Stiff In Life Quotes

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The Journey One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice -- though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. "Mend my life!" each voice cried. But you didn't stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do -- determined to save the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver
Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.
Lao Tzu
I couldn't joke about the person who'd saved me from facing absolute heartbreak at home, who fed my family boxes of sweets, who ran to me worried that i was hurt if I asked for him. A month ago, I had looked at the TV and seen a stiff, distant, boring person-someone I couldn't imagine anyone loving. And while he wasn't anything close to the person I did love, he was worthy of having someone to love in his life.
Kiera Cass (The Selection (The Selection, #1))
People who keep stiff upper lips find that it's damn hard to smile.
Judith Guest (Ordinary People)
We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
Life contains these things: leakage and wickage and discharge, pus and snot and slime and gleet. We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
Flowers spring to blossom where she walks The careful ways of duty; Our hard, stiff lines of life with her Are flowing curves of beauty.
John Greenleaf Whittier
Memories are stiff, but thoughts are freer things. They throw out roots, they spread and tangle, and come untethered from their source. They are clever, and stubborn, and perhaps--perhaps--they are in reach.
Victoria Schwab (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue)
A man is born gentle and weak; at his death he is hard and stiff. All things, including the grass and trees, are soft and pliable in life; dry and brittle in death. Stiffness is thus a companion of death; flexibility a companion of life. An army that cannot yield will be defeated. A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind. The hard and stiff will be broken; the soft and supple will prevail.
Lao Tzu
I don't know how to describe the sound of a world crashing. Maybe there is no sound, just a great emptiness, an enveloping sorrow, a creeping nothingness that coils itself around you like a stiff wire.
Charles M. Blow (Fire Shut Up in My Bones)
Her blood is settled, and her joints are stiff; Life and these lips have long been separated: Death lies on her like an untimely frost Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.
William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)
So Aedion leaned in, and kissed Lysandra, kissed the woman who should have been his wife, his mate, one last time. “I love you.” Sorrow filled her beautiful face. “And I you.” She gestured to the western gate, to the soldiers waiting for its final cleaving. “Until the end?” Aedion hefted his shield, flipping the Sword of Orynth in his hand, freeing the stiffness that had seized his fingers. “I will find you again,” he promised her. “In whatever life comes after this.” Lysandra nodded. “In every lifetime.” Together, they turned toward the stairs that would take them down to the gates.
Sarah J. Maas (Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7))
On September 11, I went out and bought a new TV/VCR at Best Buy so I could record the news coverage of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Trevor was on a honeymoon in Barbados, I'd later learn, but Reva was lost. Reva was gone. I watched the videotape over and over to soothe myself that day. And I continue to watch it, usually on a lonely afternoon, or any other time I doubt that life is worth living, or when I need courage, or when I am bored. Each time I see the woman leap off the seventy-eighth floor of the North Tower—one high-heeled shoe slipping off and hovering up over her, the other stuck on her foot as though it were too small, her blouse untucked, hair flailing, limbs stiff as she plummets down, one arm raised, like a dive into a summer lake—I am overcome by awe, not because she looks like Reva, and I think it's her, almost exactly her, and not because Reva and I had been friends, or because I'll never see her again, but because she is beautiful. There she is, a human being, diving into the unknown, and she is wide awake.
Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation)
Sit still with me in the shade of these green trees, which have no weightier thought than the withering of their leaves when autumn arrives, or the stretching of their many stiff fingers into the cold sky of the passing winter. Sit still with me and meditate on how useless effort is, how alien the will, and on how our very meditation is no more useful than effort, and no more our own than the will. Meditate too on how a life that wants nothing can have no weight in the flux of things, but a life the wants everything can likewise have no weight in the flux of things, since it cannot obtain everything, and to obtain less than everything is not worthy of souls that seek the truth.
Fernando Pessoa (The Education of the Stoic: The Only Manuscript of the Baron of Teive)
I think you need someone in your life you can depend on, someone you can confide in when things go to hell at work, someone to massage your tired feet and your stiff shoulders, someone to bring you tea and cook a meal once in a while. Someone to be there for you.
Pamela Clare (Extreme Exposure (I-Team, #1))
God break me out of this stiff life I've made
Jean Valentine
There was no ‘Miss Woodley.’ There was Willie. Willie was about life, and she grabbed it by the balls. Y’all know that. She loved a stiff drink, a stiff hundred, and she loved her business. And she didn’t judge nobody. She loved everyone equal—accountants, queers, musicians, she welcomed us all, said we were all idiots just the same.
Ruta Sepetys (Out of the Easy)
The physician said, 'I was told you would be difficult. Very well. The better it heals, the less your back will trouble you with stiffness, both now and later in life, so that you will be better able to swing a sword around, killing a great many people. I was told you would be responsive to that argument.
C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince: Volume Two (Captive Prince, #2))
From p. 40 of Signet Edition of Thomas Wolfe's _You Can't Go Home Again_ (1940): Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen. The voice of forest water in the night, a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children's voices in bright air--these things will never change. The glitter of sunlight on roughened water, the glory of the stars, the innocence of morning, the smell of the sea in harbors, the feathery blur and smoky buddings of young boughs, and something there that comes and goes and never can be captured, the thorn of spring, the sharp and tongueless cry--these things will always be the same. All things belonging to the earth will never change--the leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff arms clash and tremble in the dark, and the dust of lovers long since buried in the earth--all things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth--these things will always be the same, for they come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever. Only the earth endures, but it endures forever. The tarantula, the adder, and the asp will also never change. Pain and death will always be the same. But under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the buildings trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower, something bursting from the earth again, forever deathless, faithful, coming into life again like April.
Thomas Wolfe (You Can't Go Home Again)
I want to thank you- for everything." I squeezed his fingers, my own stiff and aching from the cold. "Célie was right. I don't deserve you. I made a real mess of your life when I came into it." His other hand came down on top of mine. Warm and steady. To my surprise, he smiled. "I'm glad you did.
Shelby Mahurin (Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1))
He wants to accomplish something in life, learn languages, see the world, read a thousand books, he wants to discover whether there is any core, but sometimes it's hard to think and read when one is stiff and sore after a difficult fishing voyage, wet and cold after twelve hours' working in the meadows, when his thoughts can be so heavy that he can hardly lift them, then it's a long way to the core.
Jón Kalman Stefánsson (Himnaríki og helvíti)
You are the last Five left in the competition, yes? Do you think that hurts your chances of becoming the princess?" The word sprang from my lips without thought. "No!" "Oh, my! You do have a spirit there!" Gavril seemed pleased to have gotten such an enthusiastic response. "So you think you'll beat out all the others, then? Make it to the end?" I thought better of myself. "No, no. It's not like that. I don't think I'm better than any of the other girls; they're all amazing. It's just...I don't think Maxon would do that, just discount someone because of their caste." I heard a collective gasp. I ran over the sentence in my head. It took me a minute to catch my mistake: I'd called him Maxon. Saying that to another girl behind closed doors was one thing, but to say his name without the word "Prince" in front of it was incredibly informal in public. And I'd said it on live television. I looked to see if Maxon was angry. He had a calm smile on his face. So he wasn't mad...but I was embarrassed. I blushed fiercely. "Ah, so it seems you really have gotten to know our prince. Tell me, what do you think of Maxon?" I ahd thought of several answers while I was waiting for my turn. I was going to make fun of his laugh or talk about the pet name he wanted his wife to call him. It seemed like the only way to save the situation was to get back the comedy. But as I lifted my eyes to make one of my comments, I saw Maxon's face. He really wanted to know. And I couldn't poke fun at him, not when I had a chance to say what I'd really started to think now that he was my friend. I couldn't joke about the person who'd saved me from facing absolute heartbreak at home, who fed my family boxes of sweets, who ran to me worried that I was hurt if I asked for him. A month ago, I had looked at the TV and seen a stiff, distant, boring person-someone I couldn't imagine anyone loving. And while he wasn't anything close to the person I did love, he was worthy of having someone to love in his life. "Maxon Schreave is the epitome of all things good. He is going to be a phenomenal king. He lets girls who are supposed to be wearing dresses wear jeans and doesn't get mad when someone who doesn't know him clearly mislabels him." I gave Gavril a keen look, and he smiled. And behind him, Maxon looked intrigued. "Whoever he marries will be a lucky girl. And whatever happens to me, I will be honored to be his subject." I saw Maxon swallow, and I lowered my eyes. "America Singer, thank you so much." Gavril went to shake my hand. "Up next is Miss Tallulah Bell." I didn't hear what any of the girls said after me, though I stared at the two seats. That interview had become way more personal than I'd intended it to be. I couldn't bring myself to look at Maxon. Instead I sat there replaying my words again and again in my head.
Kiera Cass (The Selection (The Selection, #1))
Dad always said a person must have a magnificent reason for writing out his or her Life Story and expecting anyone to read it. Unless your name is something along the lines of Mozart, Matisse, Churchill, Che Guevara or Bond - James Bond - you best spent your free time finger painting or playing shuffeboard, for no one, with the exception of your flabby-armed mother with stiff hair and a mashed potato way of looking at you, will want to hear the particulars of your pitiable existence, which doubtlessly will end as it began - with a wheeze.
Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics)
Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. —LAO TZU
James Clear (Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones)
That night for the first time in my life I realized that it is the physical presence of people and their spirits that gives a town life. With the absence of so many people, the town became scary., the night darker, and the silence unbearably agitating. Normally, the crickets and the birds sang in the evening before the sun went down. But this time they didn't, and the darkness set in very fast. The mood wasn't in the sky; the air was stiff, as if nature itself was afraid of what was happening.
