Commenters’ Emporium: The Used World Discussion


You know the drill:  civility, intellectual curiosity, a love of your fellow man and woman.  Okay, that last bit isn’t necessary.  Some questions you might want to consider:

Is the true nature of God revealed to us, ever, and if so, how?

What is at the heart of prophecy?

What does it mean to be haunted?

The novel is written with a very specific structure surrounding point-of-view:  Claudia and Rebekah’s POV is always in the present, and Hazel’s is always in the past, but moving forward in time until it meets the present at the book’s climax.  Why did I choose this structure?

That should get you going.  Cheers!

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 3:56 pm  Comments (397)  


  1. Am I the first to post? I don’t know where to begin.

    Perhaps with Haven’s last question for us to ponder. I think you chose that structure because we had to understand the past to really understand the present. Hazel was the only one of the three to be able to relate it all to us. She is kind of all knowing (it there a literary term for that). Understanding Claudia and Rebekah individually – and together – was necessary to appreciate what unfolded historically. OH, I am not doing justice to this at all!

  2. all knowing – IS there a literary term for that?? is what I meant.

  3. The literary term is the same as the civilian (what are we called if we’re not literary??): omniscient.

  4. whoa.

  5. So much of Rebekah’s and Claudia’s stories begin before they were born, and Hazel is the only one of the three with the complete story. She knows things about the man who torments and damages Rebekah with religion, things that clearly should strip him of any right to even open his mouth to her. About any aspect of the way she lives. She recognizes something in Claudia (“he is not your rival”) before Claudia sees it in herself, because of how she loved Finney. We couldn’t have just accepted on faith the depth of Hazel’s knowledge around what both Claudia and Rebekah needed; we needed to see where she got her evidence.

    At one point, I thought Claudia and Hazel might end up together. When it was clear it was not going that way — also, that Hazel turned away any intimacy in favor of putting it on Claudia, with Rebekah and Oliver and Bandit — I started to think that Hazel was haunted; that she punished herself by not engaging, because she was unable to save the life of the one she loved (and long before Finney died). Loneliness is code for what?

  6. i believe that Claudia is an example of the true nature of God being revealed. that being, perhaps, primarily compassion but also helplessness.

  7. Learning about Hazel’s past like it is was offered helped to understand why she was manipulating Claudia to take more control and participate in her own life, and why she was guiding her toward Rebekah.

    It also also made learning who Finney’s lover was absolutely stunning.

    One of the my questions was why was Hazels mother so concerned about saving the “records”? I mean, they were coded in such a way only she and Hazel knew the truth anyway.

    I know it’s lame question coming from such a rich story.

  8. Oh and Claudia is stuck in her own past, after the death of her parents before Hazel starts guiding her sometime outright pushing toward her recognizing own life.

  9. Wowza, you guys are good.
    I believe that Hazel stays in the past for the main reason that her life was better then. Once Finney was gone her life was over as well.
    She is alive in the present but just sort of exists, is part of the landscape, making sure everyone else it taken care of and matched together.
    So many scenes in this book broke my heart. I would reread them and then book the book away because it was too painful to continue. ie. Edie’s house and finding Oliver. The imagery of him in the chair…
    Also, Hazel passing the house in the cold dark and picturing the dogs that were chained up and chains embedded in their necks…okay, must stop typing!

  10. For me one of the most evocative scenes in the book is when Hazel contemplates opening the box that might contain the skeleton of a long dead child. If she is a seer, this will prove it. But ultimately she decides it is better not to know, because people will write their own stories regardless of what forces in the universe propel them towards a destiny. One can say no. To have the mind of God is a terrible burdon.

  11. Oliver is doubly heartbreaking knowing the genesis of his character — I remember reading that your brother-in-law Mark once related the story of an infant’s body brought to the funeral home, having been found lying face down in those gasoline-soaked rags, his body no bigger than Mark’s hands. The entire time I read about Oliver, I saw his as a parallel life to that child’s. Once the life force was gone, literary resurrection is all that was possible for him.

  12. That she found the same box, in the same improbable location that she saw placed there in her … vision … was enough for me to be certain that that was what was in the box. That she didn’t open it — was it that she decided it was better not to open it, or because she was not “someone younger or with more nerve”?

  13. Is the true nature of God revealed to us, ever, and if so, how?

    Whoa there.
    The only one being revealed slowly here is what’s his name? Victor, Vernon, V something, Rebekah’s father, so is he in the place of God here? He seems to think he’s God. And he has an omniscience about him, because he seems to know everything that going on in the entire town. He’s also all powerful until Claudia stands up to him and takes his power away. What the third ALL?

  14. POS – i have no idea what you just said… can you reword that one maybe? 🙂

  15. POS, Hazel’s mother wants the records preserved because it’s her life’s work. She knows there will be Scholars of the Past who want to know what the abortion rates were prior to Roe v. Wade, and who the women were — which side of the tracks, so to speak — and it’s for THEM, the people of the Future, for whom she keeps careful notes.

  16. BUt will the people of the future know Hazels codes? Or am I just being a PITA about this? 🙂

  17. This is a book I have always felt I needed to reread. When at the end it was made obvious, when Hazel tells Rebekah, that Hazel has known more about Rebekah and her parents than she has let on, I wanted to go back and read it with that knowledge. Iam not sure what having this information would have changed in the story for me, because I so loved this book I didn’t need anything to change, but it does explain for me the obvious- Hazels story told in the past because it will explain to us Rebekah and Vernon, and in turn how Hazel treats Claudia and seems to know how much Claudia needs Oliver in her life, when it would seem so presumptous of her to assume this if we didn’t learn where and what Hazel comes from.

  18. I was a bit surprised by the friendship Rebekah’s mother had with Hazel…I am still puzzling my way through that…

  19. a few have already mentioned that Hazel’s past explained her interference in Claudia’s life. while i suppose it DID seem outrageous, i never questioned it. and i the one with the intense paranoia about Manipulators. i don’t know why this was, unless perhaps just the fact that it is a Haven Kimmel book and the characters are always treated with such compassion. we know that her characters’ faults are almost always a result of their story.

  20. As for the nature of prophecy — information seems to come to all of us when we are most in need of it. Hazel should have locked the door, but couldn’t bring herself to let go of Finney’s hand. Claudia had the presence of mind to bring her gun to Peter’s, though she didn’t know why she’d need it.

    I just had this conversation with a friend a couple days ago — years ago, she was sitting on the couch reading when all of a sudden she tipped forward, violently, from the waist and came back up. “Whoa!” A few minutes later the phone rang and she was told her youngest, 7 years old, had just been hit by a car at the same time she flew forward. (He was unscathed.) I’ll bet every mother has a story like this. I have stories like this, but about situations with less dire consequences.

    At the heart of prophecy: If I had to make something up, it would be that I think we attract the intelligence we need via something akin to frequency. A tuning fork for consciousness. It’s as if it’s floating in that vast ocean of thought, and by our need, by our focus, by our alignment with the divine (aka Love), we tune in.

  21. Hazel didn’t bother me either. I never considered her to be manipulative. To me manipulation is a negative, and Hazel seemed more like a benevolent mother hen, and only annoying because she was in fact, always right.

  22. There is an antique store that is closing just a few streets away from me and I swear, it IS The Used World, it even has a drink machine in the corner surrounded by furniture that has no relationship to anything else in the room.

    Antique stores are like a second home to me, so I was very cozy in The Used World. And finding out where the initial inventory came from…well…wowzers!

  23. Benevolent mother hen, yes. A hen that pecks Claudia toward a life she cannot leave quite so easily as she felt she could at the beginning of the book. “It’s change, Dim. There is wild change afoot, and you must be brave enough not only to endure, it, but to embrace it, to make it your own. I thought,” Hazel said, “I thought you were the most courageous person I’d ever known. I trusted you with a baby and a dog and a pregnant woman.” “Listen,” Claudia said, leaning toward Hazel, “I have risen to every challenge before me, and for you to suggest otherwise is both cruel and a lie, and you are not the author of a story called Claudia, so please back away from this car before I say something I regret.”

    This is the only time I remember Claudia objecting out loud, and it seems more as a response to the magnitude of what Hazel is demanding from her.

  24. I didn’t think Hazel was manipulatave, but it seems maybe Claudia did. Being a person who likes to control all aspects of the lives of those I love, I understood Hazel. It was just in knowing at the end that Hazel really had an understanding of the big picture here, that her intentions changed for me.

  25. Kate-
    I too wanted more explanation on Rebekah’s mother and Hazel’s relationship.

    Was Claudia in love with Rebekah sexually?

  26. AiO- NO DOUBT!

  27. Carrie, I love this idea, that ‘we attract the intelligence we need’ via something akin to a frequency. Beautiful.

  28. Hazel was a manipulator from not the readers POV but from Claudia’s POV. She would have just went on with her lonely life, and would have preferred it that way without Hazel pushing her into her new life as a mother and a protector.

    I thought she brought the gun because of her fear of the druggies coming for Oliver.

  29. Another thing I found extraordinary was Millie, and how she felt about Claudia. The fact that she admired her…that she considered her tortured soul to be a cut above her own…yes. This is a very true part of humanity. The people I admire and love the very most are stoic, they suffer in silence and in doing so they seem to have a holy light, and are a cut above everyone else. Small consolation.

  30. Carrie, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that tuning fork, and how many times I have ignored it, to my detriment.

  31. I wish I had my copy with me now so I can mine some of the better parts. ONe of the things I liked best about Hazel was just how damn funny she was. I laughed out loud when Claudias sister was objecting to the dog and informed Hazel that she reads the news, and Hazels response of “You do, than who is the majority whip”? Classic stuff!

    Haven, I actually got to hear you read a passage from this last year and I’ll never forget how you said you appreciated reading in Indiana, because everywhere else people thought you were exagerating the strictness of the Pentecostals.

    Also, Kate we have a huge antique store in nearby Centerville Indiana called Webbs. I always wondered if Haven did not get a touch of insperation from this place.

