Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Elena Ferrante

There is one form of power that has fascinated me ever since I was a girl, even though it has been widely colonized by men: the power of storytelling. Telling stories really is a kind of power, and not an insignificant one. Stories give shape to experience, sometimes by accommodating traditional literary forms, sometimes by turning them upside down, sometimes by reorganizing them. Stories draw readers into their web, and engage them by putting them to work, body and soul, so that they can transform the black thread of writing into people, ideas, feelings, actions, cities, worlds, humanity, life. Storytelling, in other words, gives us the power to bring order to the chaos of the real under our own sign, and in this it isn't very far from political power.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019


When things become too much.

Intuitive Understanding

The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days.
Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
Lao Tzu

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.
Lao Tzu

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Lao Tzu

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
Lao Tzu

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.
Lao Tzu

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu

The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.
Lao Tzu

When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
Lao Tzu

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
Lao Tzu

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
Lao Tzu

Nature is not human hearted.
Lao Tzu

Silence is a source of great strength.
Lao Tzu

In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.
Lao Tzu

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.
Lao Tzu

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.
Lao Tzu

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Lao Tzu

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
Lao Tzu

Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.
Lao Tzu

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
Lao Tzu

Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.
Lao Tzu

When virtue is lost, benevolence appears, when benevolence is lost right conduct appears, when right conduct is lost, expedience appears. Expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder.
Lao Tzu

Those who have knowledge, don't predict. Those who predict, don't have knowledge.
Lao Tzu

The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.
Lao Tzu

Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good.
Lao Tzu

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.
Lao Tzu

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tzu

Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses. Lao Tzu

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Lao Tzu

By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.
Lao Tzu

If the Great Way perishes there will morality and duty. When cleverness and knowledge arise great lies will flourish. When relatives fall out with one another there will be filial duty and love. When states are in confusion there will be faithful servants.
Lao Tzu

There was something undifferentiated and yet complete, which existed before Heaven and Earth. Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing and does not change. It operates everywhere and is free from danger. It may be considered the mother of the universe. I do not know its name; I call it Tao.
Lao Tzu

The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own. Lao Tzu

Great acts are made up of small deeds.
Lao Tzu

Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.
Lao Tzu

Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions.
Lao Tzu

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Lao Tzu

To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect. Lao Tzu

The people are hungry: It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes.
Lao Tzu

One who is too insistent on his own views, finds few to agree with him.
Lao Tzu

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world.
Lao Tzu

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.
Lao Tzu

The higher the sun ariseth, the less shadow doth he cast; even so the greater is the goodness, the less doth it covet praise; yet cannot avoid its rewards in honours.
Lao Tzu

When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'
Lao Tzu

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
Lao Tzu

Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.
Lao Tzu

He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted.
Lao Tzu

When a nation is filled with strife, then do patriots flourish.
Lao Tzu

In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.
Lao Tzu

The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, The more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete.
Lao Tzu

The career of a sage is of two kinds: He is either honored by all in the world, Like a flower waving its head, Or else he disappears into the silent forest.
Lao Tzu

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.
Lao Tzu

From caring comes courage.
Lao Tzu

Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere.
Lao Tzu

It is better to do one's own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.
Lao Tzu

One can not reflect in streaming water. Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.
Lao Tzu

He who knows himself is enlightened.
Lao Tzu

He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.
Lao Tzu

To lead people walk behind them.
Lao Tzu

An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.
Lao Tzu

To see things in the seed, that is genius.
Lao Tzu

Man's enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself.
Lao Tzu

How could man rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men?
Lao Tzu

The words of truth are always paradoxical.
Lao Tzu

The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.
Lao Tzu

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. Lao Tzu

Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish - too much handling will spoil it.
Lao Tzu

If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence.
Lao Tzu

If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
Lao Tzu

Because of a great love, one is courageous.
Lao Tzu

Heaven is long-enduring, and earth continues long. The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves.
Lao Tzu

Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.
Lao Tzu

He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.
Lao Tzu

The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'
Lao Tzu

Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.
Lao Tzu

He who is contented is rich.
Lao Tzu

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.
Lao Tzu

Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretch her fingers to touch the heavens.
Lao Tzu

A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.
Lao Tzu

The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days.
Lao Tzu

People in their handlings of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure.
Lao Tzu

From wonder into wonder existence opens.
Lao Tzu

To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.
Lao Tzu

All things in the world come from being. And being comes from non-being.
Lao Tzu

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; the name that can be named is not the eternal name. The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth; the Named is the mother of all things.
Lao Tzu

He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.
Lao Tzu

I do not concern myself with gods and spirits either good or evil nor do I serve any.
Lao Tzu

Be the chief but never the lord.
Lao Tzu

Great indeed is the sublimity of the Creative, to which all beings owe their beginning and which permeates all heaven.
Lao Tzu

Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is its being what it is.
Lao Tzu

He who talks more is sooner exhausted.
Lao Tzu

Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes The less one knows.
Lao Tzu

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fernando Botero

0:00 / 9:12
Botero's Art | Fernando Botero | TEDxBeijingSalon

Walked Away

Today I was remembering a birthday party at a friend's house when I was 9. The girl's father was vice president of Pez candy. When I walked into her house there was a platter, a pyramid of McDonald's hamburgers each one still in its yellow paper wrapping. For dessert there were many flavors of ice cream and Cool Whip with bowls of toppings for constructing the sundae of your choice. I had never seen Cool Whip but it looked great so I piled poofs of it on top of multiple flavors of ice cream. I discovered that I hated Cool Whip and that I had just built a nightmare in a bowl. I was filled with shame and embarrassment because I was taught not to waste food. I discretely placed it on a table and walked away.

I dropped my hoe and ran into the house

“I dropped my hoe and ran into the house and started to write this poem, 'End of Summer.’ It began as a celebration of wild geese. Eventually the geese flew out of the poem, but I like to think they left behind the sound of their beating wings.”
― Stanley Kunitz

Wilderness Alive

“A poet needs to keep his wilderness alive inside him. To remain a poet after forty requires an awareness of your darkest Africa, that part of yourself that will never be tamed.”
― Stanley Kunitz

End with an Image

“End with an image and don't explain.”
― Stanley Kunitz, The Collected Poems

Stanley Kunitz

“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself... That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.”
― Stanley Kunitz


In my dream my dead mother brought me cheese and crackers. I had left them at her house. She brought them to me in a baggie.

Carrie Fisher

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”
― Carrie Fisher, Shockaholic

Pit of the Self

Stanley Kunitz said to me once: “You’ve got to get down into the pit of the self, the real pit, and then you have to find your own way to climb up out of it. And it can’t be anybody else’s way. It has to be yours.”

Then it is Dark

“Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever


“Everything outside was elegant and savage and fleshy. Everything inside was slow and cool and vacant. It seemed a shame to stay inside.”
― John Cheever

The Need to Write

“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.”
― John Cheever

John Cheever

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”
― John Cheever

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Just as appetite comes by eating so work brings inspiration.

