’s voice issues from my mouth. I think like them, I live like them, and I work and play like they did. The thoughts and words may be different, but it is only semantics.

The time at the beach with another Southern family was delightful. I learned about the primacy of the Nashoba County Fair to native Mississippians, and about stringing bullet lights. I got to observe the modern Southern male in his natural habitat, with a fishing pole in one hand and a cell phone in the other. I got to gossip about nearly everybody in Mississippi and decide how they should do their lives differently. Lord have mercy, y’all! It was fun.

Keeping the faith,

Anaïs Nin

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.
-Anaïs Nin

D.H. Lawrence

Oh, what a catastrophe for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year, from his unison with the sun and the earth. Oh, what a catastrophe, what a maiming of love, when it was a personal, merely personal feeling, taken away from the rising and the setting of the sun, and cut off from the magic connection of the solstice and the equinox.
-D.H. Lawrence

William Faulkner

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among 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. ... 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.

The South's the place for a novelist to grow up because the folks there talk so much about the past. Why, when I was a little boy, there'd be sometimes 20 or 30 people in the house, mostly relatives, aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins, some maybe coming for overnight and staying on for months, swapping stories about the family and about the past, while I sat in a corner and listened. That's where I got my books.
-William Faulkner

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Giuseppe Verdi

Verdi's 200 year anniversary.

The Walking Wounded

The only way I can understand and forgive my mother is to see her as mentally ill. On most days I see the whole world as a psych ward. The walking wounded.

A Piece of Thread

Sometimes I feel like a piece of thread strung through Lily who is the sewing needle, the vehicle. As we walk around the variety of city neighborhoods we are slowly over the days months and years stitching a huge patchwork quilt made of all of these little hellos and slow building relationships. Each person we meet is another stitch in the quilt keeping things friendly and keeping us cozy and warm.

Robot Horse


Diane Ravitch



Listening to french radio finally went to my head.
Écoute de la radio française a finalement allé à ma tête.

I had a dream this morning that musicians at a party I was at, were singing in french.
J'ai fait un rêve, ce matin, que les musiciens lors d'une fête, j'étais à, chantaient en français.

C'est bien!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lauren Agnelli Concert and Songwriting Workshop

On September 27 & 28 2013, Artreach, Inc. presents two events by Grammy Nominated singer/songwriter Lauren Agnelli; a Friday night solo concert, followed by a Saturday afternoon songwriting workshop. These events are part of Artreach's year-long Songwriting for Social Change project.

Lauren Agnelli will perform at the Donald Oat Theater in Norwich on September 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm, Through music and story, Lauren will share her journey through the fascinating world of Folk/Pop/Rock/Punk Singer/Songwriters.

THE PRESENTERS: Artreach, Inc. provides artistic opportunities in theater, music, and writing for adults who have psychiatric disorders. The Second Step Players, their stigma – busting theater troupe, writes and performs original comedy and music to increase understanding about people who have mental health issues and bring about positive social change.

Please call 860-887-0014 for more information or to reserve tickets.

Artreach’s “Songwriting for Social Change” project is presented with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Paul Gargagliano Photography

Have a look!

a pair of au pairs

When my half brother was a toddler Guna and Lila Islandic glammy leggy fashion models, came to live with us. A pair of au pairs. This was 1966 when Twiggy was everywhere. These were our personal Twiggy's, friends of our adopted Uncle Peter a NYC fashion photographer.

My Favorite Cyclothymic

In 1994, Burgess Meredith published his autobiography, So Far, So Good. In the book he confessed that he suffered from violent mood swings which were caused by cyclothymia, a form of Bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymia is characterized by short cycles of depression and hypomania that fail to meet the sustained duration criterion for major affective syndromes (e.g. bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder).

Depressive/dysthymic episodes. Symptoms of the depressive/dysthymic phase include difficulty making decisions, problems concentrating, poor memory recall, guilt, self-criticism, low self-esteem, pessimism, self-destructive thinking, constant sadness, apathy, hopelessness, helplessness and irritability. Also common are quick temper, poor judgment, lack of motivation, social withdrawal, appetite change, lack of sexual desire, self-neglect, fatigue, and insomnia.

Hypomanic episodes. Symptoms of the hypomanic episode include unusually good mood or cheerfulness (euphoria), extreme optimism, inflated self-esteem, rapid speech, racing thoughts, aggressive or hostile behavior, lack of consideration for others, agitation, massively increased physical activity, risky behavior, spending sprees, increased drive to perform or achieve goals, increased sexual drive, decreased need for sleep, tendency to be easily distracted, and inability to concentrate.

Barbara Wersba

My favorite book when I was 11 was The Dream Watcher by Barbara Wersba. I reread it recently and was impressed at how it was still a fabulous book. Just like Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, classics I never tire of.

A few years ago I told my editor Marc how much I loved this book. He said he was working with Barbara Wersba and he would gladly forward a note if I wanted to write her. I was beside myself! I raced home and wrote her and she sent me a copy which I cherish.

So much young adult literature is phenomenal. This book is part of the fabric of who I am, it spoke to my unhappy suburban life of parental disconnect and dreams of connecting with real people someday.

