When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

-William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Though my favorite poetry comes from the ingenious minds of Robert Frost, William Blake and Allen Ginsberg…William Butler Yeats has always held a very special place in my heart. An Irishman with a fondness for the most transcendental aspects of life, I’ve come to find that Yeats always epitomizes my feelings surrounding the fleetingness of love. But I suppose, with the most permanent and profound love I’ve ever felt in my life as of late, I might have to digress to the sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning for a short while.

Until then, I hope this poem brings about that familiar tightening in the throat as it did to me the first time I read it. For what a wonderful feeling it is to experience something so crippling during our time on this earth…something that truly validates the most humane aspects of our existence. And, even greater so, that we had a man such as Yeats to show us how to take an emotion so painful and create something absolutely beautiful from it.

By a Lover

My Dear,

Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains.

For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.

Falsely yours,
Henry Charles Bukowski

Restaurant Week Grand Rapids

One of my favorite times in West Michigan is here, just on the cusp of my six-year anniversary of moving to Grand Rapids! Famous for hosting ArtPrize in the fall and winning Beer City USA two years in a row, Grand Rapids’ patrons have also developed a deep affinity for dining out. It seems that every evening is a busy one in the city as visitors and residents alike venture out to dueling piano bars, nationally-ranked breweries or farm-to-table restaurants. It’s no wonder Grand Rapids was named by Forbes as one of the top 15 emerging downtowns!

As a very young child, after attending etiquette classes, my mother made certain that I had the experience of being well-traveled. Born in New Jersey and living in numerous other states, I attended the opening of restaurants with my mother’s modeling-world friends and dined at the top of skyscrapers. This instilled an intrinsic need for me to enjoy all aspects of life (especially when it comes to fine dining), and it is to my mother that I am grateful for providing the groundwork that led to the life I now live.

However, being mindful of the food I ate was never a true priority for me until I came to Grand Rapids. It was here that I learned my favorite type of beer tastes “hoppy,” I discovered that the aroma coming from the bakery next to my apartment is a great wake-up call in the morning, and that being a vegetarian led to the best mood/skin/health improvement I’ve ever had. Grand Rapids not only provides dozens upon dozens of avenues to eat out (including my two favorite food trucks: What The Truck and A Moveable Feast), but it also provides the opportunity to eat well. From gluten-free to vegetarian to vegan, Grand Rapids covers it all…and aces the menu.

Whether my boyfriend wants to celebrate the success of another B-Movie Euphoria podcast or my girlfriends want to go out for a night-on-the-town, there is always a new restaurant for us to try. This August, no celebration was needed to venture out to either East Grand Rapids or into the city to try all the different Restaurant Week menus.

The restaurants Nick and I visited this go-around were Terra, Mangiamo, Brewery Vivant, The Mitten Brewing Company, CitySēn Lounge, El Granjero and The Melting Pot. My favorite was a tie between Mangiamo (for their delicious grilled Michigan peach with mascarpone and Michigan-maple balsamic) and The Melting Pot (for the dining experience. A first for me!). All were amazing, though, and I would highly recommend all of them!

If you would like a recommendation for a type of venue or restaurant, I would be happy to help! Until then, for all GR newcomers and habitants, remember the wise words of one of my favorite authors:

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” -Virginia Woolf

Dawn after The Dark Decade

How many excuses could possibly be made for my sudden disappearance from my blog? A great deal, I suppose, though none are a very appropriate excuse for an altogether absence from writing. I suppose life just happens that way.

In the past year, despite a few minor hardships that I’ve already somehow forgotten, 1.) I finally found the confidence to pursue a long-term crush of mine, which resulted in me finding the love of my life, 2.) I continued writing life stories for the terminally ill (while co-creating a cross-country team of life historians) before transferring my efforts to working with grieving children after the loss of a parent, sibling or close friend/family member, 3.) I moved to a beautiful new, hardwood-floored apartment in a wonderful neighborhood…the list goes on and on, and I wish so badly that I had shared these moments in some form or another as they were happening. Though this is no longer possible, I figured I should present one of my articles that was published this past April as a Midwest success story. Perhaps this will sum my life up the past few months…and enumerate all the good that the universe has bestowed upon it.