Ishmael Beah (A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier)
I hope we shall get on together, you and I; I've come to cheer you up - That's why I'm dressed up like an aristocrat In a fine red coat with golden stitches, A stiff silk cape on top of that, A long sharp dagger in my breeches, And a cockerel's feather in my hat. Take my advice - if I were you, I'd get an outfit like this too; Then you'd be well equipped to see Just how exciting life can be.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Faust)
That night, having wriggled down into my futon all alone, I found myself in the grips of a wrenching sadness. I was only a child, but I knew the feeling that came when you parted with something, and I felt that pain. I lay gazing up at the ceiling , feeling the sleek stiffness of the well-starched sheets against my skin. My distress was a seed that would grow into an understanding of what it meant to say goodbye. In contrast to the heavy ache I would come to know later on in life, this was tiny and fresh – a green bud of pain with a bright halo of light rimming its edges.
Banana Yoshimoto (Goodbye Tsugumi)
in my first American class—a freshman chemistry class during the 1969-70 academic year— they looked at me as though I was supposed to be their nurse because they were paying a stiff tuition. That's another concept I had to learn— in American private schools we worked for them because they paid the tuition, but in Egypt we were educating them.
Ahmed H. Zewail (Voyage Through Time: Walks of Life to the Nobel Prize)
The stiff and unyielding are the companions of death, while the yielding and tender are the companions of life. Therefore we see that unbending armies cannot conquer, and the strongest tree feels the axe. The mighty will fall down low, but the humble will rise up.
Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)
It’s fascinating, really, when you think about it. How a person can slip into a new life as one would a new pair of shoes. At first there’s a keen awareness of the fit: a stiffness at the heel, the binding of the width, the curve pressed to the arch. But with time and enough steps, the feel becomes so natural you almost forget you’re wearing them at all.
Kristina McMorris (The Edge of Lost)
A naively formulated goal transmutes, with time, into the sinister form of the life-lie. One forty-something client told me his vision, formulated by his younger self: “I see myself retired, sitting on a tropical beach, drinking margaritas in the sunshine.” That’s not a plan. That’s a travel poster. After eight margaritas, you’re fit only to await the hangover. After three weeks of margarita-filled days, if you have any sense, you’re bored stiff and self-disgusted. In a year, or less, you’re pathetic. It’s just not a sustainable approach to later life. This kind of oversimplification and falsification is particularly typical of ideologues. They adopt a single axiom: government is bad, immigration is bad, capitalism is bad, patriarchy is bad. Then they filter and screen their experiences and insist ever more narrowly that everything can be explained by that axiom. They believe, narcissistically, underneath all that bad theory, that the world could be put right, if only they held the controls.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
Do you remember the lake?' she said, in an abrupt voice, under the pressure of an emotion which caught her heart, made the muscles of her throat stiff, and contracted her lips in a spasm as she said 'lake.' For she was a child, throwing bread to the ducks, between her parents, and at the same time a grown woman coming to her parents who stood by the lake, holding her life in her arms which, as she neared them grew larger and larger in her arms until it became a whole life, a complete life, which she put down by them and said, 'This is what I have made of it! This!' And what had she made of it? What indeed? sitting there sewing this morning with Peter.
Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway)
Where’s the rest of it?” said Ellwood, his voice rising unpredictably. “My,” just the word “my” would have been enough to live on, if Gaunt had ever called him that to his face. “He never called me Sidney. Not once, in five years.” He looked up at Hayes. “What does it mean?” “I don’t know,” said Hayes. He sat stiff and upright on the bed. “Why didn’t he finish it?” “I don’t know,” said Hayes. “He knew he was going to die.” “He thought you both would.” “But he never called me Sidney.” He never called him any of it. My, dearest, darling. Sidney. Ellwood leant back against the window, his throat stretching long as he looked up. “If Gaunt had been a girl, I should have married him in an instant,” he said.
Alice Winn (In Memoriam)
Again, somehow, one saw life, a pure bead. I lifted the pencil again, useless though I knew it to be. But even as I did so, the unmistakable tokens of death showed themselves. The body relaxed, and instantly grew stiff. The struggle was over. The insignificant little creature now knew death. As I looked at the dead moth, this minute wayside triumph of so great a force over so mean an antagonist filled me with wonder. Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange.
Virginia Woolf
A Christian is not a person who believes in his head the teachings of the Bible. Satan believes in his head the teachings of the Bible! A Christian is a person who has died with Christ, whose stiff neck has been broken, whose brazen forehead has been shattered, whose stony heart has been crushed, whose pride has been slain, and whose life is now mastered by Jesus Christ.
John Piper
We abide the surgeon’s scalpel to save our own lives, our loved ones’ lives, but not to save a stranger’s life. H has no heart, but heartless is the last thing you’d call her.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
When the little mouse, which was loved as none other was in the mouse-world, got into a trap one night and with a shrill scream forfeited its life for the sight of the bacon, all the mice in the district, in their holes were overcome by trembling and shaking; with eyes blinking uncontrollably they gazed at each other one by one, while their tails scraped the ground busily and senselessly. Then they came out, hesitantly, pushing one another, all drawn towards the scene of death. There it lay, the dear little mouse, its neck caught in the deadly iron, the little pink legs drawn up, and now stiff the feeble body that would so well have deserved a scrap of bacon. The parents stood beside it and eyed their child's remains.
Franz Kafka (Blue Octavo Notebooks)
Relaxing the shoulders is vital for relaxation in general. However, owing to the effects of gravity, relaxation is problematic unless we let the shoulders remain in their natural place. Let the shoulders drop, or settle in harmony with gravity, into their most comfortable position. It isn’t too difficult to do this for a moment, but to sustain this condition unconsciously in our lives is another matter. We raise our shoulders unnaturally when we lean on a desk or hold the telephone between our shoulders and ears, when we are shocked by a loud noise, and who knows how many other times throughout the day. And the unsettling of the shoulders doesn’t have to be large to produce anxiety, stiff necks, and headaches. Just slightly raising them will create tension, and this tension throws the nervous system out of balance. When do we raise the shoulders in daily life? What are we feeling at that moment and leading up to that moment? Remembering that the body reflects the mind, and that the raising of the shoulders not only creates tension but also is a physical manifestation of psychological tension itself, what are the roots of this tension? Bringing the mind into the moment, let’s observe ourselves in a state free of preconceived ideas or beliefs. Don’t guess at these questions. Observe yourself in relationship to others and the universe
H.E. Davey (Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation)
That will solve nothing, my lord.” His wife strode into the kitchen, stiff pride shining in her eyes. “I told you to keep her in hand.” Brodick glared at his cousin, wondering just when his life had turned inside out. Druce scowled at the sweet smile Brodrick’s wife cast toward him. He lifted his finger and pointed at her. “She bit me.
Mary Wine (In Bed With A Stranger (McJames, #1))
[excerpt] The usual I say. Essence. Spirit. Medicine. A taste. I say top shelf. Straight up. A shot. A sip. A nip. I say another round. I say brace yourself. Lift a few. Hoist a few. Work the elbow. Bottoms up. Belly up. Set ‘em up. What’ll it be. Name your poison. I say same again. I say all around. I say my good man. I say my drinking buddy. I say git that in ya. Then a quick one. Then a nightcap. Then throw one back. Then knock one down. Fast & furious I say. Could savage a drink I say. Chug. Chug-a-lug. Gulp. Sauce. Mother’s milk. Everclear. Moonshine. White lightning. Firewater. Hootch. Relief. Now you’re talking I say. Live a little I say. Drain it I say. Kill it I say. Feeling it I say. Wobbly. Breakfast of champions I say. I say candy is dandy but liquor is quicker. I say Houston, we have a drinking problem. I say the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. I say god only knows what I’d be without you. I say thirsty. I say parched. I say wet my whistle. Dying of thirst. Lap it up. Hook me up. Watering hole. Knock a few back. Pound a few down. My office. Out with the boys I say. Unwind I say. Nurse one I say. Apply myself I say. Toasted. Glow. A cold one a tall one a frosty I say. One for the road I say. Two-fisted I say. Never trust a man who doesn’t drink I say. Drink any man under the table I say. Then a binge then a spree then a jag then a bout. Coming home on all fours. Could use a drink I say. A shot of confidence I say. Steady my nerves I say. Drown my sorrows. I say kill for a drink. I say keep ‘em comin’. I say a stiff one. Drink deep drink hard hit the bottle. Two sheets to the wind then. Knackered then. Under the influence then. Half in the bag then. Out of my skull I say. Liquored up. Rip-roaring. Slammed. Fucking jacked. The booze talking. The room spinning. Feeling no pain. Buzzed. Giddy. Silly. Impaired. Intoxicated. Stewed. Juiced. Plotzed. Inebriated. Laminated. Swimming. Elated. Exalted. Debauched. Rock on. Drunk on. Bring it on. Pissed. Then bleary. Then bloodshot. Glassy-eyed. Red-nosed. Dizzy then. Groggy. On a bender I say. On a spree. I say off the wagon. I say on a slip. I say the drink. I say the bottle. I say drinkie-poo. A drink a drunk a drunkard. Swill. Swig. Shitfaced. Fucked up. Stupefied. Incapacitated. Raging. Seeing double. Shitty. Take the edge off I say. That’s better I say. Loaded I say. Wasted. Off my ass. Befuddled. Reeling. Tanked. Punch-drunk. Mean drunk. Maintenance drunk. Sloppy drunk happy drunk weepy drunk blind drunk dead drunk. Serious drinker. Hard drinker. Lush. Drink like a fish. Boozer. Booze hound. Alkie. Sponge. Then muddled. Then woozy. Then clouded. What day is it? Do you know me? Have you seen me? When did I start? Did I ever stop? Slurring. Reeling. Staggering. Overserved they say. Drunk as a skunk they say. Falling down drunk. Crawling down drunk. Drunk & disorderly. I say high tolerance. I say high capacity. They say protective custody. Blitzed. Shattered. Zonked. Annihilated. Blotto. Smashed. Soaked. Screwed. Pickled. Bombed. Stiff. Frazzled. Blasted. Plastered. Hammered. Tore up. Ripped up. Destroyed. Whittled. Plowed. Overcome. Overtaken. Comatose. Dead to the world. The old K.O. The horrors I say. The heebie-jeebies I say. The beast I say. The dt’s. B’jesus & pink elephants. A mindbender. Hittin’ it kinda hard they say. Go easy they say. Last call they say. Quitting time they say. They say shut off. They say dry out. Pass out. Lights out. Blackout. The bottom. The walking wounded. Cross-eyed & painless. Gone to the world. Gone. Gonzo. Wrecked. Sleep it off. Wake up on the floor. End up in the gutter. Off the stuff. Dry. Dry heaves. Gag. White knuckle. Lightweight I say. Hair of the dog I say. Eye-opener I say. A drop I say. A slug. A taste. A swallow. Down the hatch I say. I wouldn’t say no I say. I say whatever he’s having. I say next one’s on me. I say bottoms up. Put it on my tab. I say one more. I say same again
Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City)
I had let it all grow. I had supposed It was all OK. Your life Was a liner I voyaged in. Costly education had fitted you out. Financiers and committees and consultants Effaced themselves in the gleam of your finish. You trembled with the new life of those engines. That first morning, Before your first class at College, you sat there Sipping coffee. Now I know, as I did not, What eyes waited at the back of the class To check your first professional performance Against their expectations. What assessors Waited to see you justify the cost And redeem their gamble. What a furnace Of eyes waited to prove your metal. I watched The strange dummy stiffness, the misery, Of your blue flannel suit, its straitjacket, ugly Half-approximation to your idea Of the properties you hoped to ease into, And your horror in it. And the tanned Almost green undertinge of your face Shrunk to its wick, your scar lumpish, your plaited Head pathetically tiny. You waited, Knowing yourself helpless in the tweezers Of the life that judges you, and I saw The flayed nerve, the unhealable face-wound Which was all you had for courage. I saw that what you gripped, as you sipped, Were terrors that killed you once already. Now I see, I saw, sitting, the lonely Girl who was going to die. That blue suit. A mad, execution uniform, Survived your sentence. But then I sat, stilled, Unable to fathom what stilled you As I looked at you, as I am stilled Permanently now, permanently Bending so briefly at your open coffin.
