Monday, December 28, 2015

Haskell Wexler: Art and Love

Mr. Sayles said Mr. Wexler was one of the few cinematographers whose first reaction to a script was not about lighting the scenes (“which he did beautifully, with an incredibly high speed-to-skill ratio”) but to discuss what the story was about — thematically, morally, politically. “A lot of directors find this to be a problem,” Mr. Sayles said in an interview in 2010. “But as Haskell would say, ‘There are no problems, only opportunities.’ ”

Mr. Wexler was known for his signature use of contrasts and shadows: He was colorblind, so he worked differently from others in his field, especially after color became dominant.

In “Tell Them Who You Are,” his son Mark’s documentary, Mr. Wexler comes across as either a naturally irascible character or someone without a lot of time for blather. Asked about his approach to his art, and whether he had any kind of philosophical perspective on cinematography, he says that the way he shoots is “more deeply personal than anything I could comprehend and maybe than a psychiatrist could comprehend.” He adds:

“I don’t attack any kind of script or shooting with some philosophy that is discernible even to myself. It might just be art and love: When I got my Academy Award for ‘Virginia Woolf’ in the middle of the Vietnam War, I said, ‘I hope we can use our art for peace and love.’ I was telling someone that a few weeks ago, and they said, ‘What was the big deal?’ And I told him at that time those were revolutionary words. And I think they came from a deep place.”

Archeologist of Morning

Olson goes by ear, and his lines are breath-conditioned. The two halves, he says, are: "the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE/the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Centering and Aiming

I've always been terrified of guns. But my nephew Scott received a pellet air-gun as a gift after completing a gun safety class with his dad. They live out in the country with a huge chunk of wilderness behind their house. They set up a target of three orange metal circles on the edge of the woods and invited me to try my hand at shooting. It took me a while to line up the gun's red light in between the two green lights and then aim at the orange metal disc. The gun was heavy. When I lined everything up I pulled the trigger. The blast was so loud, I jumped through my skin. Then I heard a clink sound. My pellet hit the orange circle! It took me 45 minutes to calm down. I loved it, way too much.

David Sedaris

I just give the illusion of exposing myself, but really, I'm not exposed at all. There's a real me that's inside my diary, and then there's a character of me. Whenever you write about yourself, real people live in the world, and characters live on the page, and you become a character.
-David Sedaris

Write everyday and read everything you can get your hands on. Write every day with a pen that's shaped like a candy cane.
-David Sedaris

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tracee Chimo Actress, Dancer

Perhaps to suggest that she and the Champagne-swigging Regan are not the same person, Ms. Chimo sounded self-deprecating when describing what she does on her days off at home in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“I dance around my apartment all the time,” she said. Pause.

“I make a great chicken pasta salad." Longer pause.

“I’m just not a partier,” she continued, with a laugh. “A party to me is a glass of red wine and a bowl of mac and cheese. I’m usually at home watching Charlie Chaplin videos with my cat.”



I dreamed I was on a long walk with my dog in the country. It was a sunny summer day. My dog was thirsty. We stopped at a farm so he could drink running water coming out of a green garden hose. The water was yellow pink raspberry sherbet colored. I tasted it to make sure it was okay. I went into the farm house and there were two bugs the size of praying mantises. I swatted one, killing it and the other bug started sobbing uncontrollably. I've got to get out of here I thought, racing out the door to find my dog.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Things Which Matter Most

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Life Belongs to the Living

Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


If I love you, what business is it of yours?
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Hear a Little Music, Read a Little Poetry

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Our Planet

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Inhabited Garden

The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A Man Sees

A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

A person hears only what they understand.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


I dreamed there was two feet of snow in our living room and outdoors. A guy dressed as Santa Claus and another guy walked down the alley and leaned against the picture window staring into our living room. I panicked and said to my husband "He's casing the joint." I took out the phone to dial the police. The phone wouldn't get a dial tone. It was jammed with Froot Loops. I turned the phone over and slapped out the crumbs and tried again. This time I got the station but instead of a receptionist I could hear all of the other callers phoning in.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Good Sleep is Crucial for Happiness and Inspiration

I finally appreciate the importance of a good night of sleep. Now I have something to protect. I no longer have caffeine in the afternoon. If you love tea, like I do try this herbal substitute.

A Brighter Bulb

It's funny, a week ago we got a brighter lightbulb above the comfy chair and I have read four books.

The Upward Spiral: Reshape Your Brain one Small Change at a Time

I'm loving this book; The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb, PhD. If there was ever a book that I'd call the human owner's manual this would be it.
The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time
by Alex Korb

Depression can feel like a downward spiral, pulling you down into a vortex of sadness, fatigue, and apathy. Based in the latest research in neuroscience, this audiobook offers dozens of little things you can do every day to rewire your brain and create an upward spiral towards a happier, healthier life.

Depression doesn't happen all at once. It starts gradually and builds momentum over time. If you go through a difficult experience, you may stop taking care of yourself. You may stop exercising and eating healthy, which will end up making you feel even worse as time goes on. You are caught in a downward spiral, but you may feel too tired, too overwhelmed, and too scared to try and pull yourself back up. The good news is that just one small step can be a step in the right direction.

In The Upward Spiral, neuroscientist Alex Korb demystifies the neurological processes in the brain that cause depression and offers effective ways to get better one little step at a time. In the book, you'll discover that there isn't 'one big solution' that will solve your depression. Instead, there are dozens of small, practical things you can do to alleviate your symptoms and start healing. Some are as simple as relaxing certain muscles to reduce feelings of anxiety, while others involve making small efforts toward more positive social interactions. Small steps in the right direction can have profound effects giving you the power to literally 'reshape' your brain.

Like most people, you probably didn't wake up one day and find yourself completely depressed. Instead, it probably happened over time, as a series of reactions to difficult situations and negative thinking. But if you are ready to reverse the trajectory of your depression and find lasting happiness, this book will show you how.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stay Grounded

So this holiday season, plan ahead, keep to your schedule, and scale back your expectations. If you do, you can beat holiday depression, mania, anxiety, and hassles -- and enjoy the season.

Ram Dass on Karma Yoga


Mood Indigo

Those on the bipolar spectrum may operate within a much wider bandwidth of "up" and "down" than the rest of the population. What may come across as unusual behavior to others may be perfectly ordinary - and even beneficial - to someone disposed to thinking deep or inclined to exuberance. On the other hand, normal is often an extremely frightening place, with no break from the raging storms that play out inside the brains of its victims. At the same time, it is also the repository of all that is good inside of us, together with all of our hopes and dreams.

NOT JUST UP AND DOWN challenges the simplistic notion that bipolar disorder is an episodic illness characterized by extreme shifts in mood from depression to mania. Instead, John McManamy presents a more coherent picture of bipolar as a cycling illness with the brain in perpetual motion, extremely sensitive to nature's slightest whims.

In this book, award-winning mental health journalist and author John McManamy seamlessly integrates expert scientific and patient wisdom, as seen through the eyes of someone who must face the daily challenge of his illness.

Among other things, you will learn how to distinguish your depressive and manic "traits" from your depressive and manic "states." Not everything is as it seems.