Nonetheless, I am very excited to be back. Wishing you all a fun end to your summer and an even better start to the autumn months ahead!

zee

Still there is a struggle, a deep and infinite wrestling that ruptures within me whenever I try to recall the events leading up to my time in Keokuk. Thus my recollection of what I call the “dark decade” before my arrival is a muddled one, ebbing and flowing endlessly, leaving me to believe I’ve somehow managed to hollow those years out from my life entirely. And, try as I might, I’ve never been able to pinpoint what exactly defined my sudden submission in leaving Michigan for Iowa.

I remember feeling indifferent. Austere, almost. The people who crumbled around me. The words that burrowed deep into their skin; round little bulbs protruding from ever-thickening layers of fat. They had to be hard to handle me. And still I felt nothing. I was destructive. I was reckless. I was dying.

It took me many years to realize this. The absence of feeling, the utter deficiency of emotion, was what almost ended my life. Without that awareness, that acknowledgement of heartache and weakness, I was incapable of understanding death. I was powerless against repercussion and consequence. And so I began suffering in a way that was foreign to me. Relentlessly and totally, we all began to suffer. For I wanted, no, I needed others to feel the pain that I could somehow not.

I’ve come to find there is something special in remembering if even just an aspect of that period in my life, and something even greater so in reliving it every now and then. Thus there will never come a time when an angry word would sound unfamiliar, nor would the wringing of worried hands seem at all strange to me. For is this not what unites us all, regardless of age and gender and language? Having the courage to again walk down into the valley to aid those presently blinded by a well-known darkness?

In an essay from The Practice of Psychotherapy, C.G. Jung states, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” That sudden realization was sweet, and it was met with an even sweeter surrender. For a fight used to come with cognizance; a brief struggle against feeling, born out of disdain for any sort of expedition back into the “dark decade.” Yet something waited for me there. And I believe, upon my own personal awakening, there was an alleviation of shame. A remittance of anxiety. It wasn’t that I was safe here. It was just that I was finally at peace with my past.

Drawing upon my time in Iowa always proves to be fruitful. It was there that I learned the necessary skills in creating the life I so badly wanted. I am now a personal assistant for an amazing employer, an invited TED Talk attendee, a writer of life stories for terminally-ill patients and a budding writer in West Michigan. I traveled through Europe and met some of the most fascinating people from all over the world. I broke the hearts of boyfriends and, in turn, had my heart shattered by others. I lived and I lost. I ached and I accomplished.

And so you see? We are all young, in one way or another, and we are all still learning. Do not focus on the “why” or the “when” or even the “how long.” Life will come. Life will drag you down into the valley and life will lead you out the other side. The road is long. You have time. Now is a time for reflection. For emotion and observation and healing. The “celebration” will come, I promise you that. Because, as Shauna Niequist said, “Sometimes the happiest ending isn’t the one you keep longing for, but something you absolutely cannot see from where you are.”

How Long, Diana?

I’m back, everyone!

Despite such an incredibly busy schedule, I finally decided to return to WordPress. What a vacation that was! In the meantime, while I gather my thoughts and delete my old writing portfolio posts, here is one of my [newly-acquired] favorite songs by Ezra Furman & The Harpoons. I thought it might be fitting for a day like today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y__nqonGyEo

Ten Wisdoms of The World

Though I don’t know all the ways of the world, these ten things I’ve found to be true.

1.) Drink water, preach protein:

“Respect your body. Eat well. Dance forever.” -Eliza Gaynor Minden

Cut out the junk. Drink water, tea, coffee (if you have to). For breakfast, especially, eat foods that are high in protein. Fast food does NOT count. Be kind to your body. Do yoga, go running, take your meds on a regular basis if you’re prescribed. And if you’re misdiagnosed, go see a doctor that knows what he’s actually doing. The wrong pills will poison you. And, if life gets really rough, you go right ahead and reach for that dark chocolate. Oh, and a good Merlot doesn’t hurt either.

2.) Travel often and in good company:

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” -Anais Nin

Find yourself in the foreign.