Ted Hughes (Birthday Letters)
This will not do,' he said to himself. 'If I go on like this I shall become a crazy fool. This must stop! I promised the doctor I would not take tea. Faith, he was pretty right! My nerves must have been getting in a queer state. Funny I did not notice it. I never felt better in my life. However it is all right now, and I shall not be such a fool again.' Then he mixed himself a good stiff glass of brandy and water and resolutely sat down to his work.
Bram Stoker (The Judge's House)
I won't tell," he said, his arms holding my waist with amateur stiffness. I smiled, thinking about the lover he'd become and all the things he'd try with me for the very first time. I'd be the sexual yardstick for his whole life: Jack would spend the rest of his days trying but failing to relive the experience of being given everything at a time when he knew nothing. Like a tollbooth in his memory, every partner he'd have afterwards would have to pass through the gate of my comparison, and it would be a losing equation. The numbers could never be as favorable as they were right now, when his naivety would be subtracted from my experience to produce the largest sum of astonishment possible.
Alissa Nutting (Tampa)
This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!
John Cleese
TODAY I THINK MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HELL IS OVER. It was hell, the ancient hell. Hell: I believed that if I loved V enough, we would love each other. All I know is that I’ve been returned to earth violently; I’ve a duty to myself to survive and to see what is. I have to deal with the truth, with nothing else. Did V’s charity to me almost cause my death? I, starving, fed on the dream that V loved me and I lived a lie. So forgive me, You who knows that only truth matters. Yes—this dawn is at best difficult. The blood he let out of my skin, now dried and stiff, hurts me and there’s nothing else in my life but memories of him. Mental war is constant. Nonetheless, this is the eve before the morning. May I accept the influxes of vigor and whatever real tenderness floats by in these barren waters. And when dawn comes, armed with my patience which burns, I shall see the cities of humans which are splendid. The imagination is nothing unless it is made actual.
Kathy Acker (In Memoriam to Identity)
Everyone used to seem so grown up," I say. "Nobody does anymore. Look at us. Forty, fifty years ago we would have been our parents. Who are we now?" ... "They passed," Leonard says, "that's all." Fifty years ago you entered a closet marked 'marriage.' In the closet was a double set of clothes, so stiff they could stand up by themselves. A woman stepped into a dress called 'wife' and the man stepped into a suit called 'husband.' And that was it. They disappeared inside the clothes. Today, we don't pass. We're standing here naked. That's all." He strikes a match and holds it to his cigarette. "I'm not the right person for this life," I say. "Who is?" he says, exhaling in my direction.
Vivian Gornick (The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir)
Flowers spring to blossom where she walks The careful ways of duty, Our hard, stiff lines of life with her Are flowing curves of beauty. -WHITTIER
L.M. Montgomery
To quantify the “benefit” side of the equation, a dollar amount is assigned to each saved human life. As calculated by the Urban Institute in 1991, you are worth $2.7 million.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
It was the time of year that makes every poet’s heart sing and every lawyer question their life choices.
Portia Porter, Can You Stiff Your Divorce Lawyer
I’m not sure what to say about struggle except that it feels like a long, dark tunnel with no light at the end. You never notice until it’s over the ways it has changed you, and there is no going back. We struggled a lot this year. For everyone who picked a fight with life and got the shit kicked out of them: I’m proud of you for surviving. This year I learned that cities are beautiful from rooftops even when you’re sad and that swimming in rivers while the sun sets in July will make you feel hopeful, no matter what’s going on at home. I found out my best friend is strong enough to swing me over his shoulder like I’m weightless and run down the street while I’m squealing and kicking against his chest. I found out vegan rice milk whipped cream is delicious, especially when it’s licked off the stomach of a boy you love. This year I kissed too many people with broken hearts and hands like mousetraps. If I could go back and unhurt them I would. If I could go back even farther and never meet them I would do that too. I turned 21. There’s no getting around it. I’m an adult now. Navigating the world has proved harder than I expected. There were times I was reckless. In my struggle to survive I hurt others. Apologies do not make good bandages. I’m not sure what to say about change except that it reminds me of the Bible story with the lions’ den. But you are not named Daniel and you have not been praying, so God lets the beasts get a few deep, painful swipes at you before the morning comes and you’re pulled into the light, exhausted and cut to shit. The good news is you survived. The bad news is you’re hurt and no one can heal you but yourself. You just have to find a stiff drink and a clean needle before you bleed out. And then you get up. And start over.
Clementine von Radics (Mouthful of Forevers)
I remember my wife in white. I remember her walking toward me on our wedding day, a bouquet of red flowers in her hand, and I remember her turning away from me in anger, her body stiff as a stone. I remember the sound of her breath as she slept. I remember the way her body felt in my arms. I remember, always I remember, that she brought solace to my life as well as grief. That for every dark moment we shared between us, there was a moment of such brightness I almost could not bear to look at it head-on. I try to remember the woman she was and not the woman I have built out of spare parts to comfort me in my mourning. And I find, more and more, as the days go by and the balm of my forgiveness washes over the cracked and parched surface of my heart, I find that remembering her as she was is a gift I can give us both.
Carolyn Parkhurst (The Dogs of Babel)
It was she made me acquainted with love. She went by the peaceful name of Ruth I think, but I can't say for certain. Perhaps the name was Edith. She had a hole between her legs, oh not the bunghole I had always imagined, but a slit, and in this I put, or rather she put, my so-called virile member, not without difficulty, and I toiled and moiled until I discharged or gave up trying or was begged by her to stop. A mug's game in my opinion and tiring on top of that, in the long run. But I lent myself to it with a good enough grace, knowing it was love, for she had told me so. She bent over the couch, because of her rheumatism, and in I went from behind. It was the only position she could bear, because of her lumbago. It seemed all right to me, for I had seen dogs, and I was astonished when she confided that you could go about it differently. I wonder what she meant exactly. Perhaps after all she put me in her rectum. A matter of complete indifference to me, I needn't tell you. But is it true love, in the rectum? That's what bothers me sometimes. Have I never known true love, after all? She too was an eminently flat woman and she moved with short stiff steps, leaning on an ebony stick. Perhaps she too was a man, yet another of them. But in that case surely our testicles would have collided, while we writhed. Perhaps she held hers tight in her hand, on purpose to avoid it. She favoured voluminous tempestuous shifts and petticoats and other undergarments whose names I forget. They welled up all frothing and swishing and then, congress achieved, broke over us in slow cascades. And all I could see was her taut yellow nape which every now and then I set my teeth in, forgetting I had none, such is the power of instinct. We met in a rubbish dump, unlike any other, and yet they are all alike, rubbish dumps. I don't know what she was doing there. I was limply poking about in the garbage saying probably, for at that age I must still have been capable of general ideas, This is life. She had no time to lose, I had nothing to lose, I would have made love with a goat, to know what love was. She had a dainty flat, no, not dainty, it made you want to lie down in a corner and never get up again. I liked it. It was full of dainty furniture, under our desperate strokes the couch moved forward on its castors, the whole place fell about our ears, it was pandemonium. Our commerce was not without tenderness, with trembling hands she cut my toe-nails and I rubbed her rump with winter cream. This idyll was of short duration. Poor Edith, I hastened her end perhaps. Anyway it was she who started it, in the rubbish dump, when she laid her hand upon my fly. More precisely, I was bent double over a heap of muck, in the hope of finding something to disgust me for ever with eating, when she, undertaking me from behind, thrust her stick between my legs and began to titillate my privates. She gave me money after each session, to me who would have consented to know love, and probe it to the bottom, without charge. But she was an idealist. I would have preferred it seems to me an orifice less arid and roomy, that would have given me a higher opinion of love it seems to me. However. Twixt finger and thumb tis heaven in comparison. But love is no doubt above such contingencies. And not when you are comfortable, but when your frantic member casts about for a rubbing-place, and the unction of a little mucous membrane, and meeting with none does not beat in retreat, but retains its tumefaction, it is then no doubt that true love comes to pass, and wings away, high above the tight fit and the loose.