A few years ago I reread my favorites from when I was a kid: The Secret garden, The Cay, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sounder, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Are you there God it's Me, Margaret . . . and more

My mother told me I didn't know how to read and took me to the shrink. He made me read aloud to him and explain why I hated the book. People don't talk like that I said. I also had to talk into a tape recorder and draw his portrait. He smoked cigars and took notes saying "Your mother is sick, your sister is sick." He wrote in three different colored pens depending on what I was saying. My mother drove me to his office on Central Ave in White Plains NY Wednesday afternoons - during school hours. My mother would run red lights all the time, explaining that it's okay to do that as long as she honks driving through the intersection. She also crossed the double yellow lines to pass people not driving fast enough for her. We saw Mr. Brown twice a week for 8 years starting when I was in second grade, age seven. His waiting room had a basket full of New Yorker magazines. My mother took books off of his personal bookshelf and would get into fights with him about the notes he had written in the margins. Pretty soon Mr. Brown wanted to talk to her alone and I was left in the waiting room to read the New Yorker but I just stared into space hoping and dreaming that my mother would come out of there a happy and wonderful woman who loved me. But instead she would be furious and refuse to speak to me and every time I tried to speak she would blare classical music on the Volvo radio. She would be gunning it home running red lights and driving over the double yellow lines with her angry toes poking out of her ugly beige sandals.


deep autumn--
my neighbor,
how is he doing?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Spalding Gray

Another interview.

Spalding Gray

I knew I couldn't live in America and I wasn't ready to move to Europe so I moved to an island off the coast of America -- New York City . . . It was tolerant. It was a place that tolerated differences and could incorporate them and embrace them, which was what America was supposed to be about and wasn't. So it was the melting pot that was a puree rather than individual vegetables. I think of New York as a puree and the rest of the United States as vegetable soup.

It's an insane angel; New York defies observation. It is completely, hugely in your face and what it is for me still is a human miracle, because if you go out in it, as I do, the fact that existence is -- is the miracle. The fact that New York continues in the face of all of the chaos, of the crime, of the madness, you just think that it would just pop and vanish, just explode.

I think of my father and how confused he was by me. He understood my love for theater and he understood that New York City was the only place that it was happening in America really in any live way. But he was so confused by my living situation. I was living on 93rd and 3rd in a railroad apartment, and I described it to him as "straight through with a bathtub in the kitchen," and he thought I was joking. He said, "Where's the toilet?" And I said, "Out in the hall. I can take a bath and talk with Luce at the same time she's cooking." And then he began to realize I was really telling the truth. I was raised as an upper-class WASP in New England and there was this old tradition there that everyone would simply be guided into the right way after Ivy League college and onward and upward. And it rejected me, I rejected it, and I ended up as a kind of refugee really.

What's so fascinating about New Yorkers is that each person has a whole lexicon of personal logic in the way that they decipher and do what has to be done to enjoy, stay alive, take pleasure in this place. It's one of the few living cities where people are living in the city that they work in. You know, that's amazing in itself.

One of the things that I do every day when I finish working here or writing or reading, is go out and walk around Washington Square fountain. I'm the only one to do this. I go around and around and around. I don't count the times that I go around but I walk until I feel I've had a good walk, rather than going in a straight line which is what I used to do. I'd beeline up for Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue and 18th Street because it would be a point of reference to go to and thumb through the books, because I like to be going somewhere. But I started to like the circle, because my eye, and I really have only one good eye now, my right eye, becomes like a camera, panning -- and every time around, you have the same configuration of people doing a little something different and so on around, so it becomes like my film for the day. My take on the day, Washington Square Park.

-Spalding Gray
Originally from Rhode Island, Gray came to New York to become involved in theater. A writer, actor, and performer, Gray is the author of several books, such as IT'S A SLIPPERY SLOPE (1997, Farrar, Straus & Giroux). He has created more than a dozen monologues, including the VILLAGE VOICE's Obie Award-winning "Swimming to Cambodia." His appearances on and off-Broadway include roles in the revival of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and the New York premiere of Sam Shepard's "Tooth of Crime." Gray's film credits include roles in Roland Joffe's THE KILLING FIELDS, Steven Soderbergh's KING OF THE HILL, and Ron Howard's THE PAPER. He also has appeared on television, including several HBO specials. source

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Francis

We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.
-An Interview With Pope Francis

A Reading

25 Years and Still in Love: A Celebration of Woonsocket

Emily Lisker is a writer, painter, and musician who has lived in the city of Woonsocket for 25 years. Driving through on a whim, she fell in love with the mills, and after moving here fell in love with the people and the hills. You may have seen her on the sidewalk with her big yellow long-legged Lily-dog. She gets all of her inspiration from walking around the city with Lily and then going home and writing about the people she meets and the stories they tell her. Emily's written portraits and snapshots, called vignettes, are full of loving and poignant details of Woonsocket and its people.

Emily will give a reading of her vignettes at the Woonsocket Harris Public Library on Thursday, September 26th at 7PM.

Who Moved the Tomato

"Who moved the tomato!" my mother shouted, rummaging through the refrigerator. She had the fridge interior and its contents and placement memorized, just like my favorite card game 'concentration.'

"I did," I confessed. Another demerit on my permanent record. I could feel her seething with rage, hating that I existed, breathed and took up space in her house. I tried to stay hidden but she always barged into my bedroom without knocking and found me.

"I made you an artist" she once shouted. "All those terrible things I did to you caused you to be an artist," she screamed, standing in the doorway.

She had taken me to many specialists: school psychologist, dentist, family doctor, orthodontist, hair stylist, radiologist, therapist, psychiatrist, chiropractor, skin doctor, gastroenterologist. And she wasn't finished - she planned more.

Another time: "You eat too much yogurt, I can't afford to feed you!" This in spite of loving to throw lavish parties for my step-father's prospective advertising clients.

