Janet Fitch Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Janet Fitch. Here they are! All 200 of them:

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Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you'll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Always learn poems by heart. They have to become the marrow in your bones. Like fluoride in the water, they'll make your soul impervious to the world's soft decay.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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She would be half a planet away, floating in a turquoise sea, dancing by moonlight to flamenco guitar.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The phoenix must burn to emerge.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Remember it all, every insult, every tear. Tattoo it on the inside of your mind. In life, knowledge of poisons is essential. I've told you, nobody becomes an artist unless they have to.
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Janet Fitch
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In a perverse way, I was glad for the stitches, glad it would show, that there would be scars. What was the point in just being hurt on the inside? It should bloody well show.
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Janet Fitch
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It's such a liability to love another person.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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You've got to let go of who you were, to become who you will be.
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Janet Fitch
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I hated labels anyway. People didn't fit in slots--prostitute, housewife, saint--like sorting the mail. We were so mutable, fluid with fear and desire, ideals and angles, changeable as water.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Isn't it funny. I'm enjoying my hatred so much more than I ever enjoyed love. Love is temperamental. Tiring. It makes demands. Love uses you, changes its mind. But hatred, now, that's something you can use. Sculpt. Wield. It's hard, or soft, however you need it. Love humiliates you, but Hatred cradles you.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Don't attach yourself to anyone who shows you the least bit of attention because you're lonely. Lonliness is the human condition. No one is ever going to fill that space. The best thing you can do it know yourself... know what you want.
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Janet Fitch
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The pearls weren't really white, they were a warm oyster beige, with little knots in between so if they broke, you only lost one. I wished my life could be like that, knotted up so that even if something broke, the whole thing wouldn't come apart.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Women always put men first. That's how everything got so screwed up.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Let me tell you a few things about regret...There is no end to it. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should you regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly, or just the ending itself?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I know what you are learning to endure. There is nothing to be done. Make sure nothing is wasted. Take notes. Remember it all, every insult, every tear. Tattoo it on the inside of your mind. In life, knowledge of poisons is essential. I've told you, nobody becomes an artist unless they have to.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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To know I was beautiful in his eyes made me beautiful.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Beauty was deceptive. I would rather wear my pain, my ugliness. I was torn and stitched. I was a strip mine, and they would just have to look. I hoped I made them sick. I hoped they saw me in their dreams.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I understood why she did it. At that moment I knew why people tagged graffiti on the walls of neat little houses and scratched the paint on new cars and beat up well-tended children. It was only natural to want to destroy something you could never have.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Just because a poet said something didn’t mean it was true, only that it sounded good.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Oleander time, she said. Lovers who kill each other now will blame it on the wind.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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...You know the mistrust of heights is the mistrust of self, you don't know whether you're going to jump.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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How vast was a human being's capacity for suffering. The only thing you could do was stand in awe of it. It wasn't a question of survival at all. It was the fullness of it, how much could you hold, how much could you care.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Whenever she turned her steep focus to me, I felt the warmth that flowers must feel when they bloom through the snow, under the first concentrated rays of the sun.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Don't turn over the rocks if you don't want to see the pale creatures who live under them.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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That was the thing about words, they were clear and specific-chair, eye, stone- but when you talked about feelings, words were too stiff, they were this and not that, they couldn't include all the meanings. In defining, they always left something out.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Girls were born knowing how destructive the truth could be. They learned to hold it in, tamp it down, like gunpowder in an old fashioned gun. Then it exploded in your face on a November day in the rain.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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But I knew one more thing. That people who denied who they were or where they had been were in the greatest danger.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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If sinners were so unhappy, why would they prefer their suffering? But now I knew why. Without my wounds, who was I?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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How right that the body changed over time, becoming a gallery of scars, a canvas of experience, a testament to life and one's capacity to endure it.
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Janet Fitch
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When you started thinking it was easy, you were forgetting what it cost.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Whenever she thought she could not feel more alone, the universe peeled back another layer of darkness.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Panic was the worst thing. When you panicked, you couldn't see possibilities. Then came despair.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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And I realized as I walked through the neighborhood how each house could contain a completely different reality. In a single block, there could be fifty seperate worlds. Nobody ever really knew what was going on just next door.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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They say drugs are not the answer, but really, what is the question?
