Wednesday, September 22, 2010


we layed in the backyard and dreamed out loud. i told you about how when i was younger i was always the girl who never knew where to go because i wasn’t very brave or delicate. what i didn’t say was that i was mostly just hushed noise and bruised knees. that i was mostly just this soundless craving for some nameless need. how i also could have never been what they wanted me to be - because you’ve either got to be one of them or something better, something to either lean on as a crutch or collect like water on the other side of a dam. i’m never the crutch and i’m never the water on the other side of the dam. i’ve always been this 100 pound fascinated and violent thing. i’ve always been detached but painfully apart of everything. and you lit your cigarettes and told me you loved my voice in the dark. it might have been the second-hand smoke but i felt like we were younger than ever, i felt like we were in the safest place we could ever be. i felt like maybe i could teach you things other people would never notice about me. i felt like everything about this place was expanding into things i couldn’t keep. and i knew we were something very static, something that was already falling apart from the beginning. but i’ve always been very fascinated by any sort of love - and i’ll take all alterations. and it’s not that i’m needy, i’ve never been very needy. i’m mostly complacent. but i’m also curious. and that’s the part of me that gets dangerous. the part of me that’s doing things and taking risks and writing poetry and reaching out to people who don’t even know me and scaring the shit out of the calm and complacent side of me. and i’ve spent most of my life convincing myself that this is who i am and i’m not interested in changing. i’m not interested in conquering social interactions or going out of my way to love on a whim. i’m careful and i’m low-pitched. but i feel very accurately, i love very deliberately. and yet i’ve also spent most of my life questioning when i’d ever start to live like i’m not afraid to be here. like i’m not afraid to be noticed in a room full of people. like i’m not afraid to dance or love or like or shake a fucking hand or kiss a goddamn mouth that’s just as young and half-empy/half-full as mine.i talk about change and it’s not that i’m afraid it’s just that this safe. but you know what they say, right? they say that if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done before.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Remember

By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color - no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I remember best is that
the door to your room was
the door to mine.
--Anne Sexton

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We've still got the taste dancing on our tongues

"I am suddenly consumed by nostalgia for the little girl who was me, who loved the fields and believed in God, who spent winter days home sick from school reading Nancy Drew and sucking menthol cough drops, who could keep a secret."
--Audrey Niffenegger, 'The Time Traveler's Wife

"I feel like cotton candy: sugar and air."
--Margaret Atwood

"Do stuff... be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager, stay eager."
--Susan Sontag

“Something wonderful, if you took the long view, was about to happen. If you took the short or medium view, something terrible was about to happen. It’s like the difference between seeing a beautiful new star in the winter sky and actually being close to the supernova. It’s the difference between the beauty of morning dew on a cobweb and actually being a fly.”
--Terry Pratchett

"We've still got the taste dancing on our tongues"
--Ellie Goulding

“Sanity is a cozy lie.”
--Susan Sontag

“His soul sounds like my drums and looks like doves. He is fireworks. He is the black-haired angel playing his bass on the top of the tree, on the top of the cake. I want him to see the flowers in my eyes and hear the songs in my hands.”
--Francesca Lia Block

Don't leave. Please. Stay. It's nice to be in the dark, right? You can relax a little. No brittle smiles. No air kisses. No sarcasm. Forget the stress. The worry. The petty skirmishes. Life is too short. Too short for cruelty. Close your eyes.

"Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life."
--Norton Juster, 'The Phantom Tollbooth'

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
--Norton Juster, 'The Phantom Tollbooth'

"She seems to have thoughts and emotions. Sometimes I think I understand them, but often I don't. Like a photograph, she cannot say what she let's me see. She is an embodied secret. And I must be a photograph to her."
--Jonathan Safran Foer, 'Eating Animals'

"If nothing matters, there's nothing to save."
--Jonathan Safran Foer, 'Eating Animals'

"Not only the willful causing of unnecessary suffering, but the indifference to it. Cruelty depends on an understanding of cruelty, and the ability to choose against it. Or to choose to ignore it."
--Jonathan Safran Foer, 'Eating Animals'

"The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures... Whose charms were broken if revealed."
--Charlotte Brontë

"Some might think that the creativity, imagination, and flights of fancy that give my life meaning are insanity."
--Vladimir Nabokov

"And presently I was driving through the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers in full action but unable to cope with my tears."
--Vladimir Nabokov, 'Lolita'

"Listen: I am ideally happy. My happiness is a kind of challenge. As I wander along the streets and the squares and the paths by the canal, absently sensing the lips of dampness through my worn soles, I carry proudly my ineffable happiness. The centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, but my happiness, dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a street lamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal's black waters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which God so generously surrounds human loneliness."
--Vladimir Nabokov, 'Vladimir Nabokov: Selected Letters 1940-1977'

"Everyone has the right to tell the truth about her own life."
--Ellen Bass

Every time we kissed there was another apple to slice into pieces.