I’ll never forget the moment I stepped off the train in Paris. I was filled with the most indescribable feeling; I won’t even try to put that awareness…that sensation…into words for you. It was one of the most beautiful and exhilarating emotions I’ve ever had the chance to experience in life. I had promised myself, only two months earlier, if I could survive this…if I could make it out of the lowest low of my existence…then I would let myself, deeply and emphatically, live. And, when I finally stood upon the cliffs of Normandy in France the next day, I knew I had survived. I had climbed out of the canyon. Surrounded by two of my closest friends, I gave myself the greatest gift that could possibly be given in life. And do you know what that gift was?

The world.

So go see the city. Swim in the ocean. Drive through the country…roll down your windows, 90 mph, and blow your speakers out with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” Learn to live in a way that makes you feel alive.

3.) Accept that you are only human:

“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth. ” -C.G. Jung

How lucky are we to experience the good with the bad? To beg for forgiveness? To feel all that is hatred? To be completely and unflinchingly rejected? To pound our fists into walls and push our fingernails into our face, regretting and apologizing and threatening?

We are all young, in some way or another, and we are all still learning.

Some of us are riddled with disease and some of us are destroyed by disorder. And, more often than not, we are empty. For example: You will break some, perhaps many, people’s hearts…and this will change their lives forever. But know, in turn, that someone will also break your heart…and from that it may never heal. But we get to feel these things, these horrible feelings of loneliness and embarrassment, so that we may appreciate the profound feelings of love and belonging. Your mistakes, your remorse, your inability to change the past…these things mold us and carry us down the road of life. And, somehow, we end up in a place much more lush and breathtaking than before. Patience is key. Remember that the universe will take care of you…it will talk to you…if you have enough courage to listen and let it happen.

4.) Pick a personal religion:

“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Everything happens for a reason. Every, single thing. And, for those things, I am accountable for manifesting. That is where my personal philosophy begins.

Some people leave our lives forever and some people, the ones we didn’t think we initially needed, stay throughout the seasons. Some clouds settle over our lives and scattered rain falls down on us for decades. But just remember…YOU are the only one held accountable for your actions, and you will be the only one to answer for yourself at the end of your life. You absolutely cannot imply that another person or higher being dragged you toward your destiny. Once you have realized this, then will your life take the direction you want it so badly to go.

5.) Be passionate about your power and potential:

“Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.” -Charles Bukowski

If you’ve never heard the graduation song, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) produced by Baz Luhrmann, then you’ve never heard the line: “Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you.” And this is, so very much, true.

I was composing concertos in 2nd grade, though I didn’t have the confidence or self-discipline to pursue the piano. I started reading and writing at an alarmingly young age, yet it took me until my junior year of college to finally share my work with others. Do NOT rob yourself, and others, of your gifts in this same way. Pay attention to your talents. Cultivate your craft. If you’re good at painting…paint your life. If you can play the guitar…start a band. Create products of your potential and grace the world with them. Be confident, be inspired and be inspiring. Even if money is tight, go broke on your abilities. Push yourself. Don’t squander large pockets of your life on things or people that will take you nowhere. Go somewhere that not only makes you happy, but brings joy to the lives of others.

6.) You are a product of your generation:

“Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” -François Truffaut

YOU are a representation of your era. Learn to love the music, writers, directors, films, and artists around your age group. Get to know your parents and your relatives. Trace your family history. Learn to love the past with the same vigor with which you face the future. Watch the news, mourn with your country, volunteer when help is needed, read the newspaper, subscribe to your favorite magazines…find a way to BE HERE, in the now. Be a walking testament to the ways of the world…the times and the tribulations, the people and the progress. Tell your story and listen to the stories of others. You are an embodiment, a protest and a pattern…be proud of that.

7.) Find your anchor:

“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” -Helen Keller

Regard your friends as your family; for your nuclear family, by blood, tends to have an obligation to you. But your friends don’t need to stay in your life…they choose to do that. So take a few bullets for them. Keep those alive who have died. Write thank-you notes for gifts AND good deeds (preferably handwritten). Treasure the times spent with those who have cleared the canyon with you. Find your anchor in others and, in turn, anchor yourself for them. For the wake of life is wild. Sometimes you’ll find yourself above the wave, and sometimes you’ll find yourself below. But, every now and then, you’ll ride it…and you won’t ride it alone.

