The Solace of Leaving Early Discussion: What’s Up With This Theology Getting In My Novel, When All I Want to Do is Read?

So I thought I’d re-read the whole of Solace before beginning this discussion thread, and then I got about forty pages in and realized I knew every sentence.  I have memorized that book, essentially.  It happened the way many things happen to me:  I wrote every sentence over and over, perfecting each one (or so I hoped at the time), out of a combination of compulsiveness, panic, and perfectionism.  The Death Trifecta.  That said, if you bring up a particular point, rather than a general observation, please include the chapter or page number so I can look back at it.

As always, be kind to each other and patient with a variety of readings.  You’re all superlatively good people, but we can never hear it too often.

Published in: on October 14, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Comments (1,123)  


  1. Here’s a funny story – I was in Cleveland when I first read this book. I was reading it in my hotel room and had to stop to go to a concert with B.B. King. I had just got to the title’s eponymous section. I sat through the opening act, but just couldn’t get my mind off of the book, so I left the show before B.B. came on and walked back to the hotel to finish the book. Life imitating art. 🙂

    And I mean ART. Definitely one of my all-time favorites, always guaranteed to make me cry.

  2. JohnM, I know exactly what you mean — I left a play in the middle, in London. It was enormously liberating to simply do what I wanted, rather than to go on imagining I was trapped either by convention or because I was mildly (rather than wildly) enjoying what I was watching.

  3. I’ll be honest…the first time I read this book I was profoundly irritated. I wanted to dunk Langston in cold water, and get Amos to grow a religious pair.

    Oh…oh…my! I was just a baby. A stupid baby. I myself was very entrenched in that whole religion-of-family thought process that Jack had (I am now convinced I was also mentally ill at the time. My husband was very patient.) and I got really pissy about people who saw it as dangerous.

    I am about halfway through it the second time (5 years later) and I love Amos, I identify with him. Langston still bugs me, but I know she is kind of supposed to, and I identify with her too. I used to be so much like her…spoiled and petulant, and delicate. I still am in many ways but I grew past it, and if I remember the book correctly she does too, that is one of the main points (I’ll have it done by tomorrow.)

    Of course, Haven, you are the queen bee of Hoosier Lit. I have become convinced of late that you follow me around with your spies, and always have. But then I remember, nay, it’s just Indiana. What was evermore shall be, and you will be there to record it, even things we didn’t know could be described.

  4. I missed the Iodine discussion due to a trip to visit the In-laws a week after they were here visiting…I know I’m just a glutton for punishment. I just started re-reading Solace. Here is my brief, nonsensical comment on it since I’m tired and have 250+ emails to catch up on:

    From what I recall from the 1st and 2nd readings is that I loved Langston and AnnaLee the most. Don’t get me wrong I loved Amos, Epiphany and Immaculata, too, but the women shared more than just DNA. Each wanted the other to be someone different than who they are while not realizing they’re similar.

    I loved how Amos and Langston struggled with theology – I think a great number of us do. I still have that fear of being inside churches. I also loved how Amos and Langston(albeit briefly) appear in The Used World, and that Taos is in Something Rising. Is it possible to fall in love with characters?

    Sher – Can you send some of your energy this way?

  5. Oh god yes, Brandon, it’s possible to fall in love with characters. I adore the ones in this book — particularly Amos, Langston, and AnneLee.

    And I agree that Langston and AnnaLee each want the other to be something other than who they are, they also desperately want to please one another. Remember how Langston grinds her teeth against wanting to be easy for her mother, vs. doing anything in her power not to lower her standards.

  6. This was such a perfect novel for me that I’m paradoxically (sp?) both drawn to its discussion/interpretation and don’t want to hear a single word about it. For me it was about redemption and salvation, topics that can only be experienced. Haven, the fact that you were able to personify them in this book makes me dizzy and grateful.

    I read this in one sitting, outside on our patio on a warm spring afternoon and received second degree burns that left me with weird sun spots on my legs.

    Totally worth it.

  7. I do remember Langston and the jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding. Although, their relationship isn’t quite as severe as AnnaLee’s relationship with Grandma Wilkey. My mother and I have a relationship that nearly mirrors Langston’s and AnnaLee’s.

  8. I’ve been reading a chapter at a time and then coming back and checking this page. I’ll say it again.

    I was a dumbass. This book is great.

  9. Kate, you don’t have a dumbass bone in your body, girl chile.

  10. I remember reading this on my lunch hour, sitting on the Circle in downtown Indy. Forgive me… I’m doing this straight from memory and I may have the quotation wrong. It went something like “she could feel him staring through the back of her head and when she turned she saw her children in his eyes.” It just made me weep. Yeah, I’m getting soft in my old age. 😉

  11. JimShue: ” . . . I was going to say something funny, I can’t remember what, but when I turned around he was looking at me in an amazing way, his beautiful face, the curve of his mouth, I felt like I was looking at my own sweet, sweet children. That’s what happened. I saw my children, and I smiled at them.”

  12. I was very affected by the description of Alice…how she is one of those girls that people just dismiss entirely, but she had a beautiful soul, she was talented, thoughtful. I talk entirely too much, more than anyone I have ever met, and I surround myself with quiet people, and I have to fight this idea that I have that those who are quiet are not forming opinions, or living rich inner lives. Of course they are! Moreso than those with the diarrhea of the mouth, of course.

  13. JimShue: I loved that and “She glanced at Amos, who was watching her with an expression so pained and tender that she felt something travel up her spine, a jolt of recognition, news; no one had every looked at her that way. Not once in her life.”

  14. I fell in love with this book. It was my first Haven Kimmel. I adore Langston, with her little too-cool-for-school self stomping around town, annoying everyone with her irritating self-centeredness (I’m not one of those who likes unflawed protagonists). I instantly recognized her as someone in extreme pain, who is not purposely stubborn, but whose sadness has stunted her ability to see the truth of what’s going on around her. And then, oh my, the girls…almost too hard to read what they went through. And Langston is the last person who should care for them, damaged as they are–except…she’s the perfect person to do it. She is exactly what they need, and they bring her back to life. Souls in pain, drawn to each other. And of course, I am IN LOVE with Amos–please tell me he actually exists. I mean, unkempt, tortured, but relentless in his attempt to the best person he thinks he’s supposed to be–sigh. Anna Lee was the character I had the most trouble with–she was so annoyingly perfect, loving everyone unconditionally, all-knowing–until I realized that she was bringing up all the guilt I have in my relationship with my own mother. (Interesting that she’s my dad’s favorite character.) Not sure how much sense I’m making after midnight, but I wanted to put a word in about this amazing novel, which incidentally began my Haven obsession.

  15. THAT’S IT! That’s the passage that made me weep openly in the middle of a lunchtime crowd on the steps of Monument Circle. Just an absolutely gorgeous description of falling in love at first sight and seeing your whole future right in front of you.

  16. pg 180 Langston talks about the people of the midwest being entirely outwardly directed and having no inner life…yes. My dad’s family illustrates this better than I have ever seen. It’s why he moved away 30 years ago and never came back.

  17. Yes, their love story is one of the best ever! I mean, they don’t even meet until 2/3 of the way into the novel (maybe even later? I don’t have it on hand) but witnessing the slow but sure inevitability of their romance was perfection. It made me wish for everyone to find their best, truest match.

  18. Brandon – I will send you another sockmonkey, dear!

    Just tucked Hubby in for the night and look what happens, yippee!

    Off the top of my head, I kept waiting in Iodine for Langston . . .

    I loved the way different character’s pop up in the different books . . .

    have to go get my copy from upstairs

  19. Isn’t it poetic that due to such tragedy love is found. The love Langston finds within those girls, and the love Langston and Amos find for each other. A door was closed but windows were opened. Death came but lives were revived. Circle of life.

  20. pg 145 “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us” Kafka

    “I believe at a certain age it becomes imperative to reread the books of childhood and youth. Else we may go to the grave not knowing who we are or why we lived!” Henry miller

    Haven, I love the way you stash all these treasure quotes, within your own prose!

  21. Amos – his musings are so “secular” – I love that he has the wisdom and strength to question his own world view.

  22. My goodness, don’t forget Alice, the artist!!!

  23. I really want to know what secrets Lila “wept through every service” . . . pg 37

    I have this annoying habit of crying everytime I am in church. Usually during the hymn singing – esp. if they sing “It is well” or “In the garden”

    People think it is because I am not right with God, but really I just weep for that little girl I was, who couldn’t find any peace in those walls as a child. It is supposed to help, and it just never did. Nobody did.

  24. Where’s Linda? Linda – remember our conversation earlier today? Pg 186 “She’s like a little gerbil on a wheel.”

  25. I always cried in church, like every Sunday. My pastor used to see me coming and he’s just pull out the tissues.

    My husband is playing Rock Band (it’s his tension reliever after a long day at school & work) and surprise, surprise, Solace and Hungry Like the Wolf DO NOT MESH WELL.

  26. Kate Cake,

    weird, kwinky dink – my birth father drove away from Crawfordsville IN when I was an infant . . . then I met him once when I was 4 and again when I was 12 – he literally dropped off the face of the earth. To this day he will not cross the state line of IN or IL – he lives in FL.

    I am torn between horror and nostalgia about the midwest. I try not to let the one outweigh the other, because I have such superlative childhood memories, and I would never trade them to forget the bad.

  27. pg 11

    Amos doing his “human drillbit routine, in which he turned from his right side to his stomach, and from his stomach to his left side . . .”

    this was great, I call it my “Sher on a Rotisserrie” and it is the epitome of insomnia

  28. That’s how I feel, too. I actually have a perverse love for all my bad memories, actually.

  29. because it is a part of the whole . . .

  30. So I always wondered how it is that Langston ? made a photographic appeance in Something Rising.
    I mean her name is right there on the back of the picture in something rising is this the same Langston ?? I have to beleive it is.

    Sorry I dont have the page # for her appreance in Somethin Rising but I wonder how many of you noticed.

  31. we can’t deny it, because then we would be inauthentic and our souls would limp, like Colt did

  32. pg 225

    “past isn’t dead”~!

  33. Michael T

    Taos is Thomas, Langston was his sister . . .

  34. Sher – HA HA. I do the same…except I have to manage to not disturb the dog on one side and the cats on the other side.

    Pgs 210-211. I love the smack-down of Grandma Wilkey.

  35. It is also exellent that Amos cares enough to question his beliefs and
    as oppsosed to one of the
    “blessed ones” who can follow blindly with total conviction and no doubts

  36. now that I was diagnosed as a Paraphasic (thanks to Brandon) I just get up, get on this blog, go down to the studio, I USE that energy – and sleep later, or not at all and I AM SO HAPPY to not be fighting my own body, soul.

  37. Oops, I meant polyphasic, although I am probably paraphasic, too

  38. Yep – I am Paraphasia is a notable feature of aphasia in which one loses the ability of speaking correctly, substitutes one word for another, and changes words and sentences in an inappropriate way. The patient’s speech is fluent but is error-prone, e.g. ‘treen’ instead of ‘train’. Thanks wikipedia

  39. Correction, Sher. It’s Polyphasic. 😉 I need to get to sleep…but can’t. So y’all are stuck with me for a while.

  40. Oh, I’d love to stay, but my computer keeps fighting me to restart for updates… and I think my body is wanting to reboot also.

  41. great point, that is one thing that always bothered me about religion and bible class – that if you questioned something you were “obstanite” or a “doubting Thomas”

  42. So Amos was very Brave to be individual, it seems like that is one of the benefits of Quakerism . . . I am very intrigued by that Freedom

  43. pg 194…those people

    “entirely outward-directed” . . .at the shallowest possible level, and simply act. They have no concept of an inner life”

  44. Brave = Langston Braverman. Was I slow to the boat on this one?

  45. omg I missed it he is the missing brother damn I cant beleive I missed it I dont feel foolish just sitting here with my mouth open and well maybe a bit foolish

  46. omg…I am so nostalgic, and on pg. 184,

    …nostalgia being a very specific manifestation of grief

    holy moly

  47. Michael T – don’t feel bad.

    I have this insane form of photographic memory, which makes it easy to retrieve details from one book to another . . .

    it is unhumanly

  48. Langston’s appearance in Something Rising–and the fact that it meant her brother had survived–marked the weepiest, most joyful moment I’ve ever had with contemporary fiction. Oh, boy, did I notice. And I made sure everyone I’d encouraged to read both books noticed as well. Some of them hadn’t caught the reference and when I told them I felt Santa Claus delivering free cars from Oprah.

  49. And Haven does this thing, so you begin to look for those cross-overs . . .

  50. So, where is LILA’s story . . . I haven’t re-read the other two to make sure I didn’t inadvertently miss her

  51. I’m on page 213…gah, the HONESTY.

  52. cdm – yes, it was so exciting to know it was him and that he had, somewhat, pulled his life back into some sort of order!

  53. Well I need to see if there was any other reference than the picture there must have been… its just been awhile since I read those 2 books

  54. I hope I was supposed to say that, maybe that cat was supposed to stay in the bag

  55. Btw this so good for me I wanted so much for years to talk to someone about these books. This is really a great gift for me

  56. Hooray for Michael T – he found the PERFECT place!

  57. Jim Shue – beat that computer . . .
    Brandon, glad you are hanging in there . . .

  58. Ha – I like how the ladies of Haddington enjoy their “Pep” pills and so forth!!!

  59. I really have found the perfect place.
    I mention in the last discussion that I was down with bronchitis and needed a rain check. Plus I am just having to read Iodine again I had a hard time with it the first time.
    And dont worry thanks for giving me a clue I just rember the picture with the name Langston on it. I need to see about this yea !!

  60. Or you could just tell me more Sher

  61. I like Langston’s Irreverence. But then we see in Used World that she will sneak in church to watch Amos preach, she honors and respencts him, even though they may not agree with everything.

    I think that is the makings of a great relationship – acceptance.

  62. See I think the triology is pretty decipherable, but IODINE, I think we are supposed to try to piece that one together ourselves . . .???

  63. Yes I got all the peices out the fist time thru now I am reading to put it together

  64. Michael T., I believe the passage is on p. 186 of SRLS. If I remember correctly. Cassie slips a photograph out of a frame and sees “Taos and Langston” written on the back, and it’s clearly the man Cassie knows by a different man. The same swingset is made reference to at the beginning of SOLACE, when Langston imagines all the things she might find in Heaven: “In Heaven she would see again the wooden swing-set where her brother Taos and she used to linger as children, he so fair-haired and she so dark. She would see his legs shooting out with enough force to propel him higher and higher, nearly out of sight, the dying summer light held captive by their simple joy.”

  65. Break my heart moment:

    pg 196 when Walt pre-pays for anything Langston wanted at the diner . . .

    I would die for a Daddy like that

  66. Hasn’t everyone always longed for heaven to be like a thrift store of our memories?

    I always think of:

    A mirror shaped like an apple

    My leather crayon case from The Smokey Mountains

    The dolls I left at my friends house, including tiny sweaters my mother knit. I didn’t like that girl, and it was easier to never get my dolls back than to ever see her again.

  67. Sher mentioned The Used World, so I guess it’s kosher to mention that Amos comments on Langston’s joy at learning her brother isn’t lost. I’m not sure we know how she found out. But years of studying the prodigal son in Sunday School washed over me when I read it.

  68. I think Sarah must be found in another book, too, but I haven’t figured that one out yet. pg. 166-167

  69. didn’t Taos call Langston at some point? But that was probably in another book . . .

  70. The old gravel pit we spent summer days swimming in My
    1969 Firebird and the smell of gun cleaning solvent while cleaning guns with my Dad

  71. I don’t remember any of this. I should know by now to give every book a reading 2 or 3 times.

  72. Kate I did 2-3 times and still missed some of this !

  73. hah – memories

    playing with adventure people in the dirt piles (which were dumped in our yard for like 5 years)

    my holly hobbie pillow I clutched every night

    the old washtub in the east field where easter eggs were hidden every year

  74. Dirt piles are every childs heaven
    (A vitual treasure trove of possibilities)

  75. My kids are afraid to get dirty *sigh* It’s not me. I try my best to encourage it. I’m not like this woman I know who chases her daughter with baby wipes the whole time we are at the playground.

  76. Of course connecting IODINE to SOLACE was tricky, because they take place in two very different worlds, but I did it with a linguistic trip. On the first page of chapter 1, Amos Awake, he makes reference to waiting for sleep to overtake him with ‘a shadowy nod.’ In IODINE, after Trace spends the night in the hospital with Colt, she writes him a sonnet called ‘Vesperal,’ the final couplet of which is:

    I accept this shadowy grace and nod;
    I am your bride — I have forsaken God.

    There are very slight references from one book to the other (like that), throughout.

  77. I’m back. Computer relaunched (I’d like to launch it! I think I need a new one.) can’t sleep, so I’ll spend time with by fellow blog babies.

  78. Pg 255. I had forgotten that Walt shot Strife in the chest.

    Meth labs and usage and shooting of dogs in Solace and Iodine…

  79. oh sigh . . . dirt piles . . . what a haven they were (no pun intended)…

    also I keep looking for “Night Mare” in the other books, like in Iodine, and Something Rising . . . I just LOVE that phrase!

  80. Yes Haven
    I have done that with linguistics in conversation just because I like too sometomes and no one else knows. Well till now maybe

  81. pg 136, Used World

    Amos mentions the missing brother Taos, the phone call to Langston

  82. I somehow made it up the stairs with an open laptop, a cell phone (perilously close to the glass of ice water), and 3 haven kimmel books . . . I have conquered the world

  83. Oh Sher…oh my!

    I cannot tell you how many keyboards I have ruined. My husband practically threatened me when he bought me a laptop…I am in awe of his trust.

  84. There is a HUGE connection between dogs — it cuts directly through all four novels. Germane and Strife (and how Strife dies); Poppy’s dogs in SRLS; Bandit in TUW; Weeds in IODINE. Remember Black Jack’s cemetery dogs — the ghost dogs only Hazel can see running across her haunted property? They are the same dogs Trace sees, the ones who run at her and scare her to death, the ones who are waiting for her to be thrown in a ditch. Claudia sees them to, during the snowstorm in TUW, three dogs lying in a field with snow blown up against their sides. And then of course there are the Two Dogs, Candy’s coon hounds.

  85. “My wife, Langston. She had a brother who disappeared thirteen, fourteen years ago; they’ve never heard of or from him in all that time. Recently she got a call from him.” “He was cautious, didn’t tell her where he was, but he sounded, in her words, as if he’s thriving. I’ve never seen her the way she was right after that phone call. She’s the moon and the stars to me; I thought I knew everything about her. And yet I’d never seen her unreservedly happy before.”

  86. oh time (at band camp)

    I spit red wine all over my laptop when I was researching the song “Que Sera” for my mom’s birthday party and came across a sermon about the satanic message contained in the philosophy of the song, I had to use a wireless mouse for weeks while it “absorbed” the wine???

  87. 230 Amos thinking of Tolstoy…I have frequently thought the same thing. Are happy families all alike because they don’t EXIST?

  88. Wow !!
    some of that was there in a part of my brain (dogs yes dogs) now it is in a place I can identify with

  89. ooo, I caught the dog references, especially the three’s in Iodine, but I am still cross referencing the 3’s in Iodine . . .

    you are just the sharpest knife in the drawer, Ms. Kimmel!

  90. Haven – I just fell over. I didn’t connect Black Jack’s cemetery dogs before. *slaps his forehead* Oh, how I LOVE TUW and after reading it 3x never once did I connect that with the others.

  91. Happy Families:

    I think it is “germane” to the child – for instance my little sister thinks our family was perfect.

    My husband’s worst memory is having his soccer shoes burnt in the oven when his mother tried to dry them . . . but his brothers remember her as mommy dearest . . .

    I don’t know, would you rather remember Leave it to Beaver or
    Wolf at the Table? Mine is somewhere in between, closer to Roseanne with scenes from Wolf at the Table or Bastard out of carolina

  92. People who know my family always compare us to The Brady Bunch. They are so shocked at the dark underbelly I hint at. I can only assume that the love we have is similar to what Haven and Melinda have described “Having the same memories of The Trenches.”

  93. perfect analogy, Kate Cake! I have thought about that connection you mention about Haven/Melinda . . . that we siblings can be like POW’s that way.

  94. Okay, kiddos. I HAVE to get some sleep. 7am is nipping at my heels. G’night.

  95. Goodnight Brandon!

  96. party pooper . . .

    sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite, Brandon – I’ll send you another sockmonkey tomorrow!

  97. Wait…Sher is giving out SOCK MONKEYS???

  98. on Face Book – I tried to send you one today – I thought it was so funny….will double check if it went through…

  99. Some of you know this, but TUW was by far the hardest novel I ever wrote. It took me five years, and in that time I wrote, published, and toured for SOMETHING RISING; wrote, published, and toured for COUCH. I began the book 38 times. And then there was an argument about how much lesbo action I could put it in (which I wearily admit was from an editor who constantly wanted me to add heterosexual sex scenes — I would have chewed my own leg off first — but was uncomfortable ‘for my readers’ about the scene between Hazel and Finney on Christmas Day). In the end I didn’t change the Christmas scene, which is far more pathos than sex. Oh, but we aren’t talking about that book.

  100. Oh man I never remember to check that stuff. My friend Derick sent my mom a plethora of virtual alcoholic beverages and she had no idea.

  101. Goodnight, Brandon! Soon you shall have Stumpy and I shall have Gary!

  102. I can’t even remember any heterosexuals IN that book.

  103. No, she wanted me to put heterosexual sex in EVERY book. It finally reached a, forgive me, climax with IODINE, when she took me to task for NEVER showing any married sex with Jacob and Ianthe. My response was, “Ahem. I’m a Quaker, and also this book couldn’t be less about the sex between THOSE TWO.”

  104. I love TUW – it might be my favorite of your books, Haven.

    It is the only one I have read twice, through and through and listened to on audio. I am on my 2nd read of Iodine . . but there is something about TUW and how it connects so many of the other story lines . . . 5 years, that is a long pregnancy!!!!

  105. Speaking of The Used World, wasn’t it sad when Sandy Allen died?

  106. YES, boo hoo, Sandy!

    Re hetero sex (we can read Bertrice Small or Diana Gabaldon when we want that) AND the homosexual scenes are more about intimacy and not SEX . . . what is her/editor name??? I will beat her with a stick. But, you have a new one right!???

    Sometimes implication is more effective than explicitness, and I think you are so subtle, it can sometimes be missed that anything even happened!!!

  107. If I wanted heterosexual sex scenes I’d got re-read all the juicy parts of The Earth Children series by Jean Auel like I did OVER and OVER again in middle school.

  108. Wait! You can give out Sock Monkeys on FaceBook?!? Nobody is giving me away! I refuse to go!

  109. Wasn’t he hacking into her thigh ENOUGH??

  110. A short story about Solace
    I lived with a woman in Utah for a couple years we remained friends because I had the grace to move out after reading Solace I call her I was back in MI at the time to tell her about this great book. I had not spoken to her in 5-6 months (we had been apart for a few years)She said oh I read that months ago and it motivated me to go back to in school working on my masters.
    She had been out of school for 10 years.
    She now has her masters

  111. Sock Monkey you are coming home with ME! I’ll add you to the collection. I have one fat sock monkey in striped overalls, and one thin one with adorable button eyes. What kind are you?

  112. Behold the power of BOOKS. Even more powerful than CHEESE.

  113. My typing is terrible sorry its late

  114. Michael T – that is a beautiful story….

    SockMonkey, I will send you a sockmonkey if you get on FaceBook….I don’t know how else to do it . . .

  115. Haven? What kind of Sock Monkey am I?

  116. I haven’t had cheese in 4 weeks, I’m gonna die!

  117. Sock Monkey, get yourself a new avatar.

  118. SHER! Why?? No dairy?

  119. yep – that evil personal trainer, but is working

  120. Oh, blast! Another online account for me to have an avatar… when will it end?

  121. tell me about it! I now have Yahoo for the Blog Babies, my blog (which is destitute), Facebook, and 5 million art sites to keep up with it – it is INSANITY!

  122. Am I just too old at 46 can someone tell what a sock monkey is ?

  123. a sock monkey is a little virtual thing you can send to friends on FaceBook – it is like a pat on the back . . . as you send them and collect them, you earn more and more special sock monkeys, many of which are RARE and highly sought after . . . also you can “bite” people and increase the power of your Vampire . . . it is fun, I have only been on FaceBook TODAY and I am addicted.

  124. Well, if I do that, I wonder if I can move my blog off Blogger to WordPress? Haven, would Scott know the answer?

  125. yes, you can move your blog to WordPress, I have been considering doing the same thing for my Typepad account.

  126. Michael T:

  127. I see a sock monkey is a sock monkey !

  128. more sock monkeys

  129. yes, but you collect special ones on FACEBOOK, only if they are SENT to you . . . like a piggy bank?

  130. If the sock monkeys come after me in my dreans tonight you all will hear about it hehehe.

  131. If the sock monkeys come after me in my dreams tonight you all will hear about it hehehe.

  132. can you imagine how many sock monkeys Haven would collect on her FaceBook???

  133. JimShue, AlmostClouds moved to blogger to WordPress — she would know how. And of course Scott would too.

    Michael T., that is a heartwarming story, and more than enough reason for me to keep doing this weirdo job.

    Cake, wasn’t hacking into her thigh ENOUGH? PLEASE?

  134. chpt 11, pg 130

    Amos’s Notebook

    . . . one’s perspective is the village one occupies . . .

    so, so, true . . . and we can CHANGE it!

  135. Oh man, when Lucy freaks out on BUCK!!!

    . . . Amos tells her to shift her perspective.

  136. So Haven, I don’t have tons of questions for you about Solace (I think I actually get this one!!), but how much did you have to fight to get the theology in there? Was it difficult, or did they accept that it was part of the plot and backstory?

  137. Or did you say its my damn book I will write what I want

  138. I was SO glad she got to say that for Iodine!

  139. I fought to keep the theology. And I had to rewrite it and rewrite it until it had been reduced to the simplest possible phrasing. Different editor for IODINE, who changed virtually nothing. She had me clarify some things, but left the prose untouched.

  140. I can’t imagine what it would be without the theology.

  141. All right, Babies — I have to go to bed but will be up in the morning and will discuss anything you care to talk about.


  142. very good!

    I am still working on my Iodine theory, can we still post on that thread??? When do we get to SAY our theories??

  143. Haven called us Babies!

  144. email me your theory, Sher!

  145. Post on the IODINE thread whenever you wish. I had Scott add the last ten entries to the sidebar, so I can see when people post on a different thread.


  146. ok – I am on the last chapter of my re-read, I need to go back and double check a few things and will email it on the Blog Babies site? Hopefully tomorrow, before I head out of town on Thursday . . .

  147. yes, I will do the Iodine thing . . . I liked it when the sidebar, most recent comments things was up there, made it easy to see if there were new postings . . .

    sleep tight everyone . . . thanks for a great evening!

  148. The sidebar is a wonderful addition. It was gone for a while and I was sad.

  149. me too – love that sidebar . . .

    I’m tucking in with Iodine . . . night night

  150. OMG I feel a little manic after reading the first 123 comments, then I refresh after 10 minutes and there are 23 more! Yikeys! Is this why the dog keeps waking me up – because I’m missing something? Well, it’s more likely she sleeps all day when she’s home alone.

    I can’t type a thing about Solace when I’m feel all twitchy like.

    Solace is a place to find a little comfort in the grief that comes along with living life.

    So, I’m going back to bed now.

  151. Ok I am going to finish Solace and go nighty night too.

  152. This book has my heart. Oh yes.

  153. Good night all its a full moon and I can see my shadow outside a magical night and your all tucked in
    sleep well

  154. Brandon, seriously, I am almost like a gerbil on a wheel. Or really a hamster because they are chubbier. But, I say almost because I SLEEP AT NIGHT. Unlike most of the crazy people here.

    Haven, I loved the theology in Solace. That is one of the things that makes you so incredible to me. Thank you for allowing me to use the few brain cells I have left that some how escaped the vicious attack I had placed on them for so many years.

  155. Solace, The Great Midwestern Novel (I taught for three years in an Indiana town with parking on three sides of the courhouse for cars and one side for buggies,) is the book for people who don’t see what theology has to do with the real world, for the evil that’s out here (and reading that it’s based on a similar incident in Haven’s life — without the low satisfaction of Alice taking out her murderer herself — had my hair on end.) It’s also the living illustration of the advantages of a know-it-all central character, since Langston’s uppityness keeps the reader from finding out what really happened until the tension has escalated to the fainting point. The moment when the earth wobbles under our feet as we’re switched from seeing the world — as represented in her mother — through Langston’s eyes to the world through her mother’s eyes may be the subtlest moral point. Our own superior snottiness trips and keeps tripping over and over until we’re simultaneously reduced to realizing we know nothing about anyone (even why Langston is named what she is) and that we love everyone. (Well. Maybe not Grandma. But we see even her loss in Taos.)

    It is also, God love us, funny — the only possible response to this screwed-up world. From the human drill-bit onward, every page, whether it’s the laughter of recognition or of wordplay or of dissonance in Langston’s misunderstanding of the diner conversation. (Haven, I read that you were forced to insert three or four time-specific references? I’m sorry you were burdened with a boneheaded, arrogant editor, and I would love to see the original ms., but what splendid spackling. The seams never show.) I have wondered if the epilogue was your idea or not. My suspicion was that it wasn’t, but I love the way Langston talks to the clearly-differentiated girls so much that I would fight to defend whoever’s idea it was…

    Oh dear. Weeks of discreet lurking and now this wodge of text. But this book is a miracle and the independent bookstore I worked in closed after 60 years, so I no longer have a bully platform. But I promise you that when I came across “Taos and Langston ” on the back of that photograph I lofted, yipped and felt it was a personal blessing.

    Sorry. Somebody else talk about it.

  156. I love me some Linda!

    I know we’re talking about Solace here…but back to Haven’s comment on TUW. That book would have been ruined by more sex. The reason I loved Solace and TUW so much is that neither book were hypersexualized. When the characters and plots are so well written the sex isn’t needed. It’s more about the closeness and intimacy of the characters.

    Sher – Let me know when you post your theory as I would love to hear it.

    Kate – It was devastating when Sandy Allen died. The events that took place after were dreadful, just dreadful.

  157. I loved the story in Solace, but it’s the big questions that grip me long after reading.

    Anita on pg 14: “It seems to me that the farther away a person moves from thinking about what does or doesn’t achieve ultimacy, the happier he is. The happiest people I know in the world are the cruelest. They rest in it somehow.”

    and Amos, later on that same page: “We live lives that are completely broken and we know it.”

    I’d love to hear what the Blog Babies think of that discussion.

    Here in the Midwest (Kansas City), most people are something like Hoosiers (page 195: “We are an applied people.”–oh how I love that sentence). It matters deeply whether a man catches a football and what color you wear on Fridays in the fall (red–only red if you want to fit in).

    Those who recognize brokenness are, it seems to me, exceptions. Anne Rivers Siddons once called us the “abyss walkers.” We gather in coffee houses and bookstores and on this marvelous blog to connect with others who see what we see.

    Was Amos right? Do we all know we’re broken?

  158. I, too, was over joyed to find that Cassie had found Taos. I have not read Used World yet so I can’t be 100% sure of which character in Haven’s books is my favorite, but so far it is Cassie. For so many reasons.

    But, back to Solace. The thing I immediately identified with was Langston’s physical discomfort due to the heat and humidity. Oh boy, can I relate to that.

    (page 20) “An old, black, metal fan her daddy found who knows where was directed at her from atop her desk; the blades appeared to be lethally sharp, and the cloth-covered cord had been gnawed upon by generations of vermin. A hum that was also a whine, a serious and direct complaint, issued from the motor. She was nervous for a variety of reasons, and the possibility of an electrical fire was only one.”

    I still sleep with a fan on at night even when the air conditioning is on in my house. I have a blowing on me right now, as a matter of fact. It calms me. But when I was growing up, in New Jersey and then outside Philly, it got hot in the summer. We had no a/c (and my father is still like Langston’s mother– “Her family baked, they mildewed, they shone, they stuck to furniture. Langston’s mother, AnnaLee, outlawed any articulation of discomfort.”) and some nights our dog (Abby, a dalmatian, talk about a psycho breed) and I would sleep directly on the tile floor in the downstairs hallway, the only place to find some relief. Even now when I visit my parents in Naperville, IL, in the summer I am hot. And they have a/c and a house probably six times as big as the one I live in here in Tennessee.

    I also love the dogs in these books. I love that Haven crafts these characters as carefully as the human characters. Oh oh– my favorite story in Zippy is the one of her father having all the hunting dogs delivered to their yard and then the caged raccoon. Oh my gosh, I fell out of my chair laughing and I must have read that story to six or seven people. Brilliant! Talk about loving a “character”. I loved Bob Jarvis from that moment on.

  159. Oh, and here’s one of my favorite passages from this book or any other:

    “We are lured toward truth, beauty, and goodness. . .the lure is pulling at our hearts like some lucid joy inside every actual occasion and all we have to do is…

    Say yes.”

    To me, Solace is about the characters finding their way to Yes. Langston, Amos, the girls. . . they’re drawn to yes despite their natures and their histories, despite everything.

    The outfit Langston chooses for her wedding is a resounding yes.

    Amos on page 273: “I will, he had said, and he meant it. He meant it.”

    Melts me. Every time.

  160. I am reading Solace right now and am sorry to say that someone who shall remain nameless (one of my darling daughters) spilled milk on my book and the last quarter of the book is stuck together! I keep hoping that I don’t run into the stuck part yet but it’s coming soon.

    Since we are discussing dogs I would like to mention that my gut-wrenching favorite dog reference was in Couch when Zippy gets the Irish Setter for her dad from the hippies (in exchange for a haircut.) That chapter is filled with pure love and I adore it.

  161. Wait…what horrible thing happened after Sandy Allen died? I realized I was being obtuse. Sandy Allen was the world’s tallest woman, she was a Hoosier, she died a few months ago. I think I heard somewhere Haven partially based Claudia on her. As someone who bought a new Guinness Book of World Records every year as a child, and who loves documentaries on, for lack of a better word, “freaks”, as well as a fellow Hoosier, I was very saddened by her death.

  162. Vanessa…try steam! Ha, there we go again with Hints From Haven aka Heloise.

  163. Sandy Allen:

  164. I think it might be a lost cause but I’ll try. I couldn’t find a new copy in the bookstore so maybe it calls for desperate measures! And I tore a few pages trying to unstick them.

    I used to love Heloise…she seemed like a genius. But I digress…

    (It’s not often you can throw that into conversation.)

  165. ok – I’m out, I drillbitted and rotiserried all night (well from 4-7)unraveling in my mind the Iodine facts . . . so kids are off to school and I am off to bed

    I had all these brilliant realizations in the wee hours, but didn’t write them down and, now, – poof – their gone.

  166. Jerri:
    “It seems to me that the farther away a person moves from thinking about what does or doesn’t achieve ultimacy, the happier he is. The happiest people I know in the world are the cruelest. They rest in it somehow.”

    Many can appear outwardly happy but inwardly is another story, but since we only see what’s on the outside these people seem to be the happiest in the world. I used to be an expert at this. I could give anyone on the planet the biggest smile and the loudest laugh while I was dying on the inside. Another example, the other day i walked by a guy i don’t know in the mall, who by looking at him he could have been the happiest person on the the planet. But you know what he was doing? He was sitting on a bench with two other people insulting everyone who walked by. Hurt people hurt others.

    I have more to say about this book, but I’ll save it for later.

    P.s. Can we PLEASE preface posts with ***spoilers*** for those who haven’t yet read Iodine and The Used World? I just started The Used World, and I still don’t have Iodine. It’s frustrating reading about about characters dying, connections, and other things when I’ve yet to be surprised by my own reading. Maybe I’m selfish but aren’t we all?

  167. Cassie is my favorite Haven Kimmel character. I am certain I got stoned with her (Cassie, not Haven) at a party out in a field just outside of St. Meinrad, Ind., in 1983.

    But I will admit this on this blog (We’re all sympathetic friends, here, right? Non-judgmental. Right? Right?)

    I lusted after Langston…a hunk, a hunk of burning love, as Elvis would say: Ooo, ooo, ooo. I feel my temperature rising.

    Something about an aloof woman with brains, big brains, I’m talking about, that brings up my inner librarian. Yowsers.

    I hadn’t felt that way about any female since, since…I don’t know. I’m a fickle-eyed reader, so maybe Mar

  168. Kate – Many people disputed Sandy Allen’s status as the tallest woman when she died. Some said a chinese woman was taller.

  169. What???? That’s crazy. I never, ever heard that. I must google!

  170. There I go again. That was me, folks, up there.

  171. ….apparently my posts are sending themselves to Haven’s blog….

    Anyway, I was admitting to a major crush on Langston and comparing her to other literary characters who have captured my heart in 250 pages or less and was about to mention to Elizabeth Bennet

    But I digress.

    What struck me first, and this is true of all of Haven’s books, is its utter realism. I have known Langston, Amos, Alice, Annalee and Jack. I met them in a small town in Northern Maine and I met them again in Tell City, Ind. They are the local “intellectuals” who sit at the diner, puffing Marlboro Lights and drinking coffee after coffee, obsessed with what might-have-been, should-have-been; they are the ones who just get-on-with-it, day-by-day, despite their own doubts and misgivings, the things you would never hear about until you knew them as people for, say, 48 years; those who seethe and daydream of dystopia as they noodle on down Main Street in their shiny Ram pickups, listening to Rush Limbaugh over the XM radio; the ones who dare participate in their own lives, risking everything in the process…

  172. …a friend of mine is writing about Sandy

  173. I have read The Solace of Leaving Early more times than I have ready any other novel except for To Kill A Mockingbird. It is one of my bedside books, my sick books, my lonely-in-the-middle-of-the-night-books, my inspiration books, my bad day books, and I every single time I read it (or, more often, read passages of it at random) I respond to something new.

    The characters all kill me. I want to hug each of them and throttle each of them (except the girls; I do not advocate child-throttling, of course). The girls! Two of very few wise innocents in literature I have ever been able to fully believe. Haven said in a previous blog that she had no trouble with the idea of motherhood because you already knew the love of a child (I’m paraphrasing badly here). That is so evident in this book, and it because so important to me as a reader. It’s something I always revisit when looking at this novel: that having given and received love to a child who is not biologically your own is an experience unlike any other, and it teaches you things and prepares you for things and you don’t even know it’s happening.