All quotes by author Richard Siken

"I’ve been rereading your story. I think it’s about me in a way that might not be flattering, but that’s okay. We dream and dream of being seen as we really are and then finally someone looks at us and sees us truly and we fail to measure up. Anyway: story received, story included. You looked at me long enough to see something mysterioso under all the gruff and bluster. Thanks. Sometimes you get so close to someone you end up on the other side of them."

"Here I am leaving you clues. I am singing now while Rome burns. We are all just trying to be holy. My applejack, my silent night, just mash your lips against me. We are all going forward. None of us are going back."

"Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake and dress them in warm clothes again. How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running until they forget that they are horses. It's not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere, it's more like a song on a policeman's radio, how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple to slice into pieces. Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it's noon, that means we're inconsolable. Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us. These, our bodies, possessed by light. Tell me we'll never get used to it."

"Knot the tie and go to work, unknot the tie and go to sleep. I sleep. I dream. I wake. I sing. I get out the hammer and start knocking in the wooden pegs that affix the meaning to the landscape, the inner life to the body, the names to the things. I float too much to wander, like you, in the real world. I envy it but that’s the dealio—you’re a train and I’m a trainstation and when I try to guess your trajectory I end up telling my own story."

"A man takes his sadness down to the river and throws it in the river but then he's still left with the river. A man takes his sadness and throws it away but then he's still left with his hands."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Make for yourself a world you can believe in.

It sounds simple, I know. But it's not. Listen, there are a million worlds you could make for yourself. Everyone you know has a completely different one - the woman in 5G, that cab driver over there, you. Sure, there are overlaps, but only in the details. Some people make their worlds around what they think reality is like. They convince themselves that they had nothing to do with their worlds' creations and continuations. Some make their worlds without knowing it. Their universes are just sesame seeds and three-day weekends and dial tones and skinned knees and physics and driftwood and emerald earrings and books dropped in bathtubs and holes in guitars and plastic and empathy and hardwood and heavy water and high black stockings and the history of the Vikings and brass and obsolescence and burnt hair and collapsed soufflès and the impossibility of not falling in love in an art museum with the person standing next to you looking at the same painting and all the other things that just happen and are. But you want to make for yourself a world that is deliberately and meticulously personalized. A theater for your life, if I could put it like that. Don't live an accident. Don't call a knife a knife. Live a life that has never been lived before, in which everything you experience is yours and only yours. Make accidents on purpose. Call a knife a name by which only you will recognize it. Now I'm not a very smart man, but I'm not a dumb one, either. So listen: If you can manage what I've told you, as I was never able to, you will give your life meaning.
--Jonathan Safran Foer, 'A Convergence of Birds'

Thursday, September 09, 2010

he said it's a funny kind of world

All quotes from StoryPeople

Today's Mental Checklist 1. Things I know for sure - quite a few 2. Things I don't know for sure - quite a few more 3. Things I'll discover I don't know as I go along (only a rough estimate) - about as much as things I currently don't know 4. Things I tell my children that I don't believe myself - lots, but now they're older I tell them I'm making it up & they can believe it at their own risk 5. things that make sense if you stop to think about it a. in daylight - lot unless there's media or government involved b. late at night - almost nothing, so it's better to just go back to sleep 6. Things I believe that people a thousand years ago believed, too - quite a few but I lived in L.A. when I was younger, so I have a good excuse

Favorite to-do list stuff 1. Clean the refrigerator. (Just kidding. That's why refrigerators are so cheap. Just buy another one when this one starts to smell.

I'm feeling overdressed, she said & he held her close & said as far as he was concerned she was always that way & her eyes glowed softly in the light of his desire

The day he first told me he was starting to disappear I didn't believe him & so he stopped & held his hand up to the sun & it was like thin paper in the light & finally I said you seem very calm for a man who is disappearing & he said it was a relief after all those years of trying to keep the pieces of his life in one place. Later on, I went to see him again & as I was leaving, he put a package in my hand. This is the last piece of my life, he said, take good care of it & then he smiled & was gone & the room filled with the sound of the wind & when I opened the package there was nothing there & I thought there must be some mistake or maybe I dropped it & I got down on my hands & knees & looked until the light began to fade & then slowly I felt the pieces of my life fall away gently & suddenly I understood what he meant & I lay there for a long time crying & laughing at the same time.

There are 7 levels of hell, she said, & I think one of them is reserved for people who bring jello salads to every potluck they go to.

She asked my sons what strange countries they had been to & my oldest son said England & my youngest said we live in Iowa & they all agreed that was strangest of all.

I think I'm probably avoiding something pretty big in my inner life, she said, because I'm keeping pretty busy

He told me about Jesus & Arizona & the best way to make beer & I said you're a funny kind of preacher & he said it's a funny kind of world & I still remember his eyes clear as a desert morning.

What do you want? I said & she said, in the abstract or the concrete? & I decided to rephrase the question. I'm going to the store, I said. Need anything? & she frowned & said, Obviously, you meant concrete

When people asked how old she was, she would say 1009365, more or less, because she was so glad to be alive that she counted every day a birthday. She had some disagreement from her knees about the actual figures though. . .

My favorite time of day is just at dark when all thoughts of what must be done stop & small pools of light come alive on tired faces everywhere.

On the lookout for the next big thing because it would solve a lot of the problems of having to deal with the same old stuff.

I'm trying to pack for the future, he said, but I think it's too much stuff. So what are you going to do? I said & he shrugged & said he was going to trust that everything would work out. &, he added, I'm moving back in with my parents

We need a letter that's like i & u together for when we're doing stuff like this, he said & I hugged him & said a lot of people want a letter like that.

I have a friend who took all the doors out of his house one summer. It reminds me there's nothing I have that's worth hiding, he said. No secrets is the key to world peace. He put them all back on that winter. I decided it was peaceful enough for me, he said.

This is a box filled with things that make your body tingle & she's saving it for some time when she's in a long-term relationship & can make better use of it.

These knees have stories, she said, but they'd have to be a mouth to tell you.

this is a mountain goat with too many years of regret for not pursuing a dance career in Vegas, so she bounces around from peak to valley a lot

being as careful as possible because even though he's not sure exactly where he's going, he knows there are some parts of it he's just going to hate

I think I'm having a heart attack, she said, but it's dragging on for hours. I told her not to worry. That's how most people who work a full day feel, I said.

bending over backwards to keep from having to go forwards

doesn't mind carrying a few choice pieces of baggage so she has a conversation starter in almost any social situation

travelling as fast in one direction as she can go before she has second thoughts & goes back to doing the same old stuff

scattering little bits of happiness everywhere she goes, except at home because her family told her to get out & leave them in peace for godsakes

How can you be sure it has a soul? she said. You can't , I said, unless you've got one yourself

Hiding behind a beach towel so all anyone remembers about him is a bunch of orange stripes.

For a long time, she flew only when she thought no one else was watching.

Every time I looked at the picture I thought how I should have kissed her, so finally I hid it in the attic & I wonder if it's still there with us both so young & her waiting to be kissed.

I'll bet you wouldn't even miss me if I died, she said. Depends on if you'd been grumpy in those final days, I said & she tried to look sad but I saw the smile anyway.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

you told me god was a patch of the galaxy

you mouthed the words “i love you” from the door way and we were lost in everyone else’s noise. but sometimes the noise says more than the words ever could. i was young enough once to trust the world and old enough to know that i shouldn’t. i followed you out into the front yard where nobody would find us. we were november criminals. we were quiet and free, a wild fire caught in between a priority and a possibility. we used to break the afternoons in half, fill the gaps with cigarettes and broken-in words. tell the other this was love this is love this has got to be love because we’re desperate and we’re young, because this wine was cheap and this song is good, because we’re lonely and cold and the stars are just bones like us looking for some warmth. but that’s what happens. our lives get caught, the people in them leave blind spots on who we used to be. and i know that we’ve all had something opaque and lonely. i know we build things up in our heads based on some loose reality and leave the rest to our dreams. i know i won’t always be this nineteen year old harmless thing. with fidgeting thoughts, with sleepy eyes, with this quiet charm that pulls people in moments before i’m walking the other way. i like to think that one day i won’t see every moment as some meaningless preamble to something so much greater. and in the dark of your own bedroom your friend told me that we only look at people through the lens of our own fears and triumphs and it’s hard to see a person when we’re manipulating them to be these reflections of who we think we are and who we think we should be. and i’m careful and quiet but my feelings are just as loud as yours, just as out of control as yours, just as shape-shifting, heavy and encrypting. and i take chances, i take risks, the only way i’ve ever loved is on a whim. but i’m always lost in everyone else’s noise.
--Ashli Wood