8.) Make peace with the past:

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” -Lewis B. Smedes

One of my mother’s and my favorite films is Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather.’ AMAZING movie and equally as amazing book by Mario Puzo. In the third film, Michael Corleone says to Vincent Mancini (his nephew), “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” I’ll never forget that line.

Hate will consume you. It will age you. It will eat you alive. Hate won’t even spit out your bones…but it will, most definitely, ruin you. There is a time to be angry, especially when what angered you is fresh, and there is a time to make peace. For some things and for some people, you should fight. For everything else, you should let go. This I know to be true, though I, myself, have yet to master it. We are all learning, expanding, hesitating…I just as much as you all. For this I wish all of you, as well as myself, the fortitude to fight without fury.

9.) Laugh:

“Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.” -Wavy Gravy

Life is hard. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Be serious, of course, when the time is right to be so. But laughter, deep and authentic laughter, is the key to a long life. Don’t be THAT PERSON who is easily offended. Laugh at yourself. Laugh in the company of others. Laugh at life…or you’ll never get out alive.

10.) Get to know yourself:

“There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.” – Shauna Niequist

One day you will die, and everyone you’ve ever loved…they, too, will die. Maybe you’ll be mourned, maybe you’ll be forgotten. On the road of life, you will walk through the season of death many, many times. But one time, soon or far away, you won’t be able to again cheat it. You won’t evade your ending. How do you want to be remembered? How will your legacy live on? What will speak for you when you, yourself, can no longer speak? Get to know yourself…your flaws and your strengths. Your beauty and your ugliness. Be many different people, if you must. Be solemn, if that so suits you. But always be all that you could ever be. That is the goal…the destination…of your alignment with the universe. Be whatever it is you so choose to be…but be that with all your might. Because, as Joseph Campbell says, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

As It Is, Infinite

http://diananowak.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wpgallery/img/t.gifI’ve always acknowledged the fact that everything happens for a reason, and it wasn’t until the better half of my life that I somehow found the strength to take accountability for those things. Admitting manifestation of both the “good” and the “bad” takes time…it takes hard truth and harsh consequences. It takes unfathomable grief and perpetual depression and unremitting despair to finally understand the reality you have created for yourself. But, in turn, it also takes the feeling of infinite happiness…the phenomenon of hope for yourself and your belief in the universe…to realize that you are the only one who could possibly conceive this.

I kept my feelings about this copy of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men to myself for a very long time, partly because I wasn’t exactly sure how accurately it was that I perceived them. And little did I know, as I had acquired this book, just how many it would illicit. I was standing in line to purchase ten or so books from John K. King’s Bookstore in Detroit. My arms full, my mother shaking her head at my lack of frugality, and my head racing. Henry Miller. Lawrence Durrell. Ken Kesey. Ayn Rand. But wait, what of my favorite author? Once more, I quickly flung myself out of line and back into another row of rotting books.

I was mindful of my environment. Words and faces are still very vivid to me. The crunch of dollar bills and the soft peeling of pages. Thus the note had found its way to me. Yet I was totally and precisely aware of everything but that. And after scanning over it once…maybe twice…I remember a stark inability to internalize that which I had just read. Try as I might, I cannot recall feeling much of anything…and looking back on that moment, I’m nearly certain that that is what scared me the most.

It took so long as “the present” to reach me before I noticed the thread. A delicate, little red thread that ran through those memories. And after noticing it, many months later, I began picking ever so slightly at its severed and fraying end.

So here is where that thread led me. This is where the note and the novel…my emotions and the substance of reality…have merged. Here is where the morgue of my mania lies, dormant and still. For this is the thread that took me back to the springtime of my life after being stuck in Lodi with my father for far too long.

_____

I had just returned from Paris, France in the spring of 2013 and knew my life would never be the same. And, somewhere even deeper so, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see all those changes for quite some time. It was frustrating, those growing pains that tore into my stomach and pulled at parts of my brain, but it was also quite exhilarating. Voltaic, almost. Little bits of electricity connected the ends of my hair to my fingertips to the air around my mouth. Something was stirring in me….ripping and rupturing in me.

It was May and I had just jumped into yet another relationship after three tireless years of other seemingly unending relationships. Nobody was very hard to replace, nor did they mean that much to me. I was rail-thin…flat-chested, yellow-tinged and altogether uninterested in food. My skin suctioned around my hips. Blood vessels popped around my eyes and seeped into my cheeks. I would forget to drink water for days…weeks, even. Sleep seemed less like a necessity and more like a chore.

And yet, somehow, I was awake. I was conscious. I was wholly, perfectly, completely alive.

It felt as if I had but only been asleep before then. For years! Decades! Perhaps even a lifetime! And it seemed to me that this onset of cognizance, in stark contrast to my former lifestyle of immobilization, was not circumstantial. This newfound recognition of self affected me deeply and yet it bothered me in a way that was reminiscent of a type of guilt I had felt many times before. But I was empirically functioning, and that felt phenomenal. Unparalleled. Fervent and intoxicating and, in the smallest of ways, somewhat intimate. For I had just climbed the cliffs of Normandy. I’d watched the sun rise from Volkspark in Berlin. I’d stretched out beneath the Eiffel Tower as it sparkled at dusk. And no one knew, not even I, that I was destructible. That my happiness was perishable. And it was when I started to realize this that I returned to Steinbeck…to William Blake…to the note.

I’ll never forget the day I found that Nobel Prize-winning author. I was living in Iowa, I was convinced I would marry my boyfriend within the coming year, and I had just received a package from my mother that contained John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. From there, it was The Red Pony. Then The Pearl. Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath and Tortilla Flat. What talent! What vision and proficiency and ingenuity. And after my first experience with Steinbeck, I would never feel or write or be the same way again.

William Blake, on the other hand, had been a favorite of mine since childhood. And I do believe, very strongly, that the most cramped and disparate parts of myself were formulated while discovering him. From age three to five, I raised myself. Inconsistently and credulously, I created a division of Diana that would ebb and flow constantly throughout my adult life. And I don’t think I ever really felt good about those parts of myself until I internalized Blake’s work.

To the untrained eye, William’s work would appear rather inane. But he developed his opinions over a lifetime filled with visions, periods of intense creativity and sudden “deep pits of melancholy. Melancholy without any real reason for it.” Today William would’ve been diagnosed as Bipolar… “the brilliant madness.” His love for the art of Dürer, Raphael and Michelangelo (another Bipolar) and his metaphysical experience with watching his brother pass is blatantly obvious in his work. His piece, “The Ghost of a Flea” is one of my absolute favorites.

Though these ideas…these poems and these paintings…were small, dangerous and outlandish, they were brilliant.

I think there is something special in being small, for I suppose that’s all I ever really could be…standing beneath so many a shadow. But though I may be small, I always found a way to be strong. There were many who came before me, Blake and Steinbeck, and still there are many more to come. I am but only a sliver. A fragment. A tiny, little tear in a grain of sand buried under miles of loam on the ocean floor. It was as if I was never even here at all. But it is in that inadequacy…in that triviality…that makes me infinite. For I was born between excellence. I was crushed at the hands of a horrible accident. I grew into a passion that was, somehow all at once, both furious and hypersensitive. And one day I will die a magnificent death. A horrible, hematic, wondrous death. And if those I’ve loved along the way can admit that I gave to them the most true, unconditional, passionate, magnanimous love they’ve ever been given…then I will, indeed, be infinite.

Below I’ve included a few of my favorite quotes, pieces of literature and poetry, and principles from William. You can see many of these ideals in my blog post from late last year: “The Ten Wisdoms of the World.” I hope they affect your life in some small way, because it was in the smallest of ways that they changed mine.

“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors. If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

“For all eternity, I forgive you and you forgive me.”

“Every Night and every Morn,
Some to Misery are born.
Every Morn and every Night,
Some are born to Sweet Delight.
Some are born to Endless Night. ”

“Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.”