Heart and Mind Open to the Work

It doesn't matter what time of day you work, but you have to work every day because creation, like life, is always slipping away from you. You must write every day, but there's no time limit on how long you have to write.

One day you might read over what you've done and think about it. You pick up the pencil or turn on the computer, but no new words come. That's fine. Sometimes you can't go further. Correct a misspelling, reread a perplexing paragraph, and then let it go. You have re-entered the dream of the work, and that's enough to keep the story alive for another 24 hours.

The next day you might write for hours; there's no way to tell. The goal is not a number of words or hours spent writing. All you need to do is to keep your heart and mind open to the work.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Keep On

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Metaphor for Life

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Haruki Murakami

“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring. I’ve had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Be Yourself

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


“You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand. The path that you are to take is endless, and you will die before you have truly awakened.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges

“A writer - and, I believe, generally all persons - must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”
― Jorge Luis Borges, Twenty-Four Conversations with Borges: Interviews by Roberto Alifano 1981-1983


“I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books.”
― Jorge Luis Borges


I dreamed of a crane lifting a round oak table high into the air. It had a glass bowl on it with a goldfish swimming in it. I dreamed it twice this morning, and then I woke up.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich

After swimming I wanted pickles and peanut butter so I put them together in a sandwich. It was good.

Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich
Dwight Garner

Yield 1 sandwich
Time 90 seconds

The New York Times

This sandwich does not necessarily need a recipe, given its simplicity. But it’s an unlikely pairing, is peanut butter and pickle, and sometimes that is what a recipe is for -- to prod you in a direction that you never considered. Dwight Garner, a book critic for The Times, makes a strong case for this, his favorite sandwich, calling it “a thrifty and unacknowledged American classic.” The vinegary snap of the pickles tempers the unctuousness of the peanut butter, and it’s an unusual pantry sandwich for when luncheon meats leave you cold.

Featured in: Peanut Butter Takes On An Unlikely Best Friend.

It Has Done You Good

“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


“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another. ”
― Brenda Ueland

Tell Me More

“The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:
"Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know and all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out."

And if you have no such friend,--and you want to write,--well, then you must imagine one. ”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Brenda Ueland

“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

I Love Brenda Ueland

If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down little ideas no matter how insignificant they are. But do not feel, any more, guilty about idleness and solitude.


Jamaica Kincaid

I’m not writing for anyone at all. I’m writing out of desperation. I felt compelled to write to make sense of it to myself—so I don’t end up saying peculiar things like “I’m black and I’m proud.” I write so I don’t end up as a set of slogans and clichés.


For two nights in a row I dreamed about looking at framed photos that upon close examination were animated like short films.


The night before last I dreamed I had three toes amputated from my right foot. "Why didn't you get a second opinion," someone asked.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


“There are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League


“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Infinitely Stranger

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Putting it Into Words

I have a mess in my head sometimes, and there's something very satisfying about putting it into words. Certainly it's not something that you're in charge of, necessarily, but writing about it, putting it into your words, can be a very powerful experience.
- Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher

“I have two moods. One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs … Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.”
- Carrie Fisher


I dreamed I was on a hill with my nephews sledding. We were out in the country. My nephews sled got stolen. My father confronted me about it and I said don't blame it on the city kids, there are thieves in the country too. Then I was in the city with 8 dogs following me and playing together. I visited friends Deb and Steve and all 8 of the dogs followed us into their house using their dog door. They didn't seem to mind.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ford Madox Ford

“We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist. So, for a time, if such a passion come to fruition, the man will get what he wants. He will get the moral support, the encouragement, the relief from the sense of loneliness, the assurance of his own worth. But these things pass away; inevitably they pass away as the shadows pass across sundials. It is sad, but it is so. The pages of the book will become familiar; the beautiful corner of the road will have been turned too many times. Well, this is the saddest story.”
― Ford Madox Ford

The Right Words

“Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." I'd like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects with "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age." I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever. ”
― Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides

Novelists are like fur trappers. They disappear into the north woods for months or years at a time, sometimes never to re-emerge, giving in to despair out there, or going native (taking a real job, in other words), or catching their legs in their own traps and bleeding out, silently, into the snow. The lucky ones return, laden with pelts.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ride Along

I asked the Chief of Police if I could go on a ride-along after the city's Director of Human Services suggested it to me. I eventually got a message from a Sgt Ryan to come to the station at 3:45 this Tuesday. I emailed him and asked if there was something particular I should wear. "Be comfortable," the Sargent wrote back, with a smiley face. I thought about maybe not wearing the bright colors I usually wear. I wanted to be less visible. I decided to wear black khakis and a black long-sleeved shirt and what I call my policeman's shoes, black oxfords.

I arrived at the station and was introduced to Sargent John Ryan. He brought me into the inner sanctum to sign a release form. "I'll have you wear one of these," he said, handing me a heavy black vest that felt like the lead apron from the dentist's office. "It's bullet-proof - the only protection we have." I was thrilled and put it on. It looked boxy on me but I didn't mind. It felt good. Sgt Ryan wore his under his uniform shirt. We headed out to the patrol car, a black Ford SUV. "You can sit up front," he said. I smiled. "Really? I was sure you'd have me in the back seat."

"I trained on a Crown Vic sedan which handles really well," Sgt Ryan said as we pulled out into traffic, "so these trucks take a bit of getting used to."
"But you're up higher," I said. I noticed the mounted laptop, the two-way police radio and the iPhone, all part of the cockpit. "All of this equipment on top of actual driving," I said.
"We now have a lot of young officers from southern RI, they're new to the city, so they're also using GPS."
"That's a lot to keep track of! And figuring out the dispatch codes, too."

We drove through a couple of neighborhoods, and then I realized he was headed for my neighborhood. As we drove through I practically ducked. Everyone here knows me! I didn't want the local drug dealers to see me.

At one point we drove through a car dealership's parking lot. It was well past closing. "They're nice people and they have a lot of expensive cars here and no security cameras so I usually make a point of driving through and checking the lot." It was all quiet. Then we headed up to Joblot. "There was an incident in their parking lot over the weekend. There was a car rally or something and 200 people showed up and there were a few fights. There's a lot of expensive equipment in the lot with the tractor store next door so I'm going to talk to the Joblot manager." We parked. "You're coming with me," he said. I walked next to Sgt Ryan in my amber sunglasses, smiling. My costume was working but my huge smile was probably giving me away.

The manager came out to meet us. "Hi, I am Sargent Ryan. We had some assaults and rowdy behavior during the car show over the weekend. We're concerned, especially with all of the new tractor equipment in the lot. We also had calls from neighbors complaining about the loud noise."
"Sir, we do not even want this car show happening in our lot," the manager explained. "We had nothing to do with it. I think they were having car shows here before we moved into the building. But now it's our property and we'd like to prevent the shows from happening here."
"Oh, OK. This is good to know. We can work on this with you before it happens again. We'll be in touch, thank you." We got back into the cruiser and continued on.