I stopped eating, and wouldn't join the family at mealtime. I was terrified of her. I was rapidly shrinking. I would make my own home-incubated yogurt and sit in the dark kitchen and eat it late at night. My mother went to bed early, so I thought I would be safe. Somehow she could feel that I was eating and she would swoop downstairs into the kitchen wearing her long sheer nightie, scaring me half to death.

I scrambled to find a place to be safe, sleeping on the floors of friends' living rooms, hiding, hoping nobody would mind. "She can't stay here" my friends' parents would finally say. I realized they were terrified that their children might do the same thing. So off I'd go to the next house.

Someday I would have my own kitchen in my own apartment in my own state. I had already collected a few cast iron frying pans at yard sales and flea markets and stashed them in my closet. I was ready. I imagined having hanging plants and a cat and a dog and a record player.

I loved the comfort of rainy days. I wanted to live where it always rained.

Mark Doty

‘Dog Years: A Memoir’

By MARK DOTY First Chapter

No dog has ever said a word, but that doesn't mean they live outside the world of speech. They listen acutely. They wait to hear a term-biscuit, walk-and an inflection they know. What a stream of incomprehensible signs passes over them as they wait, patiently, for one of a few familiar words! Because they do not speak, except in the most limited fashion, we are always trying to figure them out. The expression is telling: to "figure out" is to make figures of speech, to invent metaphors to help us understand the world. To choose to live with a dog is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretation-a mutual agreement, though the human being holds most of the cards.

What the interpreter must do is tell stories-sometimes to the dog in question. Who hasn't heard a dog walker chattering away to her pet, as if she were serving as a kind of linguistic mirror: "You are scared of that police horse," "Lola loves that ball!" Some people speak for their dogs in the first person, as though the dog were ventriloquizing his owner. There's inevitably something embarrassing about this; a kind of silly intimacy that might seem sweet at home becomes a source of eye-rolling discomfort to strangers.

But most stories about dogs are narrated to other people, as we go on articulating the tales of our animals' lives, in order to bring their otherwise incomprehensible experience into the more orderly world of speech. Taking pictures of your pet serves much the same function; it isn't just about memory and the desire to record, but a way to bring something of the inchoate into the world of the represented. This is a part of the pet owner's work. In order to live within the domestic world, the dog must be named, read, and in some way understood.

Of course, listening to stories about other people's pets is perilous, like listening to the recitation of dreams. Such reports may be full of charm for the dreamer, but for the poor listener they're usually fatally dull. The dreamer has no distance from the spell of the dream, and cannot say just how it mattered so, and language mostly fails to capture the deeply interior character of dreams anyway. We listen with an appreciation for the speaker's intent, but without much interest in the actual story.

Love itself is a bit like that: you can describe your beloved until the tongue tires and still, in truth, fail to get at the particular quality that has captured you. We give up, finally, and distill such feelings into single images: the bronzy warmth of one of his glances, or that way of turning the head she has when she's thinking and momentarily stops being aware of other people. That, we tell ourselves, stands for what we love. But it's perfectly clear that such images explain nothing. They serve as signposts for some incommunicable thing. Being in love is our most common version of the unsayable; everyone seems to recognize that you can't experience it from the outside, not quite-you have to feel it from the inside in order to know what it is.

Maybe the experience of loving an animal is actually more resistant to language, since animals cannot speak back to us, cannot characterize themselves or correct our assumptions about them. They look at us across a void made of the distance between their lives and our immersion in language. "Not a single one of his myriad sensations," wrote Virginia Woolf of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel, Flush, "ever submitted itself to the deformity of words."

Maybe they remind us, in this way, of our own origins, when our bodies were not yet assumed into the world of speech. Then we could experience wordlessly, which must at once be a painful thing and a strange joy, a pure kind of engagement that adults never know again. Can it even be called "painful" or a "joy," if the infant who is feeling those things has no terms for them, only the uninterpreted life of emotion and sensation? We suffer a loss, leaving the physical world for the world of words-even though we gain our personhood in the process.

Love for a wordless creature, once it takes hold, is an enchantment, and the enchanted speak, famously, in private mutterings, cryptic riddles, or gibberish. This is why I shouldn't be writing anything to do with the two dogs who have been such presences for sixteen years of my life. How on earth could I stand at the requisite distance to say anything that might matter?

Last month five thousand people died here in New York; the ruins of the towers in which-with which-they fell smolder still. [I wrote these words in October of 2001; the dead had not yet been properly counted; it was impossible to find the bodies, and the lists of the missing were unclear.] When the wind is right, Chelsea fills with the smell of burning plastic, as if somewhere down in the rubble thousands and thousands of computers were slowly, poisonously burning, along with fluorescent tubes and industrial carpeting and the atomized pieces of corporate art that lined the reception room walls. My friends in other cities speak about the new war, the roots of this atrocity and its relationship to other atrocities around the globe; they worry over the notion of "evil," whether it's a reality or a concept with no use in the public sphere. I understand that such things matter, but for me they're nothing but air.

I can't stop seeing the whitened boots of the rescue workers trudging back uptown, or sitting beside me on the subway benches. Their battered leather and shoelaces, cuffs and ankles are covered with a thick powder composed of atomized concrete: the pulverized stuff of two hundred floors of offices-desk chairs, files, coffee cups-commingled with the stuff of human bodies reduced to creamy ash. The rubble trucks rumble up Eighth Avenue, uncovered. The white grit blows out in troubled eddies, and snow gusts and coats our faces and hair. Somewhere in that dust are the atoms of Graham, a man I knew a little, and saw last at the end of summer, when he was laughing on the street, his tattooed arms flashing in the sun. . . .