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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That was what she really wanted. To forget so thoroughly she'd never have another memory again, the bitter so bitter you gave up the sweet.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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It's all I ever really wanted, that revelation. The possibility of fixed stars.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I don't let anyone touch me," I finally said. Why not?" Why not? Because I was tired of men. Hanging in doorways, standing too close, their smell of beer or fifteen-year-old whiskey. Men who didn't come to the emergency room with you, men who left on Christmas Eve. Men who slammed the security gates, who made you love them then changed their minds. Forests of boys, their ragged shrubs full of eyes following you, grabbing your breasts, waving their money, eyes already knocking you down, taking what they felt was theirs. (...) It was a play and I knew how it ended, I didn't want to audition for any of the roles. It was no game, no casual thrill. It was three-bullet Russian roulette.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The story of her life. God gave you everything just to take it away. Just so you knew exactly what you were missing.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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You must find a boy your own age. Someone mild and beautiful to be your lover. Someone who will tremble for your touch, offer you a marguerite by its long stem with his eyes lowered. Someone whose fingers are a poem.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I couldn't imagine owning beauty like my mothers. I wouldn't dare.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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No matter where I was, my compass pointed west. I would always know what time it was in California.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I imagined the lies the valedictorian was telling them right now. About the exciting future that lies ahead. I wish she'd tell them the truth: Half of you have gone as far in life as you're ever going to. Look around. It's all downhill from here. The rest of us will go a bit further, a steady job, a trip to Hawaii, or a move to Phoenix, Arizona, but out of fifteen hundred how many will do anything truly worthwhile, write a play, paint a painting that will hang in a gallery, find a cure for herpes? Two of us, maybe three? And how many will find true love? About the same. And enlightenment? Maybe one. The rest of us will make compromises, find excuses, someone or something to blame, and hold that over our hearts like a pendant on a chain.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I closed my eyes to watch tiny dancers like jeweled birds cross the dark screen of my eyelids.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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How easy I was. Like a limpet I attached myself to anything, anyone who showed me the least attention.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I regret nothing. No woman with any self-respect would have done less. The question of good and evil will always be one of philosophy's most intriguing problems, up there with the problem of existence itself. I'm not quarreling with your choice of issues, only with your intellectually diminished approach. If evil means to be self-motivated, to live on one's own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil. Because we dare to look through our own eyes rather than mouth cliches lent us from the so-called Fathers. To dare to see is to steal fire from the Gods. This is mankind's destiny, the engine which fuels us as a race.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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that was her edge. her secret weapon. she didnt give a shit.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I thought clay must feel happy in the good potter's hand.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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You were my home, Mother. I had no home but you
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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How many people ask you to come share their life?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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How can I shed tears for a man I should never have allowed to touch me in any way?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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She’s never where she is,' I said. 'She’s only inside her head.
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Janet Fitch
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I took the volume to a table, opened its soft, ivory pages... and fell into it as into a pool during dry season.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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this was the wonderful thing about strangers. they were big blank pieces of paper, you could draw watever you like on their impresionable surfaces
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Her hatred glittered irresistibly. I could see it, the jewel, it was sapphire, it was the cold lakes of Norway.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Take my advice. Stay away from all broken people.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The best you'll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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What was the point in such loneliness among people. At least if you were by yourself, you had a good reason to be lonely.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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One can bear anything. The pain we cannot bear will kill us outright.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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She was starting to think there might be such a thing as karma - that repetition - maybe you lived through the same thing over and over until you stopped caring. Maybe eventually it got less intense, until it was just nothing.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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She was not used to being cruel, but he had taught her how.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Kindness was the last thing she needed. She had to stay in the icy place, the numb place, and their warmth threatened to melt her just when she needed the cold.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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A womans mistakes are different from a girls
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Now I wish she'd never broken any of her rules. I understood why she held to them so hard. Once you broke the first one, they all broke, one by one, like firecrackers exploding in your face in a parking lot on the Fourth of July.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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She laughed so easily when she was happy. But also when she was sad.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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What can I say about life? Do I praise it for letting you live, or damn it for allowing the rest?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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She would buy magic every day of the week. Love me, that face said. I'm so lonely, so desperate. I'll give you whatever you want.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Although she was giddy with exhaustion, sleep was a lover who refused to be touched....
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I wanted to tell her not to entertain despair like this. Despaire wasn't a guest, you didn't play its favorite music, find it a comfortable chair. Despair was the enemy." -white oleander
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Nobody had forgotten anything here. In Berlin, you had to wrestle with the past, you had to build on the ruins, inside them. It wasn't like America where we scraped the earth clean, thinking we could start again every time.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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A fish has no concept of water.
