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

Brenda Ueland

The only way to become a better writer is to become a better person.
- Brenda Ueland

Zadie Smith

“The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.”
― Zadie Smith

C.S. Lewis

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.
- C.S. Lewis


I was in a shared studio space and the ceiling was made of plexiglass. It was clear plastic and the floor above was visible. Light was traveling down through the layers. It's absolutely perfect. All we need is wood stove to keep warm, I said.

Ram Dass


Practices of purification are done in order to “cool us out,” so we’re not creating so much heavy karma for ourselves. We are constantly preoccupied with the creations of our minds. Einstein said, “The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.” What we strive to be liberated from is our habitual thought patterns and the pull of our senses. Lightening up in these areas gives us the space to refocus and deepen the benefits of centering the mind with meditation, mantra or the practices of Bhakti yoga. With the deepening of these practices, comes the higher wisdom.

Fairy Tales

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein

Passionately Curious

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
― Albert Einstein

Logic and Imagination

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
― Albert Einstein


“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
― Albert Einstein


“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
― Albert Einstein

Two Ways

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.

-Albert Einstein

Thursday, November 29, 2018

We Say to Girls...

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

We Teach Girls Shame

“We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun

Ability to Dream

"The ability to dream is all I have to give. That is my responsibility; that is my burden. And even I grow tired."

- Stalking the Nightmare, Harlan Ellison

The Trick

“The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.”
― Harlan Ellison, Strange Wine


“Like a wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we were, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.”
― Harlan Ellison


“The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure. [...] There is no nobler chore in the universe than holding up the mirror of reality and turning it slightly, so we have a new and different perception of the commonplace, the everyday, the 'normal', the obvious. People are reflected in the glass. The fantasy situation into which you thrust them is the mirror itself. And what we are shown should illuminate and alter our perception of the world around us. Failing that, you have failed totally.”
― Harlan Ellison

The Situation

“The passion for revenge should never blind you to the pragmatics of the situation. There are some people who are so blighted by their past, so warped by experience and the pull of that silken cord, that they never free themselves of the shadows that live in the time machine...

And if there is a kind thought due them, it may be found contained in the words of the late Gerald Kersh, who wrote:"... there are men whom one hates until a certain moment when one sees, through a chink in their armour, the writhing of something nailed down and in torment.”
― Harlan Ellison, The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective


“You must never be afraid to go there.”
― Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison

“Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven't been told a million times already – that writing is harder. Lonelier. And nobler and more enriching. ”
― Harlan Ellison


“In these days of widespread illiteracy, functional illiteracy... anything that keeps people stupid is a felony.”
― Harlan Ellison

Dangerous Undertaking

It is not enough merely to love literature, if one wishes to spend one’s life as a writer. It is a dangerous undertaking on the most primitive level. For, it seems to me, the act of writing with serious intent involves enormous personal risk. It entails the ongoing courage for self-discovery. It means one will walk forever on the tightrope, with each new step presenting the possibility of learning a truth about oneself that is too terrible to bear.
- Harlan Ellison

Creating Space

It’s creating space where you can do the actions without getting trapped in being the actor. Just like your heart is beating – but you’re not beating your heart.

-Ram Dass

Curriculum for the Parent to Awaken

But if the parent could just work on themselves so that when they look at their child they see another being just like them, who happens to be in a very similar small package, and because of the nature of the packaging and the karmic predicament they’re in, they are the caretaker and biological protector of that child.
-Ram Dass

Many people are very surprised to say, “You know, I’ve just realized my child is a much older spiritual being than I am.” It’s often very disquieting to them, because they were busy being the teacher and the elder and the responsible person, but their child happens to be probably an old lama that dropped by to bless everybody or something like that.

