Sunday, December 09, 2018

In a Book

People often ask me if I'm working on a book. That's not how I feel. I feel like I work in a book. It's like putting myself under a spell. And this spell, if you will, is so real to me that if I have to leave my work for a few days, I have to work myself back into the spell when I come back. It's almost like hypnosis.
-Robert McCullough

Next Book:The One I'm Working On


Do you know what your next book will be?


No, I probably won’t know until I finish the present book. It could result from something I’m writing now, or somebody’s chance remark, or something Rosalee and I see while traveling. I’m very interested in the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiora in Florence. I’m fascinated by Brunelleschi and all that was going on in Florence in those years. I love mysteries and the dome is one. It’s still not known how they built it. Yet there it is, built before Columbus sailed.

I’m often asked which is my favorite book and it’s always the same—the one I’m working on. And I feel that now. I really look forward to going out there tomorrow morning and working on chapter three. The time will fly.

Paris Review

David McCullough Interview

A big part of life for me was the Carnegie Museum Library complex, a natural history museum, art museum, library, and concert hall, all under one roof. The building itself conveyed the idea that all these things went together, there were no dividers. You walked from the library into the big hall with a plaster model of the Parthenon and the facades of great buildings from Europe. Around the corner were birds and dinosaurs. Upstairs were the paintings from the permanent collection and visiting exhibitions.

As a kid, twelve years old or so, I could get on the streetcar and go by myself, go see the paintings of Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper, go to the library. The architect Louis Kahn said a great city ought to be a place where a young person gets an idea of what he might like to do with his life. Well, I certainly did in Pittsburgh. Willa Cather wrote her first stories right near where I grew up. Dreiser lived in Pittsburgh. Stephen Foster was a native son. There were the great musical traditions of the Czechs and Germans and Poles of Pittsburgh. Everybody talks about diversity now. If you were a kid riding the streetcars in Pittsburgh in 1945, you knew about diversity. You heard three or four languages being spoken. You smelled the garlic. You saw the foreign newspapers.

The combination of first-rate public schools and the freedom we had to explore the city on our own—unsupervised—well, it was great. I loved growing up there. But I had never seen the ocean and, I think most of all, I wanted to get to New York. Maybe it was seeing so many movies.

-David McCullough Interview Paris Review

Paris Review Interview: David McCullough

Growing up in Pittsburgh I went to a wonderful public school where the arts were given as much attention as standard subjects like math and history. We had art and music every day. We were taken to museums and steel mills. I had excellent teachers both in grade school and high school. Most of us are lucky if we have two or three teachers who change our lives and I had several, especially Vincent Scully, who taught art and architecture at Yale. He taught us to see, to think about spaces, to pay attention to what the buildings were saying, and to think about what the alternatives were, what might have been built that wasn’t. And few men I’ve known have such a great understanding of America. I also took Daily Themes at Yale, Robert Penn Warren’s writing course. Every morning at eight-thirty you had to slide a sheet of original prose under the professor’s door, and if you didn’t, you got a zero. There was no kidding about it. It taught us discipline, to produce.

The hardest thing with writing is to make it look effortless. It’s true of everything that’s done well. People see a performer or an artist or a carpenter and they think, Well, that looks easy. Little do they know.

I get a bit impatient with people who talk about all the trials and the pain and loneliness of being a writer. That’s not been my experience. I love the work. I would pay to do what I do. That’s not to say it’s easy, but I don’t think ease and pleasure are necessarily synonymous. I like it in part because it is hard. And because I don’t know how it’s going to come out.
- David McCullough, Paris Review

Learning to See

The training I had in drawing and painting has been of great benefit. Drawing is learning to see and so is writing. It’s also an exercise in composition, as writing is, though in writing it’s called form.
-David McCullough, Paris Review

Look at Your Fish


Would you tell us about the motto tacked over your desk?


It says, “Look at your fish.” It’s the test that Louis Agassiz, the nineteenth-century Harvard naturalist, gave every new student. He would take an odorous old fish out of a jar, set it in a tin pan in front of the student and say, Look at your fish. Then Agassiz would leave. When he came back, he would ask the student what he’d seen. Not very much, they would most often say, and Agassiz would say it again: Look at your fish. This could go on for days. The student would be encouraged to draw the fish but could use no tools for the examination, just hands and eyes. Samuel Scudder, who later became a famous entomologist and expert on grasshoppers, left us the best account of the “ordeal with the fish.” After several days, he still could not see whatever it was Agassiz wanted him to see. But, he said, I see how little I saw before. Then Scudder had a brainstorm and he announced it to Agassiz the next morning: Paired organs, the same on both sides. Of course! Of course! Agassiz said, very pleased. So Scudder naturally asked what he should do next, and Agassiz said, Look at your fish.

