Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I find...

Maybe my internal thoughts, quotes, screams can help someone else.


Nina Zivancevic is a prominent Serbian poet, scholar, and translator.

The interview was conducted in Paris, March-April 2001 by Nina Zivancevici

Julia Kristeva is a world famous semiotician, feminist theorist, psychoanalyst and at the same time an interesting creative writer. She was born in Bulgaria in 1941, but came to Paris in 1965 where she became immersed in Parisian intellectual life. Her acclaimed novel "Les Samouïs" (1990) analyzes the Parisian intellectual avant-garde to which she has belonged ever since. And though psychoanalysis remains one of the major orienting and formative dimensions of her work, especially as regards her reflections upon the nature of the feminine, she has also continued her research on the nature of language and examined the processes leading to the emergence of the work of art. As the theorist John Lechte points out,

" because of the intimate link between art and the formation of subjectivity, Kristeva has always found art to be a particularly fruitful basis for analysis. "

Since the 1960s, she has been a leading force in the critique of representation and her most recent book is a critical study of Colette's work and life, that is to say, one of the numerous projects that she has been energetically working on.

Q: When did you start getting interested in the notion of the "feminine"? Was it with the exploration of the notion of 'chora' or the female voice in linguistics and semiology? Or rather, from that point on how have you arrived at the so-called feminist studies and writing understood in terms of their sociological and/or aesthetic significance?

J. Kristeva: It is very difficult to trace back my interest in the "feminine". I suppose that at the very moment in which I started asking questions about myself the question of the 'feminine' had already been formulated in my mind, so one could say perhaps it started in the period of my adolescence when I became interested in literature which necessarily asks questions about the sexual differences. But, you are right, in my theoretical work, this question is raised in a more succinct manner, perhaps also more discreet one, but which was nevertheless very intense

It must be said that this question is related to the notion of "chora" which directs us back to the archaic state of language . This state is known to a child who is in a state of osmosis with his/her mother during which language manifests itself as co-lalia , a melodic alliteration that precedes the introduction of signs within a syntactic order. The period during which I started developing this notion was that of the writing of my Ph.D on the avant-garde of the 19th century (Mallarmè and Lautreeamont) and I had understood how much of that, what we call hermiticism in literature, is connected to the rehabilitation, more or less conscious, of that archaic language. By the way, I was also at that time undergoing an analysis myself, and so became convinced that what we have discussed was really true.

Q: Is it difficult to "abandon" or at least to set aside one's mother tongue and write in another language ?

Kristeva: No, I haven't had the impression that I had abandoned my mother tongue by coming to France because I had learnt French when I was four or five and had been bilingual. It is true though that the transition from one mother tongue to the other is a real matricide particularly when one ends up expressing himself only in this second language and one's rapport to the first one remains extremely limited, which is my case, but it didn't happen with me in that era (of coming to France). It was quite a gradual change.

Q: Given the fact that you have written a lot about the importance of the so-called "sick" states of mind, could you tell us whether they are related in any way to Art ? Would you see Art as the means of healing them or do you see it as an independent entity? Is Art a sort of "love" for you (the way Freud would have it) and a sort of human cure?

Kristeva: It has always shocked commentators when I affirm my agreement with the ancient Greeks who viewed art as catharsis or purification and I would add that it is a sort of sublimation for the "borderline" states, in the broadest sense of the term, that is, it comprises those characterized by fragility. If we analyze contemporary art, we get the impression that two types of fragility are examined by contemporary artists. On one hand, we have perversion, that is, all sorts of sexual transgressions. To this effect, it is enough to just browse through contemporary books or simply look at the "culture" pages of "Libèration" which review exhibitions to see that the form and the content of the experience serve as means of overcoming these states. They testify to the existence of these states, as well as that of a certain desire to make them public, or even share them with others, that is, to take them out of their closet which is a soothing action after all despite its commercial aspect since one turns a "shameful thing" into something positive. So you see, here we have something that transcends the notion of "cure" and is at times something gratifying.

Some think that these works are scandal-oriented, others think that they rejoice in ugliness , yes, certainly there are elements of such orientations in them, but, on the other hand, the existence of these works is also a research -- often in a very specific manner -- on the anticipation of difficulty of living.

Q: Does contemporary art have to do with Voyeurism, as is the case with the most recent literature nowadays which purports to describe the most intimate states of the body and the soul ?

Kristeva: Absolutely! This is ever the case with literature and when it does not try to treat perversion, it is deals with psychotic states, that is, the states of identity loss, the loss of language, the borderline cases which cohabit and coexist with delirium and violence, but all of this does not have to bear the imprint of something negative. Some think that these works are scandal-oriented, others think that they rejoice in ugliness , yes, certainly there are elements of such orientations in them, but, on the other hand, the existence of these works is also a research -- often in a very specific manner -- on the anticipation of difficulty of living. And Art can play an important role here since it can contribute to a certain creative assumption of such a difficulty. Nevertheless, I personally remain a bit skeptical of a certain drift or tendency of contemporary art to content itself with such, so I believe, feeble appropriations of these traumatic states. We remain here at the level of the statement of the clinical cases with an almost documentary style photography of these cases wherein the investment and the effort made in the exploration of new forms or new thoughts remains less visible. So, it is something regrettable which every so often leaves me with the impression that when I visit museums or read certain art books, I am looking into psychoanalytic or even psychiatric archives. But, perhaps this is an indispensable experience.

Q: But you haven't always felt this way- we remember the time when you wrote about Bellinié

Kristeva: That's right, I haven't always felt this way -- this is a very particular moment in art history which deepened and probed a certain aspect of a widespread existential malaise and discontent while neglecting the possibility of its overcoming.

Q: Well, along this line, you wrote in "Tales of Love" that "the psychoanalytic couch is the only place where the social contract authorizes explicitly psychoanalytic investigation, but "leaves Love out of it." However, we find this type of investigation in literature and art as well. You have recently analyzed the "investigation" of the writer Colette whose work deals extensively with love and emotions. Why Colette ?

Kristeva: Why Colette? Because in my trilogy on the feminine genius I tried to analyze the works of two dramatic women who represent the tragic aspect of our (20th) century, Hanna Arendt's on "Totalitarianism" and Melanie Klein's on psychosis, especially children's psychosis, and it seemed to me important (not only to me personally but also for the sake of objectivity) to pay homage to the other aspect of our civilization which is notably our century's source of joy, that is, the feminist liberation and "joie de vivre". And Colette excels in that appropriation of the national language in which she delights and leads to paroxysms of beauty that trace a path which goes beyond the scandal of a woman who asserts her liberty and authority. So, for me, she has become indispensable.