Samuel Beckett (Molloy / Malone Dies / The Unnamable)
Loneliness It's Hell for us to draw the fetters Of life in alienation, stiff. All people prefer to share gladness, And nobody - to share grief. As a king of air, I'm lone here, The pain lives in my heart, so grim, And I can see that, to the fear Of fate, years pass me by like dreams; And comes again with, touched by gold, The same dream, gloomy one and old. I see a coffin, black and sole, It waits: why to detain the world? There will be not a sad reflection, There will be (I am betting on) Much more gaily celebration When I am dead, than - born.
Mikhail Lermontov
Having made his clerical toilet with due care in the morning, he was prepared only for those amenities of life which were suited to the well-adjusted stiff cravat of the period, and to a mind weighted with unpublished matter.
George Eliot (Middlemarch)
There is her heart. I've never seen one beating.I had no idea they moved so much. You put your hand on your heart and you picture something pulsing slightly but basically still, like a hand on a desktop tapping Morse code. This things is going wild in there. It's a mixing-machine part, a stoat squirming in its burrow, an alien life form that's just won a Pontiac on The Price Is Right. If you were looking for the home of the human body's animating spirit, I could imagine believing it to be here, for the simple reason that it is the human body's most animated organ.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
(What she perhaps didn’t realize is that the embalming fluid pumped into the veins expands the body’s erectile tissues, with the result that male anatomy lab cadavers may be markedly better endowed in death than they were in life.)
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
You will then. Listen here...I've always got this to look forward to: I'll settle down by that man's side. I'll be as virtuous as any woman. I've made up my mind to it and I'll be it. And I'll be bored stiff for the rest of my life. Except for one thing. I can torment that man. And I'll do it. Do you understand how I'll do it? There are many ways. But if the worst comes to the worst I can always drive him silly...by corrupting the child!' She was panting a little, and round her brown eyes the whites showed. 'I'll get even with him. I can. I know how, you see. And with you, through him, for tormenting me. I've come all the way from Brittany without stopping. I haven't slept...But I can...
Ford Madox Ford (Parade's End)
Neurotic people often feel as if they are fakes, playing the social game while inwardly despising it, and have a sense of illegitimacy as if they lacked a place in the world. This sense of having a double life creates conflict, yet in as-if cases, there is never a struggle between the "real me" and the social self, as one might expect. It is an identification without conflict. Sometimes, their stiffness and superficiality in social relations may be noticed by other people, and it can give the picture of the commitment-phobe. In fact, the person just knows at some level to stay away from situations that would involve an appeal to the symbolic, those, precisely, where a commitment is involved.
Darian Leader (What Is Madness?)
Along the wall, Valg soldiers surged and surged and surged over the battlements. So Aedion leaned in, and kissed Lysandra, kissed the woman who should have been his wife, his mate, one last time. “I love you.” Sorrow filled her beautiful face. “And I you.” She gestured to the western gate, to the soldiers waiting for its final cleaving. “Until the end?” Aedion hefted his shield, flipping the Sword of Orynth in his hand, freeing the stiffness that had seized his fingers. “I will find you again,” he promised her. “In whatever life comes after this.” Lysandra nodded. “In every lifetime.” Together, they turned toward the stairs that would take them down to the gates. To death’s awaiting embrace.
Sarah J. Maas (Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7))
This was the hidden machinery of life, not a clean, clinical well-oiled engine, monitored by a thousand meticulous dials, but a crazy, stumbling contraption made up of strange things roughly fitted together – things like a huge water tap, the dogleg stairs, cheese in the soap dish, and a crocheted tea cosy stiff with dirt and topped by a doll’s broken face.
Margaret Mahy (Memory)
The winter is cold, is cold. All's spent in keeping warm. Has joy been frozen, too? I blow upon my hands Stiff from the biting wind. My heart beats slow, beats slow. What has become of joy? If joy's gone from my heart Then it is closed to You Who made it, gave it life... Elusive, evasive, peace comes Only when it's not sought. Help me forget the cold That grips the grasping world...
Madeleine L'Engle (The Weather of the Heart: Selected Poems)
Not every day is awful. Not every day is good. Despite the way the hours pass, I’m living like I should. Not every day is all wrong. Not every day is right. At least I’m not a spider trying to scamper out of sight. Not every day is ideal. Not every day is bad. At any rate I have my senses, even if they’re mad. Not every day is happy. Not every day is glum. When melancholy drags me down, a simple tune I hum. Not every day I smile. Not every day I frown. With effort, I can take a scowl and turn it upside down. Not every day is crazy. Not every day is sane. If consequence nips at my heels I don’t pass on the blame. Not every day is giddy. Not every day is blah. Yet I can still appreciate a giggle and guffaw. Not every day is timid. Not every day is proud. I may not be a dragon, but I roar about as loud. Not every day has rainbows. Not every day has rain. Despite the fact I’m stiff and sore, I’m not in chronic pain. On every day the sun shines, so every night I pray that I might see the morning light and live another day.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Slaying Dragons: Quotes, Poetry, & a Few Short Stories for Every Day of the Year)
She was heading for the piano, and something told me that it was her intention to sing old folk songs, a pastime to which, as I have indicated, she devoted not a little of her leisure. She was particularly given to indulgence in this nuisance when her soul had been undergoing an upheaval and required soothing, as of course it probably did at this juncture. My fears were realized. She sang two in rapid succession, and the thought that this sort of thing would be a permanent feature of our married life chilled me to the core.
P.G. Wodehouse (Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (Jeeves, #13))
I’m so close to crying, I don’t think I can stop myself. They’re alive. They’re alive and nothing else matters. Tears are already starting to burn my eyes, clouding my vision. Kiaran looks at me with an expression I’ve never seen on him. It takes me a moment to realize it’s dawning horror. “Kam. Kam, don’t do that. Don’t cry. Don’t—” Then I’m crying and he puts his arms around me in quite possibly the most awkward, stiff embrace I’ve ever had in my life. And I adore every second of it. Aithinne speaks from behind us. “I admit to being somewhat unclear on the function of human tears,” she says. “So we’re sad about this? Should I menace someone?” In lieu of a response, the only thing I can manage is something of a half-laugh, half-sob, because they’re alive and I haven’t felt like this in so long. “For god’s sake, Aithinne,” Kiaran says, his voice rumbling through his chest, “put the blade away. You’re not going to stab Kam’s idiot friends.” Then, after a moment: “On second thought, the Seer really serves no purpose . . .” “Oh, shush.” I look up at him, whisking the tears off my cheeks. “Don’t ruin this. It helps if you don’t speak.” Then I press my face back into his chest. “And if you stop responding to my hug like I’m torturing you.” Kiaran makes some attempt to relax, but he could use lessons in hugging. He ends up with one hand shoved up in my hair and the other giving my back a there there pat, but it’s the thought that counts
Elizabeth May (The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer, #2))
But he could not call the doctors at the leprosarium. They would return him to Louisiana. They would treat him and train him and counsel him. They would put him back into life as if his illness were all that mattered, as if wisdom were only skin deep, as if grief and remorse and horror were nothing but illusions, tricks done with mirrors, irrelevant to chrome and porcelain and clean, white, stiff hospital sheets and fluorescent lights.
Stephen R. Donaldson (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #1-3))
Every time I glanced at Ren, I saw that he was watching me. When we finally reached the end of the tunnel and saw the stone steps that led to the surface, Ren stopped. “Kelsey, I have one final request of you before we head up.” “And what would that be? Want to talk about tiger senses or monkey bites in strange places maybe?” “No. I want you to kiss me.” I sputtered, “What? Kiss you? What for? Don’t you think you got to kiss me enough on this trip?” “Humor me, Kells. This is the end of the line for me. We’re leaving the place where I get to be a man all the time, and I have only my tiger’s life to look forward to. So, yes, I want you to kiss me one more time.” I hesitated. “Well, if this works, you can go around kissing all the girls you want to. So why bother with me right now?” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Because! I don’t want to run around kissing all the other girls! I want to kiss you!” “Fine! If it will shut you up!” I leaned over and pecked him on the cheek. “There!” “No. Not good enough. On the lips, my prema.” I leaned over and pecked him on the lips. “There. Can we go now?” I marched up the first two steps, and he slipped his hand under my elbow and spun me around, twisting me so that I fell forward into his arms. He caught me tightly around the waist. His smirk suddenly turned into a sober expression. “A kiss. A real one. One that I’ll remember.” I was about to say something brilliantly sarcastic, probably about him not having permission, when he captured my mouth with his. I was determined to remain stiff and unaffected, but he was extremely patient. He nibbled on the corners of my mouth and pressed soft, slow kisses against my unyielding lips. It was so hard not to respond to him. I made a valiant struggle, but sometimes the body betrays the mind. He slowly, methodically swept aside my resistance. And, feeling he was winning, he pressed ahead and began seducing me even more skillfully. He held me tightly against his body and ran a hand up to my neck where he began to massage it gently, teasing my flesh with his fingertips. I felt the little love plant inside me stretch, swell, and unfurl its leaves, like he was pouring Love Potion # 9 over the thing. I gave up at that point and decided what the heck. I could always use a rototiller on it. And I rationalized that when he breaks my heart, at least I will have been thoroughly kissed. If nothing else, I’ll have a really good memory to look back on in my multi-cat spinsterhood. Or multi-dog. I think I will have had my fill of cats. I groaned softly. Yep. Dogs for sure.
Colleen Houck (Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga, #1))
I felt stiff, the way I moved when I took that first bite, like I was eating something in church. He’d made that sausage so carefully. Food was his thing. I took another bite. I did. I ate it. I ate the dead man’s hot and meaty sandwich. It was good. […] When you see women who don’t eat? Or women who cleanse, detox and purge? I think they’ve done something like this. They’ve eaten in a way that’s left a memory, a creepy ghost, a body inside their own body.
Monica Drake (The Folly of Loving Life)
She sat with great intensity, giving the whole of her mind to it, and was capable of remaining for an hour almost as motionless as if she were before a photographer's lens. I could see she had been photographed often, but somehow the very habit that made her good for that purpose unfitted her for mine. At first I was extremely pleased with her lady-like air, and it was a satisfaction, on coming to follow her lines, to see how good they were and how far they could lead the pencil. But after a few times I began to find her too insurmountably stiff; do what I would with it my drawing looked like a photograph or a copy of a photograph. Her figure had no variety of expression -- she herself had no sense of variety. You may say that this was my business, was only a question of placing her. I placed her in every conceivable position, but she managed to obliterate their differences. She was always a lady certainly, and into the bargain was always the same lady. She was the real thing, but always the same thing. There were moments when I was oppressed by the serenity of her confidence that she WAS the real thing.
Henry James (The Real Thing And Other Tales)
H appears no different from the corpses already here. But H is different. She has made three sick people well. She has brought them extra time on Earth. To be able as a dead person to make a gift of this magnitude is phenomenal. Most people don't manage this sort of thing while they're alive. Cadavers like H are the dead's heroes. It is astounding to me and achingly sad that with 80,000 people on the waiting list for donated hearts and livers and kidneys, with sixteen a day dying there on that list, that more than half the people in the position H's family was in will say no, will choose to burn those organs or let them rot. We abide the surgeon's scalpel to save our own lives, our loved one's lives, but not to save a stranger's life. H has no heart but heartless is the last thing you'd call her.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
Edison believed that living beings were animated and controlled by “life units,” smaller-than-microscopic entities that inhabited each and every cell and, upon death, evacuated the premises, floated around awhile, and eventually reassembled to animate a new personality—possibly another man, possibly an ocelot or a sea cucumber.
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
One woman confessed that her group had passed comment on the “extremely large genitalia” of their cadaver. (What she perhaps didn’t realize is that the embalming fluid pumped into the veins expands the body’s erectile tissues, with the result that male anatomy lab cadavers may be markedly better endowed in death than they were in life.)
Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers)
I consider a tree. I can look on it as a picture: stiff column in a shock of light, or splash of green shot with the delicate blue and silver of the background. I can perceive it as movement: flowing veins on clinging, pressing pith, suck of the roots, breathing of the leaves, ceaseless commerce with earth and air—and the obscure growth itself. I can classify it in a species and study it as a type in its structure and mode of life. I can subdue its actual presence and form so sternly that I recognise it only as an expression of law — of the laws in accordance with which a constant opposition of forces is continually adjusted, or of those in accordance with which the component substances mingle and separate. I can dissipate it and perpetuate it in number, in pure numerical relation. In all this the tree remains my object, occupies space and time, and has its nature and constitution. It can, however, also come about, if I have both will and grace, that in considering the tree I become bound up in relation to it. The tree is now no longer It. I have been seized by the power of exclusiveness. To effect this it is not necessary for me to give up any of the ways in which I consider the tree. There is nothing from which I would have to turn my eyes away in order to see, and no knowledge that I would have to forget. Rather is everything, picture and movement, species and type, law and number, indivisibly united in this event. Everything belonging to the tree is in this: its form and structure, its colours and chemical composition, its intercourse with the elements and with the stars, are all present in a single whole. The tree is no impression, no play of my imagination, no value depending on my mood; but it is bodied over against me and has to do with me, as I with it — only in a different way. Let no attempt be made to sap the strength from the meaning of the relation: relation is mutual.
Martin Buber (I and Thou)
I can’t keep up with them, Peter Walsh thought, as they marched up Whitehall, and sure enough, on they marched, past him, past every one, in their steady way, as if one will worked legs and arms uniformly, and life, with its varieties, its irreticences, had been laid under a pavement of monuments and wreaths and drugged into a stiff yet staring corpse by discipline.
Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway (annotated): The Virginia Woolf Library Annotated Edition)
Now the fox sat upright. His lovely pointed snout sank down to his bloodied breast, his eyes rose up and stared at the dog right into his face . In a quite different voice, in control of himself, sad and bitter, he snarled, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself ...? You traitor!” “No! No! No!” the dog yelled. The fox, however went on. “You turncoat ... you defector!” His lacerated body became stiff with hatred and contempt. “You’re just His henchman,” he hissed. “You miserable ... you seek us out where He couldn’t find us ... you persecute us in places that He can’t get to ... you turn us in ..., and all of us are your relatives ... you turn me in, and you and I are nearly brothers ... and you just stand there ...are you not ashamed of yourself?
Felix Salten (Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten: A Tale of Innocence, Growth, and the Natural World)
Colored like a sunset tide is a gaze sharply slicing through the reflective glass. A furrowed brow is set much too seriously, as if trying to unfold the pieces of the face that stared back at it. One eyebrow is raised skeptically, always calculating and analyzing its surroundings. I tilt my head trying to see the deeper meaning in my features, trying to imagine the connection between my looks and my character as I stare in the mirror for the required five minutes. From the dark brown hair fastened tightly in a bun, a curl as bright as woven gold comes loose. A flash of unruly hair prominent through the typical browns is like my temper; always there, but not always visible. I begin to grow frustrated with the girl in the mirror, and she cocks her hip as if mocking me. In a moment, her lips curve in a half smile, not quite detectable in sight but rather in feeling, like the sensation of something good just around the corner. A chin was set high in a stubborn fashion, symbolizing either persistence or complete adamancy. Shoulders are held stiff like ancient mountains, proud but slightly arrogant. The image watches with the misty eyes of a daydreamer, glazed over with a sort of trance as if in the middle of a reverie, or a vision. Every once and a while, her true fears surface in those eyes, terror that her life would amount to nothing, that her work would have no impact. Words written are meant to be read, and sometimes I worry that my thoughts and ideas will be lost with time. My dream is to be an author, to be immortalized in print and live forever in the minds of avid readers. I want to access the power in being able to shape the minds of the young and open, and alter the minds of the old and resolute. Imagine the power in living forever, and passing on your ideas through generations. With each new reader, a new layer of meaning is uncovered in writing, meaning that even the author may not have seen. In the mirror, I see a girl that wants to change the world, and change the way people think and reason. Reflection and image mean nothing, for the girl in the mirror is more than a one dimensional picture. She is someone who has followed my footsteps with every lesson learned, and every mistake made. She has been there to help me find a foothold in the world, and to catch me when I fall. As the lights blink out, obscuring her face, I realize that although that image is one that will puzzle me in years to come, she and I aren’t so different after all.
K.D. Enos
And thus they form a perfect group; he walks back two or three paces, selects his point of sight, and begins to sketch a hurried outline. He has finished it before they move; he hears their voices, though he cannot hear their words, and wonders what they can be talking of. Presently he walks on, and joins them. 'You have a corpse there, my friends?' he says. 'Yes; a corpse washed ashore an hour ago.' 'Drowned?' 'Yes, drowned; - a young girl, very handsome.' 'Suicides are always handsome,' he says; and then he stands for a little while idly smoking and meditating, looking at the sharp outline of the corpse and the stiff folds of the rough canvas covering. Life is such a golden holiday to him young, ambitious, clever - that it seems as though sorrow and death could have no part in his destiny. ("The Cold Embrace")
Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Reign of Terror Volume 2: Great Victorian Horror Stories)
For a moment she knew exactly what he was thinking, not just about Tom, but about her, and himself, and all of life, and she liked the way he saw things. She could spend her life tuning into the calming frequency of his thoughts. He wasn't a stiff, and he wasn't a weakling either. What was the word for it? Sensitive was the only one that came to mind, amazing as that was to consider; he was a sensitive man. He soaked up whatever you gave him.
Matthew Thomas
Why is it the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? 'I love you' is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them. It's the cliches that cause the trouble. A precise emotion seeks a precise expression. If what I feel is not precise then should I call it love? It is so terrifying, love, that all I can do is shove it under a dump bin of pink cuddly toys and send myself a greetings card saying 'Congratulations on your engagement.' But I am not engaged I am deeply distracted. I am desperately looking the other way so that love won't see me. I want the diluted version, the happy language, the insignificant gestures. The saggy armchair of cliches. It's all right, millions of bottoms have sat here before me. The springs are well worn, the fabric smelly and familiar. I don't have to be frightened, look, my grandma and grandad did it, he in a stiff collar and club tie, she in white muslin straining a little at the life underneath. They did it, my parents did it, now I will do it won't I, arms outstretched, not to hold you, just to keep my balance, sleepwalking to that armchair. How happy we will be. How happy everyone will be. And they all lived happily ever after.
Jeanette Winterson (Written on the Body)
As it happens, the first souvenir I bought was a dried llama fetus. Revolting as it may sound, my poor stillborn llama is actually rather cute. Frozen in the fetal position and dried stiff like beef jerky, it has the gentle, smiling face of a camel and plenty of soft, if slightly formaldehyde-scented, fur. I bought the llama fetus partly because it horrified me, but also for educational purposes, so that my eight-year-old daughter Sophia could show it to her class. (She refused.) Bolivians buy llama fetuses to ward off evil in its many guises. Bolivian miners—who, with a life expectancy of forty-five years, basically live their entire adult lives dying—look to llama fetuses for protection against dynamite explosions and the lung-destroying silicon particulates they inhale all day. Downing high-proof alcohol also helps. “The purer the alcohol, the purer the minerals I find,” one miner told me wryly.