  32. I always think people are exaggerating the Pentecostals, but it’s because people like that FREAK ME OUT so very much that I have developed a very thick skin and I just tend to ignore them and block our their existence. Until I am at the mall, that is, that den of iniquity, and I am faced squarely with a girl in a teddy bear sweatshirt, a long denim skirt, tennis shoes and a lacy scrunchie ’round her bun head. THEY DO EXIST.

  33. Scott, I almost died of laughter when Rebekah went to the scary store alone, at night, because she had no where else to go. She was in the bathroom terrified almost to death because Hazel was in the building, somewhere she would never go at night, but she thought is was safe to be there because Rebekah was hiding in the bathroom.

  34. Haven do you have your avatar in a bigger size. I can’t quite make it out. I know you match them to the topic.

  35. In fact, that might be why I like Haven’s books so much. I have an atypical background in many ways, and I live in my own head, and I’m EXTREMELY oblivious to everything, and reading Haven’s books is like being pointed out the obvious, all the stuff I’ve been missing. I am constantly sitting upright, or smiling, or laughing at those precious little details that would all just blur together in a big Hoosier clump in my mind.

  36. Kate,

    I just spit diet pepsi on my monitor. You got the uniform down perfectly! Steph and I call the hair scrunchy do a PHD or Pentacostal hairdo

  37. Isn’t it weird how they are ALWAYS at the mall?? Why? Unlike the Mennonites, who are always at Wal-Mart.

    Also, why does every Amish cookbook contain tons of recipes that call for Velveeta? Is it because it’s shelf stable? Really, I expect more out of the Amish.

  38. The TRUE NATURE OF GOD is one of my favorite topics. For me, in this book it’s exhibited in two ways:
    1) through the kindest and most compassionate acts of the characters (echoing almostclouds here), and 2) in the themes of 2nd chances and redemption that radiate throughout the storyline.

    Haven, your love for your protagonists is especially palpable in TUWE. I can’t fathom how you can end a book and let any of them go. Langston and Amos still haunt me and if you would only write another book about them I would die from joy. Sorry for the digression.

    I read this through too quickly the first time and the prose felt almost purple . . er, like a really good soap opera (note to Haven groupies, don’t stone me yet). On the second reading I didn’t have that impression at all, and I think it was because of how masterfully the histories and inner lives of the main characters were revealed, and so everything seemed more plausible. My grandmother (also a writer) used to say that if people wrote actual truth instead of fication no one would believe it. TUWE feels like someone’s truth.

  39. You are all such brilliant readers — I’m sorry I had to check out for a bit. As my former editor used to say, I had to spend some time putting out fires with my ass. So President Hopey called for ‘Change’ and the next thing I know everything around me is all cattywhompus, and some people are moving and some are dying and some are sobbing and one was pushing a cardboard box around the house and it took me a couple minutes to ask whether there was still a cat in it.

    Kate described the Pentecostal Fashion Sense all the way down to the mall in which they walk. Amazing.

    In my experience what separates the Amish and the Mennonites from the other Peace Churches (Quakers are in that group) is that the women from those first two groups can make a PIE. I mean, a PIE.

    You may continue.

  40. Both Claudia and Hazel saw their childhood homes in light of their mothers, not their fathers. When Claudia’s mother, Ludie, died, Claudia allowed Ludie’s backyard cottage shed to fall into ruin as Claudia mourned for her mother.

    Hazel’s mother, Caroline, lives in an assisted living environment. Caroline asked that Hazel allow their house to fall, following the tragedy that takes place there. Hazel cannot walk away from it, however. She leaves everything in place and visits from time to time.

    Rebekah continues to live in her father’s house when she is not comfortable and not wanted there. Rebekah wishes that she could use an old phone in the emporium to call her younger self and issue some warnings.

    All three women, like the objects in the Used World Emporium, are waiting to be appreciated, reclaimed. “The Used World was, after all, nothing but the past unfolding into an ideal home.”

  41. I thought Hazel took everything from the house and sold it at The Used World? I thought she was essentially leaving the house to rot?

  42. Haven, I love the way you used aspects of “In The Heraclitian Living Room” in The Used World. Heraclitis said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” Hazel knows this. She knows that the past is WHAT WE REMEMBER, not what happened. No two people remember any event in exactly the same way.

    In regard to Claudia’s recollections of her mother Ludie, Hazel says, “You’re just telling a story called Ludie. You’ve made up a character who stands in a spot and fulfills certain needs and is rounded by your perfect imagination of her.” I think Hazel recognizes that Claudia is a prisoner to her memory of a perfect past.

    Later, Claudia has absorbed Hazel’s advice, at least about herself: “Listen,” Claudia said, leaning toward Hazel, “I have risen to every challenge before me, and for you to suggest otherwise is both cruel and a lie, and you are not the author of a story called Claudia, so please back away from this car before I say something I regret.” (Carrie quoted this earlier.)

  43. Damn…that thing about her mother is SPOT ON. WHEW!

  44. Kate,

    You’re right! Hazel carted off the stuff in the clinic, the stuff in the nursery, and left “the iron bed, still turned to face the window, made up in its white coverlet.”

    “For the first fifteen, twenty? years she’d come out every few months and wash the linens on this bed. … But it had begun to seem, even to Hazel, strange to care.” (p. 285)

  45. The numbers 31 and 32 dancing through Rebekah’s head, finally manifesting in Booth #32, the Abandoned Pews, which is where she realized “No one was coming for her, and yet Rebekah wasn’t alone where she stood, and she knew it.” The nausea of her pregnancy had brought her to her knees, “her face in a wine-colored silk dressing gown that smelled of age and cigarettes.” What a great image! Rebekah had spent time on her knees in her old church, the knowledge of this prenancy was bringing her to her knees, and she “awakens” to find her face buried in a lovely, worldly garment her church family would disavow, along with disavowing Rebekah. Haven, you wove a lovely tapestry there.

  46. So, we are both right!

    Oh yes, speaking of Indiana, Peace Churches, and Baking, this is a favorite story of my families. It helps to hear the voices, but I will try my best to recreate it.

    My grandmother was in line at Big Lots when a strange, nosy, sour woman accosted her. Keep in mind we live in Southern Indiana, a place that is decidedly rural, although I do live in the city.

    SW: Hmm. What is THAT?

    G: It’s an angel food cake

    SW: Where’d ya get it?

    G: Over there. There is display.

    SW: Huh. How much is it?

    G: (names price)

    SW: Huh! Seems awful expensive.

    G: Well, I’M the one paying for it! And besides, it was made by the Amish.

    SW: Huh! I don’t believe that. There ain’t any Amish around here!

  47. Jodi. What an astounding thread you pulled there! On her knees, on her knees…

    Haven, this is what you meant by brilliant readers, is it not? — Also, so sorry to hear of your day as a firefighter. Sounds truly awful. Sending all good thoughts…

  48. This was my first Haven Kimmel book and it will always be special to me because I recognized in it, and maybe more importantly, HEARD in it a true voice of Indiana. The language was pitch-perfect, and I had been into a dozen Used World Emporiums searching for I don’t know what and recognizing that I must have owned at one time or another damn near everything in it.

    I have known omniscient people, those who push you toward where you know you should be. I have known the awkward brilliant people; the courage-filled people temporarily posing as timid; the timid Finneys posing as courageous.

    Is God’s true nature revealed? Ever?


    What is prophesy?

    To state one’s truth.

    What is it to be haunted?

    To know even to see, but never presently inhabit that which is just beyond…that which is other.

  49. Ahhh, Haven…Cattywompus. I use this word to describe everything much to my dear husband to be’s delight…he thinks it’s a hillbilly word.
    I grew up mennonite ( not as strict as others in the church) I wasn’t required to wear the headcovering or skirts or anything CRAZY like that. We did not however believing in smoking ( my dad smoked like a chimney) drinking ( ditto) or war. I loved that church fiercly and didn’t even mind going twice a week. Some of my best memories are the potluck dinners on Sunday afternoon. Oh and the fieldtrips. Lots of the members had actual amish relatives having left that life style and we would visit their homes.

  50. There was so much in this book that fascinated me. The very first scene reminded me of a suicide attempt I once knew about. The depth and mystery of Hazel was sufficating. The purity and innocence of Becka was heart rending. And how many Finneys have I known, hated, and felt sorry for?

    Two scenes will stay with me always. Those are when Becka is in the bathroom at the Emporium! The other is the biker’s cabin. I swear to God I was with the Indiana State Police when they raided it!

    To me, the most touching scene of all was when Claudia got the groceries and delivered them. There God’s nature was revealed plainly.

  51. I remember riding across Belize in a bus. We stopped at a banana plantation outside a town called Dangriga. Of all places to never expect someone of the Mennonite persuasion was a family of them who got on and rode past the Mayan ruins all the way to Bhopan! I sat in the bus, listening to Bob Marley on the radio, smelling sweat, watching egrets breaking free in the fields and thinking, Wow!

  52. …not Bhopan…Belmopan…

  53. Back later to comment on the book, but meanwhile I was struck by how familiar the house looked, and then I remembered the house in Psycho (one of my all-time fave twisted mother movies, and starring Tony Perkins who was sexually abused by his mother, no less.)
    Here it is.*:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7GWYE%26sa%3DN

  54. Continuing Haven’s “telling a story that is” Ludie or Claudia, check out page 157. Rebekah is asking Hazel if she can stay at Hazel’s house, and in telling Rebekah no, Hazel says, “Do you know that our lives don’t exist, really — or, that’s not exactly right, we exist but only as a story and we are the ones who tell it?”

    When Rebekah asks “What does that have to do with me staying with you?” Hazel replies, “I don’t think your story is best told by doing that. I know I interfere too much, and I dominate the tales around me, but that’s just how it is, it shouldn’t have been given to me to see quite so clearly if I was expected to be passive.”

  55. Okay now, why does my comment have that freaky “Your comment is awaiting moderation” thing?

  56. One thing that struck me is that we never really know another person. Not everything anyway, even if we know a lot about them. I am thinking about Hazel’s history with Jim Hank. When Claudia and Rebekah are wondering about the Cronies and why Hazel puts up with them and she says she knew them when they were younger. Oh my. Do Claudia and Rebekah ever really know of Jim Hank? I doubt it. How could they? The only other living person who would is Caroline. The character of Jim Hank just breaks my heart. And warms my heart at the same time.