You will also gain insights into:

*The bipolar spectrum, which overlaps with depression and anxiety and personality.
*The mysterious interplay between genes and environment and temperament.
*Your own true "normal," which needs to be regarded as a mood episode in its own right.
*Your own anomalous behaviors, ranging from creativity to road rage to exuberance to thinking deep.
*The bipolar's dilemma, namely: Do you take a chance on exerting yourself and thus risk triggering a mood episode, or do you play it safe, only to succumb to isolation and despair?

In the process of learning to "know thyself," you will grow to take stock in yourself and become your own expert patient, in a position to manage your own recovery and set your own goals in life.

John McManamy has produced a brilliant book, north of normal, south of crazy. It’s as good an education about depression and manic states, and about psychiatry in general, as I’ve seen in one place, written from a first-person perspective of someone who’s experienced what he’s writing about. It’s well-informed, based on careful study, explaining complex concepts simply but not simplistically, citing all the right people, and the wrong ones too (on purpose). Read it, and it’ll cure you of your average-itis.
– Nassir Ghaemi, Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Mood Disorders Program, Tufts Medical Center

Monday, December 21, 2015

Raymond Carver

Art doesn't have to do anything.
— Raymond Carver
Paris Review

Mental Health Service Dogs


According to the American's with Disabilities Act, service animals are allowed to go in public places anywhere that a non-disabled person is allowed to go. This includes a public business, restaurant, taxi, bus, or park, even if a local or state law states otherwise. The ADA supersedes local and state laws because it is a federal law. Note that this is an American law and the rules might be different in other countries.

Here are some specific task areas service dogs can be trained to help with:

1. Emotional Coping Assistance: Service dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks that soothe the negative effects of the person's mental illness and coping with emotional overload. Service Dogs can be taught to prevent others from crowding their owner. They can be taught to recognize a panic attack and nuzzle a distraught owner to help him calm down.

2. Treatment Related Assistance: These special animals can be trained to deliver messages, remind their owner to take medications at a specific time, assist with walking as well as alerting sedated individuals to doorbells, phones or smoke detectors. Dogs can be balance trained with a stiff harness to help keep the individual from falling and trained to help them regain balance and stand.

3. Assistance in a Medical Crisis: Service dogs can be trained to retrieve medications for the individual from a specially located spot, beverages to swallow them with, and telephones to call for help. They can bark for help, answer a doorbell, open doors and even dial 911 on special K9 speaker telephones.

4. Driving Safety: Service dogs can be trained to determine if a person’s judgment capacity while driving is diminished and can prompt the person to slow down and pull off the road as soon as possible.

5. Security Enhancement: These canines are often trained to check the house for intruders. They can turn on lights and open doors. They can assist with leaving a premises during an emergency.

One Lap, One Chair

The only way to face the pool is to ask myself to just swim one lap. The only way to clean up my messy office is to try clearing one chair.


“...about a year after that, I was invited to go to a mental hospital. And, you know, you don't want to be rude, so you go.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

“What worries me is, what if this guy is really the one for me and I just haven't had enough therapy yet for me to be comfortable with having found him.”
― Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Carrie Fisher

“You know the bad thing about being a survivor... You keep having to get into difficult situations in order to show off your gift.”
― Carrie Fisher, The Best Awful

Statistics Say

“Statistics say that a range of mental disorders affects more than one in four Americans in any given year. That means millions of Americans are totally batshit.
But having perused the various tests available that they use to determine whether you're manic depressive. OCD, schizo-affective, schizophrenic, or whatever, I'm surprised the number is that low. So I have gone through a bunch of the available tests, and I've taken questions from each of them, and assembled my own psychological evaluation screening which I thought I'd share with you.
So, here are some of the things that they ask to determine if you're mentally disordered:
1. In the last week, have you been feeling irritable?
2. In the last week, have you gained a little weight?
3. In the last week, have you felt like not talking to people?
4. Do you no longer get as much pleasure doing certain things as you used to?
5. In the last week, have you felt fatigued?
6. Do you think about sex a lot?
If you don't say yes to any of these questions either you're lying, or you don't speak English, or you're illiterate, in which case, I have the distinct impression that I may have lost you a few chapters ago.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking


“I rarely cry. I save my feelings up inside me like I have something more specific in mind for them. I am waiting for the exact perfect situation and then BOOM! I'll explode in a light show of feeling and emotion - a pinata stuffed with tender nuances and pent-up passions.”
― Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Instant Gratification

“Mom brought me some peanut butter cookies and a biography of Judy Garland. She told me she thought my problem was that I was too impatient, my fuse was too short, that I was only interested in instant gratification. I said, 'Instant gratification takes too long.'”
― Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Take a Nap

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.”
― Carrie Fisher

Watch the People

“Sometimes she’d just walk around the city alone. Watch the people, smell the food, the bus exhaust, the smoke coming up through the grating. She’d feel protected somehow, found a sense of belonging in the hectic sprawl. And the next minute she’d feel like the one who couldn’t break the code, hit the right stride, catch the wave. Potholes and traffic and bums, oh my. With all the honking and the hum of movement, the living, breathing blur of noise gently pressing in on her, the great purr of the Metropolitan Cat turning into a dull roar. She’d feel so silent on the inside, her head as quiet as a stretch of sand, a cathedral silently worshiping the life that was all around her, storing it up for later when she needed some 'too much' to draw upon.”
― Carrie Fisher, Surrender the Pink


“You're not really famous until you're a Pez dispenser.”
― Carrie Fisher

Postcards from the Edge

“I told him about the Oedipal thing, about my father leaving when I was very young so I knew how to pine for men, but not how to love them. So he said, 'You'd probably would have been perfect for somebody in World War Two. You'd meet him and then he would get shipped overseas.' And I said, 'Maybe on our date I could drop you off and you could enlist,' and he said he would just got out and rent a uniform. So he was very funny.”
― Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Three Rotating Emotions

My inner world seems largely to consist of three rotating emotions: embarrassment, rage, and tension. Sometimes I feel excited, but I think that's just positive tension.
― Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge

Furnish My Heart

I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.
― Carrie Fisher

Costume Magic

"You take him out of the dress, and he's actually shy and a little standoffish in some social situations,"

World Peace Through Spinach Pie

Yes, I am prone to exaggerate and express my enthusiasm but I am excited that my spinach pies were amazing and I think they are the perfect gift.

Ram Dass: You Appreciate the Tree

Question: How can I judge myself less harshly and appreciate myself more?
Ram Dass on self judgment:

I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again. That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are. And, there was a period of time where I used to have a picture of myself on my puja table. Later I had Caspar Weinberger, but earlier on I had me. And people would come and say “My God, what an ego this guy has got. He has got his own picture on his puja table.” But really, what it was, was a chance for me to practice opening my heart to myself. And to appreciate the predicament I am in. I mean I could see the whole incarnation. If I am quiet enough, I can see his story line. I mean history is his story. Or herstory. And herstory is just the story line of our predicament. And it’s finding a place from in yourself where you see the unfolding of law. Dad did this; Mother did this; economics did this; education did this; opportunity did this; drugs did this; Maharajji did this.

All of this cause and effect, previous incarnations. All of this is just an unfolding of a story line. A drama. The Ram Dass story. There he is. How will it come out? How did it come out? And you are just sort of watching this story unfold. It has nothing to do with me. Because I’m not that. That’s just a set of phenomena happening. And when you look at yourself as a set of phenomena, what is to judge? I mean is that flower less than that? It’s just different than that. And you begin to appreciate your uniqueness without it being better or worse. It’s just different. And cultivating an appreciation of uniqueness, rather than preference, is a very good one. It’s just when you get inside identification with your personality that you get into the judging mode, because then you are part of that lawful unfolding. You are not stepping outside of it at all. The witness or the spacious awareness is outside of it. It is another contextual framework.