    I could talk about this book for days, but I’m forcing myself to pick just one more thing that has stuck with me. That’s AnnaLee. Her strength, her grief, her quiet whisper of a presence in everything Langston does or thinks. Her innate acceptance of other people’s weaknesses, and how she tries to teach it to Langston and Amos, even though she knows you can’t teach a gift. The very idea that you can overcompensate so unconsiously when it comes to favoritism and love – a huge, scary thing for any person to look at squarely. And then – then! – the head on confrontation of the hard-edged danger of knowledge, of knowledge at the wrong time or in the wrong hands or presented the wrong way, and how it can turn a person hard and unrecognizable. And poor, poor Taos, the victim and aggressor in his family.

    And I need to stop because my class started five minutes ago and I need to teach it. But oh, Haven. Just thank you. As a reader, as a writer, this book changed my life.

  174. yes, Solace changed me a little, too. I still think about those little girls…I know, though, they are in good hands

  175. George – yes yes yes! I said it about Iodine (no spoilers here!) with Candy and her husband, but it is also true with Solace – I went to high school with a girl just like Langston. So much so that I imagined her likeness through the book. And I’m pretty sure Amos went to college where I did, too. Haven’s knack for realism with these characters is tremendous, I agree.

    And Cara, I am right there with you – In addition to To Kill a Mockingbird, Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch are books that I read every year. It’s like spending time with old friends, and I learn something new with every re-read, as I’m sure you do, too.

  176. i was once at an al-anon meeting when someone said (in terms of letting go of resentment) “Resentment is like setting yourself on fire and hoping that the person you resent dies from smoke inhalation. Meanwhile, you are burning.”

    I guess that in The Solace of Leaving Early, i was reminded to accept the shortcomings of others, which will ultimately make me a better person.

    my mother-in-law is an alcoholic and she is difficult. it is certainly a problem especially as my husband has been sober now for over 2 years. i have to work at it everyday to accept her as she is, but it is very easy to let that resentment get me.

    so i try to let go of things that bother me and live my life. when i am able to, it makes me feel better. still working on it, but i have made major progress. i thought i would kill my mother-in-law when my husband was in rehab. i don’t mean literally kill, but let’s just say there is a waiting period on guns for a reason. i kid.

  177. Steph…the Sox should be in rehab.

  178. I agree with Dee (particles) about the spoiler alert for Used World, please. Iodine is in its own thread so you can avoid that if you don’t want spoilers – but this thread is mostly about Solace so if you do reference Used (something that will be a surprise) please give a heads up **spoiler alert** because I have not started reading it yet either. I have it sitting here on my desk at work, as a matter of fact, so I hope to start it today. Thank you blog babies xoxo

  179. So I usually resist the comments in an effort to actually do my “job,” but since Solace is my favorite HK novel, and one of my favorite of all novels, here I am. The first time I read Solace, it was on hundreds of loose pages — did it come to me a a brown paper wrapper? I can picture myself on my bed surrounded by pages, and I will never forget bursting into tears at a particular moment (“Langston, she is died!”), nor how generously the author treated her characters, whom I adored. When I read a second draft (more pages), I burst into tears again at the exact same place in the story (I need to examine what leads to that passage that makes me so vulnerable to the Epiphany’s lament). And once the book was published, I read it again, on the beach. And yes, I cried again. Same moment.

    Langston did piss me off at first, and whenever I give or recommend Solace, as I do often, I admonish the lucky new reader to have patience with her. They are always happy that they did.

    After other wonderful HK novels, Solace remains my favorite. Perhaps it is because Langston and Amos are each schooled and intellectual about religious questions (in different ways, but they are very mind-y), but what saves them both–and those babies–has little to do with thinking and everything to do with feeling.And I am simple and love a happy ending.

  180. Steph–I like that one, especially the “meanwhile, you’re burning” part.

    I once read that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. Same sentiment and very useful to me through the years, but it doesn’t have the punch of “meanwhile you’re burning.”

  181. Particles–I totally agree with you about hurt people. They DO hurt others. But what about people who are not unkind, only unconscious?

    I could not count the times I’ve been told I think too much. And while I don’t generally agree that superficial is better, it must surely be simpler. And simple can be so good.

    I agree with Mimi above, who said that the girls took Amos and Langston out of their heads and into the world. Into happiness.

    It probably is a matter of balance. Damn balance–such a hard, hard thing to achieve.

    Anyway, I’m interested in hearing the rest of what you’ve got to say.

  182. Jerri, me too…the thinking too much thing. I used to drive myself darn near nuts. Still do, really, but the edge is off now.

  183. How? How did you get the edge off, Kate?

  184. I wanted us to discuss this book, it is true, but it means so much to me that it is hard to talk about. There are some things that just matter to much to put words around them.

    Haven, how did you obtain the authenticity of the grief in this book? Particularly, the grief of the little ones.

    I have so much more I want to express about this, but it will have to simmer for a while… if I am going to try for words I am going to hope they come to me of their own accord.

  185. Well I guess I was too busy reading “Bastard out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison at the time I should have been reading these books. I think I was taking down phone messages at the salon where I worked in San Francisco and had written down a book recommendation one of the therapist/clients had given me when another stylist saw my scribble and said, “Boy you must really be mad at her.” Made me giggle. But up to that point I didn’t know such cruelty existed. The last paragraph of that book still slays me. I was born in sunny California and never realized a whole world was happening around me. For gosh sakes when I was six I wailed so pitifully at the drive-in during “Bambi” that the whole family had to leave because they couldn’t shut me up. Some of you must have been forged from steel. (Though I sincerely enjoyed the raccoon and the dog part in “Zippy” also, Linda.)

  186. ps – rereading both Iodine and Solace back to back allowed the linguistic ties between the two of them to become extremely clear. certain phrases, descriptions, etc. are repeated throughout and it is lovely.

  187. Working the crime beat for as long as I did exposed me to all sorts of extreme human response. There is a big difference between cruelty and violence, though they are evil twins. I saw much more cruelty as a newspaper reporter in small towns. But I observed much more violence as a reporter in a big city.


    Pretty good play on words there, Dorian. I loved that Bastard book. Which brings up another thing…I think our vernacular these days is pretty darned violent. I also find the tone of ironic detachment as particularly cruel (though I use it all the time while trying to be humorous.) Wonder about the extend language serves as a precursor to event? No wonder we are wisely counseled to think these things: whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. Sometimes I find it helpful to take long bicycle rides and focus on one of those words. Interestingly, the Weymouth translation uses the word, “lovable,” as something to think about. The big challenge is to find what is loveable in people. I personally thought Haven plumbed that particular challenge to its depths in Solace. To me, that was the essence of the book.

  188. The journalist in you pays off once again: there’s an axiom for our times. (small town cruelties vs. big city violence)

  189. The great novelists are journalists of the heart and soul who uncover the real truths beneath the reality that we newspaper people flesh out by the daily deadline: Check this out….

  190. George: You’re right–Haven introduces us to complex, sometimes difficult people and then shows us what’s lovable about them.

    That IS the essence and the gift of the book.

  191. Jerri…just wandered over to your blog. I will spend some time over there, but could I use that photo of the trees for my new screensaver?

  192. I posted this once and it didn’t come up, so I hope it doesn’t come up twice now!

    I love your small town vs. big cities observation too, George.

    About the authenticity of the grief for this book, I always think of all writing as autobiographical, even fiction. Because there’s a reason, even if we don’t know what it is, why it was important enough for the writer to choose the topic and express the feelings of the characters. ALL writing reflects the writer’s thoughts and feelings, happy and sad. Some writers just choose to express them in fiction rather than non-fiction.

    I have a traditional sock monkey, and I could not live without him.

    If anyone’s still interested, related to some recent Haven post comments, I interviewed Howard Dully, author of my Lobotomy, for my blog. Part II and pictures coming at the end of this week.
    Like Haven he’s a real sweetie.

  193. George–absolutely. I can e-mail you a copy if you like. It’s the view from my office windows. (Also my living room and dining room and kitchen, which are all pretty much the same.)

  194. Jerri, that guy at the mall appeared to be so life unconscious that he had no idea what an asshole he was being. Just momentarily I had the desire to stop and tell him “I’m sorry you feel so bad about yourself you have to say such hurtful things,” but I was in a hurry. I have to leave my post unattended to go pee, so I have no time to even sneer at him.

    That “ulitmacy” word was one I marked because it was the first time I’ve come across it, and I kept going back to it to try and understand. How have we, as a society become so obsessed with ultimacy that we chose it over intimacy? In my never ending quest for intimacy I always seem to choose people on the quest for ultimacy and it never works out. Gee I wonder why? I’ve come to the conclusion that mediocrity isn’t so bad. At least, with mediocrity there is much less stress, and a lot more freedom. So much freedom I can actually breathe without a paper bag on my face.

    The book actually comes back to this around page 70 when they are discussing Grandma Wilkey and her ability to awfulize everything, and the power she has over Anna Lee. This is a page I marked here, ““I’m sorry, but is that not the human condition? Are we not all left with our loses? Langston didn’t dare mention her mother’s own. “All I’m trying to say is that grandma has no power over you. She has no power because she has no strength, and she has no strength because she has no gentleness, and therefore you must not fear her, but face her as the desperate and lonely old woman she really is.” (70). I already wrote about this on my blog, but the whole thing left me horrified because I’ve felt the same way about my own mother. Every time I think I have regained all my power my mother shows up and her very presence steals it back for some reason. When my youngest sibling died I thought this kind of thing changed forever. It did for a while but after several years and some hurts feelings the power struggle is back were it was before his death. I don’t even want power I just want her to stop taking mine. It makes me sad but I have no idea how to change it. I can only change my part in the situation. The rest I just accept. I found though, after reading Solace, hugging my mother isn’t as frightening.

  195. What was most tangible (comforting?) in Solace for me was the intimacy and immediacy of Amos’ and the girls’ experience of the Divine. A directness that’s not in the everyday cards for most. Most especially the girls’ daily conversations with Mary in the tree. If the theology in the book had not been fought for, the characters would not have meant what they did to me. So in love with Amos and those girls, and AnnaLee, and oh didn’t Langston grow on me. That generosity (thank you Mimi) with which she was treated was no small comfort somehow, a bit like a benediction (her pissiness and self-concern = me at 24; seeds for self-forgiveness for that time). To know one’s characters this well, that what those girls needed was a Langston, is a sort of miracle.

    I’m with Brandon and Sher: re the pushiness of getting sex, het or otherwise, into every damn book. If I want to read sex, I read erotica. If I want nuance and subtlety and intimacy and texture, I read Haven.

    And oh Brandon, how I did also love the smack-down of which you speak.

  196. Oh, Amanda, I’m so sorry you lost a sibling. And all that means for the family dynamic.

    Boy, haven’t mothers been holding the lion’s share of the power re: their daughters since time began. We look to them on how to be women, and continue to look to them for their approval long after we’ve (think we’ve finally) come to approve of ourselves. I always thought it had something to do with the lack of going through the separation mothers and sons go through — that we never define an adult relationship with our mothers. At age 30, I was trying to do that with my mother for the reasons you cite when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer (misdiagnosed, more like). I dropped all efforts at that point. How could I have done otherwise.

  197. Very thoughtful, Particles. I loved your word, “awfulize.” I also think the ultimacy vs intimacy paradox is so intriguing. I would like to say that living here in DC, it is easy to see a whole pandemic of ultimacy. But, I suspect the affliction is universal, virally spread by the germs of fear, it morphs quickly and displays many symptoms.

    And Carrie, I concur with what you wrote. Langston cannot hide her own truth — even from herself. Yet, that enables her entre’ into the girls’ grief that couldn’t be penetrated by even the noblest of intention.

  198. Jerri: Thanks, my email is The one I stripped from your blog works just fine, however. What a great view you get everyday.

  199. I haven’t read this book yet … (Shame on me!) I checked it out two months ago, and have been in my “I can’t read a book” slump since then. I am looking forward to reading it someday soon!

  200. Whew! So much to address. First, a confession: Mimi has loved all my books and read them on hundreds of loose sheets of paper because she is my mother-in-law and one of my closest friends on the planet. I don’t know how I’d live without her.

    I, too, felt Sandy Allen’s death as a blow to my gut. And that’s without even knowing what happened after she died. I PRAY no one tried to have her cryogenically frozen, like Ted Williams.

    There are many scenes in the book that caused tears to stream down my face as I wrote them — not in any histrionic way, just empathetically. But the scene that, again and again, broke my heart in a tender way is in Chapter 14, when Langston stomps over to meet the little girls for the first time, blind with fury at Amos, who has insulted her. She reaches them as they’re playing in the sandbox and for the reader (I hope) there is the anticipation of complete disaster, because how on EARTH will this woman deal with these broken little babies? The scene goes like this [little girls sitting on the edge of the sandbox]:

    “Oh, hello,” she said, raising her hand in a friendly wave. “I’m Langston Braverman, I live across the street from you, there, AnnaLee is my mother, and I temporarily lost track of myself. I was having an interior conversation with someone I’m very, very upset with. And this is my dog, Germane. He is entirely civilized.”

    The older girl stared at Langston suspiciously, then lowly put down her teapot and reached for her sister’s hand. Langston walked over and sat down on the opposite side of the sandbox, first brushing off a seat as she’d seen the children do. Germane lay down in the shade under the dogwood tree.

    “You know I’m going to be spending some time with you? I’m not ordinarily so loquacious, it’s just that I’m angry.”

    “Who are you made at?” the older girl asked, still giving Langston a dark look.

    “I’ll tell you: Amos Townsend. What do you think of him?”

    “Do you like him?” Madeline asked.

    “Not today.”

    The girls looked at each other. “We don’t, either.”

    “Good. Do please tell me what to call you. I understand you’ve rejected your names.”

    Madeline pointed to herself first. “I’ve been given the name Immaculata, and this is Epiphany.”

    Langston sat back, surprised. “Oh dear. How very Latin and archaic and liturgical. And also metaphorical.”


    For me this scene is a critical turning point, because it points not to Langston’s sense of herself as a superior person, but how she really IS a superior person. For one thing, she doesn’t get hung up on trivialities. She isn’t conventional, or provincial. And she is the sole person in the town who treats the children not as victims or as marked by tragedy, but as conscious human beings who deserve to have a conversation with her. I love, love her in that moment.

  201. Or, as George so brilliant put it: what she hides from herself allows her to enter the girls’ grief in a way that couldn’t have been done with the best of intentions. DAMN, SON. You is SMAHT.

  202. I enjoyed that too…it was the first indication that Amos was entirely wrong about her. Children, above all, need to be treated as thinking individuals. I am constantly saying things to my kids things that are not “on their level” and I’ve never had one complaint. They rise to meet what I am saying, and I reach my hand down to catch them. My parents were the same way.

    Also, I forgot to say how much I enjoy Anna Lee, primarily because poor intellectuals stuck in small town life are my favorite people in the whole world. How these New York minds survive in these sticky, dark places is beyond me, but they do (I do.)

  203. Langston and Amos were the only people in town who could legitimately enter into those girls’ lives. I loved that passage you just quoted…made me even hotter for Langston!

    Food for thought: a prequel to Solace? This one dealing on the childhoods of Langston and Alice.

    I saw Langston and Amos as almost progenitors of what happened…I realize that is a stretch, but it comes from a lot of thought on the histories and destinies of both.

  204. No, I copied off someone else, Haven.

    Can we have that prequel, now? Pretty puhleze?

  205. Dee-awfulize is my new favorite word. Thank you.

    And I’ve been thinking (probably too much again) about whether or not “unconscious” can be separated from “unkind.” Now I’m not sure it can.

    There’s no doubt, anyway, that both were present in the mall guy.

  206. Particles and Others: in the terms of this question of whether we live lives that are hopelessly broken and know it — most certainly it’s something I’ve been puzzling over since I was in seminary, and the answer I’ve come to is a resounding yes. Look at the example Amos himself provides, the family of Steve and Lydia, who lose their 16-year-old to peritonitis. Before the child’s death he looks at them and sees ‘no there there,’ as the saying goes, and yet when he steps into the funeral director’s office Steve is grieving so violently Amos himself is overpowered by emotion. To point again back to the text, page 19:

    He would use those images in the early part of the book (if there were a book, and there never would be): the deer on the hook. The dog flying out to the end of its chain. A father knocking his chair backward. This is evidence, Amos would say to Mike, his fellow seminarian from long ago.

    Evidence of what? Mike would ask, genuinely curious.

    Amos pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes and prayed for sleep, trying not to consider the events of the last week, the final chapter added to his bleak metaphysics.

    I don’t know, Amos would answer. I simply don’t know.


    I don’t mean to suggest that Amos is wrong about how those images connect, simply that in his own woundedness he can’t connect them except intuitively.

    Let me put it this way. Many people who are living lives that are hopelessly broken appear not to know it, because they confuse themselves with busyness or layers and layers of distraction. Think of women (and some men) who devote their lives to their children — to running them hither and yon, soccer and ballet and I don’t know what all, and the cooking and laundry, etc., — and their own inner lives make rare appearances. And then the children grow up and move away, and those women are left awake in the middle of the night, sleeping next to a man they now barely know (since their joint project has been taken away), heart’s pounding, because it wasn’t enough. Even Family fails to achieve Ultimacy. I guarantee you have either all heard, or will hear, the following statements at some times in your lives:

    “I got everything I wanted, the money, the title, and it wasn’t enough.”

    “Weird how I thought everything depended on saving enough to buy that boat, and now that I have it, it isn’t enough. I’m thinking of having my eyes done, just get rid of some of these wrinkles.”

    “I hate my husband.”

    But I ask you honestly, have you ever, ever heard someone say, “God simply wasn’t enough,” or “The Infinite has failed me again, so I might as well go back to drinking”? I never have.

  207. Langston and Amos are progenitors of what happened only if you see time as linear.

  208. SPIES.

    I had this EXACT conversation today with my friend S. about her cousin’s marriage. Almost identical.

  209. Well, in this rendering, time is kinda linear.

    But that’s another conversation. What you said earlier now has me splashing — admittedly broken — on another rapid. Let me think a minute and see if some words appear….

  210. Kate, the only time I ever came unhinged over a review, and OH, HERE IS HAVEN’S LESSON NUMBER, whatever, 4 or 7. NEVER EVER RESPOND TO YOUR CRITICS IN ANY WAY, NEVER.

    Okay, so. In a local paper a man reviewed Solace and what he took issue with is that there could be a concentration of such brilliant people in a town of 3,000 in Indiana. He wrote something like, “Come on. It would never happen.” I wanted not to write to him, but to actually confront him in a dark alley, and say, “All right, Mr. Bitch Man Assclown, it is time to throw down. Because I GREW UP IN A TOWN OF 300 IN INDIANA AND I WROTE THE DAMN BOOK, you Chimp Idiot, and MY MOTHER LIVED IN THAT TOWN, and BETH GREW UP IN THAT TOWN, and I QUADRUPLE-DOG DARE YOU to take on any one of us in a battle of wits. In fact, I’ll put down my sword and face you unarmed. Now prepare to have your miserable ass chapped.”

    Not to put too fine a point on it.

  211. *sides aching, head shaking*

  212. I try not to lie about my temper. It’s just ghastly, I swear. I’m like a damn scorpion.

  213. And anyway…wait a second…Who cares if it could ever happen?? This book has so many elements of fantasy…why does that even matter? That’s another thing that really sticks in my craw…the idea that literature has to be PLAUSIBLE to be good.

    Not that I don’t find it plausible. I do. I also wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the Virgin Mary was talking to them in the tree. It could happen.

  214. You see what I mean, though: he insulted MY MOTHER. He insulted MY BETH. Not to mention my sister, my brother, my father — all of whom are (or in my dad’s case, were) stunningly brilliant. Remember Dana, in Zippy? She could have run rings around this fool. Beth’s mother? Lord have mercy, just get out of the way.

  215. Kate, EXACTLY. Look, I’m furious all over again. My faith in humanity has failed to achieve Ultimacy.

  216. Haven’s wrath is total…some would compare it to Armageddon, but out of it comes “bitch-man assclown,” a phrase I shall use henceforth to make myself laugh. It will replace the limerick paean to the “man from Nantucket.”

  217. Oh heavens, I know!! I wasn’t discounting that in any way. Just another rabbit trail.

    I used to hang out on this internet community where I queen bee but over time I was slowly crowded out for three reasons. 1. I have children. More than 1 child. 2. I am “religious” and 3. I live in the Midwest.

    Nothing I said mattered. You could have pointed back to those three things and that was all anyone needed to know. I was a Christian Breeder from Indiana.

  218. I am from a town of 30,000, but he’s insulting my family too. We were essentially the Glass family or the Tennenbaums of our poverty stricken neighborhood.

  219. 115,000. Whoops. Whatever.

  220. I’m with Amanda in that I have difficulty even talking about this book, let alone engaging in analysis or litcrit. But that’s true of all books that I love – any discussion pales in comparison to the Thing Itself.

    My ideal book interaction is what Amanda and I did the first time we met in real life – we each (not planned in advance) brought books and quote journals to the cafe where we met, and passed them back and forth: ‘Here – read this!” “Ok – read this!” Too funny.

    So here’s a favorite Solace quote, one that I’m fortunate to have an audio clip of HK reading:

    “Why? Why does this happen to us? Because we have abandoned an infinite number and variety of pure possibilities, and perhaps they live alongside the choices that we did make, immortalized in the cosmic memory. Perhaps there are unknown lives walking alongside ours, those paths we didn’t take, and we reach for them, we ache for them, and don’t know why. We have, none of us, lived our lives as we ought to have, and maybe that’s a good working definition of sin. God doesn’t care, the angels don’t care, no one is mad at us for our failures. But what agony, to know our better selves, the life we might have lived is there, just out of reach! Have you felt this? This phantom life streaking like a phosphorescent hound at the edges of your ruin?”

  221. Ugh. Can we all meet that man in a dark alley? I grew up in a town of 1,500 and there were brilliant people in that town. Thomas Edison was born in that town. People who designed roller coasters for Cedar Point live in that town. People who live there have 60+ mile commutes one way to work just so that they can have a small town family atmosphere. The town could easily be mistaken for a lovely New England village. Those people may not be chic or refined but they are brilliant educators, farmers, entrepreneurs, etc. Putting down one small Midwestern town puts down all small Midwestern towns.

  222. I’m still stuck on the ultimacy thing. Maybe I’m confusing ultimacy as a sort of commercialistic need to have it all, or to be in control of all areas of life, when really ultimacy is the child-like faith displayed by the girls talking to Mary in the tree. It’s what Amos lacked and seemed sort of afraid of when it came to the girls. I’ve heard people talking about child-like faith for years. Is it possible to regain that kind of faith when we’ve been so completely and incompletely broken by life and grief?

    Haven, I haven’t heard anyone say “God simply wasn’t enough,” or “The Infinite has failed me again, so I might as well go back to drinking” but I have heard people say “This God thing is too much for me”. I read somewhere once that if God where small enough for us to understand, God would be too much for us to handle.

  223. *laughing…..laughing….laughing.*

    “Bitch Man assclown” is going on my wall, along with “awfulize.”

    Now that I’ve settled down a bit, I don’t want to lose your first point, Haven. Before we got off on the review (which we did not really get off on at all, but you get my drift), you were talking about the brokenness.

    I totally agree that most people know at some point, especially in the situations you describe–frantic movement subsides or purchases pale and whomp! There we are alone with our broken selves.

    But do you think people always have that awareness? Maybe so. Could be that, like Amos in that passage, we intuit something we can’t explain. And maybe that’s why so many of us fill our lives with manic activity or mind-numbing substances or pursuits. We don’t want to let what we know catch up with us.

    Somehow it always does, though, doesn’t it?

  224. But Haven, but Brandon, if that sorry reviewer, who probably harbored an uneasy suspicion of how many people brighter than he lived in his town and, by his logic, in all larger towns, if he had to consider the possibility that brighter people than he also lived in every smaller place … It’s like Woolfe imagining the relief to insecure Victorian men to be able at least to feel inherently superior to half the human race. If that reviewer couldn’t at least feel superior to people in smaller towns, then what hope would he have? Better Haven should take him out in that alley (though Solomon might instead order him to play pool against her. Oh, wait — that would be me.)

  225. Good for you for getting out that big old can o’ whoop ass, Haven. That was a stupid review and that reviewer just a stupid head.

    I always get offended when people (mostly in my family) make generalizations about people in the south. It is like everyone is from Deliverance. I tell them that there are rural people everywhere not just in the south. And stupid people everyone, not just in the south. Generalizations always bug the crap out of me.

  226. JohnM’s words/post/memory/quote selection just make me ache inside. These moments of connection found sometimes in life and always, constantly in Haven’s writing are what I live for and it hurts me deeply and terribly that I miss them all the time.

    I once wrote to Haven in an honest-to-God real letter that her characters and writing did not make me wish to write better, but to BE better… her characters are my role models.

  227. also, knowing that i miss those moments makes the times i catch it all up all the more holy and sublime.

  228. Personally, Haven, I have nothing but admiration for how you respond to those who cross a line. You get angry, you get more articulate and inventive (BITCH-MAN ASSCLOWN??? You are queen of essential neologisms!). I get angry, I get dizzy and sputter. Two styles, you choose.

  229. I have several theories on the brokenness issue, think that our brokenness exists in the spaces between ourselves and others, and even more specifically, the spaces between what we feel and what we can articulate, what we say and what we wish we could say. I guess I would say that we break ourselves, certainly not all the way but at least the last good snap.

    One of my favorite lines in the book, and I’m still at work so again I’m paraphrasing here, is when Amos thinks: “Possibility, infinity, beauty, none of those words were right. What he really wanted to say was: have you felt this? This phantom life, streaking like a phosphorescent hound at the edges of your ruin?” I think this speaks to what Jerri was saying about how we fill ourselves up with shiny distractions so we won’t recognize that we’re epically failing ourselves in one way or another. I’ve always taken this line as Amos’ acknowledgment that there is, for each of us, some alternate life (path, road, whatever) that is nothing short of glorious, and we know that it’s glorious, but we just run and run from it.

  230. And why, please, is it assumed that “the odds are” there are fewer intelligent beings in a smaller town, just on the published rates? Couldn’t it as easily be argued that a small town, having less psychic “noise” to contend with, is more conducive to nurturing a disciplined mind? All you need is a library card, fellow seekers, and a passion to know.

  231. JohnM (and Amanda), that’s one of my favorite passages in the book, too. When I found out my long-time editor was leaving I said to Christopher, “I’ve never denied that she made me a much, much better writer, but there is a graveyard somewhere and all that’s buried there are my killed Darlings.” So I literally walked around PRAYING I would get to keep ‘streaking like a phosphorescent hound at the edges of your ruin.’ PRAYING.

    Particles, Ultimacy is the OPPOSITE of a commercialized need to have it all. Tillich is doing the Human Drillbit in his grave right now. Ultimacy is, as Martin Luther said, sola deus: God Alone.

  232. And in terms of people who say that God is too much for them to handle? I wonder how they come to terms with pediatric cancer, the laws of entropy and decay, or mortality in general? Because if I had to choose which areas of reality were truly overwhelming, I’d start there.

  233. “The good snap” (!!) I (eternal optimist) believe there’s something in the longing for connection that invites it, makes a place for it, brings it into our reality.

  234. Carrie, I’ve always said my most dangerous trait is that I become more articulate the angrier I am. As the Buddhists teach, each negative quality has a strength, and what serious anger can bring with it is clarity. In this post I was just being funny, but if you could read what I write when I’m actually mad? Dear Little Swaddling Savior Baby, forgive me: I know exactly what I’m doing.

  235. Boy, JohnM, THAT is the quote, isn’t it? Wham-o! When I was younger, I indulged those thoughts. Now, I just shove such them away, trusting in experience and observation and an infinite balance in this world that I think/trust/believe exists, though I accept the fact I know nothing about it.


    I can see the stand-off between Haven and the critic. It would go down like this.

    Haven (in her most righteous Quaker mode): “Thou art a Bitch-man ass clown.”

    Critic: “No, I’m not.”

    Haven: “Yes, thou art. Thy lack of wit is matched only by thy need to wear a rolled-up sock in the crotch of thy cheap trousers.”

    Critic: “Huh?”

    Haven (reaching behind her back and pulls out pool cue — a common model): “I challenge thee to a game of eight-ball. If thou loses, and thou certainly shall, then thee must write a retraction and wear a sign upon thyself inscribed with these words: I am a chimp idiot.”

    Critic: (misunderstanding the gravity of the situation): “What, now you want me to write something in the paper about Something Rising?”

    Haven: (drawing down on pool cue in an expert manner, says to herself) “Mine own task is to put enough english on one of those man’s balls to cause it cross-corner into his mouth, perchance to shutteth him up for a season.”

  236. Carrie, I love this idea that our brokenness exists in spaces between ourselves and others, or between ourself and ourself. I would absolutely agree. The reason the professor asks Mike, when Mike says the people at IBM don’t care about Ultimacy, what those people see in the morning when they look in the mirror is for the exact reasons you’ve given. It’s also why I use, in IODINE, Eliot’s phrase, ‘to prepare a face to meet the faces I’ll meet.’ Because when you’ve reached a certain level of brokenness, or are living most falsely (or have descended into Prufrock’s voice), you have to actually, consciously rebuild your visage in order to walk out the door.

  237. George absolutely receives the Blog Tiara of the day. BRAVO, good man.

    p.s. If I really wanted to roast his chestnuts, I’d challenge him to 9-ball. But your use of applying english to the cue ball is first-rate.

  238. I’ve played the game once or twice, m’dame.

  239. Linda, don’t even get me started on vicious stereotypes of the south. Okay, I’m started. Let me say this: I live in a city that’s 53% black. I have lived in a city that is 67% black. And you call us racist crackers? Pardon my language and turn away, delicate ones, but shut the fuck up with that. My son is twelve and honestly doesn’t seem to know the difference between black people and white people. My daughter’s very serious boyfriend has a white mother and a black father. I can’t take a step in this town without taking it with someone of a different race, and in my local grocery store I used to be the only white person in ANY aisle, including the one where they keep sweetened condensed milk. A white product. But when I go back to Muncie, Indiana, I have to TRY to see a black person. Once, standing in Blockbuster with Delonda, I got this creepy feeling all up and down my spine, and I said, “What’s wrong with this place?” Mom said, “Overhead lighting.” I said, “No, no . . . dear god, where are the black people?” She answered, “They have their own video store.”

    It’s damned easy to be liberal when you live in some twee little New England village where everybody looks like you, isn’t it? “Deliverance,” my shapely bottom. That’s just another word for I-Am-A-Closeted-White-Person-Who-Would-Really-Like-To-Have-A-Big-Sex-Adventure-In-The-Woods, Preferably-One-I-Couldn’t-Be-Held-Responsible-For.

  240. George, I pegged you as a player a loooong time ago.

  241. Haven said in a post above, “But I ask you honestly, have you ever, ever heard someone say, “God simply wasn’t enough,” or “The Infinite has failed me again, so I might as well go back to drinking”? I never have.”

    This is perfect, Haven. You always say just the right thing. I have so much emptiness in and around me. I never realized just how much until I stopped drinking. Of course, 6 months into this new game I am still trying to come to grips with it and figure out how to fill in some of these freakin holes.

  242. Linda, those aren’t holes. Those are spaces of pure possibility.

  243. Linda, you don’t know it, but you’ve been filling in those freakin’ holes with us.

    Love ya!

  244. It was actually Cara, “the spaces between what we feel and what we can articulate, what we say and what we wish we could say…” — and this has been my stated intention for the past six months, to speak my Truth. (This may sound ridiculous, but I know these readers will know what I mean.) And I’m trying to bring as much empathy and compassion to the task as possible. It’s gone miles toward creating an newly working relationship with my (only) sister, who thinks our family was perfect, and brought new intimacy to every friendship I have. It’s harrowing.

  245. Someone a long time ago – yikes 28 years now – gave me the gift of seeing the pure possibility and she didn’t even know it at the time. And she thought she was just being clever and evil.

  246. “Overhead lighting.” OMG…I just fell over again.

    Linda – I think this blog may have seeped in to fill one of those spaces!

  247. JimShue said: “you’ve been filling in those freakin’ holes with us.”

    Yep. And allowing us to fill our freakin’ holes with you.

  248. Linda, sometimes I think you must feel like you’re in freefall. It must feel absolutely alien. But I do hope you have your wish list handy. (Perfect: pure spaces of possibility…)

  249. Oops. JimShue beat me to the punch.

  250. I know that “overhead lighting” moment (wonderful Delonda) — it felt so incredibly weird to move from NYC to Scandinavian Seattle. L.A. was the same way as Seattle when I lived there. Lines and territory. I said to a friend, a few months after arriving, that seeing a brown face felt like home.

    Jim Shue: DO TELL.

  251. You can bet that anytime Jim Shue uses the adjectives “clever” and “evil” all bumped up against one another that way, he’s talking about his long-ago roommate Rachele. Yes, Sock Monkey?

    Hey, speaking of you, JS, I read your blog post on being angry because someone assumed you would know more about interior decorating because you’re gay. If you were in this room I would give you the Tease Bonanza. Lord above, I’d start with the Early, “Is that right? You think that’s stereotyping, Josephine?’ And then I’d really get rolling with, “Let me tell you about how Augusten had all of his window treatments hand-made by a Honduran immigrant, and then sent photographs around so we could praise the way they offset his incredibly expensive antiques.” After that it’d be all over but the shoutin’.

  252. One of the things that keep me living in DC is the fact that I am OFTEN the only “white” person on a crowded elevator.

  253. DC is a perfect example. Which brings me to another thing that barbecues my pet goat. We Can’t Possibly Live In D.C. Or Durham Or New Orleans, Because of the Negro Crime Problem. Yeah, REALLY? African-Americans are the source of the crime problem? That’s news to me. I would think the source of the crime problem is Republican economic values that continue to place and hoard wealth in the hands of identical white cronies, while refusing to consider any sort of state-sponsored initiatives (including health care for children, for God’s Weeping Sake). Because it isn’t as if everyone wants the same thing, is it? No, no. White people want wealth and security, and black people want sub-standard housing and a higher infant mortality rate than in any other first-world country on the globe. Angry, impoverished people create their own economies by selling drugs and stealing from The Haves?!? I am SHOCKED. Shocked, Mr. McCain.

  254. Haven, Are you currently in the Hoosier state of Indiana? Did you receive your award? Isn’t it pretty here? The leaves are really changing, and I took a drive today just outside Fort Wayne to see them.

  255. I’m pretty sassy today, aren’t I? Well, I lost my seizure medication, so probably I’m over here flopping around and don’t know it.

  256. Jodi, I couldn’t make the trip. I was grounded by Neurology. Beth is accepting the award in my place, which is appropriate as she is the far, far better person, and has achieved more than I could ever hope to.

  257. …but here’s a truth about myself. Though it’s one of my missions to confront racism — the first slugfest is always with myself. I learned this in an ethnotherapy class at Martin University in Indianapolis. I thought I was putting my time and money where my liberal mouth was by going back to college in the innercity. God, did I have a lot to learn. By the way, as far as I know, Martin is the only place in the world that has a “Gathertorium” a beautiful glass and steel globe.

  258. Kate, did I already address the rectal-hats in your former internet community, the ones that treated you as a Christian breeder? Because . . . well, I could go on, but their stupidity is our gain, so THANKS!

  259. Everyone has to confront their own racism, all the time. With myself, I just say, “You’re not mad at an entire race of people — you’re mad at a person who is driving down the street with his windows open, blaring viciously misogynistic music where your children can hear it.” A person.

  260. …anyway, I have been pretty honked off about the racial stuff ever since I was old enough to be harmed by it. When I was a kid, I remember that former Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace came to Evansville during his presidential campaign of 1968. I am proud that I was among a few of the white kids on the courthouse lawn chanting: “Wallace ain’t shit, Wallace ain’t shit!” until the police told us to shut our fucking mouths, a challenge that we answered by chanting louder.

    As a newspaper reporter, I once covered a KKK cross-burning rally in Parke County, Ind. Our headline writer summed up my story this way: KKK is the Same Old Sheet.

    Pretty inspired, wouldn’t y’all agree?

    The deal is…and what I fear most…is humanity’s ignorance is going to get us all killed.

  261. George, refer to the world’s oldest syllogism:

    A. All men are mortal.
    B. George is a man.

    Etc. SOMETHING for sure is going to get us all killed.

    Here’s another example of the greatness of Delonda. When I was twelve or so there was one of those perennial hue + cries (a cri de couer, if you will) about the ACLU defending the KKK’s right to march in protest in some Indiana town. I had a big righteous hizzy, and Delonda said, barely looking up from her book, “If you get to march, they all get to march, darling. That is the nature of the First Amendment. For that matter it is the nature of all the amendments. And also the reason the ACLU is constantly heroic, not only when it suits them.’

  262. Rectal hats!!! Ok, my screen is now dripping with coffee.

    When you’re mentalist told you he preferred you not come to your sessions with a weapon…did you tell him that you are fully armed at all times? Your brain is locked and loaded;it’s a beautiful, beautiful wmd.

    Must find some Windex.

  263. …Haven, you are so “write” all this stuff has to be dealt with constantly…

    but, there you go again: “rectal hats.” This afternoon alone you have given two very potent spells one can cast in which to induce laughter.


    about ultimacy and such…I think a recent book called The Shack gets at a lot of what I believe. It’s this: a big chunk of everything is unknowable. So what is the response. One woman does the dinner dishes of the guests and another washes the feet of the honoree.

    the characters in Solace do what needs to be done — as they only can do it — no matter their state of belief at the time or self-perception for that matter. There are simply things that need to be done.


    once, when I was a kid working at a golf course, I was commanded by the greenskeeper to shovel a pile of sand the size of Denali into a farm wagon the size of an Atlas rocket.

    “how much do you think I should do today?” I asked my boss.

    “doesn’t matter you little prick,” he answered, “it all goes.”

  264. Carrie, I love your use of ‘harrowing’ in the post above.

  265. Wow, what incredibly beautiful things happen while I am napping. See, this is why I prefer NOT to sleep.

    Yes, I am grateful to them as well. Recently there was a thread asking where various people were. I logged on just to say “I got a life.” OHHHH SNAP!!