-Ram Dass

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alexandria Petri

Nightmare Forest

Consider a World

“Consider a world in which cause and effect are erratic. Sometimes the first precedes the second, and sometimes the second the first. Or perhaps cause lies forever in the past effect in the future, but future and past are intertwined.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Clocks and Heartbeats

“In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time."
"They do not keep clocks in their houses. Instead, they listen to their heartbeats. They feel the rhythms of their moods and desires."
"Then there are those who think their bodies don't exist. They live by mechanical time. They rise at seven o'clock in the morning. They eat their lunch at noon and their supper at six. They arrive at their appointments on time, precisely by the clock.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams


“Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams


“It is a world of impulse. It is a world of sincerity. It is a world in which every word spoken speaks just to that moment, every glance given has only one meaning, each touch has no past or no future, each kiss is a kiss of immediacy.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

In this World

“In this world, time has three dimensions, like space. Just as an object may move in three perpendicular directions, corresponding to horizontal, vertical, and longitudinal, so an object may participate in three perpendicular futures. Each future moves in a different direction of time. Each future is real. At every point of decision, the world splits into three worlds, each with the same people, but different fates for those people. In time, there are an infinity of worlds.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

In a World

“In a world of fixed future, there can be no right or wrong. Right and wrong demand freedom of choice, but if each action is already chosen, there can be no freedom of choice. In a world of fixed future, no person is responsible. The rooms are already arranged.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

“In a world of fixed future, life is an infinite corridor of rooms, one room lit at each moment, the next room dark but prepared. We walk from room to room, look into the room that is lit, the present moment, then walk on. We do not know the rooms ahead, but we know we cannot change them. We are spectators of our lives.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Some Say

“Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but it is noble to live life, and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Without Memory

“Arriving home, each man finds a woman and children waiting at the door, introduces himself, helps with the evening meal, reads stories to his children. Likewise, each woman returning from her job meets a husband, children, sofas, lamps, wallpaper, china patterns. Late at night, the wife and husband do not linger at the table to discuss the day’s activities, their children’s school, the bank account. Instead, they smile at one another, feel the warming blood, the ache between the legs as when they met the first time fifteen years ago. They find their bedroom, stumble past family photographs they do not recognize, and pass the night in lust. For it is only habit and memory that dulls the physical passion. Without memory, each night is the first night, each morning is the first morning, each kiss and touch are the first.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

“A person who cannot imagine the future is a person who cannot contemplate the results of his actions. Some are thus paralyzed into inaction. They lie in their beds through the day, wide awake but afraid to put on their clothes. They drink coffee and look at photographs. Others leap out of bed in the morning, unconcerned that each action leads into nothingness, unconcerned that they cannot plan out their lives. They live moment to moment, and each moment is full. Still others substitute the past for the future. They recount each memory, each action taken, each cause and effect, and are fascinated by how events have delivered them to this moment, the last moment of the world, the termination of the line that is time.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams


“Unconditional love. That’s what he wants to give her and what he wants from her. People should give without wanting anything in return. All other giving is selfish. But he is being selfish a little, isn’t he, by wanting her to love him in return? He hopes that she loves him in return. Is it possible for a person to love without wanting love back? Is anything so pure? Or is love, by its nature, a reciprocity, like oceans and clouds, an evaporating of seawater and a replenishing of rain?”
― Alan Lightman, Reunion

Born Without any Sense of Time

“Some few people are born without any sense of time. As consequence, their sense of place becomes heightened to excruciating degree. They lie in tall green grass are questioned by poets and painters from all over the world. These time-deaf are beseeched to describe the precise placement of trees in the spring, the shape of snow on the Alps, the angle of sun on a church, the position of rivers, the location of moss, the pattern of birds in a flock. Yet the time-deaf are unable to speak what they know. For speech needs a sequence of words, spoken in time.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Einstein's Dreams

“Then there are those who think their bodies don't exist. They live by mechanical time. They rise at seven o'clock in the morning. They eat their lunch at noon and their supper at six. They arrive at their appointments on time, precisely by the clock. They make love between eight and ten at night. They work forty hours a week, read the Sunday paper on Sunday, play chess on Tuesday nights. When their stomach growls, they look at their watch to see if it is time to eat. When they begin to lose themselves in a concert, they look at the clock above the stage to see when it will be time to go home. They know that the body is not a thing of wild magic, but a collection of chemicals, tissues, and nerve impulses. Thoughts are no more than electrical surges in the brain. Sexual arousal is no more than a flow of chemicals to certain nerve endings. Sadness no more than a bit of acid transfixed in the cerebellum. In short, the body is a machine, subject to the same laws of electricity and mechanics as an electron or clock. As such, the body must be addressed in the language of physics. And if the body speaks, it is the speaking only of so many levers and forces. The body is a thing to be ordered, not obeyed.”