  57. Was anyone else surprised that Rebekah left with Peter? I was a little. Just knowing how safe and loved she felt at Claudia’s house I wanted to think she would at least take it slower. But then, she was always thinking of Peter is in idolized way, wasn’t she. That is, until she was living with him and bedridden and was forced to really see him. I just wanted to her stay there so much.

  58. Wow, I’m such a good close reader that I completely missed that Jim Hank was a Cronie.

  59. I was not surprised when she left with him, not at all.

    Another part I love is when Rebekah is faced with her competition. It’s written with more than a touch of contempt. And omniscient point of view might offer a tad more grace, but it’s Rebekah’s, not Gods. I have been overthrown more than once for a completely improbable, to me lesser, person, and it always just left me trembling, angered, sickened.

  60. I wish Finney and Jim Hank had run away…

  61. I think it did Rebekah good and gave her more confidence to realize how truly skanky Mandy was and how immature Peter was chasing her and IMing her. Very junior high. I thought it was funny when Rebekah realized she was worried about the two of them. I thought that was funny too.

  62. I did not get the sense that Finney wanted to be with Jim Hank. I think it was Hazel’s idea. To protect her. I mean, after the ceremony Hazel and Jim Hank got drunk and Finney left to go back to her place. Why? To wait for Vernon I suspect.

    And I must say that Finney’s man turning out to be Vernon came as a total shock and surprise to me. I just did not see that coming at all and it made me a little sick to my stomach. Good grief that really blew me away.

  63. I’ve been thinking all evening about the questions Haven has put before us. I’m not sure that I can answer them directly, but here is what I believe The Used World to be about:

    Ultimately, The Used World Emporium is a place where things(people) end up that have been cast aside only to find a new home where someone will love them again. As in all three of her Hopwood County novels, this story again is about the healing power of love ~ the redemption people find through love. Ultimately, I believe the love her characters find is God’s light breaking through the past damage that they all have. In a way, I believe, we all have experienced that.

    Haven questions the word haunted. I believe that here, haunted means that feeling one has when looking at the past through foggy memories and the ache one feels of wanting things to be as they once were. Or at the very least, how we perceive the past to have been. That’s why places like Hazel’s Used World Emporium are able to exist. People rummage around, looking for tangible reminders to those foggy memories.

  64. My point being, if they had run away, she wouldn’t be dead…

    I didn’t especially think they belonged together, but there was a series of bad choices leading up to this…

  65. Jim, that is a very sweet and true statement about the book, and being such a huge puruser of thrift and antique stores I am surprised I missed out on that simple, beautiful theme.

  66. Oh Sock. “God’s light breaking through the past damage”
    How lovely. Sometimes I think that’s one of the purest ways we experience God. Reminds me of lines from the song by Cohen (I think it was Cohen). . .

    And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him, he said “all men shall be sailors, and only the sea will free them”

  67. What is at the heart of prophecy?

    I just asked my smart daughter this and she said that the best prophets are blind prophets because they can’t see the real world so they have the best insight. Because their actual sight does not block their vision.

    Hmmm. Smart as a whip, my girl is.

  68. Where is everyone tonight? I just know that as soon as I shut down this computer all you night owls are going to arrive and have one helluva conversation and I won’t be here. Ok, here’s the deal. I am thinking that prophecies are also dreams, are they not? So, I shall go see what arrives in my sleep tonight. I am channeling literary genius. Well, maybe not genius. How about insight.

    On that note, good night all.

  69. good night, Linda. Shoot for the stars ~ Channel genius.

  70. Well thank goodness for people like you all, and George, who is no longer there, for recognizing Indiana in an unvarnished way; I had to fight for many details that New York found exaggerated. Oh the sighing I did. I had to say again and again, “If anything, I’ve toned DOWN the reality.”

    Jodi, bravo. All of you are amazing.

    And for the record, I didn’t have the extremely complicated pregnancy myself until AFTER I’d finished the book; the very last changes I made on the 5th draft, while 8 months pregnant and on bedrest. As with IODINE, I wrote the book and then had the disaster. I’m not even considering in what ways my life might change because of the novel that comes out next; it’s already done, and it’s a HORROR novel. Lord have mercy.

  71. ok – I am just going for it and Haven can tell me if I have this totally wrong, because when I read THE USED WORLD – I was like . . .


    Now if I am right it is because I have sporadically functioned as a mythology buff since I was a tiny child when ICARUS was my hero – who doesn’t want to fly TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN??? and where do you think I found my penchant for wax (his wings melted) . . .

    I think Becka is the first stage – Virgin
    I think Claudia is the 2nd stage – Mother
    I think Hazel is the 3rd state – Crone

    What is so fascinating to me, though, is that one of the functions of the crone/wise woman is the helpful passing of one stage into the other – historically serving as rights of passage for young girls (Red Tent by A. Diamante), matchmakers, and midwifes to ease and guide the birth of new humans, also they are the counselors, finally, they are the death watchers, holding the hands of those passing on . . . it is the cyclical nature of life (versus the lineal form of patriarchal cults) that makes the crone so powerful.

    In ancient cultures she even cursed – the crone’s curse could bring on the virtual or societal death of an individual (as in Vernon’s backtracking when he attempts to retrieve Rebecca from Peter’s cottage).

    I have been pushing the boundries in my life – although I am currently in the maternity/motherhood stage, I feel most drawn to the service of being a crone/mentor/wise woman.

    There – I just laid out what The Used World means to me.

    This may be a spoiler alert, or maybe I am totally wrong – I have to say Joseph Campbell and Jungian psychology was jumping all over my brain when I was reading this book.

  72. Haven, perhaps you are professing/foretellingp/prophesying your own fate!!!!!???

  73. I agree, I can’t see the avatar image closely enough – I am thinking it a contemporary image of mother/child????

  74. prophesy.

    ok – to me this means to foretell or interpret.

    In fact I think many of religions main characters are prophets:

    jesus, mohammed, ghandi, buddha, siddhartha, I also think Bono is a prophet that john lennon is a crucified prophet.

    we have cultural, religious and personal prophets.

  75. Oh, and the picture at the top of the blog? Norman? Is that you?

  76. favorite cross overs:

    Claudia reading A Prayer for Owen Meany (note: I cannot go to see John Irving tomorrow because I am chained to the bed for 2 days to heal myself, I really over did it this week and am now flattened like a pancake)…

    how about – is the crack baby (oliver) actually the baby of Misty and what’s his face (don’t have Something Rising amidst the 500 books on the bed with me)???

    Emmy as the harried mother how visits the Used World to replace the couch (COUCH???!!!) her rotten kid burnt????

    Ok Haven, I think all your three’s (the dogs, etc.) have to do with the holy trinity (obviously) & the 3 wise men who travel to the nativity.

  77. jim shue, jim shue, is that YOU?

  78. where ya been all my life (the last few days)….no I know, I just thought that sounded funny, but I am on painkillers and wine . . . I’m feelin’ fine!

  79. also – the goddesses stand for the seasons . . . and it is mentioned as to the springtime of Rebekah’s childhood . . . in fact Haven seems to point her magical writer’s sceptor directly at the clues in this book . . . even mentioning Cronies – I was just dying, she directs, then misdirects, then points as back . . .

  80. rebekah shook – this name cracked me up because it reminded me of one of my favorite books called THE BELIEVERS, which was about the Shakers.

  81. also the 3 points/main characters – creates a sacred triangle which is in all the Renaissance paintings that Haven/Langston adore.

  82. hello – somebody else mention why the Owl is so important??

  83. freak out – I can’t wait – the OWL is Hazel’s totem spirit/animal?!!! She is marked early on by the portent/prophesy of wisdom and knowledge.

  84. I do think it’s interesting that I wrote that book and THEN an owl showed up here and has lived here ever since.

  85. that is very interesting – Haven you are CONJURING things . . .

  86. No matter how gifted, each has to be initiated into the uncanny.

  87. what was your initiation event?

  88. I’d have to think about that question very carefully, Ms. Sher.

  89. ok

  90. The prayer flag and OTHER beings are on their way to you . . . I was putting out fires with my asses today, too . . . and with the cracked back, I wasn’t flapping my derriere very quickly . . .

  91. I can’t say that I’ve ever been initiated into the uncanny, but I can say that I’ve read a lot. Anything mythological you think you see, anything from Campbell or Jung or Hillman — even if that particular thread wasn’t one I chose deliberately, I’ve read it. Probably. There’s a good chance.

  92. I’ve been moving very slowly myself for a couple days, Sher. It’s one of my Superpowers, slow motion.

  93. my cat jumped on my face to get to my feet which were jiggling under my blankie and she split my upper lip open from her claws (which I have neglected to clip) . . . just one more freak accident to add to the others.

    Now I am marked by the CAT, too!

  94. I get to move SLOOOOWWWWLY tomorrow and Sunday because the Hubby has threatened to take me to the hospital if I don’t behave. I am against catheters, so I am going to obey!!!

  95. Wow…

    I am just sort of…wow.

    I always just think I am reading a book with a good story.

  96. Kate, that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to think! In The Art of Fiction, Henry James said the most important thing in fiction is that it be interesting. Not lyrical, not multilayered, no complicated. Interesting.

  97. Now that is interesting, because John M and I were just discussing this:

    threads/sacred texts and my new idea (well it is old but I haven’t made it yet) is to weave many different sacred texts together into a new THE WORD – with the idea being that they are all one and the same and that they have more in common than in deflection.

  98. Well, you’ve got that one DOWN babycakes.

  99. I totally blew it . . . I can’t just READ a book, it is impossible.

    but, I want you to know I am still RESTRAINING myself on Iodine.

  100. I just watched a movie tonight that referenced Joseph Campbell!

  101. It is a very good BOOK – and being as it is a magnification of real life – with all the little midwest/indiana picadillos and all – it is therefore UNIVERSAL in it’s reference to all the myth/archetypes and I am sorry to imply it needs to be more than that – because it doesn’t


    I think that part of being a crone is to nurture the seeds as we can see their full grown potential and I just failed my crone 101 initiation!