Q: In your novel The Samurai you have shown a great literary talent and a certain sense of humor which is certainly lacking in your analytic work. Why have you stopped your literary production, that is to say, writing of novels ?

Kristeva: Oh, I haven't stopped it for after "The Samurai" I wrote "The old man the wolves," then "Possesions," and now I am going to write yet another thriller which will be called, as it seems now, "Our Byzantium". IÕd like to continue writing in this polar style and with a certain political motivation. It will be concerned with the possibility -- or the impossibility -- of unifying Eastern Europe with Western Europe. It will deal with the Crusades and in it the modern characters would reveal their ancestors who had been in the Crusades, a catastrophic enterprise which eventually failed as you know, but which has been in its essence an attempt at unifying Europe, an unhappy attempt though. So, I am going to ask a question about the tragedy of this Europe which is now divided, and also this would be a way for me to visit my orthodox origins where I'd also attempt to revive some of my childhood souvenirs.

Q: That's right, the area of Eastern or Central Europe really belongs to "Byzantium".

Kristeva: Yes, we are Byzantium, that is, the Balkans, and I am very proud of the fact that I come from that region. And that's something which is unknown to the West. While it is true that what has survived of Byzantium is in a state of cultural decadence and terrible economic poverty with nothing in it that could seduce the Westerners, it is indisputably the treasure of our rich historical memory that is reflected, as far as I can see, in the dignified sensitivity of people who don't ask for anything but the minimum allowing them to continue living as the well-educated and highly intelligent men and women who should be less exposed to mentally exhausting pangs of melancholy and the socially debilitating impact of the economic predominance of the mafia that is the case nowadays.

Q: In your novel "Possesions" you started something quite interesting, something that you stopped pursuing after having written the first chapter though, and that particular thing is the psychoanalysis of art which also includes that of the artists and their respective works. Would it be possible to pursue research in this particular field, namely, an analysis of the history of art by following different works of art from different epochs?

Kristeva: I have really enjoyed myself writing about these different works of art, notably, on representations of decapitation, and I believe that the novel as genre, especially thriller which is an open genre and completely renewable allows for this type of digression in writing. But they have severely criticized me for it and told me that the book was too intellectual, very brainy and that the reader who wanted to know how the crime was being developed and the murder had to suffer by having had to wait. That was the malevolent reaction of those who have known me as an intellectual and who did not like the fact that I was going to write novels. So, there is a certain tendency in France, or perhaps elsewhere too, to put labels on people- if you are a teacher, remain a teacher, and if you are a writer, remain a writer, but the two of them at the same time- that you cannot be! So, perhaps I will continue in that direction , that of novel writing, I don't know. I have just finished the book about Colette, and my new thriller is still in notes and scratches, it is not articulated yet, but I am not sure that the fragments which deal with the so-called esthetic problems are excluded from it. It is true we cannot insert a dissertation in a novel, but perhaps we could set a basis there for it.

Q: I believe that one could read your book "The Intimate Revolt" in the light of your dialogue with Hannah Arendt. In fact, she was the one who has spoken of the misery of human beings who are not allowed to have "contemplative" ( read creative) life and who are thus condemned to lead an "active" life, that is, to have a miserable job. Is it the problem of our times that there exist such individuals who revolt against the fact that they cannot realize themselves? That is, who are angst-ridden and end up revolting against themselves?

Kristeva: I believe that you were right to make such assumptions about my eventual dialogue with Hannah Arendt -- I have been reading her work for quite a while and I'd say, in all modesty, that a lot of my writing, consciously or unconsciously, is tied to her thought . The idea of "revolt" was an effort to put myself in relationship with what we hear as "her own thinking" which, following Heidegger's, opposes and relativizes calculative reasoning. As she was very attentive to the work of Heidegger, she conceived of thinking as an inquiry, as an interrogatory process and opposed herself to the calculative framework which structures and characterizes contemporary behavior. My work has found itself a bit within this horizon but I also derived my experience from the psychoanalytical approach which relativizes everyone's identity as well as his/her past. Moreover, I derived my experience from literary works, such as Proust's "Recherche de temps perdu;" for instance, from his flexing of language, metaphors and the syntax. I tried to rethink the mental disposition which helps us carry on, the one which is not a mere repetition of a cliche, something which is like an act of rebirth, that is, rebirth which our thinking re-examines together with our interior life as well as the very opening of the inquiry. This is what I take "revolt" to be. So, it is neither an expression of simple existential anguish nor contesting a socio-political order, but re-establishment of things which we start again. And, in this sense, revolt which engulfs the psychic space is a form of life, be it the state of being in love, or an act of aesthetic creation or a project that could imply a very modest activity but which allows you to re-examine your past, that is, to interrogate it and renew it. And I believe that we have very few occasions in our daily lives which are quite standardized and banalized to work in that direction. The work that we do implies usually a repetition, the accomplishment of a given task. The type of mental functioning which I call "revolt" is something that we lack and it is very dangerous because if it is lacking, we risk confronting two prospective pitfalls: one of them is 'somatization' when the psychic space closes itself off and the conflict manifests itself as bodily illness or, in the other situation, we get into violence, vandalism and wars. So, Vive la Rèvolte !

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Guest

Let’s take a close look at Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Guest, a limited performance installation made specifically for the visitors that attended the 53rd International Art Exhibition’s Polish Pavilion.

The work is a video projection of eight arched windows and a rectangular skylight set against the darkened walls and ceiling of the Polish Pavilion in Venice. The eight illusory windows depict street scenes of the silhouettes of working-class immigrants while on the elongated skylight projected on the ceiling of the room, a worker appears to clean the skylight’s glass panes. The voices of immigrants living in Poland and Italy, but coming from different countries of the world such as Chechnya, Ukraine, Vietnam, Romania, Sri Lanka, Libya, Bangladesh, Pakistan or Morocco can be heard as their images are seen through the projections. 