“The true method of knowledge is experiment.”

A Fascination for Film

Film has always provided an abundant amount of inspiration for me. Luckily I found avenues, secret little tunnels, to start experiencing these movies at a young age. My oldest friend, April helped to expose me to many of my favorite books, bands and movies as she was four years my senior. Bret Easton Ellis’ ‘Rules of Attraction’ and New Order; April was paramount to the person I would one day become.

My mother was also another source of enlightenment for me, for she enjoyed the work of Stanley Kubrick and Francis Ford Coppola. I remember my first experience with Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ in my youth, perhaps eleven or twelve years old. I was in awe, and I quickly moved on to ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and then to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ It was through cinema that I found a way to walk through different periods…to visit new places…to live someone else’s life. From there, I explored foreign films. I learned how to defend myself from David Mamet’s ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.’ I set my sights on one day attending The Sundance Film Festival. I was so moved at so young an age, and that immense feeling has stayed with me all my life.

I’ve always been fascinated by the degradation of humanity; the unraveling of the American Dream. By nature, I’ve found that most people want…no, need…to feel good. Happy. Comfortable. Loved and wanted. Perhaps that is the reason why I was so drawn to Hubert Selby Jr.’s novel Requiem for a Dream…because it took me face-to-face with the truth; that loneliness, fear, abandonment and rejection are the most powerful precursors to change. And change is such an important staple of a life well-lived.

I first heard of Requiem when I was living in upstate New York. After reading the book, I avoided Darren Aronofsky’s film adaptation for many years. For Selby’s book had instilled in me an intrinsic fear of aging. This fear was gripping. It was arresting and consuming and utterly exhausting. It wasn’t until I embraced the death of the American Dream, and came to realize the complete fallacy of its ideals, that I finally set my sights on making it through the movie.

Just as I had expected, Aronofsky’s vision closely mirrored Selby’s. I witnessed my fears materializing with Darren’s prodigious talent. And though I may say that throughout my life I have been affected by the films of Lars von Trier, Harmony Korine, Gaspar Noé and Todd Solondz…none of them have impacted me as heavily as Darren’s.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie (located on page 143 of Selby’s novel) was Sara Goldfarb’s monologue about “the red dress.” Ellen Burstyn, a favorite actress of mine since seeing her in the 1973 film ‘The Exorcist,’ was nominated for an Academy Award after eliciting such sadness from audiences all over the world. Even cinematographer Matthew Libatique began to weep while filming Ellen as she recited it. Below I’ve included both the movie clip and monologue so you can see, with your own eyes, just how powerful the subject matter truly is. I hope it affects you in a similar fashion…as a very profound and well-written piece of American Literature.

Sara Goldfarb: I’m somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon, millions of people will see me and they’ll all like me. I’ll tell them about you, and your father, how good he was to us. Remember? It’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It’s a reason to smile. It makes tomorrow all right. What have I got Harry, hm? Why should I even make the bed, or wash the dishes? I do them, but why should I? I’m alone. Your father’s gone, you’re gone. I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I’m lonely. I’m old.
Harry Goldfarb: You got friends, Ma.
Sara Goldfarb: Ah, it’s not the same. They don’t need me. I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress and the television and you and your father. Now when I get the sun, I smile.

-Hubert Selby Jr. (1978)

Happy New Year!

In 2008, I attended a symposium at Rochester College featuring Elie Wiesel as the guest speaker. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wiesel was a Romanian-born Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. I was eminently moved after reading his autobiographical novel, ‘Night‘ when I was in grade school, and I actually attribute part of my inspiration to become a writer to this book. When my mother and I heard he was speaking about the power of forgiveness in Rochester, Michigan, we were ecstatic…and our outlook on absolution changed forever.

I thought I would end 2013 with a quote by Elie, because I believe so strongly in his life…his will to survive, his power to overcome and his ability to forgive. May you all travel down a road just as proficient, just as long and just as purposeful.

Happy New Year, readers!

“There is divine beauty in learning. To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you.” 

-Elie Wiesel (1928-)