― Alan Lightman from Einstein's Dreams

The Accidental Universe

“I don’t know why we long so for permanence, why the fleeting nature of things so disturbs. With futility, we cling to the old wallet long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighborhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and synagogues and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal. Yet, in every nook and cranny, nature screams at the top of her lungs that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our own bodies, is shifting and evaporating and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?”
― Alan Lightman, The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew

Where Time Stands Still

“And at the place where time stands still, one sees lovers kissing in the shadows of buildings, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The loved one will never take his arms from where they are now, will never give back the bracelet of memories, will never journey afar from his lover, will never place himself in danger of self-sacrifice, will never fail to show his love, will never become jealous, will never fall in love with someone else, will never lose the passion of this instant of time.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams


ESSAY; Spellbound by the Eternal Riddle, Scientists Revel in Their Captivity


Instrument of Time

One cannot walk down an avenue, converse with a friend, enter a building, browse beneath the sandstone arches of an old arcade without meeting an instrument of time. Time is visible in all places. Clock towers, wristwatches, church bells divide years into months, months into days, days into hours, hours into seconds, each increment of time marching after the other in perfect succession. And beyond any particular clock, a vast scaffold of time, stretching across the universe, lays down the law of time equally for all.

-Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Each Moment

“In a world without future, each moment is the end of the world.”
― Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams

Kaitlyn Tiffany

You are giving your loved ones an entry point into the whole wide world of being listened to and looked at by one of the largest tech companies in the world. I am not trying to scare you...

The Purpose of a Lineage

by Ram Dass

Ram Dass

How do We Respond to Cultural Destabilization?

by Ram Dass

Posted November 8, 2016

How interesting do you want it to be? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s going to get more interesting in just the way that it’s scary. There are changes that are happening rather rapidly, and they’re happening so rapidly you can’t quite get hold of them. There are destabilizing forces in the world you and I live in, and even our best mechanisms of denial don’t quite work so well. We sure do try, and our political figures attempt to help us try. “A little cosmetic surgery, things will be fine.” But they won’t.

In the past several decades, there has been an increasing polarization between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’ There is now a permanent underclass in this society that wasn’t there after WWII in the 50’s. It once appeared that the American dream was for everybody. Now if you look at who’s portrayed as the holders of the American dream, strangely enough, it has very little to do with an increasingly significant segment of our society.

This population doesn’t get the dream, and the people that don’t get it are disproportionately ethnic minorities, and the interesting question is how long are they going to sit and wait for the people that are getting the dream to get around to sharing it? The whole mentality of trickle down theory… it didn’t quite trickle down through the greed of the ‘haves’ because the ‘haves’ kept placing value on more and more. “More is better,” and “Enough is NEVER enough.”

If this is all painful to you and scary, great, because that’s what our business is today. Our business is saying, “In the midst of all of this, where can we stand as human beings? What is our work inside of ourselves?”

Denial is not good enough. We become conspirators in making it worse.

You know what happens when things get like they’re getting, when it’s becoming increasingly destabilized? In the late 60’s we had the Vietnam and Anti-Vietnam forces in this culture that were destabilizing. What happens in the presence of that destabilization, where there is human unconsciousness is that people get frightened, and when they get frightened, they use certain mechanisms; they go into denial, they become more fundamentalist; they try to find values they can hold onto, to ward off evil. They cling and become more ultra-nationalist. There’s more ethnic prejudice, there’s more racial prejudice and anti-semitism. It all increases, because this fear isn’t just in us, this is a worldwide thing.