Messy Desk

. . . disordered offices encouraged originality and a search for novelty.


Three Fortune Tellers

The three seven year old little girls across the street set up a lemonade style stand on the sidewalk and asked me if I wanted a poem, my fortune, a foot or hand massage, and my nails painted black, blue, beige, red, maroon with glitter, or six shades of pink.

At first I said no thanks to the nail polish, and yes to the illustrated poem:

Summer is the best
Umbrellas are the best
Nature is full of animals

Then I went inside my house and thought about it. They were so adorable! I went back out and let them paint my nails.

I was their only customer for a while but then people started to stop by.
The girls forgot to write in the fortunes (origami style fortune telling)--so we thought of stuff and I wrote it down on the inner flaps of the folded paper:

put lipstick on your nose,

wear your hat backwards,

eat a spider,

a wolf bites your face,

werewolf in your house,

spider bites you while sleeping

drink water and sing a song

sit at the table backwards

sing upside down

Then a neighbor they know from the building came out and sat in the big brown barcalounger on the sidewalk. She ate a chicken dinner with a white plastic fork and knife. She told them she was leaving the leftover roast chicken for the girls, and I put it in the shade so it wouldn't spoil. When they took a break from selling poems, two of the girls hid behind the Barcalounger squeezing against the chain link fence and they picked apart the roasted chicken. There was a lot of food there but they only had one fork.

I ran in and got them another plastic fork. This is our breakfast Arianna said. Nadalia wanted to try sucking the marrow out of the bones. "There's lots of vitamins in the marrow," I said.

If they're outside this weekend maybe I will bring out my baby red Hohner accordion and see if they want to make up songs.

The new Dominican-American market opened on the ground floor on Monday. Now the kids can go downstairs and get anything they want! Candy, candy, candy! And ice cream!

They all live in the same building - summer, weekends, nights, rain, snow, anytime they have each other. Their fathers work odd jobs and their mothers hang loads and loads of laundry on the porches to dry. They beat the rugs clean, against the porch pillars and they shop and cook. They have lots of children to manage.

Everything is audible here - the fights, laughter, yelling, barking. It is a neighborhood with invisible walls. Like a doll-house.

I would love to do art projects, right on the sidewalk so the parents are nearby. We could make apple dolls, papier mâché puppets, pizzelle-making, sew costumes etc. I have two folding card tables, paper scraps, and fabric scraps.

I hope for a long Indian summer season except that Lily is itchy from ragweed pollen even with her pond swimming and generic Benadryl tablets taken in peanut butter, she is scratching.

Our new neighbors have three cats and they are house cats that they have decided to not let back inside. They put out food and water but the cats cry all night in the alley which is like a microphone.

Most two bedroom apartments here have 6-8 people living inside. The poverty in the 'hood is phenomenal. I see it when my neighbors hang up their towels and sheets -- they are worn-through like gauze.

Luckily our city is not afraid of poverty. There are no snobs here. We have a great Salvation Army and bargain stores and loads of charities. All you need to do is ask for help and the generosity is there.

Some days, I feel like Margaret Meade watching, studying peoples lives.


I went from being 17 year old runaway teen

to being my Brighton Beach grandmother

making french toast and egg in a hole

and having my fingers and toes painted

by three 7 year olds

polka dots, solids, and stripes

Edward Gorey

I just got a rather nasty shock. In looking for something or other I came across the fact that one of my cats is about to be nine years old, and that another of them will shortly thereafter be eight; I have been labouring under the delusion they were about five and six. And yesterday I happened to notice in the mirror that while I have long since grown used to my beard being very grey indeed, I was not prepared to discover that my eyebrows are becoming noticeably shaggy. I feel the tomb is just around the corner. And there are all these books I haven't read yet, even if I am simultaneously reading at least twenty...
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what's important is left after you have explained everything else.
― Edward Gorey, Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey

There was a young lady named Mae
Who smoked without stopping all day;
As pack followed pack,
Her lungs first turned black,
And eventually rotted away.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

All the things you can talk about in anyone's work are the things that are least important.
― Edward Gorey, Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey

Apropos of nothing at all except that it has been on my mind and I think I had better say it because it accounts for a good deal of my behaviour. There is a strong streak in me that wishes not to exist and really does not believe that I do, so that I tend to become unnerved when these curious ideas are proved to be not really true because someone (in this case you) has responded to something I have said or done just as if I were an actual person the same as you (especially) or anyone else. Some of it is, I guess, just the worst sorts of arrogance and irresponsibility , but not all of it, as I really don't think I exist a lot of the time, so I'm asking you to bear with it, me, whatever, for the sake of what?—friendship I suppose, which I want to be capable of, which is obviously not enough. More brains might help, but enough unseemly remarks for eight o'clock in the morning and the shivering in pyjama bottoms syndrome.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

On November 18 of alternate years Mr Earbrass begins writing 'his new novel'. Weeks ago he chose its title at random from a list of them he keeps in a little green note-book. It being tea-time of the 17th, he is alarmed not to have thought of a plot to which The Unstrung Harp might apply.
― Edward Gorey, The Unstrung Harp

I have given up considering happiness as relevant.
― Edward Gorey

A small and sinister snow seems to be coming down relentlessly at present. The radio says it is eventually going to be sleet and rain, but I don't think so; I think it is just going to go on and on, coming down, until the whole world...etc. It has that look.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