Amy Chua (World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability)
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring - I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house. Though even that isn't a very good poem. I have decided my best poetry is so bad that I mustn't write any more of it. Drips from the roof are plopping into the water-butt by the back door. The view through the windows above the sink is excessively drear. Beyond the dank garden in the courtyard are the ruined walls on the edge of the moat. Beyond the moat, the boggy ploughed fields stretch to the leaden sky. I tell myself that all the rain we have had lately is good for nature, and that at any moment spring will surge on us. I try to see leaves on the trees and the courtyard filled with sunlight. Unfortunately, the more my mind's eye sees green and gold, the more drained of all colour does the twilight seem. It is comforting to look away from the windows and towards the kitchen fire, near which my sister Rose is ironing - though she obviously can't see properly, and it will be a pity if she scorches her only nightgown. (I have two, but one is minus its behind.) Rose looks particularly fetching by firelight because she is a pinkish person; her skin has a pink glow and her hair is pinkish gold, very light and feathery. Although I am rather used to her I know she is a beauty. She is nearly twenty-one and very bitter with life. I am seventeen, look younger, feel older. I am no beauty but I have a neatish face. I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic - two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud. I must admit that our home is an unreasonable place to live in. Yet I love it. The house itself was built in the time of Charles II, but it was grafted on to a fourteenth-century castle that had been damaged by Cromwell. The whole of our east wall was part of the castle; there are two round towers in it. The gatehouse is intact and a stretch of the old walls at their full height joins it to the house. And Belmotte Tower, all that remains of an even older castle, still stands on its mound close by. But I won't attempt to describe our peculiar home fully until I can see more time ahead of me than I do now. I am writing this journal partly to practise my newly acquired speed-writing and partly to teach myself how to write a novel - I intend to capture all our characters and put in conversations. It ought to be good for my style to dash along without much thought, as up to now my stories have been very stiff and self-conscious. The only time father obliged me by reading one of them, he said I combined stateliness with a desperate effort to be funny. He told me to relax and let the words flow out of me.
Dodie Smith (I Capture the Castle)
What then are the benefits of being mentally flexible? Imagine a storm brewing. Intense winds are blowing hard. Stiff trees are breaking under the pressure while softer more flexible trees are bending and will rise again when the strong winds subside. Now turn this image onto human beings. People who are narrow minded, opinionated, stubborn and bullheaded are more likely to crack under pressure than people who take up a more flexible attitude towards life. It is the difference between bending and breaking under pressure.
Gudjon Bergmann (Living in the Spirit of Yoga: Take Yoga Off the Mat and Into Your Everyday Life)
SLEEPAWAY" When teenage boys go to sleepaway camps every summer they arrive with big hearts and nervous apprehension— do they throw their duffels to the ground and go straight to the basketball court or do they pause and have earnest conversations: How was your year? How is your mother? What are you passionate about lately? Each, broken down later in life in cars with their wives on superhighway shoulders, glorious desert vistas in their ice-caked windshields, frozen stiff by the whiskey winds, they are rocked, frayed forever.
David Mait
I want to be softened, not stiff. Pliable, not rigid. I don't want anyone to look at my life and think it is perfect or, worse, that I want them to think it is perfect. Instead, I want anything that is unapproachable or harsh in me to be scrubbed away by the salt and the sand, revealing the imperfections, the brokenness, the cracks. Not because I am proud of those parts, but because I know it is real. Like the Skin Horse or the Velveteen Rabbit, I am shabby because I live life, because I am loved, and because it is all work - living and loving and being loved, being transformed, being worn and faded
Jerusalem Jackson Greer (A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together)
Then, as she whirled around, she bumped into Tate, who had stood, and they froze, staring into each other’s eyes. They stopped laughing. He took her shoulders, hesitated an instant, then kissed her lips, as the leaves rained and danced around them as silently as snow. She knew nothing about kissing and held her head and lips stiff. They broke away and looked at each other, wondering where that had come from and what to do next. He lifted a leaf gently from her hair and dropped it to the ground. Her heart beat wildly. Of all the ragged loves she’d known from wayward family, none had felt like this. “Am I your girlfriend now?” she asked. He smiled. “Do you want to be?” “Yes.” “You might be too young,” he said. “But I know feathers. I bet the other girls don’t know feathers.” “All right, then.” And he kissed her again. This time she tilted her head to the side and her lips softened. And for the first time in her life, her heart was full.
Delia Owens (Where the Crawdads Sing)
It was in December. I stood in the back of the tram, all the way in the back. It drove through the country and stopped and started again, it took hours, the countryside was endless. And the sky got bluer and bluer and the sun shone until it seemed like flowers would have to start sprouting out of the country bumpkins. And the red roofs in the villages and the black trees and the fields, most of them covered with straw, had it nice and warm, and the dunes sat bareheaded in the sun. And the road lay there, white and smarting, it couldn't bear the sunlight, and the glass panes of the village streetlamp flashed, they had trouble withstanding the glare too. But I got colder and colder. And the tram ran as long as the sun shone. It's a long ride from Hillegom to Leiden and the days are short in December. By the end, a block of ice was standing there on the tram staring into the big stupid cold sun that was flaming red as though the revolution was finally starting, as though offices were being blown up all over Amsterdam, but still it couldn't bring a spark of life back to my cold feet and stiff legs. And it kept getting bigger and colder, the sun, and I got colder and stayed the same size, and the blue sky looked down very disapprovingly: What are you doing on that tram?
Nescio (Amsterdam Stories)
Nick and I, we sometimes laugh, laugh out loud, at the horrible things women make their husbands do to prove their love. The pointless tasks, the myriad sacrifices, the endless small surrenders. We call these men the dancing monkeys. Nick will come home, sweaty and salty and beer-loose from a day at the ballpark,and I’ll curl up in his lap, ask him about the game, ask him if his friend Jack had a good time, and he’ll say, ‘Oh, he came down with a case of the dancing monkeys – poor Jennifer was having a “real stressful week” and really needed him at home.’ Or his buddy at work, who can’t go out for drinks because his girlfriend really needs him to stop by some bistro where she is having dinner with a friend from out of town. So they can finally meet. And so she can show how obedient her monkey is: He comes when I call, and look how well groomed! Wear this, don’t wear that. Do this chore now and do this chore when you get a chance and by that I mean now. And definitely, definitely, give up the things you love for me, so I will have proof that you love me best. It’s the female pissing contest – as we swan around our book clubs and our cocktail hours, there are few things women love more than being able to detail the sacrifices our men make for us. A call-and-response, the response being: ‘Ohhh, that’s so sweet.’ I am happy not to be in that club. I don’t partake, I don’t get off on emotional coercion, on forcing Nick to play some happy-hubby role – the shrugging, cheerful, dutiful taking out the trash, honey! role. Every wife’s dream man, the counterpoint to every man’s fantasy of the sweet, hot, laid-back woman who loves sex and a stiff drink. I like to think I am confident and secure and mature enough to know Nick loves me without him constantly proving it. I don’t need pathetic dancing-monkey scenarios to repeat to my friends, I am content with letting him be himself. I don’t know why women find that so hard.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
XII. If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk Above its mates, the head was chopped, the bents Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk All hope of greenness? Tis a brute must walk Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents. XIII. As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood. One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare, Stood stupified, however he came there: Thrust out past service from the devil's stud! XIV. Alive? he might be dead for aught I knew, With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain. And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane; Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe; I never saw a brute I hated so; He must be wicked to deserve such pain. XV. I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart, As a man calls for wine before he fights, I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights, Ere fitly I could hope to play my part. Think first, fight afterwards, the soldier's art: One taste of the old time sets all to rights. XVI. Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face Beneath its garniture of curly gold, Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold An arm to mine to fix me to the place, The way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace! Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold. XVII. Giles then, the soul of honour - there he stands Frank as ten years ago when knighted first, What honest man should dare (he said) he durst. Good - but the scene shifts - faugh! what hangman hands Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst! XVIII. Better this present than a past like that: Back therefore to my darkening path again! No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain. Will the night send a howlet or a bat? I asked: when something on the dismal flat Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train. XIX. A sudden little river crossed my path As unexpected as a serpent comes. No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms; This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath For the fiend's glowing hoof - to see the wrath Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes. XX. So petty yet so spiteful! All along, Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it; Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit Of mute despair, a suicidal throng: The river which had done them all the wrong, Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit. XXI. Which, while I forded - good saints, how I feared To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek, Each step, of feel the spear I thrust to seek For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard! - It may have been a water-rat I speared, But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek. XXII. Glad was I when I reached the other bank. Now for a better country. Vain presage! Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage, Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage - XXIII. The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque, What penned them there, with all the plain to choose? No footprint leading to that horrid mews, None out of it. Mad brewage set to work Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.
Robert Browning
When I’m given a role, the first thing I do is read the play over and over again. I scour the script and write down everything the character says about himself and everything that everyone else says about him. I immerse myself in my character and imagine what it might be like to be that person. When I played Cassio in Othello I imagined what it would be like to be a lieutenant in the Venetian navy in 1604. I sat down with Ewan McGregor and Chiwetel Ejiofor and together we decided that Othello, Iago and Cassio had soldiery in their bones. I took from the script that Cassio was talented and ambitious, with no emotional or physical guard - and that’s how I played the part. For me, acting is about recreating the circumstances that would make me feel how my character is feeling. In the dressing room, I practise recreating those circumstances in my head and I try to not get in the way of myself. For example, in act two of Othello, when Cassio is manipulated to fight Roderigo and loses his rank, some nights I would burst into tears; other nights I wouldn’t but I would still feel the same emotion, night after night. Just as in life, the way we respond to catastrophe or death will be different every time because the process is unconscious. By comparison, in Chekhov’s Ivanov I played the young doctor, Lvov. Lvov was described as “a prig and a bigot … uprightness in boots … tiresome … completely sincere”. His emotions were locked away. I worked around the key phrase: “Forgive me, I’m going to tell you plainly.” I practised speaking gravely and sincerely without emotion and I actually noticed how that carried over into my personal life: when I played the open-hearted Cassio, I felt really free; when I played the pent-up Lvov, I felt a real need to release myself from the shackles of that character. It’s exhilarating to act out the emotions of a character - it’s a bit like being a child again. You flex the same muscles that you did when you pretended to be a cowboy or a policeman: acting is a grown-up version of that with more subtlety and detail. You’re responding with real emotions to imaginary situations. When I’m in a production I never have a day when I haven’t laughed, cried or screamed. There are times when I wake up stiff from emotional exhaustion. Film is a much more intimate and thoughtful medium than theatre because of the proximity of the camera. The camera can read your thoughts. On stage, if you have a moment of vulnerability you can hide it from the other actors; on film, the camera will see you feel that emotion and try to suppress it. Similarly, if you’re pretending to feel something that isn’t there, it won’t be believable.
Tom Hiddleston
Time—how often has she heard it described as sand within a glass, steady, constant. But that is a lie, because she can feel it quicken, crashing toward her. Panic beats a drum inside her chest, and outside, the path is a single dark line, stretched straight and narrow toward the village square. On the other side, the church stands waiting, pale and stiff as a tombstone, and she knows that if she walks in, she will not come out. Her future will rush by the same as her past, only worse, because there will be no freedom, only a marriage bed and a deathbed and perhaps a childbed between, and when she dies it will be as though she never lived. There will be no Paris. No green-eyed lover. No trips on boats to faraway lands. No foreign skies. No life beyond this village. No life at all, unless— Adeline pulls free of her father’s grip, drags to a stop on the path. Her mother turns to look at her, as if she might run, which is exactly what she wants to do, but knows she can’t. “I made a gift for my husband,” says Adeline, mind spinning. “I’ve left it in the house.” Her mother softens, approving. Her father stiffens, suspicious. Estele’s eyes narrow, knowing.
Victoria Schwab (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue)
Roman Centurion's Song" LEGATE, I had the news last night - my cohort ordered home By ships to Portus Itius and thence by road to Rome. I've marched the companies aboard, the arms are stowed below: Now let another take my sword. Command me not to go! I've served in Britain forty years, from Vectis to the Wall, I have none other home than this, nor any life at all. Last night I did not understand, but, now the hour draws near That calls me to my native land, I feel that land is here. Here where men say my name was made, here where my work was done; Here where my dearest dead are laid - my wife - my wife and son; Here where time, custom, grief and toil, age, memory, service, love, Have rooted me in British soil. Ah, how can I remove? For me this land, that sea, these airs, those folk and fields suffice. What purple Southern pomp can match our changeful Northern skies, Black with December snows unshed or pearled with August haze - The clanging arch of steel-grey March, or June's long-lighted days? You'll follow widening Rhodanus till vine and olive lean Aslant before the sunny breeze that sweeps Nemausus clean To Arelate's triple gate; but let me linger on, Here where our stiff-necked British oaks confront Euroclydon! You'll take the old Aurelian Road through shore-descending pines Where, blue as any peacock's neck, the Tyrrhene Ocean shines. You'll go where laurel crowns are won, but -will you e'er forget The scent of hawthorn in the sun, or bracken in the wet? Let me work here for Britain's sake - at any task you will - A marsh to drain, a road to make or native troops to drill. Some Western camp (I know the Pict) or granite Border keep, Mid seas of heather derelict, where our old messmates sleep. Legate, I come to you in tears - My cohort ordered home! I've served in Britain forty years. What should I do in Rome? Here is my heart, my soul, my mind - the only life I know. I cannot leave it all behind. Command me not to go!
Rudyard Kipling
Dear Halford, When we were together last, you gave me a very particular and interesting account of the most remarkable occurrences of your early life, previous to our acquaintance; and then you requested a return of confidence from me. Not being in a story-telling humour at the time, I declined, under the plea of having nothing to tell, and the like shuffling excuses, which were regarded as wholly inadmissible by you; for though you instantly turned the conversation, it was with the air of an uncomplaining, but deeply injured man, and your face was overshadowed with a cloud which darkened it to the end of our interview, and, for what I known, darkens it still; for your letters have, ever since, been distinguished by a certain dignified, semi-melancholy stiffness and reserve, that would have been very affecting, if my conscience had accused me of deserving it.
Anne Brontë (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall)
The Truth the Dead Know For my Mother, born March 1902, died March 1959 and my Father, born February 1900, died June 1959 Gone, I say and walk from church, refusing the stiff procession to the grave, letting the dead ride alone in the hearse. It is June. I am tired of being brave. We drive to the Cape. I cultivate myself where the sun gutters from the sky, where the sea swings in like an iron gate and we touch. In another country people die. My darling, the wind falls in like stones from the whitehearted water and when we touch we enter touch entirely. No one's alone. Men kill for this, or for as much. And what of the dead? They lie without shoes in the stone boats. They are more like stone than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone. Anne Sexton was a model who became a confessional poet, writing about intimate aspects of her life, after her doctor suggested that she take up poetry as a form of therapy. She studied under Robert Lowell at Boston University, where Sylvia Plath was one of her classmates. Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1967, but later committed suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning. Topics she covered in her poems included adultery, masturbation, menstruation, abortion, despair and suicide.
Anne Sexton
I watched 60 Minutes...and they showed this woman, she's in every kind of..thing like that. 'This woman', they say, 'she lost her first four children--died from malnutrition--and, now, she's afraid that her new six-month-old newborn twins will suffer the same fate'. ... Who's going to step in and say...'kick her in the cunt 'til it doesn't work', 'that woman is a sociopath! that is a sick human being!'. ... How much of a sociopath do you need to be? That is the slow ritual torture-murder of children, one after another! At what point does cause-and-effect not kick in? How many bulb-headed skeletons have to go stiff in your arms?! ... 'what? this one's not working... oh, well let's try again', one after another. At what point do you not go 'I think this is bad'? ... How many kids are you going to fuckin' kill, lady? ... If you impregnate someone under those conditions, they should abort the parents! that's sick!
Doug Stanhope
Her pretty name of Adina seemed to me to have somehow a mystic fitness to her personality. Behind a cold shyness, there seemed to lurk a tremulous promise to be franker when she knew you better. Adina is a strange child; she is fanciful without being capricious. She was stout and fresh-coloured, she laughed and talked rather loud, and generally, in galleries and temples, caused a good many stiff British necks to turn round. She had a mania for excursions, and at Frascati and Tivoli she inflicted her good-humoured ponderosity on diminutive donkeys with a relish which seemed to prove that a passion for scenery, like all our passions, is capable of making the best of us pitiless. Adina may not have the shoulders of the Venus of Milo...but I hope it will take more than a bauble like this to make her stoop. Adina espied the first violet of the year glimmering at the root of a cypress. She made haste to rise and gather it, and then wandered further, in the hope of giving it a few companions. Scrope sat and watched her as she moved slowly away, trailing her long shadow on the grass and drooping her head from side to side in her charming quest. It was not, I know, that he felt no impulse to join her; but that he was in love, for the moment, with looking at her from where he sat. Her search carried her some distance and at last she passed out of sight behind a bend in the villa wall. I don't pretend to be sure that I was particularly struck, from this time forward, with something strange in our quiet Adina. She had always seemed to me vaguely, innocently strange; it was part of her charm that in the daily noiseless movement of her life a mystic undertone seemed to murmur "You don't half know me! Perhaps we three prosaic mortals were not quite worthy to know her: yet I believe that if a practised man of the world had whispered to me, one day, over his wine, after Miss Waddington had rustled away from the table, that there was a young lady who, sooner or later, would treat her friends to a first class surprise, I should have laid my finger on his sleeve and told him with a smile that he phrased my own thought. .."That beautiful girl," I said, "seems to me agitated and preoccupied." "That beautiful girl is a puzzle. I don't know what's the matter with her; it's all very painful; she's a very strange creature. I never dreamed there was an obstacle to our happiness--to our union. She has never protested and promised; it's not her way, nor her nature; she is always humble, passive, gentle; but always extremely grateful for every sign of tenderness. Till within three or four days ago, she seemed to me more so than ever; her habitual gentleness took the form of a sort of shrinking, almost suffering, deprecation of my attentions, my petits soins, my lovers nonsense. It was as if they oppressed and mortified her--and she would have liked me to bear more lightly. I did not see directly that it was not the excess of my devotion, but my devotion itself--the very fact of my love and her engagement that pained her. When I did it was a blow in the face. I don't know what under heaven I've done! Women are fathomless creatures. And yet Adina is not capricious, in the common sense... .So these are peines d'amour?" he went on, after brooding a moment. "I didn't know how fiercely I was in love!" Scrope stood staring at her as she thrust out the crumpled note: that she meant that Adina--that Adina had left us in the night--was too large a horror for his unprepared sense...."Good-bye to everything! Think me crazy if you will. I could never explain. Only forget me and believe that I am happy, happy, happy! Adina Beati."... Love is said to be par excellence the egotistical passion; if so Adina was far gone. "I can't promise to forget you," I said; "you and my friend here deserve to be remembered!
Henry James (Adina)
He is tangled in Isabelle's arms, he is curtained by Isabelle's hair, he is touching Isabelle's body, he is lost in Isabelle, in her smell and her taste and the silk of her skin. He is onstage, the music pounding, the floor shaking, the audience cheering, his heart beating beating beating in time with the drumbeat. He is laughing with Clary, dancing with Clary, eating with Clary, running through the streets of Brooklyn with Clary, they are children together, they are one half of a whole, they hold hands and squeeze tight and pledge never to let go. He is going cold, stiff, the life draining out of him, he is below, in the dark, clawing his way to the light, fingernails scraping dirt, mouth filled with dirt, eyes clogged with dirt, he is straining, reaching, dragging himself up toward the sky, and when he reaches it, he opens his mouth wide but does not breathe, for he no longer needs to breathe, only to feed. And he is so very hungry. He is sinking his teeth into the neck of an angel's child, he is drinking the light. He is bearing a Mark, and it burns. He is raising his face to meet the gaze of an angel, he is flayed by the fury of angel fire, and yet still, impudent and bloodless, he lives. He is in a cage. He is in hell. He is bent over the broken body of a beautiful girl, he is praying to whatever god that will listen, please let her live, anything to let her live. He is giving away that which is most precious to him, and he is doing so willingly, so that his friends will survive. He is, again, with Isabelle, always with Isabelle, the holy flame of their love encompassing them both, and there is pain, and there is exquisite joy, and his veins burn with angel fire and he is the Simon he once was and the Simon he now will be, he endures and he is reborn, he is blood and flesh and a spark of the divine. He is Nephilim.
Cassandra Clare (Angels Twice Descending (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, #10))
Reading Chip's college orientation materials, Alfred had been struck by the sentence New England winters can be very cold. The curtains he'd bought at Sears were of a plasticized brown-and-pink fabric with a backing of foam rubber. They were heavy and bulky and stiff. "You'll appreciate these on a cold night," he told Chip. "You'll be surprised how much they cut down drafts." But Chip's freshman roommate was a prep-school product named Roan McCorkle who would soon be leaving thumbprints, in what appeared to be Vaseline, on the fifth-grade photo of Denise. Roan laughed at the curtains and Chip laughed, too. He put them back in the box and stowed the box in the basement of the dorm and let it gather mold there for the next four years. He had nothing against the curtains personally. They were simply curtains and they wanted no more than what any curtains wanted - to hang well, to exclude light to the best of their ability, to be neither too small nor too large for the window that it was their task in life to cover; to be pulled this way in the evening and that way in the morning; to stir in the breezes that came before rain on a summer night; to be much used and little noticed. There were numberless hospitals and retirement homes and budget motels, not just in the Midwest but in the East as well, where these particularly brown rubber-backed curtains could have had a long and useful life. It wasn't their fault that they didn't belong in a dorm room. They'd betrayed no urge to rise above their station; their material and patterning contained not a hint of unseemly social ambition. They were what they were. If anything, when he finally dug them out of the eve of graduation, their virginal pinkish folds turned out to be rather less plasticized and homely and Sears-like than he remembered. They were nowhere near as shameful as he'd thought.
Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections)
Pretty soft!' he cried. 'To have to come and live in New York! To have to leave my little cottage and take a stuffy, smelly, over-heated hole of an apartment in this Heaven-forsaken, festering Gehenna. To have to mix night after night with a mob who think that life is a sort of St Vitus's dance, and imagine that they're having a good time because they're making enough noise for six and drinking too much for ten. I loathe New York, Bertie. I wouldn't come near the place if I hadn't got to see editors occasionally. There's a blight on it. It's got moral delirium tremens. It's the limit. The very thought of staying more than a day in it makes me sick. And you call this thing pretty soft for me!' I felt rather like Lot's friends must have done when they dropped in for a quiet chat and their genial host began to criticise the Cities of the Plain. I had no idea old Rocky could be so eloquent. 'It would kill me to have to live in New York,' he went on. 'To have to share the air with six million people! TO have to wear stiff collars and decent clothes all the time! To - ' He started. 'Good Lord! I suppose I should have to dress for dinner in the evenings. What a ghastly notion!' I was shocked, absolutely shocked. 'My dear chap!' I said, reproachfully. 'Do you dress for dinner every night, Bertie?' 'Jeeves,' I said coldly. 'How many suits of evening clothes have we?' 'We have three suits full of evening dress, sir; two dinner jackets- ' 'Three.' 'For practical purposes, two only, sir. If you remember, we cannot wear the third. We have also seven white waistcoats.' 'And shirts?' 'Four dozen, sir.' 'And white ties?' 'The first two shallow shelves in the chest of drawers are completely filled with our white ties, sir.' I turned to Rocky. 'You see?' The chappie writhed like an electric fan. 'I won't do it! I can't do it! I'll be hanged if I'll do it! How on earth can I dress up like that? Do you realise that most days I don't get out of my pyjamas till five in the afternoon and then I just put on an old sweater?' I saw Jeeves wince, poor chap. This sort of revelation shocked his finest feelings.
P.G. Wodehouse
That a president is inevitably put forward and elected by the forces of established wealth and power means usually that he will be indentured by the time he reaches office. But in fact he is the freest of men if he will have the courage to think so and, at least theoretically, could be so transported by the millions of people who have endorsed his candidacy as to want to do the best for them. He might come to solemn appreciation of the vote we cast, in all our multicolored and multigendered millions, as an act of trust, fingers crossed, a kind of prayer. Not that it’s worked out that way. In 1968 Richard Nixon rebounded from his defeat at the hands of Jack Kennedy, and there he was again, his head sunk between the hunched shoulders of his three-button suit and his arms raised in victory, the exacted revenge of the pod people. That someone so rigid and lacking in honor or moral distinction of any kind, someone so stiff with crippling hatreds, so spiritually dysfunctional, out of touch with everything in life that is joyful and fervently beautiful and blessed, with no discernible reverence in him for human life, and certainly with never a hope of wisdom, but living only by pure politics, as if it were some colorless blood substitute in his veins—that this being could lurchingly stumble up from his own wretched career and use history and the two-party system to elect himself president is, I suppose, a gloriously perverse justification of our democratic form of government.
E.L. Doctorow (Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution:: Selected Essays, 1977-1992)
I select the right practice gun, the one about the size of a pistol, but bulkier, and offer it to Caleb. Tris’s fingers slide between mine. Everything comes easily this morning, every smile and every laugh, every word and every motion. If we succeed in what we attempt tonight, tomorrow Chicago will be safe, the Bureau will be forever changed, and Tris and I will be able to build a new life for ourselves somewhere. Maybe it will even be a place where I trade my guns and knives for more productive tools, screwdrivers and nails and shovels. This morning I feel like I could be so fortunate. I could. “It doesn’t shoot real bullets,” I say, “but it seems like they designed it so it would be as close as possible to one of the guns you’ll be using. It feels real, anyway.” Caleb holds the gun with just his fingertips, like he’s afraid it will shatter in his hands. I laugh. “First lesson: Don’t be afraid of it. Grab it. You’ve held one before, remember? You got us out of the Amity compound with that shot.” “That was just lucky,” Caleb says, turning the gun over and over to see it from every angle. His tongue pushes into his cheek like he’s solving a problem. “Not the result of skill.” “Lucky is better than unlucky,” I say. “We can work on skill now.” I glance at Tris. She grins at me, then leans in to whisper something to Christina. “Are you here to help or what, Stiff?” I say. I hear myself speaking in the voice I cultivated as an initiation instructor, but this time I use it in jest. “You could use some practice with that right arm, if I recall correctly. You too, Christina.” Tris makes a face at me, then she and Christina cross the room to get their own weapons. “Okay, now face the target and turn the safety off,” I say. There is a target across the room, more sophisticated, than the wooden-board target in the Dauntless training rooms. It has three rings in three different colors, green, yellow, and red, so it’s easier to tell where the bullets it. “Let me see how you would naturally shoot.” He lifts up the gun with one hand, squares off his feet and shoulders to the target like he’s about to lift something heavy, and fires. The gun jerks back and up, firing the bullet near the ceiling. I cover my mouth with my hand to disguise my smile. “There’s no need to giggle,” Caleb says irritably. “Book learning doesn’t teach you everything, does it?” Christina says. “You have to hold it with both hands. It doesn’t look as cool, but neither does attacking the ceiling.” “I wasn’t trying to look cool!” Christina stands, her legs slightly uneven, and lifts both arms. She stares the target for a moment, then fires. The training bullet hits the outer circle of the target and bounces off, rolling on the floor. It leaves a circle of light on the target, marking the impact site. I wish I’d had this technology during initiation training. “Oh, good,” I say. “You hit the air around your target’s body. How useful.” “I’m a little rusty,” Christina admits, grinning.
Veronica Roth (Allegiant (Divergent, #3))
But these things that Rome had to give, are they not good things?” Marcus demanded. “Justice, and order, and good roads; worth having, surely?” “These be all good things,” Esca agreed. “But the price is too high.” “The price? Freedom?” “Yes—and other things than freedom.” “What other things? Tell me, Esca; I want to know. I want to understand.” Esca thought for a while, staring straight before him. “Look at the pattern embossed here on your dagger-sheath,” he said at last. “See, here is a tight curve, and here is another facing the other way to balance it, and here between them is a little round stiff flower; and then it is all repeated here, and here, and here again. It is beautiful, yes, but to me it is as meaningless as an unlit lamp.” Marcus nodded as the other glanced up at him. “Go on.” Esca took up the shield which had been laid aside at Cottia’s coming. “Look now at this shield-boss. See the bulging curves that flow from each other as water flows from water and wind from wind, as the stars turn in the heaven and blown sand drifts into dunes. These are the curves of life; and the man who traced them had in him knowledge of things that your people have lost the key to—if they ever had it.” He looked up at Marcus again very earnestly. “You cannot expect the man who made this shield to live easily under the rule of the man who worked the sheath of this dagger.” “The sheath was made by a British craftsman,” Marcus said stubbornly. “I bought it at Anderida when I first landed.” “By a British craftsman, yes, making a Roman pattern. One who had lived so long under the wings of Rome—he and his fathers before him—that he had forgotten the ways and the spirit of his own people.” He laid the shield down again. “You are the builders of coursed stone walls, the makers of straight roads and ordered justice and disciplined troops. We know that, we know it all too well. We know that your justice is more sure than ours, and when we rise against you, we see our hosts break against the discipline of your troops, as the sea breaks against a rock. And we do not understand, because all these things are of the ordered pattern, and only the free curves of the shield-boss are real to us. We do not understand. And when the time comes that we begin to understand your world, too often we lose the understanding of our own.” For a while they were silent, watching Cub at his beetle-hunting. Then Marcus said, “When I came out from home, a year and a half ago, it all seemed so simple.” His gaze dropped again to the buckler on the bench beside him, seeing the strange, swelling curves of the boss with new eyes. Esca had chosen his symbol well, he thought: between the formal pattern on his dagger-sheath and the formless yet potent beauty of the shield-boss lay all the distance that could lie between two worlds. And yet between individual people, people like Esca, and Marcus, and Cottia, the distance narrowed so that you could reach across it, one to another, so that it ceased to matter.
Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle (The Dolphin Ring Cycle #1))