These changes are happening very rapidly, and they are destabilizing changes. People respond with fear, and the question we must ask ourselves today is, “Is there any place you can stand inside yourself where you don’t freak out, where you can be quiet enough to hear the predicament and find a way to act in a way that is at least not contributing to the further destabilization?” That’s a fair request.

-Ram Dass


I dreamed about a tiny dog with giraffe markings.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


My neighbor told me she is in school getting her GED. "I love it!" she said. "This way I can help my son when he's in high school!"

Fellow Soul

I’ve watched the process of looking at another person; the way I do it all the time, and looking beyond my reactivity to their individual differences to see a fellow soul in there.
- Ram Dass, Open Heart

Ram Dass

The transformative process is our job, so we are not ruled by fear but by love.
-Ram Dass

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Special Problems in Vocabulary

by Tony Hoagland

There is no single particular noun
for the way a friendship,
stretched over time, grows thin,
then one day snaps with a popping sound.

No verb for accidentally
breaking a thing
while trying to get it open
—a marriage, for example.

No particular phrase for
losing a book
in the middle of reading it,
and therefore never learning the end.

There is no expression, in English, at least,
for avoiding the sight
of your own body in the mirror,
for disliking the touch

of the afternoon sun,
for walking into the flatlands and dust
that stretch out before you
after your adventures are done.

No adjective for gradually speaking less and less,
because you have stopped being able
to say the one thing that would
break your life loose from its grip.

Certainly no name that one can imagine
for the aspen tree outside the kitchen window,
in spade-shaped leaves

spinning on their stems,
working themselves into
a pale-green, vegetable blur.

No word for waking up one morning
and looking around,
because the mysterious spirit

that drives all things
seems to have returned,
and is on your side again.

- Tony Hoagland

Hard Rain

Hard Rain

by Tony Hoagland

After I heard It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood: there's nothing
we can't pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can't turn into a soft-drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

"You can't keep beating yourself up, Billy,"
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
"about all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,
one day at a time—"

And everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood—
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

—Tony Hoagland

Hoagland Poem

A Color of the Sky

By Tony Hoagland

Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.

Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
in big black spraypaint letters,

which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.

Tony Hoagland, from What Narcissism Means to Me. Copyright © 2003 by Tony Hoagland, Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Ruth Whippman

Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.
- Ruth Whippman

Everything Is for Sale Now. Even Us.

The constant pressure to sell ourselves on every possible platform has produced its own brand of modern anxiety.

Tony Hoagland

Sentimental Education

by Tony Hoagland

And when we were eight, or nine,
our father took us back into the Alabama woods,
found a rotten log, and with his hunting knife

pried off a slab of bark
to show the hundred kinds of bugs and grubs
that we would have to eat in a time of war.

"The ones who will survive," he told us,
looking at us hard,
"are the ones who are willing to do anything."
Then he popped one of those pale slugs
into his mouth and started chewing.

And that was Lesson Number 4
in The Green Beret Book of Childrearing.

I looked at my pale, scrawny, knock-kneed, bug-eyed brother,
who was identical to me,
and saw that, in a world that ate the weak,
we didn't have a prayer,

and next thing I remember, I'm working for a living
at a boring job
that I'm afraid of losing,

with a wife whose lack of love for me
is like a lack of oxygen,
and this dead thing in my chest
that used to be my heart.

Oh, if he were alive, I would tell him, "Dad,
you were right! I ate a lot of stuff
far worse than bugs."

And I was eaten, I was eaten,
I was picked up
and chewed
and swallowed

down into the belly of the world.

-Tony Hoagland, from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. © Graywolf Press, 2010

Sundowning Defined

From Jonathan Graff-Radford, M.D.

The term "sundowning" refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night. Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviors, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression or ignoring directions. Sundowning can also lead to pacing or wandering.

Sundowning isn't a disease, but a group of symptoms that occur at a specific time of the day that may affect people with dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. The exact cause of this behavior is unknown.