As we drove Sgt Ryan told me a story. "I grew up here in the city to a single mom, we lived in Morin Heights and I was given the chance to go on a ride-along when I was 11. Three of us boys who lived here wanted to go but both of them had already been in trouble with the law so they weren't allowed. But I was. As soon as I experienced it, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I started with dispatch and worked my way up. I'm ready for another step. I'd like to become a detective."

We drove through the city to Constitution Hill. We stopped and said hello to a toddler with her dad at the corner. "Beautiful day for the park," Sgt Ryan said. Then a code call came in. "What's a 10-32?" I asked.
"Kids in Globe Park might have a weapon. We'll go check it out." When we arrived we drove slowly along the park. We pulled up next to another officer. "There's no answer where the call came from," he said.
"The kids seem to be gone now but we can check a few other spots," replied Sgt Ryan.

Soon we received another call. This was for suspicious activity in another park. We drove around but didn't find a problem. The sun was about to set and I knew it would soon be time for my ride-along to end. That's when one more call came.

"My undercover detective is on the scene making arrests," Sgt Ryan said, "We'll have to check it out." There was some urgency in his voice, and he stepped on the gas. We arrived to see the detective in the middle of the street trying to hold down a young man who was struggling fiercely.

"Stay in the car. I'm going to lock you in," Sgt Ryan said, closing the door. Almost simultaneously seven police cruisers arrived. It was now dark, and the street was lit by streetlights and flashing police beacons. I saw an older woman with magenta hair shouting into her cell phone, "They wanted to arrest me, they were gonna arrest me!" She sat down on a nearby stone wall. Three young people in their 20's had been arrested and handcuffed behind their backs. I saw one placed into a squad car.

Sgt Ryan came back. "Sometimes I think people don't believe an officer when he is undercover and trying to make an arrest," he said. The uniform has power, I thought to myself. "The detective lost his cell phone in the scuffle so we're going to make a stop to see if these folks have it." We drove to Front Street and turned around in a multifamily back parking lot. Half the lot was dark and there was a wooded area above the stone wall. "Another notorious spot. I had my first foot chase back here."
"Not very well lit," I remarked. "What will happen to the people who were arrested?"
"So now the collars will get processed and have an overnight at the station."
"Will they get beds?"
"Cots. Not exactly the most comfortable conditions."

We drove back to the station. "I'm sad that it's over but thrilled that it was a great experience," I told him. I beamed as I handed back my vest.
"I'll be here all night writing up reports for everything that happened," Sgt Ryan said. "So feel free to call me if you have any questions."
"Goodbye, thanks so much," I said. I decided to walk home in the cool spring air.

Herman Wouk

I try to write a certain amount each day, five days a week. A rule sometimes broken is better than no rule.


Writing is like a sport, it’s like athletics. If you don’t practice, you don’t get any better.

Be Yourself

You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, “This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I’m doing the best I can—buy me or not—but this is who I am as a writer.”


May Moods

Dr. McCance-Katz points out that researchers have discovered greater incidence of depression and anxiety in the spring months, too. As it turns out, lengthening daylight may discombobulate people's chemical regulatory system. "There are these different neurotransmitters that have been implicated in mood disorders," she says. "It could be that people also have imbalances in serotonin, in melatonin, that are affected by day length and can also affect mood."

Mental health experts consistently find that suicides peak in the Spring, for reasons that aren't fully clear. The uptick in misery reflected in the Index above likely reflects some of the drivers of this phenomenon.


Two nights ago I dreamed of a large painting of a hallway made by a Beacon student. John Chan bought it and hung it on the outside of his white clapboard house. In the dream John lived out in the country. I wondered about the rain damaging the painting.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


I dreamed I was in a circular foyer surrounded by doors leading to apartments. One of the doors was wide open and I could see a huge oil painting. I walked closer to see that it was a Jacob Knight painting. I was so excited. I told the resident, who happened to be Steve the animator that Jacob Knight was my friend. "The painting came with the apartment. We also have a painting by Botero," Steve said. In the dream Steve's students (age 11) were showing up to make s'mores in a built-in white tile oven inside his apartment.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Katherine Anne Porter

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

The Past

“The past is never where you think you left it.”
― Katherine Anne Porter

Pure Chaos

“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe…in the movement of the stars and the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons. But human life is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.”
― Katherine Anne Porter

Monday, May 13, 2019

Philip Larkin

The Mower

By Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

Philip Larkin, from Collected Poems
(Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

Kathleen Jamie

"When we were young, we were told that poetry is about voice, about finding a voice and speaking with this voice, but the older I get I think it's not about voice, it's about listening and the art of listening, listening with attention. I don't just mean with the ear; bringing the quality of attention to the world. The writers I like best are those who attend."
-Kathleen Jamie

Saturday, May 11, 2019

One Mask at a Time: An Interview with Stephen Dunn

Lauren Mauldin interviews Stephen Dunn

Basketball was your first love. My father maintains that basketball is an emotional sport that rides on waves of momentum. Do you think poets experience waves of momentum like that while working?

When we’re working well, something like that happens. One discovery leads to another, and we find ourselves carried along in ways we couldn’t have anticipated. If poetry and basketball have anything in common, it’s the possibility of transcendence. For short periods, when you’re in the zone, you can be better than yourself.!

Stephen Dunn

by Stephen Dunn

The year I owned a motorcycle and split the air
in southern Spain, and could smell the oranges
in the orange groves as I passed them
outside of Seville, I understood
I'd been riding too long in cars,
probably even should get a horse,
become a high-up, flesh-connected thing
among the bulls and cows.
My brand-new wife had a spirit
that worried and excited me, a history
of moving on. Wine from a spigot for pennies,
langostinas and angulas, even the language
felt dangerous in my mouth. Mornings,
our icebox bereft of ice,
I'd speed on my motorcycle to the iceman's house,
strap a big rectangular block
to the extended seat where my wife often sat
hot behind me, arms around my waist.
In the streets the smell of olive oil,
the noise of men torn between church
and sex, their bodies taut, heretical.
And the women, elegant, buttoned-up,
or careless, full of public joy, a Jesus
around their necks.
Our neighbors taught us how to close up
in the afternoon,
the stupidity of not respecting the sun.
They forgave us who we were.
Evenings we'd take turns with the Herald Tribune
killing mosquitoes, our bedroom walls bloody
in this country known for blood;
we couldn't kill enough.
When the Levante, the big wind, came out of Africa
with its sand and heat, disturbing things,
it brought with it a lesson, unlearnable,
of how far a certain wildness can go.
Our money ran out. I sold the motorcycle.
We moved without knowing it
to take our quieter places in the world.

- Stephen Dunn from Loosestrife © W. W. Norton, 1996

Stephen King

Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft. You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time. Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right - and breaking your train of thought and the writer's trance in the bargain - or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don't have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it ... but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don't do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.


Barbara Kingsolver

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

Scott Moyers

The first draft is for the writer. The second draft is for the editor. The last draft is for the reader.