  266. This is my one-stop shop mart for best insults ever. I will be doing my best to work “rectal hats” and “bitch-man assclown” into my everyday conversation. My only regret is life in polite Seattle so rarely calls for insult.

  267. Haven, See told ya I was confused. heh. But I do understand the search for child-like faith. My kid has done that to me and she still does.

    Re: People who think “God thing” is too much, I seen more than a few people disappear from my circles for this very reason. Also, exactly two people never called me again when I asked the simple question of, “when are you going to start trusting the God you’re always going on about.”

  268. …I’ve always been overly fond of ACLU, too. Thank God for them on cases I agree with and those I don’t. They will have my personal constant support by the way they fought for Ryan White, the boy in Indiana, who was denied going to school because he had AIDS.

  269. George, I LOVE that sand story. LOVE IT. It reminds me of one of my favorite AnnaLee and Walt moments:

    “I don’t know why you left school and you don’t have to tell me, none of that matters, and I know the possibility of running away from, I’m not even sure what to call it, an intractable situation? has always been a great comfort to you, and I know why, I do. But really this isn’t about you or me or even those children, it’s about life, Langston, the way just bears down on us and we are forced to withstand its weight and I am sorry. I’m truly sorry, angel.”

    Langston nodded, then lifted her head, wiping away tears with the sleeve of her T-shirt. Her father was patting her back, too, and she turned and looked at him, and oh my, what a hard man he was to see. Between his handsome silence and the way he always seemed to be leaving a room, Langston often felt like a phantom fathered her. And then — those times he did come clearly into focus — he arrived like a lightning bolt: the way he was aging (what if she lost him?), the steep toll of the past everywhere on him, the bargains he’d made, his patient, plodding love.

    Langston looked back at her mother, and for a moment she could hardly tell AnnaLee and Walt apart. They could say what they would, but all of her parents’ best lines were in their faces.


  270. Okay, Ms. K, good for you, staying in the South and getting a bit of rest.

    Haven, I was listening to you read IODINE while I was driving around admiring the leaves, and the back-40 of Chapter Five (p. 100 to begin with) is ringing some bells. Tell me how I’m doin’:

    CLOSETS: 1. Loretta cleaned out a large CLOSET for Trace to use as a bedroom, “ostensibly so Dusty could have privacy.” (p. 100)
    2. Dr. Cohen (Matthias’ girlfriend) “underlined the word[s] CLOSETS,” just as Trace “stretched out her hands, which had begun to tingle.” (p. 106). Dr. Cohen then launches into the story of Bluebeard’s bride.
    3. Ianthe invesitages Rita Matthias’ CLOSET (p. 193).

    Candy as a WARNING: p. 114. As Amanda pointed out in an earlier posting, Candy told Trace, “You’re the only one who can see me.” Trace replies, “Me? Why am I the only one?” Candy says, “Because you’re my enemy, they tell me.”
    If Trace recognizes Candy as a part of her own persona … hmmm. I gotta cogitate on this one.

    On page 123, Trace is meditating on Freud declaring Jung as “an eldest son, adopting him as the crown prince and successor … But what do you do when you give yourself a son? You write your own obituary.” That plays out on page 220 between Colt and Billy.

    One paragraph later: “Jung attempted to analyze Freud’s dreams and Freud stopped him because, as rumor has it, he was sleeping with his wife’s younger sister.” This is Jung/Billy and Freud/Colt? Colt is a carpenter, and “eventually [Billy] got on with Colt’s crew and took up carpentry,” imitating Colt, including “When he danced with Loretta she kept her feet far from his and he made her laugh like no one else could.” (p. 50)

    There’s more, but … am I over-analyzing as I was taught to do in college?

  271. Particles, Stephen King has one of my favorite lines about religion ever, all the way back in SALEM’S LOT, when the local priest is faced with a vampire and immediately pulls out his jumbo crucifix. The vampire doesn’t even flinch, he just says, “Throw down your cross, Father, and face me with your faith.”

    Guess who gets a big neck chompin.

  272. Oh, yes — I come from a family where (you all may find this familiar) WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. It was the primary directive, the holy pact. A most telling example of this dynamic in motion: I wrote a song with that title. I performed it at a showcase. I introduced it with no little detail as to its origin. I taped the performance. I took the tape home to play for my family. Somewhere over the Rockies, I pressed “record” to tape over the intro.

    My 18-and-a-half-second gap.

  273. …beautiful passage there, Haven. Just gorgeous.

  274. Whew JODI. You have got SKILLZ.

  275. Carrie, Jim Shue and I come from the part of Indiana where no one would even listen to the song, let alone guess what the hell it meant.

    p.s. This obviously does not refer to my mother, my sister, my brother-in-law, or my beloved niece, Abby.

  276. Can we talk about the conversation Amos had with Anna Lee about people reading and believing some blurb from the bible without finishing the sentence or paragraph.

  277. That’s a question without a question mark. here’s a couple extra – ??? 🙂

  278. SKILLZ! Oh, yeah. I can’t seem to STOP thinking about IODINE now. I’m the one with the SKILLZ, ain’t I? How did YOU keep all this straight in that crystal skull of yours, Haven? Dang. These is DEEP WATERS you wrote here. You is one SKILLD girl your own self.

  279. Carrie and JimShue, Don’t you know the great Indiana Song about the arky-arky hickory barky-barky? Haven knows it, and so do I. THAT’S what church and faith is all about in the wildwood. Right, Haven?

  280. Haven, I love that Walt/AnnaLee moment. Also, when AnnaLee signs her note to Langston, “You are my sunny one, my good sweet girl,” I ALWAYS get tears in my eyes. I may or may not have mommy issues.

  281. I know that song!!!!!

    My mom was lurking on the blog and she hasn’t even read Iodine yet, but she thought that was HILARIOUS.

  282. I’ll tell you WHUT, now, when Tertullian and Hiz Boyz got BIZY back in the fourth century, they set up the Finest Bizness this world has seen: the Bizness of Churchy. Base it on FEAR, make its tenents unprovable, demand FAITH (translation: believe whole-heartedly in what isn’t there) in THEIR translation of a mystic text (the Bible), and to seal the deal, take 10% of every member’s income to keep the whole thing rolling. Bill Gates, George W., you ain’t got NUTHIN’ on these boyz.
    (don’t get me started here, as Haven said earlier. Oops, too late.)

  283. Jodi. You SLAY me.

  284. …and: full lyrics, please, for the arky-arky hickory barky-barky?

  285. Carrie,

    Haven and I traded quite a few churchy choruses in the long blog of September 14. You might wanna check that out for some more laughs. Here’s my version first, followed by hers:


    Rise and shine and
    Give God your glory, glory (3 times)
    Children of the Lord

    The Lord said to Noah
    There’s gonna be a floody, floody
    Get those children out of the muddy, muddy
    Children of the Lord

    So Noah, he built him
    He built him an arky, arky
    Made it out of hickory barky, barky
    Children of the Lord

    The animals they came on
    They came on by twosie, twosies
    Elephants and kangaroosies-roosies
    Children of the Lord

    It rained and it poured for forty daysies daysies
    Drove those animals nearly crazy, crazy
    Children of the Lord

    The sun came out and
    Dried up the landy, landy
    Everything was fine and dandy, dandy
    Children of the Lord

    The animals they came off
    They came off by twosie, twosies
    Started life a newsy, newsy, newsy
    Children of the Lord

    On September 15, 2008 at 9:08 pm Haven Said:
    OH HO, you must have grown up in South Dakota! Because my version goes:

    The animals they came off,
    They came off by threesies, threesies,
    Animals they came off
    They came off by threesies, threesies
    Children of the Lord!

    My sister will back me up on this.

  286. I am a person who has said


    But at that time, around 1985-1990, I was referring to the image of what I had been told ‘god’ was: the baptist, fundamentalist, fire-and-brimstone, hater, gray bearded, shooting lightning bolts from the sky . . . I always prayed to Jesus because I thought I had a better chance with him.

    So, around 16 I began dumping my mind of my learned image of god . . . possibly even an atheist at one point . . . but then the whole “new age” thing began to realign my thinking and reconnecting me to something metaphysical (something more than I was) – which I never really doubted.

    It has taken me years to become comfortable with labels again, although I still can’t really apply one to myself, because it is too limiting . . . I still love the phrases “I am” “unknowable”, etc.

    I think god/divine/universe is found in sparks of everything – a single grain of sand, a sea urchin, cockroaches, child molesters, even George Bush – but the difference between living love or hate is that the person didn’t receive or accept love, or can’t find it in themselves to love themselves. Therefore, there is a grand hierarchy of abuse – a dad beats his kid, the kid beats the dog . . . etc. and grows up and beats his kid, makes nasty to people at the mall, etc. etc.

    Sometimes, if you are strong enough to stand up to the status quo, you can redirect your life path. that takes WORK and self-determination.

    I loved Langston, from page one. Everybody has a story, even those crazy rude people we hate. When Langston treasures those beautiful madonna and child paintings – even though she was unsure about the liturgy and dogma, she is worshipping the divine.

  287. Oh I love this book, and I love gettng to revisit with all of you, I had somthing I wanted to add, but I got sidetracked with the race issue. Some of you may know that my youngest son is adopted, and his birth mother is black. I could write a book on the generalizaions and hidden racial slurs that I have heard in his two short years. Good friends and family, who would never admit to being racist and probably didn’t know they were, have said the stupidest and most painful things. But what has really knccked me over is having to come to terms with my own views and misinformed ideas that I didn’t know I held. It is one thing to talk about equality, and quite another to walk the walk.
    I don’t even remember how this topic got started, but I find I will grab a soap box whenever I can.
    Solace is remarkable, I could quote it endlessly, and I will keep reading all of your brilliant comments and learning what I didn’t realize already.

  288. I must share this:

    Alice just laid “Baby Uh-Oh” on the couch to take a nap. She started to cover her with a big afghan, then paused, and a laid a copy of “Something Rising” on her chest, then covered her up. Baby can’t go night night without book!! That’s m’girl.

  289. One of the first lessons I learned in that ethnotherapy class is how racism harms everyone. It doesn’t sound like much, but realizing that I had no particular exemption despite my views and vocalizations just opened me up to much larger understanding of people. It was a good thing…I often think about the value that what I didn’t know has proved itself to be.

  290. Oh great, now I have that song stuck in my head, Jodi.


  291. The nasty thing about racism is how it can worm its way into unsuspecting people. I have had thoughts that have SHAKEN me to my core, because I know they are not from me, and yet, There They Are.

  292. Caryl, as some of you know, I didn’t see my father the last year of his life because he refused to attend my niece’s wedding because she was marrying a black man. And recently another male member of my family referred to my great-niece, the child of that marriage, in this way, “So there’s the little half-breed.” He will never, under any circumstances, see my face or hear my voice again. And yes, I am accustomed to answering my mother’s question, “Is this the hill you’re going to die on?” You bet your life (and mine) it is. Because if this isn’t important enough, nothing is.

    No crimes against love or children. Not acceptable.

  293. Little Alice Cake. What a treasure.

  294. Can we speak about what might be called “reverse racism”? Because my first husband (who happens to be African-American) walked in one day after six years of marriage and said to me, and I quote: “You didn’t use your talent and your whiteness to get ahead.” He then told me he was leaving me, and that I could handle the divorce. I literally never saw him again. Now, granted, I never came right out and TOLD HIM – I never SPOKE the WORDS – “I am a TALENTED WHITE woman,” but I am both, and one is as obvious as the other. He left me for an African-American woman. So before all us whities start dancin’ around too much, let’s recognize that the Knife cuts Both Ways on this issue.

  295. Jodi, I know first-hand how that knife cuts both ways. It’s just that I can’t speak for anyone but myself. And I can’t improve anyone but myself.

  296. The hill to die on.

    Wow, I’ve died on many of those. I don’t speak to my paternal Grandfather, and he was my world. It has been 7 long years since then . . . his bitterness and hatred have kept him hanging on to the thread of life. Although I know it would be impossible for him to change so late in his life, I realized if I didn’t hold a line, I would never be able to look myself in the mirror.

    I have a couple more hills that I am defending in my life and those decisions weigh on me heavily as I begin my drive to IL/IN tomorrow.

  297. I’m just catching up on the Solace discussion (I can’t stay awake as late as some of you can) and I have lots to say and ask about Solace at some point, but had to respond immediately to some of the more recent posts regarding racism.

    Haven, I’m right there with you (literally–meaning I live in Chapel Hill / Durham county) and yes, the Republican economic values are killing us and killing so much potential every minute of every day. I could talk (scream) for hours and hours about this topic. My husband has worked in the public school system in both Chapel Hill and Durham, and his stories about all the unfairness that goes on in this society fill me with enough rage to leave me gritting me teeth and human drillbitting for the rest of my life. “No child left behind” (or no rich, upper crust, preppy little Ralph Lauren costumed hier to the throne left behind) ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    I’ll end here for now. I’m getting too worked up and I still have another presidential debate to sit through tonight.

  298. Right, Haven. I’m not speaking for anyone else, either. In my life, that experience has shed a very different, much brighter life on how I look at the manifestations of racism. How all people use it against one another. My first husband wasn’t even talking about ME — he was talking about HIMSELF. Yes, Dr. Phil, those were HIS issues. Racism is a knife that is so easy to wield when one wants one’s own way without going to too much trouble about it.

  299. Haven, when I saw the picture of your great niece I smiled. Having Charlie is not my test nor my lesson, I have him because I wanted him so bad he could have blue for all his color mattered to me. I had no agenda, or even an altruistic motive to be found, no soap box I could even claim honestly. But he is here, and that changes everything. No crimes against love or children is right, Miss Haven.

  300. That hill’s worth defending, Haven. It’s worth defending even if takes wielding a sword perfectly capable of cutting both ways. Swords and knives are like that, but they are sharpened only in one direction.

  301. Jodi–there are hundred of isms and ologies to wield when one wants one’s own way without going to too much trouble about it.

    Adn you’re right. It’s the easy way out. Or at least, that’s how it seems in my experience. I want to follow Haven’s example of not speaking for others but may not have achieved ultimacy on that.

  302. “Is this the hill you’re going to die on?”

    I will never die defending a hill against someone else’s beliefs when they don’t line up with mine. My defending days ended when I realized that the only soul suffering over the issue was ME. All my rhetoric, debate, right-and-wrong stuff falls on deaf ears. What I’ve learned to do is pick up my toys, go home and FORGETABOUTIT. No more of my L-I-F-E is gonna be sucked out by the yoyo’s of the world. Hasn’t anybody noticed that, when you turn on your heel and walk off, they just turn and begin yammering at somebody else? You were just the post they were leanin’ on, and you don’t mean a thing to them. The hill I die on will be the one on which I’m stretched out enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze, with the handful of family (not blood, but my chosen family) I have chosen in this lifetime and who have chosen me. The rest I leave to walk their own pathways.

    “Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.” ILLUSIONS

    Be careful who you condemn. Judas Iscariot was simply playing his role. The show could not have gone on without him.

  303. Particles, the point he makes about people not reading closely enough, or to the end, is exemplified everywhere, most often by those Tertullian types who reach into the Scriptures and grab what they want, then use it as a weapon against the oppressed.

    But everyone does it all the time. There’s a great example in DARKNESS VISIBLE, which is in the house. I’ll get it directly.

  304. I don’t think dying on the hill is the same as condemning.

    Maya Angelou talks about not allowing people in her home or presence to spout their hatred/racism. It is about preserving an aura and environment of peace. Many people believe that if you do not respond, that you are in agreement with them and their actions/opinions.

    I could never live with myself for someone to think, from my inaction, that I agree with their defense of a child molester (even though, said child molester also has a story and is probably a grown victim of child abuse). Also when you are protecting your children from being exposed to abuse, whether emotional, physcial, or sexual – that is a place to draw the line and STAND – even if you get mowed down.

  305. Oh, I’m not condemning anyone. But if my children ever hear any of those Lying Lies and the Liars Who Tell Them crap it’s not going to be from someone we could just as easily avoid.

    Judas Iscariot is a story. My niece is real.

  306. Jodi, here’s the reason I can’t buy that ILLUSION’S quotation: because I’m an applied people. I have much greater faith in chaos theory than I do in my ability to draw people or events to me as if I were the center of the universe. Far as I can tell, ain’t nobody coming into my life who didn’t make some choices of his or her own.

  307. Also, the whole ‘So this is the little half-breed’ comment? That’s so verbally and mentally lame it isn’t worth discussing. Anger might lead to clarity, but cruelty just makes you act a damn fool.

  308. That’s my point exactly: it’s all about avoidance. I’m just not defending a hill against them. I’m not gonna steam about it.

  309. Particles, here’s the section you’re talking about:

    In the text, Faustus is reading from the vulgate of Saint Jerome, and comes to Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death,” he quotes, and stops right there, despairing, without turning the page. Dr. Hempel looked out at the class. “You’re all good Christians, right? What’s the rest of the verse? What would Faustus have seen if he’d turned the page?” There had been no answer. “‘For the wages of sin is death, but free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Don’t you understand? Faustus was eternally damned because he was a bad reader.”

    Even now, Amos had to shake his head in wonder. The genius of it, to send a man to hell, and all because he failed to read a text closely.


  310. I was the reader this week at my church. We did Exodus 32, 1-14. The text is basically about the making of the golden calf and Moses talking God outta wiping out the people at the base of the mountain.

    I was thinking it was a “good” thing they excerpted the lesson from the partial text. Geez, you go on with it and see what a drama queen Moses turned out to be when he broke the tablets in his rage over their “blasphemous partying and idolatry. I mean, Moses had already been clued in by God, right? Why all the drama?

    Then a few verses later you have Moses’ brother Aaron blaming the whole mess on the camp. So how did Moses react? He gathers a posse together who kill 3,000 people in the camp, in one day! And we think Dick Cheney is a horse’s ass. He is a saint compared to this.

    This is all very troublesome stuff. I think anyone who would have known what awaited after verse 14 was pretty darned glad it didn’t go any farther.

    Me? I like to hear myself read. I would have done the whole book of Exodus and thrown in some Deuteronomy if anyone had even casually asked.

  311. Haven. Hmmmm … about the “chaos theory” vs. “center of the universe” theory. For me (and that’s the only person I’m speaking for here), it seems all of us, all the time, are shining our light out there, so to speak. Just like on this blog. Some of us are drawn to your light, and who knows how many took a look and went in search of other lights? I am the center of my own universe, because that’s all I can be. And if someone else is drawn to my particular light, it’s because our two lights are similar somehow.

  312. DANGEROUS TERRITORY ALERT: The Hebrew Scriptures. I am not a Jew, even though, like Plath, I feel I may be a bit of one, so I don’t discuss it. Not my book, not my history, not my business. Except at the scholarly level.

    Most people love to hear themselves read aloud, isn’t that interesting?

  313. Not just, not our people, but not our time. I do think it matters. People’s understanding is constantly evolving, and it seems unfair to judge the past by the future’s standards.

    I love reading aloud, but I don’t like my voice on tape. The voice in my head is much different.

    And Haven, even though I know what your voice sounds like it STILL sounds completely different in my head when I read your words. The voice coming out of your mouth is so cute compared to the voice coming out of your fingers, which is a BAD ASS MO-FO!

  314. George, Haven, per the Exodus text. If one does NOT subscribe to the Tertullian, here-is-how-GOD-wants-you-to-read-this theory, then that reading from Exodus is not literal, but metaphoric: how does it apply to my life? Not as history, but as metaphor. That reading can breed fear and terror, or – OR – one could silently contemplate it, in a meditative way, and eventually draw out a parallel that would speak to one’s current lifetime. I, myself, would not use a 2,000-year-old map to navigate from my home in Fort Wayne to downtown Indianapolis. Who in their right mind would, or could?? So whyohwhy would I use a 2,000-year-old story as a guide for my life today? There aren’t any tribes or golden calves or stone tablets where I live, and trying to twist them into something I can work with — well, after I stopped being TERRIFIED by the teachings of my childhood church, I relaxed and took a good look and thought for myself about it. And that’s when it pulled into a clear perspective. Remember, I’m ONLY TALKING ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE. That’s the beauty of it — we are all free to do as we see fit.

  315. talk about voices out loud: me and two of my sisters sound exactly alike – eerily so, like one time (at band camp) I called my sister and her husband picked up the phone and we were just chatting away and the he said something like “yeah, baby” or something kind of saucy – and I was like, um, hey it’s Sher, not ________ . We both about died!!!

    When I hear myself on our answering machine, I always think it is my sisters.

  316. I’ve never heard her voice, but I get the feeling Haven speaks softly but carries a mean pool stick. I might get Solace from the library tonight and listen to portions. (You read it, Haven, right?) I’m already listening to great stuff on disk as I go into work, however.

  317. Re Haven’s comment: “Most people love to hear themselves read aloud, isn’t that interesting?”

    And blog out loud, too.

    point taken

  318. George,

    You can listen to Haven right off her website, she has links to radio interviews and other things she has done – you will LOVE it, and it is more “chatty” and personal than the book readings (which I adore as well), but I felt more like she was across the cafe table during the interviews. And she laughs, which is a beautiful vibration!

  319. Jodi: I never took that Old Testament stuff too literally — not even when I was a kid sitting in a Baptist church in Southern Indiana. I don’t know. The people sitting on the pew next to be bought it lock, stock and a double-barrel. I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to believe the worst about God even though there was plenty of written testimony to that fact and no farther than the Pentateuch, either.

    I attend an Episcopalian church, but my belief system is diverse. It is basically Christian, with a ton of Buddhism, a dash or two of Hindu; some Native American stuff, a little bit of Islam, a touch of Jewish…and, I don’t know what else.

    It gives spiritual comfort when I need it and offers challenges to the soul, too.

  320. George, it’s ALL about “spiritual comfort,” and anything else is the mark of a fake messiah, in my book. Amen.

  321. Haven, stay away from your mentalist while you’re wielding that sharp sharp knife of yours. You go, girl. You go. Ain’t nobody gonna mess with your kids while you’re on duty. Whew! =0)

  322. Here is what I was looking for in Styron:

    The vast metaphor which most faithfully represents this fathomless ordeal, however, is that of Dante, and his all-too familiar lines still arrest the imagination of the unknowable, the black struggle to come:

    Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
    Mi retrovai per una selva oscura,
    Che la diritta visa era smarrita.

    In the middle of the journey of our life
    I found myself in a dark wood,
    For I had lost the right path.

    [On the last page:]

    . . . whoever has been restored to health has almost always been restored to the capacity for serenity and joy, and this may be indemnity enough for having endured the despair beyond the despair.

    E quindi escimmo a riveder le stelle.

    And so we came forth, and once again held beheld the stars.

  323. I am intrigued by Langston’s implication of Taos being Baby Jesus, at least to their mother . . .

    “I’m sorry that if one of us had to go, it was your beautiful, perfect son. It should have been me. I wish it had been me, instead.”

    At that point, she was literally having survivor’s guilt, am I right, Haven???

  324. sorry, that was on pg. 239, following Langston’s review of the art books.

  325. Jodi, thank you. I’d rather be a good mother than a good anything else. Except maybe a RODEO CLOWN!

  326. It’s both, Sher.

  327. Haven,

    Dante, in his wisdom, names a COLLECTIVE journey: “In the middle of the journey of OUR life”

    Yet he is alone when he suffers: “I found MYSELF in a dark wood, For I had lost the right path …”

    Then he joins life (we) following his restoration to health: “And so WE came forth, and once again held beheld the stars.”

    That’s the way I’ve lived it, too. You gotta find YOUR OWN WAY out of the confusion, write your own philosophy, test it, find the truth in it, trust it, and live it. Even if the philosophy you hone and temper and validate turns out to be the same as someone else’s, you have to find it yourself.

  328. Haven,

    Dante’s next stanza is good, too:

    “Ah, how hard to say what a harsh thing was
    that wood, savage and rough and hard,
    that to think about it renews the fear!”

    Boy, ain’t THAT the truth. The things that have first undone, then strengthened, my life give me the WILLIES when I review them in detail. And it isn’t hard –it’s IMPOSSIBLE — to “say what a harsh thing [it] was.” There’s no describing it. You can only talk about it with a laugh in retrospect, because once you’ve lived through it, it’s live-able, even though it was impossible.

    That Dante. What a guy. Do you suppose he was any fun at a cocktail party …?

  329. All Italians are fun at cocktail parties.

  330. I love that: once you’ve lived through it, it’s liveable, even though it was impossible. Damn, chile! If you weren’t a writer I’d steal that.

  331. HAVEN’S LAW NUMBER, I don’t know, SIXTEEN:

    You may steal from any overhead conversation, from people walking down the street, from carpenters or exotic dancers or what have you, but NO STEALING FROM OTHER WRITERS.

  332. Oooo! Thanks for the compliment, Your Royal Author-ness. =0)

  333. JODI’S LAW NUMBER, I don’t know, TWELVE:

    Open your hand, it’s my gift to you. Will you tell me when you use it? How entertaining would THAT be, to open a HAVEN BOOK and see something I wrote in there … WRITERS MAY SHARE PHRASES TO OTHER WRITERS.

  334. oops … share phrases WITH other writers.

    On second thought, maybe you’ll not be askin’ me fer more o’ my writin’, der, pardner.

  335. hmmm, how could there be a novel w/out any theology in it? is it even possible — regardless of whether the author was aware of it or not? a curious thought….

  336. Brent Bill –
    I think you are so on base, because even when one is internal dialogueing with oneself regarding your beliefs (or lack thereof) you be theologizing with yourself! Our worldviews, as changeable as they are, always deal with some form of theology.

    You are so smart and I loved reading some of your writings, but I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface. I am really impressed with the gentleness and thank you for a deeper understanding of your faith.

  337. Brent Bill is a hero among men.

  338. I changed my avatar to a drawing of “Split Self” because that is how I am feeling about hitting the roots/past again.

    I’ve got the Midwest Heebie-Jeebie’s

  339. Oh, Bill Brent, thank the Lord, you showed up just when I needed you. I was starting to get a little scared and over whelmed. Seriously. But now the debate is on t.v. More prayer is sorely needed.

  340. I decided I couldn’t bear to watch it, so I am watching Project Runway, instead. It was a good decision.

  341. Project Runway is the only reason I miss cable.

  342. Ooh, Project Runway! LOVE it!



  343. Re: Sarah Palin

    /me thinks McCain has never read The Mudflats

  344. …and getting crazier every day!

    Haven, as for overheard intellectual capital, here’s one of my favorite blogs:

  345. Particle – lovely, that made my night . . . so did Project Runway – please, I couldn’t live without cable – Bravo/Ovation TV/PBS . . . oo la la . . it keeps my company so often

  346. Whew! Just finished reading all the posts since I’ve been gone.

    Now, to address some questions/responses tossed my way:

    Evil and Clever? Not Rachele. Evil maybe. Not terribly clever (oh, stop me. I don’t like being bitter). And we were never roommates… though there were many nights spent on her bedroom floor after way too many rum & cokes. And I do think there was more than a little resentment in the way I gravitated more in your direction than hers. (whatever happened to her?)

    And the rant about being stereotyped? It just chapped my ass that someone at work would do it. I mean, come on, I do have impeccable style, taste and the best gal pals in the world. So bring it on! There’s a reason for the stereotype (he typed with one eyebrow arched.)

    Have I told everyone that I’ve known Haven since she was just 16 years old and still wearing Dr. Dentons? In the lotus position, against the arch between the living and dining(office) rooms of her mom’s boarding house for wayward college students, is my first memory of the divine Ms. K. (Hi, Mother Delonda – would love to see you again)

  347. And I just realized that I used chapped and ass in the same sentence… see? stereotype, meet reason.

  348. DOC MARTENS, Jim Shue. DOC MARTENS. Lord, what I have to do for you people.

  349. What are Dr. Dentons? Like Dr. Pepper? Augusten has a funny thread on his Facebook about food memories from the 70s. Space sticks. Yum.

  350. Nu huh! You were wearing one piece striped hooded pajamas. Try to play the cool hipster all you want, but Doc Martens were definitely NOT part of your wardrobe at that time.

  351. TO JODI -“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.” ILLUSIONS

    Be careful who you condemn. Judas Iscariot was simply playing his role. The show could not have gone on without him.

    exactly true. as i said in Split, you take away betrayal and the whole Christianity plot goes flat. no Judas, no Jesus would be an outlandish statement, woldnt it.

    Judas was a fallen angel. it may be true that we all are. i most certainly am.

    People regularly feel superior to everyone in California. The disdain for people where I live in Marin County is legion, because it is a primarily wealthy white county. but those same white people stand on the corner of the street when i drive to son to school, every day, protesting the war. they’ve been doing it for about two years,now. every day. our public schools turn no one away, regardless of IQ or the ability to speak English. i’ve never heard the phrase “ni4$er” or “spic” or anything like it. i grew up in san francisco,home of “those crazy hippies” but my father was a minister who marched w/ martin luther king jr, and we never used bigot language in our home, ever. Berkeley is summed up as a home for wispy poet nutcases of old, but Berkeley threw down during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movements like nobody’s biness.

    i think we all feel a fondness for our own home state, we maybe even suspect that we may know more CERTAIN THINGS (life, how to live it) than someone in another state or country. i’ve outgrown the need to tell everyone everything i know. the more i know, the more i know that my cerebral self is the least important part of me. and yes, haven is right when she said, We all like the sound of our own voice. i think it’s biological, the need to make ourselves real by commencing. i like Robert Caro’s underlying thesis that power doesnt necessarily corrupt, but POWER REVEALS. and hanging over the collegegates may be the phrase that Knowledge is Power, but what that power reveals is really up to us. i mean, i don’t see Obama chest-beating about everything he knows. but he is revealing the meaning of true power, which is the power of a country united, not in moral or intellectual or racial superiority, but in humanity. oh i cannot wait for the election. it just feels so …fullsome.

  352. to me, amos was given the power of being the preacher man. his power revealed his lack of faith in its perfect form. and yet this very realization drew him to his destiny. i loved amos from the moment he shows up. his humanity is finely drawn from word one. langston, to me, represents every awkward teenage soul in a body of no particular age. the weirder she got, the more i loved her. she really let it rip. i admire that in a girl.

  353. Since early this thread discussed bigotry at great length, I think it only appropriate to point out what is happening in California.

    This November, California will vote on whether or not to amend the state Constitution so that it would ban gay marriage. Currently, the polls suggest that the amendment will pass. The polls also show that individuals who have been exposed to materials put out by the “No on Prop 8” team are far LESS likely to vote for the amendment.

    NOW, we are at a crossroads and NOW we are able to put our money where our mouths are and stand up for love and honor and compassion in the face of bigotry, fear, and hate.

    For more information I recommend the blog Lesbian Dad at or just go directly to

    And if you can, donate. They desperately need the money in the face of the millions being spent by the religious right.

  354. I will never understand why people would be so concerned about what people are sleeping together or what sex they are when they dont even know them. I am a alpha male who could not deal wiht another man but, I could care less how or who people want to have sex. With the obvious exceptions of children and rape blah blah.
    Was there not something about judge lest ye be judged ?
    Sorry Mark I would have quoted you but it was in Matt I beleive.

  355. Any way this is about a book so Haven were you in NC when you wrote it ? I am curious about what the environment around you was like when you took out your #2 pencil ?

  356. Here is a link to images of the Prayer Flag and the Fog in Tennessee this morning . . .

    hope it works! I am off for 4 days . . . will miss you beloved Haven BlogBabies . . .

  357. Too many things to respond to but here’s a couple anyhoo.

    We don’t allow racial slurs, or other putdowns, in our home either. It’s frustrating that so many putdowns have become a common part of our language. For the past year the most common two are “gay” as in “that’s so gay” and “retard” as in “he’s such a retard.” It’s hard combatting these words when the kids hear them all day in school, and even the teachers allow them.

    In my experience not everyone who uses racial slurs intends to be harmful. Before walking away from people who use them, I usually state that I am offended or point out that the behavior is harmful, or at the very least displays ignorance, to the person who said it (unless I feel it would endanger me to say anything.) In several cases it was clear to me that the speaker didn’t actually realize the full impact of their words until I pointed it out. Sometimes the speaker still doesn’t get it but sometimes they are apologetic. To me this beats just walking away without saying anything because I am giving the speaker the benefit of the doubt, and I am also making it less likely that they will do it again because they won’t be as likely to risk having their behavior pointed out to them again. It is amazing how effective this is if done in a quiet, respectful way. (Of course, screaming at someone that they are a racist mofo bile-spewing pig, although momentarily gratifying, usually produces the opposite effect.)

    I always inwardly giggle when the superior straights rail against gays by claiming they perform sinful sex acts. I wonder 1) how do they know what other individuals do in the bedroom and 2) exactly what sex acts do they think gays are biologically capable of, and perform, that straights are not?

  358. Haven,

    This website has an evil component in which, if your Name and Mail are not typed in and you write in the posting box then tap Submit Comment, IT DELETES ONE’S COMMENT. Twenty minutes of thought all gone. All gone. It makes ice run in one’s veins. It makes one’s jaw drop and eyes widen. It is, in fact, a thing that makes one believe that there IS wrong in the world, there IS evil, there is … oh, forget it.

  359. IODINE revelations …

    Jung (son & heir) wanted to unearth corpses from the Iron Age, which made Freud (father) faint from fear.

    Billy (son & heir) unearthed and faced the ancient, archetypal horrors Loretta was inflicting on Trace, forcing Colt (father) to face them as well, when he was trying on all levels NOT to see them. Colt, who began this particular cycle when he blindly wed Loretta and gave her children to do with as she wished.

    Billy/Jung inherits the kingdom of the father (Colt/Freud) — a kingdom with sexualtiy as its axis.

    When the archetypal father sees what he has wrought, he sees it is NOT good, and runs from his creation.

    What does the archetypal story show must follow? The son must write his father’s obituary. In doing so, the son is destroyed by the very person he is saving — the victim, Innocence, the wounded woman, the pregnant acceptor of the world’s violence, whose misguided loyalty is to the father who abandoned her. Does the unknowing world not always kill its savior? Is the world not continually giving birth to itself? Even as Innocence mourns its actions in destroying its rescuer, its knight in shining armour, its gives birth — and the cycle begins all over again.

  360. Physical fact: when one witnesses Horror, Terror, Violence, the facial oracles actually WIDEN to take it all in: the eyes open more, the jaw drops, nostrils may flare, hearing acuity increases. Necessary movement for the spirit to accept what it witnesses.

  361. BACKATCHA, SUZANNE ~ re: “you take away betrayal and the whole Christianity plot goes flat. no Judas, no Jesus would be an outlandish statement, woldnt it.
    Judas was a fallen angel. it may be true that we all are. i most certainly am.”

    You are an Angel. You are Fallen. So are we all. We have both Betrayer and Savior within us. Right/Wrong, Good/Evil. And when we see ourselves, do we see TWO? No. We are each One Being. And when we begin to see beyond dichotomy, we recognize the Oneness of humanity. THERE IS ONLY ONE OF US HERE. So how can we say “no” to any one, to any thing? To the eat-and-be-eaten-ness of this lifetime? It’s sublime, it’s horrific. Did any of the great saviors of the world — Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha — say no? They said YES — EVEN UNTO DEATH. So how can we who “see” deny any aspect of this world? For me, I must say Yes. Does it hurt? Yes. Does it elate? Yes. Love your enemy, the “enemies” being (on a very short list) short-sightedness, hatred, racism, violence, fear. Love those who do evil to you. By hating them, by saying “no” to their existence, their blindness — are we increasing the light in the world? Maybe we don’t continue to have physical contact with them, but in our souls we can say “yes” to them, extend love to them, wish them well in their lifetimes, wish them peace and knowledge and Light. After all, are They monsters? No, They are not. They are, on a single point or two, misguided perhaps. Will becoming one of Them — a denier based on a point of disagreement — heal this hurting, sorrowful world? Quite the opposite. There Is Only One. Of. Us. Here. If we are to follow in the footsteps of the savior, we cannot deny any part of his example. Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. What We — all of us — do.

  362. Haven, I was distracted by racing home for the debate and then watching the debate (the dog made me some by needing to go out for a walk), so I completely missed the posts about Faustus being condemned to hell for being a bad reader. This is one of the pages I marked and kept coming back too.

    A couple weeks ago there was a tiny group of people on the GVSU campus drawing a large crowd. They were a group that could have been the black spawn of Fred Phelps. They wore oversized red t-shirts with bright yellow letters that screamed, “God Hates Fags,” and “No Homos in Heaven.” you can see a pictures here: While you’re looking, I wonder what you think about the banners? While these people were equal opportunity condemners (they were yelling nasty things at everyone) I’m most puzzled by the fact that these people are throwing the same book at homosexuals that was used to enslave their ancestors?

    Another example is a friend of mine was searching for a church and had a meeting with a local minister who told him, he was welcome to be a member of the church and he would be accepted as long as he wasn’t practicing homosexuality. Last week this same minister was in the paper because a woman went to him for pastoral care and he forced nude pictures of he and his wife (so he claimed) on the woman, even after she said NO she didn’t want to see them. It’s all quite baffling.

    I was called a “dyke” one day, as I was walking my dog on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street, by a 28yr old guy who lives with two teenaged girlfriends – both pregnant. And he didn’t even have the balls to come out from behind his curtain and outside to say it.

    It’s hard to make sense of it all bigotry and hatred being spread by the unwillingness to accept that which one cannot understand. I don’t know if all these people are bad readers or if they are just too numb to know they are hurtful.

  363. “…he would be accepted as long as he wasn’t practicing homosexuality.” Practicing? Hell, I’ve gone way beyond practicing. Yeesh!

  364. PARTICLES RE: “Every time I think I have regained all my power my mother shows up and her very presence steals it back for some reason. When my youngest sibling died I thought this kind of thing changed forever. It did for a while but after several years and some hurts feelings the power struggle is back were it was before his death. I don’t even want power I just want her to stop taking mine. It makes me sad but I have no idea how to change it. I can only change my part in the situation. The rest I just accept. I found though, after reading Solace, hugging my mother isn’t as frightening.”