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Janet Fitch
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The stupid things you say in the rain, that can't ever be washed away.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Aquamarines grew with emeralds, Claire told me. But emeralds were fragile and always broke into smaller pieces, while aquamarines were stronger, grew in huge crystals without any trouble, so they weren't worth as much. It was the emerald that didn't break that was the really valuable thing.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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She's never where she is,' I said. 'She's only inside her head.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I felt like an undeveloped photograph that he was printing, my image rising to the surface under his gaze.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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history only existed in the human mind, subject to endless revision. 'each man kills the thing he loves'-Oscar Wilde. You kill it before it kills you, but he was wrong. you killed it by accident. thinking you were doing something else. shattering, when all you wanted to do was keep it safe.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Only peons made excusses for themselves she taught me. Never apologize, never explain.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The expression in her eyes was bitter as nightshade. 'You ask me about regret? Let me tell you a few things about regret, my darling. There is no end to it. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should you regret the whole chain, and the air between, or each link separately, as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly, or just the ending itself? I've given more thought to this question than you can begin to imagine.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I wandered through the stacks, running my hands along the spines of the books on the shelves, they reminded me of cultured or opinionated guests at a wonderful party, whispering to each other.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Love is a check, that can be forged, that can be cashed. Love is a payment that comes due.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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If I were a poet, that’s what I’d write about. People who worked in the middle of the night. Men who loaded trains, emergency room nurses with their gentle hands. Night clerks in hotels, cabdrivers on graveyard, waitresses in all-night coffee shops. They knew the world, how precious it was when a person remembered your name, the comfort of a rhetorical question, β€œHow’s it going, how’s the kids?” They knew how long the night was. They knew the sound life made as it left. It rattled, like a slamming screen door in the wind. Night workers lived without illusions, they wiped dreams off counters, they loaded freight. They headed back to the airport for one last fare.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I felt like time was a great sea, and I was floating on the back of a turtle, and no sails broke the horizon.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I watched her for a long time, memorizing her shoulders, her long-legged gait. This was how girls left. They packed up their suitcases and walked away in high heels. They pretended they weren't crying, that it wasn't the worst day of their lives. That they didn't want their mothers to come running after them, begging their forgiveness, that they wouldn't have gone down on their knees and thanked god if they could stay.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Their love as a dragonfly, skimming over echo park, stoppin to visit the lotus. Eating dreams and drinking blue sky.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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How could anybody confuse truth with beauty, I thought as I looked at him. Truth came with sunken eyes, bony or scarred, decayed. Its teeth were bad, its hair gray and unkempt. While beauty was empty as a gourd, vain as a parakeet. But it had power. It smelled of musk and oranges and made you close your eyes in a prayer.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Love's an illusion. It's a dream you wake up from with an enormous hangover and net credit debt. I'd rather have cash.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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echo, the death of a sound that had nowhere to go but to come back.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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without my wounds, who was i? my scars were my face, my past was my life.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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These people picked you up and played with you and then left you lying in the rain
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I felt beautiful but also interrupted. I wasn't used to being so complicated.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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That was the thing about words, they were clear and specific--chair, eye, stone--but when you talked about feelings, words were too stiff, they were this and not that, they couldn't include all the meanings. In defining, they always left something out.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I almost said, you're not broken, you're just going through something. But i couldn't. She knew. There was something terribly wrong with her, all the way inside. She was like a big diamond with a dead spot in the middle. I was supposed to breathe life into that dead spot, but it hadn't worked...
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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They wanted the real mother, the blood mother, the great womb, mother of fierce compassion, a woman large enough to hold all the pain, to carry it away. What we needed was someone who bled...mother's big enough, wide enough for us to hide in...mother's who would breathe for us when we could not breathe anymore, who would fight for us, who would kill for us, die for us.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Life should always be like this. ... Like lingering over a good meal.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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here, here is my dark world. you carry it for a change. im out
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Janet Fitch
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He reminded me of someone who put your fingers in the door and smiled and talked to you while he smashed them.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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What can she possibly teach you, twenty seven names for tears?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I nodded. A man's world. But what did it mean? That men whistled and stared and yelled things at you, and you had to take it, or you get raped or beat up? A man's world meant places men could go but not women. It meant they had more money,and didn't have kids, not the way women did, to look after every second. And it meant that women loved them more than they loved the women, that they could want something with all their hearts, and then not.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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like a kid kicked out of class. humiliated and free.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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That kind of tenderness couldn't be permitted to last. You only got a taste, enough to know what perfection meant, and then you paid for it the rest of your life. Like the guy chained to a rock, who stole fire. The gods made an eagle eat his liver for all eternity. You paid for every second of beauty you managed to steal.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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We received our colouring from the Norsemen, hairy savages who hacked their gods to pieces and hung the flesh from trees. We are the ones who sacked Rome. Fear only feeble old age and death in bed. Don't forget who you are.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I wanted to hear what she was saying. I wanted to smell that burnt midnight again, I wanted to feel that wind. It was a secret wanting, like a song I couldn't stop humming, or loving someone I could never have. No matter where I went, my compass pointed west. I would always know what time it was in California.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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And I thought, there was no God, there was only what you wanted.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The night crackled ... Everything had turned to static electricity in the heat. I combed my hair to watch the sparks fly from the ends.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The cake had a trick candle that wouldn't go out, so I didn't get my wish. Which was just that it would always be like this, that my life could be a party just for me.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Poppies bleed petals of sheer excess. You and I, this sweet battle ground.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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It was only natural to want to destroy something you could never have.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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After all the fears, the warnings, after all, a woman's mistakes are different from a girl's. They are written by fire on stone. They are a trait and not an error.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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A person didn’t need to be beautiful, they just needed to be loved. But I couldn’t help wanting it. If that was the way I could be loved, to be beautiful, I’d take it