  102. No restraint, Sher!

  103. the “new 50” Oprah talks about – it is them becoming Crones!

  104. my husband has NEVER accused me of having any restraint – in any way, shape or form!

  105. which is why he has chained me to the bed and not for the reason I wish were possible~!

  106. I believe it’s Hillman who says the hallmark of the crone is that she is ‘relentless.’

  107. here is an interesting theory I came up with today – since I skipped the whole Virgin stage of my life, would that then speed up my passage from mother into cronism?

  108. that is good – when people say I am “bitchy” – I am like – well, jeez, thanks!!! because I am: a
    Control of

  109. It isn’t a stage, it’s a function. No matter what, you didn’t skip the virgin.

  110. I find myself mentoring women who are in their 50’s and 60’s and it is very disconcerting and then I think it is my calling and that I should just get comfortable with it and not second guess myself. That whole ‘urge/instinct’ thing we discussed early. also sometimes I feel this flow of advise that comes out of my mouth and I think “WHERE or WHO did that come from? But it makes sense, so I am
    blah, blah, blah!!!

  111. Haven, you are right about the virgin thing – I know that is a state of conscious and not physical . . . in fact, I feel that I relived a state of virginity of soul when I dumped all my pre-drilled notions about spirit/life and began to discover what it meant to me on my own – it was very tentative at first, like handholding, and then got deeper, now I am on a homerun – all the way – womanhood . . .

  112. the universe just knocks me on my ass when I need it – you need to slow down, Here – I am going to drop this hammer on your head – still won’t slow down – trip on these Barbies . . .

    you are not listening, where is Don? Don, tell her to stay in bed! He is the hammer of god’s own hands.

  113. I think:

    1. I type way too fast
    2. I think faster than I can adequately type.

  114. and what about Sophia, the god/dess of wisdom.?????

    that just makes me breath easier just saying that name

  115. Sophia is the Hebrew word for wisdom.

  116. Claire and I are listening to Zippy and she agrees that if Junie B. Jones ever grows up – she will be you HAVEN! And Claire said, did she write ORVILLE? And when I said YES, she said – Tell her I said HI!

    And she thinks your slippers are THE BEST!

  117. Tell Claire I said HELLO, YOU!

  118. I came across a book about Sophia at a New Age convention in Atlanta in about 1987 . . . thereabouts, I had the most amazing conversation with the author and she talked about experiencing Sophia and then researching her . . . then she wrote these beautiful books/poetry and even though I could only buy 1 of them, she signed all three and gave them to me . . . I have them somewhere and I can’t think of her name right now . . . but it was definately a revelation to me that a woman figure could be a spark of god . . . it totally vindicated my rebellion

  119. Must try to sleep; if I can manage to take myself off sick bed long enough tomorrow, I’m having coffee with GEORGE.

  120. Oh my god – go to bed so you can sip some bean with George – take pictures, give him hugs, rub his jacket for us – it must be like a magic lantern and spray paint his crocs BLACK so they at least match that jacket!!! wow – you get to meet GEORGE!!!!

  121. YAY for GEORGE!

    Sher…the other day my son Linus looked up and said “When is Haven coming over? Does she have kids? I hope they have toys I like!”

  122. kate – that is FUNNY! it is so bizarre to just drop her name in and out of conversations – well, Haven said this . . .

    surreal and yet completely natural . . .

  123. oh – I had a thought today as well . . .

    that, this blog is the

    collection of used, discarded objects and we have recognized in each other the treasures that we truly are!

  124. GEORGE – in my best Owen Meany captitalized verbage:


  125. Hi everyone –
    I am new to commenting on the blog, though I’ve been receiving it for a while. I subscribed after seeing you, Haven, at the Calvin Festival in April, and I must say that when you said your mother was in the front row I about fainted. It was like espying Ma Ingalls in the crowd. I am just awake on our dairy farm in New York and very caffeinated, so here goes.
    I JUST finished reading The Used World last night, after reading Zippy, Couch, Rising, and Solace over the course of the year.
    It made me think of the TS Eliot poem “Journey of the Magi” and how once the kings had seen the baby they went back home and were no longer at ease “in the old dispensation, With alien people clutching their gods.”
    I think that is what prophecy is and asks, especially in The Used World. God is revealed but in such unexpected ways but always recognizable because what is shown is how to love, which might look as unexpected and like “failure” as an illegitimate baby born in a barn (Amos). That whole shift from Old Testament to New Testament and people clutching their old gods not able to move to metaphor.
    In The Used World, those (mostly men) who clutch at their old gods, like Albert and Vernon, do not hear the call to a new and unexpected form of love, while those who do hear it – Caroline, Hazel, Claudia – find themselves moving in very unexpected and sometimes unlawful and usually criticized directions: “stealing” a baby, loving another woman, performing abortions.
    The fruit of the “clingers,” who cannot shift to the metaphorical New Testament, is anger and self-righteousness and pain and hate (Vernon, Albert). The fruit of those open to the unexpected New Testament Kingdom peeking through right among us produce comfort and care and acceptance and nurture, odd as the new structures may look.
    I just love Hazel’s disintegrating house and the old stuff at the Emporium being redistributed in new ways – also Rebekkah’s clothes that she reconfigures from old ones. Stuff is not holy just because it’s old – prophecy looks ahead, looks for the new and the now, what are we being asked to do in THIS circumstance.
    I also think of Barbara Kingsolvers’ The Bean Trees and the unusual “family” that gets formed there. Do you think women are more open to this? Like Ma Joad?
    Keep us thinking, Haven. You’re awesome.

  126. Welcome to the blog, Maureen. Isn’t Haven’s writing astonishing in the facets we all see in it? That girl can COOK.

    Your differentiation between the men and the women in The Used World — I saw right away what you’re saying. How the women “find themselves moving in very unexpected and sometimes unlawful and usually criticized directions.” In contrast, the men in this novel (and I hadn’t thought of it this way until reading your comments) are in various stages of disintegration: Vernon, Peter, Jim Hank having been ruined by The World and sinking to Cronie level, the total absence of Claudia’s father in her memory, the monstrous Albert who fathered Hazel.

    Hazel’s sister Edie escapes the world in increasingly harsher ways, until she is a ruin. Her gift to the women’s world is Charlie, her stoned boyfriend who removes the obstacle of Albert from their lives. It is Caroline who writes the epilogue to their “story,” delivering the women to their future.

    Hazel’s novitiate, Claudia, is the deliverer of retribution to Vernon. Vernon, who was the instrument of destruction thirty years earlier, when Hazel’s world had collapsed (page 286). Vernon’s interference takes Finney from Hazel throughout their story, finally removing Finney altogether through his blind raging adherence to a principle.

    On page 295, as Hazel confronts her life in the attic of her childhood home, she asks herself, “Why was the answer here, in this little casket? She had called Claudia to go because that was a story she was telling Claudia and Rebekah. And their story didn’t start here, in this attic, it didn’t start or end with Hazel.” “If there was really a baby in this box, then every step Hazel had taken, every word she’d spoken, had been in good faith. But if there was nothing here … then she was a tired old woman with some astrology books and a bunch of cats.”

    We all doubt ourselves. We all do the best we can. Hazel was willing to be culpable, but she did not open the box. What’s done is done. “You do what you have to do; Caroline had said it herself, it was her mantra in those days. Hazel tried again to lift the latch, halfheartedly. It was no good. A different kind of person would have taken the box with her, might have kept it in her house as a macabre reminder, someone younger or with more nerve. … But Hazel just stuck it back in the crawl space, closed the boards.”

    Hazel had set many wheels in motion in the lives of those around her. Outside, having left the attic and her discarded epiphany, “she held her hands up to the sky, let the rain wash them.”

    Page 299, as Hazel leaves the scene of her collapsed world, she recalls a conversation she had with Rebekah about prophecy. Here she cites both her and “bright-eyed” Rebekah’s questions, leaving the door open, knowing the only thing she can do is to live her way into the answers. The rest of the book is a lovely bow on the package.

    A dairy farm in New York is a lot of work. Yet you’ve found time to read the BEST books, including Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees. I’m really happy you could write your thoughts about all and sundry. Keep writing, okay? It’s a crazy-quilt of folks here, and never dull. =0)

  127. The character who ultimately saves the day for everyone is Claudia Modjeski, a synthesis of a woman and a man.

  128. Had to hit the sack early last night to get my beauty rest in preparation of a golf game today! Playing at this wonderful course in Durham that has history. It is a professor of a golf course, teaching its students many mysteries in this game we call…LIFE! Oh, and I am meeting — finally — Haven for coffee. Did I mention that? And yes, blog people, you get a full, unvarnished, not-so-objective report complete with photos, maybe a video, and who knows, audio! I haven’t felt this school-girly since going to a Joni Mitchell concert back in 1996 or 97.

  129. Jodi –
    Good point about Claudia – I hadn’t thought of her being both genders. I think you’re onto something that perhaps we need to merge the female and male, the yin and yang, and to regain the best (but not the worst) of the archetypically male in order to evolve and respond to what is asked of us. It seems Vernon and Albert are too stuck on the male stereotype, and so is Peter, I guess. Jim Hank and Amos are a different story, and Jesus, needless to say.
    Thanks for the welcome! Aside from my husband, I don’t have many people to talk books with.

  130. Maureen, Jodi and Sher- BRAVO!! Wonderfully insightful comments.

    Maureen- where exactly in NY? I live in Nashville, TN but grew up in NJ and PA and my parents are from NY. Schnectady and Kingston. The Adirondacks are one of my most favorite places on earth.

  131. Feel better Sher! I am thinking of you. You certainly are a mentor to me. Ha. I’m another one of those older women. Ok, only by a few years, but still.

