amyohconnor asked: Finished "How Should A Person Be" at 2AM this morning. I adored it and you are amazing. That is all.
Thank you so much*!*
When a person starts crying and then stops, still you can easily start and stop four or five more times.
In my dream last night, Julia Child cut my hair with a large knife and showed me my new haircut using the mirror on this book. When I marveled that the mirror worked, she proceeded to reveal to me all sorts of secrets, a peek into the world of espionage.
Something new I am trying, which is working, is to do everything slowly, as though there is time in the world for everything. I used to live like there was a whip at my back, the whip of the horseman who wants the horse to go faster. I realise now that there is no whip. More fits into the day, and I am happier. I did not realise how much that attitude made contentment impossible. But there is no one to punish me if everything does not get done.
A little adjustment
My luck in working at The Believer allows me to get books in the mail. Lately I have been receiving many, thanks to the help of Ida Yalzadeh, who is helping us with many things. Today I received Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “True Love,” and opened to the chapter “Overcoming Pride,” which is wonderful, and which I am excerpting below. I first saw this book on the shelves at McNally Robinson bookstore in Manhattan. The book was printed by Shambala in 1997. He writes,
“I would like to tell you a story from my country. A young man went off to war, leaving his pregnant wife behind. Two years later, he was able to return home, and the young woman went with their young son to meet her husband. They cried together out of joy. In Vietnam, in our tradition, when an event of this kind takes place, it has to be announced to the ancestors. So the young father asked his wife to go to the market to buy the things that are needed for the offering that is placed on the altar to the ancestors. Such an altar is found in every house. […]
So the young wife went off to the market. During this time, the young father was trying to convince his child to call him Daddy. The little boy refused: “Mister, you’re not my daddy. My daddy is somebody else. He visits us every night and my mommy talks to him every night, and very often she cries with him. And every time my mommy sits down, he sits down too. Every time she lies down, he lies down too.” After he heard these words, the young father’s happiness entirely evaporated. His heart turned into a block of ice. He felt hurt, deeply humiliated, and that is why, when his wife came home, he would no longer look at her or speak a word to her. He ignored her. The woman herself began to suffer; she felt humiliated, hurt. When the offering was placed on the altar, the young father burned the incense, recited the prayers to the ancestors, and did the four traditional prostrations. Then he picked the mat up instead of leaving it there for his wife so she could do the four prostrations in her turn. In his mind he thought that she was not qualified to present herself before the ancestors, and she was humiliated by this.
After the ceremony, he didn’t stay at the house to eat but went to the village and spent the day in a bar. He tried to forget his suffering by drinking alcohol, and he did not come back to the house until very late at night. The following day, it was the same thing, and this went on for several days in a row. The young woman could not take it anymore. Her suffering was so great that in the end she threw herself in the river and drowned.
When the young father heard the news, he returned to the house, and that night he was the one who went to get the lamp and lit it. Suddenly the child cried out: “Mister, Mister, it’s my daddy, he’s come back!” And he pointed to the shadow of his father on the wall. “You know, Mister, my father comes every night. Mommy talks to him and sometimes she cries; and every time she sits down my daddy sits down too.” In reality, this woman had been alone in the house too much and every night he had talked to her shadow: “My dear one, you are so far away from me. How can I raise my child all by myself? … You must come back home soon.” She would cry, and of course every time she sat down, the shadow would also sit down. Now the husband’s false perception was no longer there, but it was too late — his wife was already dead.
A misperception is something that can destroy an entire family. […] Therefore we have to pay close attention to our perceptions. There are people who hang on to their misperceptions for ten or twenty years, and during this time they continue to suffer and make other people suffer.
Why did the young father not want to talk this thing over with his wife? Because pride got in between them. […] However, it was not only his fault, but that of his young wife as well. She could have come to him and asked him the reason for his change in attitude. […] I do not want you to make the same mistake in your everyday life. We are subject to misperceptions every day, so we have to pay attention. Every time you think it is somebody else who is causing the suffering, you must always remember this story. You must always check things out by going to the person in question and asking for his or her help: “Dear one, I am suffering so much, help me please.”“
I want to spend the day thinking about these photographs by Danielle Levitt, who my friend Jon Davies told me about over brunch this weekend. He said she was really great at shooting youth subcultures. Here are some synchronized swimmers. I am also reading an advance copy of Kate Zambreno’s Heroines, which I had the print shop coil-bind for me. I am thrilled by its ideas, by its technique, by its emotion. I wish I didn’t have to go anywhere for two weeks, so I could go so slowly with it, and her previous book, Green Girl, and all of these photos.
This morning, I feel like the piglet in the middle. Yesterday, I felt like the piglet in profile. It’s been several years since I felt like the piglet on the left. No wait, today I feel like the piglet on the left.
"The raw thrill of both “How Should a Person Be?” and “Girls” (and let me acknowledge here that I am hardly the first person to compare the two) is in the way they treat heterosexual coupling as secondary, and how they depict the profundity of female friendships, not to mention their real perils—which are quite different from the competitive jockeying that is so often imagined. It is other women, not men, Dunham and Heti seem to be saying, who most impact the evolution of girls into women. Other women, not men, who provide the opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery. Other women, not men, who bear witness to the triumphs and tragedies of young womanhood. Other women, not men, in whom we both find and lose ourselves."
Preston Sturges on his change of career in 1930:
“…I had a vision.
I saw the theatre as a poor, puny, weak little old man, the last living member of a once rugged dynasty, supported by nurses and peeking out the great gloomy window of a decaying mansion. Surrounding him were fifteen doctors, all well intentioned, who guided, watched over, washed, put to bed, physicked and fumigated the little moribund within an inch of his life. Across his pyjamas was printed The Theatre, and what he was peeking out the window at was a big twilly in her working clothes on the sidewalk.
She wore high-button shoes with white tops, a checkered dress, very tight around the waist, a wide, patent-leather belt, a feather boa, a big hat with ostrich plumes, and the self-confident smile of a female who knows that what she has, they want. Across her superb frontal elevation was printed The Movies. As I watched, she turned and winked good-naturedly at the little old man inside the great mansion, a wink of such vulgarity and epic proportions that it shattered the plate glass as it went through the window, and blew the little group fluttering back into the shadows. She laughed, then noticing me said, “Come up and see me some time.”
So I went up and saw her.”
(Found by Jon Davies)
If one slows down one thoughts, if one thinks at a different pace, one cannot have the same thoughts. The racing thoughts will not be present if the brain is not let to race.
"A sense of calm acts as a magnet on all hearts."
The Red Vest
(a Japanese fairy tale)
This story is said to have happened at a school in Japan. A boy went to the toilet after school. When he went in, he heard someone’s voice. The voice said, “Would you like a red vest? Would you like a red vest?”
The boy was scared. He said, “Yes, I want a red vest! I really want one!”
The moment he said that, he was killed. His body was dyed red with blood so it looked as if he was wearing a red vest.
In 1964, the Canadian government, responding to intense, public, nationalistic debate, decided to have its own flag - one that would replace the flag bearing the British Union Jack, a version of which first appeared in 1868 and was redesigned in 1921. The design then-Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson desired had blue bars, signifying “sea to sea” (Canada’s motto). It was not as favoured by others, so Pearson assigned a 15-member team to come up with a new design. The version we use today was created by Canadian historian and author George F.G. Stanley, and was approved by the committee by unanimous vote. An earlier version of the maple leaf flag had the maple leaf slightly more slender and angular. It was finally tweaked and became the flag we know today. Though many citizens still disapproved (one even threatened to kill Stanely), George Stanley was confident that after one generation, Canadians would accept the flag. Happy Canada Day!