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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He was so damn perverse, he preferred to dream it than to make it come true.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I thought how tenuous the links were between mother and children between friends family things you think are eternal. Everything could be lost more easily than anyone could imagine.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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The damned could be saved...anytime. But they refused to give up their sins. Though they suffered endlessly, they would not give them up, even for salvation, perfect divine love. I hadn't understood at the time. If sinners were unhappy, why would they prefer their suffering? But now I knew why. Without my wounds, who was I? My scars were my face, my past was my life.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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If evil means to be self-motivated, to be the center of one’s own universe, to live on one’s own terms, then every artist, every thinker, every original mind, is evil.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Why does each man kill the thing he loves?...you killed it by accident. Thinking you were doing something else. It was a cherished vase that broke while you were cleaning it. The phone rang and you dropped it. Shattering, when all you wanted was to keep it safe.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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She should think about her own soul, what she was going to do with this funky tattered pond dank item. Dark and stained, a ruined thing.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Do you ever want to go home?' I asked Paul. He brushed an ash from my face. 'It's the century of the displaced person,' he said. 'You can never go home.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Her fingers moved among barnacles and mussels, blue-black, sharp-edged. Neon red starfish were limp Dalis on the rocks, surrounded by bouquets of stinging anemones and purple bursts of spiny sea urchins.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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What happened to a dream without a dreamer?
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I liked it when my mother tried to teach me things, when she paid attention. So often when I was with her, she was unreachable. Whenever she turned her steep focus to me, I felt the warmth that flowers must feel when they bloom through the snow, under the first concentrated rays of the sun.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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His voice was cloves and nightingales, it took us to spice markets in the Celebs, we drifted with him on a houseboat beyond the Coral Sea. We were like cobras following a reed flute.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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My loneliness tasted like pennies.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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...The men eyed her with the automatic mix of curiosity, lust, and aesthetic judgment they always gave young women, subject to object, the way you'd stare at an animal. She pretended not to notice. To remind them she was a person was too much effort. Objects bore no guilt.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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I hated labels anyway. People didn’t fit in slotsβ€”prostitute, housewife, saintβ€”like sorting the mail. We were so mutable, fluid with fear and desire, ideals and angles, changeable as water.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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Music. A flower in a vase on the tray. A January rose, it wouldn't last long, all big and full-blown like that. He loved things like this, fragile, that wouldn't last. She touched its silver-mauve petals, a hundred layers like an old-fashioned petticoat. The Japanese would say that's their elegance, the brevity of their beauty.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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It's not that he was going nowhere, it's that he'd already arrived.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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A novel is like a dream in which everyone is you. They’re all parts of yourself.
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Janet Fitch
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The nearest I'd come to feeling anything like God was the plan blue cloudless sky and a certain silence, but how do you pray to that?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
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I thought of my mother as Queen Christina, cool and sad, eyes trained on some distant horizon. That was where she belonged, in furs and palaces of rare treasures, fireplaces large enough to roast a reindeer, ships of Swedish maple.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Darkness coiled between what he wanted them to believe and the self he despised. It only made him more alone. How could you save someone when he didn't let you kno him? What a waste. The beauty he murdered in this place. He could never see what he had, only what he failed to achieve.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
at least if you were ignorant you could do wat you wanted. you had no idea wat had been acheived in the past. you were free instead of chewed at by bleeding impotence, dissolved away like a pearl in acid
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
I wondered why it had to be so poisonous. Oleanders could live through anything, they could stand heat, drought, neglect, and put out thousands of waxy blooms. So what did they need poison for? Couldn't they just be bitter? They weren't like rattlesnakes, they didn't even eat what they killed. The way she boiled it down, distilled it, like her hatred. Maybe it was a poison in the soil, something about L.A., the hatred, the callousness, something we didn't want to think about, that the plant concentrated in its tissues. Maybe it wasn't a source of poison, but just another victim.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
I wanted to tell her not to entertain despair like this. Despair wasn't a guest, you didn't play its favourite music, find it a comfortable chair. Despair was the enemy.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
What is real is always worth it.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
I imagined Kandinsky's mind, spread out all over the world, and then gathered together. Everyone having only a piece of the puzzle. Only in a show like this could you see the complete picture, stack the pieces up, hold them to the light, see how it all fit together. It made me hopeful, like someday my life would make sense too, if I could just hold all the pieces together at the same time.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Prostitute. Whore. What did they really mean anyway? Only words. Words trailing their streamers of judgment. I hated labels anyway. People didn't fit in slots-- prostitute, housewife, saint-- like sorting the mail. We were so mutable, fluid with fear and desire, ideals and angles, changeable as water.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
It wasn't awful to be dead. The stillness would almost be a relief. She wouldn't want pain, she wouldn't want to be wounded or mutilated. She could never shoot herself or jump off a building. But being dead wasn't unthinkable.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
Nobody ever complained? Girls were kind. No one ever told him, I could barely stay awake. If only you'd come faster, I could have ignored it altogether. Girls were born knowing how destructive the truth could be. They learned to hold it in, tamp it down, like gunpowder in an old fashioned gun. Then it exploded in your face, on a November day in the rain.