Life-sized images of people in dark clothes living in the margins of society physically move through their daily lives. We see them working, walking, talking and laughing. We see a man sliding off a rope and hitting the floor. We see a worker on a hydraulic lift washing windows, a person standing on a ladder, a man passionately speaking and gesturing with his hands, women dancing, youth spending time together. We see immigrants trying to peek through the glass, debris being blown onto the skylight and being cleaned away. We see groups of people and individuals. We see people on different levels: some on the ceiling, some on the lift cleaning windows, some sitting, some standing.
One worker places his face close to the glass, cupping his hands on either side of his face, attempting to block the incoming light so he can see through the glass to the other side. It is also significant that not everyone outside is interested in what is behind the glass. Only a few people try to see through into the gallery space.

Yet we are separated from all these actions by an invisible pane of glass. The images appear unfocused, as if the windows contain frosted glass panels that block our ability to see the immigrants clearly. The images of the people outside of the projected windows are also out of focus, just as the viewer must also be out of focus to those peering in from the outside.  Although the images are life size, and the viewer is only feet from the images, we cannot make out the details of their lives.
We hear the voices of immigrants that are living in Poland and Italy. We hear the native languages of countries such as Chechnya, Ukraine, Vietnam, Romania, Sri Lanka, Libya, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Morocco. We hear stories of the immigrants' lives, their conversations as they share their hardships, the sounds of their work.

We can’t make out the details of their ages and identities, but from their silhouettes and their voices, we understand that they represent the working class from the margins of society. Some seem sad, others playful, others frustrated.

The background space behind the images is neutral and the feeling within the room is contemplative, whereas the world outside, presented through the projections, is more active, vibrant, fluid, chaotic.

The images appear only feet from where we are standing. We hear real voices of working-class immigrants as we see their projected images on the walls and ceiling. This visual and aural phenomenon evokes the sense that the street interactions are happening in real-time.

The spaces between the window panes are dark as if you were sitting inside during a sunny day with the lights off. The windows appear bright, while the areas between them are dark.

The light coming through the window makes it possible to see the silhouettes of the figures, yet the darkness of the room gives the sense that we are hiding from the people that we can see. The darkness also allows us to see the light, each defining one another, yet creating clear boundaries that separate one from the other.

The light reveals and illuminates the forms and actions of immigrants, yet obscures their faces and identities.

Guest allows us to hear the actual voices of immigrants living in Italy. Shukri Sahil, from Libya, speaks, “...they don’t care what you feel, they just make you feel unwanted. They think you’re a burden who ought to be eliminated so they don’t listen to your case nor do they want to understand you. They just say: put him in prison and send him to Poland where he knocks his head against the wall.”

We hear the voice of Pauline R. from Africa, living in Poland, “... I am afraid to go back to my own family. I’m taking refuge in Poland because... I’m afraid of my own people, my own family members.”

We hear the voice of a young man from Northern Vietnam living in Poland, “I escaped across the sea in a boat, I crossed half the world running, and I really need a haven. I’m appealing to the Polish authorities to let me live, to listen to their conscience, and I’m appealing to the many Poles who listen to their consciences.”

We hear the voice of Autun, a Yugoslavian living in Italy “…And if I don’t exist, then history doesn’t exist either.”; Rouslan, from Chechnya living in Poland, “... Am I a refugee? Am I a human being? Who am I? That’s my situation; there’s no way out.”

We hear the voice of Ton Van Anh from North Vietnam living in Poland, “...Because others in this situation were stabbed in bright daylight in the center of Hanoi.”

We hear the voice of Madina from Chechnya, “... ‘Where do I go?’ I asked, it was winter time, ‘where do I go with my children, I don’t understand where I should live, where I should go...”

Wodiczko’s Guest is a haunting spectacle of moving images that is made more interesting as you pick up the headphones and hear the voices and conversations from behind the windows. The installation reminds us of a cinematic projection where the images and sounds are perceived by the viewer to be happening within ourselves.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saltimbocca (jump in your mouth) at Castello di Spannocchia

Saltimbocca, one of the most classic Roman dishes. The name literally translates as hopinthemouth and is singularly appropriate -- you can never have too many of these veal cutlets topped with prosciutto and sage.

A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin

Little Mrs. Sommers one day found herself the unexpected possessor of fifteen dollars. It seemed to her a very large amount of money, and the way in which it stuffed and bulged her worn old porte-monnaie gave her a feeling of importance such as she had not enjoyed for years.

The question of investment was one that occupied her greatly. For a day or two she walked about apparently in a dreamy state, but really absorbed in speculation and calculation. She did not wish to act hastily, to do anything she might afterward regret. But it was during the still hours of the night when she lay awake revolving plans in her mind that she seemed to see her way clearly toward a proper and judicious use of the money.

A dollar or two should be added to the price usually paid for Janie's shoes, which would insure their lasting an appreciable time longer than they usually did. She would buy so and so many yards of percale for new shirt waists for the boys and Janie and Mag. She had intended to make the old ones do by skilful patching. Mag should have another gown. She had seen some beautiful patterns, veritable bargains in the shop windows. And still there would be left enough for new stockings--two pairs apiece--and what darning that would save for a while! She would get caps for the boys and sailor-hats for the girls. The vision of her little brood looking fresh and dainty and new for once in their lives excited her and made her restless and wakeful with anticipation.

The neighbors sometimes talked of certain "better days" that little Mrs. Sommers had known before she had ever thought of being Mrs. Sommers. She herself indulged in no such morbid retrospection. She had no time--no second of time to devote to the past. The needs of the present absorbed her every faculty. A vision of the future like some dim, gaunt monster sometimes appalled her, but luckily to-morrow never comes.

Mrs. Sommers was one who knew the value of bargains; who could stand for hours making her way inch by inch toward the desired object that was selling below cost. She could elbow her way if need be; she had learned to clutch a piece of goods and hold it and stick to it with persistence and determination till her turn came to be served, no matter when it came.
But that day she was a little faint and tired. She had swallowed a light luncheon--no! when she came to think of it, between getting the children fed and the place righted, and preparing herself for the shopping bout, she had actually forgotten to eat any luncheon at all!

She sat herself upon a revolving stool before a counter that was comparatively deserted, trying to gather strength and courage to charge through an eager multitude that was besieging breastworks of shirting and figured lawn. An all-gone limp feeling had come over her and she rested her hand aimlessly upon the counter. She wore no gloves. By degrees she grew aware that her hand had encountered something very soothing, very pleasant to touch. She looked down to see that her hand lay upon a pile of silk stockings. A placard near by announced that they had been reduced in price from two dollars and fifty cents to one dollar and ninety-eight cents; and a young girl who stood behind the counter asked her if she wished to examine their line of silk hosiery. She smiled, just as if she had been asked to inspect a tiara of diamonds with the ultimate view of purchasing it. But she went on feeling the soft, sheeny luxurious things--with both hands now, holding them up to see them glisten, and to feel them glide serpent-like through her fingers.