    George and Haven- enjoy each others company. Wish I was there. I am in spirit. Start planning the big Blog Babies convention, ok? Maybe we should all descend on D.C. for the inauguration and stay with George. You have room for about 20 people at your home in Alexandria, don’t ya? wink wink

  132. Wow, I picked the wrong night to sleep for 15 hours!

    Haven asks us the most important question first, “Is the true nature of God ever revealed to us?” My thoughts are yes, that the nature of God is presented to us in the character of Hazel, who throughout the book reveals the nature of god, slowly, then very boldy at the end when we find out her connection to Rebekah and her parents. Hazel, who has wisdom, who grew up a doctors & an abortionists daughter. Hazel has no boundaries, and the book provides numerous examples I won’t mention here; and she is sovereign when she guides Claudia to the abandoned baby who needed a mother. Hazel holiness is shown when she refuses Rebekah to move into her home, but she guides her to Claudia instead. Hazel, Rebekah, and Claudia represent one trinity. The book has many more, like Hazel, Finney, and Vernon, and Rebekah, Peter and Claudia. Hazel is all knowing, or Omniscient, and she knows Rebekah was pregnant, that Claudia would love and care for that baby, that Rebekah was hiding out in the Used World Emporium, and that Rebekah was a twin. Hazel remains faithful to the memory of Finney, who share loved deeply and had shared only one kiss with, and never fell for another woman in all her long life. Hazel has many other god-like attributes, such as being self sufficient, as she runs her own business; and goodness, as she brings Claudia and Rebekah their eventual happiness.

  133. Haven’s next question, “What is at the heart of prophecy?”

    I’m not sure I’m right, but I’m going this route just for fun … What if the truth (The revelation of Hazel)about Hazel was like the revelation of Jesus Christ? Hazel’s employees were shown things by her that transformed their lives; Hazel was the record keeper for her mother, for Finney, and for Rebekah; and Hazel found (And kept quiet) the bones of a child that was murdered in her attic.

  134. Haven’s next question “What does it mean to be haunted?”

    Oh, there is no doubt Hazel was haunted. Every time she looked at Rebekah, she had to have seen Finney. Without Finney’s tragic death, Rebekah may never had been born. And Hazel’s happiness for Rebekah’s mother must have been confusing, because she was grieving over the death of the love of her life who had caused Rebekah’s mother so much pain.

  135. I believe Haven chose Hazel’s past and the girls present to merge at the climax because the whole novel is hinging on a revelation, and Hazel, who possessed the true nature of God, had to reveal herself only at the end of the story. Her past WAS their present. Her actions and life became their life story.

    I just LOVED this book and want to say thank you for sending it to me once again. As a child I was born without a religion, and have searched many years to find one, which is impossible. I read the entire Old Testiment by the time I was eight years old. I went to four different churches a week as a teenager; I worked at a jewish camp, and I made friends with Buddists. And my family is Catholic. The search for the correct religion is always on my mind …

  136. Re Blog Babies Convention. I think it should be in Grand Haven. Wouldn’t that make you feel grand, Haven? 🙂

  137. My mind is spinning from all the possibilities. But can I just say that my favorite (funny) line so far is early, on p. 48. Claudia is thinkng about Emmy’s too-thin eyebrows–“Everyone seems to be doing it, creating a county full of startled women.”

    I will post later with my pseudo-smarty analayses. 🙂

    PS–all you sickies–feel better!!! take care of yourselves!!!

  138. Maureen,

    Your comments were FANTASTIC. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  139. With small dramas happening around me, I had not made time to read TUW. Started last night and have already run through an entire pkg of post-it flags. (Can’t bring myself to write in books, so I LOVE me some flags.)

    Kept listening to the silence of my house as I read last night. Finally realized it was in expectation of chimes or bells—the kind used to signify that magic is happening. For it is. Magic, I mean.

    To weave this story from same words used in ordinary conversation and everyday life is proof of the existence of magic or something far greater.

    And to your question, Haven, about whether the true nature of God can be revealed to us: Yes. In the one mind that conceived this and the many that receive it with such amazing grace.

    Gotta rustle up some more flags and get back to reading.

  140. I have crawled into The Used World and now live there. It is far from certain that I will ever return to my own world, but if I do, both it and I will most certainly be changed.

  141. ******SPOILER**********
    It doesn’t matter that I knew it was coming. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been reading the past 2 hours to get there. But God. I just cry and cry when Millie gets to Claudia’s house.

    I tell myself if there’s anything more complicated yet not) than a child’s relationship to his/her parents, it has to be the relationship between and among sisters.

  142. Linda –
    I live in the vast cow country in the middle of Syracuse, Binghamton, Ithaca, and Oneonta. I grew up in Western New York and spent a summer working in the Adirondacks – we are only two hours south of the Park but it is hard to sneak away from the farm for that long. I have turned east and waved hi to your parents.

  143. Me again, back to my male/female analysis and thinking of what Jodi said. Of course Oliver and David are both MALE and think of the men they will grow up to be!

  144. I think the structure with the present/past POV has something to do with the line in the book that says “Give the same attention to the present as you do to the past.” i am paraphrasing bc i couldn’t find it exactly, but it really stuck with me.

    amos is a minister, but still has doubts–he is looking for real proof, so what is faith? what is the proof? he does a lot of thinking.

    compassion seems to play a role as it is easier than being lonely–but maybe it is harder? when claudia gets the baby, her compassion far trumps her seemingly empty life…but it is hard to watch a child cry all night.

    faith comes to mind a lot…is it giving up to believe…without any tangible proof? hazel as mother figure, amos as father.

    i am just going with what jumps out at me.

    Rebekah’s past seems dark and unexplained–something mysterious there.

    am i on the right track? i think god is revealed to those who want god to be. belief? personally, i see god revealed to me constantly–my husband’s sobriety, my sweet gift of a child, my dogs…and even little things. good friends enjoying good conversation, something delicious that i am eating for the first time. the wonder in a child’s eyes when he learns something new….

  145. When I was on the cusp of emerging from several years of depression, I heard an interview Haven did on The State of Things, a local public radio broadcast. During the interview she said: “Loneliness is nothing compared to compassion.”

    My depression had been, in huge part, about loneliness and this sentence rocked my small world.

    It is so true. Today The Beloved and I have received some incredibly devastating news, carrying with it an impossible grief, and I can’t help but keep thinking this sentence over and over. Loneliness is nothing compared to compassion.

    (That interview can be listened to here:

  146. thanks amanda! loneliness is nothing compared to compassion is what i think i was trying to get at in my last post. i am headed to listen now.

  147. haven uses the quote i mentioned in my earlier post in the interview! i literally started taking notes…awesome. plus, i love hearing her voice…

  148. Whatever the news or the grief, Amanda, you and The Beloved are in my heart and in my prayers.

  149. Whatever the news or the grief, Amanda, you and The Beloved are in my heart and in my prayers.

  150. thank you Jerri. Just reading your note moved me again to tears. I may be able to share more details next week, but for now we are not able to. In the meantime, all prayers and thoughts are needed and appreciated.

  151. prayers headed to you and those you love amanda, and an enormous cyber hug

  152. I am sending prayers of strength and love and hope to you both, Amanda.

  153. I’m not seeing Hazel as a “Godly” figure. Whenever we humanize God into a person we end up with people like Vernon, Ted Haggert, and the like. And they always, always, always, get knocked off their pedestals and fall from grace. It happened to Vernon. It happened to Ted Haggart. It happened to my former minister. That’s also why I don’t see God as a humanized figure up in the sky directing everyone’s personal traffic.

    God, to me, is the spirit within that guides me to do good works and be a better person. I was lucky enough to have a knock me on my ass spiritual experience, which helped me Identify my understanding of what God is, but that may not be true for everyone. That’s fine with me.

    I see Hazel as fitting more into the prophet category. She can see Claudia heading in the same direction of living a life stuck in idealized past, heading toward a future of loneliness and solitude. That’s why, i think, see pushes Claudia and Rebekah in toward the direction of a shared future.

  154. It’s so alarming to realize I was just rattling on about something something God something something Quakerism etc., and Maureen was in the audience all along. RIGHT?!? We just make with the yackety-yack and all the while Jodi is listening. FRIGHTFUL.

    I just spent the whole afternoon with GEORGE STUTEVILLE. I’ll let him take over from there because he took pictures, and I have a date with my daughter. But let me just say: he is all you would hope and more. He’s a perfect captain to steer any ship.

    I love this conversation.


  155. Hurray! Three cheers for Haven and George and all the Blog Babies everywhere.

  156. Babies- check out this small suitcase I found at an estate sale today. It’s sooo, umm, Zippy!

  157. Amanda, thank you for this wonderful link.

    I’m praying that God’s infinite grace pours over you and your Beloved.

  158. Hello Blog Babies!!
    I am back in great antici..PATION of reading all these entries and commenting on them from the beginning if I can with my tagged copy of UW before me…I have been off in the hospital with the beloved Dana whose picture will, I hope, appear as my avatar until he is home…he had emergency surgery for a perforated bowel and is better today, as evidenced by his sense of humor….he is chortling mightily in his hospital bed tonight as I left because not only is he ALLOWED to fart but is being actively encouraged and loudly rewarded by the nurses to fart…it is in fact a pre-requisite of his release from the hospital. I have also discovered, not at all to my surprise, that he is totally lacking any sense of dignity and I am relieved to see his white butt sticking out of his gown before me as he struggles to walk down the hall when I could have lost him. Back after I digest all the above comments, missed y’all.

  159. One of the more poignant objects to me is the phone in the USED WORLD how it works one way and how Rebekah is so attached to it . . . but even when she is cut off from a phone in her pregnancy she is still sensed and Claudia answers the call.

    This might not go with any specific religion, but I think the essence of God is within all of us. It is the potential of which we rarely achieve, but the promise is always there.

    I think every act of empathy is a spark of God’s presence/divinity. Also the allowance of creatives to receive and interpret the flow of the divine . . .

  160. Oh My Gosh…I just scrolled up a little and saw Amanda had big bad news…I am hoping for all the best for her and hers, too….

  161. conversely, I feel the essense of God the strongest in the complete absence of other humans, one on one with nature.

