Tag Archives: love

America, I love you. Please say you love me, too.

Hi my love,

It’s hard to find the right words to say exactly how I feel, but I’m going to try. Last night, when you told me that you didn’t love me anymore, it was the worst thing you could have ever said, America. It nearly killed me.

But, waking up this morning, I refuse to believe you really meant it. If you did mean it — if you do mean it — then that would mean I never knew you at all. And that is something I cannot accept.

Yes, times have been tough and I have seen the flashes of hate behind your eyes. I know I’m not perfect and can be distant, but we’re supposed to be in this together, right? We both want the same things.

Not everything has to be so black and white all the time.You’re not blue and I’m not red; you’re not an angel and I’m not the devil. Remember when we first started out that we agreed that we’d stick together through thick and thin; through sickness and in health?

I’m willing to work on this if you are. Let’s go “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,” as Rumi says, and meet out in the field to get to work. Let’s lay down our weapons and rediscover our love.

If not for me, please just give it another try for all of our children, America.

I am you and you are me…. and I love you, America. Please say you love me, too.

George Saunders on the writing life

George Saunders published an essay in The New Yorker on the influence of his teachers throughout his writing life. Here are some notable excerpts from the piece:

Writers are often seen as reclusive, shy, keep-to-themselves types. While at Syracuse, George learned a different and perhaps more valuable lesson; that writers are supposed to be interesting to the people they meet. If they’re not interesting in real life, how are they supposed to be interesting in print?

  • “We are supposed to be—are required to be—interesting. We’re not only allowed to think about audience, we’d better. What we’re doing in writing is not all that different from what we’ve been doing all our lives, i.e., using our personalities as a way of coping with life. Writing is about charm, about finding and accessing and honing ones’ particular charms.”

Writers are professionals at rejection. A majority of people can’t handle rejection in any form, but imagine putting in hours and hours of time and brainpower into a piece only to have it dragged through the mud by a reviewer, or worse, not have it see the light of day at all? George recounts a time when his college professor, and published author, Doug Unger faced a bad review with grace:

  • “Doug talks about the importance of being able to extract the useful bits from even a hurtful review: this is important, because it will make the next book better. He talks about the fact that it was hard for him to get up this morning after that review and write, but that he did it anyway. He’s in it for the long haul, we can see. He’s a fighter, and that’s what we must become too: we have to learn to honor our craft by refusing to be beaten, by remaining open, by treating every single thing that happens to us, good or bad, as one more lesson on the longer path.”

And a few other poignant lines:

  • “I’d forgotten: literature is a form of fondness-for-life. It is love for life taking verbal form.”
  • “Good teaching is grounded in generosity of spirit.”
  • [On providing someone undivided attention while they speak and/or share with you] “He is, with his attention, making a place for her to tell her story—giving her permission to tell it, blessing her telling of it.”

Muriel Rukeyser: Effort At Speech Between Two People

From Theory of Flight (1935)

Effort at Speech Between Two People

Poem via American Studies at the University of Virginia.

Speak to me.		
Take my hand.       
What are you now?
I will tell you all. I will conceal nothing.
When I was three, a little child read a story about a rabbit who died, 
in the story, and I crawled under a chair: a pink rabbit: 
it was my birthday, and a candle burnt a sore spot on my finger, 
and I was told to be happy.

Oh grow to know me. I am not happy. I will be open: now I am 
thinking of white sails against a sky like music,
like glad horns blowing, and birds tilting, and an arm about me.
There was one I loved, who wanted to live, sailing.

Speak to me. 
Take my hand.
What are you now?
When I was nine, I was fruitfully sentimental,
fluid   :   and my widowed aunt played Chopin,
and I bent my head on the painted woodwork, and wept.
I want now to be close to you. I would link 
the minutes of my days close, somehow, to your days.

I am not happy. I will be open.
I have liked lamps in evening corners, and quiet poems.
There has been fear in my life. Sometimes I speculate
On what a tragedy his life was, really.

Take my hand.    
First my mind in your hand.       
What are you now?
When I was fourteen, I had a dreams of suicide,
and I stood at a steep window, at sunset, hoping toward
death : if the light had not melted clouds and pains to beauty,
if light had not transformed that day, I would have leapt.
I am unhappy. I am lonely. Speak to me.

I will be open. I think he never loved me:
he loved the bright beaches, the little lips of foam
that ride small waves, he loved the veer of gulls:
he said with a gay mouth: I love you. Grow to know me.

What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle ... yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving... Take my hand.    
Speak to me.

After a while

After a while you learn
the subtle difference
between holding a hand
and chaining a soul

and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises

and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child

and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.

After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much

so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can
endure …

That you really are strong…

That you really do have worth…

And you learn and you learn…

With every good-bye, you learn.

– Veronica Shoffstall (1971)

You are so special to me

You are so special to me.

It’s in the signature of grandma’s letters. It’s a phrase reiterated in person and it’s a phrase that resonates after her death.

It’s a phrase to remember her because throughout my life she proved it was true.

I will remember her hands as they stirred through the steps to creamy, homemade fudge in an attempt to satisfy the sweettooth we’ve all inherited.

I will remember her excusing herself from a room of company only to reappear with a slash of bright pink lighting her lips. Always a lady.

I will remember her candor in agreeing Pop Pop was a good looking man — but only when he had hair.

I will remember her hands as never still even after she could no longer sew or write. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

I will remember her hanging laundry from the clothes line behind her house as the wind whipped down from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I will remember last spring when she hobbled out to her vegetable garden, and having been dissatisfied with its state, bending down and weeding it herself.

I will remember the last time we sat on her porch on a beautiful spring day and her instructing me to listen to the birds, slow down and hear God.

I will remember her telling me that this is my life to live after I had decided to move to New York and was coming to terms with the real possibility that she could pass away without a goodbye.

I will remember her belief that I will return to Virginia because it’s where I came from.

I will remember her summoning the strength to whisper for the last time that she is proud of me.

I will remember thanking her for setting an example of how to live my life as a woman and as a Christian. And, I will remember when she could no longer speak, that I was able to say for her:

You are so special to me.