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Janet Fitch (Paint It Black)
β€œ
To them, pain was a country they had heard of, maybe watched a show about on TV, but one whose stamp had not yet been made in their passports.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Love could never bloom in a concrete block room.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
And if there is no god? You act as if there is, and it's the same thing.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
I felt suddenly cruel, like I'd told small children there was no tooth fairy, that it was just their Mom sneaking into their room after they went to bed.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
Men... No matter how unappealing, each of them imagines he is somehow worthy.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
I emitted some civetlike female stink, a distinct perfume of sexual wanting, that he had followed to find me here in the dark.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Who was I, really? I was the sole occupant of my mother's totalitarian state, my own personal history rewritten to fit the story she was telling that day. There were so many missing pieces. I was starting to find some of them, working my way upriver, collecting a secret cache of broken memories in a shoebox.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
At every moment, each instrument knew what to play. Its little bit. But none could see the whole thing like this, all at once, only its own part. Just like life. Each person was like a line of music, but nobody knew what the symphony sounded like. Only the conductor had the whole score.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
If it weren't for me, she wouldn't have to take jobs like this. She would be half a planet away, floating in a turquoise sea, dancing by moonlight to flamenco guitar. I felt my guilt like a brand.... I had seen girls clamor for new clothes and complain about what their mothers made for dinner. I was always mortified. Didn't they know they were tying their mothers to the ground? Weren't chains ashamed of their prisoners?
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
She wanted to wake up like Dorothy and see Michael's face peering over the side of the bed, laughing. WHY, YOU JUST HIT YOUR HEAD. But it was not a dream and there was no Kansas and he was never coming back.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
Death like a lover, caressing him, promising him peace, running its fingers through his hair, its tongue in his ear. She put her own two fingers in her mouth. Im so sorry. And pulled the trigger
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
It's their skins I'm peeling," she said. "The skins of the insipid scribblers, which I graft to the page, creating monsters of meaninglessness.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
He just wanted to stand close to her, touch her hair that was white as glacier milk...
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
The sound of her laughter was sticky as sap, the smell of night-blooming jasmine soft as a milk bath.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
I'm a fish swimming by...catch me if you want me.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
She kissed me on the mouth. Her mouth tasted like iced coffee and cardamom, and I was overwhelmed by the taste, her hot skin and the smell of unwashed hair. I was confused, but not unwilling. I would have let her do anything to me.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
A cliche is everything you've ever heard of.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
Dawn tinted the darkness like water ink.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
she was such a bad actress. she never said her lines rite, it was something perverse in her nature. and wat was her line anyway?
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
her scruffy innoscense to impregnate with his dreams. reason was seductive, it gave the appearance of truth
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
And in one drawer, twenty-seven names for tears. Heartdew. Griefhoney. Sadwater. Die Tranen. Eau de douleur. Los rios del corazon.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Who can judge another man's suffering?
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Mother prescribing her books like medicines. A good dose of Whitman would set me straight, like castor oil. But at least she was thinking of me. I existed once more.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
A couple of times, I could have turned a trick. But I didn’t want to start. I knew how it would play. When you started thinking it was easy, you were forgetting what it cost.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
He hated crowds, never liked punk. He couldn't handle the nakedness of the rage -his own so sophisticated and finely tuned. He could never see the similarity between himself and Donnie Draino screaming into a mic.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
That was the thing about words, they were clear and specificβ€”chair, eye, stoneβ€”but when you talked about feelings, words were too stiff, they were this and not that, they couldn't include all the meanings. In defining, they always left something out.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
...I was tired of men. Hanging in doorways, standing too close, their smell of beer or fifteen-year-old whiskey. Men who didn't come to the emergency room with you, men who left on Christmas Eve. Men who slammed the security gates, who made you love them and then changed their minds.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
What was beauty unless you intended to use it, like a hammer, or a key? It was just something for other people to use and admire, or envy, despise. To nail their dreams onto like a picture hanger on a blank wall. And so many girls saying, use me, dream me.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
Just make sure nothing is wasted. Take notes. Remember it all, every insult, every tear. Tattoo it on the inside of your mind. In life, knowledge of poisons is essential. I've told you, nobody becomes an artist unless they have to.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
In a train...smash. In his arm her last...breath.' He had loved her. But he hated himself more. Such suffering, so much pain. And he thought it made him hateful. As if suffering was shameful, disgusting, as if pain were a crime. Who can judge another man's suffering?