  162. it is apparently the week of challenges . . . so we have the 3’s right? no more bad stuff

  163. The Used World is absolutely my favorite book of yours after Zippy and Couch, Haven.
    It has so many of my own personal dream themes in it…old, many roomed houses…and especially the attic. We rented a house with an attic exactly like that one when I was around 9, in Watson, Minnesota…the whole book reminds me of that time. And I have dreams of searching not just that house but various second hand stores for something hidden, I don’t know what. To this day it is something I must do…we can’t pass them up, wherever we are if at all possible we go in searching for a hidden treasure.
    Also, Calling Up the Past on an old telephone..that part gave me the shivers and I had to reread it three times right there.
    And I don’t know why, but every time Claudia was there, I kept thinking I saw a shadow behind her. I finally recognized it as Rita Mae Brown. I haven’t a clue why, except that she reminded me not only of the author herself (I kept picturing her as Claudia) but of one of her early characters during the civil war. Memory is a funny thing and links things up so wonderfully.
    More later, I just had to put those thing down while I remembered them tonight.

  164. Oh Amanda, I know we have never met but I am sendling prayer and hugs your way, you are never alone!!!

  165. Prayers go out to Amanda and Brenda, and hey, all of you!

  166. Got up at 7am started reading and just now finished reading TUW. Wow. Captivating. I tried to read all the comments. Blessings to you, Amanda and Brenda. That book was brimming full of life and loss and love and faith. It spoke to me of finding one’s own personal understanding of God, rather than being bullied into blindly following the bellicose hypocrites of the world. Is Claudia a hermaphrodite? Just because that scene from the shower with Rebekah said a lot but remained vague at the same time. The owl imagery was breathtaking. Okay. I am going to see if there is some dumb thing to watch on my DVR. My brain is overheating.

  167. Brenda? Dana? EVERYBODY NEEDS TO BE OKAY.

  168. It’s interesting — there was a location that served as the catalyst for The Used World Emporium, and it wasn’t in Centerville, it was in Muncie, although Centerville is a very good guess. The Broadway Antique Mall. During the period I’ve mentioned before, a certain long seven years, I used to go there at least once a week, and I was particularly enamored of a telephone I ended up buying. I spent months looking at it, and one of the salty women who ran the place, Brenda, walked back to rearrange the display around it one afternoon and said, “It works.” I said, “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

    Years I went there. One day I pulled into the parking lot and there was a sign on the front door, Closed For Brenda’s Funeral. I sometimes imagine my mind as a yo-yo, and there are days when the yo-yo is humming, I’m doing tricks with it (actually, my dad is doing tricks with it); every descent is rescued at the last moment by a slight tug that pulls everything back into the palm. And once in a while something happens and I can see the yo-yo hit the floor and spin away, the way the string tangles around it. Just a form of disorder, the dropped thing. That’s how I felt about Brenda’s death. Hadn’t it been enough for both of us, for all of us, that she had engineered such a massive debt to the past? Wasn’t it sufficient that she sat there every day? Now the place had to be haunted by HER, AS WELL? I mean, really, universe? Closed For Brenda’s Funeral, are you kidding me??

    I see now that moving 650 miles away was a good idea. Sometimes it’s good to just . . . walk away. STEP AWAY FROM INDIANA, HAVEN.

  169. Like a favorite house being torn down…

  170. Gah, thank you, Cupcake. One day I walked in and the vast collection of vintage clothes and hats and shoes were all gone. I had spent HOURS there. I still have some astonishing finds, like a man’s nightshirt from the Civil War. I asked the couple who owned that booth, and who were always at the front with Brenda, where on earth everything was, and the woman said they’d sold the whole thing in a lot to a larger dealer.

    Ah, perspective! Thank you. What is unfathomable and sacred to me is a commodity to someone else.

  171. I am pleased to report I am at page 119 of Ye Used World and enjoying the book very, very much.

  172. I feel that way about this decrepit, actually kind of disgusting concrete dog statue that for years was in this depressed area of town near my great-grandparents. It used to be in the front of a now gone veterinarian’s office. It actually pained me to see that statue gone…

    Of course, it had to go. It looked dreadful. It was an eyesore. If the neighborhood was going to go anywhere then this thing had to be disposed of. But I tell you, that dog was alive to me.

    I’m sure it will be in my garden in heaven, because that is where a disintegrating concrete dog belongs.

  173. Also, I want to hear more about this phone. I have a small obsession with vintage phones (surprise, surprise!)

  174. Hello, Matt! How are things Nebraska way? Here we had a perfect golf day for George, whatever that means. Beautiful beautiful North Carolina. Allegedly there was a homecoming event at Duke — also something I’ve never experienced but I believe such events occur. Not only was there a Duke football game, and then people were supposed to Go Home, they played Carolina! Oh the mayhem! George and I actually got yelled at by a cop, because George wasn’t paying attention to the man’s 100% inexplicable semaphore. He seemed to be saying, “STAY. STOP. GO GO GO GO! STOP!” all at once, so he yelled at us, and as we passed him I said, “I hate authority figures,” and George said at exactly the same moment, “I hate Durham cops.”

  175. There is no reason the concrete dog had to go. Plant some vines on the thing, you’ve got a massive Chia Pet. Also? Interesting.

  176. cannot sleep at all tonight and possibly cannot put thoughts together, but i did want to throw this out there…

    in Something Rising, Cassie is attacked and scarred (in a way) by a buzzard. in The Used World, Hazel is attacked and scarred by an owl.

    i know nothing about bird visitations, but i think it is a safe bet that the rest of you do.

  177. CHIA PET!! Yes. Fabulous. We just had our first Chia Pet ever. It was a Shaggy head that grew a green fro. It was my favorite combination of Pop Culture, Educational, and just plain WEIRD.

    You should be a city planner.

    I also have bones to pick with the zoo over the massive plaster elephant that was sort of tucked away,practically in the woods. When you came upon it you felt like an explorer, and the somewhat hidden koi pond. Both victims of PROGRESS. I call FOUL.

  178. ajdkfl;;;;;;sd’llllllllllllll??????????

    Hey, now, you say those mean things…he was somebody’s lil baby once…

    Not sure if that means shit, but I felt compelled to be devilss sldkfjjjgggadvocate


    COLD here COLD!

    Yah, today I got to go in to work at noon, took off at 11:20. DUMBASS ATTACK on my part. The sea of Red –
    like 70,000 husker fans, all bundled up and waddling around downtown and yes, I too faced a traffic cop.

    I got there on time with minute to spare.

    This one must be getting a gooood prescription. You could tell he was, oh, what’s the word… like he was the star of a video in his head.

    Seriously, this book is FINE. I am all torn up – should I chat with ye august personages or go back to reading??? Everybody is asleep here and hence no interruption.

    You know, I think about this place (blog) fairly often and am walking around doing things – so much doesn’t make it to here! Sad.

    I am going back and read of you and George’s travails

    Every time I laugh the dogs and cats all look up as one, with this look of CONCERN.

  179. I am going to be up for a bit more, if that matters.

  180. That traffic situation with you and George. Hoo-boy. That would give me heart palpitations.

  181. One time I got paid $20.00 for a cartoon I drew – Death comes for yet another of Donna’s Chia Pets.

    One time I got applause from a bunch of Cubans cause I was having lunch in a restaurant in Miami and this goddamn pigeon was flying around inside, strutting about, probably wanted left-overs. I didn’t like it one bit. So: I caught it and took it out the door and threw it up. They left the door open, so I suppose it just came back in after I left.

    It’s neck was green and purple and irridescent like abalone shell. I will not forget it soon.

  182. Yes, Amanda — that was deliberate. Today I told George about another strand that I wove through all four Indiana Novels, beginning with SOLACE, and after I finished telling him I had a strange feeling of wickedness — I actually thought, “Why did I DO that?” I always think I’m doing those things as a gesture toward my readers, but maybe I’m entertaining myself.

    No, the amount of time those four novels cover in my own life cannot be considered an entertaining amount. Do you see what I mean? Entertaining is an hour, two at the maximum. Not seven years and more hours than I could begin to measure. I did it for some other reason now unreachable. I’m doing it right this moment, I’ll bet, and I don’t realize it.

  183. Timing is everything. Had I about a hundred pairs of red cveralls this morning, I would be rich tonight.


  184. George and I didn’t even glance at the traffic situation. We just went right on chatting, and thus ended up with demerits from Mr. Squatty And His Palm of Confusion.

    MATT! Your pigeon story is SUBLIME! You always tell the most sublime stories in the world, I bow to you, as ever. GAWD, man. You know what — I’d put money on this — there’s someone else walking around in Nebraska with a deficit. He’s in his long johns, watching television and smoking an old pipe, thinking, “Didn’t I have four, five really good stories? Where’d they go?” Matt took them. He also took six from your next door neighbor, and one from your hound dog.

  185. It’s never, in truth, a good time to have 100 pairs of red coveralls.

  186. Speaking of the scenery around Hazel’s house, Haven, The Police/City Council here have decided there will be NO MORE indoor furniture outdoors. They are serious. They are giving out hundred dollar tickets for violations.

  187. Well, it’s true. All those people in there were just trying to pretend that pigeon wasn’t in the restaurant. It could have been a bull elephant seal or an animated slinky or a two-headed snake. They just didn’t know what to do!

    What’s also strange about Miami is, you go to these fancy outdoor cafes, under those palm trees, and at night the palm trees are alive with rats! They should bring in barn owls – they will nest quietly in old buildings and so forth.

    Hey – did I tell you about what happened the other day? JEEBUS. Well, I found a bag of pot in my 10 yr. old daughter’s room. I was about to hit the cielding!

    Big baggee fulla buds! I imagine there was steam coming out my nostrils.

    I take it in to her and said : Just what the hell is this?

    She says, calm as can be: Owl pellets. They cough them up. Our class had a field trip to the nature center, and I picked them up under a tree.

    I inspected them closer. Sure enough, when you look really close, these were wads of rodent hair and bones! The exact same color and clumpage of weed.

    I had a laugh over that one.

  188. People don’t have stories it’s because they have the
    TV do it for them.

    Also, people used to have unique laughs. And lots of them had unusualer voices than now. And every state had a dialect.

    TV took care of that, too.

  189. I would like to see all those red coveralls dance
    around. Then I’d tell them to stand tall for the customers. Any that didn’t sell, I’d tell them to fold themselves the hell up, I want to go home.