I love that story and have used it often when teaching classes on writing, because seeing is so important in this work. Insight comes, more often than not, from looking at what’s been on the table all along, in front of everybody, rather than from discovering something new. Seeing is as much the job of an historian as it is of a poet or a painter, it seems to me. That’s Dickens’s great admonition to all writers, “Make me see.”

-David McCullough, The Paris Review


“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.”
― David McCullough


“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. ”
― David McCullough

Writing is Thinking

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard."

(Interview with NEH chairman Bruce Cole, Humanities, July/Aug. 2002, Vol. 23/No. 4)”
― David McCullough


“To me, history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn't just part of our civic responsibility. To me, it's an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is."

[The Title Always Comes Last; NEH 2003 Jefferson Lecturer interview profile]”
― David McCullough

David McCullough

“Nothing good was ever written in a large room.”
- David McCullough, Paris Review


“Turning our lives around is the bravest thing we can do.”
― Rose McGowan, Brave

“My life, as you will read, has taken me from one dangerous cult to another, one of the biggest cults of all: Hollywood. I say biggest because short of a nuclear bomb, Hollywood has the farthest reach.”
― Rose McGowan, Brave


“Being a free-spirited, strong-willed, independent young woman (to put it mildly), with a manic-depressive, woman-hating father was exhausting (to put it mildly).”
― Rose McGowan, Brave

Rose McGowan

“When I was about four, I had a wart on my thumb. I was toddling down this long hallway when one of the doors opened...A man with shaggy blond hair picked me up, looked at my hand, and said, “Perfection in all things.” He held up a razor blade and sliced my hand with one swipe, winking at me as he sat me back down. “Perfection in all things,” he said again before shutting the door and leaving me in the hallway.”
― Rose McGowan, Brave


I was driving a green sports car to a liquor store to get a six pack. On my way out a creepy local guy I recognize sideswiped me. I turned the car around and drove towards a very tall policeman standing in the liquor store parking lot. I started driving over a small traffic island near him and my inner voice said I'm going to faint, I'm going to faint. I tilted backwards with the car and fainted. When I came to inside the store I explained the sideswiping to my car.

Saturday, December 08, 2018


I was in Vermont with a bunch of people and we were in a big room resembling my parents former country house kitchen. There was a fireplace in the center. I told my stepfather I could have my whole life in this room; easels fireplace and view. I was in charge of frying breaded eggplant but I accidentally burned it. I can't eat fried food so I didn't make it right. Everyone held hands in a big circle before we ate. Puppets from Bread and Puppet were being carried down the hill. The Statue of Liberty puppet was the first one I saw. I went wild because I loved it. I said to Josh that I wanted to join the fun.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Simple Kale Soup

I just rinsed and chopped four one pound bunches of kale and put the greens in my stock pot with a gallon of water. As they cooked they shrunk down so I had room to add a bunch more ingredients. I added about six chopped onions, eight garlic cloves and a knob of ginger root, a 4 inch piece of smoked sausage from the neighborhood smokehouse leftover from Thanksgiving. Then I added 2 chicken bouillon cubes, olive oil, Adobo and kosher salt. Then I added a pound of frozen corn and some cooked red kidney beans. Delicious, especially on a cold and windy day.

Ray Bradbury

I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.


You have said that you don’t believe in going to college to learn to write. Why is that?


You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught. The library, on the other hand, has no biases. The information is all there for you to interpret. You don’t have someone telling you what to think. You discover it for yourself.

Paris Review

Paul Bacon

I just read Paul Bacon's book Bad Cop: New York's Least Likely Police Officer Tells All and LOVED IT.

Under the Thinning Fog

“Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep


“A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled.”
― Raymond Chandler


“He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake.”
― Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler Writing Advice

“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.”
― Raymond Chandler

The Long Goodbye

“The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To say goodbye is to die a little.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

“To say goodbye is to die a little.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

Tasha Codero

Should public employee unions be allowed to charge nonmembers fees to help pay for collective bargaining?

April 13, 2018


Tasha Cordero

Teacher, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School; secretary of Bristol-Plymouth Teachers Association

Thursday, December 06, 2018

David Grimm: Walk the Cat


Roy Richard Grinker

Roy Richard Grinker is a professor of anthropology at George Washington University. His book about stigma and mental illness is forthcoming.