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
But that was the thing about zero. Its weakness. Even if zero had taken over the entire universe, the biggest fascist of all, one tiny gesture could deny it. One footprint, one atom. You didn't have to be a genius. You didn't even have to know that was what you were doing. You made a mark. You changed something. It said, "A human being passed here." And changed zero to one.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Beauty said there was something more than just one fucking thing after another. Time could rest for a moment, stop all that senseless motion.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Wasn't that the way it always was? You didn't know, you couldn't tell, you just let it happen... Perhaps they didn't know themselves. Sometimes the line was very fine.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
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Who am I? I am who I say I am and tomorrow someone else entirely. You are too nostalgic, you want memory to secure you, console you. The past is a bore. What matters is only oneself and what one creates from what one has learned. Imagination uses what it needs and discards the restβ€” where you want to erect a museum. Don't hoard the past, Astrid. Don't cherish anything. Burn it. The artist is the phoenix who burns to emerge.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
She was sitting cross-legged on her bed in her white kimono, writing in a notebook with an ink pen she dipped in a bottle. 'Never let a man stay the night,' she told me. 'Dawn has a way of casting a pall on any night magic.' The night magic sounded lovely. Someday I would have lovers and write a poem after.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
It was her first book, an indigo cover with a silver moonflower, an art nouveau flower, I traced my finger along the silver line like smoke, whiplash curves. ... I touched the pages her hands touched, I pressed them to my lips, the soft thick old paper, yellow now, fragile as skin. I stuck my nose between the bindings and smelled all the readings she had given, the smell of unfiltered cigarettes and the espresso machine, beaches and incense and whispered words in the night. I could hear her voice rising from the pages. The cover curled outward like sails.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you'll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
So much wanting and longing, clutching, desiring, passion and hatred and terrible need. Here, death was suitable, there was room for it, the grip of life's relentless urges slackened, replaced by this icy simplicity. This wasnt her death. It was his. That was the sad and honest truth. Though it would stay with her, it would be more like a black onyx heart on a silver chain, worn privately, under her clothes, close to her body, all her life. The guilt, the beauty, everything. It wasnt over, it had only begun. Well ok then, Okay.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
Everybody asks why I started at the end and worked back to the beginning, the reason is simple, I couldn't understand the beginning until I had reached the end. There were too many pieces of the puzzle missing, too much you would never tell. I could sell these things. People want to buy them, but I'd set all this on fire first. She'd like that, that's what she would do. She'd make it just to burn it. I couldn't afford this one, but the beginning deserves something special. But how do I show that nothing, not a taste, not a smell, not even the color of the sky, has ever been as clear and sharp as it was when I belonged to her. I don't know how to express the being with someone so dangerous is the last time I felt safe... (White Oleander)
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
She was breaking her rules. They weren't stone after all, only small and fragile as paper cranes.... I understood why she held to them so hard. Once you break the first one, they all broke, one by one, like firecrackers exploding in your face in a parking lot on the Fourth of July.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
When most people looked at Josie Tyrell, they only saw a certain collection of bones, a selection of forms filling space. But Michael saw past the mouth and the eyes, the architecture of the body, her fleshly masquerade. Other boys were happy enough to enjoy the show, they just wanted to be entertained in the body's shadow theater. But Michael had to come backstage. He went down into the mines, into the dark, and brought up the gold, your new self, a better self. But what good was it if he was just going to leave her behind?