Joyce Carol Oates

I don’t think that writer’s block exists really. I think that when you’re trying to do something prematurely, it just won’t come. Certain subjects just need time. . . . You’ve got to wait before you write about them.


Kurt Vonnegut

You cannot be a good writer of serious fiction if you are not depressed.

Jane Smiley

If I get frustrated, I’ll go eat something, I’ll go open another Diet Coke, I’ll go to the barn, I’ll distract myself, and then the parts in my brain that were working click and I get an idea. I read an article about how to learn to play a musical instrument. You practice, practice, practice on Friday, then you walk away. And then when you sit down on Saturday, you’re better. Not only because of all the practice, but also because of the walking away. I’m a firm believer in walking away.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

Every Day

“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

Dalai Lama XIV

“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

Every Arrow

“If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it;
Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, In the Harbor

Without Fear

“Look not mournfully into the past, it comes not back again. Wisely improve the present, it is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a manly heart.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Secret History

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Best Thing

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion


"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love."
-Washington Irving

Vicki Harrison

"Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim."

-Vicki Harrison

Shel Silverstein

"There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start."
-Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic


"Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them."

- Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, May 08, 2019


It began with a traffic violation and ended with a woman pulling a gator from her yoga pants

The sheriff’s office joked about the incident on Twitter: “Not to be outdone by #Floridaman, a #FloridaWoman pulled this alligator out of her pants this morning during traffic stop after being asked the standard ‘Do you have anything else?’”

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.

Eating Poetry
By Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand.
Source: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991)

To Cheer Up

Yesterday I asked myself what would cheer me up? And the answer was, "Bake a gorgeous braided semolina bread the size of the baking sheet, covered in sesame seeds!" and so I did.

To life!

Nick Cave Fear and Hope

He told me that, yes, these terrible things happen but he also set about showing me stuff he thought was beautiful – reading me things mostly, and encouraging me to follow an artistic direction in my life. It was a simple but effective action, a redressing of the balance of the bad and the good, and life changing, in its way.

So, I have always seen it as a kind of parental duty to show my own children beautiful stuff, and in doing so reveal to them an alternate world. By beautiful, I mean interesting, inspiring, ambiguous, challenging and sometimes dangerous things that exist within the world of art. I feel that the online world provides us ready access to a vast and ever-deepening barrage of bad shit, where the cruel reality of the world is well covered. This continual onslaught of negativity can erode our souls and the souls of our children. My job is to show my children that there is a whole universe that exists beyond the grim issues of the day. This is not to divert them from certain truths, but rather to remind them that the parallel world of art and the imagination can literally save their lives, as it certainly saved mine.
-Nick Cave The Red Hand Files

I am a human being. Nothing human is alien to me

Each of us will have to make the choices that allow us to be the largest versions of ourselves.
Julia Alvarez

The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.
Julia Alvarez

It's like my whole world is coming undone, but when I write, my pencil is a needle and thread, and I'm stitching the scraps back together.
Julia Alvarez

I write to find out what I am thinking.
I write to find out who I am.
I write to understand things.
Julia Alvarez

A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.
Julia Alvarez

A book does not discriminate against any reader. All are welcome at the table of literature.
Julia Alvarez

Don't plan it all. Let life surprise you a little.
Julia Alvarez

Everyone needs a strong sense of self. It is our base of operations for everything that we do in life.
Julia Alvarez

As a young writer, I was on guard against the Latina in me, the Spanish in me because as far as I could see the models that were presented to me did not include my world. In fact, 'I was told by one teacher in college that one could only write poetry in the language in which one first said Mother. That left me out of American literature, for sure.
Julia Alvarez

For me, the writing life doesn't just happen when I sit at the writing desk. It is a life lived with a centering principle, and mine is this: that I will pay close attention to this world I find myself in. 'My heart keeps open house,' was the way the poet Theodore Roethke put it in a poem. And rendering in language what one sees through the opened windows and doors of that house is a way of bearing witness to the mystery of what it is to be alive in this world.
Julia Alvarez

I admit that for me love goes deeper than the struggle, or maybe what I mean is, love is the deeper struggle.
Julia Alvarez

I grew up in a dictatorship, where you couldn't talk about difficult situations - there was this culture of silence. We would run into a problem and have no one to talk to.
Julia Alvarez

Every writer can tell you that a book is only truly alive when it finds passionate readers who bring it alive in their imaginations.
Julia Alvarez

Schools provide safe spaces to talk about controversial issues, and literature presents characters portraying human experience in all its richness and contradictoriness.
Julia Alvarez

But the sensibility of the writer, whether fiction or poetry, comes from paying attention. I tell my students that writing doesn't begin when you sit down to write. It's a way of being in the world, and the essence of it is paying attention.
Julia Alvarez

The elasticity of imagination and compassion is what writing and reading promote.
Julia Alvarez

How we lie to ourselves when we've fallen in love with the wrong man.
Julia Alvarez

There is no end to what can be said about the world
Julia Alvarez

When we read, even if the characters are tragic or sad or disturbing, these are our brothers and sisters in the human family.
Julia Alvarez

Reading and thoughtfulness and openness are the best way, I should think, to begin to address the richness that is in each of us.
Julia Alvarez

Independence didn't have to be exile.
Julia Alvarez

Reading is a way to take in the difficult situations and understand them. The whole point of reading a book in class is to have discussion about what these situations are like.
Julia Alvarez

Literature is about being a complex, contradictory human being.
Julia Alvarez

It's always gratifying to hear from a passionate reader, and as a longtime educator, I'm especially pleased and heartened when that reader is a young student who is inspired to write me and let me know that my book has helped him or her find her way.
Julia Alvarez

Terrence, the Roman slave who freed himself with his writings, once observed, "I am a human being. Nothing human is alien to me." That could be the motto of literature!
Julia Alvarez


The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you're an artist.

what happens on the inside

I’m interested in the way a character imagines his or her own reality, navigates it, gets it wrong, has a new idea, and rebuilds. I find that to be a pretty important experience as a human being. My life has a plot, certainly, but I live an internal life inside my head, and I think that’s probably true for most people, except for shut-down morons hypnotized by TV or sex or whatever. A lot of life doesn’t go anywhere, and what’s interesting is what happens on the inside in that time.


Virginia Woolf

It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.

understand the tragic and routine flaws people have

Infinite pity, I think, is the proper attitude to have towards your characters. Not pity in the way we mostly tend to understand it—which is the condescension of a superior looking down at an inferior and feeling sorry for them…. It’s a much more self-implicating pity, where you see and understand the tragic and routine flaws people have, the ways in which your characters fall short of the marks they set for themselves—just as you fall short of the marks you set for yourself.


Nora Ephron

We all grew up with this thing that my mother said to us over and over and over and over again, which was everything is copy. You know, you'd come home with some thing that you thought was the tragedy of your life - someone hadn't asked you to dance or…the hem had fallen out of your dress or whatever you thought was the worst thing that could ever happen to a human being. And my mother would say everything is copy. I now believe that what my mother meant is this: when you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke.