Page Torn Out by Anselm Berrigan Read

Jenna Lee

I found
Vincent living with his mother in these
snake-filled backwoods, where gossips embroider the dangers
of his past romancing of a whore. Sufficient
to say I’m not scared off. Inside me, too,
there is a prostitute and a barkeep,
a seamstress and a siren and a shore.

excerpt from Jenna Lee's poem


In Love with Raymond Chandler

by Margaret Atwood

An affair with Raymond Chandler, what a joy! Not because of the mangled bodies and the marinated cops and hints of eccentric sex, but because of his interest in furniture. He knew that furniture could breathe, could feel, not as we do but in a way more muffled, like the word upholstery, with its overtones of mustiness and dust, its bouquet of sunlight on aging cloth or of scuffed leather on the backs and seats of sleazy office chairs. I think of his sofas, stuffed to roundness, satin-covered, pale blue like the eyes of his cold blond unbodied murderous women, beating very slowly, like the hearts of hibernating crocodiles; of his chaises longues, with their malicious pillows. He knew about front lawns too, and greenhouses, and the interiors of cars.

This is how our love affair would go. We would meet at a hotel, or a motel, whether expensive or cheap it wouldn’t matter. We would enter the room, lock the door, and begin to explore the furniture, fingering the curtains, running our hands along the spurious gilt frames of the pictures, over the real marble or the chipped enamel of the luxurious or tacky washroom sink, inhaling the odor of the carpets, old cigarette smoke and spilled gin and fast meaningless sex or else the rich abstract scent of the oval transparent soaps imported from England, it wouldn’t matter to us; what would matter would be our response to the furniture, and the furniture’s response to us. Only after we had sniffed, fingered, rubbed, rolled on, and absorbed the furniture of the room would we fall into each other’s arms, and onto the bed (king-size? peach-colored? creaky? narrow? four-posted? pioneer-quilted? lime-green chenille-covered?), ready at last to do the same things to each other.


Louis Jenkins


by Louis Jenkins

It turns out that the drain pipe from the sink is attached to nothing and water just runs right onto the ground in the crawl space underneath the house and then trickles out into the stream that passes through the backyard. It turns out that the house is not really attached to the ground but sits atop a few loose concrete blocks all held in place by gravity, which, as I understand it, means "seriousness." Well, this is serious enough. If you look into it further you will discover that the water is not attached to anything either and that perhaps the rocks and the trees are not all that firmly in place. The world is a stage. But don't try to move anything. You might hurt yourself, besides that's a job for the stagehands and union rules are strict. You are merely a player about to deliver a soliloquy on the septic system to a couple dozen popple trees and a patch of pale blue sky.
-Louis Jenkins, from Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970-2005

Olivia Sudjic on Eposure

The same tools that enable freedom of expression, openness, and connection may now make us feel simultaneously persecuted, isolated, and afraid.

Amy Clampitt

Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.
All that we know, that we’re
made of, is motion.

-Amy Clampitt, "Nothing Stays Put", from The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt, published by Alfred A. Knopf

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag presciently writes of photography, long before the dawn of social media: “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.”

Talking Through one's Fingers

One thing I’ve learned: Speech is far more guarded than talking through one’s fingers.
-Cynthia Ozick, Paris Review

Ozick's Paris Review Interview

I am ashamed to confess this. It’s ungrateful and wrong. But I am one—how full of shame I feel as I confess this—who expected to achieve—can I dare to get this out of my throat?—something like—impossible to say the words—literary fame by the age of twenty-five. By the age of twenty-seven I saw that holy and anointed youth was over, and even then it was already too late. The decades passed. I’m afraid I think—deeply think—that if it didn’t come at the right time, at the burnished crest of youth, then it doesn’t matter. And I am not even sure what you or I mean by it. I will not now know how to say what it is. So I have put all that away. It is now completely, completely beside the point. One does what one needs to do; that’s all there is. It’s wrong, bad, stupid, senseless to think about anything else. I think only of what it is I want to write about, and then about the problems in the doing of it. I don’t think of anything else at all.
-Cynthia Ozick, Paris Review

I think only of what it is I want to write about, and then about the problems in the doing of it. I don’t think of anything else at all.
-Cynthia Ozick, Paris Review


Telling, you see, is the same as a hiatus. It means you’re not doing it.
-Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick

I read in order to write. I read out of obsession with writing.
- Cynthia Ozick, Paris Review Interview

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Leaf Deadline

The deadline for city leaf pick up is 7AM tomorrow so yesterday I decided to begin the process. After I filled one bag I raked all the leaves into a pile. The wind was picking up blowing them around the yard so I stayed focused. I eventually filled all five bags and was done. It only took 1 hour which is funny considering how much I worried about the task. Today took them out to the curb. This made me so happy.