As you are more quiet inside so that you notice and you can see your own thoughts a little more clearly, you will see your father’s voice and your mother’s voice and all your education principles’ voices inside your head constantly saying things to you. And you will see that — what Freud calls the Superego. You will see that that judge is inside. And you keep giving it power by identifying with it. And you feel yourself at war with yourself. That there is a part of you that is doing it, and there is a part of you that is judging what you are doing. And as you are quieter, you see the dynamics between the Superego, the Id, the ego. And you see it all as just phenomena. Because they are phenomena. As a psychologist, I can study those phenomena in another person; why not study it in myself? And part of what drugs did for me, and then meditation did for me, and all the spiritual things is it helps me stand back and get outside of it. To see it for what it is. As just stuff — phenomena.


A Writer's Work is to Witness Things

Country people do not behave as if they think life is short; they live on the principle that it is long, and savor variations of the kind best appreciated if most days are the same.
- Edward Hoagland

Once I climbed into a mountain lion's cage and she bounded at me and put her paw on my face, but she kept her claws withdrawn.
- Edward Hoagland

When I was 18 I worked with the Ringling Brothers circus, taking care of menagerie animals. I used to rather deliberately risk my life with the big cats.
- Edward Hoagland

Black bears, though, are not fearsome. I encountered one on the road to my house in Vermont, alone at night. I picked up two stones just in case, but I wasn't afraid of him. I felt a hunter's exhilaration and a brotherly feeling.
- Edward Hoagland

A writer's work is to witness things.
- Edward Hoagland

Becoming Partly a Dog

“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”
― Edward Hoagland

“We have in America "The Big Two-Hearted River" tradition: taking your wounds to the wilderness for a cure, a conversation, a rest, whatever. And as is in the Hemingway story, if your wounds aren't too bad, it works.”
― Edward Hoagland

“True solitude is a din of birdsong, seething leaves, whirling colors, or a clamor of tracks in the snow.”
― Edward Hoagland

Sleeping Under the Lion Cage

He wasn't sure whether he wanted to be a writer or a zoologist, so he wrote to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and asked for a summer job working with the big cats. When he was accepted, he hitchhiked to meet up with the circus. On his first day, he was handed an ax and instructed to butcher a dead horse to feed the cats. He traveled around with the circus, sleeping under the lion cage. He said: "The circus was very important to me. It taught me how to live, about the importance of risks and survivability - the traveling, the temporariness of life, the impromptu arrangements, the friendships that heat up and cool, the love affairs, the coming into a new place and making a space for oneself with new acquaintances, putting up one's tent, so to speak."
- Describing Edward Hoagland on the Writer's Almanac

Gov. Cuomo to Pardon Youth

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Sunday that he would seek out and pardon thousands of people who were convicted of nonviolent crimes as teenagers but have since led law-abiding lives.

“When you’re young you can make a mistake, and maybe you don’t have to carry the burden for your entire life.”


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Using Meditation and Mindfulness to Find Balance and Peace

Taoism teaches that the way to overcome problems is to first get to know them.

The Tao of bipolar disorder affects energy. At its core, bipolar disorder involves a cyclical change of energy.

Thus, the first step in overcoming the symptoms of bipolar disorder is to become aware of yourself along with your levels of energy and corresponding thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

But when you have bipolar disorder, your emotions and moods don’t always accurately reflect what’s happening in your life.

You don’t have to try to oppose your mood, nor do you have to just resign yourself to feeling discomfort. Instead, you learn to follow your mood and use its force to redirect it in a better direction.

- The Tao of Bipolar: Using Meditation and Mindfulness to Find Balance and Peace
by C. Alexander Simpkins, Annellen M. Simpkins

The Tao of Bipolar

If you have bipolar disorder, you struggle with psychological balance, swinging between highly depressed and highly manic states. For you, finding the middle path can be a challenge, which is why the Tao understanding of energy can be so helpful. “Tao,” is a Chinese word meaning “the way” and a metaphysical concept for understanding the universe as a circular flow of energy. The Tao understanding of bipolar disorder is that symptoms are the result of a disrupted or imbalanced energy flow that can be brought back to harmony with dedication and practice.

In The Tao of Bipolar, you will reconnect with your essential, stable, balanced nature, which, according to the Tao, is the inherent state of all matter. In the book, you will learn to manage your energy with meditation and other techniques so that you can always return to their stable center. While you may lose touch with the center during bipolar episodes, this book encourages you to use mindfulness and meditation to consciously shift your energy back to this center before a bipolar episode gets too extreme.

When it comes to bipolar disorder, managing emotions, preventing manic episodes, and dealing effectively with periods of depression is key to your mental health and well-being. This book will give you the tools you need to get your bipolar disorder under control, and get back to living life.

Once you learn to manage your moods, you can function normally and experience far less suffering from the disorder, even when you do have bipolar episodes.

Spinach Pie is My Favorite Food

I'm making RI Italian-style spinach pies because I love them. In RI they call them pie but they look like calzones. Basically it is just spinach, olives, and garlic sauteed in olive oil rolled up and baked in a pizza-dough calzone.

I'd love to be able to make them as good as Jeanette's Bakery on Branch Ave in Providence. I am working on it! Here's a recipe I am using as a guide.

My version came out great! I used whole wheat and white bread flour and cornmeal combined and I used Fleishmann's instant yeast. The mounds of spinach were HUGE and the dough was thin just like the spinach pies from Jeanette's bakery.

One Mood is the Meal, and the Next Mood is the Check

Both hands, one heart, two moods and a head.
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

I not only feel better about myself because these people are also fucked up (and I guess this gives us a sense of community), but I feel better because look how much these fellow fuckups managed to accomplish!
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

And I ultimately not only addressed it, I named my two moods Roy and Pam. Roy is Rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood, and Pam is Sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs. (Pam stands for “piss and moan.”) One mood is the meal, and the next mood is the check.
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher: Put things into Words

“Offstage, I couldn't put things into words, and that was the one thing I'd always been able to rely on. Putting my feelings into words and praying they wouldn't be able to get out again.”
― Carrie Fisher, Shockaholic

There's No Underwear in Space

“Anyway, George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes on look at the dress and says, 'You can't wear a bra under that dress.'
So, I say, 'Okay, I'll bite. Why?'
And he says, 'Because... there's no underwear in space.'
I promise you this is true, and he says it with such conviction too! Like he ahd been to space and looked around and he didn't see any bras or panties or briefs anywhere.
Now, George came to my show when it was in Berkeley. He came backstage and explained why you can't wear your brassiere in other galaxies, and I have a sense you will be going to outer space very soon, so here's why you cannot wear your brassiere, per George. So, what happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn't- so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make a fantastic obit- so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

Problem vs Inconvenience

“In my opinion, a problem derails your life and an inconvenience is not being able to get a nice seat on the un-derailed train.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher

“I feel I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I LOVE the RI Athletic Club

