Archive for February 23, 2010


E from jennifer weiner

“I’ve learned a lot this year,” I began. I took a deep quavering breath. Don’t cry, I
told myself. “I learned that things don’t always turn out the way you planned, or
the way you think they should. And I’ve learned that there are things that go
wrong that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were
before. I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken, and I’ve learned that
you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you
have people who love you.”
When I was five I learned to read. Books were a miracle to me — white pages,
black ink, and new worlds and different friends in each one. To this day, I relish
the feeling of cracking a binding for the first time, the anticipation of where I’ll go
and whom I’ll meet inside.When I was eight I learned to ride a bike. And this, too, opened my eyes to a new world that I could explore on my own — the brook that burbled through a vacant lot two streets over, the ice-cream store that sold homemade cones for a dollar,
the orchard that bordered a golf course and that smelled tangy, like cider, from
the apples that rolled to the ground in the fall.
When I was twelve I learned that I was fat.Men don’t like fat women.
And even though this would turn out not to be absolutely true — there would be
men who would love me, and there would be people who’d respect me — I
carried his words into my adulthood like a prophecy, viewing the world through
the prism of my body, and my father’s prediction.
I learned how to diet — and, of course, how to cheat on diets. I learned how to
feel miserable and ashamed, how to cringe away from mirrors and men’s
glances, how to tense myself for the insults that I always thought were coming:
the Girl Scout troop leader who’d offer me carrot sticks while the other girls got
milk and cookies; the well-meaning teacher who’d ask if I’d thought about
aerobics. I learned a dozen tricks for making myself invisible — how to keep a
towel wrapped around my midsection at the beach (but never swim), how to fade
to the back row of any group photograph (and never smile), how to dress in
shades of gray, black, and brown, how to avoid seeing my own reflection in
windows or in mirrors, how to think of myself exclusively as a body — more than
that, as a body that had fallen short of the mark, that had become something
horrifying, unlovely, unlovable.
There were a thousand words that could have described me — smart, funny,
kind, generous. But the word I picked — the word that I believed the world had
picked for me — was fat.
When I was twenty-two I went out into the world in a suit of invisible armor, fully
expecting to be shot at, but determined that I wouldn’t get shot down. I got a
wonderful job, and eventually fell in love with a man I thought would love me for
the rest of my life. He didn’t. And then — by accident — I got pregnant. And when
my daughter was born almost two months too soon I learned that there are worse
things than not liking your thighs or your butt. There are more terryifing things
than trying on bathing suits in front of three-way department-store mirrors. There
is the fear of watching your child struggling for breath, in the center of a glass crib
where you can’t touch her. There is the terror of imagining a future where she
won’t be healthy or strong.
And, ultimately, I learned, there is comfort. Comfort in reaching out to the people who love you, comfort in asking for help, and in realizing, finally, that I am valued,treasured, loved, even if I am never going to be smaller than a size sixteen, even if my story doesn’t have the Hollywood-perfect happy ending where I lose sixty pounds and Prince Charming decides that he loves me after all.
The truth is this — I’m all right the way I am. I was all right, all along. I will never be thin, but I will be happy. I will love myself, and my body, for what it can do —because it is strong enough to lift, to walk, to ride a bicycle up a hill, to embrace the people I love and hold them fully, and to nurture a new life. I will love myself because I am sturdy. Because I did not — will not — break.
I will savor the taste of my food and I will savor my life, and if Prince Charming never shows up — or, worse yet, if he drives by, casts a cool and appraising glance at me, and tells me I’ve got a beautiful face and have I ever considered Optifast? — I will make my peace with that.
And most importantly, I will love my daughter whether she’s big or little. I will tell her that she’s beautiful. I will teach her to swim and read and ride a bike. And I will tell her that whether she’s a size eight or a size eighteen, that she can be happy, and strong, and secure that she will find friends, and success, and even love. I will whisper it in her ear when she’s sleeping. I will say, Our lives — your life — will be extraordinary.
You can’t make grownups do what they don’t want to do.
Things happen, and you can’t make them un-happen.You don’t get do-overs, you can’t roll back the clock, and the only thing you can change, and the only thing it does any good to worry about, is how you let them affect you.”
The downside of parents like that, I used to think, was that it killed your ambition.“Slow down,” he’d tell me, when I’d slip out of bed early to work on a short story, or go into work on a Saturday to send out query letters to magazine editors in New York. “You need to enjoy life more,
Cannie.”
I thought sometimes that he liked to imagine himself as one of the lead
characters in an early Springsteen song — some furious, passionate nineteenyear-
old romantic, raging against the world at large and his father in particular,
looking for one girl to save him. The trouble was, Bruce’s parents had given him
nothing to rebel against — no numbing factory job, no stern, judgmental
patriarch, certainly no poverty. And a Springsteen song lasted only three minutes,
including chorus and theme and thundering guitar-charged climax, and never
took into account the dirty dishes, the unwashed laundry and unmade bed, the
thousand tiny acts of consideration and goodwill that actually maintaining a
relationship called for. My Bruce preferred to drift through life, lingering over the
Sunday paper, smoking high-quality dope, dreaming of bigger papers and better
assignments without doing much to get them.
I think every person who is single should have a dog. I think the government should step in and intervene: If you’re not married or coupled up, whether you’ve been dumped or divorced or widowed or whatever, they should require you to
proceed immediately to the pound nearest you and select an animal companion.Dogs give your days a rhythm and a purpose. You can’t sleep ridiculously late, or stay out all day and all night, when there’s a dog depending on you.
When you’re on a battleground, you don’t have the  luxury of time to dwell on the various historical factors and sociopolitical  influences that caused the war. You just keep your head down and try to survive  it, to shove the pages back in the book, close the covers and pretend that  nothing’s broken, nothing’s wrong.
Writing let me escape. It let me escape Princeton, where everyone was chic and stylish and, in the case of the guy down the hall, the future ruler of some minor Middle Eastern principality. It let me escape the insistent tug of my family, and its ongoing misery. Writing was like slipping into the ocean, a place where I could move easily, where I could be graceful, and playful, and invisible and visible all at once — a byline, not a body. Sitting in front of the computer, with the screen blank and the cursor blinking, was the best escape I knew.
Tanya has the people skills of plant life. It’s like a special kind of tone deafness, only instead of not hearing the music, she’s deaf to nuances, to subtleties, to euphemisms, small talk, and white lies. Ask her how she’s doing,and you’ll get a full and lengthy explication of her latest work/health crisis,complete with an invitation to look at her latest surgical scar. Tell her that you liked whatever she cooked (and Lord knows you’ll be lying), and she’ll regale you with endless recipes, each with a story behind it (“My mother cooked this for me,I remember, the night after she came home from the hospital”).
At the same time, she’s also incredibly thin-skinned, prone to public crying fits,
and temper tantrums that conclude with her either locking herself in my exbedroom , if we’re home, or stomping away from wherever we are, if we’re out.

Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form—no object of the world,
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere
confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space—ample the field and
nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left
from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim shall duly flame
again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings
and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring’s invisible land
returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and
corn.

I Came to buy a smile — today —
But just a single smile —
The smallest one upon your face
Will suit me just as well —
The one that no one else would miss
It shone so very small —
I’m pleading at the “counter” — sir —
Could you afford to sell —
I’ve Diamonds — on my fingers —
You know what Diamonds are?
I’ve Rubies — live the Evening Blood —
And Topaz — like the star!
‘Twould be “a Bargain” for a Jew!
Say — may I have it — Sir?

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
sad.
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

    • charles bukowski

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To know that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    dreams

    by  langston hughes

    Hold fast to dreams

               For if dreams die
              Life is a broken-winged bird

    That cannot fly.

    Hold fast to dreams

                   For when dreams go
                   Life is a barren field

    Frozen with snow