Having got into bed and turned out the light, I quietly burst into tears because I am not a good person. As they came and went for some minutes, I was concerned with the words following 'because' in the previous sentence, rewriting them over and over in my head until they seemed to be as close to the truth as it was possible for me to make them.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

Neither mine nor other people's prospects seem particularly pleasing just at the moment, and I have fantasies of going to Iceland, never to return. As it is, I tell myself not to remember the past, not to hope or fear for the future, and not to think in the present, a comprehensive program that will undoubtedly have very little success.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

All the things you can talk about in anyone's work are the things that are least important.... You can describe all the externals of a performance - everything, in fact, but what really constitutes its core. Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what's important is what's left over after you've explained everything else.
― Edward Gorey

The world may think it idiotic,
Nor care at all we're symbiotic,
But I will say at once and twice:
I find it nice. I find it nice.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

The thing is, and here we come to E. Gorey's Great Simple Theory About Art (which he has never tried to communicate to anybody else until now, so prepare for Severe Bafflement), that on the surface they are so obviously those situations that it is very difficult to see that they really are about something else entirely. This is the theory, incidentally, that anything is art, and it's the way I tell, is presumably about some certain thing, but is really always about something else, and it's no good having one without the other, because if you have the something it is boring and if you just have the something else it's irritating.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

Mr. Earbass has rashly been skimming through the early chapters, which he had not looked at for months, and now sees TUH for what it is. Dreadful, dreadful, DREADFUL. He must be mad to go on enduring the unexquisite agony of writing when it all turns out drivel. Mad. Why didn't he become a spy? How does one become one? He will burn the MS. Why is there no fire? Why aren't there the makings of one? How did he get in the unused room on the third floor?
― Edward Gorey, The Unstrung Harp

Mr Earbrass escaped from Messrs Scuffle and Dustcough, who were most anxious to go into all the ramifications of a scheme for having his novels translated into Urdu, and went to call on a distant cousin.
― Edward Gorey, The Unstrung Harp

Anyway, for whatever interest is to be derived therefrom. Bacon, Balthus, and Magritte are my three favourite painters, along with Dubuffet, of the whole post-impressionist period, by which I mean that before them Bonnard, Vuillard, & Seurat are my favourite painters of that time.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

Vice is nice, but a little virtue won't hurt you.
― Edward Gorey

We did I think talk about your feeling of it's fun to be square, and while I'll go along with the Borges-like ramifications, I don't think I was the one who thought it up. In the past my justification for my self-conscious oddness of appearance (by now I figure this is the way I look, and it would not only be more self-conscious but also uncomfortable to change) was that people would think their impression of oddity came simply from the way I looked, and eventually become (hopefully) pleasantly surprised that I was not nearly as much of a nut as I looked, and was really quite ordinary, which is also true I think. It seemed preferable to people thinking 'Well, he looked perfectly ordinary and then it became apparent there was something wrong with his head...' Of course now practically everybody to my middle aged way of thinking looks too peculiar for words, and only very infrequently attractive at the same time.
― Edward Gorey, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer

Edward Gorey

I've never had any intentions about anything. That's why I am where I am today, which is neither here nor there, in a literal sense.

If something doesn't creep into a drawing that you're not prepared for, you might as well not have drawn it.

The helpful thought for which you look

Is written somewhere in a book.

My favorite journey is looking out the window.

Books, Cats, Life is Good.

I am a person before I am anything else. I never say I am a writer. I never say I am an artist...I am a person who does those things.

When people are finding meaning in things -- beware.

I really think I write about everyday life. I don't think I'm quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that's what makes it so boring.

My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that's what the world is like.

The Suicide, as she is falling,
Illuminated by the moon,
Regrets her act, and finds appalling
The thought she will be dead so soon.

― Edward Gorey

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sweet Apple Cider

The full moon woke me at 1:30 AM. I finally got up at 2:22 AM. After reading the New York Times online, I dug out my 1970's stainless steel Acme juicer that Grandpa Nat bought me when I lived on Mott Street NYC. Grandpa's fans and motors store, UNITED BLOWER was on Centre Street around the corner. I visited him daily. We would sit together at his big wooden school teachers desk and he pulled out the sliding wooden panel and I would eat my apple and orange for lunch. I was a fruitarian.

Grandpa signed me up for telephone service on my black rotary desk phone (back in those days the phone came with the service!) and he had the electric company turn on the lights. I was 17, in 1978, still technically enrolled in high school in Mamaroneck NY although I wasn't attending. I was on my own living alone in Chinatown NYC and getting school credit for it.

I didn't know anything about anything but I was trying my best not to be afraid. I got a job as a cashier at Gillies 1840 on Bleeker Street in the village. I got off work at 11:30 PM and ran home through Little Italy, to my Mott street apartment in Chinatown. The gods protect the innocent and I was very lucky. More to come on that adventure.

I am making apple cider from bushels of fallen apples that Jeff and Francine harvested from Northern New Hampshire. They filled four gigantic boxes the size of washtubs, almost too heavy to lift and hauled them over here in their big pickup truck. They live 1 mile down my street but you have to cross state lines to get there. Everything is different in Massachusetts compared to RI. For example, they can have chickens in their backyard.

