Saturday, June 30, 2007

Top 100 First Lines in a Novel - Can You Name the Novel?

1. Call me Ishmael.

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

3. A screaming comes across the sky.

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

10. I am an invisible man.

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.

12. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
16. f you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard.

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary.

24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.

25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.

26. 124 was spiteful.

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

28. Mother died today.

29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.

30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.

32. Where now? Who now? When now?

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.”

34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.

35. It was like so, but wasn't.

36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled.

37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

38. All this happened, more or less.

39. They shoot the white girl first.

40. For a long time, I went to bed early.

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in.

42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane;

44. Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board.

45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation.

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded.

50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.

51. Elmer Gantry was drunk.

52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.

53. It was a pleasure to burn.

54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression.

56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me.

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.

59. It was love at first sight.

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?

61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.

62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.

64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

65. You better not never tell nobody but God.

66. “To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die.”

67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden.

69. If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.

70. Francis Marion Tarwater's uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.

71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson.

73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World.

74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him.

75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

76. “Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.

78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen.

80. Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.

81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash.

82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.

83. “When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.”

84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point.

85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man.

87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.

88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women.

89. I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.

90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods.

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl's underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self.

92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.

93. Psychics can see the color of time it's blue.

94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen.

96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.

97. He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour.

99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.

100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dying Harder All The Time

My aesthetic is in a serious state of decline. Two days ago, I had to fight tears while listening to an Ashlee Simpson song, and not because it was bad. I was just honestly moved.

And today, I left the latest Die Hard completely and totally jazzed. Michael, my viewing partner and partner in general, was completely disappointed. Me? I wanted to go skydiving or something. I was puh-umped!

I might lose friends with these admissions, but I find it necessary to be honest about my likes and dislikes. I am closeted no more. I like Justin Timberlake. I think Avril Lavigne writes some damn good songs. Don't even get me started on Fergie.

I'm sick of being a snob. I am a closet Top 20 girl. There it is. It's out there. It's been said. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to do some shopping at Hollister. No, just kidding. Not even I would stoop to this.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Russian Cautionary Cartoons

My thanks to the good country of Russia which is responsible for a delightfully cautionary book intended for bad children.

The caption for the following (I swear to God) is: “You haven’t cleaned up your room? Then ugly monks will come to you soon.”

But perhaps better than this one is the following, the caption of which is: “If you are greedy as old and don’t share balls, probably you would be eaten by wolves.”

So let that be a lesson to you. For more, go to:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Visual Mapping of Your Life

Try this:

Make a visual map of something. Mine is forthcoming, in the process of raw creation. Let's both watch for it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What's so impressive about diamonds, except for the mining?

I've been giving a lot of thought to diamonds lately and other marital traditions like the woman changing her last name. A friend of mine says he believes this will be the last generation of women to change their last names to their husband's. I think that's a possibility, but there's still that whole sticky what-will-the-children-go-by situation.

The ring's the thing, though. I just don't know where to fall on this one. Part of me wants a ring, but part of me agrees with Fiona Apple who provided the subject line of this blog entry.

Below is an article taken from Slate and written by Meghan O'Rourke about this issue. I'd like some feedback on this one. I just don't want to end up like one those women Iona from Pretty in Pink (Annie Potts's character) talks about who wake up one day and realize that something is missing in their lives and then they are horrified to realize that it's that they never went to Prom. Well I went to Prom and had a seriously hot date. But I don't want to wake up one day and realize I really, really wanted a diamond ring.

Diamonds Are a Girl's Worst Friend
The trouble with engagement rings.

By Meghan O'Rourke
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007, at 10:07 AM ET

The retail fantasy known as a "traditional" American wedding comprises many delicious absurdities, ranging from personalized wedding stamps to ring pillows designed for dogs to favors like "Love Mints." Of all these baubles, though, perhaps the most insidious is the engagement ring. Most Americans can say no to the "celebrity garter belt" on offer for a mere $18.95 from Weddings With Class. But more than 80 percent of American brides receive a diamond engagement ring (at an average cost of around $3,200) before they get married. Few stop to think about what, beyond the misty promise of endless love, the ring might actually signify. Why would you, after all? A wedding is supposed to be a celebration. Only the uncharitable would look a sparkly diamond in the eye—never mind a man on his knee—and ask what it means.

But there's a powerful case to be made that in an age of equitable marriage the engagement ring is an outmoded commodity—starting with the obvious fact that only the woman gets one. The diamond ring is the site of retrograde fantasies about gender roles. What makes it pernicious—as opposed to tackily fun—is its cost (these days you don't need just a diamond; you need a good diamond), its dubious origins, and the cynical blandishments of TV and print ads designed to suggest a ring's allure through the crassest of stereotypes. Case in point: An American couple stands in a plaza in Europe. The man shouts, "I love this woman!" The woman appears mortified. He then pulls out a diamond ring and offers it to her. She says, in heartfelt tones, "I love this man." And you've probably noticed that these days diamonds really are forever: Men are informed that their beautiful wife needs a "Twenty-Fifth Anniversary" ring (note this ad's reduction of a life to copulation and child-rearing), and single women are told not to wait around for guys but to go ahead and get themselves a "right-hand ring."* Live to be 100 and a woman of a certain class might find her entire hand crusted over with diamonds. A diamond company, you see, is unrelenting. In their parlance, "the desire is there; we just want to breathe more life into it."

But the desire wasn't always there. In fact, the "tradition" of the diamond engagement ring is newer than you might think. Betrothal rings, a custom inherited from the Romans, became an increasingly common part of the Christian tradition in the 13th century. The first known diamond engagement ring was commissioned for Mary of Burgundy by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477. The Victorians exchanged "regards" rings set with birthstones. But it wasn't until the late 19th century, after the discovery of mines in South Africa drove the price of diamonds down, that Americans regularly began to give (or receive) diamond engagement rings. (Before that, some betrothed women got thimbles instead of rings.) Even then, the real blingfest didn't get going until the 1930s, when—dim the lights, strike up the violins, and cue entrance—the De Beers diamond company decided it was time to take action against the American public.

In 1919, De Beers experienced a drop in diamond sales that lasted for two decades. So in the 1930s it turned to the firm N.W. Ayer to devise a national advertising campaign—still relatively rare at the time—to promote its diamonds. Ayer convinced Hollywood actresses to wear diamond rings in public, and, according to Edward Jay Epstein in The Rise and Fall of the Diamond, encouraged fashion designers to discuss the new "trend" toward diamond rings. Between 1938 and 1941, diamond sales went up 55 percent. By 1945 an average bride, one source reported, wore "a brilliant diamond engagement ring and a wedding ring to match in design." The capstone to it all came in 1947, when Frances Gerety—a female copywriter, who, as it happened, never married—wrote the line "A Diamond Is Forever." The company blazoned it over the image of happy young newlyweds on their honeymoon. The sale of diamond engagement rings continued to rise in the 1950s, and the marriage between romance and commerce that would characterize the American wedding for the next half-century was cemented. By 1965, 80 percent of American women had diamond engagement rings. The ring had become a requisite element of betrothal—as well as a very visible demonstration of status. Along the way, the diamond industry's guidelines for the "customary" cost of a ring doubled from one month's salary to two months' salary.