I was in the back of a black sedan my brother was driving. There were others in the car. We made a stop at a pawn shop in NYC. My brother pulled out a shotgun and brought it into the shop. Do you own property? I asked him. "It depends what you mean by own," he said.

Seamus Heaney

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

― Seamus Heaney

On this Day

On this day in 1718, the French Canadian Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville discovered the Crescent City, New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Mahalia Jackson, Harry Connick Jr., and Wynton Marsalis.
Writer's Almanac

Monday, May 06, 2019

Milo Silva Music
here too

Maynard and Milo

Semolina Bread


Destroyer of Compasses

“I realized that searching was my symbol, the emblem of those who go out at night with nothing in mind, the motives of a destroyer of compasses.”
― Julio Cortazar

Profound Distraction

“All profound distraction opens certain doors. You have to allow yourself to be distracted when you are unable to concentrate.”
― Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds


“What most people call loving consists of picking out a woman and marrying her. They pick her out, I swear, I’ve seen them. As if you could pick in love, as if it were not a lightning bolt that splits your bones and leaves you staked out in the middle of the courtyard. They probably say that they pick her out because-they-love-her, I think it’s just the siteoppo. Beatrice wasn’t picked out, Juliet wasn’t picked out. You don’t pick out the rain that soaks you to a skin when you come out of a concert.”
― Julio Cortazar


“I sometimes longed for someone who, like me, had not adjusted perfectly with his age, and such a person was hard to find; but I soon discovered cats, in which I could imagine a condition like mine, and books, where I found it quite often.”
― Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

need lines on their writing paper

“She would smile and show no surprise, convinced as she was, the same as I, that casual meetings are apt to be just the opposite, and that people who make dates are the same kind who need lines on their writing paper, or who always squeeze up from the bottom on a tube of toothpaste.”
― Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch

Quoting Others

“In quoting others, we cite ourselves.”
― Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds


What good is a writer if he can't destroy literature?
Julio Cortázar


An admirable line of Pablo Neruda’s, “My creatures are born of a long denial,” seems to me the best definition of writing as a kind of exorcism, casting off invading creatures by projecting them into universal existence, keeping them on the other side of the bridge… It may be exaggerating to say that all completely successful short stories, especially fantastic stories, are products of neurosis, nightmares or hallucination neutralized through objectification and translated to a medium outside the neurotic terrain. This polarization can be found in any memorable short story, as if the author, wanting to rid himself of his creature as soon and as absolutely as possible, exorcises it the only way he can: by writing it.



If you want what visible reality
can give, you're an employee.
If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

PRICE RITE ANNEX on Social Street

Every day I dream about a PRICE RITE ANNEX in the RITE AID building. I have spoken to Price Rite and folks I meet on the street downtown. EVERYBODY loves the idea.

Finger's Crossed.

It's raining Meatballs in my House

I decided turkey meatballs are my version of brownies and I had a few with coffee this morning. My husband laughed because no matter what I love savory foods more than sweet ones. We've had dozens of rainy days and what I need is comfort from this oppressive weather.


Teeth Bleaching has Gone Too Far
By Diane Mapes contributor

Oh, those gleaming white teeth. Whiter than a picket fence. A Tic Tac. A porcelain toilet. They blind us from billboards, bedazzle us from screens and make us squint at magazines. How can we ever compete? With bleach, of course, courtesy of our dentist, "whitening spas” and a battalion of over-the-counter concoctions: white strips, age-defying chewing gum, paint-on gels, leave-in trays, even brightening toothpaste and mouth wash.

“I’m obsessed,” says Jamie Burkhart, a 23-year-old college student from Cleveland, and self-proclaimed “bleachorexic” who has been brightening her smile for about a year with Crest Whitestrips. “I have ridiculously white teeth, but I still don’t think they’re white enough.”

Teeth whitening is the No. 1 requested cosmetic service today and its popularity continues to soar, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Outside the dentist’s office, it’s every bit as popular. Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products last year alone.

But as successful and satisfying as bleaching has proved for the millions of Americans looking to instantly boost their confidence, hide their age and/or keep up with the Catherine Zeta-Joneses, some have found it to be a real pain. Even worse, those who take it too far may end up doing real damage.

“There are people who can never get enough,” says New York City dentist Dr. Irwin Smigel, president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. “I’ve had situations where people have needed root canals because they’ve overbleached, where tissues were damaged. You can wear away some of the enamel and your teeth will become translucent and unnatural. They’ll become blue or blue gray.”

Burn, baby, burn
And then there's the burn. A study in the Journal of the American Dental Association found half of people who bleached their teeth experienced temporary sensitivity from whitening treatments, everything from mild tingling to burning gums to knee-buckling “zingers” and/or extreme sensitivity to sound or even air.

Meredith Kummell, 32, of San Francisco says she was “popping Advil like candy” after her BriteSmile session, an in-office whitening procedure that uses a special lamp coupled with a light-activated bleaching gel.

“It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but I don’t regret it,” she says. “I’m pretty vain and this is something about yourself that you can fix for a reasonable amount of money.”

Unfortunately, sometimes we take that “fix” too far.

Burkhart, the college student, just piles on more Crest Whitestrips whenever she feels the need for a retouch. Her first “touch up”? Three months after her initial 14-day treatment. (According to the package, one bleaching session should last for a year).

But she’s not worried about gambling with her dental health. “My roommates and I joke that our teeth are going to fall out when we’re 32 and we’re going to have veneers,” she says “But it doesn’t really faze me.”

Your teeth won’t fall out, assures Martin Zase, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and a dentist in Colchester, Conn. “All of the products used in the dentist office are safe and most of the [over-the-counter] products are safe as well, but there are a few that are acidic and acidic products increase the likelihood of decay if you overuse.”

Bleachers should aim for a color that matches the whites of their eyes, he suggests. And they should also make sure they consult with a dentist, even before using over-the-counter products, because those who go it alone often end up going too far. “Your teeth look better so you do it some more and you don’t know when to stop,” Zase says.

Carol Ann O’Keefe, 51, of Seattle, can speak to that. Like many baby boomers, she decided to tap her dentist for at-home bleaching trays in order to remove years of accumulated smoke, coffee and wine stains from her teeth. But the temptation proved too much. “You were supposed to do it three times a day for an hour or two each time, but that was kind of a pain in the butt so I thought, I’ll just do it overnight,” she says.

The result?

“After six months, my teeth started to get like a pearl look,” she says. “They looked thin, like if you put a light behind them, you could see through them. I thought if a little bleach is good, a lot must be really good, but it’s not that way. Your teeth will never be porcelain white, like your toilet.”

That Hollywood smile
But why would we even want our teeth to look like our plumbing fixtures?

“I hold ‘Laguna Beach’ responsible,” says Kummell, the Advil-popping teeth bleacher. 'Laguna Beach’ or ‘Survivor.’ They all have perfect teeth and when you see that constantly, you start to think, mine aren’t perfect.”