Article by Megan McArdle

The incredibly unpopular idea that could stem opioid deaths

Write Into

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

A World

“Paley said of her dreams for her grandchildren: "It would be a world without militarism and racism and greed – and where women don't have to fight for their place in the world.”
― Grace Paley

Here by Grace Paley


Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

Grace Paley

Go Through a Story

“…I go through a story for lies. I might discover the lie of trying to show off. Sometimes they’re lies of character. Sometimes they are lies of writing the most beautiful sentence in the world that has nothing to do with the story.”
― Grace Paley

Wrong Word

“The wrong word is like a lie jammed inside the story.”
― Grace Paley

Open Destiny

“Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.”
― Grace Paley


“Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.”
― Grace Paley

Heartbreaking Moment

“That heartbreaking moment when you finish an amazing book, and you are forced to return to reality.”
― Grace Paley

You Become

“You become a writer because you need to become a writer - nothing else.”
― Grace Paley

Find Work You Love

“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

We Are

“We are in the hands of men whose power and wealth have separated them from the reality of daily life and from the imagination. We are right to be afraid.”
― Grace Paley

With Fear and Courage

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

Grace Paley

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

Permanent Ghosts

What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.
-Cynthia Ozick


We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
-Cynthia Ozick

Unmistakable Animal

I wanted to use what I was, to be what I was born to be - not to have a 'career', but to be that straightforward obvious unmistakable animal, a writer.
-Cynthia Ozick


“Don't have stories; have sentences.”
― Gordon Lish

Duke Ellington

I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.
- Duke Ellington

Gordon Lish

“It’s not what happens to people on the page; it’s about what happens to a reader in his heart and mind.”
― Gordon Lish

Salient Aim

“If a novel's salient aim is virtue, I want to throw it against the wall.”
― Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick

One must avoid ambition in order to write. Otherwise something else is the goal: some kind of power beyond the power of language. And the power of language, it seems to me, is the only kind of power a writer is entitled to.
- Cynthia Ozick


noun: skeuomorph; plural noun: skeuomorphs

an object or feature that imitates the design of a similar artifact made from another material.
"the pottery box with a square lid is a skeuomorph of a twilled basketry container"

an element of a graphical user interface that mimics a physical object.
"note-taking apps offer skeuomorphs of yellow legal pads, squared paper, ring binders, etc."

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Violating the Emoluments Clause

Fortress of corruption is cracking. Article

Michelle Goldberg


Climate Denial

A disaster brought on by corruption, willful ignorance, conspiracy theorizing and intimidation.
-Paul Krugman Article


I dreamed I was baking my blue oval cast iron pot full of lentils by inserting it into the side of a mountain. Each time I rolled over I dreamed this dream again.

Inner Work

It requires inner work for you to cultivate a perspective within yourself that sees your intellect as a servant, not as your identity.
- Ram Dass

Ram Dass on Somebodyness

I think that the confusion is feeling that you have to come into a situation with a somebody-ness, that you then have to get everybody to reassure you of it, and that this is all in order for you to feel safe in a situation.

More and more, I find I can walk into a situation, walk up to somebody, and have no idea who I am or what I’m doing there, and allow their minds to define my reality, without getting caught in it.

-Ram Dass, The Dissolution of Somebodyness


“Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one.”
― E.B. White

New York

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
...Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. ”
― E.B. White, Here Is New York

Writing Is...

“Writing is both mask and unveiling.”
― 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

More Optimistic

“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

A Library

“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

E.B. White

Remember that writing is translation, and the opus to be translated is yourself.
- E.B. White


“Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. ”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

To Write

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Guardian of His Solitude

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Love Your Solitude

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet


“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

In Love

“We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

Love the Questions

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Monday, December 03, 2018

Year of Yes

“Because no matter how hard a conversation is, I know that on the other side of that difficult conversation lies peace. Knowledge. An answer delivered. Character is revealed. Truces are formed. Misunderstandings are resolved. Freedom lies across the field of the difficult conversation. An the more difficult the conversation, the greater the freedom.”
― Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Shonda Rhimes

“We all spend our lives kicking the crap out of ourselves for not being this way or that way, not having this thing or that thing, not being like this person or that person. For not living up to some standard we think applies across the board to all of us. We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules. I think we believe that happiness lies in following the same list of rules. In being more like everyone else. That? Is wrong. There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It’s funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don’t want a baby? Don’t have one. I don’t want to get married? I won’t. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it.”
― Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

H.L. Mencken

“I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.”
― H.L. Mencken

Sunday, December 02, 2018


“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

Dr. Seuss

Everything stinks till it’s finished.
- Dr. Seuss

Ursula K. Le Guin

You get old and your language gets like your kitchen gear—you don’t need fancy stuff any more.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