I go there to swim but there are many choices for finding your favorite fitness activities and classes. The thing I tell everyone is, It's a fabulous place because the owner Mike Reynolds is wonderful and his good energy sets the tone. He is kind, welcoming, enthusiastic, receptive, and inspiring. Mike's great vibe is shared by everyone who works there and everyone who walks in the door. He has hired a team of marvelous people who enjoy working and teaching and even participating in the athletics on their time off. I joined because I love to swim but I keep on going willingly because I love the place. I am most proud of this Woonsocket small business. Did I mention the price is reasonable too? A dollar a day, for community fitness and happiness. There's no better bargain. Come on in and check it out. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Terri Cheney: Bottomless Well of Empathy

I've looked in the mirror when I'm hypomanic and even I can see it: my eyes are an open invitation, a bottomless well of empathy. "Trust me, tell me everything," they say, and people do. Not just men sitting across from me at a candle light dinner, either; and not just men, for that matter. Men and women everywhere seem compelled to talk to me, touch me, give me their confidence. It happens in the oddest places: in the aisles of the supermarket, waiting in a movie line, sitting at a coffee house, and especially in elevators. Hypomania breaks down that invisible wall that exists between well-mannered strangers. There are no strangers anymore, only unknown friends waiting to tell their stories.
-Terri Cheney, Manic (pg 208)

The Telephone

I've never liked the telephone. It's a noisy, shrill intruder. If it were up to me, I'd ban all phones and bring back visiting days, like in Jane Austen and Edith Wharton novels: "Ms. Cheney shall be in on Tuesday afternoons, from two to four o'clock."
-Terri Cheney, Manic (p153)

When you Have a Tendency to go Mad

So when you have a tendency to go mad every so often, it isn't safe to be unkempt, ever - not in your manner, your speech, and especially not in your looks. Sometimes I think that a hundred-dollar haircut is all that stands between me and a fourteen-day hold.
-Terri Cheney, Manic (p143)


This wasn't a courtroom. This wasn't even real life. This was Kafka-land, where all the puzzles have missing pieces.
-Terri Cheney, Manic (p132)

Terri Cheney: Little Things

Little things like a missing puzzle piece matter when you're no longer in control of your environment, when every decision is made for you, from what you eat to what you wear to when you sleep to whom you are allowed to associate with. I found myself jealously guarding my work in progress. It was my own little sphere of autonomy, however flawed and unfinished. In fact despite my efforts to be the perfect mental patient, I nearly lost my composure one day when I walked into the puzzle room and discovered one of the schizophrenics eating an ice cap off my Mt. McKinley. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" I demanded, forgetting that one should never confront a schizophrenic directly. It activates all his well-oiled alarms. "I was thirsty," he said, and I was so charmed by the Alice in Wonderland logic of that, I smiled and broke him off another big piece.
- Terri Cheney, Manic (p130-131)

Terri Cheney, Manic

I am not at all an outdoorsy kind of girl. I consider hailing a cab to count as strenuous exercise.
- Terri Cheney, Manic (p106-7)

Terri Cheney: Manic Epiphanies

Manic epiphanies are like shooting stars: flashes of brilliance that are gone in an instant.
-Terri Cheney, Manic (p101)

Terri Cheney

The flare of the match startled me. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the flame, which could only mean one thing: I was manic. I have a fascination with all things incendiary when I'm manic. I surround myself with candles; I cultivate friends with fireplaces; and I simply love to watch things burn. I'll stand for hours plucking strands of hair from my head and tossing them onto the stove just to see them sizzle.
-Terri Cheney, Manic, (p94)

Surrender Dorothy

"Surrender Dorothy" is a famous special effect used in the movie The Wizard of Oz, which later attained local fame as a graffito in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

The first appearance of the phrase is in the famous 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz. In the scene, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) has reached the Emerald City with her companions The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin Woodsman (Jack Haley) and Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), whereupon they are treated to the hospitality and technological comforts of the fantastic city. As they leave the "Wash & Brush Up Co.", the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) appears in the sky riding her broomstick, skywriting the words "SURRENDER DOROTHY". The terrified townspeople of the Emerald City - and the four intrepid adventurers - respond by rushing to the chamber where the Wizard of Oz himself (Frank Morgan) resides, only to be turned away by a Majordomo (also played by Frank Morgan) based loosely on the Soldier with the Green Whiskers.
source: Wikipedia


I only know that my greatest victories have always been surrenders.
-Terri Cheney, Manic (p88)

Splashy Joe and Blue-Noodle Arthur

This morning the pool was empty. I told myself remember one lap is enough, then you are free to shower and go home. Then I swam and really got into it. It felt good. Swimming is my yoga, my Tai Chi, my meditation, and my hydro-psychotherapy. After about 45 minutes a barrel-chested elderly gentleman showed up wearing a blue bathing suit carrying a blue towel. He picked out the only blue noodle. "I'm Arthur," he said. "Have you been swimming a while?
"Yes," I said. "I've heard about you, you're Blue-Noodle Arthur and you like this lane the best. Would you like me to move?" I asked.
"No, that's okay," he said. But I insisted he take his favorite lane.
"Splashy Joe will be here," Arthur said. "I see his car in the parking lot. He must be in the gym." A few minutes later a mustached man showed up. "This is Splashy Joe," Arthur said. "How do you do," I said. After a few minutes I switched lanes to be away from Splashy Joe and closer to Blue-Noodle Arthur. I put on my yellow flippers and felt like a Ferrari flying through the water. As I was leaving Arthur said "You swim good. Come here often? I've never seen you."
"I try to," I said, "but sometimes early and sometimes late."

Gregorian Chants

I am listening to Gregorian chants on my little internet radio. This music is mesmerizing. There used to be a thrift store in Providence called The Earthen Vessel, it was located on Smith Hill. They always played Gregorian chants.

I LOVE Memoirs

I love a well written memoir especially one that is about mental illness. I hope I will continue to find more good ones.

Paul Gross + Martha Burns: Married Actors Performing Together

I find doing plays can be lonely so I am happy to set off to work at night with my husband.

We have quite a lot of stage time together that culminates in an incendiary, surprising, emotional train wreck of a scene that is an absolute wonder to perform -- each time we do it, it is utterly different and that quality is intoxicating for an actor.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Terri Cheney

It's a well-known fact that God makes green-eyed men for one purpose only: to remind me that love is a chemical imbalance, too. That perilous highs and desperate lows and extravagant flurries of mood are not always symptoms of a broken mind, but signs of a beating heart.

- Terri Cheney, Manic (pg 71)

Terri Cheney

But I listen with triple intensity of normal people. I practically suck the thoughts from their brains. By the time the words are finally out of their slow, sane mouths, I not only know what they mean better than they do, I'm ten questions ahead.

- Terri Cheney, Manic (pg 69)

Terri Cheney: Quotes from Manic

But when you're heading up toward mania, the slightest sensation hotwires your nerves. Sound is noise, sunshine is glare, and it takes all of your self-control not to just slice that mosquito bite clean off your ankle.

That morning the prick of the hairbrush against my scalp had been so excruciating I'd thrown the brush in the toilet. I've thrown a lot of things in the toilet on my way up to mania - not all of them visible, or easily replaced.

One minute I was contemplating soundproofing the windows with Scotch tape, the next I was pawing through my closet, looking for the sexiest confront-your-neighbor outfit I could find.