Spontaneously I sweetened my morning black coffee with cider and it was delicious. I have three more bushels to go!

from Jon Frankel: I remember the old machine and gizmo shops on Canal Street well. It was amazing walking down the broad sunny street packed with small stores and people, the boxes of oscilloscopes, meters, and electrical devices, tools stacked up outside of the stores, which were themselves crammed floor to ceiling with obscure machinery. And Mott Street! Chow Fun for $1.69….old mafia guys in cadillacs, and dark social clubs with flaked gold lettering on the windows.

Emotional Vampires

Getting ready for Halloween. Reading about emotional vampires, here.
And victory over vampires here.

Julie Gregory

Sickened by Julie Gregory Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood.

Nigel Buchanan

I love this Nigel Buchanan illustration in the NYT today. Great article too!
Interview with Nigel here.

Yes to Fitness

Children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than children who are out of shape, a new study finds, raising timely questions about the wisdom of slashing physical education programs at schools.

Harvest Moon

Gorgeous moon woke me up!Article

Work at Home


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Body Dysmorphic Disorder


Write Outside

“Most people think of the mind as being located in the head,” writes Diane Ackerman in “A Natural History of the Senses,” “but the latest findings in physiology suggest that the mind doesn’t really dwell in the brain but travels the whole body on caravans of hormone and enzyme, busily making sense of the compound wonders we catalogue as touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision.”
NYT Article

Christopher Morley

Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.
-Christopher Morley

In My House

cats and dogs are allowed on the furniture

We have tea parties
make masks
sew costumes

listen to Peter and the Wolf
or song of the whales and wolves

make potato prints, Valentines
holiday cards

chocolate, lollipops, gingerbread
apple cider . . .

No moms are allowed.

thank you, Nin


We went to look at a used car and it was an old silver Chrysler sedan from the 70's, and I thought, It's boring! The woman selling was talking to a friend who asked her "How are the puppies?" "What puppies," I asked, budding in. She took me inside her house to show me and I ended up adopting two puppies instead of a car.

2 things

2 things I want to do before I am dust:

skate at Rockefeller Center
and go to the Metropolitan Opera

Midnight the Cat

Midnight was blamed for my stepsister's asthma attack when she visited one weekend. My parents rushed her to the hospital. Later my mother said she almost died. So she decided Midnight had to go. They drove one Saturday to the Westchester Humane Society with me and Midnight in the ugly brown Ford wagon. I took Midnight inside and placed her on the counter. It was raining hard. My mother and stepfather stayed in the car. I was sobbing. I was 8 years old.

When I went to adopt Lily, we drove three hours to the Humane Society in Elmsford, NY. "We don't adopt out to people outside the tri-state area: NY, NJ, CT," the woman had said over the phone.

"But I am from this area," I said. "And I've had the same vet for 30 years in RI - Dr. Belinsky. Would you like to talk to him?"

When we arrived, I had a déjà vu feeling. Standing and looking at the low gray cement building, waiting for it to open, I thought, "Oh my god this is where we left Midnight."

Why I Am in the City or Why I Love Strangers

When my weather is emotional anguish, which it is half the time, I prefer contact with acquaintances, or strangers in the grocery store, or neighbors when walking around town. I fear being around people who know me well, who will want my big vibrant transmitty energy, which is not the energy I have at these times.

Cyclothymic Cycles

The highs and the lows are extremely distracting so I try to find the place beyond my emotional weather. I do this by focusing on my work, employing the deeper aspects of both the highs and lows by using my loyal friend and savior, my imagination. This is my job and my challenge.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kay Redfield Jamison

I love Kay Jamison's books. I have read them all.
So why would I want anything to do with this illness? Because I honestly feel that as a result of it I have felt more things, more deeply; had more experiences, more intensely; loved more, and been more loved; laughed more often for having cried more often; appreciated more the springs, for all the winters; worn death close, appreciated it and life more. I have seen the breadth and depth and width of my mind and heart and how frail they both are; and how ultimately unknowable they both are. Depressed I have crawled on my hands and knees. Manic, I have run faster, thought faster, and loved faster than anyone I know much of this related to my illness. Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it.
—Kay Redfield Jamison, The Unquiet Mind

Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.
—Kay Redfield Jamison

It is tempting when looking at the life of anyone who has committed suicide to read into the decision to die a vastly complex web of reasons; and, of course, such complexity is warranted. No one illness or event causes suicide; and certainly no one knows all, or perhaps even most, of the motivations behind the killing of the self. But psychopathology is almost always there, and its deadliness is fierce. Love, success, and friendship are not always enough to counter the pain and destructiveness of severe mental illness.
—Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast

I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one's life, change the nature and direction of one's work, and give final meaning and color to one's loves and friendships.
—Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

I remember sitting in his office a hundred times during those grim months and each time thinking, What on earth can he say that will make me feel better or keep me alive? Well, there never was anything he could say, that's the funny thing. It was all the stupid, desperately optimistic, condescending things he didn't say that kept me alive; all the compassion and warmth I felt from him that could not have been said; all the intelligence, competence, and time he put into it; and his granite belief that mine was a life worth living.
—Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

No amount of love can cure madness or unblacken one’s dark moods. Love can help, it can make the pain more tolerable, but, always, one is beholden to medication that may or may not always work and may or may not be bearable.
— Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind

Look to the living, love them, and hold on.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

Short Story

My highs are so severe (gravity in reverse sensations)
Bill jokes that my 25 pound accordion, my 15 pound baritone, and my 80 pound dog are designed to hold me on the earth.

I said to Bill "I am soooo high - I feel sexy."
He said "Now don't go letting other boys. . .
and I said no way, never!
I am making home made apple juice!"
and we laughed our heads off.