Stephen King

There are two things about [writing] I like: It makes me happy, and it makes other people happy.
-Stephen King

Rod Serling

Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.
- Rod Serling

Come Home

“If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. You will not know what it is to come home.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed


“There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Ursula K. Le Guin

“It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Jason Droboth

Interview: Escaping the Watchtower

Ann Patchett

"Catholicism really trained me for fiction writing. I think it has to be the greatest religion for a fiction writer because it is so much a tradition of story and parable. I spent my whole childhood on my knees in front of pieces of carved marble, and in my heart I was filling that stone with enormous life. That gets at the essence of storytelling."
- Ann Patchett

The Dogs

“People seem able to love their dogs with an unabashed acceptance that they rarely demonstrate with family or friends. The dogs do not disappoint them, or if they do, the owners manage to forget about it quickly. I want to learn to love people like this, the way I love my dog, with pride and enthusiasm and a complete amnesia for faults. In short, to love others the way my dog loves me.”
― Ann Patchett, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage


I was swimming in a Massachusetts pond with my dog and my husband. More dogs came along. We phoned my parents because we were in Spencer near their country house and they received us. A fire was going in their fireplace and I noticed rubber work boots and gloves close to the fire, melting. I told my mother about the melting boots and gloves and she was very sad. She had an oval face in the dream and was wearing gold makeup covering her cheeks chin and forehead and she was wearing a gold gown. I found her outside holding a shotgun aiming at a hawk up high in a tree. Then my brother sat in the fire and I ran out screaming "Peter's in the fire, Peter's in the fire!"

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Ram Dass: The I Behind the I

And as I understand it, finally, one teaches by one’s being- it isn’t what you say or what you understand, it’s the state of your own existence and what gets communicated to another being. In other words it’s not what you say, but what you are.

- Ram Dass, The I Behind the I – Ram Dass on Thought and Perspective

James Baldwin

One condition of the sentence is to write so well that no one notices that you’re writing.

― James Baldwin


“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― The Dalai Lama XIV

Ask Yourself

“There is only one important point you must keep in your mind and let it be your guide. No matter what people call you, you are just who you are. Keep to this truth. You must ask yourself how is it you want to live your life. We live and we die, this is the truth that we can only face alone. No one can help us, not even the Buddha. So consider carefully, what prevents you from living the way you want to live your life?”
― Dalai Lama XIV

They Can Still Play

“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don't usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.”
― Dalai Lama XIV


“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Dalai Lama XIV

“A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Inner Peace

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”
― Dali Lama XIV


“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

A Challenge

“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.”
― Dalai Lama XIV


“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
― Dalai Lama XIV


“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

Dalai Lama XIV

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”
― Dalai Lama XIV


“Silence is sometimes the best answer.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Love and Compassion

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness


“This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Source of Strength

“There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.'
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

John Steinbeck

All great and precious things are lonely.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Playing a Part

Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? ...Well, think about it. Maybe you're playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden


I've lived in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate.
-John Steinbeck

A Writer

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.
-John Steinbeck

Inner Landscapes

“Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people are like extroverts, but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama.”

― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking


“Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches. To possess such a key is to tumble like Alice down her rabbit hole. She didn't choose to go to Wonderland - but she made of it an adventure that was fresh and fantastic and very much her own.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Work You Love

“Use your natural powers—of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity—to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Just Right

“Introverts feel “just right” with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking


“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, Sweet Thursday


Thank god for the delete button.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Alone and Every Day

“I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five- or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day. I have done this for many years. It is at these times I seem to get re-charged. If I do not walk one day, I seem to have on the next what van Gogh calls "the meagerness.""The meagerness," he said, "or what is called depression." After a day or two of not walking, when I try to write I feel a little dull and irresolute. For a long time I thought that the dullness was just due to the asphyxiation of an indoor, sedentary life (which all people who do not move around a great deal in the open air suffer from, though they do not know it).”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Being Received

“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.”
― Brenda Ueland

The Present

“Creative power flourishes only when I am living in the present.”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Brenda Ueland

“No writing is a waste of time – no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good.”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Solitude and Idleness

“I learned...that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
― Brenda Ueland


“The imagination needs moodling,--long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”
― Brenda Ueland

Cup of Tea

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
― C.S. Lewis


“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves


True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
- C.S. Lewis


There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.
- Ursula K. Leguin

Love Affair

I try not to think of writing as a burden at all. My job is to fall in love…. It’s really about being inspired and being in love…. If it starts to feel like a responsibility and it starts to feel like homework…I need it to feel like a love affair.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda