Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Masterpiece of Epic Proportions

My bag has been so much lighter since I finished this book.

I finished reading it almost two months ago, after lugging the damn thing around for a good five weeks. I took it with me everywhere and read it every chance I got. Still it took me over a month to fully absorb its brilliance, and twice as long to compose my tribute to it.

And so here it is. My paltry attempt to pay homage to a work of art that changed my life.

I will not go into details about the storyline or the characters. I believe that everyone needs to read this book for themselves, and what fun is there in reading a story when you know what happens next? I will say that Atlas Shrugged is a mystery, it is an adventure, and it is a championing of capitalism. It is full of crime and greed and those basest of human conditions. It is a record of what happens when people are overcome by aforementioned conditions. But ultimately and above all, it is a story of love, and the discovering of oneself.

Rand's position on love is a unique one. In loving someone, she believes, you are offering up your own mind, body, and spirit. In effect, your lover acts as a mirror, reflecting what you offer and showing it back to you. In this way she sets forth the idea that love is not necessarily about the worshipping or even the adoration of a partner. Love is not "to choose a person as the constant center of one's concern," but rather " is a celebration of one's self and existence." Also, she writes that love is not "some static gift which, once granted, need no longer be deserved." Love must be constantly earned, over and over again. This notion is lost on so very many people, and I believe it is the downfall of so very many real-life love stories.

More than anything else, though, the book helped me to understand that

my life is my own.

If I'm happy, it's because of something I've done, the people I've chosen to associate with or the goals I've decided to pursue. If I'm unhappy, it's my own fault and no one else's, because I am the only person who has the power to change it. Rand says, "Man exists for the achievement of his desires." So, then, what better way to live your life than to strive towards achieving your desires, whatever they may be? Strive, strive for yourself and for no one else. Your true love will join you on that path rather than block it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


This advice, from Milton Glaser's "Ten Things I have Learned," is something we all intuitively know. He just puts it into explicit words. It's gold... Read on:

There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist... Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cold Spring

I was an Indian princess for Halloween. I wore a feathered headdress and sat at a table collapsing under the weight of a feast. I ate Stacy's truffle mashed potatoes and apple butter salmon and magic bars that were meant to take me to a place called Fairy Land, and even though Astrid was the only one who was supposed to get there, I think I got there too. I laughed, and drank, and tried to fall backwards into the Hudson River, except that Daniel and the wind were so strong they held me up.

When I fell asleep on the couch, Kalen and Dee covered me up with sweaters and scarves and animal pelts, but only after failing to coerce me into the community sleeping pile. In the morning, Justin brought me coffee with soy milk in it because that's what I wanted even though soy isn't good for you. I don't care, I like the way it tastes like caramel candy. Chris' pancakes were so fluffy, they were like eating flat, golden-brown clouds. I figured I don't eat clouds very often, so I had three.

We got to the woods and Jeff and Tim took over. Their determination to conquer the forest almost made me cry, but only once, because I was wearing shoes meant for subways and not for rocks and leaves. I pretended we were a tribe and the boys were leading us on a hunt. At first I didn't know what we were hunting for, but it seemed pressing, so I continued on. Then they led us to the top of a mountain, and I looked around, and I understood.

I was an Indian princess for Halloween.

This little video from Justin Kay may not cause the same welling of emotion for someone who wasn't there, but it almost made my chest burst. The weekend was almost perfect.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Family Band

The moon was round and full and bursting with cold light. I could see the change of season in it, the thousand years of bounty that it stood for, the pay off at the end of a hot summer.

The harvest moon.

I got to a building, floating, and called and called to be let in. Walked to the top of the stairs, closer, out onto the roof, closer, if I raised my arm I could touch it.


And then I went inside the moon. Just crawled right in through a little hole at the bottom. All I brought with me was a bottle of wine. Inside, it looked like I expected it to look, all white and safe, with blankets on the ground and moon-people milling around in jackets and boots.

The walls of the moon were waves, rolling with the wind, and the band started to play. She sang, and he sang, and the drums and the guitars and everything made noise and the inside of my head was like the inside of the moon, warm and safe and with blankets on the ground.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Little Pleasure of Life #1

When you come back from the bathroom at dinner and someone has (unexpectedly) picked up the tab.


I asked him what forever meant.

He said forever is till the end that you can't even see. Forever is 24 hours, but it restarts every 24 hours.

I pulled him close and kissed his eyes.
I'm not sure
that there are any words
in any language
that can
possibly describe
what its like
to feel another human heart
beating underneath your hand.
When your hand
is on the chest
of another breathing person,
someone else who is
alive like you,
and their heart is beating
and you can feel the pulse,
it's weird
and beautiful.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Last night I received another little droplet of wisdom from the big man in front of the big door (although this time around, my heart and head were not being pulled in three different directions. I was as grounded as I could be with wine for blood). He said to me, "Don't shed your tears for just any man. Your tears are like diamonds. And diamonds? They expensive."


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Time Machine

On my way to somewhere new today, I took a wrong turn. A mistake in terms of space is easily remedied, however, so I quickly turned around, walked to a place where I felt comfortable, and re-oriented myself.

If only a mistake in terms of time was as easy to fix. If only, upon realizing that I made a bad decision somewhere along the line, if only I could stop in my tracks and head backwards through time to a place where I felt more comfortable. I'd probably stop somewhere well before the unfortunate decision was made, so that I could give myself a nice soft cushion to think things through.

Then again, if I had just stayed on the path after that wrong turn, who knows what new things I'd have seen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


One night, when my head was being pulled in three opposite directions, and my heart didn't quite know which way to follow, a large man standing by a large door christened me "The Widow-Maker." I looked at him curiously. "The Widow-Maker?" I said. "Why?" He looked at me with suspicion, from the side, squinty-eyed. "There's something about you," he said, "You be breaking men's hearts and leaving they women widows."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

When you find someone who makes you happy, and your love for them glows golden and keeps you separate from the rest of the world, it's quite natural that you should want to shout it from the rooftops. Indeed, just about the only thing you want to do when you're in love is tell everyone in earshot every detail about the perfectness of your union. The small problem with wanting to do this, however, is that there is no one - not even your closest friends - who really wants to hear that shit.

If you do choose to tell them, they'll pretend to listen, of course. They'll nod and smile, and say something like, "I'm so happy for you!" while they're putting together to-do lists in their head. But they don't really care. And they certainly don't really understand. So, you bite your tongue hard and keep it to yourself, even though it's probably all you can think of.

And this is why lovers never run out of things to talk about.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Gross month. The month of gray days and snowstorms and nights so frigid you can see the cold in the air. Of lonely mornings and winter blues and seasonal affective disorder. Of hallmark holidays and cheap chocolate and flowers that die too early.

At least it's short.