O’Keefe, who bleached to the point of translucence, points to gleaming white TV teeth, as well. “I see people like Jessica Simpson with these bright white teeth and I can’t figure it out,” she says. “My teeth will never be Oprah white.”

The problem is that few people’s will.

“What’s being sold to us is the image of the perfect Hollywood smile,” says Victoria Pitts, associate professor of sociology at Queens College, CUNY, and author of the forthcoming “Surgery Junkies: The Cultural Boundaries of Cosmetic Surgery.”

“But Hollywood smiles are full of veneers. They don’t simply bleach their teeth; they don’t have the original surface of their teeth. The standards are getting more and more impossible to achieve. Are we chasing a chimera? Absolutely.”

A quick glimpse at history shows white teeth have been on the agenda long before the advent of seductive Hollywood smiles and billion-dollar bleaching campaigns.

“People have been doing this for thousands of years,” says Dr. Scott Swank, dentist and curator for the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore, Md. “The Greeks had formulations and at the beginning of the Renaissance, Europeans were certainly putting compounds on their teeth in a conscious effort to whiten them."

Unfortunately, those compounds were essentially the equivalent of today’s Clorox. “It ate the enamel away,” he says. “They had whiter teeth for a while, but then they started to see severe decay.”

Thankfully, teeth-whitening technology has evolved. With any luck, our tendency to take a good thing too far will do the same — hopefully, before we end up actually needing to pop for those perfect Hollywood veneers.

Sparking a Discussion

The Orphan

You brought me here and left.

See With the Other Eye

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Home Made Turkey Meatballs!

I've been dreaming of meatballs for weeks. Today we were at Price Rite and I decided to buy the 3 pounds of ground turkey. When I got home I chopped a big white onion, added some of the ground turkey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 2 eggs, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, and red chili pepper flakes. I took out my electric frying pan and added olive oil and while it was heating up I shaped the meatballs and then placed them in the oil. I rolled them around so they would brown on all sides. I transferred them to a frying pan and set them in the oven to bake at 350 for 20 more minutes. They were fabulous!

I made another batch of meatballs and then I made two meatloaves with the addition of one chopped red bell pepper otherwise using the same meatball formula with the remaining turkey. I baked the loaves for 45 minutes.

Trashy Bar in Japan

Liam's Leg

We named our dog's bone after our beloved mailman. Then Liam broke his leg crossing the street and had to quit his job. That's the last time I'll ever do that again. I still feel like I caused it.

Fine Fuel

I think that to write well and convincingly, one must be somewhat poisoned by emotion. Dislike, displeasure, resentment, fault-finding, imagination, passionate remonstrance, a sense of injustice—they all make fine fuel.

The Occasional Comma

I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it.


There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.

Habit is the Muse

Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.


We have to do what we love because it feeds us in infinite ways, even when there is no money coming in. We are still paid well by the cosmos.

Fictional Selves

“How readily and thinly we procure these fictional selves, deceiving the world and what we might have become if only we hadn't got in the way, if only we had waited to see what might have become of us.”
― Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men

A Corrupt Mind

“A corrupt mind turns everything to its advantage.”
― Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men

Everyman Asks

“Can you become a man without becoming your father?”
― Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men


“I wanted this world to still. I wanted to fix it and be fixed within it. But everything was on the move, the clouds, the wind...”
― Hisham Matar, Anatomy of a Disappearance

Hisham Matar

“Grief loves the hollow; all it wants is to hear its own echo.”
― Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men

Books Saved Me

“It is no exaggeration to say that those books saved me: from a life of poverty, stress, depression and isolation.”
Charles M. Blow, My Life’s Sentences

“We encounter books at different times in life, often appreciating them, apprehending them, in different ways. But their language is constant. The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail.”
-Jhumpa Lahiri

The writer Hisham Matar looks at how books can widen a narrow worldview: “The most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along. I am reminded then that I am really no different from anyone else.”

The Wild Duck

“Rob the average man of his life-illusion, and you rob him of his happiness at the same stroke.”
― Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck


“You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.”
― Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People


“It's not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that walks in us. It's all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of them.”
― Ibsen Henrik 1828-1906, Ghosts

Spirit of Rebellion

“It is the very mark of the spirit of rebellion to crave for happiness in this life.”
― Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts


“To live is to war with trolls.”
― Henrik Ibsen

“To live is to war with trolls in heart and woul*.
To write is to sit in judgement on oneself.”
― Henrik Johan Ibsen, Peer Gynt

*(obsolete) To howl.

Don't Try

You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.


TL Books for Young Readers

Mysterious castle builders: African termites
Tom Lisker

Terror in the Tropics--The Army Ants
Tom Lisker

The mystery of Robin Hood: Fact or fantasy?
Tom Lisker

First to the Top of the World: Admiral Peary at the North Pole
Tom Lisker

Nellie Bly: First Woman of the News
Tom Lisker

Tall Tales: American Myths
Tom Lisker

To Free Someone Else

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”
― Toni Morrison

Make up a story

“Make up a story... For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.”
― Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993

Toni Morrison

“Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”
– Toni Morrison

“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”
– Toni Morrison

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
– Toni Morrison

“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose – not to need permission for desire – well now that was freedom.”
– Toni Morrison

“Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion…you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless…”
– Toni Morrison

“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.”
– Toni Morrison

“Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.”
– Toni Morrison

Honest Bread

“People are also trying to achieve good honest bread in their own kitchens once again, and that is perhaps the healthiest sign of all—a return not only to home baking but also to the most fundamental traditions of American cookery.”
― James Beard, James Beard's American Cookery

Take Nothing for Granted

“Taste every time you cook, and take nothing for granted--not even your own palate, for it can change. Mine has.... Since doing time on a salt-free diet, I approach a plain baked potato reverently. Maybe I've been missing the truth--the nutty, delicate earthiness of a perfect baked potato. Salt only masks it. In a fancy mood, I heighten it with caviar; in a plain mood, I just give it several grinds of fresh black pepper.”
― James Beard

Having a Love of It

“The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it… If you’re convinced that cooking is drudgery, you’re never going to be good at it, and you might as well warm up something frozen.”
― James Beard

a tart who looks at her watch.

Food is our common ground, a universal experience.

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!

-James beard

James Beard

When someone asked him what his philosophy was, he said: "Feel free and take a fresh look. My emphasis is on options. My motto: 'Why not?'"

He said: "I've long said that if I were about to be executed and were given a choice of my last meal, it would be bacon and eggs. Nothing is quite as intoxicating as the smell of bacon frying in the morning, save perhaps the smell of coffee brewing."

Writer's Almanac

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Brain Loves Swimming

What Happens to Your Body When You Swim
Your brain loves swimming. The extra blood and oxygen helps you become more alert, awake, and focused

Weather and Mood


Here are seven easy ways to stop feeling angry.