You get beautifully and painfully thin on the road up to mania. Eating simply doesn't occur to you because there are too many other thoughts occupying your mind, important thoughts, thoughts that could change the world if only you could stop long enough to jot them down.

Tight jeans, visible nipples, and sensible flats: an odd assemblage of personalities, but it wasn't what I was really wearing when I marched up the street to my neighbor's gate. In my mind's eye, I was dressed for battle, in the cruel gray suit that I wore only to federal court, and then only for do-or-die cases; and the black patent leather pumps that I purposefully bought a size too small, just to keep me mean.

- Terri Cheney, Manic (pg 60-61)

Terri Cheney

Probably nobody but a manic-depressive can understand that putting on the brakes is sometimes far more exhilarating than winning the race.
- Terry Cheney, Manic (p41)

Terri Cheney

Most of the time I barely noticed that I had any body hair at all. Like most redheads, mine was fine and delicate, almost invisible to the eye and soft to the touch. [...] But innocuous as the little hairs might have seemed, they were my manic trip wires. Inevitably, when the chemical balance in my brain started to shift, they were the first to alert me to it. As soon as I felt them come alive again, I knew that the depression was finally lifting. I knew that it was hypomania, heavenly hypomania at last.
- Terri Cheney, Manic (p32)

How could I ever hope to tell a normal person about the terrors of being happy? Unless there was a damned good reason for it, something objective and verifiable like a winning bingo card or a negative biopsy, happiness wasn't a safe harbor for me. It was just another checkpoint on the road to mania. [...] You get too happy, you go pick wildflowers in the middle of the night from your neighbor's lawn, wearing nothing but a sneaky grin.
- Terri Cheney, Manic (p33)

Book: Manic by Terri Cheney

I am reading MANIC by Terri Cheney. It is fantastic! I have been reading some of the most breathtaking sentences aloud to my husband. Stay tuned for quotes.


I dreamed my parents moved to the country. Bill and I drove to see them. My mother was standing outside in the driveway wearing denim overalls. She was as surprised as we were when we arrived. She was young and at full strength. She greeted us happily. In the dream they had two dobermans and one black lab. The dogs were free to run over a huge expanse of land but they were gathered around us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tackling the Tornado of Chaos and Clutter

For some people it's a matter of scarcity. They view possessions as a type of security, an insulator against change. Other people hate making decisions. Other people are ineffective at managing their time. How does my office make me feel? How do I feel when I throw stuff away?

Ephemera and Detritus

My office is a geological time warp that goes back to the time before I owned a computer. Letters galore. I have cleared off three chairs in my office and made three stacks of books. I sat down in my newly available chair and began reading.

So far today I've filled an empty classic plastic laundry basket with old paper for recycling. It's a step on the journey of a thousand steps. I am by no means becoming a neat freak, I just have to sort the wheat from the chaff and hopefully bring down the dust level.

Over the decades I have made a cocoon. Will I feel naked if I succeed in getting rid of all of the detritus? Is that why I saved it, for protection?

I must remember that this office is also filled with good books and art and I mustn't only focus what needs improving.

Everything is a lesson on how to live life. If I allow it to be.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

- Ecclesiastes, King James Version

E.B. White: Nothing Harder to Keep Track of

There is nothing harder to estimate than a writer's time, nothing harder to keep track of. There are moments—moments of sustained creation—when his time is fairly valuable; and there are hours and hours when a writer's time isn't worth the paper he is not writing anything on.
― E.B. White, One Man's Meat

E.B. White: One Man's Meat

There is another sort of day which needs celebrating in song -- the day of days when spring at last holds up her face to be kissed, deliberate and unabashed. On that day no wind blows either in the hills or in the mind.
― E.B. White, One Man's Meat

E.B. White: New York

On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy. It is this largess that accounts for the presence within the city’s walls of a considerable section of the population; for the residents of Manhattan are to a large extent strangers who have pulled up stakes somewhere and come to town, seeking sanctuary or fulfillment or some greater or lesser grail. The capacity to make such dubious gifts is a mysterious quality of New York. It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.
― E.B. White, Here Is New York

E.B. White: No Man is Born Perpendicular

I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or non-political, that does not have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular.
― E.B. White

A writer's style reveals something of his spirit, his habits, his capacities, his is the Self escaping into the open.
― E.B. White

There's no limit to how complicated things can get, on account of one thing always leading to another.
― E.B. White

E.B. White

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.
― E.B. White, Letters of E. B. White

I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively, instead of skeptically and dictatorially.
― E.B. White

E.B. White: Hiding Between the Covers of a Book

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people - people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]
― E.B. White

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.
― E.B. White

Paris Review is the Important Thing

I admire anyone who has the guts to write anything at all.
—E.B. White

Poetry isn’t lost in translation, it is translation.
—Peter Cole

Every time I write a play it is the beginning of a new life for me.
—Neil Simon

I revise a great deal. I know when something is right because bells begin ringing and lights flash.
—E.B. White

I married to be able to write, to settle down and give my attention back to the important thing.
—Alice Munro

Carl Rogers: Watch with Awe

People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.
― Carl R. Rogers

Let us Cultivate our Garden

I feel the need to improve EVERYTHING lately. My husband reminds me that is because I am in receive-mode. He is right. Nonetheless I am trying to lift my mood. I went swimming and tried to out-swim a migraine. I came home and took Excedrin and it worked. The sun is out. I am going to try to tackle my first dusty pile of paper. Wish me luck.

Let us cultivate our garden.
― Voltaire, Candide

On Becoming: Carl Rogers

It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function. This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change.
― Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy

What is most personal is most universal.
― Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy

I'm not perfect... But I'm enough.
― Carl R. Rogers

I believe it will have become evident why, for me, adjectives such as happy, contented, blissful, enjoyable, do not seem quite appropriate to any general description of this process I have called the good life, even though the person in this process would experience each one of these at the appropriate times. But adjectives which seem more generally fitting are adjectives such as enriching, exciting, rewarding, challenging, meaningful. This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-fainthearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. Yet the deeply exciting thing about human beings is that when the individual is inwardly free, he chooses as the good life this process of becoming.
― Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy

The degree to which I can create relationships, which facilitate the growth of others as separate persons, is a measure of the growth I have achieved in myself.
― Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy

Am I living in a way which is deeply satisfying to me, and which truly expresses me?
― Carl R. Rogers

There is direction but there is no destination.
― Carl R. Rogers

When a person realizes he has been deeply heard, his eyes moisten. I think in some real sense he is weeping for joy. It is as though he were saying, "Thank God, somebody heard me. Someone knows what it's like to be me."
― Carl R. Rogers

In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?
― Carl R. Rogers

Kay Redfield Jamison: Internal Sea Walls

We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this—through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication—we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime. One of the most difficult problems is to construct these barriers of such a height and strength that one has a true harbor, a sanctuary away from crippling turmoil and pain, but yet low enough, and permeable enough, to let in fresh seawater that will fend off the inevitable inclination toward brackishness.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildy manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.
― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you're high it's tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one's marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends' faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against-- you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.
― 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: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Stymied by Dusty Paper

I walked into my office and sneezed four times. My office is officially absurd. Every surface is a teetering pile of books and papers including the floor. I get the queasy feeling in my stomach looking at the enormity of the task. My friend Peter says I need a buddy to help tackle the job. I think I need a bulldozer.