Two hectic blotches came suddenly into her pale cheeks. She looked up at the girl.
"Do you think there are any eights-and-a-half among these?"
There were any number of eights-and-a-half. In fact, there were more of that size than any other. Here was a light-blue pair; there were some lavender, some all black and various shades of tan and gray. Mrs. Sommers selected a black pair and looked at them very long and closely. She pretended to be examining their texture, which the clerk assured her was excellent.

"A dollar and ninety-eight cents," she mused aloud. "Well, I'll take this pair." She handed the girl a five-dollar bill and waited for her change and for her parcel. What a very small parcel it was! It seemed lost in the depths of her shabby old shopping-bag.

Mrs. Sommers after that did not move in the direction of the bargain counter. She took the elevator, which carried her to an upper floor into the region of the ladies' waiting-rooms. Here, in a retired corner, she exchanged her cotton stockings for the new silk ones which she had just bought. She was not going through any acute mental process or reasoning with herself, nor was she striving to explain to her satisfaction the motive of her action. She was not thinking at all. She seemed for the time to be taking a rest from that laborious and fatiguing function and to have abandoned herself to some mechanical impulse that directed her actions and freed her of responsibility.

How good was the touch of the raw silk to her flesh! She felt like lying back in the cushioned chair and reveling for a while in the luxury of it. She did for a little while. Then she replaced her shoes, rolled the cotton stockings together and thrust them into her bag. After doing this she crossed straight over to the shoe department and took her seat to be fitted.

She was fastidious. The clerk could not make her out; he could not reconcile her shoes with her stockings, and she was not too easily pleased. She held back her skirts and turned her feet one way and her head another way as she glanced down at the polished, pointed-tipped boots. Her foot and ankle looked very pretty. She could not realize that they belonged to her and were a part of herself. She wanted an excellent and stylish fit, she told the young fellow who served her, and she did not mind the difference of a dollar or two more in the price so long as she got what she desired.

It was a long time since Mrs. Sommers had been fitted with gloves. On rare occasions when she had bought a pair they were always "bargains," so cheap that it would have been preposterous and unreasonable to have expected them to be fitted to the hand.
Now she rested her elbow on the cushion of the glove counter, and a pretty, pleasant young creature, delicate and deft of touch, drew a long-wristed "kid" over Mrs. Sommers's hand. She smoothed it down over the wrist and buttoned it neatly, and both lost themselves for a second or two in admiring contemplation of the little symmetrical gloved hand. But there were other places where money might be spent.

There were books and magazines piled up in the window of a stall a few paces down the street. Mrs. Sommers bought two high-priced magazines such as she had been accustomed to read in the days when she had been accustomed to other pleasant things. She carried them without wrapping. As well as she could she lifted her skirts at the crossings. Her stockings and boots and well fitting gloves had worked marvels in her bearing--had given her a feeling of assurance, a sense of belonging to the well-dressed multitude.

She was very hungry. Another time she would have stilled the cravings for food until reaching her own home, where she would have brewed herself a cup of tea and taken a snack of anything that was available. But the impulse that was guiding her would not suffer her to entertain any such thought.
There was a restaurant at the corner. She had never entered its doors; from the outside she had sometimes caught glimpses of spotless damask and shining crystal, and soft-stepping waiters serving people of fashion.

When she entered her appearance created no surprise, no consternation, as she had half feared it might. She seated herself at a small table alone, and an attentive waiter at once approached to take her order. She did not want a profusion; she craved a nice and tasty bite--a half dozen blue-points, a plump chop with cress, a something sweet--a creme-frappee, for instance; a glass of Rhine wine, and after all a small cup of black coffee.

While waiting to be served she removed her gloves very leisurely and laid them beside her. Then she picked up a magazine and glanced through it, cutting the pages with a blunt edge of her knife. It was all very agreeable. The damask was even more spotless than it had seemed through the window, and the crystal more sparkling. There were quiet ladies and gentlemen, who did not notice her, lunching at the small tables like her own. A soft, pleasing strain of music could be heard, and a gentle breeze, was blowing through the window. She tasted a bite, and she read a word or two, and she sipped the amber wine and wiggled her toes in the silk stockings. The price of it made no difference. She counted the money out to the waiter and left an extra coin on his tray, whereupon he bowed before her as before a princess of royal blood.
There was still money in her purse, and her next temptation presented itself in the shape of a matinee poster.

It was a little later when she entered the theatre, the play had begun and the house seemed to her to be packed. But there were vacant seats here and there, and into one of them she was ushered, between brilliantly dressed women who had gone there to kill time and eat candy and display their gaudy attire.

There were many others who were there solely for the play and acting. It is safe to say there was no one present who bore quite the attitude which Mrs. Sommers did to her surroundings. She gathered in the whole--stage and players and people in one wide impression, and absorbed it and enjoyed it. She laughed at the comedy and wept--she and the gaudy woman next to her wept over the tragedy. And they talked a little together over it. And the gaudy woman wiped her eyes and sniffled on a tiny square of filmy, perfumed lace and passed little Mrs. Sommers her box of candy.

The play was over, the music ceased, the crowd filed out. It was like a dream ended. People scattered in all directions. Mrs. Sommers went to the corner and waited for the cable car.

A man with keen eyes, who sat opposite to her, seemed to like the study of her small, pale face. It puzzled him to decipher what he saw there. In truth, he saw nothing-unless he were wizard enough to detect a poignant wish, a powerful longing that the cable car would never stop anywhere, but go on and on with her forever.

Most Beautiful Place on Earth...



My wonderful friend Doodle.