Exercise. Anger is - at base - an energy that expresses itself in and through the body. ...
Use your anger as motivation to make a change. ...
Watch or listen to something funny. ...
Shift your focus. ...
Meditate. ...
Do something -- anything! ...
Write it out.

don’t socialize with a lot of people

“Introverts don’t get lonely if they don’t socialize with a lot of people, but we do get lonely if we don’t have intimate interactions on a regular basis.”
— Sophia Dembling

Speak About Misery

“Those who speak about their misery usually hurt; those who keep silent hurt more.”
— C.S. Lewis

instead of giving up

“The more you fail, the more you succeed. It is only when everything is lost, and instead of giving up, you go on, that you experience the momentary prospect of some slight progress. Suddenly you have the feeling...that something new has opened up.”
— Alberto Giacometti

Pablo Neruda

“I was writing my love poems, which sprouted out from me on all sides, and I was dying of depression, nomadic, abandoned, gnawing on the alphabet.”
— Pablo Neruda

Your Bad Weather is my Good Weather

I am weird. Bad weather is my good weather. My dogs have taught me this. Introverts LOVE walking in the rain.

On Nice days I panic, "Where can I hide?"

front-yard vegetable gardens

Florida lifts ban on front-yard vegetable gardens

Ari Bargill, the lawyer who represented Ricketts and Carroll, is pleased with the new legislation, saying he "looks forward to the day where no Floridian would worry about crippling fines for the offence of growing cabbage."

Not everyone supports it. The ironically-named Democrat senator Gary Farmer voted no because he fears front-yard gardens will attract iguanas and rats. (Why this isn't a concern in rear-yard gardens, I am not sure.)

The bill doesn't solve the dispute fully. It only preempts local government rules, not restrictions set by homeowners' associations or other groups. But it's a great start, and one that will hopefully inspire others to rip up their useless grass and plant some useful vegetables instead. The more front-yard vegetable gardens there are, the more normalized it will become – and the more secure the food system will be, too.

(Wanting some inspiration now? Check out Fine Gardening's tips on making an attractive front-yard veggie garden.)

Benefits of Art

Body instead of Thoughts

"Exercise. Working out gives you an outlet for your emotions and forces you to focus on your body instead of your thoughts. It also boosts levels of feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain, improving your mental well-being along with your physical health."

Alan Watts

Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.


Fake Beauty

Fake beauty is in again.
Fake lashes, fake nails, fake skin, fake teeth.
I worship wrinkles, sags and droops from a life well lived.

Dani Shapiro: To forget oneself-to lose oneself in the music

“Everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“This sadness wasn't a huge part of me--I wasn't remotely depressed--but still, it was like a stone I carried in my pocket. I always knew it was there. [p. 179]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“It wasn't getting easier because it isn't supposed to get easier. Midlife was a bitch, and my educated guess was that the climb only got steeper from here. Carl Jung put it perfectly: "Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life," he wrote. "Worse still, we take this step with the false assumption that our truths and ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be little at evening, and what in the morning was true will by evening have become a lie."
... I was writing a new program for the afternoon of life. The scales tipped away from suffering and toward openheartedness and love. [p. 182]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“Still writing?" I usually nod and smile, then quickly change the subject. But here is what I would like to put down my fork and say: Yes, yes, I am. I will write until the day I die, or until I am robbed of my capacity to reason. Even if my fingers were to clench and wither, even if I were to grow deaf or blind, even if I were unable to move a muscle in my body save for the blink of one eye, I would still write. Writing saved my life. Writing has been my window -- flung wide open to this magnificent, chaotic existence -- my way of interpreting everything within my grasp. Writing has extended that grasp by pushing me beyond comfort, beyond safety, past my self-perceived limits. It has softened my heart and hardened my intellect. It has been a privilege. It has whipped my ass. It has burned into me a valuable clarity. It has made me think about suffering, randomness, good will, luck, memory responsibility, and kindness, on a daily basis -- whether I feel like it or not. It has insisted that I grow up. That I evolve. It has pushed me to get better, to be better. It is my disease and my cure. It has allowed me not only to withstand the losses in my life but to alter those losses -- to chip away at my own bewilderment until I find the pattern in it. Once in a great while, I look up at the sky and think that, if my father were alive, maybe he would be proud of me. That if my mother were alive, I might have come up with the words to make her understand. That I am changing what I can. I am reaching a hand out to the dead and to the living and the not yet born. So yes. Yes. Still writing.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives-and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by the desire to explore the unfamiliar. They are drawn toward what they don't understand.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“According to ayurveda, we become what we surround ourselves with. And so it stands to reason that we have to be discerning about what we surround ourselves with." Steve Cope [p. 85]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“A writer with her work needs to be like a dog with a bone all the time. She needs to know where she's hidden it. Where she's stored the good stuff. She needs to keep gnawing at it, even after all the meat seems to be gone. When a student of mine says (okay, whines) that she's impatient, or tired, or the worst: isn't it good enough? this may be harsh, but she loses just a little bit of my respect. Because there is no room for impatience, or exhaustion, or self-satisfaction, or laziness. All of these really mean, simply, that the inner censor has won the day.”
― Dani Shapiro

“Act as if you're a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don't wait for anybody to tell you it's okay.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Writing well involves walking the path of most resistance. Sitting still, being patient, allowing the lunatic dream to take shape on the page, then the shaping, the pencil on the page, breathing, slowing down, being willing–no, more than willing, being wide open–to press the bruise until it blossoms.”
― Dani Shapiro

“If we are artists- hell, whether or not we're artists- it is our job, our responsibility, perhaps even our sacred calling, to take whatever life has handed us and make something new, something that wouldn't have existed if not for the fire, the genetic mutation, the sick baby, the accident.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“It would be many years before I began to understand that all of life is practice: writing, driving, hiking, brushing teeth, packing lunch boxes, making beds, cooking dinner, making love, walking dogs, even sleeping. We are always practicing. Only practicing.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life

“The writer’s life requires courage, patience, empathy, openness. It requires the ability to be alone with oneself. Gentle with oneself. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“I believe that we don't choose our stories," she began, leaning forward. "Our stories choose us." She paused and took a sip of water. Her hand, I noticed was steady.. "And if we don't tell them, then we are somehow diminished.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“Oh, child! Somewhere inside you, your future has already unfurled like one of those coiled-up party streamers, once shiny, shaken loose, floating gracefully for a brief moment, now trampled underfoot after the party is over. The future you’re capable of imagining is already a thing of the past. Who did you think you would grow up to become? You could never have dreamt yourself up. Sit down. Let me tell you everything that’s happened. You can stop running now. You are alive in the woman who watches you as you vanish.”
― Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