Mayo Clinic

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Gerald Rafferty + Joe Egan

Stuck in the Middle With You
Stealers Wheel

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you

Yes I'm stuck in the middle with you,
And I'm wondering what it is I should do,
It's so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you


Concentration (Game)


Kind Neighbors

Each of us can be happier, and America will start to heal, when we become the kind neighbors and generous friends we wish we had.

- Arthur C. Brooks

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Moth Presents Paul Bacon: Bad Cop


The Moth Presents Steve Osborne: The Stakeout



“A poem is an invitation to a voyage. As in life, we travel to see fresh sights.”
― Charles Simic


“Charles Simic, when asked what he thought of Slam Poetry events: "They are fun, but they have as much to do with poetry as Elvis Presley had to do with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk".”
― Charles Simic

Only Poetry

“Only poetry can measure the distance between ourselves and the Other.”
― Charles Simic


“In their effort to divorce language and experience, deconstructionist critics remind me of middle-class parents who do not allow their children to play in the street.”
― Charles Simic, The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs

Eyes Closed

“Here in the United States, we speak with reverence of authentic experience. We write poems about our daddies taking us fishing and breaking our hearts by making us throw the little fish back into the river. We even tell the reader the kind of car we were driving, the year and the model, to give the impression that it’s all true. It’s because we think of ourselves as journalists of a kind. Like them, we’ll go anywhere for a story. Don’t believe a word of it. As any poet can tell you, one often sees better with eyes closed than with eyes wide open.”
― Charles Simic

Charles Simic

“Making art in America is about saving one's soul.”
― Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy


“The plain truth is we are going to die. Here I am, a teeny spec surrounded by boundless space and time, arguing with the whole of creation, shaking my fist, sputtering, growing even eloquent at times, and then-poof! I am gone. Swept off once and for all. I think that is very, very funny.”
― Charles Simic


Writing for a hostile world discouraged me. Writing for the diary gave me the illusion of a warm ambiance I needed to flower in.


Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.

Advice On Dealing with Editors

When editors buy from a proposal—which is most of the time—they presume that the manuscript has yet to be written, which is true most of the time. I believe, therefore, that it is better not to disabuse them of this notion. Better, I believe, to remove the manuscript from the submission process altogether and to submit a proposal for your book even if it is already written. In addition to giving the editor less to turn down, you will probably want to rework the manuscript anyway based on the editorial feedback you have received from the proposal.

My advice on dealing with editors is to say yes to all suggestions unless you want to say no, to ask in those cases if the point might be set aside until later, and to proceed thus until all suggestions have been addressed. At that point, the writer should feel free to insist on having his or her way on the points set aside.

One Writes

“One writes because one has been touched by the yearning for and the despair of ever touching the Other.”
― Charles Simic, The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs

Clouds for Supper

“If the sky falls they shall have clouds for supper.”
― Charles Simic, The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems

Charles Simic

“When people ask me how to find happiness in life I tell them, First learn how to cook.”

― Charles Simic

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Terre Nouvelle

“On ne découvre pas de terre nouvelle sans consentir à perdre de vue, d'abord et longtemps, tout rivage.

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

― André Gide, The Counterfeiters

Dare to Be

“Dare to be yourself”
― André Gide


“Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.”
― Andre Gide


"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."
― André Gide

To Read

“ To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him and travel in his company.”
― André Gide


“Fish die belly upward, and rise to the surface. It's their way of falling.”
― André Gide

Through Us

“God depends on us. It is through us that God is achieved.”
― André Gide

Moral Obligation

“Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.”
― André Gide

Never Accept

“Work and struggle and never accept an evil that you can change.”
― Andre Gide

Nobody was Listening

“Everything's already been said, but since nobody was listening, we have to start again.”
― Andre Gide

The True Hypocrite

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”
― André Gide

André Gide

“The color of truth is grey.”
― André Gide

Monday, November 19, 2018

In Love

I was in love with the whole world and all that lived in its rainy arms.
-Louise Erdrich

Where I Ought to Be

Here I am, where I ought to be. A writer must have a place where he or she feels this, a place to love and be irritated with.
-Louise Erdrich