  190. When Kat was in kindgergarten she liked to go on nature walks. At that time we lived in downtown Muncie, and she would put things in her Nature Bag like candy wrappers and fast food detritus. Less like nature than scenery, maybe.

  191. Owl Pellets. Lord Have Mercy.

    I bow to Haven and George, people whom traffic does not bother.

  192. Jarvis used to call every single field trip a “Nature Hunt.” Once he went on a “Nature Hunt” to Aunt Annie’s Pretzels.

  193. TV is so pervasive and threatening in our culture, I can barely get my mind around it. Truly, it’s another yo-yo dropper for me.

  194. Speaking of haunted – Haven, I am sitting on a vein of true crime that is inexaustible. But I feel like I daren’t exploit it – maybe I am silly superstitious, but is there some number of years must pass before a given crime can or should be presented for readers?
    It seems to me that reading True Crime is a ghoulish activity.

  195. One of the happiest days of my life was the day we A) canceled our cable and B) the TV in our bedroom died.

  196. Oooh! I love “Nature Hunt!

    When the kids were little, and I would pull them to Zesto in the wagon for ice cream we used to pick up all kinds of things. CIcada shells, rocks, feathers and such.

  197. I like the way Jarvis thinks. (Imagine how strange it is for me to type that. In some mental netherworld that’s still my last name.) I would like for Aunt Annie’s Nature Pretzels to not always be in places I would rather be beaten with a hairbrush than visit. I never see them just working away IN MY STUDY, for instance.

  198. ZESTO!!! The ZESTO??

    Cicada shells are a personal favorite of mine. We like to pick things up too, and we also pick up trash.

  199. Would you like an Aunt Annie’s Fisher Price Pretzel Maker?

  200. Kate: is that REAL?!?!

    call for advice: i have two cats. dave wants a bunny rabbit one day. is this a disaster of epic proportions waiting to happen?

  201. I have no idea. I just made it up right now.

  202. I am suspicioned by this pretzel talk. I get the reason it is a joke of some sort – probably envolving some hairless dog that makes poop in spiraled coils.

    You two know something I don’t. I am being set up.
    So: NO I don not want this Auntie Fischer’s Pretzel Maker!

  203. You’re asking a godless ghoul that question, Matt, because I love True Crime. I don’t know for certain how much time should pass, but my guess is if there are any immediate family members still alive you should mindful of that, and of them. Best to be mindful of them anyway.

  204. THE Zesto. What a place. I could swan dive into the stuff. Brrrr it’d be cold tho.

    There is a ginko tree growing on the lot that we always sat under to eat our cones. There were ants running up and down the trunk.

  205. True Crime…why do I love it? I like to make up reasons, like, it helps me check my motivations or it sharpens my instincts but it’s probably closer to the fact that it’s SUCH a geek show.

  206. There is a PRETZEL MAKER? Do you call yours JOHN, by any chance?

    Amanda, a rabbit like, in the house sort of critter?

  207. I will now!

  208. Tonight we watched Bride of Frankenstein – I had DVR’d it a week ago. What a movie. Elsa Lanchester is hot!

    Oh no. I left a can of pop out in the truck. I’ll just bet it is all frozen and swollen. If it bursts, that’ll be bad.

    I better go check.

  209. Well. I think he was afraid an outdoor rabbit would get injured someway, but I argued that we could build a fence to solve that problem. Also, we might not have to cut the grass!

    (actually, i love cutting grass. it is my favorite chore of all chores.)

  210. Rabbits will burrow under a fence. I would build a rabbit hutch with a rat-screen bottom. Use as much metal and as little wood as you can. Also a hutch is good as other animals might come into your yard and attack them.

    For supervised play outside the pen, a simple circular wire-mesh circle will work.

    Rabbits are fairly easy to house-break, you just put their turds in a pie plate and take them to it a few times and they get the idea.

  211. Matt, what, they get the idea that they produce PIE?

  212. Matt, you are awesome.

    How do you know your rabbit is getting enough ROOM? Cages make me nervous. How big should the playpen be?

  213. I had many outdoor rabbits, and tragedy always befell them. It was that sort of place. But I could never have an indoor rabbit as a pet, because

    a) I must have very large and/or somewhat dangerous dogs around me at all times, and
    b) I couldn’t picture the rabbit-as-a-pet scenario. Imagination is the key.

  214. I shall see you all in the morning. Perhaps early afternoon. Sleep well, everyone.

  215. I had a couple of pet rabbits, and it always felt…wrong to me. I hate seeing rabbits in a hutch. They are very sweet, and fun, but they don’t seem tame enough to really live in a household.

  216. Goodnight, H.

  217. right. we are afraid the indoor rabbit and indoor cats would be… problematic. since we do live in RALEIGH the outdoor thing might work? he has weird taste in pets, really. if he had a dog he would pick… BASSET HOUND. this does not appeal to me, but i am ok with that.

  218. Baa haaa ha hahaha;dkf

    Rabbit. Pie. Funny.

    Listen, I would just google “Pet Rabbit” or “Rabbit pen” or something like that, and you will have all kinds of sites that will tell you what you need to know.

    I would trust dog around a rabbit before I would trust a cat, though.

  219. the laptop is dying. i suppose i will try counting sheep after this. what do all you insomniacs do to encourage sleep?

  220. I go read and sleep some more. Goodnight!

  221. I know this helps sleep:

    I act like I am snoring. It makes my body thinks it is sleeping and it goes to sleep. Sounds odd, but it works!

    I knew a lady who would snip off clover tops and dry them out and make tea with them for insomnia.

    Soak your feet in a baisin of hot water for while before you lie down.

    Pheasant dreams!

  222. Good morning everyone. I have been thinking about Haven’s question of what does it mean to be haunted for several hours now. I realized I had been too focused on hauntings by outside forces, like spirits, but now I don’t think that is what the hauntings in Used World are about. Perhaps there is in the one instance when Hazel has the vision about Black Jack and Marguerite Henrietta Post. That haunting was of the earthbound spirit with unfinished business variety. Maybe it was Marguerite or maybe it was the baby. I am not sure. But that was one of asking for Hazel’s help in telling their story. Or finishing the story. Again, not completely sure.

    But, the real hauntings in Used World happened to the women due to regret, disappointment, lost love, lost hopes and even hauntings of the future, such as Claudia wondering if she would ever again feel the way she did with Rebekah in her home or Rebekah’s vision of what it should be like with Peter.

    I think Hazel did not want to go into the store alone at night not because she was afraid of ghosts or spirits, but because of the memories of the past flooding over her. Being all alone with all those objects in the dark could bring forth her worst demons of regret and what ifs.

    I woke straight up this morning thinking about this. I must have sat up too fast because all of a sudden I was overcome with dizziness, I got a really sick and queasy feeling. I can’t remember the last time that happened. But then I realized that I have let myself be a prisoner in my own home. I can hardly bear to come into this house any more. I coped for so many years using alcohol but now I am just lost. I visit with you all or I go into the bedroom to hide – to read and to sleep. All morning I have just had this sick feeling that I have to get out of here, that this house, this situation is killing me slowly. My kids are with their dad this weekend. Cooking for them, doing things for them is a good distraction for me. But why I am allowing myself to just go from one distraction to another? It is like I am frozen. Maybe Claudia was like that a little bit too until the baby and Rebekah. She went years without putting up Christmas decorations. I know that feeling.

    Maybe I am totally off track or just blinded by my own fears and regrets. I just have such an over powering sense of sadness inside me right now.

  223. Oh, and I must agree with Matt and Haven about t.v. I hate television. Like Kate, I was so glad when the t.v. in our bedroom died. But the t.v. in our living room, the only gathering room we really have in this tiny house, is like a shrine. Everything (except my little desk) faces it. It is in a cabinet, the largest piece of furniture in the room)and just hearing the sound of the cabinet doors opening makes me feel ill. By the time I get home at night my husband is sitting in his chair with the t.v. on. And it stays on THE ENTIRE NIGHT until he goes to bed. I don’t have wireless for my computer so I sit here several feel away from it plotting it’s demise. I have actually thought of things I would like to do to it to kill it and not be caught. Like somehow taking one little wire out of it or snipping off a piece of the cord that could not be seen. If this is not insanity I don’t know what is. I am 48 years old people. I should not have to feel this way in my own home. What the hell is wrong with me? When my husband used to get on me about drinking I told him that his addiction to t.v. was no different. It was an addiction just like alcoholism. And I still believe that. I have been sober for close to 7 months now and every day it becomes more and more clear to me. I’m sorry, I realize this blog is not a therapy session but somehow I know you all understand.

  224. I met Haven!!!! Evidence on the Yahoo auxiliary website…more to come, my computer is bleeding battery power…let me rummage amid my luggage, golf balls, coffee cups and balls of socks to find the power cord.

  225. I thought I said this last night, but realized that I did not: Steph, Linda, Amy, AmyInOhio, Brenda, Kate, ALL OF YOU. THANK YOU for your kind words, your thoughts and prayers. It means more than you know and I am so grateful.

  226. Linda,

    Your comments just broke my heart. I have felt that way in the past about being trapped in my own home and I am so sorry for you. And the same thing about the tv is true of my parents… my dad is sucked into it every evening and does nothing else. It is sad and also ANNOYING AS HELL.

    Maybe you can be like Dalonda….instead of getting up off the couch you could get up out of the house. Is there a coffee shop you could go to or a pottery class you could take? (Pottery being, of course, a fantasy of mine… feel free to substitute your own.)

    Keep us posted please. I hope you find your escape.

  227. I used to hide in my bedroom, too, Linda. And I know what you mean about feeling trapped in your house.

    For me, it helps to go outside. Anywhere, just breathe fresh air and look at things made by God. Because I think you’re right on the money about being haunted by one’s own life. For me, those ghosts dissolve in fresh air and light.

    I hope it might help you, too.

  228. The phone rang in my back pocket as I was standing on the 16th green, a golf tee in my mouth, lining up a putt that I was certain to miss anyway.



    “This is John. Do you still want to get together with Haven?”

    We set up meeting coordinates and approximate times of arrival.