“When writers who are just starting out ask me when it gets easier, my answer is never. It never gets easier. I don’t want to scare them, so I rarely say more than that, but the truth is that, if anything, it gets harder. The writing life isn’t just filled with predictable uncertainties but with the awareness that we are always starting over again. That everything we ever write will be flawed. We may have written one book, or many, but all we know — if we know anything at all — is how to write the book we’re writing. All novels are failures. Perfection itself would be a failure. All we can hope is that we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to fear of the unknown. That we will not fall prey to the easy enchantments of repeating what may have worked in the past. I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainty, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt—spectacularly, brazenly — into the unknown.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“In the country, I stopped being a person who, in the words of Sylvia Boorstein, startles easily. I grew calmer, but beneath that calm was a deep well of loneliness I hadn't known was there. ... Anxiety was my fuel. When I stopped, it was all waiting for me: fear, anger, grief, despair, and that terrible, terrible loneliness. What was it about? I was hardly alone. I loved my husband and son. I had great friends, colleagues, students. In the quiet, in the extra hours, I was forced to ask the question, and to listen carefully to the answer: I was lonely for myself. [p. 123]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“Rather than feeling vindicated, I felt guilty. It seemed cruel, and all my fault, somehow. My relationship with my mother had always brought into question any sense I had of myself as a good and decent person. [p. 128]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“This is in the natural order of things--the time of life we've now entered. The afternoon, as Jung called it. Thoroughly unprepared we take the step into the afternoon of life. Are we unprepared simply because preparation is not possible? ... We learn--if we are lucky we learn--as we go.
... we are in the center of the stream. Much has already happened, and has formed the shape of our lives as surely as water shapes rock. Much lies ahead of us. We can't see what's coming. We can't know it. All we have is our hope that all will be well, and our knowledge that it won't always be so. We live in the space between this hope and this knowledge.

Life keeps coming at us. Fleeing it is pointless, as is fighting. What I have begun to learn is that there is value in simply standing there--this too--whether the sun is shining, or the wind whipping all around. [pp.239-240]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“I've become convinced that our lives are shaped less by the mistakes we make than when we make them. There is less elasticity now. Less time to bounce back. And so I heed the urgent whisper and move with greater and greater deliberation.”
― Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

“I was longing for the moment I was in, even as I was in it.”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“Think of a ballet dancer at the barre. Plie, eleve, battement tendu. She is practicing, because she knows that there is no difference between practice and art. The practice is the art.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“I had spent my childhood and the better part of my early adulthood trying to understand my mother. She had been an extraordinarily difficult person, spiteful and full of rage, with a temper that could flare, seemingly out of nowhere, scorching everything and everyone who got in its way. [pp. 40-41]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“We are tyrannized by our options.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“To forget oneself-to lose oneself in the music, in the moment- that kind of absorption seems to be at the heart of every creative endeavor.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“Don't think too much. There'll be time to think later. Analysis won't help. You're chiseling now. You're passing your hands over the wood. Now the page is no longer blank. There's something there. It isn't your business yet to know whether it's going to be prize-worthy someday, or whether it will gather dust in a drawer. Now you've carved the tree. You've chiseled the marbled. You've begun.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“From Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.”
― Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

“I can tell you that the writing of a book, no matter how deeply, profoundly personal-if it is literature, if you have attended to the formidable task of illumination the human heart in conflict with itself-will do the opposite of expose you. It will connect you. With others. With the world around you. With yourself.”
― Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

“Gone was the reflexive need to see the worst in things. Before the tumors took her life, they gave her a few moments of grace.”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“I believe that there is something connecting us ... Something that was here before we got here and will still be here after we're gone. I've begun to believe that all of our consciousnesses are bound up in that greater consciousness.
An animating presence .... [pp. 205-206]”
― Dani Shapiro, Devotion: A Memoir

“You know,” my aunt says, “I once had a terribly difficult period that lasted twenty-four years.” Wait. Twenty-four years? “And it was so important to realize that I didn’t know what was on the other side of the darkness. Every so often there was a sliver of light that shot the whole world through with mystery and wonder, and reminded me: I didn’t have all the information.” —”
― Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage

Education is our only political safety

It's the birthday of the man who said, "Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is deluge." The father of American public education, Horace Mann, was born on this day in Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1796. He grew up without much money or schooling, and what he did learn, he learned on his own at his local library, which had been founded by Benjamin Franklin. He was accepted into Brown University and graduated in three years, valedictorian of his class.

He was elected to the state legislature in 1827, and 10 years later, when Massachusetts created the first board of education in the country, he was appointed secretary. Up to this point, he hadn't had any particular interest in education, but when he took the post he dedicated himself to it wholeheartedly. He personally inspected every school in the state, gave numerous lectures, and published annual reports advocating the benefits of a common school education for both the student and the state. He spearheaded the Common School Movement, which ensured all children could receive a basic education funded by taxes.

He was elected to the United States Congress in 1848 after the death of John Quincy Adams, and in his first speech, he spoke out against slavery. He wrote in a letter later that year: "I think the country is to experience serious times. Interference with slavery will excite civil commotion in the South. But it is best to interfere. Now is the time to see whether the Union is a rope of sand or a band of steel."

When he left politics, he moved to Ohio to accept a position as president of Antioch College. "I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these, my parting words," he told one graduating class: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."
Writer's Almanac

Friday, May 03, 2019

Heart and Mind Open

It doesn't matter what time of day you work, but you have to work every day because creation, like life, is always slipping away from you. You must write every day, but there's no time limit on how long you have to write.

One day you might read over what you've done and think about it. You pick up the pencil or turn on the computer, but no new words come. That's fine. Sometimes you can't go further. Correct a misspelling, reread a perplexing paragraph, and then let it go. You have re-entered the dream of the work, and that's enough to keep the story alive for another 24 hours.

The next day you might write for hours; there's no way to tell. The goal is not a number of words or hours spent writing. All you need to do is to keep your heart and mind open to the work.


We're Supposed to Wander

Writers get paid for what other people get scolded for: daydreaming. We’re supposed to wander.

The Key

The ability to forgive oneself…is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life.

Let it get out as it wants to

Don’t think of literary form. Let it get out as it wants to. Overtell it in the matter of detail—cutting comes later. The form will develop in the telling. Don’t make the telling follow the form.

Morning - Poem by Billy Collins

Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,

then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?

This is the best—
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—

maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,

dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,

and, if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
out there,
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.

Billy Collins

Spring Sunlight Serotonin + Melatonin

According to Thompson, the seasonal changes that bring most of us out of winter apathy may work against those who are coming out of severe depression. "It is a harsh irony that the partial remission which most depression sufferers experience in the spring often provides the boost of energy required for executing a suicide plan," he says. "Spring is a time for new beginnings and new life, yet the juxtaposition between a literally blooming world and the barren inner life of the clinically depressed is often too much for them to bear."

Paradoxically, says Thompson, sunlight-driven changes in levels of the feelgood chemical serotonin may make people more aggressive and, if they are depressed, they could direct that aggression at themselves. The theory gains some support from research by Canadian scientists linking seasonal changes in bright sunlight with more violent suicides.

Other researchers believe that the influence of sunlight on another hormone, melatonin, is to blame. Sunlight inhibits production of melatonin, which is known to influence our behaviour.