My wish





Gold in Venice




I may know the word but not say it I may know the truth but not face it I may hear a sound a whisper sacred and profound but turn my head indifferent I may know the word but not say it I may love the fruit but not taste it I may know the way to comfort and to soothe a worried face but fold my hands indifferent If I’m on my knees I’m begging now if I’m on my knees groping in the dark I’d be paying for deliverance from the night into day but it’s all grey here it’s all grey to me I may know the word but not say it this may be the time but I might waste it this may be the hour something move me someone prove me wrong before the night comes with indifference if I’m on my knees I’m begging now if I’m on my knees groping in the dark I’d be praying for deliverance from the night into the day but it’s all grey here but it’s all grey to me I recognize the walls inside me I recognize them all I’ve paced between them chasing demons down until they fall in fitful sleep enough to keep their strength enough to crawl into my head with tangled threads they riddle me to solve again and again and again

Desiree's Baby

As the day was pleasant, Madame Valmonde drove over to L'Abri to see Desiree and the baby.
It made her laugh to think of Desiree with a baby. Why, it seemed but yesterday that Desiree was little more than a baby herself; when Monsieur in riding through the gateway of Valmonde had found her lying asleep in the shadow of the big stone pillar.

The little one awoke in his arms and began to cry for "Dada." That was as much as she could do or say. Some people thought she might have strayed there of her own accord, for she was of the toddling age. The prevailing belief was that she had been purposely left by a party of Texans, whose canvas-covered wagon, late in the day, had crossed the ferry that Coton Mais kept, just below the plantation. In time Madame Valmonde abandoned every speculation but the one that Desiree had been sent to her by a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing that she was without child of the flesh. For the girl grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere,--the idol of Valmonde.
It was no wonder, when she stood one day against the stone pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her there, had fallen in love with her. That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot. The wonder was that he had not loved her before; for he had known her since his father brought him home from Paris, a boy of eight, after his mother died there. The passion that awoke in him that day, when he saw her at the gate, swept along like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles.

Monsieur Valmonde grew practical and wanted things well considered: that is, the girl's obscure origin. Armand looked into her eyes and did not care. He was reminded that she was nameless. What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana? He ordered the corbeille from Paris, and contained himself with what patience he could until it arrived; then they were married.

Madame Valmonde had not seen Desiree and the baby for four weeks. When she reached L'Abri she shuddered at the first sight of it, as she always did. It was a sad looking place, which for many years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress, old Monsieur Aubigny having married and buried his wife in France, and she having loved her own land too well ever to leave it. The roof came down steep and black like a cowl, reaching out beyond the wide galleries that encircled the yellow stuccoed house. Big, solemn oaks grew close to it, and their thick-leaved, far-reaching branches shadowed it like a pall. Young Aubigny's rule was a strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master's easy-going and indulgent lifetime.

The young mother was recovering slowly, and lay full length, in her soft white muslins and laces, upon a couch. The baby was beside her, upon her arm, where he had fallen asleep, at her breast. The yellow nurse woman sat beside a window fanning herself.

Madame Valmonde bent her portly figure over Desiree and kissed her, holding her an instant tenderly in her arms. Then she turned to the child.

"This is not the baby!" she exclaimed, in startled tones. French was the language spoken at Valmonde in those days.

"I knew you would be astonished," laughed Desiree, "at the way he has grown. The little cochon de lait! Look at his legs, mamma, and his hands and fingernails,--real finger-nails. Zandrine had to cut them this morning. Isn't it true, Zandrine?"

The woman bowed her turbaned head majestically, "Mais si, Madame."

"And the way he cries," went on Desiree, "is deafening. Armand heard him the other day as far away as La Blanche's cabin."

Madame Valmonde had never removed her eyes from the child. She lifted it and walked with it over to the window that was lightest. She scanned the baby narrowly, then looked as searchingly at Zandrine, whose face was turned to gaze across the fields.

"Yes, the child has grown, has changed," said Madame Valmonde, slowly, as she replaced it beside its mother. "What does Armand say?"

Desiree's face became suffused with a glow that was happiness itself.
"Oh, Armand is the proudest father in the parish, I believe, chiefly because it is a boy, to bear his name; though he says not,--that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know it isn't true. I know he says that to please me. And mamma," she added, drawing Madame Valmonde's head down to her, and speaking in a whisper, "he hasn't punished one of them--not one of them--since baby is born. Even Negrillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg that he might rest from work--he only laughed, and said Negrillon was a great scamp. oh, mamma, I'm so happy; it frightens me."

What Desiree said was true. Marriage, and later the birth of his son had softened Armand Aubigny's imperious and exacting nature greatly. This was what made the gentle Desiree so happy, for she loved him desperately. When he frowned she trembled, but loved him. When he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God. But Armand's dark, handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her.

When the baby was about three months old, Desiree awoke one day to the conviction that there was something in the air menacing her peace. It was at first too subtle to grasp. It had only been a disquieting suggestion; an air of mystery among the blacks; unexpected visits from far-off neighbors who could hardly account for their coming. Then a strange, an awful change in her husband's manner, which she dared not ask him to explain. When he spoke to her, it was with averted eyes, from which the old love-light seemed to have gone out. He absented himself from home; and when there, avoided her presence and that of her child, without excuse. And the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves. Desiree was miserable enough to die.

She sat in her room, one hot afternoon, in her peignoir, listlessly drawing through her fingers the strands of her long, silky brown hair that hung about her shoulders. The baby, half naked, lay asleep upon her own great mahogany bed, that was like a sumptuous throne, with its satin-lined half-canopy. One of La Blanche's little quadroon boys--half naked too--stood fanning the child slowly with a fan of peacock feathers. Desiree's eyes had been fixed absently and sadly upon the baby, while she was striving to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about her. She looked from her child to the boy who stood beside him, and back again; over and over. "Ah!" It was a cry that she could not help; which she was not conscious of having uttered. The blood turned like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face.

She tried to speak to the little quadroon boy; but no sound would come, at first. When he heard his name uttered, he looked up, and his mistress was pointing to the door. He laid aside the great, soft fan, and obediently stole away, over the polished floor, on his bare tiptoes.

She stayed motionless, with gaze riveted upon her child, and her face the picture of fright.
Presently her husband entered the room, and without noticing her, went to a table and began to search among some papers which covered it.

"Armand," she called to him, in a voice which must have stabbed him, if he was human. But he did not notice. "Armand," she said again. Then she rose and tottered towards him. "Armand," she panted once more, clutching his arm, "look at our child. What does it mean? tell me."

He coldly but gently loosened her fingers from about his arm and thrust the hand away from him. "Tell me what it means!" she cried despairingly.

"It means," he answered lightly, "that the child is not white; it means that you are not white."
A quick conception of all that this accusation meant for her nerved her with unwonted courage to deny it. "It is a lie; it is not true, I am white! Look at my hair, it is brown; and my eyes are gray, Armand, you know they are gray. And my skin is fair," seizing his wrist. "Look at my hand; whiter than yours, Armand," she laughed hysterically.

"As white as La Blanche's," he returned cruelly; and went away leaving her alone with their child.

When she could hold a pen in her hand, she sent a despairing letter to Madame Valmonde.
"My mother, they tell me I am not white. Armand has told me I am not white. For God's sake tell them it is not true. You must know it is not true. I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and live."

The answer that came was brief:
"My own Desiree: Come home to Valmonde; back to your mother who loves you. Come with your child."

When the letter reached Desiree she went with it to her husband's study, and laid it open upon the desk before which he sat. She was like a stone image: silent, white, motionless after she placed it there.
In silence he ran his cold eyes over the written words.

He said nothing. "Shall I go, Armand?" she asked in tones sharp with agonized suspense.
"Yes, go."
"Do you want me to go?"
"Yes, I want you to go."

He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt, somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed thus into his wife's soul. Moreover he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name.

She turned away like one stunned by a blow, and walked slowly towards the door, hoping he would call her back.

"Good-by, Armand," she moaned.
He did not answer her. That was his last blow at fate.

Desiree went in search of her child. Zandrine was pacing the sombre gallery with it. She took the little one from the nurse's arms with no word of explanation, and descending the steps, walked away, under the live-oak branches.

It was an October afternoon; the sun was just sinking. Out in the still fields the negroes were picking cotton.

Desiree had not changed the thin white garment nor the slippers which she wore. Her hair was uncovered and the sun's rays brought a golden gleam from its brown meshes. She did not take the broad, beaten road which led to the far-off plantation of Valmonde. She walked across a deserted field, where the stubble bruised her tender feet, so delicately shod, and tore her thin gown to shreds.
She disappeared among the reeds and willows that grew thick along the banks of the deep, sluggish bayou; and she did not come back again.

Some weeks later there was a curious scene enacted at L'Abri. In the centre of the smoothly swept back yard was a great bonfire. Armand Aubigny sat in the wide hallway that commanded a view of the spectacle; and it was he who dealt out to a half dozen negroes the material which kept this fire ablaze.

A graceful cradle of willow, with all its dainty furbishings, was laid upon the pyre, which had already been fed with the richness of a priceless layette. Then there were silk gowns, and velvet and satin ones added to these; laces, too, and embroideries; bonnets and gloves; for the corbeille had been of rare quality.

The last thing to go was a tiny bundle of letters; innocent little scribblings that Desiree had sent to him during the days of their espousal. There was the remnant of one back in the drawer from which he took them. But it was not Desiree's; it was part of an old letter from his mother to his father. He read it. She was thanking God for the blessing of her husband's love:--

"But above all," she wrote, "night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery."

'The Storm'

"The Storm" was written by Kate Chopin on July 19, 1898. The short story was first published in The Complete Works of Kate Chopin in 1969. The story is set in the late nineteenth century at Friedheimer's store in Louisiana, and at the nearby house of Calixta and Bobinôt. Read the complete text here...



The leaves were so still that even Bibi thought it was going to rain. Bobinôt, who was accustomed to converse on terms of perfect equality with his little son, called the child's attention to certain sombre clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar. They were at Friedheimer's store and decided to remain there till the storm had passed. They sat within the door on two empty kegs. Bibi was four years old and looked very wise.

"Mama'll be 'fraid, yes, he suggested with blinking eyes.

"She'll shut the house. Maybe she got Sylvie helpin' her this evenin'," Bobinôt responded reassuringly.

"No; she ent got Sylvie. Sylvie was helpin' her yistiday,' piped Bibi.

Bobinôt arose and going across to the counter purchased a can of shrimps, of which Calixta was very fond. Then he retumed to his perch on the keg and sat stolidly holding the can of shrimps while the storm burst. It shook the wooden store and seemed to be ripping great furrows in the distant field. Bibi laid his little hand on his father's knee and was not afraid.


Calixta, at home, felt no uneasiness for their safety. She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine. She was greatly occupied and did not notice the approaching storm. But she felt very warm and often stopped to mop her face on which the perspiration gathered in beads. She unfastened her white sacque at the throat. It began to grow dark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and went about closing windows and doors.

Out on the small front gallery she had hung Bobinôt's Sunday clothes to dry and she hastened out to gather them before the rain fell. As she stepped outside, Alcée Laballière rode in at the gate. She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone. She stood there with Bobinôt's coat in her hands, and the big rain drops began to fall. Alcée rode his horse under the shelter of a side projection where the chickens had huddled and there were plows and a harrow piled up in the corner.

"May I come and wait on your gallery till the storm is over, Calixta?" he asked.

Come 'long in, M'sieur Alcée."

His voice and her own startled her as if from a trance, and she seized Bobinôt's vest. Alcée, mounting to the porch, grabbed the trousers and snatched Bibi's braided jacket that was about to be carried away by a sudden gust of wind. He expressed an intention to remain outside, but it was soon apparent that he might as well have been out in the open: the water beat in upon the boards in driving sheets, and he went inside, closing the door after him. It was even necessary to put something beneath the door to keep the water out.

"My! what a rain! It's good two years sence it rain' like that," exclaimed Calixta as she rolled up a piece of bagging and Alcée helped her to thrust it beneath the crack.

She was a little fuller of figure than five years before when she married; but she had lost nothing of her vivacity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality; and her yellow hair, disheveled by the wind and rain, kinked more stubbornly than ever about her ears and temples.

The rain beat upon the low, shingled roof with a force and clatter that threatened to break an entrance and deluge them there. They were in the dining room—the sitting room—the general utility room. Adjoining was her bed room, with Bibi's couch along side her own. The door stood open, and the room with its white, monumental bed, its closed shutters, looked dim and mysterious.

Alcée flung himself into a rocker and Calixta nervously began to gather up from the floor the lengths of a cotton sheet which she had been sewing.

lf this keeps up, Dieu sait if the levees goin' to stan it!" she exclaimed.

"What have you got to do with the levees?"

"I got enough to do! An' there's Bobinôt with Bibi out in that storm—if he only didn' left Friedheimer's!"