    My situation is similar: death of my only younger sibling when I was fifteen and she was twelve, being one factor in a complicated family life. My father was Colt (putting 10,000 miles a year on his Ford Ranger while never driving more than 75 miles from home), my mother Loretta. (Ironically, mine is called Helen.) Forty-nine years of life later, you said the single conclusion that has given me back my existence: “I can only change my part in the situation.” That’s it, girlfriend. I have stepped back, and let NATURE (natural feelings) take its course: I feel nothing. The only NATURAL response to ongoing infliction of pain is numbness. When I stopped denying that, I found peace with my family situation.

  365. Okay, I’m going to have to change my name to Brendasynchronicity (except that it’s too long.) I went to my local bookstore to re-buy ‘Solace’ since I can’t find my copy and they didn’t have it but they did have ‘She Got Up Off The Couch’ so of course I had to buy that again and then, forgive my rambling but within the first chapter (I got involved rereading of course) there is a repeated reference to iodine when our lovely Haven is in the dump with Julie and then also at the bookstore staring me in the face was a book about the lives of sock monkeys which I had just read about at the beginning of this thread; so once again, I have the shivers. Is this Haven obsession a supernatural thing? I think so.

  366. Brenda D – perfectly natural, trust me! 🙂 I’m right there with ya! Good catch in She Got Up Off the Couch – I love the connection. Synchronicity is indeed at work here!!

  367. Before I address any other points, I’d like to say that my heart is broken for those of you who lost siblings. Losing my sister is one of my worst fears in the world, after losing my one of my children. My beloved Beth said to me, after Molly died, that we expect to lose our parents — it’s the natural way of things. But we expect to walk with our siblings until the end. And I wave a cold wave pass over my heart. Because there are a lot of people I could face this world without [Ed. note: this is a lie] but Lindy? Please, please take me first.

  368. Where in the name of salvation is my avatar?!? The world is one long trial, I swan.

  369. i always thought it was “i swanny”

    p.s. – just downloaded as much of The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers as I could, from their website

  370. Amanda, have you ever heard such a beautiful song? I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and there’s always a single moment that moves me to tears. I rank it right up with Black Star by Radiohead.

    It may be ‘I swanny’ where you come from, but I suspect you are not an unwashed hillbilly with no shoes and a very good chance of ringworm on my foot.

  371. i have not. and i am completely fascinated by their project with the Psalms.

    what about a nail in my foot? does that count as the same level of hilbilly as ringworm? probably not.

  372. Haven, I understand exactly how you feel. I feel precisely the same way about my sister Jennifer. She is the ONLY person on the earth who understands what it was like to grow up in our family, and we have the same frame of reference for everything else in this world. We share dna and the same messed up sense of humor – she can make me laugh till I nearly pee myself without uttering a word – just a look from her can send me into a frenzy. We nearly killed each other as teenagers, but I wouldn’t trade her for a thing.

  373. Stephanie in IN — once when Melinda and her DEAR DEAR HUSBAND were here after Baby Augusten was born, Wayne said, “Oh you know, that old question came up about what if everyone was drowning and Melinda had only one life preserver and all I could do was sigh and commence to drowning. Because there’s no doubt who she’d save.”

  374. LOL – my husband has had the same realization, I fear… 🙂

  375. I would not want to live in this world without my brother Joe. It’s that pure and simple. There’s a loving bond between my sister and me, but I am a lot older. Joe and I went rode our bikes right through a shared childhood.

  376. …what I learn from you guys…went to Prayers website and now listening…why do they remind me of Pink Floyd?

  377. Hi everyone,
    Beth, from Alabama here. Have been reading all these blog entries and just want to say I love all you people. For many reasons: it’s wonderful to revisit Solace through your comments (I cannot re-read it now because I HAVE to finish Jung’s autobiography for a class and I cannot let myself get sidetracked.)Solace remains one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. I’m in love with Amos AND Langston. The way she interacts with those children….anyway. I also love all you people for your above comments about racism and heterosexism and homphobia and appreciate that you don’t put all of us from the deep south into that ignorant, red-neck category (you know, the ones they always find to interview on national news???)And you are right about losing our sisters – that is an unbelievable bond. My sister, who is my heart, is a lesbian about to have a comittment ceremony at age 51 – what a struggle she has had. I know you all read lots of poetry and I’d love it if someone could recommend something really, really special I could read at their reception. Anyway, I ramble on. Back to you.

  378. Please forgive my late entry into this discussion. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, and as always I have had many “aha!” moments. You are very smart people.

    This has been one of my favorite books for a long time; there are so many facets of it that I find delicious. One thing I’d love to hear more about is how you as readers responded to the uses of names and the naming process. Haven please tell me if I have gone down a stray path, but I found that names are powerful in this novel. Most obviously the fact that the two little s claim Immaculata and Epiphany as the names given to them by Mary. Whether they named themselves or Mary named them, their new names give them a power or control that wasn’t possible with their old names. Amos the prophet and Langston Hughes the poet (“What happens to a dream deferred?”) seem like tinder and spark to me. And Taos (later Thomas — the twin? the doubter?) Evokes the desert and hermits who remove themselves from the world.

    Every sentence in this book is just dripping with ideas! I am beside myself at the opportunity to discuss it.

  379. I was 10 years older than my brother. When my mother brought him home from the hospital I wanted to take him to school for show and tell. She wouldn’t let me. I used to pretend he was mine when he was a baby. We spent a lot of time making elaborate cities for his Matchbox cars, out of Legos and beach sand. The first five or seven years of his life we were almost inseparable.

    I couldn’t tolerate being the hated step child so I moved out and finished high school, on my own, just before 17. The separation and his teen years doing his own thing, I’m sorry to say, broke the bond that was. He had a fight with my mother, ran away and join the navy when he was 21, and I never saw him again until they brought him home in a casket. Three years he was in the Navy before a motorcycle took his life three days before his 25th birthday.

    His anger kept him away until death brought him home.

  380. Liz, I’ll respond to these in reverse order: yes, every name is significant. There’s a scene when Amos is sitting with the girls in Beulah’s trailer discussing the significance of their names (liturgically) which might be helpful. Even the name Beulah refers to an old hymn. You’re right on track with everything.

  381. Ah, Particles. I had to take off my glasses and cover my face with a washcloth. That story is almost more than I can bear.

  382. Beulah Land

    I’m kind of homesick for a country
    To which I’ve never been before.
    No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
    and time won’t matter anymore.

    Beulah Land, I’m longing for you
    and some day on thee I’ll stand.
    There my home shall be eternal.
    Beulah Land — Sweet Beulah Land

    I’m looking now across the river
    where my faith will end in sight.
    There’s just a few more days to labor.
    Then I will take my heavenly flight.

    Beulah Land, I’m longing for you
    and some day on thee I’ll stand.
    There my home shall be eternal.
    Beulah Land — Sweet Beulah Land

  383. Beth, Jung’s autobiography (if you mean Memories, Dreams, Reflections) is one of my favorite books of all time. My copy is out in the barn — have you noticed that whatever book I want is in the wrong dwellIng? You’d think the odds, as the odds always are, would be 50/50, but no. They are 100%. Even without looking at it I can tell you some of my favorite ideas, like the deus absconditus, a hidden or concealed god. Or that the archetypes speak in bombast. He says the finest, most significant conversations of his life were anonymous (some of mine, too). “The kernel of all jealousy is a lack of love.” Oooo, and I love how he says that the crime of faith is its forestalling of experience. THINK ABOUT THAT, Kate. He calls humanity and animals bits of God that have become independent.

    Okay, you get it — I love that book.

    I have bent and bulging shelves of poetry, many of them, so I shall look for something beautiful to read at your sister’s wedding.

  384. Haven and the others here who have lost a child or sibling, I am sorry for your loss.

  385. Amanda, I just love you.

  386. George, I think they remind you of Pink Floyd because of a sonic density, but if I may — their mathematical progression is actually much closer to Radiohead. Download — no wait, I’ll send it to you — Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music For A Film,’ which I consider their most astonishing song ever, and you’ll hear it. Prayers and Tears is built upon a constantly building crescendo, which goes straight to the solar plexus, while the aural density of Pink Floyd was somewhat static, i.e., great to get stoned to. “Lisa” is a song you have to pay very close attention to.

  387. Particles: Your post punched me to the core, bringing up memories of my grandmother’s death in car crash in Florida in 1962, demolishing so much of the family in its aftermath, gashes and wounds that have never healed. At my uncle’s deathbed in April, however, I was convinced that everything is ultimately reconciled. Convinced.

  388. It is Memories,Dreams,Reflections I am reading and it is fascinating. I’m in a 2 year Spiritual Director trng course at the Haden Institute in my favorite place on this earth, the mountains of western North Carolina ( The program defines spirituality in wonderfully broad ways – we are studying Jungian psychology, the Christian mystics, desert fathers and mothers, divine feminine, etc, etc. I am going to recommend ALL Haven Kimmel books to my class! One of the most meaningful Jungian concepts to me is the projection of shadow onto Other – whoever they currently are (women, arabs, muslims, homosexuals, men, people of color, etc)and how if we all just did our own shadow work, how much more peaceful this lovely earth would be. Thanks, Haven, for looking for a poem for my sister.

  389. Haven, I am thinking about it. Oh man.

    Exit Music for a Film…gack!

  390. …this learning thing is why this blog is so darned important to me: the books and music that lead into ideas and thoughts that I have been exposed to and would have otherwise missed. I know nothing about Radiohead. Now I can open up a new file and be changed in the process. Old dogs don’t have to growl around all the time; they can learn new tricks.

  391. Anyone who wants me to send Exit Music For A Film, please send me your e-mail address. It should be heard by all. I’ll also send Lisa if you’re interested.

  392. Cake, is that a Haven-type good GAK or a YUCK gak?

    Also, George, in terms of the lyrics you can understand, it was written for the most recent (Coppola?) version of Romeo and Juliet.

  393. OK, so now I have to read Memories, Dreams, Reflections . . . I was thinking a lot about your response to the knuckleheaded reviewer who doubted that so many brilliant people could live in a small town. Of course, I’ve known how wrong he is my whole life, becasue my mother was raised in Mangum, Oklahoma, which is just as small as it sounds. Fabulously deep and thoughtful people everywhere you turn.

    But I do think the world is full of people whose lives are opaque to us — either because that is their choice, or because we are not truly present and paying attention. Amos thinks it in Solace: “Amos watched her, struck again by how exquisite the stories were the people around him carried, and most silently, the lives they’d lived and endured, the sweetness and loss.”

    I read obituaries sometimes which is not morbid at all. I love to read about women and men who have lives that included the everyday and the extraordinary, all jumbled together. I wish I had met the woman who attended Madison College, became a high school English teacher, spent two years in Mongolia as a Peace Corps volunteer, was a member of the Miriam Fellowship at Asbury UMC and was active in the Order of the Eastern Star. I want to say, “Go back! Go back! Mongolia?!”

  394. ohhhh i would like to hear Exit Music for a Film!

  395. i cant get Beulah Land out of my head, nor how perfectly that song applies to Beaulah

  396. Liz, RIGHT? Mongolia, as in, “We built the Great Wall of China to keep the mongol herds out of our perfectly civilized totalitarian, murderous Maoist starving country?”

  397. Almost Clouds is like my Emergency Back Up author.

  398. Amanda, shall send right now.

  399. Have, you are the coolest outlaw Quaker girl in the world.

  400. I don’t men “Go back TO Mongolia!” I just mean here is this nice staid seeming lady, who want to a local state teachers’ college, and came back and taught, and went to church and was in a Fellowship Circle, and a lot of people would say there’s nothing interesting there. But she joined the Peace Corps and went to Mongolia. I just would love to have met her and asked her about what that was like. And obituaries are full of people whose lives have meaning and depth and resonance and impact, but not in a way “the world” notices.

  401. Oh, no Liz, that’s what I meant: You went to MONGOLIA? To the dead person, not you, Liz. God, maybe I need to lie down.

  402. Right! I wanted to know more!

  403. I mean, that is daring business, right there. Mongolia? China at that time? China now? EEEK.

  404. Cub reporters at newspapers used to be trained by writing obituaries. When I would call bereaved families to check fact, I would learn so much more about the person. Early in my career, I used to take so much pride in writing front-page Sunday take-outs that I thought were important, by the time my career was waning, I came to regard them as sacred work, the one thing I would write that would be most likely cut out, laminated in plastic, and slipped into a family Bible.

  405. I always want to know more. I hope that heaven is a place where I can find all the answers. What’s the deal with the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth? Was Patricia Cornwell right about Jack the Ripper? Who authored Shakespeare’s works? Stonehenge — tell me how they did it. None of these things really matters but gosh! I’d love to know!

  406. aprapo of nothing: do you all want to know something kind of embarrassing about me? and also my cat?

    i got Madeleine (named after Madeleine L’Engle… the other one is Langston, named after… yeah you can guess that one) when she was about 7 weeks old. she came from a kill shelter in a neighboring county and had obviously been separated from her mother too soon because she did what vets call “woolsucking.” she would suck on a piece of material as if she were sucking on a bottle, padding her feet around the area just like if she had been attached to her mother and trying to express the milk.

    the one thing that made my cat different than any other cat i have ever heard of is that Madeleine will ONLY do this woolsucking on my shirt… not any particular shirt, just whatever shirt i happen to be wearing. she climbs up on my tummy and starts “nursing” (i call it) around my collarbone. when she was tiny i tried training her to suck on a certain blanket that i would drape over my shoulders and chest, but she knew the difference… she would dig and wail and nudge until she had moved the blanket and found my shirt.

    she is a year-and-a-half now and she still nurses. the vet says she is likely to do so all her life.

  407. George, you are so right. I think they are so important — sacred is a great word. Did you read the pieces written by the New York Times staff about the lives of people killed on September 11? Tears streaming was my default mode.

  408. george, you are amazing. i hope i learn and know as much as you do, and have, over the course of my life.

  409. If I stick my index fingers simultaneously deep into my cat Zippy’s ears and scrunch them around, his eyes will roll back into their sockets and his left leg will start thumping like a dog. Now I don’t know if that says Zip is weird or if his person is weird for discovering this thing.

  410. Liz-
    Had to chime in about your heaven comment. I have always hoped that there will be seminars in heaven, where we can have all of our questions answered about everything. I have always loved learning

  411. …it relaxes both of us after a tiring day

  412. Amanda, I had cat named Bronte with that same . . . habit, and her nickname in our house became Suck-Upon.

    George, this might want to be something you keep between you and your social worker.

  413. ROFLMAO @ George and Zippy.

  414. madeleine will also play fetch… she will meow meow meow until i throw her little ball made of tinfoil… and then she will bring it back.

  415. Langston, the other cat, will stare at Madeleine playing fetch with the expression that my boyfriend describes as “You have set the species back 300 years.”

  416. When I worked at a veterinary hospital, we had a hospital cat that had been deprived of oxygen for a few minutes during a surgery. Afterwards, he LOVED to be “petted” backwards, going against the grain. And he liked to play fetch. And would often sit above the sharps container and bat things away, when we would try to throw them in. Oh, and we also started missing the ear cones (to look in animal’s ears with) until we found him stealing them and stashing them under a desk.

  417. My dog, Gracie, whose the size of a cat thinks getting dressed is an invitation for tug-of-war. It matters not what article of clothing you’re trying to put on.

  418. Ohmygosh – don’t even get me started on cat behavior – I could talk all day and bore you all SILLY! I have a cat, Stinky, who fetches – he loves it. And for you, George – my cat Ringo LOVES to have his ears rubbed in the way you describe. Scott does it to him, and it stresses me out, but Ringo closes his eyes and is deliriously happy. 🙂

  419. Beth, here a Neruda poem I adore, tr. from the Spanish by Ben Belitt:

    Sonnet XC

    I dreamed that I died: that I felt the cold close to me;
    and all that was left of my life was contained in your presence:
    your mouth was the daylight and dark of my world,
    your skin, the republic I shaped for myself with my kisses.

    Straightaway, the books of the world were all ended,
    all friendships, all treasures restlessly cramming the vaults,
    the diaphanous house that we built for a lifetime together —
    all ceased to exist, till nothing remained but your eyes.

    So long as we live, as long as a lifetime’s vexation,
    love is a breaker thrown high on the breaker’s successions;
    but when death in its time chooses to pummel the doors —

    Ay! there is only your face to fill up the vacancy,
    only your clarity pressing back on the whole of non-being,
    only your love, where the dark of the world closes in.

  420. seminars in heaven…that is a great thought!!! In morning announcements they could mention today’s seminars, inform attendees whether tickets are available at the registration desk…

    MC: “Thank you for keeping you cell phones silenced, and oh, and before we take an eternity break, today’s seminar will feature panelists, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Jonathon Edwards, the preacher not the musician, and Paul Tillich.

  421. I’ll post a picture of my cat on the yahoo auxiliary blog. and, yes, I don’t tell the ear thing around much in polite and refined company, Haven, but I don’t think I have to worry about that too much in here. Zip also goes with me and the dogs on our “biological” breaks as my dog Sadie calls them. She’s finicky like that. Zip uses it as a chance to cack up something in the gutter. Now that’s what I call polite. He knows how I hate to clean up that gunk!

  422. Yes, George,
    Mine are the simple questions.
    Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons?
    Where did Jesus go between the ages of 12 and 31?
    And what was Paul’s thorn in his side?

    But C.S. Lewis… that sounds really fascinating.

  423. Well, I think Paul’s thorn was, in fact, a real thorn. This is based on a literal interpretation, but it would be a great seminar topic.

    As for Jesus: The Lost Years, we should invite his brother James, Dr. David Livinstone (I presume), and, of course, Indiana Jones.

    Not so sure about the seminar on Adam and Eve. We could call it: The Question of Umbilicus, Adam and Ever Reconsidered. Don’t know exactly whom to invite as a speaker, but I certainly would NOT rule out Charles Darwin.

  424. Hi everyone. Today has been very long and tiring – back to back to back meetings and not fun ones. And it is raining hard and my son has a cross country meet later that will not be cancelled unless it starts to lightning. So, all I can say is that I wish I could just climb inside this blog and run around and play with all the characters.

  425. RACHEL IN CA and LIZ re: “I have always hoped that there will be seminars in heaven”

    Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying that the difference between American and Europeans is, if there was a choice between going to heaven and attending a lecture on it, Americans would choose the lecture.

  426. …cat’s picture is now on yahoo. you may notice that his ears are in an upright position, awaiting fingers.

  427. Jodi, I love the Oscar Wilde quotation. But as an Anglophile American who wants to eat her cake and have it too, I choose to hope that heaven IS the lecture. Rachel and George — first one there saves seats!

  428. It’s a good gack…as in GAH I AM IN LOVE ACK.

  429. Also, it was Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet.

  430. Ok, I am cracking up about these feline behaviors, and GEORGE!!! GEORGE!!!

    And I have ALWAYS thought that about Heaven. I want to know about haunted houses, alien abduction, and most of all THE SHROUD OF TURIN. Plus the stuff you guys mentioned.

  431. The Shroud of Turin! Sing it, sister!

  432. Shroud of Turin: Threads of Evidence or Fabric of Deceit. Guest speakers would include Coco Chanel, Willard Libby, the father of radiocarbon dating, and others TBD.

  433. There is an expert on the Shroud in Evansville, Dr. Dan Scavone. I have been to many of his lectures.

  434. Listening to Radiohead RIGHT NOW!! OK Computer made the top of my head blow off.

  435. As for the mysteries revealed in heaven – who shot JR? What really happened to Marilyn Monroe? And where did Cain find his wife?

  436. Oh yes – OK computer ROCKS! 🙂

  437. HAVEN re Jung’s remarks:

    “The kernel of all jealousy is a lack of love.” And it’s expressed by the fact that it is the people who HATE you who want most of all to be JUST LIKE you.

    “Oooo, and I love how he says that the crime of faith is its forestalling of experience.” By staying busy believing in the FORMS that religion takes, going through the ritual, thinking of the nativity at Christmas and the crucifixion at Easter and fingering rosary beads and attending mass where the priest handles it for you — one doesn’t have to take on the RESPONSIBILITY of knowing YOU ARE IT, there’s nowhere OUTSIDE of yourself to find the answers because they are all IN YOU. It’s much easier to take someone else’s word for what you need to do to make it into heaven than it is to examine one’s conscience and behavior, compare it to those of a messiah, and follow that rocky path.

    Ol’ Jung. What a guy.

  438. Jodi…can it be both?

  439. Oh geez – I just looked at my post – it should read – who shot JFK – sheesh… I think we know who shot JR, right??? Derrrrr…..

  440. LOL Who shot JR is much funnier!

  441. You GUYS! You can answer all those “heaven seminars” questions your own darned selves. We’re blogging on an AUTHOR’S WEBSITE, for heaven’s sake. Write it! You’ll be absolutely correct. There’s no single version of any event that has ever occurred. Go ahead — somebody start … Okay, I will.

    1. Nobody shot JR. It was a dream.
    2. Marilyn Monroe was a Wounded Woman, a living archetype whose childhood abuse informed her entire adult life. Regardless of the beauty the world saw in her, she found no solace for her soul. She continually sought love everywhere she went, and because she was Beauty Walking, the world responded in a resounding manner. When she had lived 36 years, the hole in her soul became a vacuum. The Perfect Woman gave in to the wounded child (“You. Breaked. My. Heart.”) and Marilyn swallowed enough sleeping pills to move up and out of this world. (Didn’t you guys read and understand IODINE? Jeeze …)

  442. KATE,

    Can WHAT be BOTH?

  443. okay, well that still doesn’t answer how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    just kidding?

  444. I think there is a marriage between self and the infinite, to be sure, but I am not sure the infinite is contained in our puny selves. I am continually recognizing the role I play in my faith, while also recognizing the forces outside of me. In so many ways it becomes more about me…and less about me…all the time.

  445. for anyone who may be interested, i managed to upload an mp3 of the hymn Beulah Land. it is on the bottom left side of my blog (click my screenname) if you want to hear it.

  446. Or to put it in George terms: (let’s see if I have this right)
    The Quantum Theory of Spiritual Beings Coalescing in One Point of Space and Time
    taught by Steven Hawking?

  447. …taught by Steven Hawking with an introduction from Carl Sagan and concluding thoughts from Albert Einstein.


    1. What’s the deal with the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth?

    Archetypes all. Meant to be meditated upon without preconceived (pun intended) notions dictated by centuries of religious pundits. For example, Joseph Campbell offers that the virgin birth “is the birth of spiritual man out of the animal man” and that “it happens when you awaken at the level of the heart to compassion, … experienc[ing] participation in the suffering of another person.” The birth is that of a god, “And do you know who that god is? It’s YOU. All of these symbols in mythology refer to YOU. You can get stuck out THERE, and think it’s all out THERE. So you’re thinking about Jesus with all the sentiments relevant to how he suffered — out there. But that suffering is what ought to be going on in you. Have you been spiritually reborn? Have you died to your animal nature and come to life as a human incarnation of compassion?”

    Okay, anybody wanna take a crack at: Who authored Shakespeare’s works? Or how about:
    Stonehenge — tell me how they did it.

  449. Thanks for the poem, Haven, it is perfect. I find myself drawn to poetry for the first time in my middle age. The above conversation reminds me of Rumi, who I have been reading when he says “out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field…I’ll meet you there.” I find myself fluctuating back and forth between the desire to embrace mystery and the need to have some answers….just a few answers??? But it’s really easy to get bogged down in that whole right and wrong thing and the quote by Rumi reminds me of that when I need it.

  450. Amanda–I tried to click on your screen name, but nothing happened. ???

  451. coolest t-shirt from a seminar I attended was on at Indiana University back around 1989. The seminar was called: The Evolution of Peculiar Red Giant Stars. I wore that t-shirt until it was as flimsy as the Shroud of Turin, or one of Marilyn Monroe’s nighties….

  452. oh shoot, i thought that would work. ok, here is the link Jerri. thanks for letting me know!

  453. George, do you still have that flimsy t-shirt? Because that’s really all I wear.

    And Rachel, the Medieval scholars considered the angels dancing on the head of a pin question to be very serious: it really pondered whether rational beings could be formless but still occupy time and space.

  454. Huh.
    I had always assumed it was one of the cliche questions bandied about in church, when I was growing up. I had no idea it was a true theological discussion.
    Thank you.

  455. You know whose music I really love. Actually, I love this man, period: John Hiatt

    I was listening to this song driving home yesterday and for some reason it made me think of all of you. (it is his latest, Same Old Man)

    My favorite lines are:
    You’re alone in the coffee shop and then she’s by your side
    Love picks up the tab and you’re both having pie

    What Love Can Do
    We were always happiest when we needed the least
    Who knew this love would turn in to such a feast
    Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a midnight snack
    I’m full to the brim, but I keep comin’ back

    You take your tiara babe, I’ll take my crown
    Come on honey, let’s go downtown
    Trade ‘em in on pauper’s rags and some worn out shoes
    Count on the kindness of strangers,
    That’s what love can do
    That’s what love can do
    Make you feel brand new
    That’s what love can do
    Lose someone you thought was you
    That’s what love can do
    Fire your heart and burn clean through
    That’s what love can do

    It’s like we’ve laid in this river bed for a couple o’ million years
    Shaped by the waters ‘till we’ve nearly disappeared
    Two little grains of sand locked in the eternal kiss
    Don’t wake me up now, there’s somethin’ that I might miss

    That’s what love can do
    Make you feel brand new
    That’s what love can do
    Lose someone you thought was you
    That’s what love can do
    Fire your heart and burn clean through
    That’s what love can do

    You dream a dream then the dream comes true
    Can you imagine what love can do?
    You’re alone in the coffee shop and then she’s by your side
    Love picks up the tab and you’re both having pie

    That’s what love can do
    Make you feel brand new
    That’s what love can do
    Lose someone you thought was you
    That’s what love can do
    Fire your heart and burn clean through
    That’s what love can do
    That’s what love can do
    Make you feel brand new
    That’s what love can do

    Lose someone you thought was you
    That’s what love can do
    Fire your heart and burn clean through
    That’s what love can do

  456. I had to retire that particular T-shirt. I loved it. Still do. I bet I could dig it up though in one of the plastic storage boxes in my basement where I keep stuff I cannot bear to part with. It was just another event I covered for The Star during a short stint I had as a science writer. That was a fascinating gig. I had a chance to interview James Watson, one of the co-discoverers of DNA, and I attended a two-week Knight Fellowship on Brain Science. That was eight hours each day visiting such places as Johns Hopkins, NIH and considering such topics as neural chemistry, memory, experience, sensory perception, movement, and autonomic function. Pretty deep stuff. But that seminar on the Red Giants yielded the best-ever t-shirt. You could wear it with anything, khakis, jeans, corduroys…

  457. Hey, George? How many steps down to the basement? Couldn’t be too many, right? Like, twelve?

  458. I’ve always liked John Hiatt…a song I listened to the other day was Harvest Moon by Neil Young. What a beautiful little tune. It just crept up randomly on my MP3. But, today, on this very blog, I was exposed to Radiohead and The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers…very intrigued…so much to experience in this life…multi-tasking is imperative.

  459. …yeah, it’s about twelve or so steps down to the basement, then about twelve hours or so of getting lost in stuff…and getting high on moth ball fumes. Not a bad afternoon all-in-all. I’ll wander down there tonight and see what I can find. I have to clean the cat’s litter box anyway.

  460. Rachel, here’s another great one, this with the added benefit of having been written by one of the Sapphic persuasion [note — she adds the second ‘L’ to ‘marvelous,’ you may leave it out in pronunciation]:

    It Is Marvellous . . .

    It is marvellous to wake up together
    At the same minute; marvellous to hear
    The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
    To feel the air clear
    As if electricity had passed through it
    From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
    All over the roof the rain hisses,
    And below, the light falling of kisses.

    An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
    It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
    If lightning struck the house now, it would run
    From the four blue china balls on top
    Down the roof and down the rods all around us,
    And we imagine dreamily
    How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
    Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;

    And from the same simplified point of view
    Of night and lying flat on one’s back
    All things might change equally easily,
    Since always to warn us there must be the black
    Electrical wire dangling. Without surprise
    The world might change to something quite different,
    As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
    Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking.

    Elizabeth Bishop


  461. Hey Jodi, in the Heaven Seminar I think you just go, “Stonehenge: WTF?!?”

  462. … and here I thought it was about electricity…that bird cage exists. It is called a Faraday cage

  463. Hey Haven! Yep, that’s how you go about Stonehenge.

  464. In ancient times…
    Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
    Lived a strange race of people… the Druids

    No one knows who they were or what they were doing
    But their legacy remains
    Hewn into the living rock… Of Stonehenge

    STONEHENGE! Where the demons dwell
    Where the banshees live and they do live well
    STONEHENGE! Where a man’s a man
    And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan


    STONEHENGE! ‘Tis a magic place
    Where the moon doth rise with a dragon’s face
    Stonehenge! Where the virgins lie
    And the prayers of devils fill the midnight sky

    And you my love, won’t you take my hand?
    We’ll go back in time to that mystic land
    Where the dew drops cry and the cats meow
    I will take you there, I will show you how


    And oh how they danced
    The little children of STONEHENGE
    Beneath the haunted moon
    For fear that daybreak might come too soon

    And where are they now?
    The little people of STONEHENGE
    And what would they say to us?
    If we were here… tonight

  465. as long as we’re talking music/poetry, this one seems appropriate right now… (i will post an mp3 of this on my blog)

    If A Song Could Be President

    If a song could be president
    We’d hum on Election Day
    The gospel choir would start to sway
    And we’d all have a part to play

    The first lady would free her hips
    Pull a microphone to her lips
    Break our hearts with Rhythm and Blues
    Steve Earle would anchor the news

    We’d vote for a melody
    Pass it around on an MP3
    All our best foreign policy
    Would be built on harmony

    If a song could be president
    We’d fly a jukebox to the moon
    All our founding fathers’ 45’s
    Lightnin’ Hopkins and Patsy Cline
    If a song could be president

    If a song could be president
    We could all add another verse
    Life would teach us to rehearse
    Till we found a key change

    Break out of this minor key
    Half-truths and hypocrisy
    We wouldn’t need an underachiever-in-chief
    If a song could be president

    We’d make Neil Young a Senator
    Even though he came from Canada
    Emmylou would be Ambassador
    World leaders would listen to her

    They would show us where our country went wrong
    Strum their guitars on the White House lawn
    John Prine would run the FBI
    All the criminals would laugh and cry
    If a song could be president

  466. I realize that I just butted in. (I was the Rachel the other night that wanted to take her 3 year old to New Orleans and still reeling from the idea of my child finding a “sticky balloon” on the sidewalk.)
    This is such a warm, wonderful, intelligent, thought provoking, funny, sarcastic, great place to be I couldn’t resist.
    Thanks for being welcoming.

  467. Hey Rachel. I just butted in, too. But it’s such a great group.

    I found a “sticky balloon” as a 9-year-old kid. My mom scrubbed my hands and arms with Tide and scalding hot water. Never did tell me what it was.

    At 40–I kid you not, 40 years old–I saw a knowingly saw a condom for the first time and fell down laughing. In. the. floor. laughing.

    Now how one could get to 40 without ever seeing an actual condom is a long, long story. Let’s just say I got married young and stupid.

  468. Could someone please write a song entitled “Sticky Balloon”?

  469. …don’t tempt me, Jodi

  470. well sticky does rhyme very well with icky

  471. I recall the day I found a sticky balloon,
    It was on the sidewalk in the town of Walloon,
    As I reached to pick it up my mama grabbed my arm
    And said,
    “Son you leave that lay, did you hear what I said?”
    I sang,

    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    You can hang it from a tree top, you can
    Keep it in your room, Ooooooh …”

    My husband suggested not blogging this. I ignored his admonition. Chastise as you see fit — or finish the song.

  472. I was the one looking for a wedding poem for my sister’s wedding/comittment ceremony – isn’t it ridiculous to have to differentiate just because the two people are of the same gender. Jesus take the wheel… Anyway…the Elizabeth Bishop poem is great and I will share it with my sister and her partner although I doubt I’ll read that one at the party 🙂 My 10 year old is reading Us Two by A.A. Milne at the actual service. It’s awesome.
    and btw, the sticky balloon thing is making me hoot!

  473. jodi,
    encore, encore

  474. Terry Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax took care of the angels:

    “Mistress Weatherwax, you are a natural disputant.”
    “No I ain’t!”
    “You’d certainly enjoy yourself at the Synod, anyway. They’ve been known to argue for days about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” …
    “Well, if it’s an ordinary household pin, then there’ll be sixteen.” …
    “I don’t know. Perhaps they like dancing.”

  475. RUH ROH, do I have a story about a sticky balloon. God above.

  476. Jodi, you are magnificent itself.

    And for those who missed it, Kate Cake is quoting from SPINAL TAP, because she is just that cool.

  477. I was waiting for someone to compliment me on my MAD POETRY SKILLZ!

    My husband has vowed and declared never to return to New Orleans due to all the Sticky Balloons he saw on the sidewalk.

  478. Do we get the sticky balloon story, Haven?

  479. Yes. I think Haven’s sticky balloon story is QUITE in order.

  480. You know, everything that’s placed on the Internet is permanent, and I fear this is something I would never in million years live down. I don’t DESERVE to live it down. I deserve to be PUNISHED, even though it was an accident and ONE HUNDRED PER CENT JOHN’S FAULT.

  481. We need to set up an area with a password; otherwise I’m toast.

  482. John’s fault? Surely not!

  483. It was your story, kate cake that changed my mind about taking my 3 year old picture of innocence to that city. (but really, if we stay in the french quarter, would it be okay?)
    I am afeared that with climate changes and more big hurricanes, that city won’t be around very many more years

  484. oh my god. i swanny, yall are just the best group of people i know. my ex — who was very funny and a sweetheart right up until he eviscerated me — used to say “Suzanne, you’re a great group of people.” perfect.

    today i was on a first date with Martin from, and we were having coffee and making smalltalk. and then i gazed out the window and i saw three elderly people walking extremely slowly by. and i said,without thinking

    “They were young, once.”

    and Martin smiled in a sweetly confused way and said “They were?’

    ‘Yes’, i said. “They also thought they had plenty of time.”

    ‘For…everything?’ he said.

    “Yes. For everything”

    and we looked at each other in a new way.

    Haven’s books feel as good as that moment felt. All of them give me a wakeup call to the present and a Hail Mary to the past.

  485. New Orleans is perfectly safe for children. Take cabs, stay in the tourist areas. It’s fine. It’s gorgeous and the most interesting place in the country. Fear nothing.

    100% JOHN’S FAULT.

  486. ARRGH!! Stupid job, bills, responsibilities keeping me from this blog! If I could I would renounce all worldly possesions, and dedicate myself to the thoughtful discussion that happens here. On the downside I’d have no way to pay for my internet connection so oh well.

    It comes as no suprise that people here have GREAT taste in music. One of the nice things about where I work is I can have Pandora on. I’ve had it tuned to my John Prine station all day so I’m feeling pretty mellow right now. Currently grooving to Townes Van Zant.

    I read Solace while on vacation in San Fran. a few years ago. Some friends who lived there very graciously invited us there to see the sights. I’m ashamed to admit that I was a very rude guest. I just could not tear myself away from that book.

  487. I do not fear New Orleans. I fear not hearing the sticky balloon story.

  488. Suzanne, you’re so much nicer than I am. I would have said, “Look at those raisins tryin’ to drag their beef jerky across the parking lot. Time to find the nearest ice floe.” Then John would have blushed and THOUGHT but not SAID because he doesn’t DARE, “Oh lord, my parents would die if they knew they she talks.”

  489. Just refreshed and saw Havens comment on New Orleans. Oh geez do I ever love that city! I feel a strange mixture of excitement and sadness whenever I go. Excited because I love being there so much, but sadness because I know eventually I’m going to have to leave.

  490. Oh, oh no…oh good lord!!!

    I remember my mom bringing me a plastic wrapper and asking me if I knew what had been in it. I shrugged and said “A lollipop?” She gave me a hard look and walked away. I truly had no idea at the time…makes me wonder if my brothers had taken to “experimenting” with the stuff in my moms drawer.

    I don’t blame her for suspecting me. I was forever finding interesting things in her bedside table drawer. I once took her empty birth control container outside and explained The Pill to my friends. She FLEW out the door when she saw that tell-tale pink plastic box in my hands. I used to put her wedding garter on my head (it made a BEAUTIFUL hat) and a variety of strange plastic plungers (it took me YEARS to figure those out.) The best was the time I found…I KID YOU NOT…a package of GREEN M&Ms and a pair of handcuffs.

    She says she confiscated the handcuffs from my brother, and the m&ms were a joke, but STILL.

    Sorry mom!

  491. You should see the 3-CD collection of songs I put together for my wedding reception. It took ass and then forget to take names, because of the liquor.

  492. Wait…what?? That made no sense to me.

  493. KateCake–I just spit ratatouille all over my computer. As with spoiler alerts, perhaps you should create spit alerts for your posts.

  494. Here’s an alert…if you see a little red girl avatar, be prepared with a napkin.

  495. oh my ya’ll are funny.

    suzanne, i have an AMAZING and wonderful story if you ever want to hear it.

    don’t give up!!!

  496. okay haven? hand pie? please explain that last post. it went EVERY whichy-way through my head.


  497. Let’s see, which post? They’re all a tad deranged.

  498. ALMOST CLOUDS: I’M on the very LIP of giving up. my Match Profile is down for the last time. my gut knowzit. and yet 2 men have parachuted in from the sky. why? my profile is down. they snuck in under the barbed WIRE. girl, post that story right now and shoehorn in something about Solace. I HAVE NEEDS, CHILLEN’.


  499. Guess were George is? Down in the basement, looking around for his filmy T-shirt. It’s because he knows I send great presents in return.

  500. Let’s return to the SOLACE, and then find some way to post the sticky balloon story without embarrassing anyone but John.

  501. Oh Scott…I agree with you…stupid JOB!! Keeping me from this blog and now I am hopelessly behind….WAIT! WAIT! JUNG HAS AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY? How can I not know that or have read that?
    Oh Kate, you make me snort…I will be watching for the little red girl avatar.
    You all make me snort, and that is meant with the most genuine fondness and gratitude.

  502. If Suzanne is referring to the wedding reception, that’s the thing that made me go “hmmm?”

  503. You know John and I got married? And we had a wedding reception under the Lucky Strike tower in the American Tobacco complex? And I put together all the music.