What a weirdo. When I feel sexy, I bake and cook.
I write and I dance around the living room.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

William Carlos Williams

(if you are interested)
leads to discovery.
― William Carlos Williams

Shambhala Sun: Bernie Glassman and Jeff Bridges

The Hebrew word for peace is shalom, and to Roshi Bernie Glassman it’s the key to his work with the Zen Peacemakers. It’s a word many people are familiar with, but what’s less commonly known is that the root of shalom is shalem, meaning whole. Therefore, to make peace is to make whole, and in Zen—according to Glassman—the practice is to realize the wholeness and interconnectedness of life.

Glassman had a profound experience of wholeness in the early seventies, shortly after finishing his mathematics Ph.D. He was driving to work one morning when he had a vision of hungry ghosts everywhere. Called pretas in Buddhist cosmology, these are beings who experience (and represent) endless and unfulfillable desire. At first he saw these hankering, unsatisfied beings as existing outside himself. But suddenly he had the keen sense that there was no separation: he was those beings, they were him. Glassman knew then that his life’s calling was to feed the hungry, literally and figuratively. He would not stay forever holed up in a zendo but would take the realizations won on the cushion out into the world.

In 1982, Glassman and his students opened the Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, a city then plagued by unemployment, violence, and drugs. His vision was that a business could have a double bottom line; it could both generate profits and serve the community. On the ground this meant hiring people who would conventionally be considered unemployable. But—contrary to what some might expect—this was no recipe for disaster. In fact, Greyston was soon baking cakes and tarts for some of the most exclusive eateries in New York and making brownies for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Today, the bakery is a solid $6 million business with over 75 employees.

And it’s just one piece of a larger socially responsible business model. What has become known as the Greyston Foundation also includes the Greyston Family Inn, the Maitri Center, and Issan House. The Greyston Family inn offers hundreds of low-cost permanent apartments for homeless families and a child-care center, after-school programs, and tenant-support services. Maitri is a medical center that serves people with AIDS-related illnesses, and Issan House provides housing for many of Maitri’s patients.

in 1994, on Glassman’s fifty-fifth birthday, he decided to establish the Zen Peacemakers Order. Originally, it was intended strictly for Zen practitioners, but it eventually blossomed into an international, interfaith network. As articulated by Glassman, the community is founded on three tenets for integrating spiritual practice and social action: (1) not-knowing, thereby giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe, (2) bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world, and (3) loving action for ourselves and others.

Glassman sees these three tenets as the essence of Zen, phrased in a fresh, modern idiom. “In Zen training,” says Glassman, “koan study gets you to experience the state of not knowing.” Then bearing witness is just sitting, or shikantaza, and loving action is none other than compassion.

In terms of peace and justice work, Glassman explains the three tenets by saying that positive change doesn’t come out of an activist having fixed ideas. What really helps is being completely open and listening deeply. “I try to become the situation,” he says, “and then I let the actions come out of that.”

Bearing witness is at the heart of the groundbreaking retreats for which Glassman has become best known: street retreats and retreats held at the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Street retreats combine meditation with living as a homeless person for several days, with no money, no shelter, no job, no usual identity. Retreatants take their meals in soup kitchens and learn to survive without even the guarantee of a bathroom. Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, a Buddhist teacher who was given dharma transmission by Glassman, has said that the power of a street retreat lies in how it pushes things “right in your there is no way to exclude anything. Living on the street is scary. But the minute you include the fear in your practice, it’s much less scary because then the fear is there. You can touch it, you can feel it, and it’s not this black cloud that’s following you around.”

During the bearing-witness retreats at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the lion’s share of each day is spent sitting by the infamous train tracks, alternating silence with chanting the names of the victims. Glassman was originally inspired to hold these retreats when he went to Auschwitz for an interfaith conference.

“I walked into Birkenau,” he told me, and “I could feel the millions of souls crying out to be remembered. I said I have got to bear witness to what’s going on here. I spent a year and a half creating a format, which involved bringing together people from all walks of life—children and grandchildren of SS members, survivors, children of survivors, people from many countries, many religions.” This November will mark the eighteenth annual retreat memorializing the Holocaust. Then Glassman will lead a Rwandan retreat in April 2014, bearing witness to the twentieth anniversary of the genocide there.

Their mutual commitment to social action is a big connection between Bernie Glassman and Jeff Bridges. Stamping out hunger is Bridges’ main focus, and he has been dedicated to it for almost as long as he’s been in film. A cofounder of the End Hunger network, he is also the national spokesman for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign; in the capacity of this role, he was invited to speak to both Republican and Democratic governors at last year’s political conventions.

You might think that such a speech would be no big deal for an actor, but Bridges tied himself up in knots over it. It was four pages long, and he painstakingly memorized every word of it as though it were a monologue. Yet he was keenly aware that a speech is not a movie. There would not be take after take until he got it right—this was a one-shot deal, and the stakes were high. It was imperative that he impress upon both Republican and Democratic governors that childhood hunger is an issue that should transcend the political divide.

As it turned out, nothing was what Bridges expected. The first surprise was that his speech to the Republican governors was scheduled for the peculiar hour of 10:30 p.m. The second surprise was that he would have to compete with booze and bowling pins; that is, his speech was to be delivered first in a bar and then repeated a little later in a bowling alley. To make matters worse, the 10:30 speech got postponed to eleven, then midnight, and finally it got rolled into the one at the bowling alley.

“Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who is chairman of the Republican Governors Association and already part of the No Kid Hungry campaign, arrives, gives me a wonderful introduction, and splits,” Bridges recounts in The Dude and the Zen Master. “It turns out that there are no other governors there at all. I end up giving the talk I’d agonized over for two months to an audience of seventy-five college girls at the bowling-alley bar. And I don’t change a thing, either. I memorized my lines so well that i just give the entire four-page speech written for state governors—I hope you’ll join Governor McDonnell and others to develop state solutions to childhood hunger—to a bunch of college girls.”

Not that Bridges is putting these young girls down. He’s quick to add that—you never know—one fine day it just might be one of those girls who really makes a difference.

At the Four Seasons lounge, Bernie Glassman clarifies that the koans in The Big Lebowski are “not from Jeff,” but rather from the Coen Brothers’ script. “Jeff just happens to be the guy who is the dude in the movie, and he’s also the Dude in his life.” I think Glassman means that, although Bridges isn’t exactly the dude you see in the film, he isn’t exactly not that dude either. The ways in which he is un-dude are easy to pinpoint. Bridges, for instance, is no perennial bachelor. He’s been married to the same woman for thirty-five years and they have three grown daughters. Nonetheless Bridges has a duderino flavor—he’s chilled out and, for lack of a better word, really nice. Frequently when someone asks him for an autograph, he goes five steps further and offers them a drawing instead. Also like the Dude, Bridges’ speech is garnished with f-bombs and mans, but maybe he and Glassman are just hamming it up for the press. Bridges’ tuna tartare is gone and Glassman’s danish is slightly picked over when the publicist approaches the table. It seems that Bridges’ makeup artist and the rest of the bromantic couple’s entourage are already anticipating the next media event, this one on TV. “Five more minutes,” says the publicist.

Bridges screws up his face. “Cool, cool, yeah,” he says, “but we were just getting going here!”

-Andrea Miller is the deputy editor of the Shambhala Sun, as well as the editor of the anthology Right Here With You: Bringing Mindful Awareness into Our Relationships.

Tennessee Williams

Each September, thousands of theater fans flock to tiny Provincetown to celebrate Tennessee Williams with live performances from as near as Cape Cod and as far as South Africa.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Anaïs Nin + Henry Miller

Anaïs, I don’t know how to tell you what I feel. I live in perpetual expectancy. You come and the time slips away in a dream. It is only when you go that I realize completely your presence. And then it is too late. You numb me.
. . .
This is a little drunken, Anais. I am saying to myself: ‘Here is the first woman with whom I can be absolutely sincere.’ I remember your saying: ‘You could fool me, I wouldn’t know it.’ When I walk along the boulevards and think of that, I can’t fool you – and yet I would like to. I mean that I can never be absolutely loyal – it’s not in me. I love women, or life, too much – which it is, I don’t know. But laugh, Anais…I love to hear you laugh. You are the only woman who has had a sense of gayety, a wise tolerance – no, more, you seem to urge me to betray you. I love you for that. And what makes you do that – love? Oh, it is beautiful to love, and to be free at the same time.
. . .
I don’t know what to expect of you, but it is something in the way of a miracle. I am going to demand everything of you – even the impossible, because you encourage it. You are really strong. I even like your deceit, your treachery. It seems aristocratic to me.
- Henry Miller, A Literate Passion : Letters of Anais Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953

Anaïs Nin

The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.
– Anaïs Nin

If what Proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge, experience and creation.
– Anaïs Nin

I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot love in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.
– Anaïs Nin

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
– Anaïs Nin

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.
– Anaïs Nin

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
– Anaïs Nin

Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terror, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.
– Anaïs Nin

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.
– Anaïs Nin

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
– Anaïs Nin

When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.
– Anaïs Nin

Jeff Bridges

If we were doing a scene together, he’d say, ‘don’t just wait for my mouth to stop talking before you answer. Listen to what I’m saying and let that inform how you talk back. If I say things one way, you’re going to react one way, and if I say them a different way, you’re going to react a different way.’ Or he’d give me this direction: ‘make it seem like it’s happening for the first time.’
-Jeff Bridges


noun \ˈsə-təl-tē\

: the quality or state of being subtle

: a small detail that is usually important but not obvious
plural sub·tle·ties

Full Definition of SUBTLETY
1 the quality or state of being subtle
2 something subtle

Examples of SUBTLETY

1. The pianist performed with subtlety and passion.
2. We appreciated the subtlety with which our host indicated that it was time to leave: he volunteered to pack us a little lunch for the road

Origin of SUBTLETY
Middle English sotilte, subtilte, from Anglo-French sotilté, from Latin subtilitat-, subtilitas, from subtilis
First Known Use: 14th century


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pippa Goldschmidt

But maybe I found distant galaxies easier to understand than the people around me, and I wonder if my work became a substitute for any true connection. I still look to the edge of the universe, but I try to remember always to keep one eye focused here on earth.


-Pippa Goldschmidt is the author of the novel The Falling Sky.

Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac

Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.
-Honoré de Balzac

All happiness depends on courage and work.
-Honoré de Balzac

Reading brings us unknown friends.
-Honoré de Balzac

A letter is a soul, so faithful an echo of the speaking voice that to the sensitive it is among the richest treasures of love.
-Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot

Matthew Sanford

I have never seen anyone truly become more aware of his or her body without becoming more compassionate.
-Matthew Sanford, Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

C.S. Lewis

Most of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.
- C.S. Lewis from Learning in War-Time, The Weight of Glory

J. G. Ballard

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
-J. G. Ballard