For the New Year: Advice to Myself

by Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

--Louise Erdrich
in "Original Fire: New and Selected Poems"


“When every inch of the world is known, sleep may be the only wilderness that we have left.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year


“Ravens are the birds I'll miss most when I die. If only the darkness into which we must look were composed of the black light of their limber intelligence. If only we did not have to die at all. Instead, become ravens.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum


“Now that I knew fear, I also knew it was not permanent. As powerful as it was, its grip on me would loosen. It would pass.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Round House

To Sew

“To sew is to pray. Men don't understand this. They see the whole but they don't see the stitches. They don't see the speech of the creator in the work of the needle. We mend. We women turn things inside out and set things right. We salvage what we can of human garments and piece the rest into blankets. Sometimes our stitches stutter and slow. Only a woman's eyes can tell. Other times, the tension in the stitches might be too tight because of tears, but only we know what emotion went into the making. Only women can hear the prayer.”
― Louise Erdrich, Four Souls


“Women without children are also the best of mothers, often, with the patience,interest, and saving grace that the constant relationship with children cannot always sustain. I come to crave our talk and our daughters gain precious aunts. Women who are not mothering their own children have the clarity and focus to see deeply into the character of children webbed by family. A child is fortuante who feels witnessed as a person, outside relationships with parents by another adult.”
― Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year

Julius Lester: Tell theTruth

To write and not tell the truth? That would be death for any writer. But more, it would be death to the imagination. And if the imagination dies, what would happen to the souls of children?
- Julius Lester

Julius Lester: Making Real the Soul

For the past forty-seven years I have devoted most of my time and energy to writing. It has been a vocation in the original sense of the word, that is a religious calling, one I was helpless to deny. For me writing has never been about self-expression. Writing has been about tending the spirit and making real the soul.
- Julius Lester

Sharon Olds: A Week Later

There is something in me maybe someday
to be written; now it is folded, and folded,
and folded, like a note in school.
― Sharon Olds

A week later, I said to a friend: I don't
think I could ever write about it.
Maybe in a year I could write something.
There is something in me maybe someday
to be written; now it is folded, and folded,
and folded, like a note in school. And in my dream
someone was playing jacks, and in the air there was a
huge, thrown, tilted jack
on fire. And when I woke up, I found myself
counting the days since I had last seen
my husband?only two years, and some weeks,
and hours. We had signed the papers and come down to the
ground floor of the Chrysler Building,
the intact beauty of its lobby around us
like a king's tomb, on the ceiling the little
painted plane, in the mural, flying. And it
entered my strictured heart, this morning,
slightly, shyly as if warily,
untamed, a greater sense of the sweetness
and plenty of his ongoing life,
unknown to me, unseen by me,
unheard, untouched?but known, seen,
heard, touched. And it came to me,
for moments at a time, moment after moment,
to be glad for him that he is with the one
he feels was meant for him. And I thought of my
mother, minutes from her death, eighty-five
years from her birth, the almost warbler
bones of her shoulder under my hand, the
eggshell skull, as she lay in some peace
in the clean sheets, and I could tell her the best
of my poor, partial love, I could sing her
out with it, I saw the luck
and luxury of that hour.

― Sharon Olds, A Week Later


“I was a late bloomer. But anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky.”
― Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds

She once described poetry as coming from her lungs, and said that to her, "Poetry is so physical, the music of it and the movement of thought." She said that over the years, she has noticed that ideas for poems will come to her when she's dancing or running, and that these ideas seem to come to mind with the act of breathing deeply, with the intake of oxygen. She said, "Suddenly you're remembering something that you haven't thought of for years."

Her advice to young poets is this: "Take your vitamins. Exercise. Just work to love yourself as much as you can — not more than the people around you but not so much less."

She once said: "I'm not asking a poem to carry a lot of rocks in its pockets. Just being an ordinary observer and liver and feeler and letting the experience get through you onto the notebook with the pen, through the arm, out of the body, onto the page, without distortion."