  504. ok, suzanne, you asked so i will answer:

    i had been on match off and on over a couple of years. i had reached a place, through therapy, at which i no longer felt desperately lonely. also i was BEYOND frustrated enough with dating… i decided i was going to turn off my match account and just let be what would be.

    the weekend i decided to turn it off, i told myself that i would do a couple of searches, just as a last fling. up until this point the ONLY search i would do was “mutual matches” because “i don’t want to look for someone who isn’t looking for me.”

    the last search i did was a broad search… i put in an age range, a few key words, etc. just to see what would happen.

    Dave happened.

    there were a couple of profiles returned in that search that were fairly interesting, so i initiated contact with both and began the GOD AWFUL process of the first emails/first dates.

    but the truth is that i knew from the very first email… the very first email dave sent to me referenced both my favorite author and my favorite musician. i was pretty sold.

    on our second date, he read me poetry (Billy Collins). i was done for.

    we’ve been together for almost seven months and i expect, fully and completely, that we will be together for every month left in the rest of our lives.

  505. It took ass??

  506. yeah, i told my story, now i want to hear the sticky balloon story from haven! and haven, you CAN password protect a post in wordpress… :)!

  507. Kate, you sweet thing. That’s a reference to ‘whipping ass and taking names.’ HELLOOOO.

  508. Tell me how! (Clouds.)

  509. 1) Log into your wordpress account
    2) Write the sticky balloon story in the big white box
    3) Go WAY down to the bottom and click “password protect this post
    4) Make up a password
    5) Go to the far right and click “Publish”
    6) It will show up as a password-protected post. So you will need to either ask folks to email you for the password or post it here in the blog comments. HAHA!

  510. I got that…I have just never heard it expressed that way before! Sorry dude.

  511. Rachel in CA Asked, “Where did Jesus go between the ages of 12 and 31?”

    Read, ‘Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal’ by Christopher Moore, then you’ll know. 🙂

    Jodi, NO I haven’t read Iodine yet and it took everything I had not to peek in on that thread. hint hint.

    Scott, I don’t pay for my internet I use my neighbors open wireless signal. If she ever moves I’m screwed. I don’t pay for cable either, so the internet is it for me.

  512. Can I go back to the names in SOLACE? I love that Immaculata and Epiphany were Madeline and Eloise — two picture book s who are fearless. I can’t think of the Madeline books without picturing Miss Clavell: “Something is not right!” Of course both storybook s are motherless for all real purposes. That they are transformed into Immaculata (conceived without sin) and Epiphany (they explain,”when Jesus appeared to the Gentiles,” but more generally, God made manifest; evoking the Magi)just slays me. They can’t be fearless any more, so Mary has given them the armor of new, power-filled names. Immaculata is sinless; it’s not her fault. Epiphany is reassured that God is present. Haven ….!

  513. Particleofspirit,

    I was just about to endorse Lamb myself. Great, gunny book. We were stealilng the neighbors signal for awhile as well, but ended up becoming legit. Although I do miss the rebel aspect of the old way.

  514. OK, so the word which is the opposite of boy is blocked by the filter on my computer which keeps my teenage son from being tempted by the worn which rhymes with born.

    But I’m talking about those two children that Langston loves!

    Good grief!

  515. Almostclouds if you put your blog address into your profile next to website your name will then click to your blog.

  516. oh my god.THANK YOU almost clouds. a beautiful yet fantastic story. IT’S the baby jesus !!! yay1!

    oh and miss cake? i also had no clue as to what haven said before, above, allegedly referring to ‘ kicking ass and taking names’, a phrase commonly heard.however, i believe if we look at haven’s post, we’ll see a very mysterious phrase which may be known as Jarvis-ese.

    i didn’t even know there was a Mutual Match search. i swanny, hand to Jesus, i’ve been doing the Broad search for 2 years. OH MY GOD.

  518. Well, there’s yer problem, Suzanne… you’ve been doing a BROAD search. (crickets chirp)

  519. Mutual Match???? What for art thou?

  520. Dearest Sock Monkey:

    You are a precious gift from God to to lesser (less funnier) mortals.

  521. Okay, one day, I went out to get the mail, and the kiosk was festooned with sticky balloons. Seriously, this person TOOK PAINS, as to placement, balance, and all those other design imperatives.

  522. lol… on your home page one of the buttons is for “mutual match” which uses the details you put in to match you to the details your potential s/o put in… stuff like age/politics/religion/children/interests/education/etc.

  523. carrie…. HORRORRRRRRRS! were they really STICKY balloons???? OMG

  524. Hellllloooooo, (dude, where are we tonight?) Helllooooo, America! This goes out to Rachel and Beth and Haven, by request!! It’s a little ditty I like to call … “Sticky Balloon,” and it goes something like this:

    I recall the day I found a Sticky Balloon,
    It was on the sidewalk in the town of Walloon,
    As I reached to pick it up my mama grabbed my arm
    And said,
    “Son you leave that lay, did you hear what I said?”
    I sang,

    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    You can hang it from a tree top, you can
    Keep it in your room, Ooooooh …
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    You’re a Friend – For – Life – You’re my
    Sticky Balloon.

    If you’re going to the southland then you’d better beware,
    ‘Cause Sticky Balloons are laying ev-er-y-where,
    You’ll find them in New Orleans and Atlanta G-A,
    They’re icky and they’re sticky and they
    Won’t go away, Oh!


    Now Haven has a story ’bout a Sticky Balloon,
    Somethin’ ’bout a hand pie and a giant baboon,
    She’s sayin’ that it’s John’s fault and she can-not tell,
    ‘Cause if it goes into her blog she’s goin’ straight to — Ev-‘Ry-Bod-y!

    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    You can hang it from a tree top, you can
    Keep it in your room, Ooooooh …
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    Sticky Bal-looooooon,
    You’re a Friend – For – Life – You’re my
    Sticky Balloon.

    Thank You! Thank you very much!! Thanks for coming out! Good night, now. Good night, y’all.

  525. Suzanne: do you know E. Jean? Advice columnist who has the most singular dating history of any I’ve ever heard tell. She and her sister started, where each and every guy (or girl) has been vouched (nominated, if you will). You may very well be entirely too weary to pursue further this online dating path, but then Amanda may have changed your mind with her fabulous Dave story. Or you may have changed your luck by your “small talk.”

  526. Amanda: yes. Hell yes.

  527. Jodi! once more! with feeling!

  528. also amanda thanks for the link re: noonprop8 — I was able to donate from there. California gave us one of the first inroads to what should absolutely be a federal ruling for our G/L bros and sisters.

  529. the sticky balloon song OWNS.

  530. John and Haven,

    When you’re playing Sticky Balloon on the guitar, John, I had in mind a ricky-ticky feel, syncopated, like The Beatles’ When I’m Sixty-Four. Right??

    By the way, I wrote that first verse and chorus as my husband and I were headed out the door. Jody (that’s my husband) complained, “Now I’ve got that stuck in my head,” and I kept singing it to annoy him. It’s quite an irritating little tune that won’t go away … just like it’s title. Ew.

  531. i think the scene where Langston walks in and out of the cafe and refuses coffee with Amos is among the great love scenes of all time. in fact, Solace would be a superb film. didn’t haven say a famous director contacted her? damn. it has EVERyTHING. it would be a dream to see, to screenwrite, and to film. oh my god. if there is a god, PLEASE make The Solace of Leaving Early into a major motion picture. even hollywood could not ruin that book. no they could not. flaw-less. and all the dialogue, right there. oh my god.

    ps whew. i donated to NO ON 8 yesterday. it’s a california wildfire. it shall not pass.

  532. thank you jodi. i shall cherish it forever.

  533. carrie: great advice. my ex brother in law, who is just like my ex but w/o the crazy? he met his wife there. yup. married 4 years now. i thought it was just a midwest thing. huh.

  534. carrie,

    thank you for your comment and for your donation. i am terrified of what could happen if this amendment passes.

    i have a loved one who is gay… and who may never find the courage to come out or to fully embrace her own identity.

    it’s funny… most of us look back on history and we would like to think that we would have stood up for what was right… we would have hidden Jewish families in our basements or we would have marched with African Americans in pursuit of the basic acknowledgment that human beings are equals and equally deserving.

    i feel like we are living in a time period in which the history books will showcase those who stood up, those who marched, those wrote, picketed, canvassed, etc. for the basic human rights of homosexual men and women.

  535. This is one of the most heinous results of the culture our law creates, and vice versa (including the absurd stance in the military) — that it forces a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen to limp along as half a person. To be forced to hide one’s most essential self has to be extraordinary torture. Beth’s Jung quote up there is so apt — what are those who are so impassioned in their resisting gay marriage afraid of? I am so utterly gobsmacked as to why it matters to them. (But then, I didn’t have the patience for the VP debate — it’s unlikely I would have had the patience to ferret out the “reasoning” why.)

  536. Suzanne — talk about love scenes! I also love the epilogus, when Langston looks at Amos “languidly” and silently pulls open his shirt between two buttons and kisses him. Haven, tell me again why your editor felt the need for “sex” scenes? Nothing is hotter than Langston and Amos.

  537. and let me just add that at my sister’s comittment ceremony…her priest (Episcopal) cannot actually bless the union per orders from the bishop. She can bless pets, boats, houses, etc, but not a couple who love each other and want to make their commitment before God and family and friends. So my sister’s friend who is a cool Baptist preacher is doing it! Ironic, huh?

  538. …hmmm, I was in the basement and have come up empty-handed for the time being. I am giving up. I did clean the kat box.

    Suzanne: did you see the bear stuff on your blog?

    Sticky Ballon Saga

    Come, my children, gather under the moon
    And hear my tale about the Sticky Ballon.
    What now you see laying there limp
    Was worn by a man, now reduced to a wimp.

    This story begins with chick and guy
    And it ends like love with a smile and a sigh.
    These people found each other in a New Orleans joint.
    They talked 30 minutes and got right to the point.

    Says he to her, I could make you swoon
    By what I stuff in my sticky ballon.
    She replied in a cock-sure way.
    Take it out, boy, and we’ll start to play.

    So he took his time getting out of the foil,
    Said, whatcher gonna get is worth all the toil.
    He dangled that thing right in front of her eyes,
    “Now get ready for a big surprise.”

    He put it up by his lips.
    Gave a big smile and said I work for tips.
    This may be hard, because of the lube,
    Then he gave a big blow and inflated that tube.

    With fast moving fingers, he tied off one end.
    And began to twist it and give it a bend.
    Then pouring chocolate on the whole kit and caboodle.
    What he’d for them both was a cute little poodle.

    It’s not my best work, I’ve done much worst
    As he held it up, the damn thing burst.
    They both had a laugh and headed for the saloon.
    And left on the sidewalk a sticky ballon.

  539. Further to the kiosk: I live on the edge of a development of multi-million dollar homes. The thought crossed my mind at the time that it was some bored banker looking to be …ummm.. naughty.

  540. GEORGE!!! That you actually produce ON REQUEST!!! is one of the things that makes you entirely too awesome for WORDS!! Hilarious!

  541. Sticky Balloon Saga

    Come, my children, gather under the moon
    And hear my tale about the Sticky Balloon.
    What now you see laying there limp
    Was used used by a man, now reduced to a wimp.

    This story begins with chick and guy
    And it ends like love, with a smile and a sigh.
    These people found each other in a New Orleans joint.
    They talked 30 minutes then got right to the point.

    Says he to her, I could make you swoon
    By what I stuff in my sticky ballon.
    She replied in a cock-sure way.
    Take it out, boy, and we’ll start to play.

    So he took his time getting it out of the foil,
    Said, whatcher gonna get is worth all this toil.
    He dangled that thing right in front of her eyes,
    “Now get ready for a big surprise.”

    He put it up right by his lips.
    Gave a big smile and said I work for tips.
    This may be hard, because of the lube,
    Then he gave a big blow and inflated that tube.

    With fast moving fingers, he tied off one end.
    And began to twist it and give it a bend.
    Then pouring chocolate on the whole kit and caboodle.
    What he’d made for them both was a cute little poodle.

    It’s not my best work, but it’s not my worst
    As he held it up, the damn thing burst.
    They both had a laugh and headed for the saloon.
    And left on the sidewalk a sticky balloon.

  542. made some slight editorial changes in the second version

  543. SCOTT,

    You listened to “the John Prine station” all day? Did you hear one of my FAVORITE Prine tunes, “Paradise”? “Oh, Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, Along the Green River where Paradise lay …” I used to live near there – I was in Owensboro, KY. AND – AND did your station play Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” especially the version that’s a duet with Bonnie Raitt? Righteous, man. Scott, you’re All Right.

  544. OMG, George, I can hardly breath. HAHAHAHA


  545. George, did I totally miss the link for the Zippy the kitty picture? I cannot find it anywhere! gasp.

  546. Particles (sorry I called you Amanda earlier) — Zip is at in photo album Haven’s Mavens.

  547. Carrie, you did? I didn’t even notice. I guess I thought you were addressing Amanda. heh.

  548. GEORGE!!!!

  549. Dear God, I am a synchronicity prisoner..I am getting more than a little freaked out. I tivo’d the t.v. show ‘Pushing Daisies’ and went to watch it tonight and one of the tragic characters (love unrequited) is named ‘Olive’ and as I was re-reading (compulsively) ‘She Got Up….) I was loving Olive and the fact that she stripped Haven and laundered her clothes and bathed her when she came to stay with her and I have known children like this…(oh you guys, I am so much older than any of you except I think I am a contemporary of George maybe) You are all precious to me and if you or anyone you love shows up at my door like that, I would launder your clothes and bathe you with great enthusiasm…and I KNOW how to play Chinese Checkers, too.
    Not much sense, but what do you expect after three vocka tonics?
    Love ya.

  550. Oh yeah, I am still Brenda D. in Arizona and now I think I really will be Brendasynchronicity even tho it is too long. It FITS!

  551. Brenda D – I love your handle! PERFECT!! And you make perfect sense, too!

  552. Thank you, Steph,
    I am going to bed now, Sweet Drams.

  553. Oops, DREAMS. the best dreams to y’all.

  554. Sher and I met up today at McDonalds! Here is a link to photos:

    Unfortunately they are smaller than I would like, so you can’t see all the details like Sher’s incredibly gorgeous blue eyes!

  555. Sher and I met today at McDonalds!

    Here’s the pics to prove it.

    Unfortunately, I had to make them small, and certain details are lost, like Sher’s GORGEOUS blue eyes!

  556. Oops link:

  557. Jodi,

    I did hear a version of Paradise, but it was sung by Johnny Cash. Nice! I’ve got a great live version of that sung by Todd Snider. Man do I ever love Angel from Montgomery, so much is conveyed in that song. You have great taste Jodi!

  558. Jodi, I do love your sticky balloon song. You and George should record a Haven Kimmel Tribute Album.

  559. wow, george.
    now i am gobsmacked. (I love the queen’s english)
    that is one very long impressive…

  560. I meant I WHOOPED ass and took names. GAH you people, you forget I’ve got the faulty brain hole over here.

    My daughter and I sing Angel From Montgomery together.

  561. Oh, and I’m too lazy to see which genius commenter posted it, but yes you guessed the children’s name accurately.

    One of my favorite moments between Langston and Amos is in that same scene, when she opens his shirt, and he says, “Do you know what I love best about you today? I love the slope of you.”

  562. Where did George come from, really? He not only wrote that brilliant and horrifying song, he actually went to the basement to look for a shirt for me. He’s like a . . . SUPERHERO.

  563. All right — now that I’m not traveling in the immediate future, should we plan a SOMETHING RISING discussion group? I’d give you as much time as you need to read it.

  564. Please post the wedding reception soundtrack, if you don’t mind. We call all pretend we were there, or some other such sick foolishness.

  565. I’m halfway through it. Yes, let us plan.

  566. This is what I think about George: He’s from Evansville. ‘NUFF SAID.

  567. I shall get out the CDs and make a list of the reception songs.

    In the meantime, where would one come up with $1,200 out of the blue? Like, rob someone? This isn’t for medical care or anything worthwhile, it’s for a particular hobby of mine.

  568. Brandon, as you know I have lost my short-term memory due to the Mad Cow Disease, and I’m just wondering if you got my e-mail about how I have a Stumpy in a box for you? I think I’ll just mail him, and get the ibex when I can travel. How’s that?

  569. George will know. George has ALL THE ANSWERS.

    George…how are we gonna get Haven some money? She needs some dead animals!

  570. Kate, HOW DID YOU KNOW?

    Yes, George knows everything.

    Thank goodness my Otters don’t read this (they have gay lives of their own, like going to the gym and photoshopping their author photos), but I have a surprise. They’re all coming here for Thanksgiving, like 47 gays — (only five or six, but in gay time that a LOT) and I have found a flawless Otter specimen that I’d like to use a surprise centerpiece. But there are two side additions that really make up the tasteless tableaux, and all together they’re $1,200, and although John wouldn’t blink or say a word, it’s possible he’d have a stroke.

  571. You could always sell something. If you haven’t looked at it or used it in 2 years, it has no sentimental value, and it can be replaced with money, sell it on eBay. I sold some drum machine cards once that I knew I’d never use and came up with $700.

    Robbing is so problematic, and takes entirely too much planning.

  572. I really really can’t kill John. I’m thoroughly dependent on the man, plus he is perfect. So I have to SNEAK and buy my Thanksgiving decor.

    Don’t even suggest I go to a bank. I know about as much about banking as I do about particle physics. If I walked in and said, I don’t know what you say, “May I borrow some money?” I can’t imagine what would happen. Bells? Sirens? Poisonous gas? Oh, just nothing good.

    And don’t say get a job. I’m the least employable person in the world. I can’t stack rocks.

  573. I suggest shaving your head, having the hair fashioned into a wig, and selling it with a pair of commemorative fuzzy slippers.

  574. Sell things you say? Scott has an eBay store. I shall work on this. Although I tend to give everything away if I don’t use it. Right now I’m looking at a Fisher-Price farm, a glass of milk, and some diaper wipes. But I will definitely give this a major think.

  575. No one in her right mind would wear my second-hand hair. I’d get the crap beaten out of me by some homeless woman with open sores.

  576. I picked up Something Rising today — would love to see a discussion thread. A week?

    Also, Haven — did you perchance put the NOLA demos up somewhere and I missed the post/link?

  577. Is it a vintage Fisher Price Farm? Because those are not cheap.

  578. I didn’t put the NOLA demos up somewhere. Tell me again how?

    p.s. Short-term memory. None.

  579. Most of Gus’s toys are approximately 24-years-old. They were Kat’s, then Obadiah’s, now his. I wouldn’t call that vintage. I would call that a mother who takes care of things.

  580. If you have a set of those Fisher Price milk bottles I’ll buy those from you.

  581. HA! Like I’d give up those milk bottles if I had them! Trickster.

  582. You know where I’m going to be reunited with those milk bottles? IN HEAVEN.

  583. In Heaven, do you think you and I will have our own milk bottles? Or will we have to SHARE?

  584. You could always mail them to me and I’ll put them up. Particles suggested If that suits, I’ll put them there and post the link here.

    And oh, yes, you can call that vintage. I once sold a 6-year-old $40 Swarovski star ornament for $250.

  585. The other option is I’ll figure it out and walk you through it either via phone or step-by-step email. See how very much I want to hear these demos?!!

  586. The other option is to forget I said anything, as you are, after all, a delicate flower these days and should not be subjected to any undue stress.

  587. Iasked in an earlier post what species of tree it is that MMOG appears to the girls in – a dogwood was the answer.

    I am concluding that the choice was no accident. You are sooooo thorough! Not that long ago, it was not uncommon for people to use dogwood tree leaves as book-marks in their bibles.

    From the web: “The legend says that a flowering dogwood tree was used to make the cross of the crucifiction and as a result it now grows as a living memory of the event. Whether this is a blessing or a
    curse depends on which version of the story you prefer.”

    Worked ten hours today, twelve if you count driving and I feel just sick as a parrot! Came home to be informed that Ava and Felix killed a squirrel in the back yard. Then, Ava rolled around on the corpse. About all was left was a greasy spot and the tail. She stunk like a slaughterhouse! I wiped her down with paper towells dipped in vinegar.

    By the way, if anyone ever reads this, Felix and Ava are not my children, they are my dogs!

    The buck-toothed little morom had it coming. He would say chuck chuck at them alla time. How his taunts must have inflamed them! Only blood would serve! Nemo me impune lacessit indeed!

    There isn’t time right now for me to comment on all I’d like to concerning this book – when it was published I bought four copies to give for Xmas presents – that should tell you how highly I regard it.

    Here are some notes I jotted down on my lunch break today, thinking about Solace (at that hour I had no idea I would be swabbing a dog with vinegar at midnight). Perhaps it might spark some questions.

    Solace of Leaving Early succeeds because of it’s characterization and content, but I would like to write some about less commented on aspects.

    Namely, it’s archtypal material. Archtypal material so often speaks the language of bombast, as Jung observed. In this case, I would add that writers need to know that in the evocation of such “charged” content, less is more. The whisper in the ear of the dreamer is more credible and usefull than so many pillars of fire or bellowing cyclopses. Lots of writers use mythological motifs, etc. in their work.
    Used wrongly, the collective unconscious becomes a
    toy store for the feeble minded. Used wisely and well it gives art a beating heart.

    And HK, who knows so much, knows this. Whether by some rare grace, or by instinctive restraint (is that ying/yang or what) or simply impeccable taste her release of archtypal material in a “real” setting takes place quietly, in a corner of a backyard. Two children seemingly talking to a tree, in whose branches they see a healing image, that of St. Mary. Perfect! And I am reminded of Harper Lee, who is working for the same company, by the way, whose children find themselves carved in soap, and placed in a knothole. Tree as mailbox from Anima and Shadow. I love the elegance.

    And this tree, growing in the backyard of Haven’s mind, is at work througout the book, quietly, credibly, patiently. As an individual is a microcosm of the species, so the virgin-as-healing symbol from within heals these chilren, as she gave some hope to
    a medieval world of blood and misery.

    What does my unconscious think of this little dispatch so far? Let’s see.

    It says “We had ten fingers before we could count to ten.”


    It has been my observation that art that hits the “tonal code”, that resonates with the body thoughts that are the collective unconscious, that is, are meaningfull to any one in any time, are of a certain nature. That is, the work begins with some experience or vision that “happens to” the artist or thinker.
    Is beyond his or her control. Newton had his Apple. Bohr had his dream of tin soldiers marching in circles. Keith Richards was roused from drunken sloth in a Florida hotel, and played the riff that became “Satisfaction” into a tape recorder. It was followed by two hours of him snoring). I guess the best you can do is be prepared- whether it be with cstudying physics or theologyin your case, or passing out with a tape recorder by the bed, whatever and…wait for it.
    SO: did you (HK) have any moment at which Solace
    fell into place?
    Haven, when will you cut n paste that picture of the girl at Fatima who is all aswoon. Amazing picture.
    I have one ankle-nip to administer, that being the treatment of the locals. They all suck! The disdain is less than subtle. Perhaps I am overly touchy about this because, well, I am a local! So are my neighbors! Langston’s contempt seems to be yours as well! Look, where were you all on Monday night late?

    I know where I was. Out in the rain, with my neighbor, picking up nightcrawlers. As any right-minded person would do.

    Some problems with language. No local would ever say of their basketball team “We’re hotter’n a popcorn fart.” A PF is pfft gone, unnoticeable. “Hotter than fish grease.” would work better, maybe. Hotter than a PF sounds like something Langston would say when trying to imitate what the locals would say.

    Langston should have to listen to “Salt of the Earth.” by the Stones. Like twenty times! Maybe she actually did, if it was Judy Collins singing it.

    What else did I write here… Oh, “Important things will be happening when Langston cleans a fish by herself.” Huzzah! Whatever that means. Also: Important things will be happening when a farmer finds a fossil tooth in his field, and gets a book from a public library to find out about who walked where he walks.” Huzzah Twice!

    Scrolling thru to get here I saw someone wrote the words “Amos needs to grow a theological pair.” Or something to that effect. Harsh!! I like Amos! He needs some buds – Hey Amos! Cmon out – there are nightcrawlers all over! No? Not-huzzah.

    If you want to read about a man very similar to Amos who finds himself in very deep read “Damnation of Therron Ware.” Oh it is rich.

    Can you say more about Langston’s brother? Any inspiration for his story you would care to elaborate upon?

    I find it an awfull curiosity that meth and fundamentalism have both flourished in the last decade, side by side.

    I suppose Germaine is old, old and sleepy all the time by now. And Immaculata and her sister must be teenagers. I hope they are all well.

    Say more about archtypes! There is a really great essay about them by Ursula LeGuin I read once, by the way, and her description of “an entirely new landscape, illuminated only flickering heat lightning” was good.

    Och! Six o’clock comes too soon!

  588. Matt,

    You introduced yourself to me several blogs ago. I’m Jodi — nice to meet, and read, you.

    You made several excellent points, my friend, about SOLACE. Here’s the first I liked: “Namely, it’s archtypal material. Archtypal material so often speaks the language of bombast, as Jung observed. In this case, I would add that writers need to know that in the evocation of such “charged” content, less is more. The whisper in the ear of the dreamer is more credible and usefull than so many pillars of fire or bellowing cyclopses. Lots of writers use mythological motifs, etc. in their work.”

    This is ex-ACTLY why I had so much trouble trying to read A Prayer for Owen Meany. The many archetypes did not feel “organic” to me, like a natural outgrowth of the story. Instead, Irving’s story came off very deus ex machina — the archetypes were a mechanical part of a disjunct tale that was STRUCTURED AROUND THEM, instead of their growing naturally (as does SOLACE) from the tale.

    Here’s the next thing that reverberated for me in your blog, Matt: “It has been my observation that art that hits the “tonal code”, that resonates with the body thoughts that are the collective unconscious, that is, are meaningfull to any one in any time, are of a certain nature.”

    Tolstoy’s WHAT IS ART? speaks to this eloquently (although Leo does go ON, doesn’t he?). One of many quotes from it: “People say that works of art do not please the people because they are incapable of understanding them. But if the aim of works of art is to infect people with the emotion the artist has experienced, how can one talk about not understanding?”

    Nice to have you onblog, Matt. Keep posting!


  589. Matt — you know that the dogwood’s blossoms are have reddish-brown stains that are said to represent the five wounds of Christ, right?

    And that due to disease, the dogwood is disappearing from North America ….

  590. Oooh, SOMETHING RISING! Yes, please! Cassie is heroic.

  591. Matt, you are a genius, as always — and recently, in a moment of (if I may say) hilarious bathos I made a list of the people my daughter should notify should I be stricken with a fatal seizure and see the Sacred Toy Room in Heaven too soon. It began with the usual (my gays), then my mother and sister, etc. and it included Matt in Nebraska, followed by my Blog Babies. You are my family, Mr. Lincoln Nebraska, as all of you have become.

    Now, if I may take issue with one of your criticisms (HAVEN’S LAW NUMBER SOMETHING OR OTHER: NEVER TAKE ISSUE WITH A CRITCISM), “Hotter than a popcorn fart,” is indeed a Hoosierism. I once worked with a man who not only said it, but at another soul-sucking enterprising where people used to leave it as a motivating note on the chalk-board. Never let it be said that whilst she knew the archetypes, and also the children and the correct kind of tree, she did not know of her popcorn. Nay, nay.

    p.s. Jodi — for the first time, I see exactly what you mean about OWEN MEANY. I’m surprised that your comments got through to me immediately, but they did. You are by far the sharpest crayon in this box.

  592. of course, Something Rising should be next.

    in reference to Haven’s comment about Langston saying to Amos: I love the slope of you… I offer this quote:

    “And my body slopes toward yours no matter how level the ground” – Rosmarie Waldrop

  593. Haven: Just blogged on and was getting ready to defend the “hotter than a popcorn fart” but you already had. My mother was fond of saying “from here to who tied the pup.” I’ve NEVER been able to figure that one out. Your mother may have come the closest when she said it might be a twist on “When Hector was a pup” but who knows. There were many strange things said when I was a child. And if I ever venture to the Advance Labor Day Festival, I’m sure I’d hear plenty of them again.

  594. Suzanne should definitely come in for a consultation about her bangs because she is a neighbor of mine in Me Valley. But I like them very short the way they look on her blog. She is drop dead gorgeous just like that. Maybe a little intimidating to men because she looks so smart though.

  595. HAVEN et al: Indeed, the “popcorn comment” is a Hoosierism and also indemic to Ohio (Buckeye-ism). Other Hoosierisms that annoy the hell out of me include:

    old-fashion instead of old-fashioned
    ice tea instead of iced tea
    supposebly instead of supposedly
    jewry instead of jewelry

    On a redeeming level, Hoosiers have creative vulgarities:

    Shit fire and save matches!
    Well, shit the bed!
    she fell off the roof (started menstrating)
    Shit house mouse!

    I know this will start that crap of list making. sorry … What of this do you remember from your days in the Great White North, Haven?

  596. Finnablog alert:

    Take at look at Suzanne’s latest posting, something about Fifty Ways to Kill Your Lovers. It’s so Suzanne, and it goes perfectly with a warm morning scone.

  597. People always think I have an accent because my grandmother came to Indiana first (from Sweden) but wound up in Wachegon, Illinois, where she felt most at home. She hated to leave, but some 17 year old got pregnant who’s name I can’t divulge because it is too painful to her. But anyhoo that is how I wound up in Cali.

  598. Jodi, I believe I am having xanax and beer for breakfast again after reading that post. Not for the faint of heart to learn that a lunatic is on the loose in your hood.

  599. and how on earth do you spell Wachegon? I mean she had a swedish accent and that is what it sounded like to me. Kind of like beware of the undertoad.

  600. Sock, I heard ‘who tied the pup’ my entire life. Here are some more (no offenses intended)

    That snow was asshole deep to a ten-foot Indian.
    Slicker than snot on a doorknob. (Also weather related.)
    As reported in Zippy: Hotter than billy-be-doggone-bangtree.
    From Dan to Bathsheba.
    Land ‘o Goshen! (an exclamation)

    After I call my sister I’ll have about thirty more.

  601. older than white dog shit

  602. Jodi, I don’t know that one!!!

  603. Actually, I got that one in the 80’s, while working as a musical director at the Opryland Park in Nashville, Tennessee. It paints a picture, don’t it?

  604. I may have mentioned it before, but my father virtually NEVER swore. That ‘asshole deep’ was a joke and therefore allowed, but otherwise, he was a very dignified, hard-drinking, gallivanting, lothario of a gun-toting heathen.

  605. Matt is a genius and I’m baffled by everything he wrote. I swear I get dumber with age. My brain is shrinking and I just found out why the other day.

    But the good news is i’m 11 years sober today, but I’m thinking shrinkage is permanent. 🙂

  606. Particles, NO! The brain is very elastic and rejuvenating and yours will grow back faster than you can say billy-be-doggone-bangtree! I know this because of my short-term memory loss.

  607. I can’t even say that. haha

  608. hee hee –

    “tighter’n Dick’s hatband.”


  609. Morning all…big thanks to Jodi and Matt for their commentary on archetypes/Jung. What you know and what you SAID give words to some thoughts I have that are as yet mostly formless…notions. I am really intrigued by the language of bombast in dreams.

    It’s nice hanging out with the brilliant.

    Haven, no luck yet in the basement.

    About Hoosierisms:

    Oh, Evansville, oh Evansville…one of my favorite books/movies of all time is Little Big Man. The main character is from Evansville.

    And Orville Redenbacher is a Hoosier…

    Which leads me to saying that I heard hotter than a popcorn fart quite often as a child…and its variant, “as dry as a popcorn fart.”

  610. Has my avatar changed yet?

  611. i don’t want to take over haven’s blog, but may i have permission to ask for the advice of the blog babies?

    i have a conundrum… actually two.

    1) I need friends. I have none who are local (Raleigh), besides the boyfriend.
    2) I need a new job. The current employment is eating my soul, with teeny tiny nibbles and hot sauce.

    any advice? am very open-minded!

  612. speaking of the language of bombast, I come from a long proud line of great cursers…people who could use the expletive in creative ways…it wasn’t necessarily the words or the images, but the delivery — the tonal quality that I admired most.

    Written words cannot capture the beauty and depth of my pappy saying, sons of bitches…when I was a kid the thing that attracted me was his use of the plural form. up and until that time i was mostly familiar with son-of-a-bitch or its diminutive, sumbitch.

    Guess that’s why I was so attracted to Bitchman Ass Clown yesterday…

    That’s high class bombast,
    No idiot can utter that idiom.

  613. Amanda,
    I don’t know what is worse… your job “eating my soul, with teeny tiny nibbles and hot sauce”, or my job where lately it’s been taking big honkin’ bites out of mine. Before the transfer, I actually looked forward to going to work.

    Could it be the re-awakening of my true self that leads to this… “dissatisfaction”?

  614. i’m from S.C. originally and definitely grew up hearing three of those Haven mentioned: slicker than snot, from Dan to Bathsheba, and Land of Goshen! also: squealing like a stuck pig,

    a favorite thing my dad always said was “you gotta mouse in your pocket?” when i made references to “we”

  615. ahhh, JimShue that is a dilemma. is it okay to stave off the soul sucking with vodka tonics? because… you know… that is handy.

  616. oh! i forgot this one, from my great grandfather: “you ain’t right bright are ya?”

  617. My dad used to say, “We? We, Frenchie?”

    And as some of you have heard me imitate (myself), he would ask me to do something reasonable, like feed my ducks, and I’d shout, “WHAT FUR?” He’d say, “Cat fur to make kitten britches, now get out there.”

    Amanda, I will be your friend.

  618. oh, Haven. you have made me a happy person.

  619. as a semi-book-club-related comment, i am listening to Atlas Shrugged at work… it’s so HORRIFYING as a concept/worldview but really very well written!

  620. Count me as a friend also. Not that I live anywhere close to you, but… closeness in spirit/kind is a good thing. Don’t ya think?

  621. Off to work. I’ll try and keep my soul intact. Maybe verbally bitch-slap a woman I work with. I’m usually a nice guy, but I can only take so much.

  622. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the lit crit comments. This book ties with only one other as my favorite of all time–and the other is Something Rising, and both books are so beautiful, I feel wounded every time I read them, but I cannot stop myself. I think the hurt I feel when I read about Langston and Jacques, Langston and Taos, Langston and AnnaLee is more the lancing of an infected place than a wound inflicted, and while you want to cry and cry (and maybe you do cry)you are so much better for the experience.

    Self-awareness is something so many people struggle to gain. Even Langston, who nails Amos to the wall in their diner conversation (pgs 194-197, lacks true (perhaps I should say full) self-awareness. By the end, she’s finally grasping at it, but I think part of this journey of life is learning not just to grasp at it, but that we MUST grasp at for meaning if we are to become the best versions of ourselves and catch the life that path the we’ve left via “sin.”

    For me, then, Langston is perfect in her flaws–yes, she can be a big whiny baby, but it was she who knew how to reach Immaculata and Epiphany. It was she, in all of her damaged-ness who could touch those girls’ hurts. Amos, for all of his good intentions, couldn’t and he was bewildered by it.

    And while I agree no one says “the Infinite has failed me,” we DO hear, quite often, “Why has God forsaken me?” and “Why won’t God help me?” and “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” Especially lately, I’ve been kicking back with a glass of wine saying with enormous exasperation, “What?!?! Do I have a cosmic kick me sign on my back?”

    Anyway, thank you for letting me post. I love these books, love this blog, and am ever thankful I found Haven Kimmel, who has the words to describe feelings I can never articulate but only feel too keenly.

  623. Lightning Bug, thank you for your brilliant insights. And the reason we have the temerity to ask, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people,” is because we don’t have the courage to admit that God is helpless to stop them. It’s one or the other: radical freedom or theological fascism. I choose radical freedom, even though the price is incredibly high. Please stay and contribute more often. We’re doing Something Rising next.

    And p.s.? Thank you all so much for naming Something Rising as a book you love. The public hated it.

  624. lightning bug~

    hello! i enjoyed your post. i think one of the most telling/interesting phrases in the book is when Langston first approaches the girls and she brushes the sand off and sits down “as she had seen them do.” Langston was the one paying enough attention to the details to actually communicate with the girls and understand them.

  625. Trust me: Sock Money can cut a bitch. I taught him, so I know.

  626. Amanda…you can add me to the friends list and I do get up to Durham fairly often and party down with a group of old hippie geezers. Expect to be there in November, too, playing golf at the Duke course all weekend.

    As for Atlas Shrugged…in the afterlife I would like to give Ms. Rand a bitch slap for that one and all the problems her worldview has caused. Add Renee Descartes to the list, too, for that bullshit dualism crap. He set human progress back about a billion years…there’s a lot more, but I can’t think of them now.

    I was up too late last night watching Boston’s miracle…and digging around in my basement, the repository of lost, but not forgotten, things….

  627. Haven, are you serious? The “public” hated Something Rising? Because of the story I told yesterday about my brother, Solace left me haunted not only by the missing Toas, but also by the brokenness of the characters seeping all over the place. Something Rising is the story I identified most with, especially Cassie’s quiet anger. I can hardly wait for the discussion.

  628. Before returning to more cerebral endeavors, can I please post … YOU DON’T SAY ~ now that you’ve heard it, you can’t UN-hear it. Including but not limited to:

    crazy busy (It is crazy busy in here.)
    Come to find out … (her tumor is big as a football)
    My trouble is … (my back went out again)
    There’s no sense in that.
    THEY say … (you can die from that)
    That’s doctor’s orders (so I couldn’t possibly)
    Do you poke-a? (the dance)
    Air-a-zone-ya (the southern state)
    art-right-us (a crippling disease)
    con-DITE-ments (ketchup/mustard/pickles)
    chim-lee (smoke goes up it)
    mush-melon (cantaloupe)
    pin-eeze (peonies, a flower)
    old-timers disease (Altzheimers)
    woof (a carnivore that howls at the moon)
    lish (what you use for walking your dog
    pa-cif-ic (precise)
    warsh (to make clean)
    lie-berry (it loans books to readers)

  629. Here’s a scene with Langston that captures her, I think:

    She pulled into the drive-thru line at the Milky Freeze. “Girls, listen to me. Hand me my wallet first, and then listen to me. Thank you. Your visitations from Mary are not pathological, and they have nothing to do with illness. Lillian Poe may imagine that she can diagnose you as delusionary or exhibiting advanced defense structures or whatever she finds in those idiot textbooks, and undoubtedly she has an eye toward insurance reimbursement. But she is wrong, and every time you sit in her office and talk to her about whatever you talk about, remember that she is wrong. Mary has come to you because you are blessed and innocent and faithful, and I for one hope no one can ever take that away from you.”

    Neither girl said anything. Immaculata just stared straight ahead, clenching and unclenching her jaw muscles. Epiphany bounced her legs up and down, causing the car to rock slightly.

    The sliding window of the drive-thru opened, and the same frumpy, dispirited, and vaguely rude middle-aged woman they saw every day stuck her head out.


    Langston smiled at her, but collapsed inwardly; she lived among savages. “I’d like a chocolate dip cone, a vanilla cup with multi-colored sprinkles, and an ice-cream sandwich. Thank you.”

    The woman closed the door without a word.

    “Can we do crafts when we get home?” Epiphany asked. She wanted to do crafts every day, even though Langston found them profoundly tedious.

    “Today is lessons, Epiphany,” her sister said. “We’re doing the Ten Commandments. We promised we would.”

    “Lets, how about this, Immaculata, let’s make something crafty thing out of the Ten Commandments, a poster, or something to hang on your bedroom wall.”

    “Yeah yeah yeah a poster to hang on the wall, Immaculata. Do you have any gum?”

    Immaculata’s shoulders fell in defeat. “You have a whole drawer filled with gum, Epiphany, Pastor Townsend brings you some every day, spoiled baby.”

    “Boiled baby.”

    Surly Woman slid back the window, and handed Langston the ice cream in the order she’d requested it, and then just before she took Langston’s money, gave her an extra cup with a swirl of vanilla ice cream and half a dog biscuit stuck in the top. Langston’s eyes filled with tears, and she had to turn her head to hide it from the girls. What is wrong with me? she thought. I’ve become so emotionally labile. Before Langston could say anything to the woman, she’d taken the money and gone to get change. The girls immediately began to fight about who got to hold the cup for Germane, and when the woman came back Langston was only able to get out, “Thank you so much for that unexpected kindn–” before the window closed with a “Yep.”

  630. Lightning Bug, your post set off this thought:

    I liked Langston and Cassie for different reasons. First, I had a crush on Langston. I would have read Proust (God forbid) if it would have inspired a conversation at the diner; as for Cassie, she would have been such a no-bullshit, incredibly smart, tough loyal pal. What!!! The public couldn’t see that! They couldn’t see she is among the most empathetic characters in lit? There will be some revision on that issue when all is said and done, mark my words.

    I’m a little testy today it seems.

    Would have been a good day to drop by and visit Amos. You’d know he’d create some time for you even if he thought you a horse’s ass or a dolt. It’s nice to impose on people like that and you both know it going in, which creates a setting for an undertone of dark humor. Amos was cool.

    Haven: as per usual, you state the God’s dilemma exactly: freedom or fascism. I am all for the freedom thing, but boy does it test the faith side of the equation.

  631. HAVEN? re: Thank you all so much for naming Something Rising as a book you love. The public hated it.

    1. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake before achieveing sainthood.
    2. Stephen Sondheim is a freaking genius, and his musicals get panned while Andrew Lloyd Webber (a musical thief and also-ran) gets rave reviews. One hundred years from now Sondheim will be of Beethoven-ian proportions, and Andrew will be forgotten.
    3. All messiahs and innovators are shunned by The Herd before being exonerated.
    4. Philanthropists don’t discuss their brazillian-dollar losses, just their brazillian-dollar wins.

    It’s a rocky path, Haven, but it’s what you came back here to do. Right …?

  632. …Haven, I worshipped that particular scene in the book, Haven. It was perfect in tone, setting, humor and everything else I can think of. I loved the surly woman and I went to the next page thinking, epiphanies hit us at the damndest times, don’t they.

  633. …earlier, someone else, maybe Jodi, mentioned that girls’ other names were those of the two great girl characters of all times, Eloise and Madeleine. Well, I forget what my point was going to be, but since I have written this much, I might as well post it.

  634. …and speaking of fascism, does anyone else see that my avatar bears a resemblance to a swastika?

  635. George, you are a little square blue and white quilt. And a hilarious spur of the moment poet too.

    Here are some gorgeous dresses made of sticky balloons. Or are they still considered sticky if they haven’t been used yet?

  636. Scroll down on the link because the best pictures are at the bottom of the page.

  637. Brrrrr! re: “dresses made of sticky balloons”

    Right up there with Victorian mourning jewelry using the hair of the deceased — on Jodi’s List of YOU’RE NOT BRINGING THAT IN HERE.

  638. All I can think is how hot and sweaty it would be under some of those. Though you could, of course, wear them in the rain.

  639. And those not-pretty “girls” wearing the condom clothes … aren’t. Pretty. Girls.

  640. What’s your word, Haven and Kate? GAK?

  641. I think that first scene at the sandbox — though, yes, disaster did seem to hang heavy in the air (particularly when I read the word “brightly”) — that scene is where I just fell in love with Langston. That she used the names the girls called themselves without hesitation, that she didn’t talk down to them. A rush of affection, right there, right then.

  642. I think they’re incredible. And as for some of the boys not being pretty girls, if a boy wants to feel pretty, what’s the harm? Some boys like to feel pretty and some don’t. Some girls like to drive tractors and some don’t. As long as everyone is happy and not hurting anyone, what’s the problem? I’m sure Cletus would agree.

  643. George, I thought I saw the ears of four little cats. I actually have a real sock monkey. I think those avatars are more like rorschach tests than anything else.

  644. An especial favorite of mine was the daisy (aka, Magnum) dress.

  645. Forgive me, but just two more FAUX PAS of speech that “get my back up”:

    Get my back up

    Have went (We have went to the grocery nine times this week.) (Note: I’ve heard actors on prime-time television shows say this, for example, Vincent D’Onofrio on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.)

    We got talking (about golf)

  646. Has anyone walked on water here today? I think I missed that. I know Haven can not abide, say, jet skiing and I almost drowned in the bathtub yesterday, quote Louisa May Alcott blithely as I might. Actually I love a good storm but never while in a ship.

  647. ok…I can see the cat ears in the avatar…I’m cool with that.

    as for the balloon dresses, I was impressed with most of them, particularly the flowered party dress where the girl was wearing that poofy skirt…yes, I suspect they are all waterproof and as such, quite practical.

  648. And stolen from Isaac Mizrahi’s documentary “Unzipped”, “Blanche, Yarnt ever gonna leave this house.”

  649. George, you are just plain cool period. That is probably the worst sentence ever. Oh well, off to take a bath. Hopefully I won’t fall asleep again.

  650. HAVEN re: “Here’s a scene with Langston that captures her, I think.”

    You have a genius for writing dialogue. It flows and it’s natural and I can hear each character’s voice clearly. It makes a moving picture of it in my mind. For example, when Langston interrupts herself to ask that the girls hand her her wallet. When the girls quibble in the back seat, imitating each other’s speech. Whew.

    You capture the true spirit of the midwest with people like Surly Woman at the Tastee Freeze/Milky Freeze/Whippy Dip. The sliding drive-up window that snaps shut while Langston is thanking her.

    Langston’s attempt to emerge from the many stresses in her life with her unnoticed reply to Surly. Her inability to see the entire picture of her current situation. Her unwillingness to admit that she might want and need help from any of the “little people” in her family and hometown.

  651. i keep hitting refresh at work. telling myself, i’m only going to read a couple things and then back to the world of real estate marketing, but i get so involved i keep forgetting and then half an hour has passed.
    could you all quit being so interesting and funny?

  652. George, you are wonderful. I do wish you lived here!!!

    Re: Ayn Rand… I had an English professor in college who literally worshiped her. The professor tried to teach her students that “selfishness is the highest virtue” and she would pass out handouts on how Michael Jordan and Bill Gates must be America’s heroes.

    She was, incidentally, an incredibly unhappy woman.

  653. I am blushing from praise. I really never started this to be praised, just to talk to smart people, but thank you.

    My Kentucky grandmother said, “Hie-war-yuh,” for Hawaii.

  654. Am I allowed to write a truly obscene sentence here? I mean it’s screamingly funny but does contain quite a few ‘blue’ words.

  655. Haven, its YOUR blog. you get to write whatever you want! and i want to hear this sentence.

  656. Dorian: thanks, but I’m not so cool. Evidence is that I chose to wear a stupid flannel shirt today. I feel like a Carhartt catalog. All I need now is a camo vest with some dangly crap on it so I can remain unseen to possums and deer. My wife applies another descriptive term, that, ironically, rhymes with the word, cool.

  657. Rachel: I am having the same trouble here at my job as I am writing a speech for someone else to say…wonder if I can slip the word, fuck, in somewhere in this text?

    There, Haven, use the blue word. I just did! Besides, it’s your blog. Go for it.

    Almost Clouds: I wish I lived there, too. Where is that exactly?

  658. Raleigh, NC – the northwest side, to be specific

  659. George — I posted about Eloise and Madeline — two of my favorite es in literature — right up there with Elizabeth Bennett and the Woman Warrior. I like to think that Alice gave them those names because those were the kinds of s she wanted them to be. Then when horror struck them Mary (their “other Mother”) gave them the names they needed.

    Oh, and I was posting yesterday about staid ladies who have surprising facets …. Hello! That’s Beulah and Sarah, isn’t it?!

  660. oh, I could live around Raleigh/Durham with no trouble at all…love it there. Wanna make me a job offer? I have friends who have a really cool place outside of Hillsborough. Every time we visit, I leave thinking I’d like to be their neighbors.

  661. Not to wind Jodi up again, but my Missouri grandma used to use the word epizutic.
    That’s epizutic as in “He got the epizutic” which is any illness involving vomiting and die-a-rear.

  662. I was smitten with Elizabeth Bennett, too. I am sure she would have rejected me as a potential suitor, but we’d be great friends. No doubt.

  663. Hoosierisms:

    Bob Jarvis: “She could turn a funeral up an alley.”

    Mom Mary: “Well, ‘pon my word and honor!”

  664. SANDRA: epizootic (from Greek epi- upon + zoion animal) is a disease that appears as new cases in a given animal population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is “expected.”

  665. Hoosierisms:

    Boo-Kooze: They have a bookooz of money. (Probably from the Fr. beaucoup, very)

  666. Exactly! She was raised on a farm and must of heard it there.

  667. Hoosierisms:

    a pickle shower: a light rain, just enough to wet the pickles in the garden

    davenport: sofa. Dad is taking a nap on the davenport.

  668. I spelled it the way she said it. I might could give you more quirky words and phrases she used, but that would put you in a real shrivet or get on your last nerve, and I wouldn’t want to do that.

  669. Hoosierism:

    all wrought up: Mom’s all wrought up because her mom’s coming over.

  670. SANDRA,

    I learned to say “I might could” when I lived in Kentucky. Put me in a shrivet (that’s a southern word not in Hoosier dialogue) — tell me what your grandma said.

  671. When I lived in Wisconsin, they referred to hair as them. “Your hair, did you get them cut? They look so nice, and so.” Every sentence ended with “… and so.”
    I’d always be waiting for the next sentence.

  672. The discussion of hoosier-isms is cracking me up! My brother in law is from northern Indiana, and he peppers his conversations with phrases like “I’m so hungry I could eat the ass end out of a dead elephant” (sorry – I know it’s gross!) and “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” He’s northern, so we allow him his linguistic eccentricities. 🙂 And for what it’s worth, I only hear people say it’s slicker than snot is when they are talking about road conditions after a snowstorm. It cracks me up every time!

    I wondered – are we done discussing Iodine on the other thread? I’m excited discuss all of Haven’s books, and move on to the next one, but I’m still having insights with Iodine. Just curious – I didn’t know if anyone checked back on that thread…

  673. My Aunt Noan used to say “Land sakes!” or “Well now, I swan!” I think this was a way of getting around saying “I swear!” But when she was really worked up, her strongest epithet was, “My glory!”

    And everybody in the south and mid-west says “fixin'” as in I’m fixin’ to go to the store.”

    My father calls exits from highways “get-offs.”

  674. RACHEL,

    You have perhaps hit upon the creepiest idiom of all: Every sentence ended with “… and so.” Arrrrggghhhh! Waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? In northern Indiana, it’s followed by a moment or two of silence, then ” …yeah.” which denotes that the speaker is finished with that thought. Once you begin hearing it, it’s a jolt every time you hear it. Like, say, water torture or being goosed.

  675. Hey y’all. I am at work, and busy, so I can’t read all of this and I fear I will never get caught up but I did want to pop in and say this:

    1. Amanda- I would be honored to be your friend. Email me about what kind of work you are doing now that you hate and you would love to do. Don’t know that I can help but I know a lot of great people all around the country. That’s one benefit of working at Vanderbilt for 20 years. Alumni everywhere and so many are tremendously helpful and good people.

    2. I LOVE CASSIE. As I have said before, she is my favorite character so far (but I am just 2 chapters into Used World so that could change).

  676. Well, let’s see…

    She would put up a load of warshing (which seems to be a Hoosierism as well). She also warshed the greezy deeshes (dishes were always greasy in her world). Children that were being too cute for words were a mess. She then might set down and study the paper (while moving her lips the whole time). If she didn’t know the answer to a question, she couldn’t think on that. She used the phrase, “treated like an ugly, red-headed stepchild,” in all sorts of situations when she felt that she hadn’t been treated fairly. She also would whup the tar and thunder out of us when we got on that last nerve.

  677. STEPHANIE in INDIANA, re: “I wondered – are we done discussing Iodine on the other thread?”

    I’m sure not. I’m STILL talking about IODINE as well as SOLACE. I just toss it all on the latest thread so I get a speedier reply comment than if I put it back on the IODINE thread and hope someone notices it.

    I could spend more time on both books. Haven, if you’re listening, you might ask the others here if they’d like more time with IODINE and SOLACE. It may be difficult for you to judge how long is long enough, these being your books. For me, I can either jump on this third bus (SOMETHING RISING) or remain contentedly on the IODINE/SOLACE Express for a while longer.

  678. Yes Jodi,
    It drove me NUTS. Also:
    “Come here, once.”

  679. Amanda,
    Ditto for me – I already count you as a friend! Email me when you can – – and I’ll let you know what we might have here that might be a good fit for you! 🙂 Steph

  680. SANDRA,

    Hoosiers have to warsh their greezy deeshes, too! Your Missouri grandma sounds feisty. =0)

  681. Hoosiers also have BOOshes. Raspberry BOOshes, evergreen BOOshes.

    And FEESH: We had FEESH for dinner last night. Dad caught a mess of ’em in the Wabash River.

  682. Jodi,
    My hoosier grandmother cooks her FEESH and serves it on a DEESH… and my sisters impression of her is side splitting!

  683. Okay, here’s my blue story. I had a professor in grad school (English), and we used to love to hang out in his office and yammer about 20th century American poetry. His door was always open, so other grad students would pop in and out. However, there was this One Woman (you know, there is always this One Woman) who had a crush on him (?) or wanted him to have a crush on her so she could sexually reject him or something? I don’t know how these women work, but I know it when I see it. Oh, and this should be pointed out. I have been known to say some very blue things myself, but only in VERY limited company and generally not at all, because I’m a . . . blah blah Quaker blah.

    So One Woman sweeps in her just-correctly-distressed boots and her long skirts and her layers of intellectual looking sweaters (she’s tall, hair colored red to suggest Irishness) and she flops down in one of the chairs, completely ignoring our conversation, and says, “Well, my brother is in town and this morning I nearly bitch-slapped him.” I’d never heard this phrase before, so I raised one eyebrow, and my professor said, “Oh?” She said, “Yes, he shows up last night with one of his skank girlfriends and I don’t have any place to put them but in my 18th century rope bed, and when they got up this morning they’d broken three of the ropes. I was like, ‘What were you doing, STUNT-FUCKING?'” Mind you, this woman was in her forties at the time. She went on a little longer and then left as dramatically as she’d entered. The professor and I stared at one another a moment and then he said, “I’ve found the title for your Mooreland memoir: BITCH-SLAPPED BY A STUNT-FUCKER.”

    To this day I can I can end up in a fetal position remembering that moment.

  684. Jodi,
    Oh, she was and then some.

  685. Not only did Haven teach me hot to “cut a bitch”, she also taught me that there isn’t really an “R” in Wash, Washington, etc. And for that, I’m forever in her debt. I still can’t wrap my lips around the word “orange” though. Still feels alien to me.

  686. PURTY.

    She’s a purty girl.

    I’ll be there purty soon — just wait, will ya?

    He’s purty dumb and purty likely to stay that way.

  687. That should read: HOW to “cut a bitch”

  688. True story: Several years ago, I was out Christmas shopping with my mother. She kept saying what to everything I was saying making me think maybe she was losing her hearing. I kept getting louder and louder only to realize that she wasn’t understanding what I said. I turned the rural Indiana accent back on, and had no more problems after that.

  689. that’s a good one: stunt-fucking, extreme coitus….

    my co-workers are so good. I was just summoned to a meeting at 2:30 to discuss “future projects” with my boss. At least I have a future, I thought, as I walked into the conference room where the rest of the staff sat waiting to yell: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

    what a great, nice group of people…

    none of them get bitch-slapped today. not be me, at least.

  690. Sorry, but hysterical thread hijack. My brother-in-law just sent me this. Scroll across it and click on whatever has a hand pop up. They are supposed to add to it every few days or so. Enjoy!

  691. Haven
    Oh my and hee.

  692. Ohmygodinheaven – stunt fucking! Holy cow, that is so freaking funny! Haven, I love that you can craft what I believe is the most beautiful sentence in the history of the world, and also use the phrase stunt fucking… omg…

    I’m adding that to my list of favorite Havenisms… right up there with chimp-monkey-ass-whatever… clearly I need to review said list!!!

  693. HAVEN,

    I’ve been there! That college professor with the open door, watching One Woman sweeping in and out as she stepped over and around us “invisible” types, trading intellectual superior double entendres to while away the afternoon … And you evoke the era with One Woman’s ensemble. I’m So Glad you took the time to write this out! You’re SUCH a blah blah Quaker blah.

    Didn’t Susan Powter write “BITCH-SLAPPED BY A STUNT-FUCKER”?

  694. Haven, I just spit my lunch all over my monitor! Lord in heaven! Made my afternoon.

    And all you people offering job assistance? Mind if I email you?

  695. you people are THE BEST PEOPLE in all the world. really and truly. i am so honored to be part of this group.

    haven, SO GLAD you shared the blue story. am very curious if i know the professor.

  696. About the palinaspresident thing, if you love animals, don’t open the door more than twice.

  697. Linda and Steph and George and JimShue and Haven… THANK YOU. and I will take you all up on any and all offers of assitance!

  698. I am so jealous I live in Chicago and don’t say anything funny. 😦

  699. LTC, I often forego humor for napping. Try that.

  700. I’ll suggest this to my boss. It sounds lovely.

  701. Haven — I had a picture in my mind of Zippy’s cover with your prof’s proposed title superimposed — marketing gold!

    What’s a rope bed? Suspended?

  702. LTC: Suggest what exactly to your boss? Stunt-fucking? And you said you say nothing funny. Why you little devil. Caught you napping, too.

  703. And Amanda, if you ever want to spitball (and where, geographically, did that one come from?) about employment, you know where to find me (Haven’s Blog Babies). I’ve been working virtually for years — frees one from the limitations of pay being tied to geography, plus no commute. AND, I would be very happy to be your friend, as well.

  704. George — people are STILL celebrating your birthday? Good God, man, you are loved whereEVER you go!

  705. That is SO hilarious, Haven. More blue stories in the future please.

    Rope beds: Back in the old days they strung ropes across bed frames instead of using bed boards. Then they lay the feather mattress on the ropes to keep it off the floor (and away from bugs and rodents.) Most of those beds are very small by today’s standards because people were shorter then.

  706. yes…and you use a bed wrench to tighten the ropes…a bed winch (wench) is for other purposes, I;m told.

  707. It’s official stunt fucking is my new favorite phrase! I’m going to do whatever I can to work stunt fucking into every thing I say!

  708. I know you will, Scott… 🙂

  709. Well that was a nice stunt fucking thing for you to say….

    See it has already begun

  710. I’m going for Bitch man ass clown in addition to stunt-fucking. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am feeling rather giddy at all these new words, not to be forgotten from this week either is, “awfulize.”

  711. seems like bitch man ass clown might be a prize winning Halloween costume

  712. Man that would be one SCARY clown.

  713. Carrie, your employment sounds IDEAL! I am not on the yahoo blog babies b/c I do not have a yahoo account. Is there another way to reach you?

  714. I love how BLUE this blog has gotten! Yeah!!

  715. I think someone here could fashion — a perhaps model — a bitch man ass clown, stunt-fucking Halloween costume. Anyone handy with a pot a rubber glue and a Singer Sewing Machine?

  716. Yes, Ms. Cloudy-Cloud — you may reach me at Be patient, as I use this account only for public posting and check it infrequently (does everyone know that phishers use robots to pick up email addresses from forums such as this and can foul your email account with spam and malicious attachments? now you do!).

  717. email sent carrie. 🙂 you rock!

  718. Hee,

    One time for halloween I was King Bubblepack.

    I had a beard damn near to the ground of the stuff, and a hastily tailored suit to match. I had a snazzy crown too.

    When I first went into the bar I thought “Never have I been so loved.” Well, within about ten minutes I knew I didn’t have a chinaman’s chance. Every person in there sidled up for a *pop*. At some point I tried charging a shot of grand marinier per pop, but people just snuck up and gave me little squeezes anyhow. By 11:00 I was a sorry-ass sight, let me tell you! Still, so many breathed my kingly essence.

    I was King Bubblepack!



  719. Matt in Nebraska has been many excellent things for Halloween! He also wears a mean Santa hat! Although I must say wrapping oneself in bubblewrap is just asking for it, not to blame the victim. My best Halloween costume was ‘Killed On The Way To The Wedding.’ I can post it on the Yahoo page, right?!? This is a whole new level of freedom!

    Also, the same professor who gave me the perfect title for Zippy used to call attendance each day by asking a question, and we each had to answer. Generally they were things like, “What’s the first dream you remember?” or “MARK! Allergic to shellfish, yes or no.” But one day he sat down and said, “Today’s question is: would you rather have sex with a dead person or a live animal, HAVEN?” I had very little time to think and I said, “Duh, a live animal.” WELL, let me tell you. That is a question that divides down gender lines. Because the next person he asked was Zach, who said, “How dead is she?” And then on around the room, boys: dead person. Women: live animal. After discussing how EXTREMELY interesting the results (sociologically), someone asked, a DUDE no less, “May I just ask the women in the class if they had a particular animal in mind?” We all looked at him as if he were crazy and because I was at the edge of the circle I said, “I wouldn’t have sex with just ANYTHING. A giraffe, obviously.” We did, I’m sorry to say, get the answer ‘German shepherd,’ which made me wonder which young lady had been spinning ye olde Internet dial and landing on BINGO.

  720. Was it Linda who put up the Palin as President link? AHAHAHAHAHAA!! “What does this do?” I’m going to be checking that every day.

  721. p.s. We are now officially free to laugh at the notion of Palin as President, because the Democrats are about to turn the Republican ticket upside-down and spit in its butt.

  722. Speaking of giraffes, check out this song.

  723. BTW that’s author John Green’s brother Hank.

  724. George, don’t forget to add the rectal hat to your costume!

  725. Particles, I am UNHINGED. Who knew??

  726. After a small workplace quiz, 2 men and 1 woman (me) said recently dead, still warm person.

  727. I keep finding new things on the PresidentPalin site. Did anyone shut off the lights, or open the window, or find the the wolf kill tally?

  728. I turned off the light and found the bloody-mouthed pit bull in the cabinet.


  730. haven’t seen the wolf kill tally, but did shoot bambi by accident

  731. I feel like I need to go to therapy now, to discuss my choice of dead person over animal.

  732. That lipstick on the pitbull. Chief Monoghan is in the other side. If you open the window on the left you can here protesters. hahaha. Alaska is turning into the protest state of the world.

  733. Lipstick on a pitbull. See, this is what I get for not watching television or listening to the radio.

  734. Oh good Lord. Am I not allowed to take time off??

    I have nothing to say. Just…WHOA.

    I’d have sex with a gorilla, but you guys knew that already.

  735. I resemble a gorrilla I ahve been told hehe

  736. well at least my sister said so

  737. Michael T, are you trying to seduce me?

  738. I wish I had some brilliant analysis to add to the discussion, but I just came off a twenty-four-hour shift and my brain isn’t entirely functional right now. I have to post something, however, because The Solace of Leaving Early is my favorite book by one of my favorite authors; and quite possibly my favorite book ever. Reading it helps me retain some hope about humanity.

    Haven, you just blow me away. When Zippy came out I read it and then immediately bought copies of it to give as gifts to almost everyone I knew. I love your writing so much I wanted to name my firstborn child after you. (The reason I was unable to has been a matter of much discussion among my friends for over four years now, and I’d love to discuss that with you sometime. That’s a discussion for another day, however.)

    Oh, and I’m dying to hear your condom story, Haven.

  739. Hello. Well, what a relief to know that finally I was able to add something fun to the mix. LOL Did anyone else find the water dripping on the right front corner of the desk? Click on that and Joe the Plumber’s truck pulls up outside the window. Ha. Also, be sure to click on the empty frames on the wall. he he he.

  740. Haven, I have a lipstick you can borrow.

  741. KATE Oh no not me just making a joke. If I were trying to seduce you I would hope to come up with something better than saying I looked like a gorrilla haha

  742. Oh Micheal you sweetie I was making a joke too. Though seriously…nothing is hotter than a man in a Gorilla Suit. Calgon, Take Me Away!

  743. Ya know some people get it when I say I need a calgone bath and some are just too young 🙂

  744. Southern regionalism that hasn’t been mentioned yet:

    Colder’na witch’s tit (sometimes expanded to Colder’na witch’s tit in a brass bra in a snowstorm)

  745. Carey I thought that came from the midwest. It is an exellent anology either way.

  746. Ooh, ooh, Haven, I know Carey’s reason that she didn’t name her daughter after you, and I’ve always told her that I think it’ll make you hee-haw laugh, though she’s worried it won’t.

    I sure do love your books and your blog, but MY GOD, PEOPLE, I CAN’T KEEP UP. I take a few days off, due to a harried work schedule and running after two children, and I see something like “800,000 bajillion comments plus infinity” to these book-discussion posts.

    My big loss.

  747. Jules,
    I know how you feel and its not always easy to just jump in . But the water is always fine when I do

  748. Carey, I don’t know how to tell the slippery balloon story discreetly! I’m at a loss.

    There are at least twenty children named Haven — I’ve met them. Isn’t that weird? And everyone is naming their sons Augusten (including me), which means all those godless little terrors are going to be kindergarten at the same time.

  749. I found my seizure medicine (YAY!). I had hidden it very well. Now I’m desperate need of painkillers. I don’t have any of those hidden, sadly.

  750. Haven I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio either. I ripped the radio out of my car, much to the annoyance of my 17 year old. I know way more than I want to know about Sarah Palin and Alaska thanks to The Mudflats.

    I thought ya’ll might enjoy a bulletin I go in my e-mail.

    From The Manitoba Hearld. Canada………

    The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.The possibility of a McCain/Palin
    election is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O’Reilly.

    Canadian border farmers say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.

    “I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,” said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. The producer was cold, exhausted and

    “He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left. Didn’t even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?”

    In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. “Not real effective,” he
    said. “The liberals still got through, and Rush
    annoyed the cows so much they wouldn’t give milk.”

    Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.

    “A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions,” an Ontario border patrolman said. “I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. “They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though.”

    When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the McCain administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to shoot wolves from airplanes, deny evolution, and act out drills preparing them for
    the Rapture.

    In recent days, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers on Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney hits to prove they were alive in the ’50s.

    “If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age,” an official said.

    Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies.

    “I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can’t support them,” an Ottawa resident said. “How many art-history and English majors does one country need?”

    Polar Bears, Moose, Caribou, & Wolves

    for Obama/Biden 08!!!

  751. Honey, why won’t your doctor prescribe you painkillers if you need them? Do I need to go MEDIEVAL on his ASS?

  752. PofS…that was cute.

  753. My GP is on paternity leave. DAMN LIBERALS. I have neurologists, I have gynecologists (suck it up, men commenters) (OH GOD, I DIDN”T MEAN IT THAT WAY), I have mentalists, I have everything but a GP. I have no way of acquiring the desperately needed painkillers unless I go to urgent care, and they’re very reluctant to prescribe pain medication to strangers, according to friends who’ve gone there with migraines. I don’t know what to do.

  754. Michael T., I know you nice people would welcome me all mid-conversation, but I’m just saying I need five more hours in my day for Reading Haven’s Blog. Anyone have a concoction to create such a thing?

  755. Jules, quit your job.

  756. Your GP didn’t leave a backup doctor for you? That’s damn sloppy.

  757. yea I had to quit my job Jules so its only fair

  758. I don’t even have a real job and I get behind.

  759. Yeah, Kate doesn’t have a real job. HA.

  760. Haven-If it wouldn’t be violating state and federal laws, such that I’d wind up being Big Bertha’s girlfriend, I’d send you what I have from when I was toying with the idea of making having daily migraines a hobby. GO to the urgent care, or call your GPs backup NOW, and get something. Sure they might look at you askance, and give you only enough for today, but it will get you through today.

  761. I sit on the davenport watchin’ my stories and eatin’ moon pies!

  762. Haven if you get your meds by mail they give you like a 3 Months supply that how my mom gets her vocodines and stuff anyway.

  763. Sandra, can I e-mail you? I have a story, but it’s not for the intertubes.

  764. That sounded bad it isn’t really HA

  765. Absoulutely! How about at, but please…if this will lead to me liking the idea of being Big Bertha’s bitch, um, no.

  766. I’m Big Bertha and don’t wouldn’t want a paranoid, snitty “bitch” anyway. I like my bitches to have some balls, even if they are pretend.

  767. Particles…oh, for God’s sakes, I was kidding! Seriously, in a forum that discusses rectal hats…I am very sorry if that “um, no” offended you. I was just following the stereotypical in-prison idea. Really, I’m very sorry. I seek out your comments on this blog and find everything you have to say informs me. Please forgive.

  768. See, I didn’t know Particles was even IN prison!

  769. One more thing about Solace before I go to bed. AnnaLee breaks my heart at the end when she says to Amos, “You asked me about Langston and I answered you with Taos. Doesn’t that just say it all?” or something like that (left my book in my classroom). If I could say one thing to AnnaLee it would be that all families happen than way–we are defined not only by our actions but by our reactions to our familiies. As a middle child, I have constantly found myself making decisions in relation to what my siblings would or wouldn’t have done, what my parents had done. It is both the curse and reward for being part of a family. I am who I am, just as Langston is who she is, because my family is who they are. In my mind, AnnaLee has nothing to blame herself for. It’s simply…what happens.

  770. Kate, you’re cute.

  771. Lightning Bug, I picked that up from a woman I used to know who had five children, but no matter which one she was asked about, “When did [blank] learn to read?” she would answer about only her favorite. It used to just break my heart.

  772. 771 comments… Damn! I’m tired! There was no verbal bitch slapping at work today. The &*#$% gave me a wide berth. And I was so-o-o ready to let the bad side of Gemini out.

  773. Hey, did you read the news today? They announced they found some really old scrolls in Syria! Just fragments are left, not much but it is something else, I wuld say!

    They are calling it “The Gospel of Joseph”, here I’ll cut n paste it here:


    “Satan came, as he will, and the first few times his jokes about cukoldry stung. I confronted him finally saying: You are supposed to be an attorney are you not? Let me ask: Is this the best you can do? If I did my job as shoddily as you do yours, I’d have to be a begger.” Afterward he left me alone. And the Lord came and told me “You know, from now on maybe you should sing to yourself while you work. I know he hates that.”

    That night I was telling Mary about it and she said “Here, have some wine. Don’t let it borrow you, love. That ninny couldn’t carry your testicles in a brass bucket.”

    I said “Don’t give him any ideas!” and we laughed.

    Truthfully told, the hardest part of raising the boy was over once he learned reason. Before that, he just didn’t understand matters at all. Always with the dancing figs and battling almonds all over the table, and what with company and all!

    One time I was conferring with a customer, a Greek, who had a lot of money, and wanted some flooring done, Cedar. I am telling you, I almost feared I was in over my head. This job could make or break me!
    “It must be smooth as a buttock, and I’d better not be able to get a fingernail betwixt the joints!” he said. The boy was sitting on the front step, singing to himself.

    Suddenly I hear a thumping sound. And into the room comes a hammer, by itself, bouncing along on it’s handle, and I swear it appeared to be imitating a hen! And followiing in it’s wake some nails, frittering about like it’s chicks! It was all I could do then to keep the Greek distracted! I tell you my hair went white on that one!


  774. I try.

  775. Heee, I try she says. Cake.

    You know, the Cake Council came out with it’s annual report today. They are recommending three servings daily!

    The milk lobby is going batshit.

    The cows are asleep.

  776. I’ll give three servings of Cake if you promise three servings of Matt.

  777. Och! Crickets. Everyone has left! What is it, my cologne??

    Hmm, since noone is listening, I will tell them something that is sure to come back to haunt me should I ever seek PUBLIC OFFICE.

    One time, when I was up in Alaska, I saw a BIGFOOT!

    Was amazing! In a bog, lots of ferns but no trees really, it was in the uplands above the timberline.

    It just walked up! I was shit scared. I threw a flashlight I had with me at it.

    It SPOKE! Eight foot tall, smelled like a monkeyhouse, reddish brown fur, it’s face and palms were black. It said: “Who are you.”

    I said “I’m Matt…” I was really shocked.

    It said “I’m Jesus Christ.”

    I said “What???????”

    It said “Well, that’s what you people usually yell when I sneak up on you like this: JE-ZUSSS CH-RIIST!”

    Aaah, not that funny, I know.

    Guess you hadda be there.

  778. *slow clap*

  779. Heee, one day they will have to bury me in piano case! Sad-faced pall-bearers, oops, my cell phone in my fat dead suit pocket is going off!

    Who will answer it!

    Set him DOWN!

    Pallbearer: STOP the sad pro-cession. I take his fat phone, now! Hello!

    Phone: Hello, this is the cake-monger, why have you not come in here for your order!

    Me: (I sit up, an everyone says Huh!) “Suprise sad people! I was KIDDING YOU! Now, CARRY me back to the cake mongers and we will ALL HAVE CAKE!

    Sad People: Hooray!


  780. I went to religious tonight. What a show.

    I wanted to go to Omaha to see David Byrne, but the plans were SNAGGUED!

    How are you, Cake Woman? What city are you in?

  781. I’m fantabulous. I just watched a movie with a bunch of pies in it.

  782. I’m in Evansville, IN, which was recently pointed out to me is so far south I might as well not even BE in Indiana. I resemble that remark. Ba-da-bum-CHING.

    Thank you! If my husband brings me a Dr. Pepper I’ll be here all night!

  783. He brought me water. CRISIS AVERTED.

    Off to watch MAD MEN on blu-ray disc (I sound like Jarvis now. My son Jarvis, not the famous Mooreland Jarvis’s)

  784. NOTHING says love like a dp on a friday night! I hear dp is made from PLUMS!

    When it was new, Doctor Pepper was a RENEGADE POP! It showed those snooty titans Coke and Pepsi who was BOSS in POPLAND.

    I was at an interesting website. If you google Sarah Palin Name converter, you should find it. You just type in your name, and it converts your name to what it would be if you were her child!

    Mine came out: Commando Coalfield Palin.

    I encourage others to try it as well.

  785. I just want all of you to know that I called Scott tonight, who is in Bloomington for the Hilly 100 this weekend, and he answered the phone by saying “Stunt Fucking.” Just so you know – you all have created a monster! 🙂 And with that, I’m going to bed!

  786. Oh dear Lord I hope he has caller ID. That could go VERY badly.

  787. Oh, Kate – now I KNOW you are perfect – I LOVE MAD MEN!

    Are you making fun of my remark? I meant it nicely – I swear! It’s just that Evansville is as far away from me to the south as you can be and still be in Indiana! 🙂

  788. He does, but I’m pretty sure that won’t stop him from using it very liberally…

  789. No comprende!

  790. What??? 🙂

  791. Oh, I forgot I even mentioned that.

    Perfect. Yes. Yes I am.

  792. Okay, I am skipping to the head of the line again, because my real name is Scarlett, and you all know how selfish and cruel I am. And I plagiarize, for goodness sakes. E Jean of all people from Elle. But the tomahawk is mine. I am bringing it to work next time I go there. To ward off the Queen Hell Bitch that is trying to get me to look in that portrait but only sees herself. Is that crazy enough? Because God knows I have much more to offer than that. What do I end this with? YES WE CAN. And for DOG’s sake we will this time. I am about 94 percent sure. Which is a good thing. Other wise we can all move to MELIBU. Put that in your hat and smoke it.

  793. And George, I am basically wearing pajamas to work these days and I have more bags under my eyes than Madonna has LV luggage. I love flannel but it pills.

  794. Dorian is channeling Suzanne.

  795. Oh, but I could. That would be quite loverly.

  796. I am getting the hell out of here before I say something I may regret. Peace, love and crazy sock monkeys to all of you. Love ?

  797. So, a movie with a bunch of pies in it?

  798. Waitress.

  799. I’m not in prison but I am a Gemini! heh.

  800. WOW! That tiny comment made my computer crash. I’ll shut- up now.

    – Fog Piles Palin

  801. KATE CAKE,

    1. You watch Mad Men. Great, great show. None of my friends here in Fort Wayne watch or appreciate it. Glad to know you do.

    2. You’re in Evansville — I used to live in O’boro, KY, just across the river. Once you cross into KY, everything slooooooooows doooooooown. I used to drive into E’ville to have lunch at Bennigans and be with Unionist Yankees. The Confederates are slower’n molasses, but they make a fine burgoo and barbequed mutton sandwich. Old Hickory barbeque edged out Moonlight in my book every time.

  802. MATT,

    So glad you brought the discovery of The Gospel of John to our attention! Sounds like John had visions of the future, what with dancing hammer and nails and almonds and figs — perhaps he channeled Walt Disney?