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
I almost said, you’re not broken, you’re just going through something. But I couldn’t. She knew. There was something terribly wrong with her, all the way inside. She was like a big diamond with a dead spot in the middle. I was supposed to breathe life into that dead spot, but it hadn’t worked.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
what was the point in creating something that was so futile and so precious? everything beautiful was like that. a little bit of the true world. beauty said there was something more than just one fucking thing after another. time could rest for a moment, stop and that senseless motion. people thot beauty was bullshit, just a bandaide slapped over the abyss, but they couldnt be more wrong. beauty mattered, it was the only thing that fed you when everything turned to shit.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
They dream of men with gentle hands, eloquent with tenderness, fingers that brushed along a cheek, that outlined open lips in the lovers' braille. Hands that sculpted sweetness from sullen flesh, that traced breast and ignited hips, opening, kneading. Flesh becomes bread in the heat of those hands, braided and rising.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
She sat in her chair, eyes closed. She liked to be the last one to leave. She despised crowds, and their opinions as they left a performance, or worse, discussed the wait for the bathroom or where do you want to eat. It spoiled her mood. She was still in that other world, she would stay there as long as she possibly could, the parallel channels twining and tunneling through her cortex like coral.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
How could anyone confuse truth with beauty, I thought as I looked at him. Truth came with sunken eyes, bony or scarred, decayed. Its teeth were bad, its hair grey and unkempt. While beauty was empty as a gourd, vain as a parakeet. But it had power. It smelled of musk and oranges and made you close your eyes in a prayer.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
I tried on Claire's double strand of pearls in the mirror, ran the smooth, lustrous beads through my fingers, touched the coral rose of the clasp. The pearls weren't really white, they were a warm oyster beige, with little knots in between so if they broke, you only lost one. I wished my life could be like that, knotted up so that even if something broke, the whole thing wouldn't come apart.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
But then I realized, they weren't calling out for their own mothers. Not those weak women, those victims. Drug addicts, shopaholics, cookie bakers. They didn't mean the women who let them down, who failed to help them into womanhood, women who let their boyfriends run a train on them. Bingers, purgers, women smiling into mirrors, women in girdles, women on barstools. Not those women with their complaints and their magazines, controlling women, women who asked, what's in in for me? Not the women watching TV while they made dinner, women who dyed their hair blond behind closed doors trying to look twenty-three. They didn't mean the mothers washing dishes wishing they'd never married, the ones in the ER, saying they fell down the stairs, not the ones in prison saying lonliness is the human condition, get used to it. The wanted the real mother, the blood mother, the great womb, mother of fierce compassion, a woman large enough to hold all the pain, to carry it away. What we needed was someone who bled, someone deep and rich as a field, a wide-hipped mother, awesome, immense, women like huge soft couches, mothers coursing with blood, mothers big enough, wide enough for us to hid in, to sink down to the bottom of, mothers who would breathe for us when we could not breathe anymore, who would fight for us, who would kill for us, die for us.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Don’t attach yourself to anyone who shows you the least bit of attention because you’re lonely. Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way. (movie & novel combination)
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
You ask me about regret? Let me tell you a few things about regret, my darling. There is no end to it. You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should you regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately, as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly, or just the ending itself? I've given more thought to this question than you could begin to imagine.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
for she is my love, and other women are but big bodies of flame. who in the world would have thot of her like that? when most people looked they only saw a certain collection of bones, a selection of forms filling space. but he saw past the mouth and the eyes. the archetecture of the body, her fleshy masquerade. other boys were happy enuf to enjoy the show, they just wanted to be entertained by the bodys shadow theater but he had to come backstage. he went down into the mines. into the dark, brot up the gold. your new self, a better self. but wat good was it if he was jus gonna leave her behind. his poets lady, his silver lilly. he was a boy who knew things, things that looked one way but proved to be another.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
It sickens me to think of you a prevalence of void unholy immovable damned. gifts. an overblown sense of his own importance. I wish you were dead. forget about you. crow florid with fantasies it's so awful a perfect imitation a liability to love forget you Ingrid Magnussen quite alone masturbating rot disappointment grotesque Your arms cradle poisons garbage grenades Loneliness long-distance cries forever never response. take everything feel me? the human condition Stop plotting murder penitence Cultivate it you forbid appeal rage important I cringe fuck you insane person dissonant and querulous my gas tanks marked FULL
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
The decor bowled me over. Everywhere I looked, there was something more to see. Botanical prints, a cross section of pomegranates, a passionflower vine and its fruit. Stacks of thick books on art and design and a collection of glass paperweights filled the coffee table. It was enormously beautiful, a sensibility I'd never encountered anywhere, a relaxed luxury. I could feel my mother's contemptuous gaze falling on the cluttered surfaces, but I was tired of three white flowers in a glass vase. There was more to life than that.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Her voice was trained, supple as leather, precise as a knife thrower's blade. Singing or talking, it had the same graceful quality, and an accent I thought at first was English, but then realized was the old-fashioned American of a thirties movie, a person who could get away with saying 'grand.' Too classic, they told her when she went out on auditions. It didn't mean old. It meant too beautiful for the times, when anything that lasted longer than six months was considered passe. I loved to listen to her sing, or tell me stories about her childhood in suburban Connecticut, it sounded like heaven.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Who can know God's intentions? Who can know Hid Mind?" She looked at the coffin, lying there like a giant question mark. Like the monolith in 2001. One big fucking question, But at the end of the day, who need a God who'd let Michael get so lost that he'd do something like this? What was the point of a Devil if there was a God like that? Maybe there was just the Devil, the real God of this lousy world. Or maybe there was just nothing at all. And everybody was sitting around praying to a great big nothing, like people praying to airplanes, thinking they were gods. The world one big cargo cult.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
The world that was the emonation of divine had been reduced to a handful of dust. Thousands of people, all caught in profile looked into their mobile fish tanks. Each face, each car, transporting grief, boredom, rage. Someone in one of these cars was contemplating murder. Someone, rite now, in the privecy of his aquarium, threaded the beads of his suicide through his fingers, praying along the chain like a rosary. Someone begged for help from a God he didnt quite believe in, yet had no one else to appeal to.