Britain Prunes Silly Laws

It is not a great idea to carry a plank of wood down a busy sidewalk. Nor should you ride a horse while drunk, or handle a salmon under suspicious circumstances.

Over the centuries, rules have piled up to penalize those who fire a cannon within 300 yards of a dwelling and those who beat a carpet in the street — unless the item can be classified as a doormat and it is beaten before 8 a.m.

“Put what looks like silly, pointless piece of law into its historical context and you realize that they had slightly different interest or they had the same sort of interests but were pursuing them in a different way,” Mr. Connolly said.

David Connolly, a senior lawyer with the commission, said he was struck by how much old law is still used.

“You think that those sorts of things are right for repeal,” he said, “and then you get in touch with the police, and the police say, ‘Well you know, on the whole, we’d rather you didn’t repeal that because we sometimes use it.’ ”

“It’s just a job that never ends,” Mr. Connolly said. “There isn’t a moment when you put your pen down or turn your computer off and say, ‘Right, that’s it.’ ”


A Graviton?

Two teams of physicists working independently at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, reported on Tuesday that they had seen traces of what could be a new fundamental particle of nature.

One possibility, out of a gaggle of wild and not-so-wild ideas springing to life as the day went on, is that the particle — assuming it is real — is a heavier version of the Higgs boson, a particle that explains why other particles have mass. Another is that it is a graviton, the supposed quantum carrier of gravity, whose discovery could imply the existence of extra dimensions of space-time.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jane E. Brody: Feel Much Better

I was going to skip my daily swim the other morning. I had already walked three miles with a friend and taken my dog to the park for his exercise. I was really tired, my back was sore, I had a column to write and lots to do around the house.

But I knew from past experience that I would feel much better after 40 minutes of swimming laps. So in I went. And, yes, I did feel better — not just refreshed, but more energetic, clearheaded and better prepared than I would have been otherwise to tackle the day’s essentials.

Michelle Segar, who directs the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan, would say I had reframed my exercise experience, making it ever more likely that I would continue to swim — even on days when I didn’t feel like doing it — because I viewed it as a positive, restorative activity. Indeed, exercise is something I do, not because I have to or was told to, but because I know it makes me feel better.

Jane E. Brody, NYT Article

Jane E. Brody: Feeling Happy and Less Stressed

For those of college age, for example, physical attractiveness typically heads the list of reasons to begin exercising, although what keeps them going seems to be the stress relief that a regular exercise program provides.

The elderly, on the other hand, may get started because of health concerns. But often what keeps them exercising are the friendships, sense of community and camaraderie that may otherwise be missing from their lives — easily seen among the gray-haired women who faithfully attend water exercise classes at my local YMCA.

I walk three miles daily, or bike ten miles and swim three-quarters of a mile. If you ask me why, weight control may be my first answer, followed by a desire to live long and well. But that’s not what gets me out of bed before dawn to join friends on a morning walk and then bike to the Y for my swim.

It’s how these activities make me feel: more energized, less stressed, more productive, more engaged and, yes, happier — better able to smell the roses and cope with the inevitable frustrations of daily life.

- Jane E. Brody

Portion Control

I met a lady at the pool today "I'm terrified of the water. I just float around in the shallow end for my joints. My problem is I eat out every night of the week I hate to cook and I hate vegetables," she said. "Really?" I couldn't imagine it. "What foods do you like?" I asked. "Fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy, and roast beef. And I love sweets especially chocolate. My daughter got me hooked on coming here. I used to wake up at 11 and take a bubble bath and then watch Days of Our Lives and decide on where to go eat. Now I get up and come swim. I live 6 minutes away, so there's no excuse. I can't swim early tomorrow because it's weigh-in day and exercise makes you weigh more," she said. I felt bad for her although she was happy as a clam floating around on her red noodle talking about portion control.

Brené Brown: We Cannot Selectively Numb

You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.
― Brené Brown

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
― Brené Brown

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.
― Brené Brown

Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are


The new landlord is gutting the two empty apartments on the lot. As I write this plywood, sinks, linoleum and glass are flying out of the windows crashing into the trailer below.

Bobbing in the Water

As I was leaving the pool today I spoke with a lady who confessed she was terrified of going over her head or getting her face in the water. "It's good for my joints so I come and stay in the shallow end," she said. I wish I could teach her how to swim.

Solace in the Water

Frightened adults are Ms. Pailet’s specialty.

Lori Pailet has a raspy voice and a fill-the-room personality. She says things about “water becoming your fluid” and how swimming “is essential to the human spirit.” She sees herself as “a jaded old broad who lives in the West Village and finds solace in the water.”


Home Body

"You're a home body," he said. She pictured herself as the little house with the wrap around porch on the edge of the pond. No, that's not me. I am the house in the city covered with rhododendrons and a hemlock tree.

Edna O'Brien

We all leave one another. We die, we change - it's mostly change - we outgrow our best friends; but even if I do leave you, I will have passed on to you something of myself; you will be a different person because of knowing me; it's inescapable...
― Edna O'Brien, Girl With Green Eyes

Writers are always anxious, always on the run--from the telephone, from responsibilities, from the distractions of the world.
― Edna O'Brien

Books everywhere. On the shelves and on the small space above the rows of books and all along the floor and under chairs, books that I have read, books that I have not read.
― Edna O'Brien, Country Girl

That is the mystery about writing: it comes out of afflictions, out of the gouged times, when the heart is cut open.
― Edna O'Brien, Country Girl

Look at the Trees

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

Edna O’Brien

When I say I have written from the beginning, I mean that all real writers write from the beginning, that the vocation, the obsession, is already there, and that the obsession derives from an intensity of feeling which normal life cannot accommodate.

With luck, talent, and studiousness, one manages to make a little pearl, or egg, or something . . . But what gives birth to it is what happens inside the soul and the mind, and that has almost always to do with conflict. And loss—an innate sense of tragedy.

So writing, I think, is an interestingly perverse occupation. It is quite sick in the sense of normal human enjoyment of life, because the writer is always removed, the way an actor never is. An actor is with the audience, a writer is not with his readers, and by the time the work appears, he or she is again incarcerated in the next book—or in barrenness. So for both men and women writers, writing is an eminently masochistic exercise— [...].

Paris Review


I dreamed Paul Krugman put an apple in the microwave to hear it pop.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Early Bird Swims

You might try setting your wake-up alarm earlier and exercising before breakfast. There is some evidence that working out on a completely empty stomach — or, as scientists call this woozy, wee-hours condition, "in a fasted state” — prompts the body to burn more fat and potentially stave off weight gain, compared to exercising at other times.
Our local pool and gym opens at five am and it is amazing how many people are exercising at that hour.

Relationship of Mind to Body

Kristal says it's not clear just how yoga might help people keep off the pounds, at least from a scientific standpoint. His own opinion is that the effects are subtle, and related to yoga's mind-body aspects.

"The buzzword here is mindfulness -- the ability to observe what is happening internally in a non-reactive fashion," he says. "That is what helps change the relationship of mind to body, and eventually to food and eating."

Adds Edison: "Yoga makes you more susceptible to influence for change – so if you are thinking you want to change your lifestyle, you want to change the way you think about food, you want to get over destructive eating patterns, yoga will help give you the spiritual connection to your body that can help you make those changes."