And, "Poets are like steam valves, where the ordinary feelings of ordinary people can escape and be shown."
-Sharon Olds, Writer's Almanac


“Faith is not something that one has; faith is something that one practices at the very moment in your life when you really don't believe anything, and you're in the worst kind of despair.”
― Julius Lester


“Some wounds go so deep that you don't even feel them until months, maybe years, later.”
― Julius Lester, When Dad Killed Mom

Julius Lester

“I write because the lives of all of us are stories. If enough of those stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details.”
― Julius Lester

Emily Kelley

Stay strong, introverts. The best part about the holidays is that they'll be over soon. Don’t get me wrong — I love my family. But as an introvert, prolonged interaction with people is exhausting. So, seeing your family for a few days can put a bit of a damper on your holiday spirit. Again, it has nothing to do with not loving your family or not wanting to spend time with them. You’d probably just rather have it more spaced out.
-Emily Kelley


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

Gustave Flaubert

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

The Healing Journal

"'You cannot bury this, this will destroy you; so I'm going to help you deal with this. I'm moving your bedroom to the basement so you can have privacy. Here's a journal. I'm going to help you learn how to journal,'" recalls Rachael. "And she just helped me walk through the healing process but gave me the space to do it."

Rachael took her mom's advice. And did what she always does: she went to work.

The thing you need to know about Detective Munford is that she's got a motto: Start by believing.

It may sound like a cliché, but Munford makes it her mission to teach other police officers how trauma works and how to treat survivors in a way that doesn't accidentally re-traumatize them.


Allegra Hyde

I didn’t grow up with my heart fixed on publishing books, but I gradually came to realize that my life would feel empty without writing. I’ve always loved language. Realizing I wanted to be a writer was like discovering you are in love with the person who’s been your best friend all along.
-Allegra Hyde

Tobias Wolff

A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life.
-Tobias Wolff


The writer must wade into life as into the sea, but only up to the navel.
-Gustave Flaubert

Dorothy Allison

Write to your fear.
- Dorothy Allison


I dreamed there was a cat dish with some food left in it and a box of shoes for a tiny lady left in my driveway. I knew from the shoes who they belonged to. Did she drop of her cats to live in my yard?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Taboo

“Suppressing the fear of death makes it all the stronger. The point is only to know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that "I" and all other "things" now present will vanish, until this knowledge compels you to release them - to know it now as surely as if you had just fallen off the rim of the Grand Canyon. Indeed you were kicked off the edge of a precipice when you were born, and it's no help to cling to the rocks falling with you. If you are afraid of death, be afraid. The point is to get with it, to let it take over - fear, ghosts, pains, transience, dissolution, and all. And then comes the hitherto unbelievable surprise; you don't die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Living Now

“Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“The startling truth is that our best efforts for civil rights, international peace, population control, conservation of natural resources, and assistance to the starving of the earth—urgent as they are—will destroy rather than help if made in the present spirit. For, as things stand, we have nothing to give. If our own riches and our own way of life are not enjoyed here, they will not be enjoyed anywhere else. Certainly they will supply the immediate jolt of energy and hope that methedrine, and similar drugs, given in extreme fatigue. But peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no
capacity for living now.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

How is it Possible

“How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.”
― Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Contradictory Rules

“We seldom realize, for example, that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. We copy emotional reactions from our parents, learning from them that excrement is supposed to have a disgusting smell and that vomiting is supposed to be an unpleasant sensation. The dread of death is also learned from their anxieties about sickness and from their attitudes to funerals and corpses. Our social environment has this power just because we do not exist apart from a society. Society is our extended mind and body. Yet the very society from which the individual is inseparable is using its whole irresistible force to persuade the individual that he is indeed separate! Society as we now know it is therefore playing a game with self-contradictory rules.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Intellectual Suicide

“Irrevocable commitment to any religion is not only intellectual suicide; it is positive unfaith because it closes the mind to any new vision of the world. Faith is, above all, openness - an act of trust in the unknown.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are


“We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are


“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

A Message for an Age of Anxiety

“What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money ... but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth ... In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are "coins" for real things.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

Power or Control

“When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Way of Zen

The Present

“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”
― Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety