When God Created Mothers"
When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of "overtime" when the angel appeared and said. "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."
And God said, "Have you read the specs on this order?" She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."
The angel shook her head slowly and said. "Six pairs of hands.... no way."
It's not the hands that are causing me problems," God remarked, "it's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have."
That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. God nodded.
One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, 'What are you kids doing in there?' when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. 'I understand and I love you' without so much as uttering a word."
God," said the angel touching his sleeve gently, "Get some rest tomorrow...."
I can't," said God, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick...can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger...and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower."
The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," she sighed.
But tough!" said God excitedly. "You can imagine what this mother can do or endure."
Can it think?"
Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise," said the Creator.
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.
There's a leak," she pronounced. "I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model."
It's not a leak," said the Lord, "It's a tear."
What's it for?"
It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride."
You are a genius, " said the angel.
Somberly, God said, "I didn't put it there.
Erma Bombeck (When God Created Mothers)
You’re mad,” I said. “You know what he can do. No prize is worth that.”
Sturmhond grinned. “That remains to be seen.”
“The Darkling will hunt you for the rest of your days.”
“Then you and I will have something in common, won’t we? Besides, I like to have powerful enemies. Makes me feel important.”
Mal crossed his arms and considered the privateer. “I can’t decide if you’re crazy or stupid.”
“I have so many good qualities,” Sturmhond said. “It can be hard to choose.
Leigh Bardugo (Siege and Storm (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #2))
Not one day in anyone’s life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy, or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down’s-syndrome child. Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses for others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example. Each smallest act of kindness—even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile—reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will. All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined—those dead, those living, those generations yet to come—that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands. Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength—to the very survival of the human tapestry. Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognized potential to affect the world that the great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in this momentous day.
Dean Koontz (From the Corner of His Eye)
And my own affairs were as bad, as dismal, as the day I had been born. The only difference was that now I could drink now and then, though never often enough. Drink was the only thing that kept a man from feeling forever stunned and useless. Everything else just kept picking and picking, hacking away. And nothing was interesting, nothing. The people were restrictive and careful, all alike. And I've got to live with these fuckers for the rest of my life, I thought. God, they all had assholes and sexual organs and their mouths and their armpits. They shit and they chattered and they were dull as horse dung. The girls looked good from a distance, the sun shining through their dresses, their hair. But get up close and listen to their minds running out of their mouths, you felt like digging in under a hill and hiding out with a tommy-gun. I would certainly never be able to be happy, to get married, I could never have children. Hell, I couldn't even get a job as a dishwasher.
Charles Bukowski (Ham on Rye)
Isn't it plain the sheets of moss, except that
they have no tongues, could lecture
all day if they wanted about
spiritual patience? Isn't it clear
the black oaks along the path are standing
as though they were the most fragile of flowers?
Every morning I walk like this around
the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart
ever close, I am as good as dead.
Every morning, so far, I'm alive. And now
the crows break off from the rest of the darkness
and burst up into the sky—as though
all night they had thought of what they would like
their lives to be, and imagined
their strong, thick wings.
Mary Oliver (Dream Work)
The italian nanny was attempting to answer the teachers latest question when the moroccan student interupted, shouting "Excuse me, What is an easter?"
it would seem that depsite having grown up in a muslim country, she would have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. "I mean it," She said. " I have no idea what you people are talking about."
The teacher called upon the rest of us to explain.
The poles led the charge to the best of their ability. It is," said one, "a party for the little boy of god who call his self jesus and... oh shit." She faltered and her fellow country man came to her aid.
He call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two... morsels of... lumber."
The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.
he die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father."
he weared of himself the long hair and after he die. the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."
he Nice the jesus."
he make the good things, and on the easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today.
David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day)
Peeta and I sit on the damp sand, facing away from each other, my right shoulder and hip pressed against his.
After a while I rest my head against his shoulder. Feel his hand caress my hair.
"Katniss... If you die, and I live, there's no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You're my whole life", he says. "I would never be happy again."
I start to object but he puts a finger to my lips. "It's different for you. I'm not sayin it wouldn't be hard. But there are other people who'd make your life worth living." ... "Your family needs you, Katniss", Peeta says.
My family. My mother. My sister. And my pretend cousin Gale. But Peeta's intension is clear. That Gale really is my family, or will be one day, if I live. That I'll marry him. So Peeta's giving me his life and Gale at the same time. To let me know I shouldn't ever have doubts about it.
Everithing. That's what Peeta wants me to take from him.
"No one really needs me", he says, and there's no self-pity in his voice. It's true his family doesen't need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.
"I do", I say. "I need you." He looks upset, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and that's no good, no good at all, because he'll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I'll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.
I feel that thing again. The thing I only felt once before. In the cave last year, when I was trying to get Haymitch to send us food. I kissed Peeta about a thousand times during those Games and after. But there was only one kiss that made me feel something stir deep inside. Only one that made me want more. But my head wound started bleeding and he made me lie down.
This time, there is nothing but us to interrupt us. And after a few attempts, Peeta gives up on talking. The sensation inside me grows warmer and spreads out from my chest, down through my body, out along my arms and legs, to the tips of my being. Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater. I thought I was something of an expert on hunger, but this is an entirely new kind.
Suzanne Collins (Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2))
Being good is something that one must choose over and over again, every day, throughout the day, for the rest of one's life," Asher said. "A day is made of a thousand decisions, most small, some huge. With each decision you have the chance to work toward light, or sink toward darkness.
Cate Tiernan (Immortal Beloved (Immortal Beloved, #1))
I think love is about happiness and sacrifice. Comprising instead of arguing. Having someone who is always there for you even when you don't deserve it. Loving someone means you want to spend the rest of your life with them on the good days and the bad days and everything in between.
Lauren Asher (Throttled (Dirty Air, #1))
I am a cutter, you see. Also a snipper, a slicer, a carver, a jabber. I am a very special case. I have a purpose. My skin, you see, screams. It's covered with words - cook, cupcake, kitty, curls - as if a knife-wielding first-grader learned to write on my flesh. I sometimes, but only sometimes, laugh. Getting out of the bath and seeing, out of the corner of my eye, down the side of a leg: babydoll. Pull on a sweater and, in a flash of my wrist: harmful. Why these words? Thousands of hours of therapy have yielded a few ideas from the good doctors. They are often feminine, in a Dick and Jane, pink vs. puppy dog tails sort of way. Or they're flat-out negative. Number of synonyms for anxious carved in my skin: eleven. The one thing I know for sure is that at the time, it was crucial to see these letters on me, and not just see them, but feel them. Burning on my left hip: petticoat.
And near it, my first word, slashed on an anxious summer day at age thirteen: wicked. I woke up that morning, hot and bored, worried about the hours ahead. How do you keep safe when your whole day is as wide and empty as the sky? Anything could happen. I remember feeling that word, heavy and slightly sticky across my pubic bone. My mother's steak knife. Cutting like a child along red imaginary lines. Cleaning myself. Digging in deeper. Cleaning myself. Pouring bleach over the knife and sneaking through the kitchen to return it. Wicked. Relief. The rest of the day, I spent ministering to my wound. Dig into the curves of W with an alcohol-soaked Q-tip. Pet my cheek until the sting went away. Lotion. Bandage. Repeat.
Gillian Flynn (Sharp Objects)
Most parents try really hard to give their kids the best possible life. They give them the best food and clothes they can afford, take their own kind of take on training kids to be honest and polite. But what they don't realize is no matter how much they try, their kids will get out there. Out to this complicated little world. If they are lucky they will survive, through backstabbers, broken hearts, failures and all the kinds of invisible insane pressures out there. But most kids get lost in them. They will get caught up in all kinds of bubbles. Trouble bubbles. Bubbles that continuously tell them that they are not good enough. Bubbles that get them carried away with what they think is love, give them broken hearts. Bubbles that will blur the rest of the world to them, make them feel like that is it, that they've reached the end. Sometimes, even the really smart kids, make stupid decisions. They lose control. Parents need to realize that the world is getting complicated every second of every day. With new problems, new diseases, new habits. They have to realize the vast probability of their kids being victims of this age, this complicated era. Your kids could be exposed to problems that no kind of therapy can help. Your kids could be brainwashed by themselves to believe in insane theories that drive them crazy. Most kids will go through this stage. The lucky ones will understand. They will grow out of them. The unlucky ones will live in these problems. Grow in them and never move forward. They will cut themselves, overdose on drugs, take up excessive drinking and smoking, for the slightest problems in their lives.
You can't blame these kids for not being thankful or satisfied with what they have. Their mentality eludes them from the reality.
Thisuri Wanniarachchi (COLOMBO STREETS)
It was wintertime. I was starving to death trying to be a writer in New York. I hadn't eaten for three or four days. So, I finally said, "I'm gonna have a big bag of popcorn." And God, I hadn't tasted food for so long, it was so good. Each kernel, you know, each one was like a steak! I chewed and it would just drop into my poor stomach. My stomach would say, "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!" I was in heaven, just walking along, and two guys happened by, and one said to the other, "Jesus Christ!" The other one said, "What was it?" "Did you see that guy eating popcorn? God, it was awful!" And so I couldn't enjoy the rest of the popcorn. I thought; what do you mean, "it was awful?" I'm in heaven here. I guess I was kinda dirty. They can always tell a fucked-up guy.
When did they stop putting toys in cereal boxes? When I was little, I remember wandering the cereal aisle (which surely is as American a phenomenon as fireworks on the Fourth of July) and picking my breakfast food based on what the reward was: a Frisbee with the Trix rabbit's face emblazoned on the front. Holographic stickers with the Lucky Charms leprechaun. A mystery decoder wheel. I could suffer through raisin bran for a month if it meant I got a magic ring at the end.
I cannot admit this out loud. In the first place, we are expected to be supermoms these days, instead of admitting that we have flaws. It is tempting to believe that all mothers wake up feeling fresh every morning, never raise their voices, only cook with organic food, and are equally at ease with the CEO and the PTA.
Here's a secret: those mothers don't exist. Most of us-even if we'd never confess-are suffering through the raisin bran in the hopes of a glimpse of that magic ring.
I look very good on paper. I have a family, and I write a newspaper column. In real life, I have to pick superglue out of the carpet, rarely remember to defrost for dinner, and plan to have BECAUSE I SAID SO engraved on my tombstone.
Real mothers wonder why experts who write for Parents and Good Housekeeping-and, dare I say it, the Burlington Free Press-seem to have their acts together all the time when they themselves can barely keep their heads above the stormy seas of parenthood.
Real mothers don't just listen with humble embarrassment to the elderly lady who offers unsolicited advice in the checkout line when a child is throwing a tantrum. We take the child, dump him in the lady's car, and say, "Great. Maybe YOU can do a better job."
Real mothers know that it's okay to eat cold pizza for breakfast.
Real mothers admit it is easier to fail at this job than to succeed.
If parenting is the box of raisin bran, then real mothers know the ratio of flakes to fun is severely imbalanced. For every moment that your child confides in you, or tells you he loves you, or does something unprompted to protect his brother that you happen to witness, there are many more moments of chaos, error, and self-doubt.
Real mothers may not speak the heresy, but they sometimes secretly wish they'd chosen something for breakfast other than this endless cereal.
Real mothers worry that other mothers will find that magic ring, whereas they'll be looking and looking for ages.
Rest easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.
Jodi Picoult (House Rules)
Turn off the inner editor.
Let yourself write.
Let it flow.
Let yourself fail.
Do something crazy.
Write 50,000 words in the month of November.
I did it.
It was fun.
It was insane.
It was 1,667 words per day.
It was possible, but you have to turn off the inner critic off completely.
If you can’t write, run away.
Writing is like anything else.
You won’t get good at it immediately.
It’s a craft.
You have to keep getting better.
You don’t get to Juilliard unless you practice.
You want to get to Carnegie Hall?
Practice. Practice. Practice ..or give them a lot of money.
Like anything else it takes 10,000 hours to get to mastery.
Just like Malcolm Gladwell says.
Get your thoughts down.
Let it rest.
Let is marinate.
Then edit, but don’t edit as you type.
That just slows the brain down.
Find a daily practice.
For me it’s blogging.
The more you write the easier it gets.
The more it is a flow, the less a worry.
It’s not for school, it’s not for a grade, it’s just to get your thoughts out there.
You know they want to come out.
So keep at it.
Make it a practice.
Write with abandon and it may end up being really really good.
In the field I’m in, there is a lot of that and it gets offered to me all the time. People even go as far as to just stick it in your pocket and walk off. Now, if it was a good thing, they wouldn’t do that. I mean, would somebody drop something beautiful in my pocket and just walk off? But I don’t want to have anything to do with any of that. I mean, as corny as it sounds, but this is how I really believe: Natural highs are the greatest highs in the world. Who wants to take something and just sit around for the rest of the day after you take it (drugs), and don’t know who you are, what you’re doing, where you are? Take in something that’s gonna inspire you to do greater things in the world.
Maxon, I hope you find someone you can't love without. I really do. And I hope you never have to know what it's like to have to try and live without them."
Maxon's face was a shallow echo of my own pain. He looked absolutely brokenhearted for me. More than that, he looked angry.
"I'm sorry, America. I don't..." His face shifted a little. "Is this a good time to pat your shoulder?"
His uncertainty made me smile. "Yes. Now would be a great time."
He seemed as skeptically as he'd been the other day, but instead of just patting my shoulder, he leaned in and tentatively wrapped his arms around me.
"I only really ever hug my mother. Is this okay?" he asked.
I laughed. "It's hard to get a hug wrong."
After a minute, I spoke again. "I know what you mean, though. I don't really hug anyone besides my family."
I felt so drained after the long day of dressing and the Report and dinner and talking. It was nice to have Maxon just hold me, sometimes even patting my hair. He wasn't as lost as he seemed. He patiently waited for my breathing to slow, and when it did, he pulled back to look at me.
"America, I promise you I'll keep you here until the last possible moment. I understand that they want me to narrow the Elite down to three and then choose. But I swear to you, I'll make it to two and keep you here until then. I won't make you leave a moment before I have to. Or the moment you're ready. Whichever comes first."
"I know we just met, but I think you're wonderful. And it bothers me to see you hurt. If he were here, I'd...I'd..." Maxon shook with frustration, then sighed. "I'm so sorry, America."
He pulled me back in, and I rested my head on his broad shoulder. I knew Maxon would keep his promises. So I settled into perhaps the last place I ever thought I'd find genuine comfort.
Kiera Cass (The Selection (The Selection, #1))
I haven’t been a good guest in Hugo’s life. I access his memories and discover that he and Austin first became boyfriends at this very celebration, a year ago this weekend. They’d been friends for a little while, but they’d never talked about how they felt. They were each afraid of ruining the friendship, and instead of making it better, their caution made everything awkward. So finally, as a pair of twentysomething men passed by holding hands, Austin said, “Hey, that could be us in ten years.”
And Hugo said, “Or ten months.”
And Austin said, “Or ten days.”
And Hugo said, “Or ten minutes.”
And Austin said, “Or ten seconds.”
Then they each counted to ten, and held hands for the rest of the day.
The start of it.
Hugo would have remembered this.
But I didn’t.
David Levithan (Every Day (Every Day, #1))
While I was backstage before presenting the Best New Artist award, I talked to George Strait for a while. He's so incredibly cool. So down-to-earth and funny. I think it should be known that George Strait has an awesome, dry, subtle sense of humor. Then I went back out into the crowd and watched the rest of the show. Keith Urban's new song KILLS ME, it's so good. And when Brad Paisley ran down into the front row and kissed Kimberley's stomach (she's pregnant) before accepting his award, Kellie, my mom, and I all started crying. That's probably the sweetest thing I've ever seen.
I thought Kellie NAILED her performance of the song we wrote together "The Best Days of Your Life". I was so proud of her. I thought Darius Rucker's performance RULED, and his vocals were incredible. I'm a huge fan. I love it when I find out that the people who make the music I love are wonderful people. I love Faith Hill and how she always makes everyone in the room feel special. I love Keith Urban, and how he told me he knows every word to "Love Story" (That made my night). I love Nicole Kidman, and her sweet, warm personality. I love how Kenny Chesney always has something hilarious or thoughtful to say. But the real moment that brought on this wave of gratitude was when Shania Twain HERSELF walked up and introduced herself to me. Shania Twain, as in.. The reason I wanted to do this in the first place. Shania Twain, as in.. the most impressive and independent and confident and successful female artist to ever hit country music. She walked up to me and said she wanted to meet me and tell me I was doing a great job. She was so beautiful, guys. She really IS that beautiful. All the while, I was completely star struck. After she walked away, I realized I didn't have my camera. Then I cried.
You know, last night made me feel really great about being a country music fan in general. Country music is the place to find reality in music, and reality in the stars who make that music. There's kindness and goodness and....honesty in the people I look up to, and knowing that makes me smile. I'm proud to sing country music, and that has never wavered. The reason for the being.. nights like last night.
It’s not destiny, Ox. You’re not bound by this. Not yet. There’s a choice. There is always a choice. My wolf chose you. I chose you. And if you don’t choose me, then that’s your choice and I will walk out of here knowing you got to choose your own path. But I swear to god, if you choose me, I will make sure that you know the weight of your worth every day for the rest of our lives because that’s what this is. I am going to be a fucking Alpha one day, and there is no one I’d rather have by my side than you. It’s you, Ox. For me, it’s always been you.” So I said, “Okay, Joe.” I looked up at him. His wolf was close to the surface. And he said, “Okay?” I said, “Okay. Okay. I don’t know if I see the things you do.” “I know.” “And I don’t know if I’ll be good enough.” “I know you will,” he said, eyes flashing orange. “But I promised you. I said it will always be you and me.” His face stuttered a bit, and he said, “You did. You promised me. You promised.” I
T.J. Klune (Wolfsong (Green Creek, #1))
I know. I know I’ve been a jerk, and I don’t have a good excuse. But touching you and loving you, and knowing you were planning to leave me, made me crazy. After we made love the second time, I began to think maybe you’d decide to stay with me. I started to think about you and me waking up every day together for the rest of our lives. I even thought about kids and taking some of those breathing classes when you got pregnant. Maybe buying one of those mini-vans.
Rachel Gibson (Truly Madly Yours (Truly, Idaho, #1))
Fundamentalist Christianity: fascinating. These people actually believe that the world is twelve thousand years old. Swear to God. Based on what? I asked them.
"Well, we looked at all the people in the Bible and we added 'em up all the way back to Adam and Eve, their ages? Twelve thousand years."
"Well, how fucking scientific, OK. I didn't know that you'd gone to so much trouble there. That's good. You believe the world's twelve thousand years old?"
"OK, I got one word to ask you, a one word question, ready?"
You know, the world's twelve thousand years old and dinosaurs existed, and existed in that time, you'd think it would been mentioned in the fucking Bible at some point:
And O, Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus... with a splinter in its paw. And the disciples did run a-screamin'. "What a big fucking lizard, Lord!"
"I'm sure gonna mention this in my book," Luke said.
"Well, I'm sure gonna mention it in my book," Matthew said.
But Jesus was unafraid. And he took the splinter from the brontosaurus paw, and the brontosaurus became his friend. And Jesus sent him to Scotland where he lived in a loch, O so many years, attracting fat American families with their fat fuckin' dollars to look for the Loch Ness Monster. And O the Scots did praise the Lord: "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!"
Twelve thousand years old. But I actually asked this guy, "OK, dinosaur fossils-- how does that fit into your scheme of life? What's the deal?" He goes:
"God put those here to test our faith."
"I think God put you here to test my faith, dude. I think I've figured this out."
Does that-- That's what this guy said. Does that bother anyone here? The idea that God might be fucking with our heads? Anyone have trouble sleeping restfully with that thought in their head? God's running around burying fossils: "Ho ho! We'll see who believes in me now, ha ha! I'm a prankster God. I am killing me, ho ho ho!" You know? You die, you go to St. Peter:
"Did you believe in dinosaurs?"
"Well, yeah. There were fossils everywhere. (trapdoor opens) Aaaaarhhh!"
"You fuckin' idiot! Flying lizards? You're a moron. God was fuckin' with you!"
"It seemed so plausible, aaaaaahh!"
"Enjoy the lake of fire, fucker!"
They believe this. But you ever notice how people who believe in Creationism usually look pretty unevolved. Eyes really close together, big furry hands and feet? "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like he rushed it.
Such a weird belief. Lots of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he's gonna want to see a fucking cross, man? "Ow." Might be why he hasn't shown up yet.
"Man, they're still wearing crosses. Fuck it, I'm not goin' back, Dad. No, they totally missed the point. When they start wearing fishes, I might show up again, but... let me bury fossils with you, Dad. Fuck 'em, let's fuck with 'em! Hand me that brontosaurus head, Dad.
Bill Hicks (Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines)
It's so weird how that can be, how you could have a night that's the worst in your life, but to everybody else it's just an ordinary night. Like on my calendar at home, I would mark this as being one of the most horrific days of my life. This and the day Daisy died. But for the rest of the world, this was just an ordinary day. Or may be it was even a good day. May be somebody won the lottery today.
Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain - which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad - Marmite, village fetes, country lanes, people saying 'mustn't grumble' and 'I'm terribly sorry but', people apologizing to me when I conk them with a nameless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, stinging nettles, seaside piers, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, hot-water bottles as a necessity, drizzly Sundays - every bit of it.
What a wondrous place this was - crazy as fuck, of course, but adorable to the tiniest degree. What other country, after all, could possibly have come up with place names like Tooting Bec and Farleigh Wallop, or a game like cricket that goes on for three days and never seems to start? Who else would think it not the least odd to make their judges wear little mops on their heads, compel the Speaker of the House of Commons to sit on something called the Woolsack, or take pride in a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy? ('Please Hardy, full on the lips, with just a bit of tongue.') What other nation in the world could possibly have given us William Shakespeare, pork pies, Christopher Wren, Windsor Great Park, the Open University, Gardners' Question Time and the chocolate digestive biscuit? None, of course.
How easily we lose sight of all this. What an enigma Britain will seem to historians when they look back on the second half of the twentieth century. Here is a country that fought and won a noble war, dismantled a mighty empire in a generally benign and enlightened way, created a far-seeing welfare state - in short, did nearly everything right - and then spent the rest of the century looking on itself as a chronic failure. The fact is that this is still the best place in the world for most things - to post a letter, go for a walk, watch television, buy a book, venture out for a drink, go to a museum, use the bank, get lost, seek help, or stand on a hillside and take in a view.
All of this came to me in the space of a lingering moment. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I like it here. I like it more than I can tell you.
Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island)
Being a compulsive overeater is no different from being an alcoholic or drug addict. The only difference is that you can avoid drugs and alcohol completely and you have to have a relationship with food every day for the rest of your life. It's actually the hardest addiction to live with. If you were an alcoholic and someone said to you that you were required to have a single drink three to five times a day, but were not supposed to ever drink to excess, or a drug addict who was required to take just one pill severeal times a day every day, but you're not supposed to ever take more than that...no one would ever make it through rehab.
Stacey Ballis (Good Enough to Eat)
Not easy when you can't talk, is it?" I grinned. "Well, not easy for you but I could get used to it."
He grumbled, but I could see relif in his eyes, like he was glad to see me smile.
"SO i was right, wasn't I? It's still youm even in wolf form."
"No sudden uncontrollable urges to go kill something?"
He rolled his eyes.
"Hey, you're the one who was worried." I paused. "And i don't smell like dinner, right?"
I got a real look for that one.
"Just covering all the bases."
He gave a rumbling groul, like a chuckle, and settled in, lowering his head to his front paws, gaze on me. I tried to get comfortable, but the ground was ice-cold through his swearshirt, and i was wearing only my new pajamas, a light jacket, and sneakers.
Seeing me shiver, he stretched a front leg toward the swearshirt, pawing the edge and snarling when he realized he couldnt grab it.
"The lack of opposanle thumbs is going to take some getting used to, huh?"
He motioned me closer with his muzzel. When I pretended not to understand, he twisted and gingerly took the hem of the swearshirt between his teeth, lips curled in discust as he tugged it.
"Okay, okay. I'm just trying not to croud you."
That wasnt the only reason i was uncomfortanle getting too cozy with him now, but he just grunted, again seeming to say it was fine. i moved over beside himm. He shifted, his torso making a partial wind block, the boddy heat from the change still blasting like a furnace.
"Yes, thats better.thanks. now get some rest."
i had no idea what would happen now. i doubted derek did either. he'd been focused on getting through the change. what i did know was that this was only half the process. he had to change back, and he'd need time and rest for that.
and how would it happen? did he have to wait until his body was ready, like he did with the change to a wolf? how long would that be?hours?days?
Feeling his gaze on me, i forced a smile and pushed back my worries. it would be okat. he could change. that was the important thing.
when i relaxed, he shifted closer, fur brushing my hand. i tentatively touched it, feeling the coarse top layer and soft undercoar. he leaned against my hand, as if to sat it was okaym and i buried my hand in his fur, his skin so hot from the change it was like putting my numb hands on a radiator. my cool fingers must have felt just as good, because he closed his eyes and shifte until i was leaning on him. within minutes he was asleep.
i closed my eyes, meaning to rest for just a moment, but the next thing i knew, i was waking up, curled on my side, using derek as a pillow. i jumped. he looked over at me.
"S-sorry, I didn't mean-"
He cut me short with a growl, telling me off for apologizing.
Above all, I feel a quiet pride that for the rest of my days I can look at myself in the mirror and know that once upon a time I was good enough. Good enough to call myself a member of the SAS. Some things don’t have a price tag.
I tramp the perpetual journey
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand
on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.
This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs,
and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we
be fill'd and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue
You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss
you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress
Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every
moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout,
and laughingly dash with your hair.
Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)
Eat slowly," the blueblood said. "Don't cut your food with the fork. Cut it with the knife, and make the pieces small enough so you can answer a question without having to swallow first."
Why me? "Right. Any other tips?" Her sarcasm whistled right over his head.
"Yes. Look at me and not at your plate. If you have to look at your plate, glance at it occasionally."
Rose put down her fork. "Lord Submarine..."
"You can call me Declan." He said it as if granting her a knighthood. The nerve.
"Declan, then. How did you spend your day?"
"It's a simple question: How did you spend your day? What did you do prior to the fight and the pancake making?"
"I rested from my journey," he said with a sudden regal air.
"You took a nap"
"I spent my day scrubbing, vacuuming and dusting ten offices in the Broken. I got there at seven thirty in the morning and left at six. My back hurts, I can still smell bleach on my fingers, and my feet feel as flat as these pancakes. Tomorrow, I have to go back to work, and I want to eat my food in peace and quiet. I have good table manners. They may not be good enough for you, but they're definitely good enough for the Edge, and they are the height of social graces in this house. So please keep your critique to yourself."
The look on his face was worth having him under her roof. As if he had gotten slapped.
She smiled at him. "Oh and thank you for the pancakes. They are delicious.
Ilona Andrews (On the Edge (The Edge, #1))
He frowned. She laughed. He brightened. She pouted. He grinned. She flinched. Come on: we don’t do that. Except when we’re pretending. Only babies frown and flinch. The rest of us just fake with our fake faces.
He grinned. No He didn’t. If a guy grins at you for real these days, you’d better chop his head off before he chops off yours. Soon the sneeze and the yawn will be mostly for show. Even the twitch.
She laughed. No she didn’t. We laugh about twice a year. Most of us have lost our laughs and now make do with false ones.
Not quite true.
All that no good to think, no good to say, no good to write. All that no good to write.
Martin Amis (London Fields)
Kind of why I can’t always go along with everyone’s happy attitude all the time. Life sucks sometimes and most people don’t get it. They think - well all of the people at this school anyway, they think everything is just handed to them. Real easy, ya know? Like, the day is never something you have to fight through.”
I placed my hand on top of Tony’s and let it rest there for a moment. What could I say? I was a death giver. Happy to do it. I had been so good at being dead.
Hm-m," he said. "Lookie, Ma. I been all day an' all night hidin' alone. Guess who I been thinkin' about? Casy! He talked a lot. Used ta bother me. But now I been thinkin' what he said, an' I can remember-all of it. Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul, an' he foun' he didn' have no soul that was his'n. Says he foun' he jus' got a little piece of a great big soul. Says a wilderness ain't no good, 'cause his little piece of a soul wasn't no good 'less it was with the rest, an' was whole. Funny how I remember. Didn't even think I was listenin'. But I know now a fella ain't no good alone.
After he saw God [Tony Amsterdam] felt really good, for around a year. And then he felt really bad. Worse than he ever had before in his life. Because one day it came over him, he began to realize, that he was never going to see God again; he was going to live out his whole remaining life, decades, maybe fifty years, and see nothing but what he had always seen. What we see. He was worse off than if he hadn’t seen God. He told me one day he got really mad; he just freaked out and started cursing and smashing things in his apartment. He even smashed his stereo. He realized he was going to have to live on and on like he was, seeing nothing. Without any purpose. Just a lump of flesh grinding along, eating, drinking, sleeping, working, crapping.”
“Like the rest of us.” It was the first thing Bob Arctor had managed to say; each word came with retching difficulty.
Donna said, “That’s what I told him. I pointed that out. We were all in the same boat and it didn’t freak the rest of us. And he said, ‘You don’t know what I saw. You don’t know.’
Philip K. Dick (A Scanner Darkly)
There was nothing left for me to do, but go.
Though the things of the world were strong with me still.
Such as, for example: a gaggle of children trudging through a side-blown December flurry; a friendly match-share beneath some collision-titled streetlight; a frozen clock, a bird visited within its high tower; cold water from a tin jug; towering off one’s clinging shirt post-June rain.
Pearls, rags, buttons, rug-tuft, beer-froth.
Someone’s kind wishes for you; someone remembering to write; someone noticing that you are not at all at ease.
A bloody ross death-red on a platter; a headgetop under-hand as you flee late to some chalk-and-woodfire-smelling schoolhouse.
Geese above, clover below, the sound of one’s own breath when winded.
The way a moistness in the eye will blur a field of stars; the sore place on the shoulder a resting toboggan makes; writing one’s beloved’s name upon a frosted window with a gloved finger.
Tying a shoe; tying a knot on a package; a mouth on yours; a hand on yours; the ending of the day; the beginning of the day; the feeling that there will always be a day ahead.
Goodbye, I must now say goodbye to all of it.
Loon-call in the dark; calf-cramp in the spring; neck-rub in the parlour; milk-sip at end of day.
Some brandy-legged dog proudly back-ploughs the grass to cover its modest shit; a cloud-mass down-valley breaks apart over the course of a brandy-deepened hour; louvered blinds yield dusty beneath your dragging finger, and it is nearly noon and you must decide; you have seen what you have seen, and it has wounded you, and it seems you have only one choice left.
Blood-stained porcelain bowl wobbles face down on wood floor; orange peel not at all stirred by disbelieving last breath there among that fine summer dust-layer, fatal knife set down in pass-panic on familiar wobbly banister, later dropped (thrown) by Mother (dear Mother) (heartsick) into the slow-flowing, chocolate-brown Potomac.
None of it was real; nothing was real.
Everything was real; inconceivably real, infinitely dear.
These and all things started as nothing, latent within a vast energy-broth, but then we named them, and loved them, and in this way, brought them forth.
And now we must lose them.
I send this out to you, dear friends, before I go, in this instantaneous thought-burst, from a place where time slows and then stops and we may live forever in a single instant.
Goodbye goodbye good-
George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo)
Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are a good many
who in other ages would not have been neurotic-that is, divided
against themselves. If they had lived in a period and in a milieu in
which man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors,
and thus with nature truly experienced and not merely seen from
outside, they would have been spared this division with themselves.
I am speaking of those who cannot tolerate the loss of myth and
who can neither find a way to a merely exterior world, to the world
as seen by science, nor rest satisfied with an intellectual juggling
with words, which has nothing whatsoever to do with wisdom.
C.G. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers--
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours--your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes,
Into your brother's face, your country
And say simply
The only other girl at the party
is ranting about feminism. The audience:
a sea of rape jokes and snapbacks
and styrofoam cups and me. They gawk
at her mouth like it is a drain
clogged with too many opinions.
I shoot her an empathetic glance
and say nothing. This house is for
wallpaper women. What good
is wallpaper that speaks?
I want to stand up, but if I do,
whose coffee table silence
will these boys rest their feet on?
I want to stand up, but if I do,
what if someone takes my spot?
I want to stand up, but if I do,
what if everyone notices I’ve been
sitting this whole time? I am guilty
of keeping my feminism in my pocket
until it is convenient not to, like at poetry
slams or my women’s studies class.
There are days I want people to like me
more than I want to change the world.
There are days I forget we had to invent
nail polish to change color in drugged
drinks and apps to virtually walk us home
at night and mace disguised as lipstick.
Once, I told a boy I was powerful
and he told me to mind my own business.
Once, a boy accused me of practicing
misandry. You think you can take
over the world? And I said No,
I just want to see it. I just need
to know it is there for someone.
Once, my dad informed me sexism
is dead and reminded me to always
carry pepper spray in the same breath.
We accept this state of constant fear
as just another part of being a girl.
We text each other when we get home
safe and it does not occur to us that our
guy friends do not have to do the same.
You could saw a woman in half
and it would be called a magic trick.
That’s why you invited us here,
isn’t it? Because there is no show
without a beautiful assistant?
We are surrounded by boys who hang up
our naked posters and fantasize
about choking us and watch movies
we get murdered in. We are the daughters
of men who warned us about the news
and the missing girls on the milk carton
and the sharp edge of the world.
They begged us to be careful. To be safe.
Then told our brothers to go out and play.
The Witcher swore quietly, looking at the sharp, angular, even runes drawn with energetic sweeps of the pen, faultlessly reflecting the author’s mood. He felt once again the desire to try to bite his own backside in fury. When he was writing to the sorceress a month ago he had spent two nights in a row contemplating how best to begin. Finally, he had decided on “Dear friend.” Now he had his just deserts.
'Dear friend, your unexpected letter – which I received not quite three years after we last saw each other – has given me much joy. My joy is all the greater as various rumours have been circulating about your sudden and violent death. It is a good thing that you have decided to disclaim them by writing to me; it is a good thing, too, that you are doing so so soon. From your letter it appears that you have lived a peaceful, wonderfully boring life, devoid of all sensation. These days such a life is a real privilege, dear friend, and I am happy that you have managed to achieve it.
I was touched by the sudden concern which you deigned to show as to my health, dear friend. I hasten with the news that, yes, I now feel well; the period of indisposition is behind me, I have dealt with the difficulties, the description of which I shall not bore you with. It worries and troubles me very much that the unexpected present you received from Fate brings you worries. Your supposition that this requires professional help is absolutely correct. Although your description of the difficulty – quite understandably – is enigmatic, I am sure I know the Source of the problem. And I agree with your opinion that the help of yet another magician is absolutely necessary. I feel honoured to be the second to whom you turn. What have I done to deserve to be so high on your list?
Rest assured, my dear friend; and if you had the intention of supplicating the help of additional magicians, abandon it because there is no need. I leave without delay, and go to the place which you indicated in an oblique yet, to me, understandable way. It goes without saying that I leave in absolute secrecy and with great caution. I will surmise the nature of the trouble on the spot and will do all that is in my power to calm the gushing source. I shall try, in so doing, not to appear any worse than other ladies to whom you have turned, are turning or usually turn with your supplications. I am, after all, your dear friend. Your valuable friendship is too important to me to disappoint you, dear friend.
Should you, in the next few years, wish to write to me, do not hesitate for a moment. Your letters invariably give me boundless pleasure.
Your friend Yennefer'
The letter smelled of lilac and gooseberries.
Andrzej Sapkowski (Krew elfów (Saga o Wiedźminie, #1))
To get better at wintering, we need to address our very notion of time. We tend to imagine that our lives are linear, but they are in fact cyclical. I would not, of course, seek to deny that we gradually grow older, but while doing so, we pass through phases of good health and ill, of optimism and deep doubt, of freedom and constraint. There are times when everything seems easy, and times when it all seems impossibly hard. To make that manageable, we just have to remember that our present will one day become a past, and our future will be our present. We know that because it’s happened before. The things we put behind us will often come around again. The things that trouble us now will often come around again. Each time we endure the cycle, we ratchet up a notch. We learn from the last time around, and we do a few things better this time; we develop tricks of the mind to see us through. This is how progress is made. In the meantime, we can deal only with what’s in front of us at this moment in time. We take the next necessary action, and the next. At some point along the line, that next action will feel joyful again.
Katherine May (Wintering: The power of rest and retreat in difficult times)
One fine day you decide to talk less and less about the things you care most about, and when you have to say something, it costs you an effort . . . You’re good and sick of hearing yourself talk . . . you abridge . . . You give up … For thirty years you’ve been talking . . . You don’t care about being right anymore. You even lose your desire to keep hold of the small place you’d reserved yourself among the pleasures of life . . . You’re fed up … From that time on you’re content to eat a little something, cadge a little warmth, and sleep as much as possible on the road to nowhere. To rekindle your interest, you’d have to think up some new grimaces to put on in the presence of others . . . But you no longer have the strength to renew your repertory. You stammer. Sure, you still look for excuses for hanging around with the boys, but death is there too, stinking, right beside you, it’s there the whole time, less mysterious than a game of poker. The only thing you continue to value is petty regrets, like not finding time to run out to Bois-Colombes to see your uncle while he was still alive, the one whose little song died forever one afternoon in February. That horrible little regret is all we have left of life, we’ve vomited up the rest along the way, with a good deal of effort and misery. We’re nothing now but an old lamppost with memories on a street where hardly anyone passes anymore.
Louis-Ferdinand Céline (Journey to the End of the Night)
I’m such a negative person, and always have been. Was I born that way? I don’t know. I am constantly disgusted by reality, horrified and afraid. I cling desperately to the few things that give me some solace, that make me feel good.
I hate most of humanity. Though I might be very fond of particular individuals, humanity in general fills me with contempt and despair. I hate most of what passes for civilization. I hate the modern world. For one thing there are just too Goddamn many people. I hate the hordes, the crowds in their vast cities, with all their hateful vehicles, their noise and their constant meaningless comings and goings. I hate cars. I hate modern architecture. Every building built after 1955 should be torn down!
I despise modern music. Words cannot express how much it gets on my nerves – the false, pretentious, smug assertiveness of it. I hate business, having to deal with money. Money is one of the most hateful inventions of the human race. I hate the commodity culture, in which everything is bought and sold. No stone is left unturned. I hate the mass media, and how passively people suck up to it.
I hate having to get up in the morning and face another day of this insanity. I hate having to eat, shit, maintain the body – I hate my body. The thought of my internal functions, the organs, digestion, the brain, the nervous system, horrify me.
Nature is horrible. It’s not cute and loveable. It’s kill or be killed. It’s very dangerous out there. The natural world is filled with scary, murderous creatures and forces. I hate the whole way that nature functions. Sex is especially hateful and horrifying, the male penetrating the female, his dick goes into her hole, she’s impregnated, another being grows inside her, and then she must go through a painful ordeal as the new being pushes out of her, only to repeat the whole process in time.
Reproduction – what could be more existentially repulsive?
How I hate the courting ritual. I was always repelled by my own sex drive, which in my youth never left me alone. I was constantly driven by frustrated desires to do bizarre and unacceptable things with and to women. My soul was in constant conflict about it. I never was able to resolve it.
Old age is the only relief.
I hate the way the human psyche works, the way we are traumatized and stupidly imprinted in early childhood and have to spend the rest of our lives trying to overcome these infantile mental fixations. And we never ever fully succeed in this endeavor.
I hate organized religions. I hate governments. It’s all a lot of power games played out by ambition-driven people, and foisted on the weak, the poor, and on children.
Most humans are bullies. Adults pick on children. Older children pick on younger children. Men bully women. The rich bully the poor. People love to dominate.
I hate the way humans worship power – one of the most disgusting of all human traits.
I hate the human tendency towards revenge and vindictiveness. I hate the way humans are constantly trying to trick and deceive one another, to swindle, to cheat, and take unfair advantage of the innocent, the naïve and the ignorant.
I hate the vacuous, false, banal conversation that goes on among people.
Sometimes I feel suffocated; I want to flee from it.
For me, to be human is, for the most part, to hate what I am. When I suddenly realize that I am one of them, I want to scream in horror.
But the resurrection of a dead person from the grave, and his ascension through the air, is a thing very different, as to the evidence it admits of, to the invisible conception of a child in the womb. The resurrection and ascension, supposing them to have taken place, admitted of public and ocular demonstration, like that of the ascension of a balloon, or the sun at noon day, to all Jerusalem at least. A thing which everybody is required to believe, requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all, and universal; and as the public visibility of this last related act was the only evidence that could give sanction to the former part, the whole of it falls to the ground, because that evidence never was given. Instead of this, a small number of persons, not more than eight or nine, are introduced as proxies for the whole world, to say they saw it, and all the rest of the world are called upon to believe it. But it appears that Thomas did not believe the resurrection; and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I; and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)
Anybody in public life is well aware of how important the judgments of the press are. I'm firmly convinced that if the good Lord had made the world today, he would have spent six days creating the heavens and earth and all the living creatures upon it. But on the seventh day, he would not have rested. He would have had to justify it to Helen Thomas. (Gerald Ford as quoted by Helen Thomas.)
Helen Thomas (Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times)
Kelly hesitated, then saluted.
John turned and grabbed her arm. "Come on, Spartan. Don't look back."
The truth was, it was John who didn't dare look back. If he had, he would have stayed with Sam. Better to die with a friend than leave him behind. But as much as he wanted to fight and die alongside his friend, he had to set an example for the rest of the Spartans -- and live to fight another day.
John and Kelly pushed the pressure doors shut behind them.
"Good-bye," he whispered.
Eric S. Nylund (Halo: The Fall of Reach)
My darling Julie, I know you'll never see this letter, but it helps to write to you every day. It keeps you close to me. G-d, I miss you so. You haunt every hour of my life. I wish I'd never met you. No-I don't mean that! What good would my life be without my memories of you to make me smile.
I keep wondering if you're happy. I want you to be. I want you to have a glorious life. That's why I couldn't say the things I knew you wanted to hear when we were together. I was afraid if I did, you'd wait for me for years. I knew you wanted me to say I loved you. Not saying that to you was the only unselfish thing I did in Colorado, and I now I regret even that.
I love you, Julie. Christ, I love you so much. I'd give up all my life to have one year with you. Six months. Three. Anything.
You stole my heart in just a few days, darling, but you gave me your heart, too. I know you did- I could see it in your eyes every time you looked at me.
I don't regret the loss of my freedom any more or rage at the injustice of the years I spent in prison. Now, my only regret is that I can't have you. You're young, and I know you'll forget about me quickly and go on with your own life. That's exactly what you should do. It's what you must do. I want you to do that, Julie.
That's such a lousy lie. What I really want is to see you again, to hold you in my arms, to make love to you over and over again until I've filled you so completely that there's no room left inside of you for anyone but me, ever. I never thought of sexual intercourse as 'making love' until you. You never knew that.
I wish I had time to write you a better letter or that I'd kept one of the others I've written so I could send that instead. They were all much more coherent than this one. I won't send another letter to you, so don't watch for one. Letters will make us both hope and dream, and if I don't stop doing that, I will die of wanting you.
Before I go--I see from the newspapers that Costner has a new movie coming out in the States. If you dare to start fantasizing over Kevin after you see it, I will haunt you for the rest of your life.
I love you, Julie. I loved in Colorado. I love you here, where I am. I will always love you. Everywhere. Always.
Judith McNaught (Perfect (Second Opportunities, #2))
An attachment grew up. What is an attachment? It is the most difficult of all the human interrelationships to explain, because it is the vaguest, the most impalpable. It has all the good points of love, and none of its drawbacks. No jealousy, no quarrels, no greed to possess, no fear of losing possession, no hatred (which is very much a part of love), no surge of passion and no hangover afterward. It never reaches the heights, and it never reaches the depths.
As a rule it comes on subtly. As theirs did. As a rule the two involved are not even aware of it at first. As they were not. As a rule it only becomes noticeable when it is interrupted in some way, or broken off by circumstances. As theirs was. In other words, its presence only becomes known in its absence. It is only missed after it stops. While it is still going on, little thought is given to it, because little thought needs to be.
It is pleasant to meet, it is pleasant to be together. To put your shopping packages down on a little wire-backed chair at a little table at a sidewalk cafe, and sit down and have a vermouth with someone who has been waiting there for you. And will be waiting there again tomorrow afternoon. Same time, same table, same sidewalk cafe. Or to watch Italian youth going through the gyrations of the latest dance craze in some inexpensive indigenous night-place-while you, who come from the country where the dance originated, only get up to do a sedate fox trot. It is even pleasant to part, because this simply means preparing the way for the next meeting.
One long continuous being-together, even in a love affair, might make the thing wilt. In an attachment it would surely kill the thing off altogether. But to meet, to part, then to meet again in a few days, keeps the thing going, encourages it to flower.
And yet it requires a certain amount of vanity, as love does; a desire to please, to look one's best, to elicit compliments. It inspires a certain amount of flirtation, for the two are of opposite sex. A wink of understanding over the rim of a raised glass, a low-voiced confidential aside about something and the smile of intimacy that answers it, a small impromptu gift - a necktie on the one part because of an accidental spill on the one he was wearing, or of a small bunch of flowers on the other part because of the color of the dress she has on.
So it goes.
And suddenly they part, and suddenly there's a void, and suddenly they discover they have had an attachment.
Rome passed into the past, and became New York.
Now, if they had never come together again, or only after a long time and in different circumstances, then the attachment would have faded and died. But if they suddenly do come together again - while the sharp sting of missing one another is still smarting - then the attachment will revive full force, full strength. But never again as merely an attachment. It has to go on from there, it has to build, to pick up speed. And sometimes it is so glad to be brought back again that it makes the mistake of thinking it is love.
("For The Rest Of Her Life")
Cornell Woolrich (Angels of Darkness)
Most people of my grandparents' generation had an intuitive sense of agricultural basics ... This knowledge has vanished from our culture.
We also have largely convinced ourselves it wasn't too important. Consider how many Americans might respond to a proposal that agriculture was to become a mandatory subject in all schools ... A fair number of parents would get hot under the collar to see their kids' attention being pulled away from the essentials of grammar, the all-important trigonometry, to make room for down-on-the-farm stuff. The baby boom psyche embraces a powerful presumption that education is a key to moving away from manual labor and dirt--two undeniable ingredients of farming. It's good enough for us that somebody, somewhere, knows food production well enough to serve the rest of us with all we need to eat, each day of our lives.
Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life)
It's so weird that adults in committed relationships have a problem with something so innocuous as flirting. I would never expect you to walk around with a paper bag over your head to avoid catching the eye of a stranger, nor would I discourage you making friendly conversation with whomever you might encounter during the day. And if you needed to fuck somebody else, we could talk about it. People change, our desires evolve, and it feels foolish to me to expect what you'll want two, five, or ten years from now will be exactly the same thing that fills you up today. I mean, the way I feel about fidelity has evolved over the last ten years of my life. It's a hard-and-fast rule that we don't apply to any other thing in our lives: YOU MUST LOVE THIS [SHOW/BOOK/FOOD/SHIRT] WITH UNWAVERING FERVOR FOR THE REST OF YOUR NATURAL LIFE. Could you imagine being forced to listen to your favorite record from before your music tastes were refined for the rest of your life? Right now I'm pretty sure I could listen to Midnight Snack by HOMESHAKE for the rest of my life, but me ten years ago was really into acoustic Dave Matthews, and I'm not sure how I feel about that today. And yes, I am oversimplifying it, but really, if in seven years you want to have sex with the proverbial milkman, just let me know about it beforehand so I can hide my LaCroix and half eaten wedge of port salut. ('Milkmen' always eat all the good snacks.)
Samantha Irby (We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.)
They said of him, about the city that night, that it was the peacefullest man's face ever beheld there. Many added that he looked sublime and prophetic.
One of the most remarkable sufferers by the same axe---a woman---had asked at the foot of the same scaffold, not long before, to be allowed to write down the thoughts that were inspiring her. If he had given an utterance to his, and they were prophetic, they would have been these:
"I see Barsad, and Cly, Defarge, The Vengeance, the Juryman, the Judge, long ranks of the new oppressors who have risen on the destruction of the old, perishing by this retributive instrument, before it shall cease out of its present use. I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.
"I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more. I see Her with a child upon her bosom, who bears my name. I see her father, aged and bent, but otherwise restored, and faithful to all men in his healing office, and at peace. I see the good old man, so long their friend, in ten years' time enriching them with all he has, and passing tranquilly to his reward.
"I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. I see her, an old woman weeping for me on the anniversary of this day. I see her and her husband, their course done, lying side by side in their last earthly bed, and I know that each was not more honoured and held sacred in the other's soul, than I was in the souls of both.
"I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his. I see the blots I threw upon it, faded away. I see him, foremost of just judges and honoured men, brining a boy of my name, with a forehead that I know and golden hair, to this place---then fair to look upon, with not a trace of this day's disfigurement---and I hear him tell the child my story, with a tender and faltering voice.
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed--run over, maimed, destroyed--but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it. For example, while I was writing this I learned that the person on whom the character Jerry Fabin is based killed himself. My friend on whom I based the character Ernie Luckman died before I began the novel. For a while I myself was one of these children playing in the street; I was, like the rest of them, trying to play instead of being grown up, and I was punished. I am on the list below, which is a list of those to whom this novel is dedicated, and what became of each.
Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error,a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. "Take the cash and let the credit go," as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime.
There is no moral in this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled;it just tells what the consequences were. In Greek drama they were beginning, as a society, to discover science, which means causal law. Here in this novel there is Nemesis: not fate, because any one of us could have chosen to stop playing in the street, but, as I narrate from the deepest part of my life and heart, a dreadful Nemesis for those who kept on playing. I myself,I am not a character in this novel; I am the novel. So, though, was our entire nation at this time. This novel is about more people than I knew personally. Some we all read about in the newspapers. It was, this sitting around with our buddies and bullshitting while making tape recordings, the bad decision of the decade, the sixties, both in and out of the establishment. And nature cracked down on us. We were forced to stop by things dreadful.
If there was any "sin," it was that these people wanted to keep on having a good time forever, and were punished for that, but, as I say, I feel that, if so, the punishment was far too great, and I prefer to think of it only in a Greek or morally neutral way, as mere science, as deterministic impartial cause-and-effect. I loved them all. Here is the list, to whom I dedicate my love:
To Gaylene deceased
To Ray deceased
To Francy permanent psychosis
To Kathy permanent brain damage
To Jim deceased
To Val massive permanent brain damage
To Nancy permanent psychosis
To Joanne permanent brain damage
To Maren deceased
To Nick deceased
To Terry deceased
To Dennis deceased
To Phil permanent pancreatic damage
To Sue permanent vascular damage
To Jerri permanent psychosis and vascular damage
. . . and so forth.
These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The "enemy" was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some other way, and let them be happy.
Philip K. Dick (A Scanner Darkly)
Now consider the tortoise and the eagle. The tortoise is a ground-living creature. It is impossible to live nearer the ground without being under it. Its horizons are a few inches away. It has about as good a turn of speed as you need to hunt down a lettuce. It has survived while the rest of evolution flowed past it by being, on the whole, no threat to anyone and too much trouble to eat. And then there is the eagle. A creature of the air and high places, whose horizons go all the way to the edge of the world. Eyesight keen enough to spot the rustle of some small and squeaky creature half a mile away. All power, all control. Lightning death on wings. Talons and claws enough to make a meal of anything smaller than it is and at least take a hurried snack out of anything bigger. And yet the eagle will sit for hours on the crag and survey the kingdoms of the world until it spots a distant movement and then it will focus, focus, focus on the small shell wobbling among the bushes down there on the desert. And it will leap… And a minute later the tortoise finds the world dropping away from it. And it sees the world for the first time, no longer one inch from the ground but five hundred feet above it, and it thinks: what a great friend I have in the eagle. And then the eagle lets go. And almost always the tortoise plunges to its death. Everyone knows why the tortoise does this. Gravity is a habit that is hard to shake off. No one knows why the eagle does this. There’s good eating on a tortoise but, considering the effort involved, there’s much better eating on practically anything else. It’s simply the delight of eagles to torment tortoises. But of course, what the eagle does not realize is that it is participating in a very crude form of natural selection. One day a tortoise will learn how to fly.
Terry Pratchett (Small Gods (Discworld, #13))
I stared blankly at Rhys for what felt like about three days.
“Me?” I finally sputtered.
“You’re kidding, right?”
I laughed then, and it sounded slightly hysterical. “I’m not
going to marry you.”
“I’m not asking you to.”
He eyed me. “And you can wipe that horrified look off your
face because it’s obviously not true.”
“Do I look horrified?”
“Yes, you do.”
I grimaced. “Nothing personal, Rhys, but—”
He held up a hand. “Say nothing else. I shouldn’t have even
mentioned it to you. I’ll find another dragon to help me.”
“Second opinions are really important,” I said.
He just glowered at that.
We rode the rest of the way back to Erin Heights in silence.
Now I had even more information crowding my already full brain.
Maybe that Irena chick should go see a shrink, herself. She was
one crazy dragon lady.
Michelle Rowen (Reign Check (Demon Princess, #2))
If you're anything like me,
You bite your nails,
And laugh when you're nervous.
You promise people the world,
because that's what they want from you.
You like giving them what they want...
But darling, you need to stop,
If you're anything like me,
You knock on wood every time you make plans.
You cross your fingers, hold your breath,
Wish on lucky numbers and eyelashes
Your superstitions were the lone survivors of the shipwreck.
Rest In Peace, to your naive bravado...
If life gets too good now,
Darling, it scares you.
If you're anything like me,
You never wanted to lock your door,
Your secret garden gate or your diary drawer
Didn't want to face the you you don't know anymore
For fear she was much better before...
But Darling, now you have to.
If you're anything like me,
There's a justice system in your head
For names you'll never speak again,
And you make your ruthless rulings.
Each new enemy turns to steel
They become the bars that confine you,
In your own little golden prison cell...
But Darling, there is where you meet yourself.
If you're anything like me
You've grown to hate your pride
To love your thighs
And no amount of friends at 25
Will fill the empty seats
At the lunch tables of your past
The teams that picked you last...
But Darling, you keep trying.
If you're anything like me,
You couldn't recognize the face of your love
Until they stripped you of your shiny paint
Threw your victory flag away
And you saw the ones who wanted you anyway...
Darling, later on you will thank your stars
for that frightful day.
If you're anything like me,
But Darling, it's going to be okay.
When man don't love you, more you try, more he hate you, man like that. If you love them they treat you bad, if you don't love them they after you night and day bothering your soul case out. I hear about you and your husband,' she said.
'But I cannot go. He is my husband after all.'
She spat over her shoulder. 'All women, all colours, nothing but fools. Three children I have. One living in this world, each one a different father, but no husband, I thank my God. I keep my money. I don't give it to no worthless man.'
'When must I go, where must I go?'
'But look me trouble, a rich white girl like you and more foolish than the rest. A man don't treat you good, pick up your skirt and walk out. Do it and he come after you.
Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea)
Ms. Terwilliger didn’t have a chance to respond to my geological ramblings because someone knocked on the door. I slipped the rocks into my pocket and tried to look studious as she called an entry. I figured Zoe had tracked me down, but surprisingly, Angeline walked in.
"Did you know," she said, "that it’s a lot harder to put organs back in the body than it is to get them out?"
I closed my eyes and silently counted to five before opening them again. “Please tell me you haven’t eviscerated someone.”
She shook her head. “No, no. I left my biology homework in Miss Wentworth’s room, but when I went back to get it, she’d already left and locked the door. But it’s due tomorrow, and I’m already in trouble in there, so I had to get it. So, I went around outside, and her window lock wasn’t that hard to open, and I—”
"Wait," I interrupted. "You broke into a classroom?"
"Yeah, but that’s not the problem."
Behind me, I heard a choking laugh from Ms. Terwilliger’s desk.
"Go on," I said wearily.
"Well, when I climbed through, I didn’t realize there was a bunch of stuff in the way, and I crashed into those plastic models of the human body she has. You know, the life size ones with all the parts inside? And bam!" Angeline held up her arms for effect. "Organs everywhere." She paused and looked at me expectantly. "So what are we going to do? I can’t get in trouble with her."
"We?" I exclaimed.
"Here," said Ms. Terwilliger. I turned around, and she tossed me a set of keys. From the look on her face, it was taking every ounce of self-control not to burst out laughing. "That square one’s a master. I know for a fact she has yoga and won’t be back for the rest of the day. I imagine you can repair the damage—and retrieve the homework—before anyone’s the wiser.”
I knew that the “you” in “you can repair” meant me. With a sigh, I stood up and packed up my things. “Thanks,” I said.
As Angeline and I walked down to the science wing, I told her, “You know, the next time you’ve got a problem, maybe come to me before it becomes an even bigger problem.”
"Oh no," she said nobly. "I didn’t want to be an inconvenience."
Her description of the scene was pretty accurate: organs everywhere. Miss Wentworth had two models, male and female, with carved out torsos that cleverly held removable parts of the body that could be examined in greater detail. Wisely, she had purchased models that were only waist-high. That was still more than enough of a mess for us, especially since it was hard to tell which model the various organs belonged to.
I had a pretty good sense of anatomy but still opened up a textbook for reference as I began sorting. Angeline, realizing her uselessness here, perched on a far counter and swing her legs as she watched me. I’d started reassembling the male when I heard a voice behind me.
"Melbourne, I always knew you’d need to learn about this kind of thing. I’d just kind of hoped you’d learn it on a real guy."
I glanced back at Trey, as he leaned in the doorway with a smug expression. “Ha, ha. If you were a real friend, you’d come help me.” I pointed to the female model. “Let’s see some of your alleged expertise in action.”
"Alleged?" He sounded indignant but strolled in anyways.
I hadn’t really thought much about asking him for help. Mostly I was thinking this was taking much longer than it should, and I had more important things to do with my time. It was only when he came to a sudden halt that I realized my mistake.
"Oh," he said, seeing Angeline. "Hi."
Her swinging feet stopped, and her eyes were as wide as his. “Um, hi.”
The tension ramped up from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds, and everyone seemed at a loss for words. Angeline jerked her head toward the models and blurted out. “I had an accident.”
That seemed to snap Trey from his daze, and a smile curved his lips. Whereas Angeline’s antics made me want to pull out my hair sometimes, he found them endearing.
Richelle Mead (The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4))
In the world outside this glass room, songbirds are feeding and resting in the trees. Some will take off tonight and not land until they reach Venezuela. Sandpipers, plovers, and broad-winged hawks have already left for Patagonia and Panama. Bats are headed for caves in Kentucky and Tennessee. Out in the Atlantic, humpback whales pass by on their way to the Caribbean. Even now, Canada geese are honking toward us from Quebec. It is a good day for the beginnings of journeys.
Every time I look at you, I think, Now I cannot die.
Sandra Steingraber (Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood)
....the Crocodiles say they can't even begin to say how many new guys they've seen Come In and then get sucked back Out There, Come In to AA for a while and Hang In and put together a little sober time and have things start to get better, head-wise and life-quality-wise, and after a while the new guys get cocky, they decide they've gotten `Well,' and they get really busy at the new job sobriety's allowed them to get, or maybe they buy season Celtics tickets, or they rediscover pussy and start chasing pussy (these withered gnarled toothless totally post-sexual old fuckers actually say pussy), but one way or another these poor cocky clueless new bastards start gradually drifting away from rabid Activity In The Group, and then away from their Group itself, and then little by little gradually drift away from any AA meetings at all, and then, without the protection of meetings or a Group, in time--oh there's always plenty of time, the Disease is fiendishly patient--how in time they forget what it was like, the ones that've cockily drifted, they forget who and what they are, they forget about the Disease, until like one day they're at like maybe a Celtics-Sixers game, and the good old Fleet/First Interstate Center's hot, and they think what could just one cold foamer hurt, after all this sober time, now that they've gotten `Well.' Just one cold one. What could it hurt. And after that one it's like they'd never stopped, if they've got the Disease. And how in a month or six months or a year they have to Come Back In, back to the Boston AA halls and their old Group, tottering, D.T.ing, with their faces hanging down around their knees all over again, or maybe it's five or ten years before they can get it up to get back In, beaten to shit again, or else their system isn't ready for the recurred abuse again after some sober time and they die Out There--the Crocodiles are always talking in hushed, 'Nam-like tones about Out There--or else, worse, maybe they kill somebody in a blackout and spend the rest of their lives in MCI-Walpole drinking raisin jack fermented in the seatless toilet and trying to recall what they did to get in there, Out There; or else, worst of all, these cocky new guys drift back Out There and have nothing sufficiently horrible to Finish them happen at all, just go back to drinking 24/7/365, to not-living, behind bars, undead, back in the Disease's cage all over again. The Crocodiles talk about how they can't count the number of guys that've Come In for a while and drifted away and gone back Out There and died, or not gotten to die.
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
Relationships never provide you with everything. They provide you with some things. You take all the things you want from a person - sexual chemistry, let's say, or good conversation, or financial support, or intellectual compatibility, or niceness, or loyalty - and you get to pick three of those things. Three - that's it. Maybe four, if you're very lucky. The rest you have to look for elsewhere. It's only in the movies that you find someone who gives you all of those things. But this isn't the movies. In the real world, you have to identify which three qualities you want to spend the rest of your life with, and then you look for those qualities in another person. That's real life. Don't you see it's a trap? If you keep trying to find everything, you'll wind up with nothing.'
...At the time, he hadn't believed these words, because at the time, everything really did seem possible: he was twenty-three, and everyone was young and attractive and smart and glamorous. Everyone thought they would be friends for decades, forever. But for most people, of course, that hadn't happened. As you got older, you realized that the qualities you valued in the people you slept with or dated weren't necessarily the ones you wanted to live with, or be with, or plod through your days with. If you were smart, and if you were lucky, you learned this and accepted this. You figured out what was most important to you and you looked for it, and you learned to be realistic. They all chose differently: Roman had chosen beauty, sweetness, pliability; Malcolm, he thought, had chosen reliability, and competence...and aesthetic compatibility. And he? He had chosen friendship. Conversation. Kindness, Intelligence. When he was in his thirties, he had looked at certain people's relationships and asked the question that had (and continued to) fuel countless dinner-party conversations: What's going on there? Now, though, as an almost-forty-eight-year-old, he saw people's relationships as reflections of their keenest yet most inarticulable desires, their hopes and insecurities taking shape physically, in the form of another person. Now he looked at couples - in restaurants, on the street, at parties - and wondered: Why are you together? What did you identify as essential to you? What's missing in you that you want someone else to provide? He now viewed a successful relationship as one in which both people had recognized the best of what the other person had of offer and had chosen to value it as well.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
The biblical record suggests that we need to rest not just one day a week but for longer times at longer intervals, up to the forty-nine-year cycle called the “jubilee” that allowed both land and farmers to be rejuvenated. But if the work of creating consistently leaves us depressed or drained, it is likely that we have somehow missed the path. Creation, even on a human scale, is meant to end with the glad exclamation, “It is very good.
Andy Crouch (Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling)
Jason winced. “Knocked out twice in two days,” he muttered. “Some demigod.” He glanced sheepishly at Percy. “Sorry, man. I didn’t mean to blast you.” Percy’s shirt was peppered with burn holes. His hair was even more disheveled than normal. Despite that, he managed a weak laugh. “Not the first time. Your big sister got me good once at camp.” “Yeah, but…I could have killed you.” “Or I could have killed you,” Percy said. Jason shrugged. “If there’d been an ocean in Kansas, maybe.” “I don’t need an ocean—” “Boys,” Annabeth interrupted, “I’m sure you both would’ve been wonderful at killing each other. But right now, you need some rest.” “Food first,” Percy said. “Please?
Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus: Books I-III (The Heroes of Olympus, #1-3))
Every day we all make little MISTAKES in life, but that doesn't mean we have to pay for them for the rest of our lives.Sometimes GOOD people make BAD choices, but that doesn't mean we are BAD people...It just means we are HUMAN!
Karen Gibbs (A Gallery of Scrapbook Creations)
Have you ever wondered
What happens to all the
poems people write?
The poems they never
let anyone else read?
Perhaps they are
Too private and personal
Perhaps they are just not good enough.
Perhaps the prospect
of such a heartfelt
expression being seen as
overwrought obscure stupid
is enough to give any aspiring
poet good reason to
hide their work from
Naturally many poems are IMMEDIATELY DESTROYED.
Burnt shredded flushed away
Occasionally they are folded
Into little squares
And wedged under the corner of
An unstable piece of furniture
(So actually quite useful)
a loose brick
the back of an
old alarm clock
put between the pages of
AN OBSCURE BOOK
that is unlikely
to ever be opened.
someone might find them one day,
BUT PROBABLY NOT
The truth is that unread poetry
Will almost always be just that.
to join a vast invisible river
of waste that flows out of suburbia.
On rare occasions,
Some especially insistent
pieces of writing will escape
into a backyard
or a laneway
be blown along
a roadside embankment
and finally come
to rest in a
as so many
It is here that
two or more pieces of poetry
drift toward each other
through a strange
force of attraction
and ever so slowly
to form a tiny,
this ball gradually
becomes larger and rounder as other
stray musings wishes and unsent
one by one.
Such a ball creeps
through the streets
Like a tumbleweed
for months even years
If it comes out only at night it has a good
Chance of surviving traffic and children
and through a
slow rolling motion
(its number one predator)
At a certain size, it instinctively
shelters from bad weather, unnoticed
but otherwise roams the streets
thought and feeling.
time and luck
the poetry ball becomes
large HUGE ENORMOUS:
A vast accumulation of papery bits
That ultimately takes to the air, levitating by
The sheer force of so much unspoken emotion.
It floats gently
above suburban rooftops
when everybody is asleep
inspiring lonely dogs
to bark in the middle
of the night.
a big ball of paper
no matter how large and
buoyant, is still a fragile thing.
it will be surprised by
gust of wind
in a matter
everyone will wake up
to find a pulpy mess
covering front lawns
clogging up gutters
and plastering car
Traffic will be delayed
unable to figure out
where it all came from
Will be the
Every lump of
faded words pressed into accidental
but undeniably present
To each reader
they will whisper
hilarious profound and perfect
No one will be able to explain the
Strange feeling of weightlessness
or the private smile
Long after the street sweepers
have come and gone.
Shaun Tan (Tales from Outer Suburbia)
Dr. Deveaux stopped and looked at me hard. He leaned in and whispered, 'The rest is all bullshit, Miss Drake. It's as simple as that. Your purpose here in life is to discern the real thing from the bullshit, and then to choose the non-bullshit. Think of the opportunity that God has given you to study as the means by which to attain your own personal bullshit detector. Sometimes that will be particularly difficult, because those who proclaim to know the truth, well intentioned or not, are spewing the most bullshit. But you will know when you have been properly ravished. And then you'll see, how the entire world is eyeball deep in it and that we choose it, and that we choose it every day. But the good news is that, although we struggle with it, there is a way out. Yes, there is a very worthy antidote and option to all the bullshit.
Carolyn Weber (Surprised by Oxford)
Look around you, Ethan." I said. "The end of the world. Is this the reward you want? Do you really want everything destroyed - the good with the bad? Everything?" "There is no throne to Nemesis, " Ethan muttered. "No throne to my mother." "You said your mom is the goddess of balance," I reminded him. "The minor gods deserve better, Ethan, but total destruction isn't balance. Kronos doesn't build. He only destroys." Ethan looked at the sizzling throne of Hephaestus. Grover's music kept playing, and Ethan swayed to it, as if the song was filling him with nostalgia - a wish to see a beautiful day, to be anywhere but here. His good eye blinked. Hen he charged...but not at me. While Kronos was still on his knees, Ethan brought his sword down on the Titan lord's neck. It should have killed him instantly, but the blade shattered. Ethan fell back, grasping his stomach. A shard of his own blade had ricocheted and pierced his armor. Kronos rose unsteadily, towering over his servant. "Treason," he snarled. Grover's music kept playing, and grass grew around Ethan's body. Ethan stared at me, his face tight with pain. "Deserve better, " he gasped. "If they just...had thrones-" Kronos stomped his foot, and the floor ruptured around Ethan Nakamura. The son of Nemesis fell through a fissure that went straight through the heart of the mountain - straight into open air. "So much for him." Kronos picked up his sword. "And now for the rest of you.
Rick Riordan (The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5))
Hermes bowed his head in thankfulness to the Great Dragon who had taught him so much, and begged to hear more concerning the ultimate of the human soul. So Poimandres resumed: "At death the material body of man is returned to the elements from which it came, and the invisible divine man ascends to the source from whence he came, namely the Eighth Sphere...
"Then, being naked of all the accumulations of the seven Rings, the soul comes to the Eighth Sphere, namely, the ring of the fixed stars. Here, freed of all illusion, it dwells in the Light and sings praises to the Father in a voice which only the pure of spirit may understand. Behold, O Hermes, there is a great mystery in the Eighth Sphere, for the Milky Way is the seed-ground of souls, and from it they drop into the Rings, and to the Milky Way they return again from the wheels of Saturn. But some cannot climb the seven-runged ladder of the Rings. So they wander in darkness below and are swept into eternity with the illusion of sense and earthiness.
"The path to immortality is hard, and only a few find it. The rest await the Great Day when the wheels of the universe shall be stopped and the immortal sparks shall escape from the sheaths of substance. Woe unto those who wait, for they must return again, unconscious and unknowing, to the seed-ground of stars, and await a new beginning. Those who are saved by the light of the mystery which I have revealed unto you, O Hermes, and which I now bid you to establish among men, shall return again to the Father who dwelleth in the White Light, and shall deliver themselves up to the Light and shall be absorbed into the Light, and in the Light they shall become Powers in God. This is the Way of Good and is revealed only to them that have wisdom.
Thoth Hermes Trismegistus
Turn off the inner editor
Write fifty thousand words in the month of
I did it.
, it was
, it was
one thousand six
hundred and sixty-seven words a day.
But you have to turn off your inner critic.
If you can't write, run away for a few.
Writing is like anything else.
You won't get good at it immediately.
It's a craft, you have to keep getting better.
You don't get to Juilliard unless you practice.
If you want to get to Carnegie Hall,
practice, practice, practice.
...Or give them a lot of money.
Like anything else, it takes ten thousand hours to master.
Just like Malcolm Gladwell says.
But don't edit as you type,
that just slows the brain down.
Find a daily practice,
for me it's blogging every day.
you write, the
it gets. The more it is a
the less a
It's not for
it's not for a
it's just to get your thoughts
they want to come
keep at it.
Make it a practice. And write
and it may end up being
Colleen Hoover (Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2))
I made it three days before the text messages started one afternoon while I was trying to finish warming up before our afternoon session. I had gotten to the LC later than usual and had gone straight to the training room, praising Jesus that I’d decided to change my clothes before leaving the diner once I’d seen what time it was and had remembered lunchtime traffic was a real thing. I was in the middle of stretching my hips when my phone beeped from where I’d left it on top of my bag. I took it out and snickered immediately at the message after taking my time with it.
Jojo: WHAT THE FUCK JASMINE
I didn’t need to ask what my brother was what-the-fucking over. It had only been a matter of time. It was really hard to keep a secret in my family, and the only reason why my mom and Ben—who was the only person other than her who knew—had kept their mouths closed was because they had both agreed it would be more fun to piss off my siblings by not saying anything and letting them find out the hard way I was going to be competing again.
Life was all about the little things.
So, I’d slipped my phone back into my bag and kept stretching, not bothering to respond because it would just make him more mad.
Twenty minutes later, while I was still busy stretching, I pulled my phone out and wasn’t surprised more messages appeared.
Jojo: WHY WOULD YOU NOT TELL ME
Jojo: HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME
Jojo: DID THE REST OF YOU KEEP THIS FROM ME
Tali: What happened? What did she not tell you?
Tali: OH MY GOD, Jasmine, did you get knocked up?
Tali: I swear, if you got knocked up, I’m going to beat the hell out of you. We talked about contraception when you hit puberty.
Sebastian: Jasmine’s pregnant?
Rubes: She’s not pregnant.
Rubes: What happened, Jojo?
Jojo: MOM DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS
Tali: Would you just tell us what you’re talking about?
Jojo: JASMINE IS SKATING WITH IVAN LUKOV
Jojo: And I found out by going on Picturegram. Someone at the rink posted a picture of them in one of the training rooms. They were doing lifts.
Jojo: JASMINE I SWEAR TO GOD YOU BETTER EXPLAIN EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW
Tali: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IS THIS TRUE?
Jojo: I’m going on Lukov’s website right now to confirm this
Rubes: I just called Mom but she isn’t answering the phone
Tali: She knew about this. WHO ELSE KNEW?
Sebastian: I didn’t. And quit texting Jas’s name over and over again. It’s annoying. She’s skating again. Good job, Jas. Happy for you.
Jojo: ^^ You’re such a vibe kill
Sebastian: No, I’m just not flipping my shit because she got a new partner.
Jojo: SHE DIDN’T TELL US FIRST THO. What is the point of being related if we didn’t get the scoop before everybody else?
Jojo: I FOUND OUT ON PICTUREGRAM
Sebastian: She doesn’t like you. I wouldn’t tell you either.
Tali: I can’t find anything about it online.
Tali: Tell us everything or I’m coming over to Mom’s today.
Sebastian: You’re annoying. Muting this until I get out of work.
Jojo: Party pooper
Tali: Party pooper
I typed out a reply, because knowing them, if I didn’t, the next time I looked at my phone, I’d have an endless column of JASMINE on there until they heard from me.
That didn’t mean my response had to be what they wanted.
Me: Who is Ivan Lukov?
Mariana Zapata (From Lukov with Love)
But whether Nikolai lived or died this day, there would be no Sainthood for the Darkling. He would have to find some other way to appease the monk. Yuri was a boy in search of a cause, and that at least was something Nikolai could understand. He turned to Zoya. “You have the order? If the monster takes me—”
“I know what to do.”
“You needn’t sound quite so eager.”
To his surprise, Zoya seized his hand. “Come back,” she said. “Promise you’ll come back to us.”
Because he was most likely about to die, he let himself cup his hand briefly to her extraordinary face. Her skin felt cool against his fingers.
“Of course I’ll come back,” he said. “I don’t trust anyone else to deliver my eulogy.”
A smile curled her lips. “You’ve written it already?”
“It’s very good. You’d be surprised how many synonyms there are for handsome.”
Zoya closed her eyes. She turned her face, letting her cheek rest against his palm. “Nikolai—
Leigh Bardugo (King of Scars (King of Scars, #1))
That tried and true aphorism:
Each day is precious. Each day is a gift. If we don't open the wrapping carefully, we might break it and have to return it to the store. And then they're going to ask for a receipt and throw a total shit fit if we've left it at home, and we'll have to call the manager over and give him a good talking-to, and of course eventually he'll relent and tell the clerk to give us full credit, but by then we'll be so upset that we've wasted an hour of our time that we'll end up with a migraine and having to spend the rest of the day in bed, completely defeating the whole idea that each day is supposed to be precious and so forth.
Eric Garcia (Cassandra French's Finishing School for Boys)
I think love is about happiness and sacrifice. Compromising instead of arguing. Having someone who is always there for you even when you don't deserve it. Loving someone means you want to spend the rest of your life with them, on the good days and the bad days and everything in between.
Lauren Asher (Throttled (Dirty Air, #1))
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"
The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying over head--
There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it WOULD be grand!"
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."
The eldest Oyster looked at him.
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue,
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said
"Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"
"I weep for you," the Walrus said.
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size.
Holding his pocket handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter.
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?"
But answer came there none--
And that was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
Lewis Carroll (Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #2))
Handsome, strong, gay ... She felt again the thro and lilt of her blood. She had loved Kameni in that moment. She loved him now. Kameni could take the place that Khay had held in her life.
She thought: 'We shall be happy together - yes, we shall be happy. We shall live together and take pleasure in each other and we shall have strong, handsome children. There will be busy days full of work ... and days of pleasure when we sail on the River...Life will be again as I knew it with Khay...What could I ask more than that? What do I want more than that?'
And slowly, very slowly indeed, she turned her face towards Hori. It was as though, silently, she asked him a question.
As though he understood her, he answered:
'When you were a child, I loved you. I loved your grave face and the confidence with which you came to me, asking me to mend your broken toys. And then, after eight years' absence, you came again and sat here, and brought me the thoughts that were in your mind. And your mind, Renisenb, is not like the minds of the rest of your family. It does not turn in upon itself, seeking to encase itself in narrow walls. Your mind is like my mind, it looks over the River, seeing a world of changes, of new ideas - seeing a world where all things are possible to those with courage and vision...'
She broke off, unable to find words to frame her struggling thoughts. What life would be with Hori, she did not know. In spite of his gentleness, in spite of his love for her, he would remain in some respects incalculable and incomprehensible. They would share moments of great beauty and richness together - but what of their common daily life?
I have made my choice, Hori. I will share my life with you for good or evil, until death comes...
With his arms round her, with the sudden new sweetness of his face against hers, she was filled with an exultant richness of living.
Agatha Christie (Death Comes as the End)
We had good long talks about my writing in the days that followed. "Write of things you know, Julie; familiar, simple things that you have experienced; things that have touched you deeply."
"But nothing's ever happened to me. I've just lived here with Aunt Cordelia and you most of my life, I've gone to school, visited Father--oh, sure, I'm in love with Danny, but that's something we've grown into--very wonderful for us, but not very exciting for the rest of the world. How can a person who has lived as quiet a life as I have find anything to write about?"
"Then you do have a problem. If you haven't lived long enough to have felt anything deeply, than you are in the same position I--as many would-be writers are. You've nothing to say. So take up crocheting.
Irene Hunt (Up a Road Slowly)
If we lived more simply most of the time, our feasts would be distinctive events. As it is, since most Americans have all kinds of special things to eat every day, for many the only way to make Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts uncommon is by eating more. It would be good if we could restore the concept of feasting not as something to regret (don’t we all have to lose a few pounds after the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s season?), but as a delight.
Marva J. Dawn (Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting)
I look out again at the sun-my first full gaze. It is blood-red and men are walking about on rooftops. Everything above the horizon is clear to me. It is like Easter Sunday. Death is behind me and birth too. I am going to live now among the life maladies. I am going to live the spiritual life of the pygmy, the secret life of the little man in the wilderness of the bush. Inner and outer have changed places. Equilibrium is no longer the goal-the scales must be destroyed. Let me hear you promise again all those sunny things you carry inside you. Let me try to believe for one day, while I rest in the open, that the sun brings good tidings. Let me rot in splendor while the sun bursts in your womb. I believe all your lies implicitly. I take you as the personification of evil, as the destroyer of the soul, as the maharanee of the night. Tack your womb up on my wall, so that I may remember you. We must get going. Tomorrow, tomorrow...
Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn (Tropic, #2))
At the end of the visit Steve asked, "What percent of the work is exciting?" After thinking for a moment, I replied, "Oh about ten percent. The rest is routine." As I have learned in life, 10 percent is a good number for most professions. I know it has been enough to keep me going to work every day with a smile on my face.
Michael S. Gazzaniga (Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience)
J. R. R. Tolkien gives one of the most entrancing descriptions of the true nature of Sabbath. In book 1 of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he describes a time of rest and healing in the house of Elrond in Rivendell. The hobbits, along with Strider, their guide, have made a dangerous, almost fatal journey to this place. They will soon have to make an even more dangerous, almost certainly fatal journey away from this place. But in the meantime, this: For awhile the hobbits continued to talk and think of the past journey and of the perils that lay ahead; but such was the virtue of the land of Rivendell that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.2 The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have power over the present. That’s Sabbath.
Mark Buchanan (The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath)
There was a girl, and her uncle sold her, wrote Mr. Ibis in his perfect copperplate handwriting.
That is the tale; the rest is detail.
There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.
Tonight, as you eat, reflect if you can: there are children starving in the world, starving in numbers larger than the mind can easily hold, up in the big numbers where an error of a million here, a million there, can be forgiven. It may be uncomfortable for you to reflect upon this or it may not, but still, you will eat. There are accounts which, if we open our hearts to them, will cut us too deeply. Look—here is a good man, good by his own lights and the lights of his friends: he is faithful and true to his wife, he adores and lavishes attention on his little children, he cares about his country, he does his job punctiliously, as best he can. So, efficiently and good-naturedly, he exterminates Jews: he appreciates the music that plays in the background to pacify them; he advises the Jews not to forget their identification numbers as they go into the showers—many people, he tells them, forget their numbers, and take the wrong clothes, when they come out of the showers. This calms the Jews: there will be life, they assure themselves, after the showers. And they are wrong. Our man supervises the detail taking the bodies to the ovens; and if there is anything he feels bad about, it is that he still allows the gassing of vermin to affect him. Were he a truly good man, he knows, he would feel nothing but joy, as the earth is cleansed of its pests.
Leave him; he cuts too deep. He is too close to us and it hurts.
Neil Gaiman (American Gods (American Gods, #1))
The evil heart which still remaineth in the Christian, doth always, when it is not attacking or obstructing, still reign and dwell within him. My heart is just as bad when no evil emanates from it, as when it is all over vileness in its external developments. A volcano is ever a volcano; even when it sleeps, trust it not. A lion is a lion, even though he play like a kid; and a serpent, is a serpent, even though you may stroke it while for a season it slumbers; there is still a venom in its sting when its azure scales invite the eye. My heart, even though for an hour, it may not have had an evil thought, is still evil. If it were possible that I could live for days without a single temptation from my own heart to sin, it would be still just as evil as it was before; and it is always either displaying its vileness, or else preparing for another display. It is either loading its cannon to shoot against us, or else it is positively at warfare with us. You may rest assured that the heart is never other than it originally was; the evil nature is still evil; and when there is no blaze, it is heaping up the wood, wherewith it is to blaze another day. It is gathering up from my joys, from my devotions, from my holiness, and from all I do, some materials to attack me at some future period. The evil nature is only evil, and that continually, without the slightest mitigation or element of good. The new nature must always wrestle and fight with it; and when the two natures are not wrestling and fighting, there is no truce between them. When they are not in conflict, still they are foes. We must not trust our heart at any time; even when it speaks most fair, we must call it liar; and when it pretends to the most good, still we must remember its nature, for it is evil, and that continually.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Fame requires every kind of excess. I mean true fame, a devouring neon, not the somber renown of waning statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the edge of every void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic. Understand the man who must inhabit these extreme regions, monstrous and vulval, damp with memories of violation. Even if half-mad he is absorbed into the public's total madness; even if fully rational, a bureaucrat in hell, a secret genius of survival, he is sure to be destroyed by the public's contempt for survivors. Fame, this special kind, feeds itself on outrage, on what the counselors of lesser men would consider bad publicity-hysteria in limousines, knife fights in the audience, bizarre litigation, treachery, pandemonium and drugs. Perhaps the only natural law attaching to true fame is that the famous man is compelled, eventually, to commit suicide.
(Is it clear I was a hero of rock'n'roll?)
Toward the end of the final tour it became apparent that our audience wanted more than music, more even than its own reduplicated noise. It's possible the culture had reached its limit, a point of severe tension. There was less sense of simple visceral abandon at our concerts during these last weeks. Few cases of arson and vandalism. Fewer still of rape. No smoke bombs or threats of worse explosives. Our followers, in their isolation, were not concerned with precedent now. They were free of old saints and martyrs, but fearfully so, left with their own unlabeled flesh. Those without tickets didn't storm the barricades, and during a performance the boys and girls directly below us, scratching at the stage, were less murderous in their love of me, as if realizing finally that my death, to be authentic, must be self-willed- a succesful piece of instruction only if it occured by my own hand, preferrably ina foreign city. I began to think their education would not be complete until they outdid me as a teacher, until one day they merely pantomimed the kind of massive response the group was used to getting. As we performed they would dance, collapse, clutch each other, wave their arms, all the while making absolutely no sound. We would stand in the incandescent pit of a huge stadium filled with wildly rippling bodies, all totally silent. Our recent music, deprived of people's screams, was next to meaningless, and there would have been no choice but to stop playing. A profound joke it would have been. A lesson in something or other.
In Houston I left the group, saying nothing, and boarded a plane for New York City, that contaminated shrine, place of my birth. I knew Azarian would assume leadership of the band, his body being prettiest. As to the rest, I left them to their respective uproars- news media, promotion people, agents, accountants, various members of the managerial peerage. The public would come closer to understanding my disappearance than anyone else. It was not quite as total as the act they needed and nobody could be sure whether I was gone for good. For my closest followers, it foreshadowed a period of waiting. Either I'd return with a new language for them to speak or they'd seek a divine silence attendant to my own.
I took a taxi past the cemetaries toward Manhattan, tides of ash-light breaking across the spires. new York seemed older than the cities of Europe, a sadistic gift of the sixteenth century, ever on the verge of plague. The cab driver was young, however, a freckled kid with a moderate orange Afro. I told him to take the tunnel.
Is there a tunnel?" he said.
As long as there is thirst in you, water can quench it; but you can live a kind of life in which you never feel thirsty; do not go in the sun, do no manual work, stay at home and relax and you will not feel the thirst. But then you will find no joy in drinking water. He who toils all day, enjoys the bliss of a good night’s rest. This is ironical: if you want to enjoy the pleasure of a good night’s sleep you have to work like a labourer all day. The trouble is that you want to spend your days like an emperor and your nights like a labourer.
Osho (Bliss: Living beyond happiness and misery)
Because after having overcome the defeats - and we always overcome them - we feel much more euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know we are worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the Good Combat. We begin to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Very intense and unexpected suffering begins passing faster than apparently tolerable suffering: that drags on for years, eroding our soul without us noticing what is happening - until one day we can no longer free ourselves of the bitterness, and it accompanies us for the rest of our lives.
Paulo Coelho (Warrior of the Light)
It wasna a man,’ said Andrew Kerr broadly. ‘T’was my aunty. I tellt ye. I’m no risking cauld steel in ma wame for a pittance, unless all that’s mine is well lookit after—’ ‘An old lady,’ said Lord Grey with forbearance, ‘in curling papers and a palatial absence of teeth?’ ‘My aunt Lizzie!’ said Andrew Kerr. ‘She has just,’ said Lord Grey austerely, ‘seriously injured one of my men.’ ‘How?’ The old savage looked interested. ‘From an upper window. The castle was burning, and he was climbing a ladder to offer the lady her freedom. She cracked his head with a chamberpot,’ said Lord Grey distastefully, ‘and retired crying that she would have no need of a jurden in Heaven, as the good Lord had no doubt thought of more convenient methods after the seventh day, when He had had a good rest.
Dorothy Dunnett (The Disorderly Knights (The Lymond Chronicles, #3))
Tibet has not yet been infested by the worst disease of modern life, the everlasting rush. No one overworks here. Officials have an easy life. They turn up at the office late in the morning and leave for their homes early in the afternoon. If an official has guests or any other reason for not coming, he just sends a servant to a colleague and asks him to officiate for him.
Women know nothing about equal rights and are quite happy as they are. They spend hours making up their faces, restringing their pearl necklaces, choosing new material for dresses, and thinking how to outshine Mrs. So-and-so at the next party. They do not have to bother about housekeeping, which is all done by the servants. But to show that she is mistress the lady of the house always carries a large bunch of keys around with her. In Lhasa every trifling object is locked up and double-locked.
Then there is mah-jongg. At one time this game was a universal passion. People were simply fascinated by it and played it day and night, forgetting everything else—official duties, housekeeping, the family. The stakes were often very high and everyone played—even the servants, who sometimes contrived to lose in a few hours what they had taken years to save. Finally the government found it too much of a good thing. They forbade the game, bought up all the mah-jongg sets, and condemned secret offenders to heavy fines and hard labor. And they brought it off! I would never have believed it, but though everyone moaned and hankered to play again, they respected the prohibition. After mah-jongg had been stopped, it became gradually evident how everything else had been neglected during the epidemic. On Saturdays—the day of rest—people now played chess or halma, or occupied themselves harmlessly with word games and puzzles.
Heinrich Harrer (Seven Years in Tibet)
St. John,” I said, “I think you are almost wicked to talk so. I am disposed to be as content as a queen, and you try to stir me up to restlessness! To what end?”
“To the end of turning to profit the talents which God has committed to your keeping; and of which He will surely one day demand a strict account. Jane, I shall watch you closely and anxiously—I warn you of that. And try to restrain the disproportionate fervour with which you throw yourself into commonplace home pleasures. Don’t cling so tenaciously to ties of the flesh; save your constancy and ardour for an adequate cause; forbear to waste them on trite transient objects. Do you hear, Jane?”
“Yes; just as if you were speaking Greek. I feel I have adequate cause to be happy, and I will be happy. Goodbye!
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known---cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all---
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, my own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the scepter and the isle---
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me---
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads---you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Get up with the alarm, shower, get dressed, and have breakfast. Without much effort, you’ve already put yourself in a good position for the rest of the day. If you have to struggle to get out of bed and decide every single day about showering and breakfast and what to wear, you’ve put yourself in a depleted state before the day has really started. The person who’s taking care of herself without thinking about it, getting to work on time without procrastinating, has much more will power left in reserve when important decisions come up. This is why people with high self-control consistently report less stress in their lives; they use their will power to take care of business semiautomatically, so they have fewer crises and calamities. When there is a real crisis, they have plenty of discipline left in reserve.
Richard O'Connor (Rewire: Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions,Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior)
We don't know ourselves, we knowledgeable people—we are personally ignorant
about ourselves. And there's good reason for that. We've never tried to find out who
we are. How could it ever happen that one day we'd discover our own selves? With
justice it's been said that "Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also." Our
treasure lies where the beehives of our knowledge stand. We are always busy with our
knowledge, as if we were born winged creatures—collectors of intellectual honey. In
our hearts we are basically concerned with only one thing, to "bring something
home." As far as the rest of life is concerned, what people call "experience"—which
of us is serious enough for that? Who has enough time? In these matters, I fear, we've
been "missing the point."
Our hearts have not even been engaged—nor, for that matter, have our ears! We've
been much more like someone divinely distracted and self-absorbed into whose ear
the clock has just pealed the twelve strokes of noon with all its force and who all at
once wakes up and asks himself "What exactly did that clock strike?"—so we rub
ourselves behind the ears afterwards and ask, totally surprised and embarrassed "What
have we really just experienced? And more: "Who are we really?" Then, as I've
mentioned, we count—after the fact—all the twelve trembling strokes of the clock of
our experience, our lives, our being—alas! in the process we keep losing the count. So
we remain necessarily strangers to ourselves, we do not understand ourselves, we
have to keep ourselves confused. For us this law holds for all eternity: "Each man is
furthest from himself." Where we ourselves are concerned, we are not
Friedrich Nietzsche (On the Genealogy of Morals / Ecce Homo)
By now I was feeling the shame but also defiance. Like here, I'm carrying the banner for all of you who cut off a little piece of cake wanting a big one, who spend a good third of your waking hours feeling bad about your desires, who infect those with whom you work and live with your judgements and pronouncements, you on the program who tally points all day long, every day, let's see, 7 for breakfast, I'm going to need only 3 or 4 for lunch, what the hell can I have for so little, oh, I know, broth and a salad with very little dressing. And broth is good! Yes! So chickeny! That's what we tell ourselves, we who cannot eat air without gaining, we who eat the asparagus longing for the potatoes au gratin, for the fettucine Alfredo, for the pecan pie. And if you're one of those who doesn't, stop right here, you are not invited to the rest of this story.
Elizabeth Berg (The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation)
Well, I guess that answers my question." The deep velvet voice startles me.
I jump, grab my pillow like I'm going to use it as a weapon.
Will stands in the doorway, sipping from a metallic travel mug. His gray T-shirt stretches across his shoulders and chest in a way that makes my throat close up.
"What question?" I ask, breathless.
"Whether you're as beautiful in the morning as you are during the rest of the day."
"Oh," I say dumbly, pushing the tangle of hair back off my shoulders, certain I don't look good right now, just rolling out of bed. Not that I take pains with my appearance on the average day, but still...who looks their best fresh out of bed? "You're here again," I murmur.
"Can't stay away?"
I'm okay with that. Great, in fact.
"I made you breakfast," he adds.
"You can cook?" I'm impressed.
He grins. "I live in a bachelor household, remember? My mom died when I was a kid. I hardly remember her. I kind of had to learn to cook."
"Oh," I murmur, then sit up straighter. "Wait a minute. How'd you get in here?"
"Opened the front door." He takes another sip from his mug and looks at me like I'm in trouble. "Your mom really should lock the door when she leaves."
I arch a brow. "Would that have kept you out?"
He smiles a little. "You know me well.
Sophie Jordan (Firelight (Firelight, #1))
To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—
Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
William Cullen Bryant (Thanatopsis)
The month is dumb.
It is fraudulent.
It does not cleanse itself.
The hens lay blood-stained eggs.
Do not lend your bread to anyone
lest it nevermore rise.
Do not eat lentils or your hair will fall out.
Do not rely on February
except when your cat has kittens,
throbbing into the snow.
Do not use knives and forks
unless there is a thaw,
like the yawn of a baby.
The sun in this month
begets a headache
like an angel slapping you in the face.
Earthquakes mean March.
The dragon will move,
and the earth will open like a wound.
There will be great rain or snow
so save some coal for your uncle.
The sun of this month cures all.
Therefore, old women say:
Let the sun of March shine on my daughter,
but let the sun of February shine on my daughter-in-law.
However, if you go to a party
dressed as the anti-Christ
you will be frozen to death by morning.
During the rainstorms of April
the oyster rises from the sea
and opens its shell —
rain enters it —
when it sinks the raindrops
become the pearl.
So take a picnic,
open your body,
and give birth to pearls.
June and July?
These are the months
we call Boiling Water.
There is sweat on the cat but the grape
marries herself to the sun.
Hesitate in August.
Let your toes tremble in their sandals.
However, pick the grape
and eat with confidence.
The grape is the blood of God.
Watch out when holding a knife
or you will behead St. John the Baptist.
Touch the Cross in September,
knock on it three times
and say aloud the name of the Lord.
Put seven bowls of salt on the roof overnight and the next morning the damp one will foretell the month of rain.
Do not faint in September
or you will wake up in a dead city.
If someone dies in October
do not sweep the house for three days
or the rest of you will go.
Also do not step on a boy's head
for the devil will enter your ears
whether you have hair or not.
Hair is not good,
nothing is allowed to grow,
all is allowed to die.
Because nothing grows
you may be tempted to count the stars
in November counting the stars
gives you boils.
Beware of tall people,
they will go mad.
Don't harm the turtle dove
because he is a great shoe
that has swallowed Christ's blood.
On December fourth
water spurts out of the mouse.
Put herbs in its eyes and boil corn
and put the corn away for the night
so that the Lord may trample on it
and bring you luck.
For many days the Lord has been
shut up in the oven.
After that He is boiled,
but He never dies, never dies.
I would give you a crown if I could,” he said. “I would show you the world from the prow of a ship. I would choose you, Zoya. As my general, as my friend, as my bride. I would give you a sapphire the size of an acorn.” He reached into his pocket. “And all I would ask in return is that you wear this damnable ribbon in your hair on our wedding day.”
She reached out, her fingers hovering over the coil of blue velvet ribbon resting in his palm. Then she pulled back her hand, cradling her fingers as if they’d been singed.
“You will wed a Taban sister who craves a crown,” she said. “Or a wealthy Kerch girl, or maybe a Fjerdan royal. You will have heirs and a future. I’m not the queen Ravka needs.”
“And if you’re the queen I want?”
She shut her eyes. “There’s a story my aunt told me a very long time ago. I can’t remember all of it, but I remember the way she described the hero: ‘He had a golden spirit.’ I loved those words. I made her read them again and again. When I was a little girl, I thought I had a golden spirit too, that it would light everything it touched, that it would make me beloved like a hero in a story.” She sat up, drew her knees in, wrapped her arms around them as if she could make a shelter of her own body. He wanted to pull her back down beside him and press his mouth to hers. He wanted her to look at him again with possibility in her eyes. “But that’s not who I am. Whatever is inside me is sharp and gray as the thorn wood.” She rose and dusted off her kefta. “I wasn’t born to be a bride. I was made to be a weapon.”
Nikolai forced himself to smile. It wasn’t as if he’d offered her a real proposal. They both knew such a thing was impossible. And yet her refusal smarted just as badly as if he’d gotten on his knee and offered her his hand like some kind of besotted fool. It stung. All Saints, it stung.
“Well,” he said cheerfully, pushing up onto his elbows and looking up at her with all the wry humor he could muster. “Weapons are good to have around too. Far more useful than brides and less likely to mope about the palace. But if you won’t rule Ravka by my side, what does the future hold, General?”
Zoya opened the door to the cargo hold. Light flooded in, gilding her features when she looked back at him. “I’ll fight on beside you. As your general. As your friend. Because whatever my failings, I know this: You are the king Ravka needs.
Leigh Bardugo (Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2))
Look around you, Ethan." I said. "The end of the world. Is this the reward you want? Do you really want everything destroyed - the good with the bad? Everything?" "There is no throne to Nemesis, " Ethan muttered. "No throne to my mother." "You said your mom is the goddess of balance," I reminded him. "The minor gods deserve better, Ethan, but total destruction isn't balance. Kronos doesn't build. He only destroys." Ethan looked at the sizzling throne of Hephaestus. Grover's music kept playing, and Ethan swayed to it, as if the song was filling him with nostalgia - a wish to see a beautiful day, to be anywhere but here. His good eye blinked. Then he charged...but not at me. While Kronos was still on his knees, Ethan brought his sword down on the Titan lord's neck. It should have killed him instantly, but the blade shattered. Ethan fell back, grasping his stomach. A shard of his own blade had ricocheted and pierced his armor. Kronos rose unsteadily, towering over his servant. "Treason," he snarled. Grover's music kept playing, and grass grew around Ethan's body. Ethan stared at me, his face tight with pain. "Deserve better, " he gasped. "If they just...had thrones-" Kronos stomped his foot, and the floor ruptured around Ethan Nakamura. The son of Nemesis fell through a fissure that went straight through the heart of the mountain - straight into open air. "So much for him." Kronos picked up his sword. "And now for the rest of you.
Rick Riordan (The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5))
And well may God with the serving-folk
Cast in His dreadful lot;
Is not He too a servant,
And is not He forgot?
For was not God my gardener
And silent like a slave;
That opened oaks on the uplands
Or thicket in graveyard gave?
And was not God my armourer,
All patient and unpaid,
That sealed my skull as a helmet,
And ribs for hauberk made?
Did not a great grey servant
Of all my sires and me,
Build this pavilion of the pines,
And herd the fowls and fill the vines,
And labour and pass and leave no signs
Save mercy and mystery?
For God is a great servant,
And rose before the day,
From some primordial slumber torn;
But all we living later born
Sleep on, and rise after the morn,
And the Lord has gone away.
On things half sprung from sleeping,
All sleeping suns have shone,
They stretch stiff arms, the yawning trees,
The beasts blink upon hands and knees,
Man is awake and does and sees-
But Heaven has done and gone.
For who shall guess the good riddle
Or speak of the Holiest,
Save in faint figures and failing words,
Who loves, yet laughs among the swords,
Labours, and is at rest?
But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, laboring, lifts the world.
G.K. Chesterton (The Ballad of the White Horse)
You’re going to declare a rest period?’ asked Jerott. Leisure, with Gabriel there, seemed too good to be true.
‘Rumour being what it is, I imagine it will have declared itself by now,’ Lymond said. ‘Yes. We shall take three days from our labours to relax. Provided Sir Graham understands that by midday tomorrow St Mary’s will be empty and all the men at arms and half the officers whoring in Peebles.’ In the half-dark you could guess at Gabriel’s smile.
‘Do you think I don’t know human nature?’ he said. ‘They are bound by no vows. But as they learn to respect you, they will do as you do.’
‘That’s what we’re all afraid of,’ said Jerott; and there was a ripple of laughter and a flash of amusement, he saw, from Lymond himself.
Dorothy Dunnett (The Disorderly Knights (The Lymond Chronicles, #3))
Familiar words chanted through his mind, demanding he speak them. He tried to bite his tongue. Now was hardly the time, and she'd likely laugh. Once spoken, the words would bind him to her for the rest of his life, even if she refused him, which was likely. And once she did, he could never touch another... not that he'd want to, since he hadn't almost from the moment he clapped eyes on her. Unless... what if she spoke the Binding?
Whatever she decided, the Mating Call was forever.
Despite that, he could not stop. "Become a part of me, as I become a part of you. And ever after—"
"Oh my God." She gasped. "Ice, I—"
"I promise myself to thee."
Sabelle might not want him to finish this Call, and saying it might doom him, but the taste of her still rolled around on his tongue like ambrosia. Instinct reeled, roared. No way would she stop him from trying to stake his claim and make her his.
"Ice," she implored. "My brother—"
"Is not involved here." He felt his eyes burning into her. "This is between you and me."
"But... I—I don't... He won't approve."
Bram wouldn't. That went without question. And right now, he could give a shit. But he noticed that she hadn't said she didn't want him. "What do you want? Because I know I want you, princess. Any and every way you'll let me have you."
God, her lips were right beneath his, and he needed another taste of her so badly, every cell in his body craved it. Damning caution, he layered his mouth over hers again. She was like sinking into sugar, sweet, light, tempting... addictive. He nibbled at her lips, then prowled deeper, engaging her tongue. Then deeper still, consuming as much of her as he could with a single taste. Again, the urge to claim, to mate, scraped down his instincts, clear, loud, strong. He lifted his mouth, panting over her lips. "Each day we share, I shall be honest, good and true. If this you seek, heed my call. From—"
"Stop!" She grabbed him by the sleeves of his robe. "Ice, think. If you say the rest, it's done. Even if I refuse, as long as I live, you'll be bound to me."
"I want nothing else." He stared deep into her eyes, as a feeling of rightness, inevitability settled into his gut. "From this moment on, there is no other for me but you.
Shayla Black (Possess Me at Midnight (Doomsday Brethren, #3))
Can I ask a stupid question?"
"Sure. Ask away."
"It's sort of more than one question. But... Look, um... Why do we hurt? Why do we die? Why isn't life good all the time? Why isn't it fair?"
"Those aren't stupid questions, Hazel. For some people they're the only questions that matter."
"Does that mean you won't answer them?"
"Sure, I'll answer. But it's kind of a big subject, and it's got lots of answers, and the answers don't really mean anything-- They aren't stupid questions but they could just as well be 'When is purple?' or 'Why does Thursday?', if you see what I mean..."
"Well, I think some of it is probably contrasts. Light and Shadow. If you never had the bad times, how would you know you had the good times? But some of it is just: If you're going to be Human, then there are a whole load of things that come with it. Eyes, a Heart, Days and Life.
It's the moments that illuminate it, though. The times you don't see when you're having them... They make the rest of it matter.
Neil Gaiman (Death: The Time of Your Life)
I see Barsad, and Cly, Defarge, The Vengeance, the Juryman, the Judge, long ranks of the new oppressors who have risen on the destruction of the old, perishing by this retributive instrument, before it shall cease out of its present use. I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evils of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more. I see Her with a child upon her bosom, who bears my name. I see her father, aged and bent, but otherwise restored, and faithful to all men in his healing office, and at peace. I see the good old man, so long their friend, in ten years’ time enriching them with all he has, and passing tranquilly to his reward. I see that I hold sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. I see her, an old woman, weeping for me on the anniversary of this day. I see her and her husband, their course done, lying side by side in their last earthly bed, and I know that each was not more honoured and held sacred in the other’s soul, than I was in the souls of both. I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by light of his. I see the blots I threw upon it, faded away. I see him, foremost of just judges and honoured men, bringing a boy of my name, with a forehead that I know and golden hair, to this place – then fair to look upon, with not a trace of this day’s disfigurement – and I hear him tell the child my story, with a tender and faltering voice. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
Todd: These are my friends
See how they glisten
See this one shine
How he smiles
In the light
My faithful friend!
Speak to me, friend
Whisper, I'll listen
I know, I know
You've been locked
Out of sight
All these years!
Like me, my friend!
Well, I've come home
To find you waiting
And we're together
And we'll do wonders
You there, my friend
Mrs. Lovett: I'm your friend too, Mr. Todd
Todd: Come, let me hold you
Mrs. Lovett: If you only knew, Mr. Todd
Todd: Now, with a sigh
Mrs. Lovett: Ooh, Mr. Todd!
Todd: You grow warm in my hand
Mrs. Lovett: You're warm in my hand
Todd: My friend!
Mrs. Lovett: You've come home!
Todd: My clever friend!
Mrs. Lovett: Always had a fondness for you, I did
Todd: Rest now, my friend
Mrs. Lovett: Never you fear, Mr. Todd
Todd: Soon I'll unfold you
Mrs. Lovett: You can move in here, Mr. Todd
Todd: Soon you'll know
Todd and Mrs. Lovett: Splendours you'd never have dreamed all your days
Mrs. Lovett: Will be yours!
Todd: My lucky friend!
Mrs. Lovett: I'm your friend! And you're mine!
Todd: Till now your shine
Mrs. Lovett: Don't they shine beautiful?
Todd: Was merely silver!
Mrs. Lovett: Silver's good enough for me, Mr. T
You shall drip rubies
You'll soon drip precious
At last, my arm is complete again!
Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
More truth: I have an infatuation problem. It’s not just Beardsley. It’s all of them. I’ve felt this for a hundred other men—the rush of the encounter, the way my stomach heats and bubbles, the adrenaline, the urge to run five miles and move my bowels and puke at the same time. It’s a frenzy for the story and what it could be. The ability to escape from my life, the chance at a grand renovation of self within another person. It’s the sense of possibility, so good it feels like it will salvage everything. How hard it is to beat the dream. How it traps you. It’s embarrassing. It’s lonely. It’s unsatisfying. It’s impossible. At day’s end, I just want a life where I’m laughing and eating and coming all the time. I could do this for the rest of my life—this rise and fall, defined increasingly by what I cannot have.
Kayla Rae Whitaker (The Animators)
Gustavo Tiberius speaking."
“It’s so weird you do that, man,” Casey said, sounding amused. “Every time I call.”
“It’s polite,” Gus said. “Just because you kids these days don’t have proper phone etiquette.”
“Oh boy, there’s the Grumpy Gus I know. You miss me?”
Gus was well aware the others could hear the conversation loud and clear. He was also aware he had a reputation to maintain. “Hadn’t really thought about it.”
“I miss you.”
“I miss you too,” Gus mumbled into the phone, blushing fiercely.
“Yeah? How much?”
Gus was in hell. “A lot,” he said truthfully. “There have been allegations made against my person of pining and moping. False allegations, mind you, but allegations nonetheless.”
“I know what you mean,” Casey said. “The guys were saying the same thing about me.”
Gus smiled. “How embarrassing for you.”
“Completely. You have no idea.”
“They’re going to get you packed up this week?”
“Ah, yeah. Sure. Something like that.”
“You’re being cagey.”
“I have no idea what you mean. Hey, that’s a nice Hawaiian shirt you’ve got on. Pink? I don’t think I’ve seen you in that color before.”
Gus shrugged. “Pastor Tommy had a shitload of them. I think I could wear one every day for the rest of the year and not repeat. I think he may have had a bit of a….” Gus trailed off when his hand started shaking. Then, “How did you know what I was wearing?”
There was a knock on the window to the Emporium. Gus looked up.
Standing on the sidewalk was Casey. He was wearing bright green skinny jeans and a white and red shirt that proclaimed him to be a member of the 1987 Pasadena Bulldogs Women’s Softball team. He looked ridiculous. And like the greatest thing Gus had ever seen.
Casey wiggled his eyebrows at Gus. “Hey, man.”
“Hi,” Gus croaked.
“Come over here, but stay on the phone, okay?”
Gus didn’t even argue, unable to take his eyes off Casey. He hadn’t expected him for another week, but here he was on a pretty Saturday afternoon, standing outside the Emporium like it was no big deal.
Gus went to the window, and Casey smiled that lazy smile.
He said, “Hi.”
Gus said, “Hi.”
“So, I’ve spent the last two days driving back,” Casey said. “Tried to make it a surprise, you know?”
“I’m very surprised,” Gus managed to say, about ten seconds away from busting through the glass just so he could hug Casey close.
The smile widened. “Good. I’ve had some time to think about things, man. About a lot of things. And I came to this realization as I drove past Weed, California. Gus. It was called Weed, California. It was a sign.”
Gus didn’t even try to stop the eye roll. “Oh my god.”
“Right? Kismet. Because right when I entered Weed, California, I was thinking about you and it hit me. Gus, it hit me.”
Casey put his hand up against the glass. Gus did the same on his side. “Hey, Gus?”
“I’m going to ask you a question, okay?”
Gustavo’s throat felt very dry. “Okay.”
“What was the Oscar winner for Best Song in 1984?”
Automatically, Gus answered, “Stevie Wonder for the movie The Woman in Red. The song was ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You.’” It was fine, of course. Because he knew answers to all those things. He didn’t know why Casey wanted to—
And then he could barely breathe.
Casey’s smile wobbled a little bit. “Okay?”
Gus blinked the burn away. He nodded as best he could.
And Casey said, “Yeah, man. I love you too.”
Gus didn’t even care that he dropped his phone then. All that mattered was getting as close to Casey as humanely possible. He threw open the door to the Emporium and suddenly found himself with an armful of hipster. Casey laughed wetly into his neck and Gus just held on as hard as he could. He thought that it was possible that he might never be in a position to let go. For some reason, that didn’t bother him in the slightest.
T.J. Klune (How to Be a Normal Person (How to Be, #1))
When we are in a vulnerable state of emotional dysregulation, it often doesn’t take much to push us over the edge of feeling completely incapacitated by overwhelm. On days when our emotions are heightened and intense, if we take care to just do what is necessary, this is part of good self-care. We reaffirm that we need rest and to slow down. We challenge thoughts that we have to be a superman or superwoman day in and day out with no break. When we take the time to slow down and allow ourselves some downtime and rest, we can prevent further vulnerability
Debbie Corso (Stop Sabotaging: A 31 Day DBT Challenge to Change Your Life)
Maddox. I have grown up my entire life being put down. Hearing that I'm not good enough and that I'm nothing. After twenty years of hearing those words you start to believe them. That all changed the day I met you. I never thought I would be the lucky girl who you would fall in love with. I never even believed that this type of love would happen for me. Or that it even existed. The bonus is that it's with you.
You have shown me that I am worth it, that it's okay to just be me. And for that I can't thank you enough. You have opened my heart and my mind to new possibilities and I will spend the rest of my life being eternally grateful to you. It has taken us a while to get to where we are today, but I wouldn't change anything because it's our story; our beautiful story. And it all started with an idea; a beautiful idea. I love you Maddox Mitchell.
Emily McKee (A Beautiful Idea (Beautiful, #1))
Do other dads not end their phone calls with existential despair? Because that's what my dad does. Papa ends most of his calls with me the way you might close a conversation with someone you want to menace. "Anyway," he'll say, "I'll be here. Staring into the abyss." Or, when I have given him good news, "The talented will rule and the rest will perish in the sea of mediocrity." Or, when I have given him bad news, "I am for for everything that happens to you, as everything is my fault." He never ends with anything that couldn't one day be construed as a tragic yet comic last word.
He braced his elbows on the desk,his brow on his fists. "She came shrieking across the court.I'd just hit a line drive,barely missed beaning her. Cameras rolling, and there I am trying to look my sixth-generational-hotelier best, the athletic yet intelligent, the world-traveled yet dedicated, the dashing yet concerned heir to the Templeton name."
"You'd be good at that," Margo murmured, hoping to placate him. He didn't even look at her.
"Suddenly I've got my arms full of this half-naked, spitting, swearing, clawing mass who's screaming that my sister, her lesbian companion, and my whore attacked her." He pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping to relieve some pressure. "I figured out right away who my sister was. Though I didn't appreciate the term,I deduced you must be my whore.The lesbian companion might have stumped me,but for process of elimination." He lifted his head. "I was tempted to belt her,but I was too busy trying to keep her from ripping off my face."
"It's such a nice face too." Hoping to soothe, she walked around the desk and sat on his lap. "I'm sorry she took it out on you."
"She sratched me." He turned his head to show her the trio of angry welts on the side of his throat. Dutifully, Margo kissed them. "What am I going to do with you?" he asked wearily and rested his cheek on her head. Then he chuckled. "How the hell did you stuff her into one of those skinny lockers?"
"It wasn't easy but it was fun."
He narrowed his eyes. "You're not going to do it again,no matter what the provocation-unless you sedate her first."
"Deal." Since the crisis seemed to have passed, she slipped a hand under his shirt, stroked it over his chest, watched his brow lift. "I've been waxed and polished.If you're interested."
"Well,just so the day isn't a complete loss." He picked her up and carried her to the bed.
Nora Roberts (Daring to Dream (Dream Trilogy, #1))
People who go through a heavy experience like that are changed men, like it or not,” he said. “They change for the better and they change for the worse. On the good side, they become unshakable. Next to that half year, the rest of the suffering I’ve experienced doesn’t even count. I can put up with almost anything. And I also am a lot more sensitive to the pain of people around me. That’s on the plus side. It made me capable of making some real friends. But there’s also the minus side. I mean, it’s impossible, in my own mind, to believe in people. I don’t hate people, and I haven’t lost my faith in humanity. I’ve got a wife and kids. We’ve made a home and we protect each other.
Those things you can’t do without trust. It’s just that, sure, we’re living a good life right now, but if something were to happen, if something really were to come along and yank up everything by the roots, even surrounded by a happy family and good friends, I don’t know what I’d do. What would happen if one day, for no reason, no one believes a word you say? It happens, you know.
Suddenly, one day, out of the blue. I’m always thinking about it. Last time, it was only six months, but the next time? No one can say; there’s no guarantee. I don’t have confidence in how long I can hold out the next time. When I think of these things, I really get shaken up. I’ll dream about it and wake up in the middle of the night. It happens a little too often, in fact. And when it happens, I wake my wife up and I hold on to her and cry.
Sometimes for a whole hour, I’m so scared.
Haruki Murakami (The Elephant Vanishes)
It puzzled him that she did not mourn all the things she could have been. Was it a quality inherent in women, or did they just learn to shield their personal regrets, to suspend their lives, subsume themselves in child care? She browsed online forums about tutoring and music and schools, and she told him what she had discovered as though she truly felt the rest of the world should be as interested as she was in how music improved the mathematics skills of nine-year-olds. Or she would spend hours on the phone talking to her friends, about which violin teacher was good and which tutorial was a waste of money. One day, after
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah)
It is for you to read and say yes, I can be better, and I will. I wrote, Uncaged Wallflower for those who feel trapped in the thoughts their minds produce, unable to express them with the rest of the world out of fear of critique or disagreement. For the people whom need an extra dose of positivity in their day. I am at a place in my life where I finally have a good grasp on who I am and what I want to continue to be. Living a life of positivity and happiness with kindness and following my passions being my first priorities. The changes I have made didn’t come from the things people said about me, it came from discovering the change I needed out of my own desire. From that I have begun following my passions and didn’t just call my dreams, hobbies. So please, don’t ever feel like your opinion isn’t important. Don’t let other people dictate your bliss. You’re life is in your control. Never stop being a dreamer. With love, Jennae
Jennae Cecelia (Uncaged Wallflower)
Is it true?” I ask him.
“Is what true?” His eyes are the color of honey. These are the eyes I remember from my dreams.
“That you still love me,” I say, breathless. “I need to know.”
Alex nods. He reaches out and touches my face—barely skimming my cheekbone and brushing away a bit of my hair. “It’s true.”
“But . . . I’ve changed,” I say. “And you’ve changed.”
“That’s true too,” he says quietly. I look at the scar on his face, stretching from his left eye to his jawline, and something hitches in my chest.
“So what now?” I ask him. The light is too bright; the day feels as though it’s merging into dream.
“Do you love me?” Alex asks. And I could cry; I could press my face into his chest and breathe in, and pretend that nothing has changed, that everything will be perfect and whole and healed again.
But I can’t. I know I can’t.
“I never stopped.” I look away from him. I look at Grace, and the high grass littered with the wounded and the dead. I think of Julian, and his clear blue eyes, his patience and goodness. I think of all the fighting we’ve done, and all the fighting we have yet to do. I take a deep breath. “But it’s more complicated than that.”
Alex reaches out and places his hands on my shoulders. “I’m not going to run away again,” he says.
“I don’t want you to,” I tell him.
His fingers find my cheek, and I rest for a second against his palm, letting the pain of the past few months flow out of me, letting him turn my head toward his. Then he bends down and kisses me: light and perfect, his lips just barely meeting mine, a kiss that promises renewal.
Lauren Oliver (Requiem (Delirium, #3))
Evie awoke to the cheerful glow of a tiny flame. A candle sat on the bedside table. Someone was sitting on the edge of the bed…Lillian…looking rumpled and tired, with her hair tied at the nape of her neck.
Slowly Evie sat up, rubbing her eyes. “Is it evening?” she croaked. “I must have slept all afternoon.”
Lillian smiled wryly. “You’ve slept for a day and a half, dear. Westcliff and I have looked after St. Vincent, while Mr. Rohan has been running the club.”
Evie ran her tongue inside her pasty mouth and sat up straighter. Her heart began to thud with dread as she struggled to ask, “Sebastian…is he…”
Lillian took Evie’s chapped hand in hers and asked gently, “Which do you want first—the good news, or the bad news?”
Evie shook her head, unable to speak. She stared at her friend without blinking, her lips trembling.
“The good news,” Lillian said, “is that his fever has broken, and his wound is no longer putrid.” She grinned as she added, “The bad news is that you may have to endure being married to him for the rest of your life.”
Evie burst into tears. She put her free hand over her eyes, while her shoulders shook with sobs. She felt Lillian’s fingers wrap more firmly around hers.
“Yes,” came Lillian’s dry voice, “I’d weep too, if he were my husband—though for entirely different reasons.
Lisa Kleypas (Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3))
Most churches do not grow beyond the spiritual health of their leadership. Many churches have a pastor who is trying to lead people to a Savior he has yet to personally encounter. If spiritual gifting is no proof of authentic faith, then certainly a job title isn't either.
You must have a clear sense of calling before you enter ministry. Being a called man is a lonely job, and many times you feel like God has abandoned you in your ministry. Ministry is more than hard. Ministry is impossible. And unless we have a fire inside our bones compelling us, we simply will not survive. Pastoral ministry is a calling, not a career. It is not a job you pursue.
If you don’t think demons are real, try planting a church! You won’t get very far in advancing God’s kingdom without feeling resistance from the enemy.
If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. Once a month I get away for the day, once a quarter I try to get out for two days, and once a year I try to get away for a week. The purpose of these times is rest, relaxation, and solitude with God.
A pastor must always be fearless before his critics and fearful before his God. Let us tremble at the thought of neglecting the sheep. Remember that when Christ judges us, he will judge us with a special degree of strictness.
The only way you will endure in ministry is if you determine to do so through the prevailing power of the Holy Spirit. The unsexy reality of the pastorate is that it involves hard work—the heavy-lifting, curse-ridden, unyielding employment of your whole person for the sake of the church. Pastoral ministry requires dogged, unyielding determination, and determination can only come from one source—God himself.
Passive staff members must be motivated. Erring elders and deacons must be confronted. Divisive church members must be rebuked. Nobody enjoys doing such things (if you do, you should be not be a pastor!), but they are necessary in order to have a healthy church over the long haul. If you allow passivity, laziness, and sin to fester, you will soon despise the church you pastor.
From the beginning of sacred Scripture (Gen. 2:17) to the end (Rev. 21:8), the penalty for sin is death. Therefore, if we sin, we should die. But it is Jesus, the sinless one, who dies in our place for our sins. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus died to take to himself the penalty of our sin.
The Bible is not Christ-centered because it is generally about Jesus. It is Christ-centered because the Bible’s primary purpose, from beginning to end, is to point us toward the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for the salvation and sanctification of sinners.
Christ-centered preaching goes much further than merely providing suggestions for how to live; it points us to the very source of life and wisdom and explains how and why we have access to him. Felt needs are set into the context of the gospel, so that the Christian message is not reduced to making us feel better about ourselves.
If you do not know how sinful you are, you feel no need of salvation. Sin-exposing preaching helps people come face-to-face with their sin and their great need for a Savior.
We can worship in heaven, and we can talk to God in heaven, and we can read our Bibles in heaven, but we can’t share the gospel with our lost friends in heaven.
“Would your city weep if your church did not exist?”
It was crystal-clear for me. Somehow, through fear or insecurity, I had let my dreams for our church shrink. I had stopped thinking about the limitless things God could do and had been distracted by my own limitations. I prayed right there that God would forgive me of my small-mindedness. I asked God to forgive my lack of faith that God could use a man like me to bring the message of the gospel through our missionary church to our lost city. I begged God to renew my heart and mind with a vision for our city that was more like Christ's.
Darrin Patrick (Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission)
Security ... what does this word mean in relation to life as we know it today? For the most part, it means safety and freedom from worry. It is said to be the end that all men strive for; but is security a utopian goal or is it another word for rut?
Let us visualize the secure man; and by this term, I mean a man who has settled for financial and personal security for his goal in life. In general, he is a man who has pushed ambition and initiative aside and settled down, so to speak, in a boring, but safe and comfortable rut for the rest of his life. His future is but an extension of his present, and he accepts it as such with a complacent shrug of his shoulders. His ideas and ideals are those of society in general and he is accepted as a respectable, but average and prosaic man. But is he a man? has he any self-respect or pride in himself? How could he, when he has risked nothing and gained nothing? What does he think when he sees his youthful dreams of adventure, accomplishment, travel and romance buried under the cloak of conformity? How does he feel when he realizes that he has barely tasted the meal of life; when he sees the prison he has made for himself in pursuit of the almighty dollar? If he thinks this is all well and good, fine, but think of the tragedy of a man who has sacrificed his freedom on the altar of security, and wishes he could turn back the hands of time. A man is to be pitied who lacked the courage to accept the challenge of freedom and depart from the cushion of security and see life as it is instead of living it second-hand. Life has by-passed this man and he has watched from a secure place, afraid to seek anything better What has he done except to sit and wait for the tomorrow which never comes?
Turn back the pages of history and see the men who have shaped the destiny of the world. Security was never theirs, but they lived rather than existed. Where would the world be if all men had sought security and not taken risks or gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer? It is from the bystanders (who are in the vast majority) that we receive the propaganda that life is not worth living, that life is drudgery, that the ambitions of youth must he laid aside for a life which is but a painful wait for death. These are the ones who squeeze what excitement they can from life out of the imaginations and experiences of others through books and movies. These are the insignificant and forgotten men who preach conformity because it is all they know. These are the men who dream at night of what could have been, but who wake at dawn to take their places at the now-familiar rut and to merely exist through another day. For them, the romance of life is long dead and they are forced to go through the years on a treadmill, cursing their existence, yet afraid to die because of the unknown which faces them after death. They lacked the only true courage: the kind which enables men to face the unknown regardless of the consequences.
As an afterthought, it seems hardly proper to write of life without once mentioning happiness; so we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?
Hunter S. Thompson
All human affairs rest upon probabilities, and the same thing is true everywhere. If man were immortal, he could be perfectly sure of seeing the day when everything in which he had trusted should betray his trust, and, in short, of coming eventually to hopeless misery. He would break down, at last, as every good fortune, as every dynasty, as every civilization does. In place of this we have death. But what, without death, would happen to every man, with death must happen to some man . . . It seems to me that we are driven to this, that logicality inexorably requires that our interests shall not be limited. They must not stop at our own fate, but must embrace the whole community.
Charles Sanders Peirce (Philosophical Writings of Peirce)
Fire, fire! The branches crackle and the night wind of late autumn blows the flame of the bonfire back and forth. The compound is dark; I am alone at the bonfire, and I can bring it still some more carpenters' shavings. The compound here is a privileged one, so privileged that it is almost as if I were out in freedom -- this is an island of paradise; this is the Marfino "sharashka" -- a scientific institute staffed with prisoners -- in its most privileged period. No one is overseeing me, calling me to a cell, chasing me away from the bonfire, and even then it is chilly in the penetrating wind.
But she -- who has already been standing in the wind for hours, her arms straight down, her head drooping, weeping, then growing numb and still. And then again she begs piteously "Citizen Chief! Please forgive me! I won't do it again."
The wind carries her moan to me, just as if she were moaning next to my ear. The citizen chief at the gatehouse fires up his stove and does not answer.
This was the gatehouse of the camp next door to us, from which workers came into our compound to lay water pipes and to repair the old ramshackle seminary building.
Across from me, beyond the artfully intertwined, many-stranded barbed-wire barricade and two steps away from the gatehouse, beneath a bright lantern, stood the punished girl, head hanging, the wind tugging at her grey work skirt, her feet growing numb from the cold, a thin scarf over her head.
It had been warm during the day, when they had been digging a ditch on our territory. And another girl, slipping down into a ravine, had crawled her way to the Vladykino Highway and escaped.
The guard had bungled. And Moscow city buses ran right along the highway. When they caught on, it was too late to catch her. They raised the alarm.
A mean, dark major arrived and shouted that if they failed to catch the girl, the entire camp would be deprived of visits and parcels for whole month, because of her escape.
And the women brigadiers went into a rage, and they were all shouting, one of them in particular, who kept viciously rolling her eyes: "Oh, I hope they catch her, the bitch! I hope they take scissors and -- clip, clip, clip -- take off all her hair in front of the line-up!"
But the girl who was now standing outside the gatehouse in the cold had sighed and said instead: "At least she can have a good time out in freedom for all of us!"
The jailer had overheard what she said, and now she was being punished; everyone else had been taken off to the camp, but she had been set outside there to stand "at attention" in front of the gatehouse. This had been at 6 PM, and it was now 11 PM.
She tried to shift from one foot to another, but the guard stuck out his head and shouted: "Stand at attention, whore, or else it will be worse for you!" And now she was not moving, only weeping: "Forgive me, Citizen Chief! Let me into the camp, I won't do it any more!"
But even in the camp no one was about to say to her: "All right, idiot! Come on it!" The reason they were keeping her out there so long was that the next day was Sunday, and she would not be needed for work.
Such a straw-blond, naive, uneducated slip of a girl! She had been imprisoned for some spool of thread. What a dangerous thought you expressed there, little sister! They want to teach you a lesson for the rest of your life!
Fire, fire! We fought the war -- and we looked into the bonfires to see what kind of victory it would be. The wind wafted a glowing husk from the bonfire. To that flame and to you, girl, I promise: the whole wide world will read about you.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a-half minutes per mile]. So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it. ” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.” So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,”—and we’re still running—“if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, ‘“Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.
Bruce Lee (Bruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human Body (Bruce Lee Library))
So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people?
Because, once we have overcome the defeats – and we always do – we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives.
When I fall asleep, and even during sleep,
I hear, quite distinctly, voices speaking
Whole phrases, commonplace and trivial,
Having no relation to my affairs.
Dear Mother, is any time left to us
In which to be happy? My debts are immense.
My bank account is subject to the court’s judgment.
I know nothing. I cannot know anything.
I have lost the ability to make an effort.
But now as before my love for you increases.
You are always armed to stone me, always:
It is true. It dates from childhood.
For the first time in my long life
I am almost happy. The book, almost finished,
Almost seems good. It will endure, a monument
To my obsessions, my hatred, my disgust.
Debts and inquietude persist and weaken me.
Satan glides before me, saying sweetly:
“Rest for a day! You can rest and play today.
Tonight you will work.” When night comes,
My mind, terrified by the arrears,
Bored by sadness, paralyzed by impotence,
Promises: “Tomorrow: I will tomorrow.”
Tomorrow the same comedy enacts itself
With the same resolution, the same weakness.
I am sick of this life of furnished rooms.
I am sick of having colds and headaches:
You know my strange life. Every day brings
Its quota of wrath. You little know
A poet’s life, dear Mother: I must write poems,
The most fatiguing of occupations.
I am sad this morning. Do not reproach me.
I write from a café near the post office,
Amid the click of billiard balls, the clatter of dishes,
The pounding of my heart. I have been asked to write
“A History of Caricature.” I have been asked to write
“A History of Sculpture.” Shall I write a history
Of the caricatures of the sculptures of you in my heart?
Although it costs you countless agony,
Although you cannot believe it necessary,
And doubt that the sum is accurate,
Please send me money enough for at least three weeks.
There was nothing the matter out there. It was in here, with me.
I decided I'd better go to work, maybe that would exorcise me. I fled from the room almost as though it were haunted. It was too late to stop off at a breakfast counter now. I didn't want any, anyway. My stomach kept giving little quivers. In the end I didn't go to work, either. I couldn't, I wouldn't have been any good. I telephoned in that I was too ill to come, and it was no idle excuse, even though I was upright on my two legs.
I roamed around the rest of the day in the sunshine. Wherever the sunshine was the brightest, I sought and stayed in that place, and when it moved on I moved with it. I couldn't get it bright enough or strong enough. I avoided the shade, I edged away from it, even the slight shade of an awning or of a tree.
And yet the sunshine didn't warm me. Where others mopped their brows and moved out of it, I stayed - and remained cold inside. And the shade was winning the battle as the hours lengthened. It outlasted the sun. The sun weakened and died; the shade deepened and spread. Night was coming on, the time of dreams, the enemy. ("Nightmare")
Cornell Woolrich (Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Mystery Novels)
Perhaps someone may say 'But surely, Socrates, after you have left us you can spend the rest of your life in quietly minding your own business.' This is the hardest thing of all to make some of you understand. If I say that this would be disobedience to God, and that is why I cannot 'mind my own business', you will not believe that I am serious. If on the other hand I tell you that to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living, you will be even less inclined to believe me. Nevertheless, that is how it is, gentlemen, as I maintain; though it is not easy to convince you of it.
Socrates (Apology, Crito and Phaedo of Socrates.)
Perched upon the stones of a bridge
The soldiers had the eyes of ravens
Their weapons hung black as talons
Their eyes gloried in the smoke of murder
To the shock of iron-heeled sticks
I drew closer in the cripple’s bitter patience
And before them I finally tottered
Grasping to capture my elusive breath
With the cockerel and swift of their knowing
They watched and waited for me
‘I have come,’ said I, ‘from this road’s birth,
I have come,’ said I, ‘seeking the best in us.’
The sergeant among them had red in his beard
Glistening wet as he showed his teeth
‘There are few roads on this earth,’ said he,
‘that will lead you to the best in us, old one.’
‘But you have seen all the tracks of men,’ said I
‘And where the mothers and children have fled
Before your advance. Is there naught among them
That you might set an old man upon?’
The surgeon among this rook had bones
Under her vellum skin like a maker of limbs
‘Old one,’ said she, ‘I have dwelt
In the heat of chests, among heart and lungs,
And slid like a serpent between muscles,
Swum the currents of slowing blood,
And all these roads lead into the darkness
Where the broken will at last rest.
‘Dare say I,’ she went on,‘there is no
Place waiting inside where you might find
In slithering exploration of mysteries
All that you so boldly call the best in us.’
And then the man with shovel and pick,
Who could raise fort and berm in a day
Timbered of thought and measured in all things
Set the gauge of his eyes upon the sun
And said, ‘Look not in temples proud,
Or in the palaces of the rich highborn,
We have razed each in turn in our time
To melt gold from icon and shrine
And of all the treasures weeping in fire
There was naught but the smile of greed
And the thick power of possession.
Know then this: all roads before you
From the beginning of the ages past
And those now upon us, yield no clue
To the secret equations you seek,
For each was built of bone and blood
And the backs of the slave did bow
To the laboured sentence of a life
In chains of dire need and little worth.
All that we build one day echoes hollow.’
‘Where then, good soldiers, will I
Ever find all that is best in us?
If not in flesh or in temple bound
Or wretched road of cobbled stone?’
‘Could we answer you,’ said the sergeant,
‘This blood would cease its fatal flow,
And my surgeon could seal wounds with a touch,
All labours will ease before temple and road,
Could we answer you,’ said the sergeant,
‘Crows might starve in our company
And our talons we would cast in bogs
For the gods to fight over as they will.
But we have not found in all our years
The best in us, until this very day.’
‘How so?’ asked I, so lost now on the road,
And said he, ‘Upon this bridge we sat
Since the dawn’s bleak arrival,
Our perch of despond so weary and worn,
And you we watched, at first a speck
Upon the strife-painted horizon
So tortured in your tread as to soak our faces
In the wonder of your will, yet on you came
Upon two sticks so bowed in weight
Seeking, say you, the best in us
And now we have seen in your gift
The best in us, and were treasures at hand
We would set them humbly before you,
A man without feet who walked a road.’
Now, soldiers with kind words are rare
Enough, and I welcomed their regard
As I moved among them, ’cross the bridge
And onward to the long road beyond
I travel seeking the best in us
And one day it shall rise before me
To bless this journey of mine, and this road
I began upon long ago shall now end
Where waits for all the best in us.
―Avas Didion Flicker
Where Ravens Perch
Steven Erikson (The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10))
I can’t answer that question for everybody. I can answer it for me…about you,” he says, pausing. “I knew I was in love with you when I wanted you more than I wanted anything else. I don’t need you to live my life. I want you in my life to make it worth living.” He clears his throat, nodding. “It started off as a challenge. I won’t lie, Win. I wanted you because I couldn’t have you. You were like this jagged mountainside that I had to climb to get what I wanted. I never anticipated wanting to open up to you and what that would lead to. The day you trusted me enough to jump out of an airplane, I took a leap too. I decided to go all in. I’m all in, Windsor. There’s no going back from this, or pretending I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with you. I know I love you because you’re good. Your honesty is the most beautiful thing about you. You make me a better person without even trying. It’s uncomplicated because it’s innate for you. I’m just waiting for you to realize how amazing you really are and leave my sorry, fucked-up ass. I know I love you because of this,” he says putting his fisted hand over his heart—over my tattoo. “It would stop beating if you weren’t mine. I’m yours, Windsor.
The thing is,” he [Fenrin] said softly, “we’re all going to die...But the first time you realize it...how do you get over that?” ... “You don’t, I think,” I [River] said, finally. “You never get over it. The rest of your life is spent knowing it, over you shoulder.”
“Are you okay with it?”
“No. But sometimes yes. And then no, again. Sometimes it’s okay. Like now. We’re drunk. We feel good. But tomorrow...life crowds in again. And then you find another way to block out the truth, just so you can get through the day. If we let ourselves see too much truth, it scares us. You have to block it out, or you’d never get anything done. You’d just wander around being perpetually depressed or amazed...That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want to see the truth. It’s just that maybe we have to see it in stages to be able to understand it.
Laure Eve (The Graces (The Graces, #1))
It’s one of those days when the monotony of everything oppresses me like being thrown into jail. The monotony of everything is merely the monotony of myself, however. Each face, even if seen just yesterday, is different today, because today isn’t yesterday. Each day is the day it is, and there was never another one like it in the world. Only our soul makes the identification – a genuinely felt but erroneous identification – by which everything becomes similar and simplified. The world is a set of distinct things with varied edges, but if we’re near-sighted, it’s a continual and indecipherable fog.
I feel like fleeing. Like fleeing from what I know, fleeing from what’s mine, fleeing from what I love. I want to depart, not for impossible Indias or for the great islands south of everything, but for any place at all – village or wilderness – that isn’t this place. I want to stop seeing these unchanging faces, this routine, these days. I want to rest, far removed, from my inveterate feigning. I want to feel sleep come to me as life, not as rest. A cabin on the seashore or even a cave in a rocky mountainside could give me this, but my will, unfortunately, cannot.
Slavery is the law of life, and it is the only law, for it must be observed: there is no revolt possible, no way to escape it. Some are born slaves, others become slaves, and still others are forced to accept slavery. Our faint-hearted love of freedom – which, if we had it, we would all reject, unable to get used to it – is proof of how ingrained our slavery is. I myself, having just said that I’d like a cabin or a cave where I could be free from the monotony of everything, which is the monotony of me – would I dare set out for this cabin or cave, knowing from experience that the monotony, since it stems from me, will always be with me? I myself, suffocating from where I am and because I am – where would I breathe easier, if the sickness is in my lungs rather than in the things that surround me? I myself, who long for pure sunlight and open country, for the ocean in plain view and the unbroken horizon – could I get used to my new bed, the food, not having to descend eight flights of stairs to the street, not entering the tobacco shop on the corner, not saying good-morning to the barber standing outside his shop?
Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us, infiltrating our physical sensations and our feeling of life, and like spittle of the great Spider it subtly binds us to whatever is close, tucking us into a soft bed of slow death which is rocked by the wind. Everything is us, and we are everything, but what good is this, if everything is nothing?
A ray of sunlight, a cloud whose shadow tells us it is passing, a breeze that rises, the silence that follows when it ceases, one or another face, a few voices, the incidental laughter of the girls who are talking, and then night with the meaningless, fractured hieroglyphs of the stars.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
Yes: the future bridegroom, Mr. Rochester himself, exercised over his intended a ceaseless surveillance: and it was from this sagacity—this guardedness of his—this perfect clear consciousness of his fair one's defects—this obvious absence of passion in his sentiments toward her, that my ever-torturing pain arose.
I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political reasons; because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him.
If she had managed the victory at once, and he had yielded and sincerely laid his heart at her feet, I should have covered my face, turned to the wall, and (figuratively) have died to them. If Miss Ingram had been a good and noble woman, endowed with force, fervor, kindness, sense, I should have had one vital struggle with two tigers—jealousy and despair: then, my heart torn out and devoured, I should have admired her—acknowledged her excellence, and been quiet for the rest of my days: and the more absolute her superiority, the deeper would have been my admiration—the more truly tranquil my quiescence. But as matters really stood, to watch Miss Ingram's efforts at fascinating Mr. Rochester; to witness their repeated failure—herself unconscious that they did fail; vainly fancying that each shaft launched, hit the mark, and infatuatedly pluming herself on success, when her pride and self-complacency repelled further and further what she wished to allure—to witness this, was to be at once under ceaseless excitation and ruthless restraint.
Because when she failed I saw how she might have succeeded. Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester's breast and fell harmless at his feet might, I knew, if shot by a surer hand, have quivered keen in his proud heart—have called love into his stern eye and softness into his sardonic face; or, better still, without weapons a silent conquest might have been won.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
Testimony in new age writing affirms the way in which embracing a love ethic transforms life for the good. Yet a lot of this information only reaches those of us who have class privilege. And often, individuals whose lives are rich in spiritual and material well-being, who have diverse friends from all walks of life who nurture their personal integrity, tell the rest of the world these things are impossible to come by. I am talking here about the many prophets of doom who tell us that racism will never end, sexism is here to stay the rich will never share their resources. We would all be surprised if we could enter their lives for a day. Much of what they are telling us cannot be had, they have. But in keeping with a capitalist-based notion of well-being, they really believe there is not enough to go around, that the good life can only be had by a few.
bell hooks (All About Love: New Visions)
You man that tiller day and night. Won't you rest?'
Ereko lightly laughed the suggestion aside. ‘No, lad. I am so old now that sleeping and waking have melded together into one and I know not which I inhabit.'
Watching the lad struggle through that, Ereko shifted course slightly to avoid a looming ice-spire.
'Truly? So old? As old as the mountains?'
Ereko raised his brows. ‘Goodness, no. Not that old. Only half so old, I should think.
Ian C. Esslemont (Return of the Crimson Guard (Novels of the Malazan Empire, #2))
I do not feel that artists have to spend hours a day to keep their technic efficient. If that were the case one would not be in a position to participate in the other joys of life. Nor could he enrich his art. Of course, mind you I am not saying that one should not work. But definitely I say that if one has developed a firm technic, it is not necessary to slave over the instrument for the rest of his life in order to keep in good form.
To be loved by a pure young girl, to be the first to reveal to her the strange mystery of love, is indeed a great happiness, but it is the simplest thing in the world. To take captive a heart which has had no experience of attack, is to enter an unfortified and ungarrisoned city. Education, family feeling, the sense of duty, the family, are strong sentinels, but there are no sentinels so vigilant as not to be deceived by a girl of sixteen to whom nature, by the voice of the man she loves, gives the first counsels of love, all the more ardent because they seem so pure.
The more a girl believes in goodness, the more easily will she give way, if not to her lover, at least to love, for being without mistrust she is without force, and to win her love is a triumph that can be gained by any young man of five-and-twenty. See how young girls are watched and guarded! The walls of convents are not high enough, mothers have no locks strong enough, religion has no duties constant enough, to shut these charming birds in their cages, cages not even strewn with flowers. Then how surely must they desire the world which is hidden from them, how surely must they find it tempting, how surely must they listen to the first voice which comes to tell its secrets through their bars, and bless the hand which is the first to raise a corner of the mysterious veil!
But to be really loved by a courtesan: that is a victory of infinitely greater difficulty. With them the body has worn out the soul, the senses have burned up the heart, dissipation has blunted the feelings. They have long known the words that we say to them, the means we use; they have sold the love that they inspire. They love by profession, and not by instinct. They are guarded better by their calculations than a virgin by her mother and her convent; and they have invented the word caprice for that unbartered love which they allow themselves from time to time, for a rest, for an excuse, for a consolation, like usurers, who cheat a thousand, and think they have bought their own redemption by once lending a sovereign to a poor devil who is dying of hunger without asking for interest or a receipt.
Then, when God allows love to a courtesan, that love, which at first seems like a pardon, becomes for her almost without penitence. When a creature who has all her past to reproach herself with is taken all at once by a profound, sincere, irresistible love, of which she had never felt herself capable; when she has confessed her love, how absolutely the man whom she loves dominates her! How strong he feels with his cruel right to say: You do no more for love than you have done for money. They know not what proof to give. A child, says the fable, having often amused himself by crying "Help! a wolf!" in order to disturb the labourers in the field, was one day devoured by a Wolf, because those whom he had so often deceived no longer believed in his cries for help. It is the same with these unhappy women when they love seriously. They have lied so often that no one will believe them, and in the midst of their remorse they are devoured by their love.
Alexandre Dumas (La Dame aux Camélias)
The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition. (...) We're destroying words - scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting the language down to the bone. (...)
It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other words? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take 'good', for instance. If you have a word like 'good', what need is there for a word like 'bad'? 'Ungood' will do just as well (...).
Or again, if you want a stronger version of 'good', what sense is there in have a whole string of vague useless words like 'excellent' and 'splendid' and all the rest of them? 'Plusgood' covers the meaning, or 'doubleplusgood' is you want something stronger still (...).
Don't you see the beauty of that, Winston?
Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?
George Orwell (1984)
Hera also slept well that night as she had brilliantly engineered the coup of her life.Her wayward husband had returned late that evening & announced that he was too tired to make love.He had had a most entangling day,he said, performing his kingly duties.She then told him to have a good night`s rest as she had an important job for him to perform in the morning.It was a job demanded by Chaos & Eros who were responsible for the beginning of things, she said.
Upon returning from the store, he would put the meat into the freezer, hide his favorite fruits in the bathroom cabinet, and stuff everything else into the crisper. It was, of course, too late for crisp, but he took the refrigerator drawer at its word, insisting that it was capable of reviving the dead and returning them, hale and vibrant, to the prime of their lives. Subjected to a few days in his beloved crisper, a carrot would become as pale and soft as a flaccid penis.
"Hey," he'd say. "Somebody ought to eat this before it goes bad."
He'd take a bite, and the rest of us would wince at the unnatural silence. Too weak to resist, the carrot quietly surrendered to the force of his jaws. An overcooked hot dog would have made more noise. Wiping the juice from his lips, he would insist that this was the best carrot he'd ever eaten.
"You guys don't know what you're missing."
I think we had a pretty good idea.
David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day)
The things that the world fills time with are enough to turn the heart to stone, but the goodness of time itself is as untouched by them as the freshness of a spring morning is untouched by yelps from the scaffold. Time is good because the Holy One made it that way and then set the heavenly bodies wheeling through the sky so there would always be a way of marking its passage. Unfortunately, not even the most devout understand this for more than possibly a day or two out of the entire year when everything seems to be going their way. The rest of the year they go around like everybody else rolling their eyes and expecting terrible things to happen. When terrible things do happen, they fail to understand that for the most part they have brought them down on their own heads. They prefer to think that it is time itself that is terrible and that terrible things are only another method by which the Holy One afflicts them for their sins.
Frederick Buechner (On the Road With the Archangel)
Look, look, we tell each other. It's Tom!
He's Mr. Bellamy to his history students. But he's Tom to us. Tom! It's so good to see him. So wonderful to see him. Tom is one of us. Tom went through it all with us. Tom made it through. He was there in the hospital with so many of us, the archangel of St. Vincent's, our healthier version, prodding the doctors and calling over the nurses and holding our hands and holding the hands of our partners, our parents, our little sisters - anyone who had a hand to be held. He had to watch so many of us die, had to say goodbye so many times. Outside of our rooms he would get angry, upset, despairing. But when he was with us, it was like he was powered solely by an engine of grace. Even the people who loved us would hesitate at first to touch us - more from the shock of our diminishment, from the strangeness of how we were both gone and present, not who we were but still who we were. Tom became used to this. First because of Dennis, the way he stayed with Dennis until the very end. He could have left after that, after Dennis was gone. We wouldn't have blamed him. But he stayed. When his friends got sick, he was there. And for those of us he'd never know before - he was always a smile in the room, always a touch on the shoulder, a light flirtation that we needed. The y should have made him a nurse. They should have made him mayor. He lost years of his life to us, although that's not the story he'd tell. He would say he gained. And he'd say he was lucky, because when he came down with it, when his blood turned against him, it was a little later on and the cocktail was starting to work. So he lived. He made it to a different kind of after from the rest of us. It is still an after. Every day if feel to him like an after. But he is here. He is living.
A history teacher. An out, outspoken history teacher. The kind of history teacher we never would have had. But this is what losing most of your friends does: It makes you unafraid. Whatever anyone threatens, whatever anyone is offended by, it doesn't matter, because you have already survived much, much worse. In fact, you are still surviving. You survive every single, blessed day.
It makes sense for Tom to be here. It wouldn't be the same without him.
And it makes sense for him to have taken the hardest shift. The night watch.
Mr. Nichol passes him the stopwatch. Tom walks over and says hello to Harry and Craig. He's been watching the feed, but it's even more powerful to see these boys in person. He gestures to them, like a rabbi or a priest offering a benediction.
"Keep going," he says. "You're doing great."
Mrs. Archer, Harry's next-door neighbor, has brought over coffee, and offers Tom a cup. He takes it gratefully.
He wants to be wide awake for all of this.
Every now and then he looks to the sky.
David Levithan (Two Boys Kissing)
The first prick stung—holy gods, with the salt and iron, it hurt. She clamped her teeth together, mastered it, welcomed it. That was what the salt was for with this manner of tattoo, Rowan had told her. To remind the bearer of the loss. Good—good, was all she could think as the pain spiderwebbed through her back. Good. And when Rowan made the next mark, she opened her mouth and began her prayers. They were prayers she should have said ten years ago: an even-keeled torrent of words in the Old Language, telling the gods of her parents’ death, her uncle’s death, Marion’s death—four lives wiped out in those two days. With each sting of Rowan’s needle, she beseeched the faceless immortals to take the souls of her loved ones into their paradise and keep them safe. She told them of their worth—told them of the good deeds and loving words and brave acts they’d performed. Never pausing for more than a breath, she chanted the prayers she owed them as daughter and friend and heir. For the hours Rowan worked, his movements falling into the rhythm of her words, she chanted and sang. He did not speak, his mallet and needles the drum to her chanting, weaving their work together. He did not disgrace her by offering water when her voice turned hoarse, her throat so ravaged she had to whisper. In Terrasen she would sing from sunrise to sunset, on her knees in gravel without food or drink or rest. Here she would sing until the markings were done, the agony in her back her offering to the gods. When it was done her back was raw and throbbing, and it took her a few attempts to rise from the table. Rowan followed her into the nearby night-dark field, kneeling with her in the grass as she tilted her face up to the moon and sang the final song, the sacred song of her household, the Fae lament she’d owed them for ten years. Rowan did not utter a word while she sang, her voice broken and raw. He remained in the field with her until dawn, as permanent as the markings on her back. Three lines of text scrolled over her three largest scars, the story of her love and loss now written on her: one line for her parents and uncle; one line for Lady Marion; and one line for her court and her people. On the smaller, shorter scars, were the stories of Nehemia and of Sam. Her beloved dead. No longer would they be locked away in her heart. No longer would she be ashamed.
Sarah J. Maas (Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3))
It's a fine day for a prayer. But then, most days are.'
'That's what you were doing? Praying?' At his nod, I asked, 'For what do you petition the gods?'
He raised his brows. 'Petition?'
'Isn't that what prayer is? Begging the gods to give you what you want?'
He laughed, his voice deep as a booming wind, but kinder. 'I suppose that is how some men pray. Not I. Not anymore.'
'What do you mean?'
'Oh, I think that children pray so, to find a lost doll or that Father will bring home a good haul of fish, or that no one will discover a forgotten chore. Children think they know what is best for themselves, and do not fear to ask the divine for it. But I have been a man for many years, and I should be shamed if I did not know better by now.'
I eased my back into a more comfortable position against the railing. I suppose if you are used to the swaying of a ship, it might be restful. My muscles constantly fought against it, and I was beginning to ache in every limb. 'So. How does a man pray, then?'
He looked on me with amusement, then levered himself down to sit beside me. 'Don't you know? How do you pray, then?'
'I don't.' And then I rethought, and laughed aloud. 'Unless I'm terrified. Then I suppose I pray as a child does. 'Get me out of this, and I'll never be so stupid again. Just let me live.'
He laughed with me. 'Well, it looks as if, so far, your prayers have been granted. And have you kept your promise to the divine?'
I shook my head, smiling ruefully. 'I'm afraid not. I just find a new direction to be foolish in.'
'Exactly. So do we all. Hence, I've learned I am not wise enough to ask the divine for anything.'
'So. How do you pray then, if you are not asking for something?'
'Ah. Well, prayer for me is more listening than asking. And, after all these years, I find I have but one prayer left. It has taken me a lifetime to find my prayer, and I think it is the same one that all men find, if they but ponder on it longer enough.
Robin Hobb (Fool's Fate (Tawny Man, #3))
Uh… not sure buying the entire store for that boy is good, Chace. If he’s living on the street, the rest of the homeless population in Carnal will fall on him like vultures,” I remarked.
Then he turned to me. “Got one homeless guy in town, darlin’. He calls himself Outlaw Al. He celebrated his seven hundredth birthday this year and looks it. You talk to him, he’ll swear he was the one who shot Billy the Kid. Every feral cat in Carnal will claw you soon as look at you but of any day or night, one or a dozen of ‘em will be curled into Al like he’s their Momma. He has two teeth. And I don’t see good things for his dental future since Shambles and Sunny built a small lean-to behind La-La Land so he’ll have some protection from exposure. He was much obliged for this effort. Moved in while Shambles was still hammering in the nails. He mostly stays there except when it’s his time to howl at the moon. And Shambles gives him baked goods he doesn’t sell. I think our kid’ll be good.
Kristen Ashley (Breathe (Colorado Mountain, #4))
to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how. I ask myself: are defeats necessary? Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times. So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people? Because, once we have overcome the defeats—and we always do—we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives. Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives. Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” And it’s true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
Don't misunderstand, but how dare you risk your life? What the devil did you think, to leap over like that? You could have stayed safe on this side and just helped me over." Even to her ears, her tone bordered on the hysterical.
Beneath her fingers, the white lawn started to redden.
She sucked in a shaky breath. "How could you risk your life-your life, you idiot!" She leaned harder on the pad, dragged in another breath.
He coughed weakly, shifted his head.
"Don't you dare die on me!"
His lips twisted, but his eyes remained closed. "But if I die"-his words were a whisper-"you won't have to marry, me or anyone else. Even the most censorious in the ton will consider my death to be the end of the matter. You'll be free."
"Free?" Then his earlier words registered. "If you die? I told you-don't you dare! I won't let you-I forbid you to. How can I marry you if you die? And how the hell will I live if you aren't alive, too?" As the words left her mouth, half hysterical, all emotion, she realized they were the literal truth. Her life wouldn't be worth living if he wasn't there to share it. "What will I do with my life if you die?"
He softly snorted, apparently unimpressed by-or was it not registering?-her panic. "Marry some other poor sod, like you were planning to."
The words cut. "You are the only poor sod I'm planning to marry." Her waspish response came on a rush of rising fear. She glanced around, but there was no one in sight. Help had yet to come running.
She looked back at him, readjusted the pressure on the slowly reddening pad. "I intend not only to marry you but to lead you by the nose for the rest of your days. It's the least I can do to repay you for this-for the shock to my nerves. I'll have you know I'd decided even before this little incident to reverse my decision and become your viscountess, and lead you such a merry dance through the ballrooms and drawing rooms that you'll be gray within two years."
He humphed softly, dismissively, but he was listening. Studying his face, she realized her nonsense was distracting him from the pain. She engaged her imagination and let her tongue run free. "I've decided I'll redecorate Baraclough in the French Imperial style-all that white and gilt and spindly legs, with all the chairs so delicate you won't dare sit down. And while we're on the subject of your-our-country home, I've had an idea about my carriage, the one you'll buy me as a wedding gift..."
She rambled on, paying scant attention to her words, simply let them and all the images she'd dreamed of come tumbling out, painting a vibrant, fanciful, yet in many ways-all the ways that counted-accurate word pictures of her hopes, her aspirations. Her vision of their life together.
When the well started to run dry, when her voice started to thicken with tears at the fear that they might no longer have a chance to enjoy all she'd described, she concluded with, "So you absolutely can't die now." Fear prodded; almost incensed, she blurted, "Not when I was about to back down and agree to return to London with you."
He moistened his lips. Whispered, "You were?"
"Yes! I was!" His fading voice tipped her toward panic. Her voice rose in reaction. "I can't believe you were so foolish as to risk your life like this! You didn't need to put yourself in danger to save me."
"Yes, I did." The words were firmer, bitten off through clenched teeth.
She caught his anger. Was anger good. Would temper hold him to the world?
A frown drew down his black brows. "You can't be so damned foolish as to think I wouldn't-after protecting you through all this, seeing you safely all this way, watching over you all this time, what else was I going to do?
Stephanie Laurens (Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue (Cynster, #16; The Cynster Sisters Trilogy, #1))
Do you know what day it is?” she asked, peering at him.
“Here in Spindle Cove, we ladies have a schedule. Mondays are country walks. Tuesdays, sea bathing. Wednesdays, you’d find us in the garden.” She touched the back of her hand to his forehead. “What is it we do on Mondays?”
“We didn’t get to Thursdays.”
“Thursdays are irrelevant. I’m testing your ability to recall information. Do you remember Mondays?”
He stifled a laugh. God, her touch felt good. If she kept petting and stroking him like this, he might very well go mad.
“Tell me your name,” he said. “I promise to recall it.” A bit forward, perhaps. But any chance for formal introductions had already fallen casualty to the powder charge.
Speaking of the powder charge, here came the brilliant mastermind of the sheep siege. Damn his eyes.
“Are you well, miss?” Colin asked.
“I’m well,” she answered. “I’m afraid I can’t say the same for your friend.”
“Bram?” Colin prodded him with a boot. “You look all of a piece.”
No thanks to you.
“He’s completely addled, the poor soul.” The girl patted his cheek. “Was it the war? How long has he been like this?”
“Like this?” Colin smirked down at him. “Oh, all his life.”
“All his life?”
“He’s my cousin. I should know.”
A flush pressed to her cheeks, overwhelming her freckles. “If you’re his cousin, you should take better care of him. What are you thinking, allowing him to wander the countryside, waging war on flocks of sheep?”
Ah, that was sweet. The lass cared. She would see him settled in a very comfortable asylum, she would. Perhaps Thursdays would be her day to visit and lay cool cloths to his brow.
“I know, I know,” Colin replied gravely. “He’s a certifiable fool. Completely unstable. Sometimes the poor bastard even drools. But the hell of it is, he controls my fortune. Every last penny. I can’t tell him what to do.”
“That’ll be enough,” Bram said. Time to put a stop to this nonsense. It was one thing to enjoy a moment’s rest and a woman’s touch, and another to surrender all pride.
He gained his feet without too much struggle and helped her to a standing position, too. He managed a slight bow. “Lieutenant Colonel Victor Bramwell. I assure you, I’m in possession of perfect health, a sound mind, and one good-for-nothing cousin.”
“I don’t understand,” she said. “Those blasts…”
“Just powder charges. We embedded them in the road, to scare off the sheep.”
“You laid black powder charges. To move a flock of sheep.” Pulling her hand from his grip, she studied the craters in the road. “Sir, I remain unconvinced of your sanity. But there’s no question you are male.”
He raised a brow. “That much was never in doubt.”
Her only answer was a faint deepening of her blush.
“I assure you, all the lunacy is my cousin’s. Lord Payne was merely teasing, having a bit of sport at my expense.”
“I see. And you were having a bit of sport at my expense, pretending to be injured.”
“Come, now.” He leaned forward her and murmured, “Are you going to pretend you didn’t enjoy it?”
Her eyebrows lifted. And lifted, until they formed perfect twin archer’s bows, ready to dispatch poison-tipped darts. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
Tessa Dare (A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1))
In the years since the disaster, I often think of my friend Arturo Nogueira, and the conversations we had in the mountains about God. Many of my fellow survivors say they felt the personal presence of God in the mountains. He mercifully allowed us to survive, they believe, in answer to our prayers, and they are certain it was His hand that led us home. I deeply respect the faith of my friends, but, to be honest, as hard as I prayed for a miracle in the Andes, I never felt the personal presence of God. At least, I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good. If this was God, it was not God as a being or a spirit or some omnipotent, superhuman mind. It was not a God who would choose to save us or abandon us, or change in any way. It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence. I feel this presence still when my mind quiets and I really pay attention. I don’t pretend to understand what it is or what it wants from me. I don’t want to understand these things. I have no interest in any God who can be understood, who speaks to us in one holy book or another, and who tinkers with our lives according to some divine plan, as if we were characters in a play. How can I make sense of a God who sets one religion above the rest, who answers one prayer and ignores another, who sends sixteen young men home and leaves twenty-nine others dead on a mountain?
There was a time when I wanted to know that god, but I realize now that what I really wanted was the comfort of certainty, the knowledge that my God was the true God, and that in the end He would reward me for my faithfulness. Now I understand that to be certain–-about God, about anything–-is impossible. I have lost my need to know. In those unforgettable conversations I had with Arturo as he lay dying, he told me the best way to find faith was by having the courage to doubt. I remember those words every day, and I doubt, and I hope, and in this crude way I try to grope my way toward truth. I still pray the prayers I learned as a child–-Hail Marys, Our Fathers–-but I don’t imagine a wise, heavenly father listening patiently on the other end of the line. Instead, I imagine love, an ocean of love, the very source of love, and I imagine myself merging with it. I open myself to it, I try to direct that tide of love toward the people who are close to me, hoping to protect them and bind them to me forever and connect us all to whatever there is in the world that is eternal. …When I pray this way, I feel as if I am connected to something good and whole and powerful. In the mountains, it was love that kept me connected to the world of the living. Courage or cleverness wouldn’t have saved me. I had no expertise to draw on, so I relied upon the trust I felt in my love for my father and my future, and that trust led me home. Since then, it has led me to a deeper understanding of who I am and what it means to be human. Now I am convinced that if there is something divine in the universe, the only way I will find it is through the love I feel for my family and my friends, and through the simple wonder of being alive. I don’t need any other wisdom or philosophy than this: My duty is to fill my time on earth with as much life as possible, to become a little more human every day, and to understand that we only become human when we love. …For me, this is enough.
That girl didn’t have a moment’s peace from the day Adriano Dardano set foot in Galway and started chasing her.” Sister Brannigan said, as she led them around the convent garden. “Nice of Francesca to stay still for him to catch her then wasn’t it?” Alessandro remarked dryly. “Mmph,” the nun responded. “My grandfather loved Francesca,” Alessandro insisted. “Far be it from me to speak ill of the dead. But let’s call a spade a spade, hmm? Your grandfather was a charmer. Now perhaps he didn’t realize just how naïve our Francesca was and how besotted with him she was.” “Mmm, very generous of you,” Alessandro grumbled. “I will say that on the times he brought some food he had made with Francesca up to the convent, it was clear he had a wonderful talent in the kitchen. Now mind ye, the Italian food was a bit rich for my taste but still, rather good.” “I’m sure my grandfather’s resting easier in his grave now that the holy sister has complimented his cooking,” Alessandro whispered in Bree’s ear making, her laugh out loud and Sister Brannigan turn to her in question.
E. Jamie (The Betrayal (Blood Vows, #2))
Almost three billion people live on less than two dollars a day, adjusted for purchasing power.5 Eight hundred and forty million people in the world don’t have enough to eat.6 Ten million children die every year from easily preventable diseases.7 AIDS is killing three million people a year and is still spreading.8 One billion people in the world lack access to clean water; two billion lack access to sanitation.9 One billion adults are illiterate.10 About a quarter of the children in the poor countries do not finish primary school.11
William Easterly (The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good)
Nora Ephron is a screenwriter whose scripts for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle have all been nominated for Academy Awards. Ephron started her career as a journalist for the New York Post and Esquire. She became a journalist because of her high school journalism teacher. Ephron still remembers the first day of her journalism class. Although the students had no journalism experience, they walked into their first class with a sense of what a journalist does: A journalists gets the facts and reports them. To get the facts, you track down the five Ws—who, what, where, when, and why. As students sat in front of their manual typewriters, Ephron’s teacher announced the first assignment. They would write the lead of a newspaper story. The teacher reeled off the facts: “Kenneth L. Peters, the principal of Beverly Hills High School, announced today that the entire high school faculty will travel to Sacramento next Thursday for a colloquium in new teaching methods. Among the speakers will be anthropologist Margaret Mead, college president Dr. Robert Maynard Hutchins, and California governor Edmund ‘Pat’ Brown.” The budding journalists sat at their typewriters and pecked away at the first lead of their careers. According to Ephron, she and most of the other students produced leads that reordered the facts and condensed them into a single sentence: “Governor Pat Brown, Margaret Mead, and Robert Maynard Hutchins will address the Beverly Hills High School faculty Thursday in Sacramento. . .blah, blah, blah.” The teacher collected the leads and scanned them rapidly. Then he laid them aside and paused for a moment. Finally, he said, “The lead to the story is ‘There will be no school next Thursday.’” “It was a breathtaking moment,” Ephron recalls. “In that instant I realized that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the point. It wasn’t enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you had to understand what it meant. And why it mattered.” For the rest of the year, she says, every assignment had a secret—a hidden point that the students had to figure out in order to produce a good story.
Chip Heath (Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die)
Hope is more than wishing things will work out. It is resting in the God who holds all things in his wise and powerful hands. We use the word hope in a variety of ways. Sometimes it connotes a wish about something over which we have no control at all. We say, “I sure hope the train comes soon,” or, “I hope it doesn’t rain on the day of the picnic.” These are wishes for things, but we wouldn’t bank on them. The word hope also depicts what we think should happen. We say, “I hope he will choose to be honest this time,” or, “I hope the judge brings down a guilty verdict.” Here hope reveals an internal sense of morality or justice. We also use hope in a motivational sense. We say, “I did this in the hope that it would pay off in the end,” or, “I got married in the hope that he would treat me in marriage the way he treated me in courtship.” All of this is to say that because the word hope is used in a variety of ways, it is important for us to understand how this word is used in Scripture or in its gospel sense. Biblical hope is foundationally more than a faint wish for something. Biblical hope is deeper than moral expectation, although it includes that. Biblical hope is more than a motivation for a choice or action, although it is that as well. So what is biblical hope? It is a confident expectation of a guaranteed result that changes the way you live. Let’s pull this definition apart. First, biblical hope is confident. It is confident because it is not based on your wisdom, faithfulness, or power, but on the awesome power, love, faithfulness, grace, patience, and wisdom of God. Because God is who he is and will never, ever change, hope in him is hope well placed and secure. Hope is also an expectation of a guaranteed result. It is being sure that God will do all that he has planned and promised to do. You see, his promises are only as good as the extent of his rule, but since he rules everything everywhere, I know that resting in the promises of his grace will never leave me empty and embarrassed. I may not understand what is happening and I may not know what is coming around the corner, but I know that God does and that he controls it all. So even when I am confused, I can have hope, because my hope does not rest on my understanding, but on God’s goodness and his rule. Finally, true hope changes the way you live. When you have hope that is guaranteed, you live with confidence and courage that you would otherwise not have. That confidence and courage cause you to make choices of faith that would seem foolish to someone who does not have your hope. If you’re God’s child, you never have to live hopelessly, because hope has invaded your life by grace, and his name is Jesus! For further study and encouragement: Psalm 20
Paul David Tripp (New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional)
Thus engaged, with her right elbow supported by her left hand, Madame Defarge said nothing when her lord came in, but coughed just one grain of cough. This, in combination with the lifting of her darkly defined eyebrows over her toothpick by the breadth of a line, suggested to her husband that he would do well to look round the shop among the customers, for any new customer who had dropped in while he stepped over the way.
The wine-shop keeper accordingly rolled his eyes about, until they rested upon an elderly gentleman and a young lady, who were seated in a corner. Other company were there: two playing cards, two playing dominoes, three standing by the counter lengthening out a short supply of wine. As he passed behind the counter, he took notice that the elderly gentleman said in a look to the young lady, "This is our man."
"What the devil do you do in that galley there?" said Monsieur Defarge to himself; "I don't know you."
But, he feigned not to notice the two strangers, and fell into discourse with the triumvirate of customers who were drinking at the counter.
"How goes it, Jacques?" said one of these three to Monsieur Defarge. "Is all the spilt wine swallowed?"
"Every drop, Jacques," answered Monsieur Defarge.
When this interchange of Christian name was effected, Madame Defarge, picking her teeth with her toothpick, coughed another grain of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the breadth of another line.
"It is not often," said the second of the three, addressing Monsieur Defarge, "that many of these miserable beasts know the taste of wine, or of anything but black bread and death. Is it not so, Jacques?"
"It is so, Jacques," Monsieur Defarge returned.
At this second interchange of the Christian name, Madame Defarge, still using her toothpick with profound composure, coughed another grain of cough, and raised her eyebrows by the breadth of another line.
The last of the three now said his say, as he put down his empty drinking vessel and smacked his lips.
"Ah! So much the worse! A bitter taste it is that such poor cattle always have in their mouths, and hard lives they live, Jacques. Am I right, Jacques?"
"You are right, Jacques," was the response of Monsieur Defarge.
This third interchange of the Christian name was completed at the moment when Madame Defarge put her toothpick by, kept her eyebrows up, and slightly rustled in her seat.
"Hold then! True!" muttered her husband. "Gentlemen--my wife!"
The three customers pulled off their hats to Madame Defarge, with three flourishes. She acknowledged their homage by bending her head, and giving them a quick look. Then she glanced in a casual manner round the wine-shop, took up her knitting with great apparent calmness and repose of spirit, and became absorbed in it.
"Gentlemen," said her husband, who had kept his bright eye observantly upon her, "good day. The chamber, furnished bachelor- fashion, that you wished to see, and were inquiring for when I stepped out, is on the fifth floor. The doorway of the staircase gives on the little courtyard close to the left here," pointing with his hand, "near to the window of my establishment. But, now that I remember, one of you has already been there, and can show the way. Gentlemen, adieu!"
They paid for their wine, and left the place. The eyes of Monsieur Defarge were studying his wife at her knitting when the elderly gentleman advanced from his corner, and begged the favour of a word.
"Willingly, sir," said Monsieur Defarge, and quietly stepped with him to the door.
Their conference was very short, but very decided. Almost at the first word, Monsieur Defarge started and became deeply attentive. It had not lasted a minute, when he nodded and went out. The gentleman then beckoned to the young lady, and they, too, went out. Madame Defarge knitted with nimble fingers and steady eyebrows, and saw nothing.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
To pray in the midst of the mundane is simply and strongly to assert that this dull and tiring day is holy and its simple labors are the stuff of God's saving presence for me now. To pray simply because it is prayer time is no small act of immersion in the God who is willing to wait for us to be conscious, to be ready, to be willing to become new in life.
Prayer, Benedictine spirituality demonstrates, is not a matter of mood. To pray only when we feel like it is more to seek consolation than to risk conversion. To pray only when it suits us is to want God on our terms. To pray only when it is convenient is to make the God-life a very low priority in a list of better opportunities. To pray only when it feels good is to court total emptiness when we most need to be filled. The hard fact is that nobody finds time for prayer. The time must be taken. There will always be something more pressing to do, something more important to be about than the apparently fruitless, empty act of prayer. But when that attitude takes over, we have begun the last trip down a very short road because, without prayer, the energy for the rest of life runs down. The fuel runs out. We become our own worst enemies: we call ourselves too tired and too busy to pray when, in reality, we are too tired and too busy not to pray. Eventually, the burdens of the day wear us down and we no longer remember why we decided to do what we're doing: work for this project, marry this woman, have these children, minister in this place. And if I cannot remember why I decided to do this, I cannot figure out how I can go on with it. I am tired and the vision just gets dimmer and dimmer.
Joan D. Chittister
Something nudged Mollie’s shoulder. With the nudge came a reminder of the pain. She tried to snuggle back down into the darkness that had cushioned her from the agony in her head, but then someone called her name. Someone she knew. Jacob. He sounded far away. Surely he wouldn’t mind if she just slipped back into the warm darkness for a little while. “Mollie Tate. Don’t you dare leave me.” Goodness, he sounded demanding. And worried. And perhaps just a tad panicked. Mollie frowned at that. Or she would have if she could’ve remembered how. The darkness made everything fuzzy. But one thing she did remember—Jacob never panicked. She’d never met a man so calm in a crisis. So what had him rattled? Hands roamed over her arms and legs. They prodded and probed and seemed to jab every sore spot on her body. She wanted to scream at them to stop, but she only managed a pitiful little whining sound that barely even vibrated her throat. The hands must have heard it, though, for they stilled. “Mollie? Can you hear me?” Jacob. Heavens, how she loved that man. She’d gladly be his nurse for the rest of her days just to be close to him.
Karen Witemeyer (Love on the Mend (Full Steam Ahead, #1.5))
It was Day Three, Freshman Year, and I was a little bit lost in the school library,looking for a bathroom that wasn't full of blindingly shiny sophomores checking their lip gloss.
Day Three.Already pretty clear on the fact that I would be using secondary bathrooms for at least the next three years,until being a senior could pass for confidence.For the moment, I knew no one,and was too shy to talk to anyone. So that first sight of Edward: pale hair that looked like he'd just run his hands through it, paint-smeared white shirt,a half smile that was half wicked,and I was hooked.
Since, "Hi,I'm Ella.You look like someone I'd like to spend the rest of my life with," would have been totally insane, I opted for sitting quietly and staring.Until the bell rang and I had to rush to French class,completely forgetting to pee.
Edward Willing.Once I knew his name, the rest was easy.After all,we're living in the age of information. Wikipedia, iPhones, 4G ntworks, social networking that you can do from a thousand miles away.The upshot being that at any given time over the next two years, I could sit twenty feet from him in the library, not saying a word, and learn a lot about him.ENough, anyway, for me to become completely convinced that the Love at First Sight hadn't been a fluke.
It's pretty simple.Edward matched four and a half of my If My Prince Does, In Fact, Come Someday,It Would Be Great If He Could Meet These Five Criteria.
1. Interested in art. For me, it's charcoal. For Edward, oil paint and bronze. That's almost enough right there. Nice lips + artist= Ella's prince.
2. Not afraid of love. He wrote, "Love is one of two things worth dying for.I have yet to decide on the second."
3.Or of telling the truth. "How can I believe that other people say if I lie to them?"
4.Hot. Why not?I can dream.
5.Daring. Mountain climbing, cliff dying, defying the parents. Him, not me. I'm terrified of an embarrassing number of things, including heights, convertibles, moths, and those comedians everyone loves who stand onstage and yell insults at the audience.
5, subsection a. Daring enough to take a chance on me.Of course, in the end, that No. 5a is the biggie. And the problem. No matter how muuch I worshipped him,no matter how good a pair we might have been,it was never, ever going to happen. To be fair to Edward,it's not like he was given an opportunity to get to know me. I'm not stupid.I know there are a few basic truths when it comes to boys and me.
Truth: You have to talk to a boy-really talk,if you want him to see past the fact that you're not beautiful.
Truth: I'm not beautiful. Or much of a conversationalist.
Truth: I'm not entirely sure that the stuff behind the not-beautiful is going to be all that alluring, either.
And one written-in-stone, heartbreaking truth about this guy.
Truth:Edward Willing died in 1916.
Melissa Jensen (The Fine Art of Truth or Dare)
Tell me this- if you could have a guarantee that your child would be a National Merit Scholar and get into a prestigious college, have good work habits and a successful career, but that your relationship with him would be destroyed in the process, would you do it? Why not? Because you are made to love, that's why. We care about our relationships more than about our accomplishments. That's the way God made us. Then why don't we live that way? Why, come a damp and gloomy day in March, do we yell over a math lesson or lose our temper over a writing assignment? Why do we see the lessons left to finish and get lost in an anxiety-ridden haze? We forget that we are dealing with a soul, a precious child bearing the Image of God, and all we can see is that there are only a few months left to the school year and we are still only halfway through the math book. When you are performing mommy triage- that is, when you have a crisis moment and have to figure out which fire to put out first- always choose your child. It's just a math lesson. It's only a writing assignment. It's a Latin declension. Nothing more. But your child? He is God's. And the Almighty put him in your charge for relationship. Don't damage that relationship over something so trivial as an algebra problem. And when you do (because you will, and so will I), repent. We like to feed our egos. When our children perform well, we can puff up with satisfaction and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. But as important as it is to give our children a solid education (and it is important, don't misunderstand me), it is far more important that we love them well. Our children need to know that the most important thing about them is not whether they finished their science curriculum or score well on the SAT. Their worth is not bound up in a booklist or a test score. Take a moment. Take ten. Look deep into your child's eyes. Listen, even when you're bored. Break out a board game or an old picture book you haven't read in ages. Resting in Him means relaxing into the knowledge that He has put these children in our care to nurture. And nurturing looks different than charging through the checklist all angst-like. Your children are not ordinary kids or ordinary people, because there are no ordinary kids or ordinary people. They are little reflections of the
Sarah Mackenzie (Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace)
great. This is a good description of Rovio, which was around for six years and underwent layoffs before the “instant” success of the Angry Birds video game franchise. In the case of the Five Guys restaurant chain, the founders spent fifteen years tweaking their original handful of restaurants in Virginia, finding the right bun bakery, the right number of times to shake the french fries before serving, how best to assemble a burger, and where to source their potatoes before expanding nationwide. Most businesses require a complex network of relationships to function, and these relationships take time to build. In many instances you have to be around for a few years to receive consistent recognition. It takes time to develop connections with investors, suppliers, and vendors. And it takes time for staff and founders to gain effectiveness in their roles and become a strong team.* So, yes, the bar is high when you want to start a company. You’ll have the chance to work on something you own and care about from day to day. You’ll be 100 percent engaged and motivated, and doing something you believe in. You can lead an integrated life, as opposed to a compartmentalized one in which you play a role in an office and then try to forget about it when you get home. You can define an organization, not the other way around. But even if you quit your job, hunker down for years, work hard for uncertain reward, and ask everyone you know for help, there’s still a great chance that your new business will not succeed. Over 50 percent of companies fail within their first three years.2 There’s a quote I like from an unknown source: “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
Andrew Yang (Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America)
You don’t get to decide what you’re worth because you obviously don’t know. You don’t get to decide that anymore because you have no fucking idea that you’re worth everything. What do you think this is? A joke? A decision I made for the hell of it? It’s not. It’s not destiny, Ox. You’re not bound by this. Not yet. There’s a choice. There is always a choice. My wolf chose you. I chose you. And if you don’t choose me, then that’s your choice and I will walk out of here knowing you got to choose your own path. But I swear to god, if you choose me, I will make sure that you know the weight of your worth every day for the rest of our lives because that’s what this is. I am going to be a fucking Alpha one day, and there is no one I’d rather have by my side than you. It’s you, Ox. For me, it’s always been you.” So I said, “Okay, Joe.” I looked up at him. His wolf was close to the surface. And he said, “Okay?” I said, “Okay. Okay. I don’t know if I see the things you do.” “I know.” “And I don’t know if I’ll be good enough.” “I know you will,” he said, eyes flashing orange. “But I promised you. I said it will always be you and me.” His face stuttered a bit, and he said, “You did. You promised me. You promised.
T.J. Klune (Wolfsong (Green Creek, #1))
In a city of almost three million people, a white van stands out about as much as a pigeon in a park. White vans deliver flowers, they carry plumbers, and boxes destined for front porches. This white van is unlike the rest; it has been customized. The flooring has been torn up and replaced with sheets of steel, powder-coated with black paint so they won’t rust or show stains. Metal drains have been installed, complete with catches, drilled in three separate places for easy maintenance and cleaning. There are thick metal eyebolts fastened into the frame in several spots, impossible to remove, at various heights up and down the walls. The gas tank is a custom installation, almost double the normal size, holding up to thirty gallons of gas, which means that it can drive for almost six hundred miles, to St. Louis and back, without running out of fuel. It can also cruise the dark streets all night long—for days, even weeks—before finally becoming empty, frequent gas station stops to be avoided. And the windows are tinted black, illegal of course, but hardly drawing any attention, so dark that even standing up next to them, it’s impossible to see inside. And for the driver, that’s a good thing—a very good thing, indeed.
Richard Thomas (Breaker)
As this plane dragged
its track of used ozone half the world long
thrusts some four hundred of us
toward places where actual known people
live and may wait,
we diminish down in our seats,
disappeared into novels of lives clearer than ours,
and yet we do not forget for a moment
the life down there, the doorway each will soon enter:
where I will meet her again
and know her again,
dark radiance with, and then mostly without, the stars.
Very likely she has always understood
what I have slowly learned,
and which only now, after being away, almost as far away
as one can get on this globe, almost
as far as thoughts can carry - yet still in her presence,
still surrounded not so much by reminders of her
as by things she had already reminded me of,
shadows of her
cast forward and waiting - can I try to express:
that love is hard,
that while many good things are easy, true love is not,
because love is first of all a power,
its own power,
which continually must make its way forward, from night
into day, from transcending union always forward into difficult day.
And as the plane descends, it comes to me
in the space
where tears stream down across the stars,
tears fallen on the actual earth
where their shining is what we call spirit,
that once the lover
recognizes the other, knows for the first time
what is most to be valued in another,
from then on, love is very much like courage,
perhaps it is courage, and even
out of old selves, smearing the darkness
of expectation across experience, all of us little
thinkers it brings home having similar thoughts
of landing to the imponderable world,
the transoceanic airliner,
resting its huge weight down, comes in almost lightly,
with sudden, tiny, white puffs and long, black, rubberish smears
all its tires know the home ground.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest-
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men-
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me;
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill;
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And sure he is an honorable man.
You all do know this mantle. I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii:
Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made;
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel:
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
Now,” Samite continued, “after Essel has just spent time warning you about generalities and how they often don’t apply, I’m going to use some. Because some generalities are true often enough that we have to worry about them. So here’s one: men will physically fight for status. Women, generally, are more clever. The why of it doesn’t matter: learned, innate, cultural, who cares? You see the chest-bumping, the name-calling, performing for their fellows, what they’re really doing is getting the juices flowing. That interval isn’t always long, but it’s long enough for men to trigger the battle juice. That’s the terror or excitation that leads people to fight or run. It can be useful in small doses or debilitating in large ones. Any of you have brothers, or boys you’ve fought with?” Six of the ten raised their hands. “Have you ever had a fight with them—verbal or physical—and then they leave and come back a little later, and they’re completely done fighting and you’re just fully getting into it? They look like they’ve been ambushed, because they’ve come completely off the mountain already, and you’ve just gotten to the top?” “Think of it like lovemaking,” Essel said. She was a bawdy one. “Breathe in a man’s ear and tell him to take his trousers off, and he’s ready to go before you draw your next breath. A woman’s body takes longer.” Some of the girls giggled nervously. “Men can switch on very, very fast. They also switch off from that battle readiness very, very fast. Sure, they’ll be left trembling, sometimes puking from it, but it’s on and then it’s off. Women don’t do that. We peak slower. Now, maybe there are exceptions, maybe. But as fighters, we tend to think that everyone reacts the way we do, because our own experience is all we have. In this case, it’s not true for us. Men will be ready to fight, then finished, within heartbeats. This is good and bad. “A man, deeply surprised, will have only his first instinctive response be as controlled and crisp as it is when he trains. Then that torrent of emotion is on him. We spend thousands of hours training that first instinctive response, and further, we train to control the torrent of emotion so that it raises us to a heightened level of awareness without making us stupid.” “So the positive, for us Archers: surprise me, and my first reaction will be the same as my male counterpart’s. I can still, of course, get terrified, or locked into a loop of indecision. But if I’m not, my second, third, and tenth moves will also be controlled. My hands will not shake. I will be able to make precision movements that a man cannot. But I won’t have the heightened strength or sensations until perhaps a minute later—often too late. “Where a man needs to train to control that rush, we need to train to make it closer. If we have to climb a mountain more slowly to get to the same height to get all the positives, we need to start climbing sooner. That is, when I go into a situation that I know may be hazardous, I need to prepare myself. I need to start climbing. The men may joke to break the tension. Let them. I don’t join in. Maybe they think I’m humorless because I don’t. Fine. That’s a trade I’m willing to make.” Teia and the rest of the girls walked away from training that day somewhat dazed, definitely overwhelmed. What Teia realized was that the women were deeply appealing because they were honest and powerful. And those two things were wed inextricably together. They said, I am the best in the world at what I do, and I cannot do everything. Those two statements, held together, gave them the security to face any challenge. If her own strengths couldn’t surmount an obstacle, her team’s strengths could—and she was unembarrassed about asking for help where she needed it because she knew that what she brought to the team would be equally valuable in some other situation.
Brent Weeks (The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer, #2))
I would have, Damien! I would have! I would have rather died a thousand painful, torturous deaths than watch you die one! I would have given up anything to go back to that day and relive it!” Damien takes a step back as I run shaky fingers through my hair. I lower my voice and cry, “When you died, I thought I lost everything. I was empty. Numb inside. And the pain...the pain of feeling my heart break over and over again was never ending. I'm sorry about what happened. I think you know that. But what I think you know more than anything is you haunting me and reminding me of what you sacrificed is the most mean-spirited thing you've ever done.” More tears well in my eyes, and I suck them back trying to be strong. “The Damien, I knew wouldn't want this for me. He wouldn't want me to live the rest of my life, loving his ghost.
My Damien was too proud, good, and selfless for that.” The one thing that I forgot was that in this dream, this is not my Damien. He's a sinister, sick, and twisted version of the boy I loved. And I know this when he lunges at me, wraps both of his hands around my neck, cuts off the air in my throat, and whispers in a deadly voice, “Love me.”
“No!” I bolt upright in my bed choking on air. “No!” I try to steady my breathing, but I'm too shaken up to concentrate
Lauren Hammond (White Walls (Asylum, #2))
Let us remember this history, when we pray for ourselves. We are sometimes tempted to think that we get no good by our prayers, and that we may as well give them up altogether. Let us resist the temptation. It comes from the devil. Let us believe, and pray on. Against our besetting sins, against the spirit of the world, against the wiles of the devil, let us pray on, and not faint. For strength to do duty, for grace to bear our trials, for comfort in every trouble, let us continue in prayer. Let us be sure that no time is so well-spent in every day, as that which we spend upon our knees. Jesus hears us, and in his own good time will give an answer. Let us remember this history, when we intercede for others. Have we children, whose conversion we desire? Have we relatives and friends, about whose salvation we are anxious? Let us follow the example of this Canaanitish woman, and lay the state of their souls before Christ. Let us name their names before Him night and day, and never rest until we have an answer. We may have to wait many a long year. We may seem to pray in vain, and intercede without profit. But let us never give up. Let us believe that Jesus is not changed, and that He who heard the Canaanitish mother, and granted her request, will also hear us, and one day give us an answer of peace.
J.C. Ryle (J.C. Ryle's Commentaries on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
...[W]hen's it all going to f***ing stop? I’m going to jump from rock to rock for the rest of my life until there aren’t any rocks left? I’m going to run each time I get itchy feet? Because I get them about once a quarter, along with the utilities bills. More than that, even… I’ve been thinking with my guts since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have s*** for brains.
I know what's wrong with Laura. What's wrong with Laura is that I'll never see her for the first or second or third time again. I'll never spend two or three days in a sweat trying to remember what she looks like, never again will I get to a pub half an hour early to meet her staring at the same article in a magazine and looking at my watch every thirty seconds, never again will thinking about her set something off in me like "Let's Get it On" sets something off in me. And sure, I love her and like her and have good conversations, nice sex and intense rows with her, and she looks after me and worries about me and arranges the Groucho for me, but what does all that count for, when someone with bare arms, a nice smile, and a pair of Doc Martens comes into the shop and says she wants to interview me? Nothing, that's what, but maybe it should count for a bit more.
Nick Hornby (High Fidelity)
How many rapes before women learn their place? How many pogroms? How many wives are beaten in thirty-six seconds or in a ten-by twelve-foot room? These questions miss nearly every point that matters: these acts of violence are emblematic acts of terror; they are acts of hatred and hostility; they are murderous in intent; and what’s the name of the guy and his address? The rest is diversion, except for noting that women have the singular good luck to be raped by men who hate them and by men who love them, by men who know them and by men who do not, by husbands, lovers, friends, and invading armies—as well as by serial rapists, serial killers, and any woman-hater who has had a really bad day.
Andrea Dworkin (Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation)
I looked around for the tunic so I could leave the room; not for worlds would I go out dressed thus into the midst of a lot of staring Renselaeus warriors.
Unless Galdran has won! The terrible thought froze me for a moment, but then I looked down at that fire and realized that if Galdran had beaten us, I’d hardly be in such comfortable surroundings again. More likely I’d have woken in some dungeon somewhere, with clanking chains attached to every limb.
I held my head in my hands, trying to get the strength to stand; then my door opened, thrust by an impatient hand. Branaric stood there, grinning in surprise.
“You’re awake! Healer said you’d likely sleep out the day.”
I nodded slowly, eyeing his flushed cheeks and overbright eyes. His right arm rested in a sling. “You are also sick,” I observed.
“Merrily so,” he agreed, “but I cannot for the life of me keep still. Burn it! Truth to tell, I never thought I’d live to see this day.”
“What day?” I asked, and then, narrowly, “We’re not prisoners, are we? Where is Galdran?”
“Ash,” Bran said with a laugh.
I gaped. “Dead?”
“Dead and burned, though no one shed a tear at his funeral fire. And you should have seen his minions scatter beforehand! The rest couldn’t surrender fast enough!” He laughed again, then, “Ulp! Forgot. Want tea?”
“Oh yes,” I said with enthusiasm. “I was just looking for my tunic. Or rather, the one I was wearing.”
“Mud,” he said succinctly. “Galdran smacked you off your horse and you landed flat in a mud puddle. Hold there!”
I sat down on the bunk again, questions swarming through my mind like angry bees.
Branaric was back in a moment, carefully carrying a brimming mug in his one good hand, and some folded cloth and a plain brown citizen’s hat tucked under his arm. “Here ye are, sister,” he said cheerily. “Let’s celebrate.”
I took the mug, and as he toasted me with a pretend one, I lifted mine to him and drank deeply. The listerblossom infusion flooded me from head to heels with soothing warmth. I sighed with relief, then said, “Now, tell me everything.”
He chuckled and leaned against the door. “That’s a comprehensive command! Where to begin?
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
An autumn evening...
An autumn evening, I ran hurriedly,
made my way I did to that special bench in the park,
Where in a likewise special week,
I used to meet my Amily.
My dear Amily with her mischievious eyes,
Hear songs do my ears, whenever she speaks.
With her fragrance and aura of jasmine,
Feel I do that I am in heaven.
Words spoken between us are of course less,
but the thoughts that we share are, a lot.
See each other we do, very less.
Yet an urge to keep seeing each other, we have got.
As I sat on the bench today, waiting for her,
I wondered how today she would be.
Would she dress grand or just come casually,
in a simple manner and her hair let out freely.
After a while, glance I did at the time.
“Why hadn't she come by now?”
Did she meet with trouble on the way that she came?
Or didn't it cross her mind what the time was now?
Then my worries were put to rest,
When I saw her in front of me.
I smiled at the way, that she had dressed for me.
Wearing a dress of my favourite colour,
and herself appearing royal with grandeur,
she came slowly towards me, with doubt in her eyes,
as her eyes enquired if she looked good that way?
I smiled again and gestured that she looked like a princess.
Then I offered my hand, to walk the rest of the day.
So holding each other's hands,
we walked gently,
with our minds out of the world and lost in our own dreams;
Just the two of us, me and my Amily.
Yasir Sulaiman (3 Stories of Love: Romance Isn't Always Sweet)
One of Roosevelt's most entrenched beliefs, as a cowboy, a hunter, a soldier, and an explorer, was that the health of one man should never endanger the lives of the rest of the men in his expedition. Roosevelt had unflinchingly cast off even good friends like Father Zahm when it became clear that they could no longer pull their own weight or were simply not healthy enough to endure the physical demands of the journey. "No man has any business to go on such a trip as ours unless he will refuse to jeopardize the welfare of his associates by any delay caused by a weakness or ailment of his," he wrote. "It is his duty to go forward, if necessary on all fours, until he drops."...
Roosevelt had even held himself to these unyielding standards after Schrank, the would-be assassin, shot him in Milwaukee. Few men would have even considered giving a speech with a bullet in their chest. Roosevelt had insisted on it. This was an approach to life, and death, that he had developed many years earlier, when living with cowboys and soldiers. "Both the men of my regiment and the friends I had made in the old days in the West were themselves a little puzzled at the interest shown in my making my speech after being shot," he wrote. "This was what they expected, what they accepted as the right thing for a man to do under the circumstances, a thing the nonperformance of which would have been discreditable rather than the performance being creditable.
Candice Millard (The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey)
Tomorrow is just as real a thing as yesterday. So is day after next, and the rest of them. Because you cannot see the future, it does not follow that it is not there. Your own path may vary widely, but the piece of country you are to travel is solid and real.
We have been most erroneously taught not to think of the future; to live only in the present: and at the same time we have been taught to guide our lives by an ideal of the remotest possible future - a postmortem eternity.
Between the contradictory ideals of this paradox, most of us drag along, forced by the exigencies of business to consider some future, but ignoring most of it. A single human life is short enough to be well within range of anybody's mind. Allow for it eighty years: if you don't have eight you are that much in - so much less to plan for.
Sit down wherever you happen to be; under twenty, over fifty, anywhere on the road; lift your eyes from your footsteps, and "look before and after."
Look back, see the remarkable wiggling sort of path you have made; see the places where you made no progress at all, but simply tramped up and down without taking a step. Ask yourself: "If I had thought about what I should be feeling toady, would I have behaved as I did then?" Quite probably not.
But why not? Why not, in deciding on own's path and gait at a given moment, consider that inevitable advancing future? Come it will; but how it comes, what it is, depends on us.
Then look ahead; not merely just before your nose, but way ahead. It is a good and wholesome thing to plan out one's whole life; as one thinks it is likely to be; as one desires it should be; and then act accordingly. Suppose you are about twenty-five. Consider a number of persons of fifty or sixty, and how they look.
Do you want to look like that? What sort of a body do you want at fifty?
It is in your hands to make. In health, in character, in business, in friendship, in love, in happiness; your future is very largely yours to make.
Then why not make it?
Suppose you are thirty, forty, fifty, sixty. So long as you have a year before you it is worth while to consider it in advance.
Live as a whole, not in disconnected fractions.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Senseless people name evil good, call good evil. As you are doing. You accuse Us of passing false judgement: you do Us injustice. We shall prove this to you. You ask who We are: We are God’s handle, Master Death, a truly effective reaper. Our scythe works its way. It cuts down white, black, red, brown, green, blue, grey, yellow, and all kinds of lustrous flowers in its path, irrespective of their splendour, their strength, their virtue. And the violet’s beautiful colour, rich perfume, and palatable sap, avail it nought. See: that is justice. Our justification was acknowledged by the Romans and the poets, for they knew Us better than you do.
You ask what We are: We are nothing, and yet something. Nothing, because We have neither life, nor being, nor form, and We are no spirit, not visible, not tangible; something, because We are the end of life, the end of existence, the beginning of nullity, a cross between the two. We are a happening that fells all people. Huge giants must fall before Us; all living beings must be transformed by Us.
You ask where We are: We are not ascertainable. But Our form was found in a temple in Rome*, painted on a wall, as a hoodwinked man sitting on an ox; this man wielded a hatchet in his right hand and a shovel in his left hand, with which he was beating the ox. A great crowd of all kinds of people was hitting him, fighting him, and making casts at him, each one with the tools of his trade: even the nun with her psalter was there. They struck and made casts at the man on the ox, he who signified Us; yet Death contested and buried them all. Pythagoras likens Us to a man’s form with the eyes of a basilisk: they wandered to the ends of the Earth, and every living creature had to die at their glance.
You ask where We are: We are from the Earthly Paradise. God created Us there and gave Us Our true name, when he said: «The day that ye bite of this fruit, ye shall die the death.» And for that reason We call ourself: «We, Death, mighty ruler and master on Earth, in the air, and in the rivers of the sea.»
You ask what good We do: you have already heard that We bring the world more advantage than harm. Now cease, rest content, and thank Us for the kindness we have done you!
Johannes von Saaz (Death and the Ploughman)
Walk slowly," said a voice from behind me, and I turned around and felt my heart jump in delight. "Remember, you're on a crutch and she's an old lady."
"You came!" I said.
"I heard you were looking for me. Julian told me."
"I didn't think I'd see you. Not till, you know, till it was my turn."
"I couldn't wait," he said.
"You look exactly the same as you did on that last day. In Central Park."
"Actually, I'm a few pounds lighter," he said. "I've been on a fitness drive."
"Good for you." I stared at him and felt the tears forming in my eyes. "Do you know how much I've missed you?" I asked him. "It's been almost thirty years. I shouldn't have had to spend all that time on my own."
"I know, but it's nearly over. And you haven't done a bad job of it at the same time, given the mess you made of the first thirty. The years apart will feel like nothing compared to what we have before us."
"The music's started," said my mother, clutching me to her.
"I have to go, Bastiaan," I said. "Will I see you later?"
"No. But I'll be there in November when you arrive."
"All right." I took a deep breath. "I love you."
"I love you too," said my mother. "Shall we go?"
I nodded and stepped forward, and slowly we made our way down the aisle, passing the faces of our friends and family, and I delivered her into the arms of a kind man who swore to love her and take care of her for the rest of her life.
And at the end, when the entire congregation broke into applause, I realized that I was finally happy.
John Boyne (The Heart's Invisible Furies)
A flash of lightning ghosts into the room, and when it leaves again, my eyes follow it back out to sea. In the window's reflection, I glimpse a figure standing behind me. I don't need to turn around to see who creates such a big outline-or who makes my whole body turn into a goose-bump farm.
"How do you feel?" he says.
"Better," I say to his reflection.
He hops over the back of the couch and grabs my chin, turning my head side to side, up and down, all around, watching for my reaction. "I just did that," I tell him. "Nothing."
He nods and unhands me. "Rach-Uh, my mom called your mom and told her what happened. I guess your mom called your doctor, and he said it's pretty common, but that you should rest a few more days. My mom insisted you stay the night since no one needs to be driving in this weather."
"And my mother agreed to that?"
Even in the dark, I don't miss his little grin. "My mom can be pretty persuasive," he says. "By the end of the conversation, your mom even suggested we both stay home from school tomorrow and hang out here so you can relax-since my mom will be home supervising, of course. Your mom said you wouldn't stay home if I went to school."
A flash from the storm illuminates my blush. "Because we told her we're dating."
He nods. "She said you should have stayed home today, but you threw a fit to go anyway. Honestly, I didn't realize you were so obsessed-ouch!"
I try to pinch him again, but he catches my wrist and pulls me over his lap like a child getting a spanking. "I was going to say, 'with history.'" He laughs.
"No you weren't. Let me up."
"I will." He laughs.
"Galen, you let me up right now-"
"Sorry, not ready yet."
I gasp. "Oh, no! The room is spinning again." I hold still, tense up.
Then the room does spin when he snatches me up and grabs my chin again. The look of concern etched on his face makes me feel a little guilty, but not guilty enough to keep my mouth shut. "Works every time," I tell him, giving my best ha-ha-you're-a-sucker smirk.
A snicker from the entryway cuts off what I can tell is about to be a good scolding. I've never heard Galen curse, but his glower just looks like a four-letter word waiting to come out. We both turn to see Toraf watching us with crossed arms. He is also wearing a ha-ha-you're-a-sucker smirk. "Dinner's ready, children," he says.
Yep, I definitely like Toraf. Galen rolls his eyes and extracts me from his lap. He hops up and leaves me there, and in the reflection, I see him ram his fist into Toraf's gut as he passes. Toraf grunts, but the smirk never leaves his face. He nods his head for me to follow them.
As we pass through the rooms, I try to remember the rich, sophisticated atmosphere, the marble floors, the hideous paintings, but my stomach makes sounds better suited to a dog kennel at feeding time.
"I think your stomach is making mating calls," Toraf whispers to me as we enter the kitchen. My blush debuts the same time we enter the kitchen, and it's enough to make Toraf laugh out loud.
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people—unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You’ll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and what they’re up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind. You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious. You need to get used to winnowing your thoughts, so that if someone says, “What are you thinking about?” you can respond at once (and truthfully) that you are thinking this or thinking that. And it would be obvious at once from your answer that your thoughts were straightforward and considerate ones—the thoughts of an unselfish person, one unconcerned with pleasure and with sensual indulgence generally, with squabbling, with slander and envy, or anything else you’d be ashamed to be caught thinking. Someone like that—someone who refuses to put off joining the elect—is a kind of priest, a servant of the gods, in touch with what is within him and what keeps a person undefiled by pleasures, invulnerable to any pain, untouched by arrogance, unaffected by meanness, an athlete in the greatest of all contests—the struggle not to be overwhelmed by anything that happens. With what leaves us dyed indelibly by justice, welcoming wholeheartedly whatever comes—whatever we’re assigned—not worrying too often, or with any selfish motive, about what other people say. Or do, or think. He does only what is his to do, and considers constantly what the world has in store for him—doing his best, and trusting that all is for the best. For we carry our fate with us—and it carries us. He keeps in mind that all rational things are related, and that to care for all human beings is part of being human. Which doesn’t mean we have to share their opinions. We should listen only to those whose lives conform to nature. And the others? He bears in mind what sort of people they are—both at home and abroad, by night as well as day—and who they spend their time with. And he cares nothing for their praise—men who can’t even meet their own standards.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
THE GHOST OF THE AUTHOR'S MOTHER HAS A CONVERSATION WITH HIS FIANCÉE ABOUT HIGHWAYS
...and down south, honey. When the side of the road began to swell with dead and dying things, that's when us black children knew it was summer. Daddy didn't keep clocks in the house. Ain't no use when the sky round those parts always had some flames runnin' to horizon, lookin' like the sun was always out. back when I was a little girl, I swear, them white folk down south would do anything to stop another dark thing from touching the land, even the nighttime. We ain't have streetlights, or some grandmotherly voice riding through the fields on horseback tellin' us when to come inside. What we had was the stomach of a deer, split open on route 59. What we had was flies resting on the exposed insides of animals with their tongues touching the pavement. What we had was the smell of gunpowder and the promise of more to come, and, child, that'll get you home before the old folks would break out the moonshine and celebrate another day they didn't have to pull the body of someone they loved from the river. I say 'river' because I want you to always be able to look at the trees without crying. When we moved east, I learned how a night sky can cup a black girl in its hands and ask for forgiveness. My daddy sold the pistol he kept in the sock drawer and took me to the park. Those days, I used to ask him what he feared, and he always said "the bottom of a good glass." And then he stopped answering. And then he stopped coming home altogether.
Something about the first day of a season, honey. Something always gotta sacrifice its blood. Everything that has its time must be lifted from the earth. My boys don't bother with seasons anymore. My sons went to sleep in the spring once and woke up to a motherless summer. All they know now is that it always be colder than it should be. I wish I could fix this for you. I'm sorry none of my children wear suits anymore. I wish ties didn't remind my boys of shovels, and dirt, and an empty living room. They all used to look so nice in ties. I'm sorry that you may come home one day to the smell of rotting meat, every calendar you own, torn off the walls, burning in a trashcan.
And it will be the end of spring.
And you will know.
Hanif Abdurraqib (The Crown Ain't Worth Much)
My, my,” Chloe murmured, studying the chocolate she held. “I do believe this one’s gone off. It stinks like a cesspit.” Her eyes lifted. “Oh, wait. It’s only the guttersnipe.”
“Or perhaps it’s your perfume,” I said cordially. “You always smell like a whore.”
“It’s French,” retorted Runny-Nose, before Chloe could speak.
“Then she smells like a French whore.”
“Aren’t you the eloquent young miss.” Chloe’s gaze cut to Sophia, standing close behind me. “Slumming, little sister? I can’t confess I’m surprised.”
“I’m merely here for the show,” Sophia said breezily. “Something tells me it’s going to be good.”
I took the brooch from my pocket and let it slide down my index finger, giving it a playful twirl. “A fine try. But, alas, no winner’s prize for you, Chloe. I’m sure you’ve been waiting here for Westcliffe to raise the alarm about her missing ring, ready with some well-rehearsed story about how you saw me sneaking into her office and sneaking out again, and oh, look isn’t that Eleanore’s brooch there on the floor? But I’ve news for you, dearie. You’re sloppy. You’re stupid. And the next time you go into my room and steal from me, I’ll make certain you regret it for the rest of your days.”
“How dare you threaten me, you little tart!”
“I’m not threatening. You have no idea how easy it would be to, say, pour glue on your hair while you sleep. Cut up all your pretty dresses into ribbons.”
Chloe dropped her half-eaten chocolate back into its box, turning to her toadies. “You heard her! You all head her! When Westcliffe finds out about this-“
“I didn’t hear a thing,” piped up Sophia. “In fact, I do believe that Eleanore and I aren’t even here right now. We’re both off in my room, diligently studying.” She sauntered to my side, smiling. “And I’ll swear to that, sister. Without hesitation. I have no misgivings about calling you all liars right to Westcliffe’s face.”
“What fun,” I said softly, into the hush. “Shall we give it a go? What d’you say, girls? Up for a bit of blood sport?”
Chloe pushed to her feet, kicking the chocolates out of her way. All the toadies cringed.
“You,” she sneered, her gaze scouring me. “You with your ridiculous clothing and that preposterous bracelet, acting as if you actually belong here! Really, Eleanore, I wonder that you’ve learned nothing of real use yet. Allow me to explain matters to you. You may have duped Sophia into vouching for you, but your word means nothing. You’re no one. No matter what you do here or who you may somehow manage to impress, you’ll always be no one. How perfectly sad that you’re allowed to pretend otherwise.”
“I’m the one he wants,” I said evenly. “No one’s pretending that.”
I didn’t have to say who.
She stared at me, silent, her color high. I saw with interest that real tears began to well in her eyes.
“That’s right.” I gave the barest smile. “Me, not you. Think about that tomorrow, when I’m with him on the yacht. Think about how he watches me. How he listens to me. Another stunt like this”-I held up the circlet-“and you’ll be shocked at what I’m able to convince him about you.”
“As if you could,” she scoffed, but there was apprehension behind those tears.
I brought my foot down on one of the chocolates, grinding it into a deep, greasy smear along the rug.
“Cheerio,” I said to them all, and turned around and left.
Shana Abe (The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, #1))
Enchantment frightens us for good reason. Whether it's enchantment of the ordinary kind or the magical kind, it may very well change us, and we may not be able to return to our old selves, to our old certainties and our easy understandings. Magical people seem to fear that less than the rest of us. They want to be enchanted and are quite willing to be changed forever as they go deeper and deeper into realms beyond everyday understanding. Most of us wouldn't mind a little more magic ourselves, if we could slip in and out of it. We too want to leave the brab realities of work-a-day life, experience the transcendent, to revel in endless possibility. But most of us have lost any belief in good magic. All that's left is a vague sence that evil is afoot and ready to draw nearer. The only magic most of us believe in is the scary stuff.
Christine Wicker (Not In Kansas Anymore)
March 28, 2005
I am so ready to be home I have already gone into autopilot mode. Just counting the days, waiting for that big bird to take me home. I am sorry to hear that you are not feeling good. Hopefully getting off the pill will help. Hopefully when I get home I can help with your emotions. Whatever you need, just tell me. I want to make things easy for you when I am home. At least as easy as possible. I love you so much gorgeous. Glad to hear your dad has busted his ass to help us out so much. We are so lucky with our family, I couldn’t have married into a better one. Not to mention couldn’t have married a better woman, cause there is none better. I also got an email from your niece. It was a PowerPoint slide that was real cute. It had a green background with a frog, and said she missed me. Sweet, huh. If she didn’t forward a copy to you, I can. Oh, about the birth control: You said you wanted ten kids anyway. Change your mind yet? What is Bubba doing that has changed? Is he being a fart or is he just full of energy? I’m sure when I get home you will be ready for a break. How about after I get to see you for a little while, you go to a spa for a weekend to be pampered? I REALLY think you deserve it. You’ve been going and going, kinda like the Energizer Bunny. Just like when I get home for sex, we keep going and going and going and going and, you get the point. Hopefully you at least smiled over that. I always want you to be happy, and want to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Even if it means buying a Holstein cow. Yuk! That’s big time love. Wow. I hope you have a good day, and can find time in the day to rest. I love you more than you will ever know.
Taya Kyle (American Wife: Love, War, Faith, and Renewal)
Neliss, why is this rug wet?”
Legna peeked around the corner to glance at the rug in question, looking as if she had never seen it before.
“We have a rug there?”
“Did you or did you not promise me you were not going to practice extending how long you can hold your invisible bowls of water in the house? And what on earth is that noise?”
“Okay, I confess to the water thing, which was an honest mistake, I swear it. But as for a noise, I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“You cannot hear that? It has been driving me crazy for days now. It just repeats over and over again, a sort of clicking sound.”
“Well, it took a millennium, but you have finally gone completely senile. Listen, this is a house built by Lycanthropes. It is more a cave than a house, to be honest. I have yet to decorate to my satisfaction. There is probably some gizmo of some kind lying around, and I will come across it eventually or it will quit working the longer it is exposed to our influence. Even though I do not hear anything, I will start looking for it. Is this satisfactory?”
“I swear, Magdelegna, I am never letting you visit that Druid ever again.”
“Oh, stop it. You do not intimidate me, as much as you would love to think you do. Now, I will come over there if you promise not to yell at me anymore. You have been quite moody lately.”
“I would be a hell of a lot less moody if I could figure out what that damn noise is.”
Legna came around the corner, moving into his embrace with her hands behind her back. He immediately tried to see what she had in them.
“What is that?”
“Remember when you asked me why I cut my hair?”
“Ah yes, the surprise. Took you long enough to get to it.”
“If you do not stop, I am not going to give it to you.”
“Okay. I am stopping. What is it?”
She held out the box tied with a ribbon to him and he accepted it with a lopsided smile.
“I do not think I even remember the last time I received a gift,” he said, leaning to kiss her cheek warmly. He changed his mind, though, and opted to go for her mouth next. She smiled beneath the cling of their lips and pushed away.
He reached for the ribbon and soon was pulling the top off the box.
“What is this?”
“Gideon, what does it look like?”
He picked up the woven circlet with a finger and inspected it closely. It was an intricately and meticulously fashioned necklace, clearly made strand by strand from the coffee-colored locks of his mate’s hair. In the center of the choker was a silver oval with the smallest writing he had ever seen filling it from top to bottom.
“What does it say?”
“It is the medics’ code of ethics,” she said softly, taking it from him and slipping behind him to link the piece around his neck beneath his hair. “And it fits perfectly.” She came around to look at it, smiling. “I knew it would look handsome on you.”
“I do not usually wear jewelry or ornamentation, but . . . it feels nice. How on earth did they make this?”
“Well, it took forever, if you want to know why it took so long for me to make good on the surprise. But I wanted you to have something that was a little bit of me and a little bit of you.”
“I already have something like that. It is you. And . . . and me, I guess,” he laughed. “We are a little bit of each other for the rest of our lives.”
“See, that makes this a perfect symbol of our love,” she said smartly, reaching up on her toes to kiss him.
“Well, thank you, sweet. It is a great present and an excellent surprise. Now, if you really want to surprise me, help me find out what that noise is.
Jacquelyn Frank (Gideon (Nightwalkers, #2))
The boy who wears his comic books like armor often sits
alone. He is more comfortable with Iron Man and his
own thoughts than he will ever be with a woman.
Because of his nervous ticks, no matter how long they
are together, she will never feel commonplace to him.
She will always know she is special.
The boy who wears his comic books like armor
tries to tell her that he loves her every day.
She does not understand.
When he says, You remind me of Psylocke,
he is not saying he actually thinks
she is a scantily clad assassin.
He is just saying, Damn girl, you must be psychic.
How else could you always know the right thing
to make me smile? You have to be a ninja.
How else could you have stolen my heart so easily?
He is saying, Dammmmmmmmnnnnnn girl,
you absolutely have to be Psylocke!
She is the only character I have ever read about
who is as graceful and daring as you are.
She does not understand.
The boy who wears his comic books like armor
is not a good lover. The way he barely touches
her makes her feel unattractive.
Like he is only doing this because she wants him to.
This could not be further from the truth.
He is simply treating her like the only thing
that has ever been this important to him before:
He removes her clothes like he would
the slipcover from a brand new issue,
as careful not to wrinkle her clothing
as he is not to damage the plastic.
One day, she will leave him because feeling special isn’t
as important as feeling loved. He does love her.
She can’t understand. He will spend the rest of his life
wishing he were Peter Parker, knowing that if he had a
mask to remove, then, just like Mary Jane, she would be
with him forever. But he doesn’t have a mask to remove,
just an awkward smile.
He hopes that one day
Jared Singer (Forgive Yourself These Tiny Acts of Self-Destruction)
What then? Are we only to buy the books that we read? The question has merely to be thus bluntly put, and it answers itself. All impassioned bookmen, except a few who devote their whole lives to reading, have rows of books on their shelves which they have never read, and which they never will read. I know that I have hundreds such. My eye rests on the works of Berkeley in three volumes, with a preface by the Right Honourable Arthur James Balfour. I cannot conceive the circumstances under which I shall ever read Berkeley; but I do not regret having bought him in a good edition, and I would buy him again if I had him not; for when I look at him some of his virtue passes into me; I am the better for him. A certain aroma of philosophy informs my soul, and I am less crude than I should otherwise be. This is not fancy, but fact.
"Taking Berkeley simply as an instance, I will utilise him a little further. I ought to have read Berkeley, you say; just as I ought to have read Spenser, Ben Jonson, George Eliot, Victor Hugo. Not at all. There is no ‘ought’ about it. If the mass of obtainable first-class literature were, as it was perhaps a century ago, not too large to be assimilated by a man of ordinary limited leisure _in_ his leisure and during the first half of his life, then possibly there might be an ‘ought’ about it. But the mass has grown unmanageable, even by those robust professional readers who can ‘grapple with whole libraries.’ And I am not a professional reader. I am a writer, just as I might be a hotel-keeper, a solicitor, a doctor, a grocer, or an earthenware manufacturer. I read in my scanty spare time, and I don’t read in all my spare time, either. I have other distractions. I read what I feel inclined to read, and I am conscious of no duty to finish a book that I don’t care to finish. I read in my leisure, not from a sense of duty, not to improve myself, but solely because it gives me pleasure to read. Sometimes it takes me a month to get through one book. I expect my case is quite an average case. But am I going to fetter my buying to my reading? Not exactly! I want to have lots of books on my shelves because I know they are good, because I know they would amuse me, because I like to look at them, and because one day I might have a caprice to read them. (Berkeley, even thy turn may come!) In short, I want them because I want them. And shall I be deterred from possessing them by the fear of some sequestered and singular person, some person who has read vastly but who doesn’t know the difference between a J.S. Muria cigar and an R.P. Muria, strolling in and bullying me with the dreadful query: ‘_Sir, do you read your books?_
Arnold Bennett (Mental Efficiency)
Do you know where we are?” he whispered. “Surely that is Baker Street,” I answered, staring through the dim window. “Exactly. We are in Camden House, which stands opposite to our own old quarters.” “But why are we here?” “Because it commands so excellent a view of that picturesque pile. Might I trouble you, my dear Watson, to draw a little nearer to the window, taking every precaution not to show yourself, and then to look up at our old rooms--the starting-point of so many of your little fairy-tales? We will see if my three years of absence have entirely taken away my power to surprise you.” I crept forward and looked across at the familiar window. As my eyes fell upon it, I gave a gasp and a cry of amazement. The blind was down, and a strong light was burning in the room. The shadow of a man who was seated in a chair within was thrown in hard, black outline upon the luminous screen of the window. There was no mistaking the poise of the head, the squareness of the shoulders, the sharpness of the features. The face was turned half-round, and the effect was that of one of those black silhouettes which our grandparents loved to frame. It was a perfect reproduction of Holmes. So amazed was I that I threw out my hand to make sure that the man himself was standing beside me. He was quivering with silent laughter. “Well?” said he. “Good heavens!” I cried. “It is marvellous.” “I trust that age doth not wither nor custom stale my infinite variety,” said he, and I recognized in his voice the joy and pride which the artist takes in his own creation. “It really is rather like me, is it not?” “I should be prepared to swear that it was you.” “The credit of the execution is due to Monsieur Oscar Meunier, of Grenoble, who spent some days in doing the moulding. It is a bust in wax. The rest I arranged myself during my visit to Baker Street this afternoon.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Complete Sherlock Holmes)
The problem, Augustine came to believe, is that if you think you can organize your own salvation you are magnifying the very sin that keeps you from it. To believe that you can be captain of your own life is to suffer the sin of pride. What is pride? These days the word “pride” has positive connotations. It means feeling good about yourself and the things associated with you. When we use it negatively, we think of the arrogant person, someone who is puffed up and egotistical, boasting and strutting about. But that is not really the core of pride. That is just one way the disease of pride presents itself. By another definition, pride is building your happiness around your accomplishments, using your work as the measure of your worth. It is believing that you can arrive at fulfillment on your own, driven by your own individual efforts. Pride can come in bloated form. This is the puffed-up Donald Trump style of pride. This person wants people to see visible proof of his superiority. He wants to be on the VIP list. In conversation, he boasts, he brags. He needs to see his superiority reflected in other people’s eyes. He believes that this feeling of superiority will eventually bring him peace. That version is familiar. But there are other proud people who have low self-esteem. They feel they haven’t lived up to their potential. They feel unworthy. They want to hide and disappear, to fade into the background and nurse their own hurts. We don’t associate them with pride, but they are still, at root, suffering from the same disease. They are still yoking happiness to accomplishment; it’s just that they are giving themselves a D– rather than an A+. They tend to be just as solipsistic, and in their own way as self-centered, only in a self-pitying and isolating way rather than in an assertive and bragging way. One key paradox of pride is that it often combines extreme self-confidence with extreme anxiety. The proud person often appears self-sufficient and egotistical but is really touchy and unstable. The proud person tries to establish self-worth by winning a great reputation, but of course this makes him utterly dependent on the gossipy and unstable crowd for his own identity. The proud person is competitive. But there are always other people who might do better. The most ruthlessly competitive person in the contest sets the standard that all else must meet or get left behind. Everybody else has to be just as monomaniacally driven to success. One can never be secure. As Dante put it, the “ardor to outshine / Burned in my bosom with a kind of rage.” Hungry for exaltation, the proud person has a tendency to make himself ridiculous. Proud people have an amazing tendency to turn themselves into buffoons, with a comb-over that fools nobody, with golden bathroom fixtures that impress nobody, with name-dropping stories that inspire nobody. Every proud man, Augustine writes, “heeds himself, and he who pleases himself seems great to himself. But he who pleases himself pleases a fool, for he himself is a fool when he is pleasing himself.”16 Pride, the minister and writer Tim Keller has observed, is unstable because other people are absentmindedly or intentionally treating the proud man’s ego with less reverence than he thinks it deserves. He continually finds that his feelings are hurt. He is perpetually putting up a front. The self-cultivator spends more energy trying to display the fact that he is happy—posting highlight reel Facebook photos and all the rest—than he does actually being happy. Augustine suddenly came to realize that the solution to his problem would come only after a transformation more fundamental than any he had previously entertained, a renunciation of the very idea that he could be the source of his own solution.
David Brooks (The Road to Character)
I never wanted it to end. I wondered if it felt like this the first time. Seeing him. Really seeing him.
He wiped his eyes. “You really want to know, don’t you.”
I gave in. I couldn’t not. I reached over and put my hand on his knee. He tensed briefly but settled when I curled my fingers over his leg, just letting my hand rest there. I couldn’t look at him. I thought my face was on fire.
He said, “That’s….” His voice broke. He cleared his throat. “After the hunters came, something shifted. Between us. I don’t know how or why exactly. You stopped being weird around me.”
“Seems like I’ve picked that right up again.”
He chuckled. “A little. It’s okay, though. It’s like… a beginning. You came to me one day. You were sweating. I remember thinking something bad had happened because you kept wringing your hands until I thought you were going to break your bones. I asked you what was wrong. And you know what you said?
“Probably something stupid.”
“You said that you didn’t think you could ever give up on me. That no matter how long it took, you would be there until I told you otherwise. That you weren’t going to push me for anything but you thought I should know that you had… intentions.”
“Oh dear god,” I said in horror. “And that worked?”
Kelly snorted, and I felt his hand on the back of mine. “Not quite. But what you said next did.”
I looked over at him. “What did I say?”
He was watching me with human eyes, and I thought I could love him. I saw how easy it could be. I didn’t, not yet, but oh, I wanted to. “You said you thought the world of me. That we’d been through so much and you couldn’t stand another day if I didn’t know that. You told me that you were a good wolf, a strong wolf, and if I’d only give you a chance, you’d make sure I’d never regret it.”
I had to know. “Have you?”
“No,” he whispered. “Not once. Not ever.” He looked away. “It was good between us. We took it slow. You smiled all the time. You brought me flowers once. Mom was pissed because you ripped them up from her flower bed and there were still roots and dirt hanging from the bottom, but you were so damn proud of yourself. You said it was romantic. And I believed you.” He plucked a blade of grass and held it in the palm of his hand. “There was something… I don’t know. Endless. About you and me.” He took my hand off his knee and turned it over. He set the blade of grass in my palm and closed his hand over mine. He looked toward the sky and the stars through the canopy of leaves. “We came here sometimes. Just the two of us. And you would pretend to know all the stars. You would make up stories that absolutely weren’t true, and I remember looking at you, thinking how wonderful it was to be by your side. And if we were lucky, there’d be—ah. Look. Again.” His voice was wet and soft, and it cracked me right down the middle.
Fireflies rose around us, pulsing slowly. At first there were only two or three, but then more began to hang heavy in the air. They were yellow-green, and I wondered how this could be real. Here. Now. This moment. How I ever could have forgotten this.
It had to have been the strongest magic the world had ever known.
That was the only way I’d have ever left his side.
He reached out with his other hand, quick and light, and snatched a firefly out of the air. He was careful not to crush it. He leaned his head toward mine like he was about to tell me a great secret.
Instead he opened his hand between us.
The firefly lay near the bottom of his ring finger. Its shell was black with a stripe down the middle. It barely moved.
“Just wait,” Kelly whispered.
It only took a moment.
The firefly pulsed in his hand.
“There it is,” he said. He pulled away and lifted his hand. The firefly took to its wings, lifting off and flying away.
He stared after it.
I only had eyes for him.
T.J. Klune (Heartsong (Green Creek, #3))
And you approve of your future sister-in-law?” Cade asked.
“Sure. Isabelle seems great.” Her sister, on the other hand . . .
Huxley studied him as he slid on his boxer briefs. “What’s the ‘but’?”
“No ‘but,’” Vaughn said. “I like Simon’s fiancée.” And, fortunately for him, she inherited all the good-natured genes in the family.
Cade furrowed his brow. “There it is again—that look. Like you want to say more.”
Vaughn scoffed at that as he pulled on his clothes. “There’s no look.”
Cade pointed. “Huxley just put on his underwear. Not once, in the two years that you two have been partners, have you ever missed an opportunity to smirk at the fact that the man irons his boxer briefs.”
“Hey. They fold neater that way. It saves space in the drawer,” Huxley said.
Cade gave Vaughn a look. I rest my case. “So? What gives?”
Vaughn took in the tenacious expression on his friend’s face and knew that any further denials would only bring on more questions. He sighed. “Fine.” He thought about where to begin. “Isabelle has a sister.”
Huxley rolled his eyes. “Here we go.”
“No, no. Not here we go. She and I are not going anywhere,” Vaughn said emphatically. “The woman’s a . . .” He paused, trying to think of the right word. He caught sight of another agent, Sam Wilkins, passing by their row of lockers. The man was a walking dictionary. “Hey, Wilkins—what’s that word you used the other day, to describe the female witness who kept arguing with you?”
“Termagant,” Wilkins called over. “Means ‘quarrelsome woman.’”
Vaughn nodded at Cade and Huxley in satisfaction, thinking that definition perfectly captured Sidney Sinclair. “There. She’s a termagant.”
“It can also mean ‘vixen,’” Wilkins shouted from the next aisle over.
“Thank you, Merriam-Webster,” Vaughn called back, with a half growl. “I think we’ve got it.”
Cade raised an eyebrow teasingly. “So. Does the vixen have a name?”
Yep, Vaughn had walked right into that one. “Sidney
Julie James (It Happened One Wedding (FBI/US Attorney, #5))
When she finally reached it, she bent forward and looked through the peephole.
Jay was grinning back at her from outside.
Her heart leaped for a completely different reason.
She set aside her crutches and quickly unbolted the door to open it.
"What took you so long?"
Her knee was bent and her ankle pulled up off the ground. She balanced against the doorjamb. "What d'you think, dumbass?" she retorted smartly, keeping her voice down so she wouldn't alert her parents. "You scared the crap out of me, by the way. My parents are already in bed, and I was all alone down here."
"Good!" he exclaimed as he reached in and grabbed her around the waist, dragging her up against him and wrapping his arms around her.
She giggled while he held her there, enjoying everything about the feel of him against her. "What are you doing here? I thought I wouldn't see you till tomorrow."
"I wanted to show you something!" He beamed at her, and his enthusiasm reached out to capture her in its grip. She couldn't help smiling back excitedly.
"What is it?" she asked breathlessly.
He didn't release her; he just turned, still holding her gently in his arms, so that she could see out into the driveway. The first thing she noticed was the officer in his car, alert now as he kept a watchful eye on the two of them. Violet realized that it was late, already past eleven, and from the look on his face, she thought he must have been hoping for a quiet, uneventful evening out there.
And then she saw the car. It was beautiful and sleek, painted a glossy black that, even in the dark, reflected the light like a polished mirror. Violet recognized the Acura insignia on the front of the hood, and even though she could tell it wasn't brand-new, it looked like it had been well taken care of.
"Whose is it?" she asked admiringly. It was way better than her crappy little Honda.
Jay grinned again, his face glowing with enthusiasm. "It's mine. I got it tonight. That's why I had to go. My mom had the night off, and I wanted to get it before..." He smiled down at her. "I didn't want to borrow your car to take you to the dance."
"Really?" she breathed. "How...? I didn't even know you were..." She couldn't seem to find the right words; she was envious and excited for him all at the same time.
"I know right?" he answered, as if she'd actually asked coherent questions. "I've been saving for...for forever, really. What do you think?"
Violet smiled at him, thinking that he was entirely too perfect for her. "I think it's beautiful," she said with more meaning than he understood. And then she glanced back at the car. "I had no idea that you were getting a car. I love it, Jay," she insisted, wrapping her arms around his neck as he hoisted her up, cradling her like a small child."
"I'd offer to take you for a test-drive, but I'm afraid that Supercop over there would probably Taser me with his stun gun. So you'll have to wait until tomorrow," he said, and without waiting for an invitation he carried her inside, dead bolting the door behind him.
He settled down on the couch, where she'd been sitting by herself just moments before, without letting her go. There was a movie on the television, but neither of them paid any attention to it as Jay reclined, stretching out and drawing her down into the circle of his arms. They spent the rest of the night like that, cradled together, their bodies fitting each other perfectly, as they kissed and whispered and laughed quietly in the darkness.
At some point Violet was aware that she was drifting into sleep, as her thoughts turned dreamlike, becoming disjointed and fuzzy and hard to hold on to. She didn't fight it; she enjoyed the lazy, drifting feeling, along with the warmth created by the cocoon of Jay's body wrapped protectively around her.
It was the safest she'd felt in days...maybe weeks...
And for the first time since she'd been chased by the man in the woods, her dreams were free from monsters.
Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder (The Body Finder, #1))
I would choose you." The words were out before he thought better of them, and there was no way to pull them back.
Silence stretched between them. Perhaps the floor will open and I'll plummet to my death, he thought hopefully.
"As your general?" Her voice careful. She was offering him a chance to right the ship, to take them back to familiar waters.
And a fine general you are.
There could be no better leader.
You may be prickly, but that what Ravka needs.
So many easy replies.
Instead he said, "As my queen."
He couldn't read her expression. Was she pleased? Embarrassed? Angry? Every cell in his body screamed for him to crack a joke, to free both of them from the peril of the moment. But he wouldn't. He was still a privateer, and he'd come too far.
"Because I'm a dependable soldier," she said, but she didn't sound sure. It was the same cautious, tentative voice, the voice of someone waiting for a punch line, or maybe a blow. "Because I know all of your secrets."
"I do trust you more than myself sometimes- and I think very highly of myself."
Hadn't she said there was no one else she'd choose to have her back in a fight?
But that isn't the whole truth, is it, you great cowardly lump. To hell with it. They might all die soon enough. They were safe here in the dark, surrounded by the hum of engines.
"I would make you my queen because I want you. I want you all the time."
She rolled on to her side, resting her head on her folded arm. A small movement, but he could feel her breath now. His heart was racing. "As your general, I should tell you that would be a terrible decision."
He turned on to his side. They were facing each other now. "As your king, I should tell you that no one could dissuade me. No prince and no power could make me stop wanting you."
Nikolai felt drunk. Maybe unleashing the demon had loosed something in his brain. She was going to laugh at him. She would knock him senseless and tell him he had no right. But he couldn't seem to stop.
"I would give you a crown if I could," he said. "I would show you the world from the prow of a ship. I would choose you, Zoya. As my general, as my friend, as my bride. I would give you a sapphire the size of an acorn." He reached in to his pocket. "And all I would ask in return is that you wear this damnable ribbon in your hair on our wedding day."
She reached out, her fingers hovering over the coil of blue velvet ribbon resting in his palm.
Then she pulled back her hand, cradling her fingers as if they'd been singed.
"You will wed a Taban sister who craves a crown," she said. "Or a wealthy Kerch girl, or maybe a Fjerdan royal. You will have heirs and a future. I'm not the queen Ravka needs."
"And if you're the queen I want?"
She sat up, drew her knees in, wrapped her arms around them as if she would make a shelter of her own body. He wanted to pull her back down beside him and press his mouth to hers. He wanted her to look at him again with possibility in her eyes. "But that's not who I am. Whatever is inside me is sharp and gray as the thorn wood." She rose and dusted off her kefta. "I wasn't born to be a bride. I was made to be a weapon."
Nikolai forced himself to smile. It wasn't as if he'd offered her a real proposal. They both knew such a thing was impossible. And yet her refusal smarted just as badly as if he'd gotten on his knee and offered her his hand like some kind of besotted fool. It stung. All saints, it stung.
"Well," he said cheerfully, pushing up on his elbows and looking up at her with all the wry humour he could muster. "Weapons are good to have around too. Far more useful than brides and less likely to mope about the palace. But if you won't rule Ravka by my side, what does the future hold, General?"
Zoya opened the door to the Cargo hold. Light flooded in gilding her features when she looked back at him. "I'll fight on beside you. As your general. As your friend. Because whatever my failings, I know this. You are the king Ravka needs.
Leigh Bardugo (Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2))
The aristocratic rebel, of whom Byron was in his day the exemplar, is a very different type from the leader of a peasant or proletarian revolt. Those who are hungry have no need of an elaborate philosophy to stimulate or excuse discontent, and anything of the kind appears to the m, merely an amusement of the idle rich. They want what others have, not some intangible and metaphysical good. Though they may preach Christian love, as the medieval communist rebels did, their real reasons for doing so are very simple: that the lack of it in the rich and powerful causes the sufferings of the poor, and that the presence of it among comrades in revolt is thought essential to success. But experience of the struggle leads to a despair of the power of love, leaving naked hate as the driving force. A rebel of this type, if, like Marx, he invents a philosophy, invents one solely designed to demonstrate the ultimate victory of his party, not one concerned with values. His values remain primitive: the good is enough to eat, and the rest is talk. No hungry man is likely to think otherwise.
Bertrand Russell (History of Western Philosophy)
You think this is a game?” I snap, pointing at Stanwin’s body. “A puzzle, with disposable pieces. Solve it and we get to go home.” He frowns at me, as if I’m a stranger who’s asked directions to a place that doesn’t exist. “I don’t understand your concern.” “If we solve Evelyn’s murder in the manner you’re suggesting, we don’t deserve to go home! Can’t you see? These masks we wear betray us. They reveal us.” “You’re babbling,” he says, searching Stanwin’s pockets. “We are never more ourselves than when we think people aren’t watching. Don’t you realize that? It doesn’t matter if Stanwin’s alive tomorrow; you murdered him today. You murdered a man in cold blood, and that will blot your soul for the rest of your life. I don’t know why we’re here, Daniel, or why this is happening to us, but we should be proving that it’s an injustice, not making ourselves worthy of it.” “You’re misguided,” he says, contempt creeping into his voice. “We can no more mistreat these people than we could their shadow cast upon the wall. I don’t understand what you’re asking of me.” “That we hold ourselves to a higher standard,” I say, my voice rising. “That we be better men than our hosts! Murdering Stanwin was Daniel Coleridge’s solution, but it shouldn’t be yours. You’re a good man. You can’t lose sight of that.” “A good man,” he scoffs. “Avoiding unpleasant acts doesn’t make a man good. Look at where we are, what’s been done to us. Escaping this place requires that we do what is necessary, even if our nature compels us otherwise. I know this makes you squeamish, that you don’t have the stomach for it. I was the same, but I no longer have the time to tiptoe around my ethics. I can end this tonight and I mean to, so don’t measure me by how tightly I cling to my goodness, measure me by what I’m willing to sacrifice that you might cling to yours. If I fail, you can always try another way.” “And how will you live with yourself when you’re done?” I demand. “I’ll look at the faces of my family and know that what I lost in this place was not nearly as important as my reward for leaving it.” “You can’t believe that,” I say. “I do, and so will you after a few more days in this place,
Stuart Turton (The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle)
A rattle of dishes warned of a servant’s entry into the hall, but Christopher was incensed, and half turning with a growl, he gestured Paine back.
“Get out of here, man!”
“Christopher!” Erienne gasped and took two halting steps to follow the befuddled servant, but Christopher came around to face her with a glare.
“Stay where you are, madam! I am not finished with you.”
“You have no right to give orders here,” she protested, her own ire growing. “This is my husband’s house!”
“I’ll give orders when and where I damn well please, and for once, you will stand and listen until I’m through!”
More than a trifle outraged herself, Erienne hurled back her answer. “You may command the men on your ship to your will, Mister Seton, but you have no such authority here! Good day to you!”
Catching up her skirts, she whirled and stalked toward the tower until she heard the sound of rapid footsteps coming behind her, then a sudden panic seized her that he would make such a scene that she would not be able to face the servants… or her husband. She raced into the entry, stepping over the puddle, and took to the stairs, forcing every bit of strength she could into her limbs. She had barely gained the fourth step when she heard sliding feet, a loud thump, and then a painful grunt followed by an angry curse.
When she whirled, Christopher was just coming to rest in a heap against the wall after sliding across the floor, partway on his back. For a moment she stared aghast at the dignified man sprawled in a most undignified manner, but when he raised his head to look at her with barely contained rage, she was struck by the humor of it all. Bubbling laughter broke forth, winning from him a dark scowl of exasperation.
“Are you hurt, Christopher?” she asked sweetly.
“Aye! My pride has been mightily bruised!”
“Oh, that will mend, sir,” she chuckled, spreading her skirts to perch primly on the step above him. Her eyes danced with a lively light that was simply dazzling to behold. “But you should take care. If such a modest spot of water can bring you down so abruptly, I would not advise sailing beyond these shores.”
“ ’Tis not a spot of water that’s brought me down, but a waspish wench who sets her barbs against me at every turn.”
“You dare accuse me when you come in here huffing and snorting like a raging bull?” She gave a throaty, skeptical laugh. “Really, Christopher, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You frightened Paine and nearly made me swallow my heart.”
“That’s an impossibility, madam, for that thing is surely made of cold, hard steel.”
“You’re pouting,” she chided flippantly, “because I have not fallen swooning at your feet.”
“I’m angry because you continually deny the fact that you should be my wife!” he stated emphatically.
Footsteps on the stairs behind Erienne made them glance up. Aggie came nonchalantly down the steps, seeming unaware of Christopher’s storm-dark frown. Excusing herself, she stepped past her mistress. Finally, on reaching level footing, she contemplated the man, a twinkle of mischief in her eye.
“Aren’t ye a wee bit old ter be takin’ yer leisure on the floor, sir?”
He raised a brow at Erienne as that one smothered a giggle, and with a snort, got to his feet and brushed off his breeches and coatsleeve.
-Christopher, Erienne, and Aggie
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss (A Rose in Winter)
Let the tasks for the day announce themselves for your contemplation. Maybe you can do this in the morning, as you sit on the edge of your bed. Maybe you can try, the night before, when you are preparing to sleep. Ask yourself for a voluntary contribution. If you ask nicely, and listen carefully, and don’t try any treachery, you might be offered one. Do this every day, for a while. Then do it for the rest of your life. Soon you will find yourself in a different situation. Now you will be asking yourself, habitually, “What could I do, that I would do, to make Life a little better?” You are not dictating to yourself what “better” must be. You are not being a totalitarian, or a utopian, even to yourself, because you have learned from the Nazis and the Soviets and the Maoists and from your own experience that being a totalitarian is a bad thing. Aim high. Set your sights on the betterment of Being. Align yourself, in your soul, with Truth and the Highest Good. There is habitable order to establish and beauty to bring into existence. There is evil to overcome, suffering to ameliorate, and yourself to better.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
Instead of concentrating on how we can include the “other,” too often in American Christianity the focus becomes on when, how, and finding the right justifications for excluding the “other.” When I truly begin to appreciate the inclusive nature of Jesus, my heart laments at all the exclusiveness I see and experience. I think of my female friends; women of wisdom, peace, discernment, and character who should be emulated by the rest of us. When I listen and learn from these women, I realize what an amazing leaders they would be in church—but many never will be leaders in that way because they are lacking one thing: male genitals. Wise and godly women have been excluded, not because of a lack of gifting, education, or ability, but because they were born with the wrong private parts. I also think of a man who attended my former church who has an intellectual disability. He was friendly, faithful, and could always be counted on for a good laugh because he had absolutely no filter— yelling out at least six times during each sermon. One time in church my daughter quietly leaned over to tell me she had to go to the bathroom—and, in true form so that everyone heard, he shouted out, “Hey! Pipe it down back there!” It was hilarious. However, our friend has been asked to leave several churches because of his “disruptiveness.” Instead of being loved and embraced for who he is, he has been repeatedly excluded from the people of God because of a disability. We find plenty of other reasons to exclude people. We exclude because people have been divorced, exclude them for not signing on to our 18-page statements of faith, exclude them because of their mode of baptism, exclude them because of their sexual orientation, exclude them for rejecting predestination…we have become a religious culture focused on exclusion of the “other,” instead of following the example of Jesus that focuses on finding ways for the radical inclusion of the “other.” Every day I drive by churches that proudly have “All Are Welcome” plastered across their signs; however, I rarely believe it—and I don’t think others believe it either. Far too often, instead of church being something that exists for the “other,” church becomes something that exists for the “like us” and the “willing to become like us.” And so, Christianity in America is dying.
Benjamin L. Corey (Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus)
I brushed my teeth like a crazed lunatic as I examined myself in the mirror. Why couldn’t I look the women in commercials who wake up in a bed with ironed sheets and a dewy complexion with their hair perfectly tousled? I wasn’t fit for human eyes, let alone the piercing eyes of the sexy, magnetic Marlboro Man, who by now was walking up the stairs to my bedroom. I could hear the clomping of his boots.
The boots were in my bedroom by now, and so was the gravelly voice attached to them. “Hey,” I heard him say. I patted an ice-cold washcloth on my face and said ten Hail Marys, incredulous that I would yet again find myself trapped in the prison of a bathroom with Marlboro Man, my cowboy love, on the other side of the door. What in the world was he doing there? Didn’t he have some cows to wrangle? Some fence to fix? It was broad daylight; didn’t he have a ranch to run? I needed to speak to him about his work ethic.
“Oh, hello,” I responded through the door, ransacking the hamper in my bathroom for something, anything better than the sacrilege that adorned my body. Didn’t I have any respect for myself?
I heard Marlboro Man laugh quietly. “What’re you doing in there?” I found my favorite pair of faded, soft jeans.
“Hiding,” I replied, stepping into them and buttoning the waist.
“Well, c’mere,” he said softly.
My jeans were damp from sitting in the hamper next to a wet washcloth for two days, and the best top I could find was a cardinal and gold FIGHT ON! T-shirt from my ‘SC days. It wasn’t dingy, and it didn’t smell. That was the best I could do at the time. Oh, how far I’d fallen from the black heels and glitz of Los Angeles. Accepting defeat, I shrugged and swung open the door.
He was standing there, smiling. His impish grin jumped out and grabbed me, as it always did.
“Well, good morning!” he said, wrapping his arms around my waist. His lips settled on my neck. I was glad I’d spritzed myself with Giorgio.
“Good morning,” I whispered back, a slight edge to my voice. Equal parts embarrassed at my puffy eyes and at the fact that I’d slept so late that day, I kept hugging him tightly, hoping against hope he’d never let go and never back up enough to get a good, long look at me. Maybe if we just stood there for fifty years or so, wrinkles would eventually shield my puffiness.
“So,” Marlboro Man said. “What have you been doing all day?”
I hesitated for a moment, then launched into a full-scale monologue. “Well, of course I had my usual twenty-mile run, then I went on a hike and then I read The Iliad. Twice. You don’t even want to know the rest. It’ll make you tired just hearing about it.”
“Uh-huh,” he said, his blue-green eyes fixed on mine. I melted in his arms once again. It happened any time, every time, he held me.
He kissed me, despite my gold FIGHT ON! T-shirt. My eyes were closed, and I was in a black hole, a vortex of romance, existing in something other than a human body. I floated on vapors.
Marlboro Man whispered in my ear, “So…,” and his grip around my waist tightened.
And then, in an instant, I plunged back to earth, back to my bedroom, and landed with a loud thud on the floor.
“R-R-R-R-Ree?” A thundering voice entered the room. It was my brother Mike. And he was barreling toward Marlboro Man and me, his arms outstretched.
“Hey!” Mike yelled. “W-w-w-what are you guys doin’?” And before either of us knew it, Mike’s arms were around us both, holding us in a great big bear hug.
“Well, hi, Mike,” Marlboro Man said, clearly trying to reconcile the fact that my adult brother had his arms around him.
It wasn’t awkward for me; it was just annoying. Mike had interrupted our moment. He was always doing that.
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)
What franticke fit (quoth he) hath thus distraught
Thee, foolish man, so rash a doome to give?
What justice ever other judgement taught,
But he should die, who merites not to live?
None else to death this man despayring drive,
But his owne guiltie mind deserving death.
Is then unjust to each his due to give?
Or let him die, that loatheth living breath?
Or let him die at ease, that liveth here uneath?
Who travels by the wearie wandring way,
To come unto his wished home in haste,
And meetes a flood, that doth his passage stay,
Is not great grace to helpe him over past,
Or free his feet, that in the myre sticke fast?
Most envious man, that grieves at neighbours good,
And fond, that joyest in the woe thou hast,
Why wilt not let him passe, that long hath stood
Upon the banke, yet wilt thy selfe not passe the flood?
He there does now enjoy eternall rest
And happie ease, which thou doest want and crave,
And further from it daily wanderest:
What if some litle paine the passage have,
That makes fraile flesh to feare the bitter wave?
Is not short paine well borne, that brings long ease,
And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet grave?
Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life does greatly please.
Is not his deed, what ever thing is donne,
In heaven and earth? did not he all create
To die againe? all ends that was begonne.
Their times in his eternall booke of fate
Are written sure, and have their certaine date.
Who then can strive with strong necessitie,
That holds the world in his still chaunging state,
Or shunne the death ordaynd by destinie?
When houre of death is come, let none aske whence, nor why.
The lenger life, I wote the greater sin,
The greater sin, the greater punishment:
All those great battels, which thou boasts to win,
Through strife, and bloud-shed, and avengement,
Now praysd, hereafter deare thou shalt repent:
For life must life, and bloud must bloud repay.
Is not enough thy evill life forespent?
For he, that once hath missed the right way,
The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray.
Then do no further goe, no further stray,
But here lie downe, and to thy rest betake,
Th'ill to prevent, that life ensewen may.
For what hath life, that may it loved make,
And gives not rather cause it to forsake?
Feare, sicknesse, age, losse, labour, sorrow, strife,
Paine, hunger, cold, that makes the hart to quake;
And ever fickle fortune rageth rife,
All which, and thousands mo do make a loathsome life.
Thou wretched man, of death hast greatest need,
If in true ballance thou wilt weigh thy state:
For never knight, that dared warlike deede,
More lucklesse disaventures did amate:
Witnesse the dongeon deepe, wherein of late
Thy life shut up, for death so oft did call;
And though good lucke prolonged hath thy date,
Yet death then, would the like mishaps forestall,
Into the which hereafter thou maiest happen fall.
Why then doest thou, O man of sin, desire
To draw thy dayes forth to their last degree?
Is not the measure of thy sinfull hire
High heaped up with huge iniquitie,
Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?
Is not enough, that to this Ladie milde
Thou falsed hast thy faith with perjurie,
And sold thy selfe to serve Duessa vilde,
With whom in all abuse thou hast thy selfe defilde?
Is not he just, that all this doth behold
From highest heaven, and beares an equall eye?
Shall he thy sins up in his knowledge fold,
And guiltie be of thine impietie?
Is not his law, Let every sinner die:
Die shall all flesh? what then must needs be donne,
Is it not better to doe willinglie,
Then linger, till the glasse be all out ronne?
Death is the end of woes: die soone, O faeries sonne.
Edmund Spenser (The Faerie Queene)
The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the surrogate father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife and said, "I'm off. The man should be here soon" Half an hour later, just by chance a door-to-door baby photographer rang the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. "Good morning, madam. I've come to...." "Oh, no need to explain. I've been expecting you," Mrs. Smith cut in. "Really?" the photographer asked. "Well, good. I've made a specialty of babies" "That's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat" After a moment, she asked, blushing, "Well, where do we start?" "Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch and perhaps a couple on the bed. Sometimes the living room floor is fun too; you can really spread out!" "Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work for Harry and me" "Well, madam, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But, if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven different angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results" "My, that's a lot of....." gasped Mrs. Smith. "Madam, in my line of work, a man must take his time. I'd love to be in and out in five minutes, but you'd be disappointed with that, I'm sure" "Don't I know it," Mrs. Smith said quietly. The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. "This was done on the top of a bus in downtown London" "Oh my God!" Mrs. Smith exclaimed, tugging at her handkerchief. "And these twins turned out exceptionally well, when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with" "She was difficult?" asked Mrs. Smith. "Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to Hyde Park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep, pushing to get a good look" "Four and five deep?" asked Mrs. Smith, eyes widened in amazement. "Yes," the photographer said, "And for more than three hours too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling. I could hardly concentrate. Then darkness approached and I began to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just packed it all in." Mrs. Smith leaned forward. "You mean squirrels actually chewed on your, um......equipment?" "That's right. Well, madam, if you're ready, I'll set up my tripod so we can get to work." "Tripod?????" "Oh yes, I have to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big for me to hold for very long. Madam? Madam? ....... Good Lord, she's fainted!!
Adam Kisiel (101 foolproof jokes to use in case of emergency)
We walk around inside that house like everything is okay, but it’s not, Quinn. We’ve been broken for years and I have no idea how to fix us. I find solutions. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at. But I have no idea how to solve me and you. Every day I come home, hoping things will be better. But you can’t even stand to be in the same room with me. You hate it when I touch you. You hate it when I talk to you. I pretend not to notice the things you don’t want me to notice because I don’t want you to hurt more than you already do.” He releases a rush of air. “I am not blaming you for what I did. It’s my fault. I did that. I fucked up. But I didn’t fuck up because I was attracted to her. I fucked up because I miss you. Every day, I miss you. When I’m at work, I miss you. When I’m home, I miss you. When you’re next to me in bed, I miss you. When I’m inside you, I miss you.” Graham presses his mouth to mine. I can taste his tears. Or maybe they’re my tears. He pulls back and presses his forehead to mine. “I miss you, Quinn. So much. You’re right here, but you aren’t. I don’t know where you went or when you left, but I have no idea how to bring you back. I am so alone. We live together. We eat together. We sleep together. But I have never felt more alone in my entire life.” Graham releases me and falls back against his seat. He rests his elbow against the window, covering his face as he tries to compose himself. He’s more broken than I’ve ever seen him in all the years I’ve known him. And I’m the one slowly tearing him down. I’m making him unrecognizable. I’ve strung him along by allowing him to believe there’s hope that I’ll eventually change. That I’ll miraculously turn back into the woman he fell in love with. But I can’t change. We are who our circumstances turn us into. “Graham.” I wipe at my face with my shirt. He’s quiet, but he eventually looks at me with his sad, heartbroken eyes. “I haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve been here this whole time. But you can’t see me because you’re still searching for someone I used to be. I’m sorry I’m no longer who I was back then. Maybe I’ll get better. Maybe I won’t. But a good husband loves his wife through the good and the bad times. A good husband stands at his wife’s side through sickness and health, Graham. A good husband- a husband who truly loves his wife - wouldn’t cheat on her and then blame his infidelity on the fact that he’s lonely.” Graham’s expression doesn’t change. He’s as still as a statue. The only thing that moves is his jaw as he works it back and forth. And then his eyes narrow and he tilts his head. “You don’t think I love you, Quinn?” “I know you used to. But I don’t think you love the person I’ve become.” Graham sits up straight. He leans forward, looking me hard in the eye. His words are clipped as he speaks. “I have loved you every single second of every day since the moment I laid eyes on you. I love you more now than I did the day I married you. I love you, Quinn. I fucking love you!” He opens his car door, gets out and then slams it shut with all his strength. The whole car shakes. He walks toward the house, but before he makes it to the front door, he spins around and points at me angrily. “I love you, Quinn!” He’s shouting the words. He’s angry. So angry. He walks toward his car and kicks at the front bumper with his bare foot. He kicks and he kicks and he kicks and then pauses to scream it at me again. “I love you!” He slams his fist against the top of his car, over and over, until he finally collapses against the hood, his head buried in his arms. He remains in this position for an entire minute, the only thing moving is the subtle shaking of his shoulders. I don’t move. I don’t even think I breathe. Graham finally pushes off the hood and uses his shirt to wipe at his eyes. He looks at me, completely defeated. “I love you,” he says quietly, shaking his head. “I always have. No matter how much you wish I didn’t.
Colleen Hoover (All Your Perfects)
She woke to find dawn light, pearly silver tinged with pink, washing into the room. For a moment, she wondered what had woken her, then she glanced at Breckenridge-into his hazel eyes.
"You're awake!" She only just managed not to squeal. The joy leaping through her was near impossible to contain.
He smiled weakly. His lids drooped, fell. "I've been awake for some time, but didn't want to wake you."
His voice was little more than a whisper.
She realized it was the faint pressure of his fingers on hers that had drawn her rom sleep. Those fingers, his hand, were no longer over-warm. Reaching out, she laid her fingers on his forehead. "Your temperature's normal-the fever's broken. Thank God."
Retrieving her hand, refocusing on his face, she felt relief crash through her in a disorienting, almost overpowering wave. "You have to rest." That was imperative; she felt driven by flustered urgency to ensure he understood. "You're mending nicely. Now the crisis has passed, you'll get better day by day. Catriona says that with time you'll be as good as new." Algaria had warned her to assure him of that.
He swallowed; eyes closed, he shifted his head in what she took to be a nod. "I'll rest in a minute. But first...did you mean what you said out there by the bull pen? That you truly want a future with me?"
"Yes." She clutched his hand more tightly between hers. "I meant every word."
His lips curved a fraction, then he sighed. Eyes still closed-she sensed he found his lids too heavy to lift-he murmured, "Good. Because I meant every word, too."
She smiled through sudden tears. "Even about our daughters being allowed to look like Cordelia?"
His smile grew more definite. "Said that aloud, did I? Yes, I meant that, but for pity's sake don't tell her--she'll never let me hear the end of it, and Constance will have my head to boot."
His words were starting to slur again; he was slipping back into healing sleep.
Catriona's words, her warning, rang in Heather's head. She remembered her vow. Rising, she leaned over him; his hand still clasped between hers, and kissed him gently. "Go to sleep and get well, but before you do, I need to tell you this. I love you. I will until the end of my days. I don't expect you to love me back, but that doesn't matter anymore. You have my love regardless, and always will." She kissed him again, sensed he'd heard, but that he was stunned, surprised. He didn't respond.
She drew back. "And now you need to put your mind to getting better. We have a wedding to attend, after all."
She knew he heard that-his features softened, eased.
As he slid into sleep, he was, very gently, smiling.
Stephanie Laurens (Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue (Cynster, #16; The Cynster Sisters Trilogy, #1))
I never leave home without my cayenne pepper. I either stash a bottle of the liquid extract in my pocket book or I stick it in the shopping cart I pull around with me all over Manhattan. When it comes to staying right side up in this world, a black woman needs at least three things. The first is a quiet spot of her own, a place away from the nonsense. The second is a stash of money, like the cash my mother kept hidden in the slit of her mattress. The last is several drops of cayenne pepper, always at the ready. Sprinkle that on your food before you eat it and it’ll kill any lurking bacteria. The powder does the trick as well, but I prefer the liquid because it hits the bloodstream quickly. Particularly when eating out, I won’t touch a morsel to my lips ‘til it’s speckled with with cayenne. That’s just one way I take care of my temple, aside from preparing my daily greens, certain other habits have carried me toward the century mark.
First thing I do every morning is drink four glasses of water. People think this water business is a joke. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I’ve known two elderly people who died of dehydration, one of whom fell from his bed in the middle of the night and couldn’t stand up because he was so parched.
Following my water, I drink 8 ounces of fresh celery blended in my Vita-mix. The juice cleanses the system and reduces inflammation. My biggest meal is my first one: oatmeal. I soak my oats overnight so that when I get up all I have to do is turn on the burner. Sometimes I enjoy them with warm almond milk, other times I add grated almonds and berries, put the mixture in my tumbler and shake it until it’s so smooth I can drink it. In any form, oats do the heart good.
Throughout the day I eat sweet potatoes, which are filled with fiber, beets sprinkled with a little olive oil, and vegetables of every variety. I also still enjoy plenty of salad, though I stopped adding so many carrots – too much sugar. But I will do celery, cucumbers, seaweed grass and other greens. God’s fresh bounty doesn’t need a lot of dressing up, which is why I generally eat my salad plain. From time to time I do drizzle it with garlic oil. I love the taste.
I also love lychee nuts. I put them in the freezer so that when I bite into them cold juice comes flooding out. As terrific as they are, I buy them only once in awhile. I recently bit into an especially sweet one, and then I stuck it right back in the freezer. “Not today, Suzie,” I said to myself, “full of glucose!”
I try never to eat late, and certainly not after nine p.m. Our organs need a chance to rest. And before bed, of course, I have a final glass of water. I don’t mess around with my hydration.
Cicely Tyson (Just as I Am)
So, boy, how does it feel to be pouring out a never-ending stream of--?”
“Stop that!” I scowled at my brothers as I shooed them away from Milo. “How can you make such jokes in front of him?”
“To be honest, the only thing in front of him right now is the sea and the supper he ate three days ago.” Castor’s grin got wider.
Polydeuces was contrite. “We mean well, Helen. We’re only trying to make him laugh. A good laugh might take his mind off being so ill.”
“It’s a shame we’re bound straight for Corinth,” the old sailor said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Since nothing else seems to be working for this lad, could be that a short rest on dry land would steady his stomach.”
“You think we’d ever be able to get him back on board afterward?” Castor asked.
The sailor shrugged. “What would he have to say about it? He’s your slave, isn’t he?”
“He’s our sister’s slave, or was,” Castor replied. “She freed him as soon as she bought him.”
“And still he came onto this ship with you, sick as seafaring makes him?”
“This is his first voyage,” I said, stooping beside Milo to place one arm protectively around him. “He didn’t know he’d get sick.”
“Oh, he’d have come along even if he’d known that a sea monster was waiting to gobble him up,” Castor said, with another of those annoying, conspiratorial winks to his twin. “Anything rather than be separated from you, little sister.”
Polydeuces eagerly took up his brother’s game. “That’s true,” he hastened to tell the old sailor. “If you could have seen the way he’s been gazing at her, all the way from Calydon!”
“Can we blame him, Polydeuces?” Castor asked with mock sincerity. “Our little sister is the most beautiful woman in the world.” They collapsed laughing into each other’s arms.
Milo made a great effort and pushed himself away from the rail, away from me. He took two staggering steps, fists clenched. “She is.” Then he spun around and lurched for the ship’s side once more.
My brothers exchanged a look of pure astonishment. The old sailor chuckled. “He may have been a slave, Lady Helen, but he’s braver than many a free man, to talk back to princes that way! But it wouldn’t be the first time a man found courage he never knew he had until he met the right woman.”
My face flamed. I wanted to thank Milo for putting an end to my brothers’ teasing--whether or not it was all in fun, I still found it annoying--but I was strangely tongue-tied.
Fortunately for me, the old sailor chose that moment to say, “That’s not something you see every day, a mouse trying to take a bite from a lion’s tail. Mark my words, this lad has the makings of a great hero. Why, if I had it my way, I’d put in at the next port and carry him all the way to Apollo’s temple at Delphi, just to see what marvels the Pythia would have to predict about his future.
Esther M. Friesner (Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1))
He spent the morning at the beach. He had no idea which one, just some open stretch of coastline reaching out to the sea. An unbroken mantle of soft grey clouds was sitting low over the water. Only on the horizon was there a glimmer of light, a faint blue band of promise. The beach was deserted, not another soul on the vast, wide expanse of sand that stretched out in front of him. Having come from the city, it never ceased to amaze Jejeune that you could be that alone in the world. He walked along the beach, feeling the satisfying softness as the sand gave way beneath his slow deliberate strides. He ventured as close to the tide line as he dared, the white noise of the waves breaking on the shingles. A set of paw prints ran along the sand, with an unbroken line in between. A small dog, dragging a stick in its mouth. Always the detective, even if, these days, he wasn’t a very good one.
Jejeune’s path became blocked by a narrow tidal creek carrying its silty cargo out to the sea. On each side of it were shallow lagoons and rock pools. When the tide washed in they would teem with new life, but at the moment they looked barren and empty. Jejeune looked inland, back to where the dark smudge of Corsican pines marked the edge of the coast road. He traced the creek’s sinuous course back to where it emerged from a tidal salt flat, and watched the water for a long time as it eddied and churned, meeting the incoming tide in an erotic swirl of water, the fresh intermingling with the salty in a turbulent, roiling dance, until it was no longer possible to tell one from the other.
He looked out at the sea, at the motion, the color, the light. A Black-headed Gull swooped in and settled on a piece of driftwood a few feet away. Picture complete, thought Jejeune. For him, a landscape by itself, no matter how beautiful, seemed an empty thing. It needed a flicker of life, a tiny quiver of existence, to validate it, to confirm that other living things found a home here, too.
Side by side, they looked out over the sea, the man and the bird, two beating hearts in this otherwise empty landscape, with no connection beyond their desire to be here, at this time. Was it the birds that attracted him to places like this, he wondered, or the solitude, the absence of demands, of expectations? But if Jejeune was unsure of his own motives, he knew this bird would have a purpose in being here. Nature always had her reasons.
He chanced a sidelong glance at the bird, now settled to his presence. It had already completed its summer molt, crisp clean feathers having replaced the ones abraded by the harsh demands of eking out a living on this wild, windswept coastline. The gull stayed for a long moment, allowing Jejeune to rest his eyes softly, unthreateningly, upon it. And then, as if deciding it had allowed him enough time to appreciate its beauty, the bird spread its wings and effortlessly lifted off, wheeling on the invisible air currents, drifting away over the sea toward the horizon.
Steve Burrows (A Siege of Bitterns (Birder Murder Mystery #1))
I’m not going to stand for it any longer," said Mr. Flood. "I’m going to put my foot down. All I want in this world is a little peace and quiet, and he gets me all raced up. Here a while back I heard a preacher talking on the radio about the peacefulness of the old, and I thought to myself, ‘You ignorant man!’ I’m ninety-four years old and I have never yet had any peace, to speak of. My mind is just a turmoil of regrets. It’s not what I did that I regret, it’s what I didn’t do. Except for the bottle, I always walked the straight and narrow; a family man, a good provider, never cut up, never did ugly, and I regret it. In the summer of 1902 I came real close to getting in serious trouble with a married woman, but I had a fight with my conscience and my conscience won, and what’s the result? I had two wives, good, Christian women, and I can’t hardly remember what either of them looked like, but I can remember the face on that woman so clear it hurts, and there’s never a day passes I don’t think about her, and there’s never a day passes I don’t curse myself. ‘What kind of a timid, dried-up, weevily fellow were you?’ I say to myself. ‘You should’ve said to hell with what’s right and what’s wrong, the devil take the hindmost. You’d have something to remember, you’d be happier now.’ She’s out in Woodlawn, six feet under, and she’s been there twenty-two years, God rest her, and here I am, just an old, old man with nothing but a belly and a brain and a dollar or two."
"Life is sad," said Mr. Maggiani.
Joseph Mitchell (Old Mr. Flood)
Dear Spider web,
Why won’t you let me go? I will not accept your silky web as my resting place. Your web might be soft, but there is nothing comfortable about you. You have my mind entangled with doubts. You have me feeling helpless as you tie down my hands and feet. Let me go! I am not your prey! Spider web, you captured me, and then you abandoned me in your web. You are just like my mother; she left Kace and me in her old and damaged cobweb. She selfishly left us to figure out life.
Furthermore, just like you, she will not let us go. You covered me in your web to the point you made me invisible and empty inside. Partly because of you, people used a broom to swat me here and there because they see the webs all over me. They look at me as a nobody, an invasion, a pest, or a rodent who is trying to destroy their home. You confuse me because I know that I am not damaged and used, but there are many days I feel like I am no good for myself or anyone. Your web has cluttered my mind; I am disturbed mentally because I have never felt complete or good enough. I’ve been fighting so long to get out of your web—I am tired. However, I have come this far, and I am going to hold on a little while longer. When I hold on to your thin web tightly, something or someone uses the sharpest knife to cut it down. While it is swinging left and right, I try to jump and break free, but you catch me and wrap me back in your web again. I’ve been fighting for so long, and I will continue to fight because you cannot keep me here forever.
I am creating thicker skin.
Charlena E. Jackson (Pinwheels and Dandelions)
Blast. This day had not gone as planned. By this time, he was supposed to be well on his way to the Brighton Barracks, preparing to leave for Portugal and rejoin the war. Instead, he was…an earl, suddenly. Stuck at this ruined castle, having pledged to undertake the military equivalent of teaching nursery school. And to make it all worse, he was plagued with lust for a woman he couldn’t have. Couldn’t even touch, if he ever wanted his command back.
As if he sensed Bram’s predicament, Colin started to laugh.
“What’s so amusing?”
“Only that you’ve been played for a greater fool than you realize. Didn’t you hear them earlier? This is Spindle Cove, Bram. Spindle. Cove.”
“You keep saying that like I should know the name. I don’t.”
“You really must get around to the clubs. Allow me to enlighten you. Spindle Cove-or Spinster Cove, as we call it-is a seaside holiday village. Good families send their fragile-flower daughters here for the restorative sea air. Or whenever they don’t know what else to do with them. My friend. Carstairs sent his sister here last summer, when she grew too fond of the stable boy.”
“And so, your little militia plan? Doomed before it even starts. Families send their daughters and wards here because it’s safe. It’s safe because there are no men. That’s why they call it Spinster Cove.”
“There have to be men. There’s no such thing as a village with no men.”
“Well, there may be a few servants and tradesmen. An odd soul or two down there with a shriveled twig and a couple of currants dangling between his legs. But there aren’t any real men. Carstairs told us all about it. He couldn’t believe what he found when he came to fetch his sister. The women here are man-eaters.”
Bram was scarcely paying attention. He focused his gaze to catch the last glimpses of Miss Finch as her figure receded into the distance. She was like a sunset all to herself, her molten bronze hair aglow as she sank beneath the bluff’s horizon. Fiery. Brilliant. When she disappeared, he felt instantly cooler.
And then, only then, did he turn to his yammering cousin. “What were you saying?”
“We have to get out of here, Bram. Before they take our bollocks and use them for pincushions.”
Bram made his way to the nearest wall and propped one shoulder against it, resting his knee. Damn, that climb had been steep. “Let me understand this,” he said, discreetly rubbing his aching thigh under the guise of brushing off loose dirt. “You’re suggesting we leave because the village is full of spinsters? Since when do you complain about an excess of women?”
“These are not your normal spinsters. They’re…they’re unbiddable. And excessively educated.”
“Oh. Frightening, indeed. I’ll stand my ground when facing a French cavalry charge, but an educated spinster is something different entirely.”
“You mock me now. Just you wait. You’ll see, these women are a breed unto themselves.”
“These women aren’t my concern.”
Save for one woman, and she didn’t live in the village. She lived at Summerfield, and she was Sir Lewis Finch’s daughter, and she was absolutely off limits-no matter how he suspected Miss Finch would become Miss Vixen in bed.
Tessa Dare (A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1))
With a scowl, he turned from the window, but it was too late. The sight of Lady Celia crossing the courtyard dressed in some rich fabric had already stirred his blood. She never wore such fetching clothes; generally her lithe figure was shrouded in smocks to protect her workaday gowns from powder smudges while she practiced her target shooting.
But this morning, in that lemon-colored gown, with her hair finely arranged and a jeweled bracelet on her delicate wrist, she was summer on a dreary winter day, sunshine in the bleak of night, music in the still silence of a deserted concert hall.
And he was a fool.
"I can see how you might find her maddening," Masters said in a low voice.
Jackson stiffened. "Your wife?" he said, deliberately being obtuse.
Hell and blazes. He'd obviously let his feelings show. He'd spent his childhood learning to keep them hidden so the other children wouldn't see how their epithets wounded him, and he'd refined that talent as an investigator who knew the value of an unemotional demeanor.
He drew on that talent as he faced the barrister. "Anyone would find her maddening. She's reckless and spoiled and liable to give her husband grief at every turn." When she wasn't tempting him to madness.
Masters raised an eyebrow. "Yet you often watch her. Have you any interest there?"
Jackson forced a shrug. "Certainly not. You'll have to find another way to inherit your new bride's fortune."
He'd hoped to prick Masters's pride and thus change the subject, but Masters laughed. "You, marry my sister-in-law? That, I'd like to see. Aside from the fact that her grandmother would never approve, Lady Celia hates you."
She did indeed. The chit had taken an instant dislike to him when he'd interfered in an impromptu shooting match she'd been participating in with her brother and his friends at a public park. That should have set him on his guard right then.
A pity it hadn't. Because even if she didn't despise him and weren't miles above him in rank, she'd never make him a good wife. She was young and indulged, not the sort of female to make do on a Bow Street Runner's salary.
But she'll be an heiress once she marries.
He gritted his teeth. That only made matters worse. She would assume he was marrying her for her inheritance. So would everyone else. And his pride chafed at that.
Dirty bastard. Son of shame. Whoreson. Love-brat. He'd been called them all as a boy. Later, as he'd moved up at Bow Street, those who resented his rapid advancement had called him a baseborn upstart. He wasn't about to add money-grubbing fortune hunter to the list.
"Besides," Masters went on, "you may not realize this, since you haven't been around much these past few weeks, but Minerva claims that Celia has her eye on three very eligible potential suitors."
Jackson's startled gaze shot to him. Suitors? The word who was on his lips when the door opened and Stoneville entered. The rest of the family followed, leaving Jackson to force a smile and exchange pleasantries as they settled into seats about the table, but his mind kept running over Masters's words.
Lady Celia had suitors. Eligible ones. Good-that was good. He needn't worry about himself around her anymore. She was now out of his reach, thank God. Not that she was ever in his reach, but-
"Have you got any news?" Stoneville asked.
Jackson started. "Yes." He took a steadying breath and forced his mine to the matter at hand.
Sabrina Jeffries (A Lady Never Surrenders (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #5))
Must we believe those who tell us that a hand foul with the filth of a shameful life is the only one a young girl cares to be caressed by?
That is the teaching that is bawled out day by day from between those yellow covers. Do they ever pause to think, I wonder, those devil's lady-helps, what mischief they are doing crawling about God's garden, and telling childish Eves and silly Adams that sin is sweet, and that decency is ridiculous and vulgar? How many an innocent girl do they not degrade into an evil-minded woman? To how many a weak lad do they not point out the dirty by-path as the shortest cut to a maiden's heart? It is not as if they wrote of life as it really is. Speak truth, and right will take care of itself. But their pictures are coarse daubs painted from the sickly fancies of their own diseased imaginations.
We want to think of women not--as their own sex would show them--as Loreleis luring us to destruction, but as good angels beckoning us upward. They have more power for good or evil than they dream of. It is just at the very age when a man's character is forming that he tumbles into love, and then the lass he loves has the making or marring of him. Unconsciously he molds himself to what she would have him, good or bad. I am sorry to have to be ungallant enough to say that I do not think they always use their influence for the best. . . .
And yet, women, you could make us so much better, if you only would. It rests with you more than with all the preachers, to roll this world a little nearer heaven. Chivalry is not dead; it only sleeps for want of work to do. It is you who must wake it to noble deeds. You must be worthy of knightly worship. You must be higher than ourselves.
Jerome K. Jerome (Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow)
You’re having a bad day.
You mess up a few lines. You’re distracted. You’ve had this look about you all afternoon, like you’re not quite there.
“Christ, Cunningham, get it together,” Hastings says, running his hands down his face. “If you can’t handle being Brutus—”
“Fuck you.” You cut him off. “Don’t act like you’re perfect.”
“I don’t make rookie mistakes,” Hastings says. “Maybe if you weren’t so preoccupied with trying to screw the new girl, you might—”
You shut him up mid-sentence with a punch to the face, your fist connecting hard, nearly knocking him off his feet. He stumbles, stunned, as you go at him again, grabbing the collar of his uniform shirt and yanking him to you. “Shut your fucking mouth.”
People come between the two of you, forcing you apart. Hastings storms out, shouting, “I can’t deal with him!”
Drama Club comes to a screeching halt.
You stand there for a moment, fists clenched at your side, calming down. You flex your hands, loosening them as you approach the girl. She’s watching you in silence, expression guarded.
You sit down near her. There’s an empty seat between you today. It’s the first time you’ve not sat right beside her in weeks. You’re giving her space.
It doesn’t take long before Hastings returns, but he isn’t alone. The administrator waltzes in behind him. The man heads for you, expression stern. “Cunningham, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t expel you.”
“Because my father gives you a lot of money.”
“That’s what you have to say?”
“Is that not a good reason?”
“You punched a fellow student!”
“We were just acting,” you say. “I’m Brutus. He’s Caesar. It’s to be expected.”
“Brutus stabs him. He doesn’t throw punches.”
“I was improvising.”
The girl laughs when you say that. She tries to stop herself, but the sound comes out, and the administrator hears it, his attention shifting to her.
“Look, it won’t happen again,” you say, drawing the focus back to you. “Next time, I’ll stab him and be done with it.”
“You better watch yourself,” the administrator says, pointing his finger in your face. “One more incident and you’re gone for good. Understand?”
“And rest assured, your father will be hearing about this
J.M. Darhower (Ghosted)
Oh, blast, this is all so confusing!” she complained. “How is a woman supposed to figure out what a man really wants?”
“If you learn the answer to that question, do be a dear and tell the rest of us,” Minerva quipped. “Though as far as I can tell, men are simple creatures, for all their posturing. They want food, drink, and a wench to bed, not necessarily in that order.”
“And love?” Celia asked.
Minerva smiled. “That, too. Some men do, anyway. You’ll just have to spend some time with Mr. Pinter and find out if that’s what he wants from you.”
“And how on earth am I supposed to spend time with him when he’s been avoiding me ever since the last time we kissed?”
“Perhaps he’s worried about the difference in your stations.”
“That didn’t keep him from kissing me.” She scowled. “Besides, you’ve heard what he says about our sort. If anything, he thinks himself above us, not below us. He didn’t even ask me to dance tonight! He could have. No one would have thought anything of that. Instead, he spent the entire ball standing about, looking disappointed, and talking to servants.”
“Perhaps because you spent the entire ball in the company of your suitors.”
Celia released an exasperated breath. “What else was I supposed to do? I’m not allowed to ask a man to dance. And at least I know what my suitors want. Lord Devonmont wants to seduce me, the viscount wants peace in his old age, and the duke wants to marry me. I don’t have any idea what Jackson wants, other than to drive me mad.”
And to make her want him. She’d spent half the evening remembering his sweet kisses that afternoon and his fierce words about desiring her.
Had any of it been feigned? It was hard to know. Still, even tonight she’d caught him gazing at her with such hunger…
A rush of heat through her body made her bite back an oath.
“There’s still a couple of days left until the house party is over” Minerva pointed out. “Why don’t you just see how matters progress? Tell the duke you need time to consider his offer, and use that time to try to figure out what’s going on with Mr. Pinter.”
“In other words, ‘let his behavior be the guide of your sensations.’”
Minerva scowled. “Have you been reading Jane Austen?”
Oops. She’d forgotten that she’d read the line in Emma.
“Don’t get me wrong-she’s a good choice,” Minerva said tartly. “And I suppose that is good advice. Though I’d also advise you to decide what it is you want from him. Marriage?”
“I don’t know. That’s the trouble.”
But an hour later, after Minerva had left and Celia was lying alone in her bed, she realized that she did know one thing she wanted from him. More time alone together. More chances to see how she felt, and if it was real or just borne of some madness of the moment.
Only now did she realize how much she’d been protecting herself from feeling anything for a man. But whenever she was with him, she didn’t want to protect herself. He made her want to feel.
She fell asleep, dreaming of Jackson’s mouth on hers, his hands on her body.
Sabrina Jeffries (A Lady Never Surrenders (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #5))