"Let us hope, Calixta, that Bobinôt's got sense enough to come in out of a cyclone."

She went and stood at the window with a greatly disturbed look on her face. She wiped the frame that was clouded with moisture. It was stiflingly hot. Alcée got up and joined her at the window, looking over her shoulder. The rain was coming down in sheets obscuring the view of far-off cabins and enveloping the distant wood in a gray mist. The playing of the lightning was incessant. A bolt struck a tall chinaberry tree at the edge of the field. It filled all visible space with a blinding glare and the crash seemed to invade the very boards they stood upon.

Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward. Alcée's arm encircled her, and for an instant he drew her close and spasmodically to him.

"Bonté!" she cried, releasing herself from his encircling arm and retreating from the window, the house'll go next! If I only knew w'ere Bibi was!" She would not compose herself; she would not be seated. Alcée clasped her shoulders and looked into her face. The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh.

"Calixta," he said, "don't be frightened. Nothing can happen. The house is too low to be struck, with so many tall trees standing about. There! aren't you going to be quiet? say, aren't you?" He pushed her hair back from her face that was warm and steaming. Her lips were as red and moist as pomegranate seed. Her white neck and a glimpse of her full, firm bosom disturbed him powerfully. As she glanced up at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire. He looked down into her eyes and there was nothing for him to do but to gather her lips in a kiss. It reminded him of Assumption.

"Do you remember—in Assumption, Calixta?" he asked in a low voice broken by passion. Oh! she remembered; for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbade him to prevail. Now—well, now—her lips seemed in a manner free to be tasted, as well as her round, white throat and her whiter breasts.

They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world.

The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached.

When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life's mystery.

He stayed cushioned upon her, breathless, dazed, enervated, with his heart beating like a hammer upon her. With one hand she clasped his head, her lips lightly touching his forehead. The other hand stroked with a soothing rhythm his muscular shoulders.

The growl of the thunder was distant and passing away. The rain beat softly upon the shingles, inviting them to drowsiness and sleep. But they dared not yield.


The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems. Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcée ride away. He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud.

Bobinôt and Bibi, trudging home, stopped without at the cistern to make themselves presentable.

"My! Bibi, w'at will yo' mama say! You ought to be ashame'. You oughta' put on those good pants. Look at 'em! An' that mud on yo' collar! How you got that mud on yo' collar, Bibi? I never saw such a boy!" Bibi was the picture of pathetic resignation. Bobinôt was the embodiment of serious solicitude as he strove to remove from his own person and his son's the signs of their tramp over heavy roads and through wet fields. He scraped the mud off Bibi's bare legs and feet with a stick and carefully removed all traces from his heavy brogans. Then, prepared for the worst—the meeting with an over-scrupulous housewife, they entered cautiously at the back door.

Calixta was preparing supper. She had set the table and was dripping coffee at the hearth. She sprang up as they came in.

"Oh, Bobinôt! You back! My! but I was uneasy. W'ere you been during the rain? An' Bibi? he ain't wet? he ain't hurt?" She had clasped Bibi and was kissing him effusively. Bobinôt's explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him to see if he were dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return.

"I brought you some shrimps, Calixta," offered Bobinôt, hauling the can from his ample side pocket and laying it on the table.

"Shrimps! Oh, Bobinôt! you too good fo' anything!" and she gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek that resounded, "J'vous réponds, we'll have a feas' to-night! umph-umph!"

Bobinôt and Bibi began to relax and enjoy themselves, and when the three seated themselves at table they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballière's.


Alcée Laballière wrote to his wife, Clarisse, that night. It was a loving letter, full of tender solicitude. He told her not to hurry back, but if she and the babies liked it at Biloxi, to stay a month longer. He was getting on nicely; and though he missed them, he was willing to bear the separation a while longer—realizing that their health and pleasure were the first things to be considered.


As for Clarisse, she was charmed upon receiving her husband's letter. She and the babies were doing well. The society was agreeable; many of her old friends and acquaintances were at the bay. And the first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days. Devoted as she was to her husband, their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while.

So the storm passed and every one was happy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Story of an Hour

Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death.

It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing. Her husband's friend Richards was there, too, near her. It was he who had been in the newspaper office when intelligence of the railroad disaster was received, with Brently Mallard's name leading the list of "killed." He had only taken the time to assure himself of its truth by a second telegram, and had hastened to forestall any less careful, less tender friend in bearing the sad message.
She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself she went away to her room alone. She would have no one follow her.
There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.
She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.
There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who has cried itself to sleep continues to sob in its dreams.
She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength. But now there was a dull stare in her eyes, whose gaze was fixed away off yonder on one of those patches of blue sky. It was not a glance of reflection, but rather indicated a suspension of intelligent thought.
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.
Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will—as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!" The vacant stare and the look of terror that had followed it went from her eyes. They stayed keen and bright. Her pulses beat fast, and the coursing blood warmed and relaxed every inch of her body.
She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestion as trivial.
She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome.
There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination.
And yet she had loved him—sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being!
"Free! Body and soul free!" she kept whispering.
Josephine was kneeling before the closed door with her lips to the keyhole, imploring for admission. "Louise, open the door! I beg, open the door—you will make yourself ill. What are you doing Louise? For heaven's sake open the door."
"Go away. I am not making myself ill." No; she was drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window.
Her fancy was running riot along those days ahead of her. Spring days, and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own. She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.
She arose at length and opened the door to her sister's importunities. There was a feverish triumph in her eyes, and she carried herself unwittingly like a goddess of Victory. She clasped her sister's waist, and together they descended the stairs. Richards stood waiting for them at the bottom.
Some one was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard who entered, a little travel-stained, composedly carrying his grip-sack and umbrella. He had been far from the scene of accident, and did not even know there had been one. He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry; at Richards' quick motion to screen him from the view of his wife.
But Richards was too late.
When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease—of joy that kills.

Oar upon the water

“There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water.”
---Kate Chopin

I enjoy Kate Chopin's work.

“Perhaps it is better to wake up after all,
even to suffer; than to remain a dupe
to illusions all one
s life.” - Kate Chopin

Monday, November 9, 2009

Homework... The writing of a paper that is due...

Arrrgghhh... I am having the hardest time wrapping my brain around this less than coherent paper I am attempting to write.

I was on a roll.

Day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day after day I worked on my rough draft.

And now I am having the hardest time picking back up where I left off.