Another idea is that yoga forges a strong mind-body connection that ultimately helps make you more aware of what you eat and how it feels to be full.

"Essentially, in yoga you learn your body is not your enemy, and the conscious awareness of the body that you gain translates into better appetite control," Edison says.


Morning Baking

This morning I mixed up two trays of granola and while they were slowly baking I set up the sourdough to rise in three greased loaf pans. Then I hid them away from the cat. There's something satisfying about morning baking rather than end of the day baking. As the sun is rising the kitchen is filling with delicious aromas. After the granola was done I ran off to swim and when I came back the bread dough had risen and was ready to bake.


This morning I awoke from a really deep sleep. I feel glued back together and centered. After a few nights of surfacey sleep I am remembering why it is so important for me not to drink black tea late in the day. It's tempting because tea tastes good after a swim but then it's not a replenishing sleep, it's a noisy chattering sleep.

"Sleep is medicine."
-Italian Proverb

"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it."
-John Steinbeck

"Sleep is the best meditation."
-Dalai Lama

"There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled."
-Edward Lucas

"As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death."
-Leonardo da Vinci

To Reduce Suicides...

The biggest category of firearm deaths is suicides.

State licensing laws for gun ownership can help by delaying access to guns. Even a short delay can be effective, experts say, because most people attempt suicide within an hour of their decision to end their lives.

In Israel, the military cut the suicide rate among young soldiers by 40 percent by forbidding them to take their service weapons home on weekends, according to a study published in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior in 2010. And in Australia, the rate at which people killed themselves with guns fell nearly 80 percent after a national gun buyback in 1997,

No policy or education campaign is going to prevent every suicide. But that is no excuse for failing to save as many people as we can by improving gun safety and by protecting people who are a danger to themselves.


The Amazing Michael Boticelli

Michael Botticelli is director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Mr. Botticelli said that as the social stigma associated with drug abuse dissuaded people from seeking treatment, the substance-abuse field should take cues from the gay rights movement.
Another Article


I dreamed I worked at the ACI the Adult Correctional Institute.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I went to the pool to swim my one lap. It's a delicious trick that usually lasts much longer than one lap. I am so grateful to be able to swim and walk. Swimming and walking are crucial tools for helping me find balance.

Rescued and Appreciated

On my walk yesterday I spotted a beautiful headboard and foot board being thrown out. I spoke to the neighbors on the street hoping they would rescue it before the rain. I told my husband about it and he was very interested. So I set out on my walk this morning to see if it was still there. It was! I wondered how I could get it home. I ran into Karl who has a truck and he and his daughter Morgan offered to help me. I ran into Celeste as she was jogging by and she suggested I use my yellow fleece scarf as a buffer to prevent the two wooden pieces from scratching on the ride home and it worked. The woman who lived there came over to say hello. I told her this matches the vanity we have from my husband's grandfather. "It's from the thirties, a waterfall style or something like that," she said. She seemed happy to know her old bed was going to be rescued and appreciated. I suggested to Karl that maybe I could squeeze into the extended cab with Lily and Karl and Morgan ride in the front for the mile ride. It worked out perfectly. We made it over to my house and I thanked them profusely. "That's what friends are for," Karl said smiling.

James Wright

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

-James Wright, from the poem A Blessing

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Eckhart Tolle: Love and Time

“Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective. It does not make one person special. It is not exclusive. Exclusivity is not the love of God but the "love" of ego. However, the intensity with which true love is felt can vary. There may be one person who reflects your love back to you more clearly and more intensely than others, and if that person feels the same toward you, it can be said that you are in a love relationship with him or her. The bond that connects you with that person is the same bond that connects you with the person sitting next to you on a bus, or with a bird, a tree, a flower. Only the degree of intensity with which it is felt differs.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Eckhart Tolle: Inner Stillness

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“Life isn't as serious as the mind makes it out to be.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life's Purpose

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but thought about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to "die before you die" --- and find that there is no death.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Is there a difference between happiness and inner peace? Yes. Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it's no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“This, too, will pass.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”
― Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle: The Present Moment

As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love - even the most simple action.
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? what could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
― Eckhart Tolle

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Don't let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

“The past has no power over the present moment.”
― Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle: To love is to Recognize Yourself in Another

To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly. Things, people, or conditions that you thought you needed for your happiness now come to you with no struggle or effort on your part, and you are free to enjoy and appreciate them - while they last. All those things, of course, will still pass away, cycles will come and go, but with dependency gone there is no fear of loss anymore. Life flows with ease.
― Eckhart Tolle

You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats.
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.
― Eckhart Tolle

What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

All the things that truly matter, beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace arise from beyond the mind.
― Eckhart Tolle

Don't Seek Happiness. If you seek it, you won't find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

All problems are illusions of the mind.
― Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises from the Power of Now

Awareness is the greatest agent for change.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.
― Eckhart Tolle

When you don't cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Can you look without the voice in your head commenting, drawing conclusions, comparing, or trying to figure something out?
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

Whenever you become anxious or stressed, outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose. You have forgotten that your state of consciousness is primary, all else secondary.
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

To love is to recognize yourself in another.
― Eckhart Tolle

The Young Man with Bright Green Eyes

On my walk this afternoon I ran into the young man with bright green eyes who loves Lily and used to jump out of his house to hug her. Today he jumped out of his car to hug her. We chatted. He said he's been in California rehab and reading Eckhart Tolle. I told him I heard of the name Eckhart Tolle but was not familiar with his writings. I came home and looked him up. I congratulated the young man for working on getting healthy.

Heart Visible

My friend Peter told me when his mother in law was a child she asked her mother if she parted her breasts would she be able to see her heart (like the pictures she had seen of Jesus).

Terri Cheney: You will not Feel this way Forever

I won't say that writing tamed the Black Beast. It soothed him, though, enough so he agreed simply to occupy a corner of my mind...Gradually, I redirected my focus and skills towards causes much closer to my own heart: writing and mental health advocacy.
I felt so good at times that I even wondered, was I still bipolar? In my community work, I saw so many people who were much worse off than I was - deep in their disease in a way I no longer seemed to be. I knew that this often happens to manic-depressives: the brain forgets the ravages of the illness they way a woman forgets the pains of childbirth. You have to, to survive. But it's always a dangerous place to be, because you inevitably start to question the need for medication, therapy, and all the other rigorous stopgaps of sanity so carefully put into place to prevent another episode.
― Terri Cheney, The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar

I only know that my greatest victories have always been surrenders.
― Terri Cheney, Manic: A Memoir

I actually stopped talking. I actually listened. So I knew that I wasn't all the way manic, because when you're all the way manic you never listen to anybody but yourself.
― Terri Cheney

The cruelest curse of the disease is also its most sacred promise: You will not feel this way forever.
― Terri Cheney, Manic: A Memoir

Theresa Borchard

I start the day in the pool. I show up before I can even think about what I’m doing diving into ten feet of cold water loaded with chlorine with a bunch of other nutjobs. Tom Cruise believes that all a depressed person needs to do to get rid of the blues is to strap on a pair of running shoes. I think a few other steps are needed, however, exercise is the most powerful weapon I use every day to whack the demons. If I go more than three days without working out, my thoughts turn very dark and I can’t stop crying. All aerobic workouts release endorphins, while helping to block stress hormones and produce serotonin, our favorite neurotransmitter that can relieve depression. However, swimming is particularly effective at shrinking panic and sadness because of the combination of stroke mechanics, breathing, and repetitiveness. It’s basically a form of whole-body, moving meditation.