But behind every Madison Avenue victory lurks a deeper social reality. And as it happens there was another factor in the surge of engagement ring sales—one that makes the ring's role as collateral in the premarital economy more evident. Until the 1930s, a woman jilted by her fiance could sue for financial compensation for "damage" to her reputation under what was known as the "Breach of Promise to Marry" action. As courts began to abolish such actions, diamond ring sales rose in response to a need for a symbol of financial commitment from the groom, argues the legal scholar Margaret Brinig—noting, crucially, that ring sales began to rise a few years before the De Beers campaign. To be marriageable at the time you needed to be a virgin, but, Brinig points out, a large percentage of women lost their virginity while engaged. So some structure of commitment was necessary to assure betrothed women that men weren't just trying to get them into bed. The "Breach of Promise" action had helped prevent what society feared would be rampant seduce-and-abandon scenarios; in its lieu, the pricey engagement ring would do the same. (Implicitly, it would seem, a woman's virginity was worth the price of a ring, and varied according to the status of her groom-to-be.)

On the face of it, the engagement ring's origins as a financial commitment should make modern brides-to-be wary. After all, virginity is no longer a prerequisite for marriage, nor do the majority of women consider marriageability their prime asset. Many women hope for a marriage in which housework, child-rearing, and breadwinning are equitably divided. The engagement ring doesn't fit into this intellectual framework. Rather, its presence on a woman's finger suggests that she needs to trap a man into "commitment" or be damaged if he leaves. (In most states today, if a groom abandons a bride, she is entitled to keep the ring, whereas if she leaves him, she must give it back.) Nor is it exactly "equitable" to demand that a partner shell out a sixth of a year's salary, demonstrating that he can "provide" for you and a future family, before you agree to marry him.

For those who aren't bothered by the finer points of gender equity, an engagement ring clearly makes a claim about the status of a woman's sexual currency. It's a big, shiny NO TRESPASSING sign, stating that the woman wearing it has been bought and paid for, while her beau is out there sign-free and all too easily trespassable, until the wedding. (There might be an equitable case for pregnancy rings, since bearing children is inherently unequal—but that's its own can of worms.) In fact, many ads, including a recent series by Tiffany, imply that giving a ring results in a woman's sexual debt—as these parodies brilliantly capture.
It may seem curious that feminism has made inroads on many retrograde customs—name-changing, for example—but not on the practice of giving engagement rings. Part of the reason the ring has persisted and thrived is clearly its role in what Thorstein Veblen called the economy of "conspicuous consumption." Part of the reason could be that many young women, raised in a realm of relative equality, never think rigorously about the traditions handed down to them. So it's easy to simply regard a ring as a beautiful piece of jewelry and accept it in kind (I'm guilty myself). But it's also the case that a murkier truth lies within its brilliance: Women still measure their worth in relationship to marriage in ways that men don't. And many are looking for men who will bear the burden of providing for them, while demanding equality in other ways. (It's telling, for example, that in many parts of Scandinavia, where attitudes toward gender are more egalitarian, both men and women wear engagement rings.) Women are collectively attached to the status a ring bestows on them; otherwise more would demand some equal sign of commitment from their husbands. Say, a tattoo. For two. Now there's an idea.

*Correction, June 18, 2007: This article misidentified a certain type of ring as a right-finger ring; the ring in quesion is a right-hand ring. Return to the corrected sentence.

Article URL:

Copyright 2007 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Narrative of History and Knot-Making

I love talking nonfiction, which is a good thing since that is my work. What I love most is confronting people who believe in an essential truth, those people who believe "history" is indisputable fact. In these types of discussions, I encourage them to review U.S. history books from the last ten years and notice all the changes. It could be an easier task than that, I tell them. Just look at the back cover to see the "Newly Included Voices" and then make note of whose voices and stories have been removed. History is not a line with an arrow pointing backwards. We cannot run up and down it with a series of dates plotting our way. I would argue that time is not even real, but that's for another discussion.

I know that my sister died more than ten years ago, but sometimes in my dreams she is still living. In some ways, I must admit, my sense of time is determined by her death. Was that before or after she died? Did I start dating him while she was still alive or was that a year after? And so I confront time in this way, but the history of her is constantly in flux. It is a narrative I am constantly shaping in my head. Yes, she drove up to get me from the bus station in Canada when I could not live on the commune a day longer. Sometimes it was a six-hour drive she made for me. Sometimes it was longer. And then I made her dinner and her husband hated it. That part of the story never changes. He never liked my cooking. Sometimes she did it because she was bored and lonely. Sometimes she did it because she was so good. Sometimes she did it because she loved me. Sometimes at the end of it she tells me I told you so. It depends on the arc of the retelling that day. It depends on the context in which I am telling it.

"Of course that is not the whole story, but that is the way with stories; we make them what we will. It's a way of explaining the universe while leaving the universe unexplained, it's a way of keeping it alive, not boxing it into time. Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently. Some people say there true things to be found, some people say all kinds of things can be proved. I don't believe them. The only thing for certain is how complicated it all is, like string full of knots. It's all there but hard to find the beginning and impossible to fathom the end. The best you can do is admire the cat's cradle, and maybe knot it up a bit more" (Jeanette Winterson).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Delayed Comeback

I have trouble speaking up when I should. 'Remember that scene in "Shallow Hal" ... What? You didn't see that movie? Oh, come off it. It's worth viewing ... anyway, remember that scene in "Shallow Hal" when Jack Black takes, like, 10 seconds before he retorts to Jason Alexander and then Jason Alexander says, "You can't come back with a comeback after eight seconds. You got three seconds. Five, tops. It's called a quip, not a sloooowwwwp."

Me? I usually can't even come up with a sloooowwwwp. Instead, I'm that girl who's still grousing about a missed moment months, nay, years after the fact. For instance, here's one that's been bugging me: I had this friend, well, really, not a friend, who just was really an asshole, but I just figured that out too late. She saw me and someone else playing racquetball at the gym one day and she says to me, "I hope the other person wins."

Now what kind of friend says that? The kind who is not a friend. The kind who just desperately needs to cut you down every chance she gets. The kind who has to put on a lot of makeup to look attractive. I wish I had said those things, but instead I just looked at her with a probably confounded and hurt look about me and asked, "why?"

"Because I don't want you to win," she said.

Still, to this day, I have trouble explaining to people why she's an asshole.

So here's my quip. Here's what I wish I would have said to her: "I hope you win ... a soul!!!"

Okay, yeah, I think we're all agreed. I'm just no good at the art of the quip.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Morning Maps

"The cities of the interior are vast and do not lie on any map."

I am making coffee. It is cool outside and I should run. I used to have a map on my palms and I would slap anyone who came by. I have a friend now who does this. She slaps and says and slaps and says. It is never anything good to hear.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I Blame Little Children

Having just watched the film Little Children, it occurred to me to log into the National Sex Offender Registry to see what was just around the corner. Not good news, friends. Not good at all. Go here:

What was beautiful about the film Little Children was its sympathy, which is a writer's virtue and which is dangerous. I am wondering, mothers and fathers out there, how being a writer and a parent has changed you, how it has changed your characters, how it has sharpened the focus of your eyes and placed necessary boundaries on your world. It is good to live with open palms and certainly becoming a parent widens the heart, but in what ways must it close up and contain and protect and limit?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Global Peace Index

In case you haven't heard, an Australian businessman commissioned (commissioned?) a study to determine the peacefulness of all nations. It's called the Global Peace Index. The study consisted of an analysis of internal violence, as in crime rings busted, gang violence, etc ..., and external violence, as in wars participated in, military spending, etc ... Not surprisingly, much of the study determined there was a direct correlation between poverty/limited necessary resources and war. No surprise there. Now that I'm unemployed and broke, I usually feel like punching people in the face.

Norway was rated #1, the most peaceful. Iraq was rated #121, the most unpeaceful. And how did the wealthy and awesomely democratic U.S. of A. do? We are #96 out of 121. No, seriously. It's good to know we're using our ample resources and "free" way of life in such a useful manner. I'm proud of us. I got faces to punch.