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Janet Fitch (Paint it Black)
β€œ
But then I realized, they didn't mean their own mothers. Not those weak women, those victims. Drug addicts, shopaholics, cookie bakers. They didn't mean the women who let them down, who failed to help them into womanhood. They didn't mean the mothers washing dishes wishing they'd never married, the ones in the ER, saying they fell down the stairs, not the ones in prison saying loneliness is the human condition. They wanted the real mother, the blood mother, the great womb, mother of a fierce compassion, a woman large enough to hold all the pain, to carry it away. What we needed was someone who bled, someone deep and rich as a field, a wide hipped mother, auwesome, immense, women like huge soft couches, mothers coursing with blood, mothers big enough, wide enough, for us to hide in, to sink down to the bottom of, mothers who would breathe for us when we could not breathe anymore, mothers who would fight for us, who would kill for us, and die for us.
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Janet Fitch
β€œ
I squatted by the water as it flowed over the tumbled rocks, thought how far they must've come to have settled in the concrete channel, the stream clear and melodious, the smell of fresh water. I didn't want to think about my mother anymore. I'd rather think about the way the willows and the cottonwoods and palms broke their way through the concrete, growing right out of the flood control channel, how the river struggled to re-establish itself. A little silt was carried down, settled. A seed dropped into it, sprouted. Little roots shot downward. The next thing you had trees, shrubs, birds. My mother once wrote a poem about rivers. They were women, she wrote. Starting out small girls, tiny streams decorated with wildflowers. They were torrents, gouging paths through sheer granite, flinging themselves off cliffs, fearless and irresistible. Later, they grew fat servicable, broad slow curves carrying commerce and sewage, but in their unconscious depths catfish gorged, grew the size of barges, and in the hundred-year storms, they rose up, forgetting the promises they made, the wedding vows, and drowned everything for miles around. Finally they gave out, birth-emptied, malarial, into a fan of swamps that met the ocean.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
Anyone could buy a green Jaguar, find beauty in a Japanese screen two thousand years old. I would rather be a connoisseur of neglected rivers and flowering mustard and the flush of iridescent pink on an intersection pigeon's charcoal neck. I thought of the vet, warming dinner over a can, and the old woman feeding her pigeons in the intersection behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken. And what about the ladybug man, the blue of his eyes over gray threaded black? There were me and Yvonne, Niki and Paul Trout, maybe even Sergei or Susan D. Valeris, why not? What were any of us but a handful of weeds. Who was to say what our value was? What was the value of four Vietnam vets playing poker every afternoon in front of the Spanish market on Glendale Boulevard, making their moves with a greasy deck missing a queen and a five? Maybe the world depended on them, maybe they were the Fates, or the Graces. Cezanne would have drawn them in charcoal. Van Gogh would have painted himself among them.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
β€œ
How could I forget. I was her ghost daughter, sitting at empty tables with crayons and pens while she worked on a poem, a girl malleable as white clay. Someone to shape, instruct in the ways of being her. She was always shaping me. She showed me an orange, a cluster of pine needles, a faceted quartz, and made me describe them to her. I couldn’t have been more than three or four. My words, that’s what she wanted. ”What’s this?” she kept asking. ”What’s this?” But how could I tell her? She’d taken all the words. The smell of tuberoses saturated the night air, and the wind clicked through the palms like thoughts through my sleepless mind. Who am I? I am a girl you don’t know, mother. The silent girl in the back row of the classroom, drawing in notebooks. Remember how they didn’t know if I even spoke English when we came back to the country? They tested me to find out if I was retarded or deaf. But you never asked why. You never thought, maybe I should have left Astrid some words. I thought of Yvonne in our room, asleep, thumb in mouth, wrapped around her baby like a top. ”I can see her,” you said. You could never see her, Mother. Not if you stood in that room all night. You could only see her plucked eyebrows, her bad teeth, the books that she read with the fainting women on the covers. You could never recognize the kindness in that girl, the depth of her needs, how desperately she wanted to belong, that’s why she was pregnant again. You could judge her as you judged everything else, inferior, but you could never see her. Things weren’t real to you. They were just raw material for you to reshape to tell a story you liked better. You could never just listen to a boy playing guitar, you’d have to turn it into a poem, make it all about you.
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Janet Fitch (White Oleander)