Volumes of research point to the benefits of exercise for mood, like the study led by James A. Blumenthal, PhD, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., which discovered that, among the 202 depressed people randomly assigned to various treatments, three sessions of vigorous aerobic exercise were approximately as effective at treating depression as daily doses of Zoloft, when the treatment effects were measured after four months.

- Theresa Borchard, 10 Things I Do Every Day to Beat Depression

How Swimming Reduces Depression

How Swimming Reduces Depression
By Therese J. Borchard

I’ve always known that I climb out of any pool a lot happier than when I dove in.

Yes, I know any kind of aerobic exercise relieves depression.

For starters, it stimulates brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells; exercise also affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin that influence mood and produces ANP, a stress-reducing hormone, which helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety. But swimming, for me, seems to zap a bad mood more efficiently than even running. Swimming a good 3000 meters for me can, in the midst of a depressive cycle, hush the dead thoughts for up to two hours. It’s like taking a Tylenol for a headache! It was with interest, then, that I read an article in “Swimmer” magazine about why, in fact, that’s the case.

On the physiological level, hard swimming workouts release endorphins, natural feel-good compounds whose very name derives from “endogenous” and “morphine.” Swimming serves, as well, to sop up excess fight-or-flight stress hormones, converting free-floating angst into muscle relaxation. It can even promote so-called “hippocampal neurogenesis” – the growth of new brain cells in a part of the brain that atrophies under chronic stress. In animal models, exercise has shown itself to be even more potent than drugs like Prozac at spurring such beneficial changes.

Moby Coquillard, a psychotherapist and swimmer from San Mateo, Calif., is so convinced that he prescribes exercise to depressed patients. “I absolutely believe swimming can serve as a kind of medicine. For me, it represents a potent adjunct to antidepressant medications and, for some patients, it’s something you can take in lieu of pills.”

Besides possible biochemical changes in the brain, swimming requires the alternating stretch and relaxation of skeletal muscles while simultaneously deep-breathing in a rhythmic pattern. If this sounds familiar, it’s because these are key elements of many practices, from hatha yoga to progressive muscle relaxation, used to evoke the relaxation response. “Swimming, because of its repetitive nature, is incredibly meditative,” Coquillard says. There’s even a built-in mantra, be this the slow count of laps, or self-directed thoughts like “relax” or “stay smooth.”

“I teach a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy class for depression,” he adds, “and we use focus on the body here in the moment to keep past thoughts or future worries from invading our consciousness.” By concentrating on different aspects of their stroke mechanics, from hip rotation and kick patterns, to streamlining and pulls, regular swimmers practice this intuitively. The result: On a regular basis, most get a break from life’s not always pleasant stream of rumination.

Moreover, since most pools have set times for lap swimming and coached Masters workouts alike, regular swimmer usually find themselves settling into a schedule that becomes automatic. There’s no need to decide if you should go exercise now or later. For stressed out people, this lack of options, says Coquillard, is paradoxically comforting because it removes the burden of yet another decision. “All you have to do is show up at the regular time,” he says, “and you know there’s a good chance you’ll end up leaving the pool feeling a little better than when you arrived.


Being Five

I remember being five years old visiting my grandparents on Brighton Beach for my first Seder. My Aunt Rebecca, my grandfather's sister was there. I remember that she wore red lipstick that extended past her actual lips. She bent towards me to pinch my cheeks and I was mortified that I would be swallowed up by her enormous cleavage. I remember the table was covered with a white tablecloth. The grown ups were served matzoh balls the size of softballs, ladled into each shallow bowl with soup.


It's a gorgeous day and we've finally arrived at the island of Saturday. What am I doing at my desk thinking about holiday depression when I could get out there and walk? The classical music is playing on the radio and my dog is ready for her walk in the sunshine but I am not ready for the world yet. This morning I am thinking about the daily tricks to keep the big black dog of the blues at bay.

Yesterday I dreamed about a big black Newfoundland dog. There were patches of fur missing where the dog had scars from long ago.

This morning I dreamed I was in an accident with a bunch of people in a van and when I called 911 they said you need to pay us first. "What," I yelled hanging up. Then a few minutes later there was another accident on the same road. I phoned again "We have three people injured, there have been two accidents on this same stretch of road," I said.
"You need permission from the Mayor for us to come out," they said."
"What? She's my friend, I will phone her right now," I said.
"We'll be right over," they replied.

Anne Lamott: Messes are the Artist's True Friend

Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived...Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation... Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
― Anne Lamott

[Grace is] the force that infuses our lives and keeps letting us off the hook. It is unearned love - the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there."
― Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith


I consider popcorn a mood altering substance, a happiness inducing food.
(Made the old fashioned way in a pot with corn oil.)

Gustave Flaubert

It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes.
- Gustave Flaubert

Friday, December 11, 2015


His head wobbled like a dashboard bobble doll. He was standing on the porch talking to himself. He sat down and smoked a cigarette. She couldn't watch anymore.

John Steinbeck

It is hard to open up a person and to look inside. There is even a touch of decent reluctance about privacy but writers and detectives cannot permit the luxury of privacy. In this book [East of Eden] I have opened lots of people and some of them are going to be a little bit angry. But I can't help that. Right now I can't think of any work which requires concentration for so long a time as a big novel.
—John Steinbeck

My work does not coagulate. It is as unmanageable as a raw egg on the kitchen floor. It makes me crazy. I am really going to try now and I'm afraid that the very force of the trying will take all the life out of the work. I don't know where this pest came from but I know it is not new.
—John Steinbeck

We work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing.
—John Steinbeck

Writing to me is a deeply personal, even a secret function and when the product is turned loose it is cut off from me and I have no sense of its being mine. Consequently criticism doesn't mean anything to me.
—John Steinbeck

I truly do not care about a book once it is finished. Any money or fame that results has no connection in my feeling with the book. The book dies a real death for me when I write the last word. I have a little sorrow and then go on to a new book which is alive. The rows of my books on the shelf are to me like very well embalmed corpses. They are neither alive nor mine. I have no sorrow for them because I have forgotten them, forgotten in its truest sense.
—John Steinbeck

Paris Review

John Steinbeck

A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long—not for long.

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—

“Yes, that's the way it is, or at least that's the way I feel it. You're not as alone as you thought.”

Of course a writer rearranges life, shortens time intervals, sharpens events, and devises beginnings, middles and ends. We do have curtains—in a day, morning, noon and night, in a man, birth, growth and death. These are curtain rise and curtain fall, but the story goes on and nothing finishes.

To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn't really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.

- John Steinbeck, Paris Review

Grace Paley

You write from what you know but you write into what you don't know.
― Grace Paley

The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do. And I can't imagine living without having loved a person. A man, in my case. It could be a woman, but whatever. I think, what I always tell kids when they get out of class and ask, 'What should I do now?' I always say, 'Keep a low overhead. You're not going to make a lot of money.' And the next thing I say: 'Don't live with a person who doesn't respect your work.' That's the most important thing—that's more important than the money thing. I think those two things are very valuable pieces of information.
― Grace Paley

There is a long time in me between knowing and telling.
― Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.
― Grace Paley