So incredibly far from being finished.


Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.  ~William James

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.  ~Don Marquis

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.  ~Author Unknown

Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back.  ~Charles Kingsley

The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.  ~Author Unknown

If it weren't for the last minute, I wouldn't get anything done.  ~Author Unknown

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.  ~Robert Benchley

There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back.  ~Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in.  ~Earl of Chesterfield

The two rules of procrastination:  1) Do it today.  2) Tomorrow will be today tomorrow.  ~Author Unknown

One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.  ~Vincent T. Foss

You may delay, but time will not.  ~Benjamin Franklin

Someday is not a day of the week.  ~Author Unknown

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.  ~Eva Young

Don't fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.  ~C. Northcote Parkinson, 1958

Procrastination is opportunity's assassin.  ~Victor Kiam

If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.  ~Olin Miller

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.  ~Scottish Proverb

There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when there's a repair job to be done around the house.  ~Joe Ryan

Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow.  ~Gerald Vaughan

The best way to get something done is to begin.  ~Author Unknown

You know you are getting old when it takes too much effort to procrastinate.  ~Author Unknown

I do my work at the same time each day - the last minute.  ~Author Unknown

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.  ~Spanish Proverb

The time to begin most things is ten years ago.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Putting off an easy thing makes it hard.  Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.  ~George Claude Lorimer

Tomorrow is the day when idlers work, and fools reform.  ~Edward Young

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.  ~Mark Twain

Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man.  ~Jimmy Lyons

A year from now you may wish you had started today.  ~Karen Lamb

Procrastination is like masturbation.  At first it feels good, but in the end you're only screwing yourself.  ~Author unknown, possibly from Monty Python?

One of these days is none of these days.  ~Attributed to both Henri Tubach and H.G. Bohn

Procrastination is the thief of time.  ~Edward Young


I learned a new word today.

It means... a dislike and/or fear of that which is unknown or different from oneself. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike of foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself, usually in the context of visibly differentiated minorities.

This is straight from the good ole Wikipedia.

A lot easier...

“Anger is just a cowardly extension of sadness. It's a lot easier to be angry at someone than it is to tell them you're hurt.” - Tom Gates


“When we are sure that we are on the right road there is no need to plan our journey too far ahead. No need to burden ourselves with doubts and fears as to the obstacles that may bar our progress. We cannot take more than one step at a time.” - Orison Swett Marden

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Goals, needs, and motives.

People's behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives. - Thomas Mann

Pele - Goddess of Fire

Snapped Noose.

I love the comment...

I love the comment, “You must love designing for a living.” At that point I usually start to laugh or break into uncontrollable tears. — Andrew Lewis

Better known as... (you place name here)

“Love is bullshit. Emotion is bullshit. I am a rock. A jerk. I'm an uncaring asshole and proud of it.” - Chuck Palahniuk

Design Process

The design process, at its best, integrates the aspirations of art, science, and culture.
— Jeff Smith


"Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries." -- Corita Kent


“We are sick with fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas. Meditation is therefore the art of suspending verbal and symbolic thinking for a time, somewhat as a courteous audience will stop talking when a concert is about to begin.” - Alan Watts

"Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason" - Jerry Seinfeld

Who are you going to believe?

"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx


“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams”


“The only thing you live to regret are the risks you didn't take”


“Life lives, life dies. Life laughs, life cries. Life gives up and life tries. But life looks different through everyone's eyes.”

True Friends...

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” - Elisabeth Foley

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” - Oprah Winfrey

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” - William James

Saturday, November 7, 2009


You are born an artist or you are not. And you stay an artist, dear, even if your voice is less of a fireworks. The artist is always there.  - Maria Callas  


“In a controversy, the instant we feel anger, we have already ceased striving for truth and have begun striving for ourselves” - Abraham J. Heschel


Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell. - JOAN CRAWFORD 

I will not die an unlived life

I will not die an unlived life,
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire,
I choose to inhabit my days,
To allow my living to open me,
To make me more accesssible,
To loosen my heart until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
To live so that what comes to me, as seed,
Goes to the next as blossom,
Then goes on to bear fruit.
Dawna Markova.

Mother Teresa

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
Mother Teresa

Have you ever been in love?

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love”.
- Neil Gaiman


“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Lost hope. Lost faith. Lost.

You know how when you were a little kid and you believed in fairy tales, that fantasy of what your life would be, white dress, prince charming who would carry you away to a castle on a hill. You would lie in bed at night and close your eyes and you had complete and utter faith. Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Prince Charming, they were so close you could taste them, but eventually you grow up, one day you open your eyes and the fairy tale disappears. Most people turn to the things and people they can trust. But the thing is its hard to let go of that fairy tale entirely cause almost everyone has that smallest bit of hope, of faith, that one day they will open their eyes and it will come true. Meredith Grey


One day, a scorpion looked around and decided that he wanted a change. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river. The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. "Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?" But knowing all about scorpians, the frog said, "If I let you on my back, you will sting me and kill me!" The scorpian argued, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!" Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. "Alright then...how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN sting me & kill me?" said the frog. "Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!" So the frog agreed to take the scorpian across the river. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws sticking into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current. Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs. "You fool!" croaked the frog, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?" The scorpion shrugged, "I could not help myself. I'm a scorpian, it is my nature." Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river. Attributed to Aesop

Do good.

“That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Doing the right thing is not easy.

It can hurt. It can make you cry. It can take all words from your mouth.

Doing the wrong thing may feel good, but do not be fooled. That feeling will not last. And it may be the last thing you ever do. One bad deed, just one, can wipe out a life of good.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Hi Laura, We have received wonderful comments on the annual report, even requests for extra copies to share with family. You'll especially love the one below.

Kudos to you!!!! And thank you!!!!

Dear Ms. Wesley, I have read the UCHS Annual Report with gratitude and admiration. I have a background in publishing, design, printing, concept, and have taught it at several schools including Columbia Teachers College and Pace University. My wife and I are featured from Covenant Place. Personally, we are both pleased and delighted and look forward to sending copies to our children. The pictures are wonderful, and the copy sensitive, accurate and exactly as we had hoped it would be. I went on to read the entire booklet, and was greatly impressed with its concept, design, layout and execution. You show a remarkable skill, talent and artistry, as fine as I've ever witnessed. Thank you so much, and wishing you all the best in your life and career. You've done a superb job. Sincerely, Ed Devany