The most important thing for a writer to do is to write. It really doesn't matter what you write as long as you are able to write fluidly, very quickly, very effortlessly. It needs to become not second nature but really first nature to you. And read; you need to read and you need to read excellent books and then some bad books. Not as many bad books, but some bad books, so that you can see what both look like and why both are what they are.
Self-pity is the bestiality of emotions: it absolutely disgusts people. When you're feeling pity for yourself, and somebody says to you 'You think maybe it's time for the pity party to be over? You should stop feeling sorry for yourself and try to think positive,' it makes you wish you could saw their head off.
I gazed around the room and my eyes stopped dead on a little boy standing in the corner. This was a particularly eerie doll. Life-sized and blond-haired and blue-eyed. I saw a little Nazi boy, pockets probably stuffed with scissors and retractable blades. My grandfather on my mother's side was rumored to be half Jewish, which practically makes me Jerry Seinfeld's brother, and thus wary of blond German boys with their hands out of sight.
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No matter how huge your loss, as long as you remain engaged with your life, the best days of your life may still be ahead of you. Don't misunderstand me: the pain of your loss will remain with you for the rest of your life. But great joy will be there right beside it. Deep sorrow and deep joy can exist within you, side by side. At every moment. And it's not confusing. And it's not a conflict.
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The most mortifying fact of my life is something that happened when I was fourteen and I have never admitted to anyone: not to friends nor therapists; not even in rehab when we were detailing our own personal spirals of shame did I confess. It is this: I am a graduate of the Barbizon School of Modeling.
Glen had a disability more disfiguring than a burn and more terrifying than cancer. Glen had been born on the day after Christmas. "My parents just combine my birthday with Christmas, that's all, " he explained. But we knew this was a lie. Glen's parents just wrapped a couple of his Christmas presents in birthday-themed wrapping paper, stuck some candles in a supermarket cake, and had a dinner of Christmas leftovers.
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It may seem to you that your life is over now. Your future without the person you love is no future at all. Death is a head-on collision with your plans. But everything in life-the gold fillings of your teeth, the cotton of your sheets, the air you breathe, all the food you will ever eat-everything there is was born from a collision. Inside every single thing that lives is a debt to a distant star that died. Nothing new is ever created without one thing colliding into another. And something new is created when the person you love dies. Because they are not the only ones who die: you die, too. The person you were when you were with them is gone just as surely as they are. This is what you should know about losing somebody you love. They do not travel alone. You go with them.
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Even painfully shy and awkward people are not painfully shy or awkward when they are alone. The way to access this natural, comfortable alone-self when you are with others is by choosing to forbid yourself to wonder what "they" are thinking. Instead, force yourself to exist in the instant, then take it- and give it- as it comes.
As a young child I had Santa and Jesus all mixed up. I could identify Coke or Pepsi with just one sip, but I could not tell you for sure why they strapped Santa to a cross. Had he missed a house? Had a good little girl somewhere in the world not received the doll he'd promised her, making the father angry?' (p.3)
If you have one parent who loves you, even if they can't buy you clothes, they're so poor and they make all kinds of mistakes and maybe sometimes they even give you awful advice, but never for one moment do you doubt their love for you-if you have this, you have incredibly good fortune. If you have two parents who love you? You have won life's Lotto. If you do not have parents, or if the parents you have are so broken and so, frankly, terrible that they are no improvement over nothing, this is fine. It's not ideal because it's harder without adults who love you more than they love themselves. But harder is just harder, that's all.
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I want to feel calm and at ease. Like someone who lives in Half Moon Bay, California, and makes hummus from scratch. Instead, I feel like I'm a contestant on some awful supermarket game show where I've got sixty seconds to hurl my shopping cart down the aisles, piling it with as much as possible before the buzzer goes off.
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Why am I so anxious? And then it hits me. I'm not anxious, I'm lonely. And I'm lonely in some horribly deep way and for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely, and how deep this feeling runs. And it scares the shit out of me to be so lonely because it seems catastrophic - seeing the car just as it hits you.
I want to write something that means something to someone... the reminds them of what a second, a moment, really is... or that assures them that we are just as lost as they are. I want to write an emotion they are too fragile to let loose, so that my words can do the expression for them, the feeling for them. I want to write beyond the basics and the cliches... I want to write you, I want to write a long walk on a starry night, I want to write an exhale or an inhale... or suffocation. I want to write as clear as my voice could be heard... that is, if I had anything to say.
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I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stunned by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, "Hi." They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.
I confidently walked up to the counter, and his friends moved to the side to let me through. I handed him the note. "Happy Birthday, " I said. Then I smiled and walked out of the store. I did my crossing-the street trick again, lurking in the shadows and watching. I could see him turn the note over in his hand, open it and read, then turn it over again. He passed it to his friends, who passed it between them. Then I watched him make a shrugging gesture with his hands. And then they were all laughing again. My mortification was total and overpowering. I was suddenly having a very difficult time standing. I had experienced a perfect note of utter and true clarity. He was straight.
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If you believe suicide will bring you peace, or at the very least just an end to everything you hate- you are displaying self-caring behavior. You are still able to actively seek solutions to your problems. You are willing to go to great lengths to provide what you believe will be soothing to yourself. This strikes me as optimistic.
And human instinct is ancient and reliable, utterly mysterious and possibly capable of great genius. I believe that refined, fluent instincts are a person's most valuable asset. My own instincts have repeatedly guided me against the grain of logic and probability. When I have trusted and followed their direction, they have never been wrong. I don't know how or why. But I know that every significant experience-positive or negative-sharpens them and makes them more accurate.
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I liked his attention. But I also felt like there was something sick and wrong about it. Like it might make me sick later. I thought of my grandmother, my father's mother. How when I used to visit her in Georgia she would always let me eat all the cookies and frozen egg rolls I wanted. "Go ahead, sweetheart, there's more, " she would say. And it seemed okay because she was a grown-up, and I wanted all the Chips Ahoy! cookies in the bag. But I always ended up feeling extremely sick afterward. I looked at book, his eyes swollen with emotion.
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My instinct was always have your gun in your hand. Especially when you are telling somebody to do something. But, in fact, the police academy discourages this. They feel your gun should rarely, if ever, be brought out of its holster. Most certainly not when children are involved, which is exactly when I saw myself using my gun most often. A truant teenager loitering outside a movie theater is going to be far more motivated to return to school when he has the barrel of a .45 pressed against his cheek.
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The reason I know what we are to each other is because we fight freely and almost constantly, about even the smallest thing. In fact, once we didn't speak for an entire week because he didn't like the way I loaded his dishwasher...I can't decide if we're exact opposites, or somehow exactly the same except for minor cosmetic differences. I do know that all of his friends hate me and all of my friends hate him. We drive each other crazy in ways that nobody else can even touch. We never bore each other. And we both realize what a rare thing this is.
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As a young child I had Santa and Jesus all mixed up. I could identify Coke or Pepsi with just one sip, but I could not tell you for sure why they strapped Santa to a cross. Had he missed a house? Had a good little girl somewhere in the world not received the doll he'd promised her, making the father angry?
But then, look at me. My brain is incorrectly formed, and I'm shaped like a tube. Plus, I'm an alcoholic, a "survivor" of childhood sexual abuse, was raised in a cult and have no education. So, really, if you think about it, the only thing that separates me from the guy with the stinky foot and no teeth is a book deal and some cologne.
But feelings, no matter how strong or "ugly," are not a part of who you are. They are the radio stations your mind listens to if you don't give it something better to do. Feelings are fluid and dynamic; they change frequently. Feelings are something you HAVE, not something you ARE. Like physical beauty, a cold sore, or an opinion. Admitting you feel rage or terrible pain or regret or some old, rotten blame does not mean these feelings are part of who you are as a person. What these feelings mean is, you have to change your thinking to be free of them.
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It was unnerving, the way she could go from cool efficiency to sarcastic to sweet within the space of thirty seconds. I found it very manipulative and controlling. It put the other person constantly on-guard. And it was extremely intimidating because you never knew when she was going to snap. I made a mental note to refine these skills within myself.
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In the opening to the Mary Tyler Moore Show Mary's in the supermarket, hurrying through the aisles. She pauses at the meat case, picks up a steak and checks the price. Then rolls her eyes, shrugs and tosses it in the cart. That's kind of how I feel. Sure I would have liked things to be different. But, 'roll of eyes' what can you do? 'shrug' I threw the meat in my cart and moved on.
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I understood at once, I am not living, but actively dying. I am smoking, living unhealthily. I'm shutting down. I need to go the other way, inside. And it was so clear to me what I was doing. It was suddenly perfectly clear. I understood, I need to write. Live here, in my words, and my head. I need to go inside, that's all. No big, complicated, difficult thing. I just need to go in reverse. And not worry about what to write about, but just write. Or, if I'm going to worry about what to write, then do this worrying on paper, so at least I'm writing and will have a record of the anxiety.
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Dennis looked at the puppy in the window. We both did. It was the oddest thing. Normally, puppies in pet store windows sleep or pee or roll around on top of other dogs. This one ignored us its window-mates and was instead sitting with its nose pressed against the glass, looking at us with an extremely serious little expression on its face. An expression that seemed to me to be saying, "I am a sacred cow. Get out your wallet.
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