    Do you suppose any more FRAGMENTS will be unearthed …? Keep us posted!

  803. Joseph, Jodi. Gospel of St. Joseph.

    I’ll keep you posted. Don’t hold your breath.

    Jodi it’s nice to meet you (again). You’re up early!

    From Indiana? My kids keep singing some crazy-ass song with verses like “Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary gary Indiana” in the car. So very sooothing for frazzled nerves.

    On break but not for long. Hope to run into you again here in ye mosh pit.


  804. MATT,

    Obviously I WAS up too early. I am not such a heathen that I don’t know the difference between The Gospel of John and that of the newly-discovered Joseph. My apologies.

    Your kids know a song from the musical “The Music Man”? Of all the annoying songs in there, they chose a doozie. Don’t let them get started on Shapoopie!

    Love your writing on your blog, Matt.


  805. JohnM, if you check this blog, SHER CANNOT MAKE IT TODAY and she doesn’t have internet and she can’t reach you. She called me to ask me to post this.

  806. HAVEN,

    I’m re-reading SOMETHING RISING, and there’s this lovely thought on page 19:

    “The big red candle in the shack was a mistake, as any thinking person could see, and she imagined herself flinging it hard into the river. But taking it away smacked of something Laura preached against, which was Getting Too Thick Into Events. One Never Knows, AND SOMETIMES THE THING THAT BURNS IS MEANT TO BURN AND MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO WATCH.”

    The all-caps is mine, of course, but what a magnificant meditation! We Didn’t Start The Fire, right?

    Hope you’re feeling better today, Ms. K.

  807. Thanks, Miss Cake! I also had a message from her husband.

  808. Jodi:

    Goodnight, my someone, good my love
    Sleep tight, my someone,
    Sleep tight, my love
    Our stars are shinging their brightest light
    For goodnight, my someone, good night

    Sweet dreams be yours dear if dreams there be
    Sweet dreams to carry you close to me
    I wish I may and I wish I might
    So goodnight, my someone good night.

    (That’s from memory, I could gotten it wackadoodle.)

  809. Jodi:

    There were birds in the sky
    But I never saw them winging
    No I never saw them at all
    Till there was you.

    There were bells on the hill
    But I never heard them ringing
    No I never heard them at all
    Till there was you.

    And there was music —
    and there were wonderful roses
    they tell me, in sweet, fragrant meadows
    of dawn and dew —

    There was love all around
    But I never heard it singing
    No I never heard it at all,
    Till there was you.

    (May have reversed those first two verses.)

  810. JohnM, you strolled in stole the show with such SUBTLETY.

  811. Haven,

    Sorry to hear you are feeling poorly. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

    Go to mein blog, if you like, and scroll down and read
    “The Man in the Tree.” You might enjoy it.

    Back to the salt mines,

  812. Steph and Stunt Fucker, is there the SLIGHTEST possibility I met you many many years ago at the B&N in Carmel, and you gave me a beautifully inscribed copy of WALK TWO MOONS (fabulous book) and you were newlyweds and extremely pretty, both of you?

  813. HK – RIGHT? I’m definitely more subtle than your average stunt-fucking bitch man ass clown.

  814. Matt, you have been one of the great joys of my life. I’m being completely sincere. One of the luckiest days I’ve ever had was when I opened that crazy e-mail of yours and thought, “Hmmmm, what have we HERE?” I love you.

  815. DORIAN! yes to bang consultation. yes yes yes. email me@! finally, help arrives. and i have several other opinions i require.

  816. JohnM, there are sides of you I’ve never seen, and I LIKE ‘EM. Of course I did just drool coffee on my flimsy t-shirt but what the hell.

  817. Awwww, Ms. K … THANK YOU for those lovely songs in your very own renditions! Here’s one from The Music Man backatcha:

    It’s you in the sunrise, it’s you in my cup.
    It’s you all the way into town.
    It’s your sweet “Hello, dear” that sets me up
    And it’s your “Got to go, dear” that gets me down.
    It’s you on my pillow in all my dreams.
    ‘Til once more the morning breaks through
    What words could be saner or truer or plainer
    Than it’s you, it’s you.
    Yes, it’s you.
    Oh, yes it’s you.

  818. “I love flannel but it pills.” – Dorian

    okay, i FELL OUT.

    and yes miss cake i was coming through Dorian, earlier. he’s a wonderful transmedium.

  819. ps WE WILL TAKE APART THE BITCH FROM HELL from that place you go to. is she harming you? oh my god.

  820. DORIAN IS DUDE? I love that name either way.

  821. Look out Jodi, I think she likes you!

    Back in about 1965 I spied on a pack of teenage girls
    singing along with the a 45 of the Beatles singing “Till there was You.”

    They were a hilly, moony, moisty bunch! In the grips of a reverie! The sight made my young ears turn red!

  822. So anyway, I have this grand idea. I am betting that Suzanne would really love it if people would wend their way to the FINNABLOG and give her some bang consults and what have you. While Haven is, I am sure, flattered by all the traffic on this blog, think of how happy Suzanne would be if she could gather all you minions to her bosom and you could offer her some ego strokes in return. Just to keep it all, you know, on topic and whatnot.

  823. Dorian, love needs no question mark. Here I shall reprint in its entirety one of the most important poems in the English language, I don’t care if everyone is bored of it or has it memorized, if you can get to those last lines and not feel a chill in your spine, well then. Something.


    We Must Love One Another Or Die

    September 1, 1939
    by W. H. Auden

    I sit in one of the dives
    On Fifty-second Street
    Uncertain and afraid
    As the clever hopes expire
    Of a low dishonest decade:
    Waves of anger and fear
    Circulate over the bright
    And darkened lands of the earth,
    Obsessing our private lives;
    The unmentionable odour of death
    Offends the September night.

    Accurate scholarship can
    Unearth the whole offence
    From Luther until now
    That has driven a culture mad,
    Find what occurred at Linz,
    What huge imago made
    A psychopathic god:
    I and the public know
    What all schoolchildren learn,
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return.

    Exiled Thucydides knew
    All that a speech can say
    About Democracy,
    And what dictators do,
    The elderly rubbish they talk
    To an apathetic grave;
    Analysed all in his book,
    The enlightenment driven away,
    The habit-forming pain,
    Mismanagement and grief:
    We must suffer them all again.

    Into this neutral air
    Where blind skyscrapers use
    Their full height to proclaim
    The strength of Collective Man,
    Each language pours its vain
    Competitive excuse:
    But who can live for long
    In an euphoric dream;
    Out of the mirror they stare,
    Imperialism’s face
    And the international wrong.

    Faces along the bar
    Cling to their average day:
    The lights must never go out,
    The music must always play,
    All the conventions conspire
    To make this fort assume
    The furniture of home;
    Lest we should see where we are,
    Lost in a haunted wood,
    Children afraid of the night
    Who have never been happy or good.

    The windiest militant trash
    Important Persons shout
    Is not so crude as our wish:
    What mad Nijinsky wrote
    About Diaghilev
    Is true of the normal heart;
    For the error bred in the bone
    Of each woman and each man
    Craves what it cannot have,
    Not universal love
    But to be loved alone.

    From the conservative dark
    Into the ethical life
    The dense commuters come,
    Repeating their morning vow;
    “I will be true to the wife,
    I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
    And helpless governors wake
    To resume their compulsory game:
    Who can release them now,
    Who can reach the deaf,
    Who can speak for the dumb?

    All I have is a voice
    To undo the folded lie,
    The romantic lie in the brain
    Of the sensual man-in-the-street
    And the lie of Authority
    Whose buildings grope the sky:
    There is no such thing as the State
    And no one exists alone;
    Hunger allows no choice
    To the citizen or the police;
    We must love one another or die.

    Defenceless under the night
    Our world in stupor lies;
    Yet, dotted everywhere,
    Ironic points of light
    Flash out wherever the Just
    Exchange their messages:
    May I, composed like them
    Of Eros and of dust,
    Beleaguered by the same
    Negation and despair,
    Show an affirming flame.

    W.H. Auden

  824. So, you love me, eh?
    Well PROVE IT! Promise to tell these folks about THE CORN LADY!!!
    It is only the funniest damn story EVER. And 500 years from now, when the last PC is serving as an ugly-ass craft project, like a bat-house or a shoe-lace dispenser, it will probably be the only writing from our times that college students actually LAUGH OUT LOUD when reading! And I want you to get credit for it. So: get it on record, sugah-plum.


    Yesterday we discussed, what you call, idioms?
    And a few years ago, I emailed you and said something like – “Hey, how are you?”
    And you followed with a long-ass Wellesly School Marm
    fret-page that was just hilarious, finishing with:
    “Suffice to say, Matt, I have been busy putting fires out with my ass.”
    Which – and I don’t mean to belittle your problems of that date – but the phrase simply slew me. I believe I am still sore from laughing about it.
    I cannot but imagine that, once translated, this phrase (I imagine you got it from Bob or somebody) will quite simply spread o’er the globe. Yes, once translated, everyone will use it. From the frazzled frenchman to the if-I-don’t-get-a-cigarette-break-soon-I-will-spontaneously-combust Chinee, all children of Eve will sooner or later say:
    “What have you been doing today?”
    I found it funny for more reasons than I can list.
    Hope you liked “The Man in the Tree.” Was thinking of you when I finished it.

  825. Jodi, given my history (and the history of that hustler George), how could I not know this one?*

    Well, either you’re closing your eyes
    To a situation you do now wish to acknowledge
    Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated
    By the presence of a pool table in your community.
    Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
    I say, trouble right here in River City.
    Why sure I’m a billiard player,
    Certainly mighty proud I say
    I’m always mighty proud to say it.
    I consider that the hours I spend
    With a cue in my hand are golden.
    Help you cultivate horse sense
    And a cool head and a keen eye.
    Never take and try to give
    An iron-clad leave to yourself
    From a three-reail billiard shot?
    But just as I say,
    It takes judgement, brains, and maturity to score
    In a balkline game,
    I say that any boob kin take
    And shove a ball in a pocket.
    And they call that sloth.
    The first big step on the road
    To the depths of deg-ra-Day–
    I say, first, medicinal wine from a teaspoon,
    Then beer from a bottle.
    An’ the next thing ya know,
    Your son is playin’ for money
    In a pinch-back suit.
    And list’nin to some big out-a-town Jasper
    Hearin’ him tell about horse-race gamblin’.
    Not a wholesome trottin’ race, no!
    But a race where they set down right on the horse!
    Like to see some stuck-up jockey’boy
    Sittin’ on Dan Patch? Make your blood boil?
    Well, I should say.
    Friends, lemme tell you what I mean.
    Ya got one, two, three, four, five, six pockets in a table.
    Pockets that mark the diff’rence
    Between a gentlemen and a bum,
    With a capital “B,”
    And that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool!
    And all week long your River City
    Youth’ll be frittern away,
    I say your young men’ll be frittern!
    Frittern away their noontime, suppertime, choretime too!
    Get the ball in the pocket,
    Never mind gittin’ Dandelions pulled
    Or the screen door patched or the beefsteak pounded.
    Never mind pumpin’ any water
    ‘Til your parents are caught with the Cistern empty
    On a Saturday night and that’s trouble,
    Oh, yes we got lots and lots a’ trouble.
    I’m thinkin’ of the kids in the knickerbockers,
    Shirt-tail young ones, peekin’ in the pool
    Hall window after school, look, folks!
    Right here in River City.
    Trouble with a capital “T”
    And that rhymes with “P” and that stands for pool!
    Now, I know all you folks are the right kinda parents.
    I’m gonna be perfectly frank.
    Would ya like to know what kinda conversation goes
    On while they’re loafin’ around that Hall?
    They’re tryin’ out Bevo, tryin’ out cubebs,
    Tryin’ out Tailor Mades like Cigarette Feends!
    And braggin’ all about
    How they’re gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen.
    One fine night, they leave the pool hall,
    Headin’ for the dance at the Arm’ry!
    Libertine men and Scarlet women!
    And Rag-time, shameless music
    That’ll grab your son and your daughter
    With the arms of a jungle animal instink!
    Friends, the idle brain is the devil’s playground!

    Trouble, oh we got trouble,
    Right here in River City!
    With a capital “T”
    That rhymes with “P”
    And that stands for Pool,
    That stands for pool.
    We’ve surely got trouble!
    Right here in River City,
    Right here!
    Gotta figger out a way
    To keep the young ones moral after school!
    Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble…

    Mothers of River City!
    Heed the warning before it’s too late!
    Watch for the tell-tale sign of corruption!
    The moment your son leaves the house,
    Does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee?
    Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger?
    A dime novel hidden in the corn crib?
    Is he starting to memorize jokes from Capt.
    Billy’s Whiz Bang?
    Are certain words creeping into his conversation?
    Words like ‘swell?”
    And ‘so’s your old man?”
    Well, if so my friends,
    Ya got trouble,
    Right here in River city!
    With a capital “T”
    And that rhymes with “P”
    And that stands for Pool.
    We’ve surely got trouble!
    Right here in River City!
    Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule!
    Oh, we’ve got trouble.
    We’re in terrible, terrible trouble.
    That game with the fifteen numbered balls is a devil’s tool!
    Oh yes we got trouble, trouble, trouble!
    With a “T”! Gotta rhyme it with “P”!
    And that stands for Pool!!!

    *I was in this musical as a teenager.

  826. Speaking of which, I gotta go, and just guess why?

    Hint: orange and hot, makes smoke. Ouch.


  827. For the record, I’m not really “Big Bertha”. Hell, I cried like a baby both times I was in jail. The first time the drunk tanks were busy so they threw big baby me into the general population. I locked myself in the bathroom until the jail lady showed up with the keys. They cleared out the drunk tank just for my silly drunk ass.

    The second time I had the luxury of a blackout, but it didn’t stop me from crying like an infant. How would I know? When I came out of it, in the hospital where they took me for blood samples, my shirt was wet.

  828. Matt your blog is a great example of awesome.

  829. Oh P.O.S., I just got tears in my eyes. The only time I’ve ever been anywhere near a prison was went I to visit a family member over the course of 3 1/2 years, and every time I left the WAITING AREA I had to get in the backseat of my sister’s Lincoln (big bag seat) and lie perfectly still so I didn’t throw up. And my mom teaches in maximum security prisons every day. Her heart is made of precious stones and steel.

  830. Matt, are you smoking tangerines again? I’ve told you and told you.

  831. Haven,
    I’m afraid Stunt Fucker and I were not the newly weds you met at B and N in Carmel. Scott is a cutie, but we met you at Earlham last year when you read – I was the one with the hives, following your mom around like a love sick puppy.

    I fear Stunt Fucker is a moniker that is going to stick for Scott, but I have a feeling he rather enjoys it – he likes to stir the pot like that. He sends his best from the hills of Bloomington! 🙂 And, for what it’s worth, he’s still answering his phone with “stunt fucking”…

    Oh, Music Man – be still my heart – love love love that one!!!

  832. OMG, Your mom teaches in prison? I keep vacillating between teaching and not teaching, but I truly believe the only places I would be able to offer anything is prison or juvenile detention centers.

    I get discouraged and keep talking myself out of teaching, if I ever graduate, but then I see something like Riker High, or read a book like Wally Lamb’s and I veeer back on path.

  833. HAVEN! The Cassie-with-dead-groundhog scene in SOMETHING RISING. Omigosh, laugh-out-loud funny. You have lived this event, either watching or rolling the groundhog yourself. Right? Everybody, page 27. Read it. It’s grand.

  834. Particles – Congratulations on your 365. I’m proud of you!

  835. Particle of Spirit,
    I teach at a prison and I have to say, it has been an amazing experience. I teach public speaking, and the guys I teach, for the most part, are eager to learn and recognize that they can improve their lives with education. Many people have a lot of ideas of what prison is like based on movies and tv, but I’ve never had a problem or felt that my safety was compromised. In fact, I often forget I’m in a prison.

    I hope that you consider teaching – especially in a prison – because they need someone like you. I teach public speaking, but the secondary purpose I feel like I have there is to be in a position to tell these guys that they are valuable, their lives have worth, and that they can do it. It’s amazing to me how many of my guys have never had anyone say that to them, or root for them. So, I feel like my prsence there is important for that reason, too. I think you’d be great in that position!!

  836. Just who is this “Music Man”?

    Is he responsible for my kids singing that “Gary Indiana, Gary Indiana” horseshit in the car all the time? THen they LEAN BACK and giggle, and I can’t reach them with the fly-swatter.

    HOw I hate him. He is not my friend.

  837. Ok, working on my Saturday chores…I will head to the basement now, channeling Robert Preston like the stunt-fuckin’ assclown that I am.

  838. …just peeking in…no way I am going to get trapped in some sort of conversation…too many fires here to extinguish with my ass!!!

  839. George, I like a man who gets a thing in his teeth and just SHAKES it. Of course I’m also the only person I’ve ever known to break up a fight between pit bulls, so there you go.

  840. Hey, I know! I’m going to get Melinda to send me the corn story (she was there) and then I’ll post it. It will act as an interim post until y’all are done with Something Rising. How does that sound?

  841. I love The Music Man. That Monorail episode of The Simpsons? Based on the Music Man and written by my secret boyfriend Conan O’Brien.

    My parents used to have to drive back and forth to Riley Hospital quite a bit, and it made them even sillier than they already are. They made up this song:

    If you take the Pimento out of an olive
    then you have a big green thing no-body wants
    and if you take the Pimento out of Indiana
    then you have a big green thing no-body wants

    There’s a Pimento in the middle of an olive
    and a Pimento in the middle of Indiana too
    So come on to PI-MEN-TO IN-DI-AN-A
    We’ve got to be the place for YOU!

  842. Awwww, she’ll get it wrong! You must tell!
    One of the best parts is when Mother P. is innocently passing a dish of corn round the table and says “Corn?” and your sis says “No, I think it was out of some trail-mix.”


  843. To keep your metaphor pure, it’s called doggedness, Haven Kimmel. Sheer Doggedness. Now I can’t find my danged rectal hat…must be where I left my dick ears.

    Been to a lot of jails and prisons in my time — never as a guest, however, not that I shouldn’t have.

    When I was a young reporter, my shift would end around 2 AM and I would take newspapers over to the Marion County Sheriff Dept. deputies. We’d share depressing stories for awhile, then the trustees would start cooking breakfast and bring up some eggs and hotdogs.

    Once, I helped cover an inmate uprising at the prison in Pendleton. That was in 1985 or so.

    Steph in Indiana….I always thought that if I should do a volunteer project, it would be teaching literacy in jail.

    Kate: Evansville in Indiana by name only. It belongs to Kentucky.

    Jodi: Speaking of Kentucky…next time I back home in Evansville, I am going to lead a car caravan over to the Moonlight Bar-B-Q Inn.

    …now back to mopping to the tune of Zydeco Strokin’ and praying ceaselessly for those Red Sox tonight.

  844. George I like your plans for the day. I have been making a carrot cake form scratch, pasta salad, and caramel/chocolate nut brownies… all to the sounds of an Emmylou Harris record, playing on my grandmother’s old record player that I now own. (My grandmother was EXTREMELY conservative and when I came to own the player I discovered an 8-track of Elvis Christmas music hidden in the back, behind the paneling.)

  845. Shut yo MOUF George Stuteville! My Grandpa used to tell Kentuckian jokes all the time. Don’t tell me we aren’t different.

  846. The worst thing about living in an apartment, even though it’s a nice apartment, is going to the friggin’ laundry mat. That’s what I’ve been doing the last few hours. When I got there I realized I had forgotten to get laundry detergent last time I was at the store, so I made Shelby stay and load the washers while I ran to get some soap. The nearest place I could think of was Big Lots so I got the closest thing to my normal choice of Tide with Downy. It was some very inexpensive brand called something or other, I can’t remember. When we were done, spending 900 dollars, with the car reloaded, we were pulling out of the parking lot and I said, “That laundry soap smells weird kind of, I don’t know, fruity.” Shelby gave me the 17 yr old shrug, and I said, “Well, it had to do in a pinch.”

    Shelby, pulled her face away from her texting and gave me the biggest WTF look she could muster, and said, “huuuuh?”

    All I could do was laugh.

    Are you all rubbing off on me or what? I guess I should be grateful my clothes don’t smell like a hot popcorn fart.

  847. There is nothing I can say that will in any way add to this fabulous conversation. You all are just too much!

  848. I love this discussion and wish I could pay closer attention and respond with more timely responses, but my grandfather is very ill and that has been taking up a lot of my time. So, hopefully, better late than never…

    (1) Amanda, I live in Chapel Hill and I will be your friend. Also, what kind of job are you looking for?

    (2) My favorite saying from my small home-town: “It’s comin’ up a cloud.”

    (3) George, I’m praying for the Red Sox as well.

  849. The damnable DJ in my head needs to be shot!

    Hello, world, here’s a song that we’re singin’,
    C’mon get happy
    A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’,
    We’ll make you happy

    We had a dream we’d go trav’lin’ together
    We’d spread a little lovin’ then we’d keep movin’ on
    Somethin’ always happens whenever we’re together
    We get a happy feelin’ when we’re singin’ a song

    Trav’lin’ along there’s a song that we’re singin’,
    C’mon get happy
    A whole lotta lovin’ is what we’ll be bringin’,
    We’ll make you happy
    We’ll make you happy,
    We’ll make you happy

  850. Hey there Jim

  851. Hey Linda. Is everyone else asleep with the chickens?

  852. I know. It is kind of creepy, isn’t it?

  853. Yup. And I was going to discuss more of Solace tonight. OK. Not really. Other than to say that the reason my friend Kim was late picking up our daughter this morning (Robbie & I both had to work) was because I lent her Solace and she stayed up too late last night reading it.

    Haven: You have another fan. Kim LOVES it so far.

  854. It is like an addiction. And, I know addictions.

  855. And why does my avatar keep switching back?

  856. Are you signed into wordpress? Because if you aren’t it goes back to the first photo you used. I think. At least that seems to be what is happening with mine. I wonder if everyone is playing with that Palin as president picture. I think she is going to be on SNL tonight which is actually kind of disappointing because heaven forbid anyone think she is the least bit cool. That would be bad.

  857. Sock, your avatar keeps switching back because it’s so PRESHUS.

  858. Preshus. Here Preshus! Yeesh! Very Silence of the Lambs of you.

  859. Hey there, Haven. Jim and I were starting to feel like nobody likes us.

  860. now that’s not true linda. Everybody’s just afeared of us.

  861. Oh. Yeah. That’s right. That is what I was going to say.

  862. My son just walked through the room and said that Boston is ahead 2-1. So, at least we know where George is. And Steph.

  863. And Haven’s in and out of it…. 😉

  864. So, Jim, how was your day?

  865. I’m hit and miss too. I’m watching Brothers and Sisters on DVD. It’s a show that fascinates me because they are so unlike my family. And Gracie thought she had to help me make my bed, of course, with all her help it took me twice as long.

  866. Oh, you know the weirdest part about being at the laundry mat? I was reading The Used World, specifically the part were Rebekah is relaying how her former church was obsessed with death an funerals. Every time someone walked through the door at the mat, the gal working would say, “You know Rosie? She worked in the mornings. She passed away,” as if she was an ambassador of death or something. It was quite odd.

  867. Well, good evening, POS

  868. p.s. thanks Matt.

    And Steph thanks for the encouragement. My vacillating has much more to do with me than it does the peeps in prison.

  869. I just started reading Used World.

  870. HI, Linda. 🙂 I’m supposed to be reading The Status Syndrome for a class, I have a response paper due Tuesday, but it wouldn’t be like me not to wait until the last minute.

  871. Linda,

    my parents think Sarah Palin is going to be their hero. and this makes me want to throw up on my shoes.

    i hope she makes a bigger damn fool of herself than she has so far on SNL.

  872. I feel like the most boring person in the world right now. I cannot think of a creative thing to say.

    Oh, the guys just turned the baseball game on and it is now 2-2. Oh, wait, home run. Ha. Now it is 3-2. George is probably jumping up and down right now.

  873. Day went well. No verbal bitch slapping of stunt-fucking assclowns. With or without ass hats.

    Particles of Spirit… ookay. Sometimes you just can’t make up stuff like that, so I know it really happened. Ambassador of Death. Think that’s a paid position? ‘Mats are amazing places to overhear things that are slightly off.

  874. Yay! New avatar is back.

  875. Hi Amanda!

  876. And I have to go away for awhile. Robbie’s home and will want to check his email. I need my own laptop.

  877. Bye, Jim. Boston just scored again. I just want us all to be up to speed when George shows up. LOL

  878. Boston was perhaps the greatest rock band of all times, just sonically.

  879. Hugh can hit all the high notes on More Than a Feeling, except that last one that is like, an hour long.

  880. I went to Boston University for one year. It was the year Lennon died and Reagan was shot.

  881. Oh, Particles, I finally got out of the vicious laundry mat cycle a year or so ago, BUT I agree with Langston that the laundry mat is a FASCINATING and comforting place… it is just the laundry part that is annoying.

  882. Boston is ahead 4-2 in the 7th.

    Ok, I am pooped so y’all need to watch the rest of the game yourselves or wait for George and Steph to show up with a recap. LOL

    Off to read more of Used World.

  883. I finally got to log on after a very busy day, and ummm, I guess we’re NOT doing Owen Meany today?

  884. Sometimes, my kids don’t want to do their homework. Well, that’s natural. But if they hiss about even the idea of having to do homework, I take them to the laundry mat.

    It works, and stays remembered for a long time.

    Boston Don’t get me started!

  885. I thought that Owen Meany was ultimately decided against, or something? I have no idea. I’m ready to discuss it, I think.

  886. I do remember someone saying they’d rather keep talking about Haven’s books, but I didn’t think it was official. I don’t need to discuss Owen but I have been reading it for the past week and am almost done so if ayone wants to we still can. And if no one wants to, that’s fine too. I don’t normally read that kind of book so I’ve been having a good time with it and it’s been worth it just for the reading.

  887. The intro to “Long Time”…there were a bunch of us ,
    we had just come from an abandoned missle silo, we heave-hoed a junked vehicle into the pit it fell for an ever and then crashed like the end of the world then we set to
    partying in an old farm house, a box of some grandma’s old church hats were found and distributed “EVERYBODY wears a party hat!” Strobe light. KEGS of cold, gold beer. Complete insanity. Were we ever really that young?

    Once they discover fire, this sort of behaviour is


  888. Bed is calling so if anyone wants to talk about Owen tomorrow I’m game. The discussions are always great here at Haven’s place so whatever is happening is hunky dory with me. Nighty, everyone.

  889. Oops, noone is talking about Boston anymore.

  890. Hey, Haven. The natives are getting restless about Owen. Do we need to set a date? Did we already? 😛

  891. off to bed for me as well. Night Kate Cake. Night Matt. Night Polly. Night Linda. And Night George, wherever you are.

  892. Night Sock’s dog in the picture. Night anyone who is left. Night anyone who is not.

  893. Night Sock! Night Matt!

  894. heee, night Red Cake Lady! May you dream of pies!

  895. …and then there were none.

  896. Poor JohnM and Kate Cake, got to meet Sissy Kay and Sher in the same weekend, either verbally or eye-to-eye, was it rather like meeting Sybil, or Ianthe/Trace/??/???/??? – see I didn’t quite spoil it . . . I think the main question is – how many facets to Ianthe/Trace ARE there?

    I am going to sleep off the hangover (mental & emotional) that occurs when I go someplace called, but doesn’t ever feel, like home.

    Ya’all seem to be my home now.

  897. I just can’t take all this in right now. “Ill think about it tomorrow.”

  898. Okay, who came up with “Step on a crack, break your momma’s back? That one kind of freaks me out. Checking out the Gary, Indiana thing on Youtube now because I know the song even though I never saw the movie. Kind of kooky.

  899. Kooky is being in the musical when you’re in high school – and didn’t want to be in it, but salesman #2 doesn’t show up for rehearsal and since you’re part of the pit band, you are asked to read his lines until he shows up, which of course he never does and the next thing you know, you’re on stage with about 5 bit parts and shaking in your boots because you know you are REALLY bad at it… and you have to sing a solo line because the music teacher is a sadist. Just one of many fond high school memories.

  900. Oh you Blog Babies are fickle. First it’s all like, NO NO we must do Haven’s books before she becomes a Quaker again! Then it’s all like, but I just read all 1,700 pages of OWEN MEANY so we must do it! Then, where’s my distributor cap? What happened to that plaid jacket I used to always wear? Why won’t my clothes from high school still fit me? What’s the big deal with taking baths with my mom — we’ve been doing it for forty years now!

  901. Hey, I think I just posted John’s ‘Boy With Birds’ on the yahoo discussion group. But who knows, my IQ is the equivalent of tree bark. I have three more songs if you like that one.

  902. You did it, but I haven’t checked to see if it worked yet.

  903. Cake, you’re my First Lieutenant. I depend on you as much as I depend on John, for the love of Pete.

  904. Wow, Haven! You just did a perfect job of summarizing this blog at times. Fickle, indeed!!!

    Hope you’re feeling well today. You sound … feisty!

  905. I salute you, whatever is in charge of First Lieutenant.

    General? Chairman? Witch Doctor?

  906. I’ve been feisty for two days!!! It’s because I found my seizure medication and I’m no longer lying on the sofa waiting to die. I’m so feisty I got in a HUGE fight with Delonda last night (we haven’t fought since I was sixteen) and I wrote her this SCATHING e-mail, which I then called and read to my sister, who, in her inimitable way said, “Yeah, I’d . . . Sister? I’d put that in your little virtual trashcan.” I went on railing and giving the whole situation the what-for and Melinda would periodically mutter, “Mmmm hmmm, that’s sure right. Boy, are you ever right. Now just throw that e-mail away, okay?” I finally said, “WHERE IS MY NIECE, ABBY? I WANT TO TALK TO ABBY
    !” Because she’s the only sensible person in this family, besides me, of course. Oh, I was just full of piss and vinegar.

  907. ~~ Spoiler Alert ~~


    I’m in the heart of SOMETHING RISING, literally the middle of the book, reading Laura’s apologia. The orchestral prelude is so sweet, with the violins playing high and melodic, but beneath the bass and cello are sounding a long, low note of warning:

    “Do you know,” Laura said, tracing the lip of her glass with her fingertip, “that we live and trade our days for lies invented thousands of years ago, Cassie?”

    And I love this motif that plays halfway through: “[Cassie] stared out the kitchen window at the yard, at the bird feeder where the finches would be, if it were morning and if there were finches.”

    Wow, girlfriend. Just … it’s all in here. You. Are. My. Hero.

  908. HAVEN re Melinda’s responses to your scathing email to Delonda:

    Melinda is Dusty in IODINE. I thought so all along.

    Glad you found your medicine. You’re very entertaining when you’re feeling … feisty.

  909. Jodi, you are MY hero. You’re one of the finest readers I’ve ever ever known. We should get matching superhero costumes.

  910. OOOOOH, DUDE!!! I’m designing Costumes even as we speak. WHO SHOULD WE BE???

    How do you feel about capes? Will they get caught on tall buildings? Or, being Superheroes, do we care? ‘Cause, well … we’re SUPERHEROES!!!!

  911. Melinda is Dusty inasmuch as if I had ever come home the way Trace did? She would have treated me that gently and she would have protected me from tigers. Still would. I don’t know how I could ever live without her. She feels like a part of my soul that just happens to live on a farm in Indiana. (Oh, and she’s a teetotaler. Never touched a drug of any kind in her life, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke — I don’t think she even takes aspirin. So in that way she’s WAY different than Dusty. And of course there’s my brother-in-law, Wayne.)


    Please use some material that emphasizes my shapely bottom.

  913. Melinda’s speech as written in your posting just sounds like Dusty: i.e., “Mmmm hmmm, that’s sure right.”

  914. HAVEN, Have you watched the cape-designing scene in the movie THE INCREDIBLES? I know you’re not a movie-watcher, but perhaps your children have seen it …

  915. Melinda is not addled, however. Clear as a bell. She has a memory like Rainman.

    True story: when she was running the funerals homes she owned with her late husband, the IRS called and asked for the SS#s of the eighteen employees in the main branch. The agent said, “I’m happy to hold while you get them.” Melinda said, “That’s okay, I know them all.” And she didn’t get one of them wrong.

    And people ask me if I can REALLY remember my childhood. Ha.

  916. I love Edna Mode aka midget Edith Head.

  917. I took the first two children (Baby wasn’t born yet) and have MERCY did I love that movie. In fact, I believe that is the last talkie I saw. But that character of Edna? Someone should have won an academy award for her.

  918. Thanks, Cake. Edna Mode.

  919. Photo of Edith Head character:

  920. That’s the best part…it was Brad Bird, the writer and director! He asked Lily Tomlin to do it and she told him he could do it better than anyone!

  921. And about Owen… I can wait til the cows come home for that discussion.

  922. 10-4, Sock. Let’s WAIT for the OWEN MEANY discussion. There’s So Much Haven to ponder …

  923. Jodi, I clicked on that link and it called me a THIEF.

  924. KATE,


  925. Seriously, dude. I clicked, and the address turned into this:

    Also, no pictures.

  926. Cake is not what she appears to be. Watch her.

  927. HAVEN…shhhh! Don’t tell anyone.

  928. Sorry, Kate. You already know what Edith Head/Edna Mode looks like, so no worries. =)

  929. Good morning everyone! Two things – what is this yahoo place everyone keeps referring to? I assume it’s a website, but I don’t know it, and I hate being left out! Someone, please direct me!!

    Also, I don’t remember who said it – I’m still catching up from yesterday – that this blog feels like home to them – I could not agree more. I have found in the last few days when something is troubling me, or I have a philosophical dilemma, I want to bring it to you all – the smartest, wisest, kindest group of people assembled in one place, I’m sure. Plus you all seem to get me, which is nothing short of a miracle.

    And Haven – regarding that email – your sage sister is right. Compose it, get it all out, feel mad and feel smug and get it all off your chest. Then delete it. You’ll feel better – both by writing and by deleting. It’s symbolic, which I’m sure you get. Sorry to hear you are arguing with your mom! I hope it blows over quickly!

    Hugs to all… Steph


  931. Steph, you are obviously nicer than I am. Bless you.

  932. Dorian: i love the movie UNZIPPED. it’s one of alltime knockdownyourgramma favorites. the scene where he accuses his staff of fucking w/ his head because they left a bad magazine review on his desk…the way he wears the FUCK out that red bandana? if i could have ONE MAN in a closet at alltmes, it would be isaac mizrahi. i love that movie. EVERYONE??? find UNZIPPED, the Mizrahi documentaer about pulling together his new spring fashion show…..EPIC. SO FUNNY YOULL TURN YOURSELF INSIDE OUT.

  933. I remember enjoying it, especially his obsession with Nanook of the North.

    I found a children’s book about Nanook of the North…it’s like a photo documentary of the film, at the Library Book Sale. SCORE!

    I love Isaac Mizrahi’s collection at Target, and I sadly can’t afford any of it until it’s 75%.

  934. I am glad to be home (in virtual Havenland):

    Here is my post-“anti-home” induced dream:

    Sher Little Red with the Big Bedroom Eyes carries Big LIttle People (made from rice crispies and marshmellow fondant) to Granny’s house in her pretty big basket. Granny is limping and sitting in her squeaky glider rocker. Litte Red isn’t allowed to leave and go play the other happy people, she must stay and commisserate with the wounded. Granny doesn’t like the litt people and and says they are old and dirty. Granny walks with a limp and shoud be tucked up in her bed and nailed shut. Big Bad Wolf limps to Red and melts her Big Little People with his big bad breathe. Little Red with the Bedroom Eyes watches Big Bad limp away with her in her own basket, her soul is might taste.

    The End.

  935. I did drive away with shredded parts of my soul – I am knitting what is left back together today.

  936. I am finding it awkward reading any other fiction right now . . . when I was reading Sawtelle 2 nights again, I was like “weeds” “weeds”, o well, it only means there were some weeds by that tree.

    so I am all about digging into all of Haven’s novels, even Orville!, plus I don’t think we are near done with Iodine!!!!

  937. Now Jodi, do you need my measurements for our Superhero costumes? Because I don’t believe I have any measurements.

  938. go jump in the lake
    go play in the road
    quit lallygaggin’
    mad as spit
    in the hollur
    down yonder
    swip it up (sweep)
    by god
    for goodness sakes
    log roller
    too big for his britches
    no count
    on a prayer and a wing
    church clothes
    day clothes
    play clothes
    switched (beating)
    beat with a wet noodle (spanking)
    floored me (beat me to the floor)
    tied one on (drunk)
    string up (punish)
    full of herself (proud)
    puffed up (pride)
    big head (conceit)
    a lucy (girly)
    when the cows come home
    piss freezing (ie. the piss freezing before it hits the snow)
    dog down dirty low done good for nothing
    get control of (beat)
    hang dog (depressed)
    sugar thing (diabetes)
    woman thing (breast cancer, ovarian cancer)

    it goes on and on . . .

  939. Haven, you are very sweet for saying so, but I don’t believe that is true for one second! The truth is that I’ve learned that lesson like I’ve learned most in my life – the hard way. 🙂

  940. Haven, you are very sweet for saying so, but I don’t believe that is true for one second! The truth is that I’ve learned that lesson like I’ve learned most in my life – the hard way. Now THERE’S a topic for discussion! 🙂

    This is what I get for going to a theatre conference all weekend and then being without internet. Oooooh, I am angry. 936 comments on my very favorite and most treasured book of all time, and I wasn’t here to jump in on all of them. Ugh.

    I will never, ever be able to articulate my thoughts on this book. I’ve read it approximately 48 times or so by now, and I still get something new out of it every time. My copy has literally fell apart at the spine.

    To go with my inability to articulate myself, that’s actually what I loved the best about SOLACE. It articulated thoughts that I didn’t even know I had until I saw them on a page and said, “YES!” All good books do that to an extent, but I had NEVER experienced something that went and grabbed me all the way down to my core and just seemed to KNOW me until I read this book. I was raised in a small-town Baptist church and by a very conservative family to boot, and it had never satisfied me. I always wondered and had thoughts that were immediately shot down by my superiors, but there was no outlet for me to go and expand these thoughts. So when I read SOLACE — although I am in NO way well-versed in theological philosophy — I found those initial spark-thoughts of mine expanded into these gorgeous, mind-boggling ideas, and quite simply, I was undone. I’ve not stopped thinking and expanding since, and I have you to thank for that.

    It goes beyond theology too, though — things as simple as “Amos endured the contours of his pillow”; “He was in a state of desire so acute it felt like despair” — I could literally list out hundreds of lines I have underlined for their beauty, their truth. The passage about the lives we could have chosen walking alongside the one that we did is haunting and mesmerizing and so so so true. I think that you probably share my thoughts on how beautiful the ordinary is — a woman adjusting her lipstick in the rearview mirror or a couple splitting a foot-long sub is enough to make me cry sometimes, and I was never able to figure out quite why until I read that passage.

    And the characters. My GOD, the characters. I don’t think there has EVER been a novel in which I am so consumed with love for nearly every single one of the characters. Like everyone who has read the book, probably, I am in absolute love with Amos. Oh, please let there be a man like that out there for me. On my first read, I didn’t like Langston for the longest time, and then all of a sudden I did; I couldn’t pinpoint when it happened, and now I go back and find her so dear it hurts me. Walt and AnnaLee…my heart swells and aches just typing their names. The girls, Alice, the people in the diner for heavens’ sake. Perfect. All of them.

    I am sleep-deprived and on my way out the door to rehearsals, so forgive this rambling post. My next task is to catch up on all of these comments, find my falling-apart copy, and maybe post some more thoughts/questions. Who knows. You all will probably be moved on by then, knowing my luck with this blog lately. But you are all quite fabulous, and I can’t wait to read your thoughts.

  942. Sher really was imprisoned by a pack of wolves, but I was able to chat with her on her cell phone (i.e. the phone in her cell) for a half hour or so and redirect her toward Art until the guards came for her, but now she is back home and SAFE.

    That man Thorn Wild’s line comes to mind: “How’s the whole crooked family?”

  943. SUPERHERO HAVEN ~ SuperHero costumes need no measurements — one size fits US. Jody (husband of same name, just so you don’t think I’m speaking of myself in third person) and I were discussing this superhero thing on the way home from Lowe’s a bit ago, and couldn’t decide what TRAITS should be attributed to a couple of literary superheroes.
    Jody just said (this is SO BAD) ~ the ability to revise a loose sentence with a single NOUN …

    Take it awaaaaaaaaay, HAVEN!

  944. for those not on the Yahoo group – YET!
    Boys With Birds:

    [audio src="" /]

  945. Jodi, what’s a loose sentence? Is that one that sleeps with the ugliest dude in the bar at closing time?

  946. … and has to chew its own arm off to get away from the ugly dude in the morning without waking him.

  947. Ah, coyote ugly.

  948. Particles, THANK YOU!! You did that so well! Will you post another one? I love this one very much. Here’s the backstory: I was working at the bookshop when INTO THE WILD came out and I read in when I was supposed to be working. Whoops! I just sobbed and sobbed. I gave it to John and he read it, and then wrote this song, which remains one of my favorites of all time. I shall now mail it to Spirit, who is way smarter than me.

  949. sure email it to me. 🙂

  950. Oh, I’m not smarter than you. My being a nerd just comes natural.

  951. Flares:
    [audio src="" /]

  952. Oh Spirit, thank you. I know every word, every nuance of that song, and it still makes me so happy to hear it. Thank you thank you.

    Now I hid this one out of shyness because you’ll know who it’s about, but what the hell.

  953. Kimberly, thank you for every word of your post, and JohnM, you know me too damn well. But I love you.

  954. Sher, something bad happened to you on that family visit, I fear.

  955. Haven, I rode with a friend to White Lake this morning and she was listening to Eckert Tolle. He was saying (I’m pitifully paraphrasing here) that art comes from the ability to be completely in the now. The art is already there, inside of us, and finding and staying in the now brings the words, or pictures, out and it becomes art.

    Is that how you feel about your writing? I mean, do you think your best writing comes when your sitting safely snug in the moment?

    I had a poetry professor who was always saying, revision, revision, revision, but my problem with that is, when I’m in the moment and the words come straight from my heart, without being messed up by my (sometimes fucked up) brain the poem is usually perfect, and doesn’t need revision, revision, revision.

    And I’ve been telling people for years that my dream is to write a book, but it hasn’t yet bubbled up from my heart, to my brain, and out my fingers.

    -p.s. I gave that friend my copy of Solace to read as she sits vigil at her father-in-laws bed. They don’t expect him to be of this world much longer. I’ll find out what she thinks next Sunday, unless I see her before then.

  956. Woman of Letters:
    [audio src="" /]

  957. HAVEN,

    Can we return to Laura’s apologia told in tandem with the story of the escaped asylum inmate in a straitjacket seen by Cassie? About how that is so bold and creative a combination? How Cassie steps in front of her mother and rinses her hands (glass) of her before retiring for the evening?

    Cassandra’s parents, Priam and Hecuba … Let’s start with Hecuba (Laura), The Blamer. Hecuba compares herself to Cassandra (Cassie), claims to have seen Cassandra’s raving prophesies first and was not believed. She blames her son, Paris, for the fall of Troy, stating “ … by my torches you are burning.” As her husband Priam prepares for battle, Hecuba prevails upon him to stay with her and her daughters. And finally, symbolic of her total descent, she is turned into a canine bitch as she runs from those who would ensnare her.

    Priam/Jimmy (from priatos, “ransomed”), king of Troy, acts the part of a pirate, claiming what is not his, leaving a trail of destruction, and keeping himself from being killed by devious means.

    Their daughter Cassandra is given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, who loves her. When Cassandra does not return his love, Apollo curses her so that no one will believe her prophecies. Although she foresees destruction, she cannot forestall it.

    This is delicious writing, haute cuisine, where unexpected flavors, layer upon layer, provide delightful and unexpected surprises, enhancing one another endlessly. Mmmmmmm. My sincere compliments to the chef.

  958. HAVEN,

    Page 138 of SOMETHING RISING, in the quote from the Aeneid — I’ve read it most often as “this is the toil.” Page 138 reads “this is the toll.” Did you mean what it says …? Just curious.

  959. Does it make me a real big dork to be excited by the fact Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press this morning?

  960. There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
    Ernest Hemingway

  961. Whaaa…where’s my ARMMM????


    Where’s my DUCT TAPE???




    Much better…

  962. matt –
    You are a stitch splitter fer sure!

  963. Pos,
    If you are a dork, I’m right there with ya… I was excited about that, too! 🙂

  964. Me three.

  965. Dear Woman of Letters,

    Your husband is perfect and you are wonderful for sharing this bit with us.

  966. Amanda, RIGHT?

    Damn I missed hearing John sing – thanks so much for posting these, HK.

  967. I LOVED “Boy with Birds.” I sound like a (totally platonic!) groupie–where can I get more John songs? Ms. K–you are one lucky gal–and by the way, your posts about your honey and your daughter made me cry. They, too, are fortunate to have your brand of love in their lives.

    And as for a discussion about Something Rising—I am IN. IN, I say, clutching my dog-eared, underlined all to hell, still-mint-condition spine (because I would never abuse a book by creasing its spine) book to my chest. God, I love that book.

    I find this funny–when my friend Amber told me to read it, I was reluctant: a book about a pool player?!?! But once I picked it up, I didn’t put it down until I finished it 3 hours later. Then I went to bed, and when I woke up, I read it again. Laura’s monologue on the “holy light” was so heartbreaking, so (un)fortunately EXACTLY how I felt about my own 9 year relationship, that I ended up writing my own essay on the holy light. I hope that’s okay with you, Ms. K. I have it posted on my blog, if you want to check it out; I can always take it down. It is in the September archive, and it’s called, fittingly enough, “The Holy Light.”

    Again, I have to thank you for writing and giving me the words for what I could never express. You are amazing, and anyone who didn’t like Something Rising sucks. I’d even go so far as to say anyone who doesn’t ADORE that book sucks “bitch man clown ass.” Pardon my language. 🙂

  968. Hey, you can’t say “bitch man ass clown” and then follow it with “pardon my language”. That just ruins the whole effect. 🙂

  969. Haven,

    I’m mostly through SOMETHING RISING again, and I realized that, of all your published work, this book is the bleakest. Each member of the Claiborne family (another great name, by the way) is dragging themselves forward. Even Edwin and Uncle Bud are stolid characters. Puck and Emmy are sad individuals. This is merely an observation, not a criticism. Each book you’ve written can easily stand alone. I don’t float through SOMETHING RISING like I do the other novels. It’s genius, but solemn genius. Do you think so …? What was writing it like for you?

  970. Since I am new to the posting part of this site, I thought it best to tread lightly–hence the apology. I am Southern, and we feel apologetic all the time. Add in I’m Catholic on top of it…and well…i swear a blue streak a thousand times a day and then wait for someone to pardon me with a well-timed “bless her heart.” It’s a character fault, I know. 🙂

  971. Bless your heart.


  972. You may be my new best friend, Particles. Thanks so much! And, may I say, I enjoy your posts very much.

  973. Welcome bug- I am the same way. I live in Nashville, TN but I am not truly southern as I was born in NJ and grew up outside of Philly. But I have been here 22 years so I have picked up some southernisms. I am not Catholic either, except spending the first 12 years of my life in northern New Jersey made me feel as if I should have been because every single person I knew was Catholic. We had to drive about an hour to church on Sunday. But, I think Presbyterians have a tendency to apologize too, or at least feel badly about the state of things. I apologize way too much and my friends harass me about it on a regular basis. I say Bless Her/His Heart all the time too. So, welcome. I’m sorry you felt you had to say you were sorry. Bless your heart. (if I like someone I usually say Bless their pointy little head) Not sure where that came from.

  974. Sher, Did you ever read “The Spiral Staircase” by Karen Armstrong? That book returned my faith to me. I could never relate to the holy ghost as a kid, I just never understood a word they said in church. I have decided nature is my church. 😉

  975. Spirit Friend, nothing humbles me more than to hear that you gave Solace to a friend keeping vigil at her father’s bedside. My eyes are filled with tears. But as I’ve told you before, I am in fact a big crybaby. I’m not ashamed of it, either.

    I like that question about being in the moment while writing, although the answer is enormously complicated. I sort of feel as if I’m always in the moment, because I’m one of those nutbuckets who sees the past as a narrative (not as something that happened TO ME), and every morning when I wake up I’m surprised that there turned out to be a future. I live in the moment by default, you might say.

    Now, given all that, it’s also the case that my novels are intricately planned, as if there might be a future after all. And because my deepest faith is in the lure of God (you can call it anything that suits you), as I write I listen very carefully to what I’m being drawn toward. I listen to what my characters are saying to one another, their speech patterns, what they leave out in order to protect themselves, what they WISH they were saying. I consider this a form of surrender. I surrender to the novel itself, and don’t allow my ego to dictate. Here’s where I think a lot of people get confused: revision is exactly the same way. Revision isn’t an imposition over something divinely inspired: revision is a new revelation. Does that make sense? I don’t revise because I got things wrong, I revise because, like all Quakers, I believe in ongoing revelation. I like how Dorian says nature is her church (it was for my dad, too). Without being blasphemous, art is my church. The key is not faith, it is faithfulness to the process. Faithfulness requires putting aside one’s own pathology in service to that process. I don’t mean to be obtuse here; as Hamlet said, “Clarity is all.”*

    *Hamlet said no such thing.

  976. ATTENTION RIGHTEOUS BLOG ARMY: Here is the plan. I shall post one entry telling the corn story, because Matt in Nebraska has been my true blue and dear friend (I couldn’t ask for better), and because shit fire and save matches it is truly one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever heard in my life. That will give everyone a week or so to read SOMETHING RISING, and then we’ll begin that discussion.

    Jodi, is it possible (Haven = moron) for you to cut and past your comments here and move them over there when we begin that discussion? Because they’re priceless and I want to address them, but I know I’ll forget to come back and get them myself.

    Does this sound okay to everyone?

  977. Haven, I hope you are feeling much better.

    Regarding your comments above, this is exactly what Madeleine L’Engle believed and wrote about in Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. She talked specifically about how the artists serves the work, being simply a conduit for the message of the work. It is a beautiful book.

  978. Also, thank you all for your lovely comments about John’s music. I’m going to download a few more of my favorites and have Spirit Wonder Woman upload them for me (why? why is she so nice to me?), as he refuses to sell his last (gorgeous) CD because it isn’t up to his standards. There are things on it you will LOVE.

  979. also: YES.

  980. Lightning Bug:

    a) I wish that were my screen name — it’s just . . . so good.
    b) I am a born and raised hillbilly who has spent almost the whole of my adult life in the south, and I say ‘bless your heart’ at least once a day. The Blog Babies can attest.
    c) Never apologize for your kindnesses.
    d) We are glad to have you here.

  981. Amanda, the great Madeleine L’Engle forgot more about writing than I’ll ever know.

  982. I just remembered another good Bob Jarvis-ism. As you can imagine he did not abide pretension, and he used to say, “Wish I could buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. I could retire.”

  983. HAVEN,

    I’ll be happy to to cut and paste my SOMETHING RISING comments. Nice to hear your voice this morning.


  984. Jodi, today I am full of good cheer. All my broken places are beginning to heal, and I’m returning to my old self. For this, I am immensely grateful. You all have been one of the blessings that sped my recovery, I’m certain. Thank you.

  985. Particles, remember how I said I was getting better? Yeah, so just now I was putting together a package of books to send to someone and I signed them all to you. They’re a Used World, a Something Rising, and a Kaline. Would you like them? Because otherwise I shall have to send them to my mother, whose name is also Dee, and the inscriptions will make her think I have finally fallen off the cliff of crazy.

    p.s. I don’t know your last name or address. At least I think I don’t. If you’d like to have these, send me your particulars at:

    God, I am such a freak.

  986. ah, Haven, you are one lovely freak

  987. “Fallen of the Cliff of Crazy” I almost wet myself on that one.

  988. You’re not a freak…you are a free agent in space and time.

  989. See how you people are?

    Also, Caryl, I just put together a package for a certain someone of whom we are both very fond, but the only address I have for you is the UPS store where you mailed YOUR package to me. Could you send me yours at the same address I gave to Spirit? Thanks, love.

    Guess who else has something coming in the mail. I don’t want to give it away, but his name rhymes with Borge Hooterville.

  990. i shared this with George in the comments of my blog… it is one of my two Grand Theories. i have one Grand Theory about People and one Grand Theory about The Second Novel, though there are exceptions to that one.

    My theory is: ALL people are crazy. All of them. But Crazy is a very broad spectrum. You may have only a little crazy, evidenced by the inability to sleep with a door open, or maybe you are terrified of telephones, as I am. Maybe your crazy is the kind that makes you eat your Reese Cup a certain way every single damn time… OR maybe you are way on the other side of crazy.

    The point is… the people who seem to be the most trouble are the ones who don’t KNOW their crazy. Those are the ones you must watch out for.

    (THEIR is intentional btw, not a mistaken form of they’re.)

    This has been my experience any way. For what it’s worth.

  991. Haven, you are in rare form today, and I am glad to see/read it! 🙂

    I love your father’s quote – I am definitely going to remember that one – there are A LOT of people I can apply it to! On that note, I was reminded of something my mom has always said. It may be a Hoosierism, I’m not sure – I always attributed it to the fact that she grew up on a farm north of Richmond. Anyway, when she wanted me to get moving, or focus, she would say “Quit farting around” but it came out like “Quit fartn’ around.” I’ve tried my best to eliminate this phrase from my vocabulary, but there are so many oppotunities to apply it. I’ve even accidentally said it to my students – much to my chagrin and their amusement.

  992. I’m a second-year Bible student attending a conservative seminary in France, and this is my favorite book. I re-read it for the fourth time this past April, taking three months on purpose to do so. This is the first novel in which I felt, oh literally, like my soul was looking into a mirror. The only other book that made me feel that way was the Gospel of John; and maybe, though it’s not a book, the 42nd Psalm. (There’s a compliment for you, HK.)

    I remember specifically the moment I read my favorite sentence in the book, “We are all hopelessly broken, and we know it.” For me at least half of the book’s (and I’d almost go so far as to say even the Bible’s) entire theology is more or less summed up in that sentence. I was sitting on my back porch, in Florida at the time, and when I hit that line I immediately felt as if Amos was my lost twin, AND like I had just seen the verbal representation of everything I had believed up to then without being able to voice it. I sat on the porch, finished my cigarette, and stared at my backyard for about an hour thinking about that sentence.

    As for the rest of the book’s theology–well, let’s say that every time I read it there are moments when I sit back bewildered and wonder if I’ve missed something. I can never quite put a finger on what that something is (if not I wouldn’t have missed it). Something in me still thinks that theology need not be quite so ethereal, beautiful as it is. I guess what I mean – if you’re reading this, HK, please tell me: how do you manage to apply such airy theology to real life? I’m almost positive you do, because I read Amos. But I mean besides the simple Christian idea of godly love, what do you sit on when things are really, just BAD? What to you is consoling about God?

    At any rate, thank you for this book. A thousand times. No matter how complicated theology may be or become, it’s comforting to know that fiction doesn’t always have to shy away from it.

  993. It is a very odd feeling to be away from this blog for longer than a day, I feel very disconnected. So to log on today and see a message from Haven, well it put me right back on track. Everytime I manage to get on here of late, by the time I read what I’ve missed I have to move on to something else, but it has been fun to stand back and observe. I will send you the address Haven, so glad you are feeling better, and you can call me Dee if you want and send the books my way….

  994. Steph in IN, my whole family says “Stop fartin’ around.” ALL of them. It’s very eloquent, I find.

  995. DAMN DAMN, I did it again, I sent Dee’s books to you! Well, not yet because I don’t know your address, but FOR THE SAKE OF SENSE. I need a trainer with whip and a chair. However, I did get Jack’s name right. And speaking of Jack? When I opened that absolutely precious card he sent me and I saw the photograph of him? I actually gasped. He is astonishingly beautiful.

    p.s. I sent him a photograph of myself, too. I am not astonishingly beautiful.

    p.p.s. Dee, how will I ever get the books to you without a nurse’s aide?

  996. Jack thinks you are beautiful and he wants to make a club penguin video on you tube talking about how he knows you because he says it will make him famous. You are so close to making the cover of Teen Beat you have no idea.

  997. It is weird to be away…we have created something here, folks.

    Jason P: Is your school related to Francis Schaeffer. Come to think of it…that one is in Switzerland, I think. You raise a deep, deep question. What is so consoling about God? To me…I think it is God’s pride in God’s own creation. I take a lot from Job 38-42, too. The only time I have ever heard from God in a way that I cannot adequately describe was once when I was driving along the St. John River between Fort Kent and Madawaska, Maine. On that drive, I passed a small mountain with shred of fog hanging from it. At the base was a pasture with a bunch of cows in it. The river was on my left and the sun was glinting from huge blocks of ice that had recently cracked up for it was spring. And I heard: “Could you do any of this? I do this for you.”

    Clouds: Yep, all people are crazy. For evidence, read above paragraph.

  998. The idea of Haven on the cover of Teen Beat makes me snort.

    If she makes it, I will have to glue her pictures to my walls just like I did for NKOTB. Luckily, my brother and I no longer share a room because if we did? SLASH MARKS.

  999. when the situation becomes more tense, quit fartin’ ’round gives way to ‘either shit or get off the pot.’ i should think that such an ultimatum would likely induce indecision in one case, or constipation in the other. then again, i am not, repeat, NOT a medical expert.

  1000. I’d like to see Haven on the cover of Golf Digest.

  1001. Borge Hooterville. We do love you.

  1002. Jason P., I am so grateful that you’ve joined this conversation, because the points you’ve made are invaluable and necessary. I hope you’ll stay with us, even though we often veer off course from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    Part of the ethereal nature of the theology in SOLACE is a direct result of having written it just after leaving seminary. I still thought that way. One of my weaknesses (both as a writer and as a flawed human being) is to over-intellectualize, and that’s one of the reasons I haven’t gone to grad school for the third time, as much as I’ve wanted to. My mind doesn’t always work well, but it works very, very fast. If you read the next two novels in the trilogy you’ll see that they become less and less . . . whatever it is you picked up on. Amos’s sermons in THE USED WORLD, for instance, are entirely accessible. I once had a crowd of about 300 people in Mississippi and I chose to read one of his sermons, and all those people, men in their overalls, old women knitting — the whole spectrum — not a one of them moved. I didn’t hear anyone breathing. They understood every word. I don’t mean to suggest I was showing off in SOLACE, or in any way deliberately trying to limit my audience or patronize them; quite the opposite, in fact. It was just the way I thought at the time. I don’t think that way now. [Disclaimer: IODINE is an exception to the claim I just this minute made, so it’s possible my pants are about to catch fire.]

    What is consoling to me, Jason, every day, is that God Is Love. Because I believe that we are given radical freedom, I also believe God is powerless to intervene in any event, any human endeavor, any catastrophe. As I said above about the process of writing, my God has only one divine tool: the Lure toward Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. We either respond to that lure or we turn away from it, and when we turn away from it we live lives that are hopelessly broken, and we know it. Whitehead says (I’m paraphrasing) that what separated Jesus from other people wasn’t some cookie recipe decided upon at the Council at Nicea, but that there was no distance between God’s lure and Jesus’s actions. Simple as that. I, broken, flawed, often confused about how to be my best self, have to sit and listen and try very hard to feel that lure and respond to it, but when I do I know that Whitehead is right. The more love I give, without expecting anything in return, the more beautiful and true my life becomes. The less I am ego-driven or prideful or vain or selfish or angry (my greatest weakness), the more harmonious my relationships with my family and with the world. I hope I’m answering your question. My own daily theology, my spiritual practice, is quite simple. I sit in silence. I do not treat the Ineffable as my butler (“God, please help me find my houseslippers and also make me fabulously wealthy, amen.”) I ask for nothing but merely listen. I hope for things, yes. I hope that I will become more humble. I hope I will say the right thing to a person in need. I hope that I will be kind rather than clever. I hope that I never do or say anything that might be hurtful to my children. I hope, in essence, that I live a true and beautiful and good life, and I hope I’m able to forgive myself when I fail, as I fail every day.

    I’m grateful for what you’ve asked here, and please stay with us. Never has there been such a humane and lovely group of people gathered in one imaginary place.

    Your Friend,

  1003. I swear, I read y’alls comments and I giggle as if I were in the fourth grade at a slumber party.

  1004. Kate: I shall answer you with another Hoosierism:

    That street runs in both directions.

  1005. “Shit fire” (which I’m sure is pronounced ‘far’) “and save matches?”

    I can die happy.

  1006. oh, Haven, I have been looking for YEARS and YEARS for the best understanding I could have of what made the person of Jesus unique. Whitehead’s definition is the answer I’ve been looking for all this time. THANK YOU for passing that along.

  1007. No distance…

    …the Lure toward Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

    Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am slightly rearranged this afternoon.

  1008. …and I needed it, boy oh boy did i need it.

  1009. Haven, thank you for sharing your letter to Jason. My 16 year old daughter is so very spiritual, if thats the word, but she struggles with our world today. I will read her this and give her some peace. And Jason, welcome, you are in a great place.

  1010. Add my thanks, too, Haven. Like George S., I am rearranged by your letter to Jason.

  1011. Credit goes to Jason, for intuiting something important and asking it just the right way.

    I should have said this, too, although it makes me sound even more like a screwball: I often think, unconsciously, “Oh, now THIS is going to give God a chuckle.” Or, “Whoo-hoo, God’s gonna love this one.” That tends to happen when I’ve done something especially hilarious or found just the right gift for someone. Once Melinda and I were out riding horses and that DEVIL SEGATA bolted and I could hear Melinda howling with laughter behind me, and I thought, “Well, I’m sure glad Melinda’s giving God a laugh.”

  1012. God has a delicious sense of humor. Seriously.

  1013. I really recommend reading The Shack

  1014. …rearranged.. ah, here is George, with once again the mot juste. — thank you Jason for asking the question, Haven for your response — went straight into my newly begun permanent “favorite comments” file. (Along with the “Gospel of Joseph” — Matt — your posts are little waterfalls of diamonds under which I stand, openmouthed. You have one original mind, my friend. And now there is a blog? I am done for.)

    Also props to Particles for posting Flares, Boy With Bird, and Woman of Letters and genuflection to John S. for creating these works. Woman of Letters — I love this one in every way.

    Sher? What prayer flags, and what a beautiful idea.

    Leave for two days, and my mind is now a disorienting swirl of music and color and ideas. You all. You all just slay me.

  1015. Is Particles around? I have three more John songs I want y’all to hear. I’ve been listening to various demos and stray CDs all day. Nothing compares to him live, but these are pretty good.

    You should also know that on every one of these studio recordings, he uses absolutely not a moment of pitch correction. That is his voice without a single effect. The only thing the producers do is have him harmonize with himself, and double the vocals (meaning singing the melody line over himself). Compare that to someone like Brittany Spears, or someone my friend Timmy produced (a woman whose voice is utter shite). I flinched at one point and said, “Tim, why didn’t you pitch correct there?” He said, grimly, “I pitch corrected the entire song until the board was screaming.”

  1016. It’s Monday y’all! I’ve just finished putting out fires with my ass here at work, an regular monday occurence and I must comment:
    Our Haven is indeed beautiful, regardless of her disclaimers!…Tell Jack to use her picture from New Orleans, the one with the vines that are growing onto her and the lovely butterfly face….I loved that one so much.
    After not being here a few days, I enjoyed reading all your comments….Matt….WHO ARE YOU?, as in The Princess Bride. I have a crush for sure. And Kate, I want to see those costumes when they’re done.
    My daughter had an idiom I could never get her to quit using: “But Mom, it happened on accident!!” I never knew where it came from.
    It’s all a wonderful mystery.

  1017. George, I just picked up The Shack from the library. It’s next, right after I finish Winner Of The National Book Award.

  1018. John’s music is wonderful…what a gift that man possesses! Deep thanks from here.

  1019. it just occurs to me that the measure of creativity going on in baby Augusten’s mom, dad, aunt, grandmother, ETC! is something special. i am guessing we can expect to see that name again when we are all old and frayed

  1020. Socks…it’s a good read; you’re gonna like it, I bet.

  1021. Thanks to Haven and Particles, I am listening (even while typing) to John’s gorgeous voice. What a fine example of the lure toward beauty. Seriously, “Woman of Letters” is like God’s finger beckoning, “Listen to this one!”

  1022. Jerri, I love the lines, “There’s no ghost in this machine, no electricity to help me write; sometimes the mechanics of the thing are simpler than the black and white.” He’s good at that, the unforced rhyme, the allusion. I wish I had an album of just the love songs he’s written for me — they redefine what a love song can be.

    p.s. I’m allowed to brag about him, right? Is it insufferable?

  1023. Haven: You are most definitely allowed to brag about him. It is the opposite of insufferable, whatever that may be. (What is that, anyway?)

    Those are my favorite lines, too. Maybe because it’s so easy to identify with the wish for ghost to help me write. Not a ghost writer, just a writing ghost.

  1024. Haven, I may wander away for awhile but I’m never very far from my computer. It’s almost attached to me. 🙂
    Go ahead and send me as many songs as you like.

  1025. for my part, it would only be insufferable if we didn’t actually get to hear his voice! but we do! hooray!!!

  1026. Haven,
    So is it possible to hear John’s work myself too ? I would love to hear it

  1027. Michael – Scroll up and look for the links. There are three so far.

  1028. Thanks pos
    I just jumped in

  1029. Blog Babies –

    Temporarily back and so happy to read your lovely voices and to have a few laughs.

    Looking forward to Something Rising . . . even though Used World is still my favorite novel (with SGUOTC as favorite Memoir) . . . I’m excited to give it another read.

    Have we passed over final solutions to Iodine??? That book is still burning a hole in my mental pocket.

    Carrie: Prayer Flag photos are on a shutterfly link, somewhere, in this thread (maybe Oct 16th or 17th?)

    Re trip – it is never anything I don’t expect, but I am still not emotionally immune. I need to create a vaccine.

  1030. This next John song is a little more rockin’, but rarely have I heard a man say of a woman, “I loved her like acetylene.” Also, the bridge? Whewee. E-mailing to Dee now.

    Sher, if you need to talk you can always e-mail me.

    I do not understand this shutterfly of which you speak, but I would still love to see the prayer flags.

  1031. Whoa! I missed Flares…where is it?

    Haven—thanks re: my screen name. It comes from my favorite Twain quote. My real name is Molly, which I think lacks…panache. 🙂 But it’s a fine name, all the same.

    And dammit, HK, I was at school (I teach at a Catholic school) reading your response to Adam, and my kids (who were taking a test) wanted to know why I looked like I was about to cry. And I said, “Remember that book I read you parts of? A Girl Named Zippy?” The kids nodded, and I said, “That author just redefined a very important thing for me.” They wanted to know what of course, but all I could say was “That our job as humans is to be as kind as possible, to love as often and hard as we can, and doing those things are what will bring meaning and beauty to our lives and put us in touch with God.” Their response–“That’s not very funny. Are you sure it’s the same lady?”

    12 year olds…bless their hearts. I told them that all your musings on life can’t be about “kids who could use a could burning” or “the kindness of strangers.”

    Now RE: Haven’s post to Adam
    I think about the Apparitions of Mary, the miracles performed at those sites, and I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of God being powerless. Perhaps He chooses not to intervene a la Job, but the miracles performed in His name—take for instance, the Curé of Ars or Mother Theresa’s miracles—say to me that He is here and present and working (I have always assumed “mysteriously.”). I hate clichés, I do, which is one of the reasons your brand of theology is so stimulating for me; your ideas are so astounding, so unlike anything I have ever experienced before, I can actually feel my brain expanding. But if God is powerless except to lure us to Him with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, then how do the miracles happen? Is the mere existence of people who try to do good and who do accomplish good (good used as a noun here) enough to make miracles occur?

    I feel like your response to Adam is absolute truth in the human capacity (i.e. our lives ARE better when we love, when we work toward living truthfully and beautifully) and life WOULD be so much better and bring us closer to God if we’d all just try on a little of Haven’s Way of Being. But I think without God’s hand, we would always fall short, that it is Grace that allows us to succeed when we try. As broken as we are from the wrong decisions we make, the wrong actions we take, I don’t know how we could possibly enact the miracles that have happened.

    So I am confused about your idea on the Nature of God. I do not see how He could give us this radical freedom if He had no power—if He is powerless, then wouldn’t freedom have been ours all along? Would you mind explaining that some more?

    Am I not thinking large enough? Am I Captain Miss The Point? I feel Catholicism, for all its loveliness, works hard to keep us little people in the dark. I don’t think living an unexamined life is hardly worthwhile, but it is hard to know where to begin. Thank you for helping me with the process. 🙂 Bless your heart.

    PS—Particles, thank you so much for your comment on the post. It was hard to put it out there, but I found it to be therapeutic once I did. It was well-received by my in-the-flesh friends, but they…love me and want me to feel better. 🙂 They wouldn’t say it was bad even if it blew.

  1032. Haven –

    this was posted at 2:30 a.m. on the 16th, anyway it is a website of photos:

    very simple to set up and is a good supplement to the commenters for posting photos…

    it also has visuals of my beautiful nature view . . . i.e., church. Funnily enough, nature seems to be more my ‘religion’ than art, maybe because I see all the work that it entails and it is hard for me to look at art within breaking down into materials, technique, etc. Nature is just so there and what it is . . .

  1033. Acetylene:
    [audio src="" /]

  1034. Re musicians/songwriters.

    My friend, Matthew Sigmon, has the same problem ‘finishing’ work that you mention John has.

    It is almost the same idea as revising/editing writing/art – we can make it different, but that doesn’t neccessarily make it better. Conversely, I tend to do work, respond to that ‘edition’, work another layer in response to the previous, etc. – it becomes a very specific ‘dance’ of creativity and working in encaustic has been the first media that reveals each layer/response.

  1035. Sher — I meant, “what prayer flags” as in what beautiful prayer flags, and what a beautiful idea to hang it for Haven. Still, it got you to re-post the picture link!

  1036. Lightening Bug – The paradox of powerless. In seeing, admitting, accepting powerlessness we are given the power we need to do whatever it is we need to do, including love without fear, being kind without reserve, and seeing beauty where other see blight.

    Seeing, admitting, and accepting brokenness gives us the power to heal.

  1037. Lightening Bug – The paradox of powerless. In seeing, admitting, accepting powerlessness we are given the power we need to do whatever it is we need to do, including love without fear, being kind without reserve, and seeing beauty where others see blight.

    Seeing, admitting, and accepting brokenness gives us the power to heal.

  1038. Someone bump me I’m skipping.

  1039. Particles: Could not agree more about powerlessness re: humans. Do you believe the same is true of God’s powerlessness as described in Solace?

  1040. And no one can brag enough about John S. for my taste — his musicianship, his singing, his lyrics/songwriting — how can you not. Thank you, Haven, for sharing these files with us…

  1041. I’m sorry I’ve forgotten the description. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve read it, and I gave my copy away yesterday. Will someone please kick-start my pitiful memory? Or, I need a quote babies.

  1042. Of what do you need a description? I don’t have my book here in MN, but I might remember enough to help if no one has their book open.

  1043. Lightning Bug: “The difference between the right word and the wrong one is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” That Twain?

  1044. Also LB, let me cogitate on an answer to your question. I’m a little tired today. I know what I want to say, but I’ve been working all day and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be very articulate. Probably I need some cheese.

  1045. Oh my lord, Sher, that is the most beautiful, touching thing I’ve ever seen. How extraordinarily loving of you, and how just downright gorgeous. Do you sell prints? There’s one in particular I’d pay just about anything for, to hang above my desk. I believe it would protect me forever.

    Ah, I’m in tears AGAIN. It’s like I’ve sprung a leak. Thank you, thank you, dearest one.

  1046. cheese solves everything . . .

    with pears and honey and walnuts . . .

  1047. dorian –

    will add the Spiral Staircase book to my wish list – it sounds AMAZING . . .

  1048. In this next John song, I should just like to point out that he’s playing the guitar parts, the Hammond B3, and something else. Another thing that makes noise.

  1049. Haven,
    let me know which image you want and I will send you the large size jpg, or post it on Shutterfly, and you can then order it the size you want . . .
    I’m so glad it touched you and that I could do something to send some good vibes your way – the prayer is still there!!! so the vibes are still blowing in the wind!
    for art’s sake,

  1050. Miss Sher, remember that question about selling prints? I have my checkbook in my hot palm right this second. Although if you’re like me, discussing money gives you Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’m completely paranoid about taking money from anyone for anything, but love to give it away.

  1051. It’s image 2040. Fog. And I can’t print a jpg because of the stupids. Can I order a print and have it framed? Also I don’t know what size would be best, given the shape. Tell me what YOU think. You’re obviously the expert.

  1052. no check is in order, but I will list on my “private collectors” list, which is a fair trade to me!!!

  1053. You can call me a private collector, a kidney donor, or your conjoined twin. The flat itself and the photograph are a gift beyond measure.

  1054. ok – I will work this out . . . will post it on shutterfly, all ready to order, then you can pay, they even do framing, usually 20 x 30 is a good poster size. or 24 x 36, depending on what size you want . . . it is a high res. image…
    I’ll send you that link later . . . literally you just put it in your basket and buy it . . .

    will work on that tonight (after the bed tucking) . . .

  1055. I’m the same way, Haven. I’m a horrible business person.

    Pegasus Bicycle:
    [audio src="" /]

    I’m also going to upload these to the files section on the yahoo group.

  1056. Sher, I meant to say the ‘flag’ itself up there, not the ‘flat.’ I don’t believe you offered me an apartment in London.

  1057. hah! I send the “share photo” to your address . . . but let me know if doesn’t work – then I will order it, sign it for you, and ship it onward and upward . . .

  1058. HK: yes, that Twain. It’s one of my very best favorites. Take your time answering. Unlike Amos, I sleep soundly despite the questions swirling in my head.

    Particles: the paradox of powerlessness? God help me. 😉 You’re talking to a Virgo…it’s a VERY hard lesson to learn. But I think karma is demanding it of me right now. 🙂 I am doing what I can.

    Sher–what gorgeous, gorgeous pictures.

  1059. Lightning Bug – thank you very much!

    My favorite cartoon is of a boy opening up his jar of lightning bugs and they merge into the starry night . . . just WOW!

  1060. If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

    There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.

    George Bernard Shaw

  1061. just as an aside? i am rereading Something Rising right now and I think page 87 is PERFECT for my theory of Everyone Is Crazy

  1062. So I usually (lately it seems more so) I describe myself as not stupid. A little slow, but certainly not stupid. I may have to revise that self-judgement. I have a kernel of an idea forming from the posts of this evening – thanks to Timmy’s question and Haven for elaborating on the theme(s) of this book. In my reading, I just enjoyed Solace for the humanity in it. But now, now I have to really look at the theology of Solace.

    I do have a point I’m trying haphazardly to get to. (I think I need to sleep on it.) It amazes me that out of nothing/nowhere this blog affects me on such a deeper level. I promise that I’ll elaborate more later, but for now all I can say is that I think I get it. “…the Lure toward Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.” All those years as a student, both high school and college, I’ve been told that you have to strive to be the best. I had it wrong. I thought they meant the best in whatever career I chose. They may have meant that, but that’s not the real path. The real path lies within us, and knowing that we are flawed/damaged/broken, but finding the beauty around us, within us, is where we find God.

    Sorry if this makes absolutely no sense, but I’ve been up since 4:30 and trying to put my thoughts together is like trying to string soap bubbles into a pearl necklace at this point. (the inner editor wants me to hit delete, but I’m afraid that if I do that, I’ll lose something here.)

  1063. it makes sense to me, JimShue. looking forward to the second half of this.

  1064. Well here I am again. I was given the ruby slippers and an amulet containing armor today. Now I am drinking dragon juice but thank goodness the bleeding has stopped. That was kind of, you know. Icky. Peace Out.

  1065. Okay Cher, I did not misspell your name but you are officially my favorite. Next to Mr Hooterville. God, it takes patience to read through all these posts. But PUHLEESE read that book by Karen Armstrong. It particularly explained my version of crazy. Maybe passing under the bridge on the Seine at Notre Dame, where it is believed that any wish you make will come true and praying to always hear the voice of God was a bit, I dunno. Ambitious? Lov