    I go back to my putt, a scary downhill eight-footer, a character-builder, tap it too soft and you have to face the fear all over again, touch it too hard, and you are off the green and have to come up with a new plan.

    The ball rolled…

    Dead solid. Perfect.


    A couple of hours later outside the very cool Regulator Book Store in Durham, N.C., a black Subaru pulls up, parks in front of the fire hydrant, Haven!

    I was like those people who camp outside the Target Store on Black Friday and wait hours anticipating the big sale. That was me in front of the book store. Me..late for everything…not this time, waaaaay early. I was there so long, passersby were giving me spare change, telling me about God’s plan for salvation and giving me directions to the nearest homeless shelter.

    Out of the Subaru, she walks across the street, tall, Ray-Ban shades, jeans, a gauzy shirt for the warm November Saturday, damp, wavy hair, Haven Kimmel!

    * * *

    She speaks softly, but her voice carries far with ideas, joys, sorrows, theories of lit, facts of publishing, Indiana, Obama, our kids, loves, this blog, hates, dogs, traffic, we open up about 17 topic files at once.

    She speaks softly, gently even, but there is ferocity in her soul and her intellect. There is fire in this woman’s eyes.

    * * *

    Number ONE thing I learn after meeting Haven:

    1. I totally misread Iodine. And Haven, despite my pleading in my most sincere, down-home Indiana drawl voice, would not give me the keys to that kingdom. She did, however, talk about some threads running through her Indiana novels.

    * * *

    Second Number ONE thing I learn after meeting Haven:

    1. She types 900 WPM without looking at her fingers.

    * * *

    Scene: Outside Haven’s barn; two big mastiffs standing guard, pile of bones and two skulls near dog bowls.

    She and John show me her taxidermy…coyote, her animus, the black wolf, badger, 175 year old baboon, fox, weasel, chipmunk.

    These critters are still and animated, their spirits hovering near them, whispering, giggling, growling, awaiting orders or mere suggestions from their lady, willing to strike, ready to serve. I think of them as words in waiting.

    There’s a wall display of tiny, tiny things…farm animals in glass. Within her reach, gifts from those of us on this blog — a soft scarf, photos, art.

    * * *

    Dark and time to leave.

    A hug for John who created this sanctum for Haven. Smell of pine and oak. Baby Gus crying for dinner over the monitor.

    Hug for Haven.

    We’re friends.

  229. George NO!!! If you misread Iodine then that means I did too…. Help! What do we do now???

  230. George, what a beautiful day! Thanks for sharing it with us all.

  231. I’m little baffled why the shower scene would lead anyone to the belief that Claudia may be a hermaphrodite?

    Claudia is just beginning to come to terms with who she is and standing there completely naked, for the first time, in from of not only an adult but one who she adores saying, this is me, her am I am scares and all, accept me or not. It’s a defining moment for Claudia and a confusing one for Rebekah, she still doesn’t understand the look on Claudia’s face.

    And just because one has masculine attributes does not make one a hermaphrodite. Actually, I think that’s a very heterosexist comment, but that’s just me.

  232. Gawd, I need to proof read. should read,”…here i am, scars and all, accept me or not.”

    Bravo George! I’m jealous.

  233. Haven – Taxidermy? Hmmm … interesting. Still surrounding yourself with scary animals … thank god there are no stuffed rats in there, right?

  234. Scares actually may be the better word, there.

  235. It is kinda difficult to really really describe Haven and our meet-up. She’s just a damn good person who happens to be fiend of a writer because she has a voracious mind. But the real deal is she is kind. There, that about gets it. Lovely, too.She’s a presence and very present.

  236. Linda, I hope you will find peace.

  237. Well, about Iodine, Haven said some things are ambiguous. I can live with that. We create our own explanations anyway, don’t we?

  238. Leave it to me to leave a heterosexist comment. It is just that to me Claudia combines elements of the feminine and the masculine and the description of her body seems to also. Now I feel dumb and “heterosexist”.

  239. Dorian, the very last thing you are is dumb.

  240. Don’t feel dumb. It’s the nature of the world we live in. Heterosexuals tend to not have any concept at all of heterosexism. Living in a homosexual world one sees it constant, everyday, basis.

    I was talking with a friend this morning about something similar. Most people have no concept of all the death that surrounds alcohol and addiction. We see it everyday, we live in that world so we know. The numbers are astounding, but most people are oblivious to the notion that someone, not so many degrees removed has died and it’s the result of alcohol or addiction. We were talking about it, because a guy we called Mumble Bob blew his head off last Sunday. He reach a point where dying seemed better than living.

    The same type of thing happens in the GLBT world. People, all the time, reach the point where dying looks better than living because, they can’t find a place in the heterosexual world, and there is no one there to show them how to live.

  241. POS…that is something that just tears me apart, and makes me very ashamed of people who share my faith. It is not right that any human being should feel that way, especially a person whose only “crime” is how their heart is built. It matters not why it is built that way. What matters is that it is.

  242. POS, that makes me so sad. i hope we can someday live in a world where everyone can find his/her place and be comfortable. Obama is a start for sure…

  243. POS, thanks for that post. It really distills for me the experience of the GLBT community. I’ll never forget hearing my husband describe his 19-year old daughter: “I believe that Lynn is gay, I’m just not sure that she knows it yet.” He had no earthly idea how to help her understand and accept herself. It took five more years for her to come out to her family, and that was after a failed marriage. I grieve that any part of her life was lost to trying to be someone she was not.

  244. Hey all –
    Though I’m new to the blog, my thoughts are with you, Amanda and Linda.
    I was enduring my own private episode of Dirty Jobs this morning: Scrubbing the Calf Nursery, and I was thinking about Haven’s question about ever knowing the true nature of God, thinking about it in the context of TUW. I remembered what I had read a bunch of years ago about the Kabbalist Tree of Life which gave me a really new perspective on that question. I thought I’d share it and see what you think.

    The kabbalists believe in ten qualities of God, some of which are paired, so you end up with seven. I was thinking how these natures of God are revealed in TUW and that focusing on only one of them both limits God and the people who focus on only one.

    They are sovereignty – the very frightening Governence takes this one way too far, foundation – I see this in the stability and comfort of the home created by Ludie, majesty paired with victory – Hazel’s childhood home had the majesty but not the victory (or the victory over illegal abortions was hidden and when it was revealed it threatened Albert’s sense of majesty), beauty – the physical beauty of Rebekkah and Claudia and the natural beauty of the owl scene, strength paired with mercy – Vernon and Albert cannot strike this balance but Claudia can, wisdom paired with knowledge – Hazel and Caroline and Amos, and the crown – sorry, I am not even sure what that one means.

    I think we look for God’s revealed nature and see it most obviously in beauty, especially natural beauty, and we feel it in the strength of a blizzard or owl landing on our head, but then some of it is revealed through us, through Claudia’s mercy and Hazel’s wisdom and a comforting family meal(Claudia, Millie, Rebekkah, and Oliver}, but also in strength, like when Claudia makes Vernon back down, and power, like when she lifts Rebekkah into the car.

    I also read that kabbalists think of God’s nature being like a very intense light that goes through a prism and reveals itself in this spectrum of created phenomena, including us at our best.

    Question: The bird thread is in all the books – the owl in TUW, the vultures in SRBAS, what was it in The Solace of Leaving Early? I haven’t read Iodine yet.

    Also, some encouraging news from the hinterland: I watched a high school production of To Kill a Mockingbird last night at a school with a graduating class of about 20. It was really moving and made me feel good about young people and rural America. (This was a needed antidote to my also bemoaning the impact of television on culture.)

  245. Hi friends. I am sorry that I gave myself a pity party this morning. Well, not really sorry as that was how I felt at the time. But, later at church I heard Sher’s voice in my head (seriously, I did, in a good way- she said she is a mentor and boy is she ever) saying, well, do something about it already!! I laughed out loud when she said in another post that I did not need a porch to have a porch swing. Just hang one from the ceiling. After church I was driving my daughter back to her dad’s house (she was at church to play Amazing Grace in a lukealei (oh gosh, how do you spell that? ha ha) band. It was so funny. Anyway, I digress. I told her I just felt so overwhelmed in the house. She said, “I know. There is just so much to do, too much to do to even know where to start. So, you just don’t want to do anything.” And then she said, “I know how you feel because that is how I feel about all these college applications and essays. I know I just need to do them but it is too much to think about starting.” So, I just need to start. I know that.

    Oh, Amanda, I said a prayer for you in church today too.

  246. I went to a class at church today in which we watched a video in a series called Living the Questions. This one was called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. Sister Helen, who wrote Dead Man Walking, was one of the people interviewed. I wrote a few quotes down but not who to attribute them too (sorry)– but they all struck me.

    “People who stand for justice will die for injustice.”

    “NOTHING you can DO or BE can separate you from the love of God.”

    “People are worth more than the worst act of their lives.” This one was said by Sister Helen as she was describing her experiences with death row inmates.

    But two quotes actually made me think of Vernon:

    “Violence distorts and destroys life.” and
    “Peace comes because we forgive each other and are reconciled.”

    So much of what Vernon was about spoke to violence as revenge, hatred and exclusion, not loving people for who they are, not what you think they should be.

  247. George – the newest photos are awesome. Now I can really understand what Haven is doing when she does beauty shop. 🙂 And the two of you look like kindred spirits.

  248. I just read my third to the last comment above and I mentioned my daughter’s “lukelai” band. duh. How about YUKelali. OK, I still can’t spell it but at least i know it starts with a Y and not an L. Does anyone have a dictionary handy? I don’t and I sorely need one. Stocking stuffer idea.

  249. Sometimes something is right in front of your face and you don’t see it. Hazel and the encounter with the owl when she was a girl: the owl is associated with the Goddess Athena. The definition I found online says about Athena, “In poetry she is the incarnation of Wisdom, Reason and Purity.” And right there Haven writes on page 24 “…under Hazel’s hair, would be the two scars, tracks left like art on the wall of a cave. That primitive, that familiar.” Nice play on words with “that familiar” since the familiar for Athena is the owl. Clever girl, our Haven. Leaving obvious clues and me missing them on the first read.

  250. How do I get to George’s pictures?

  251. Maureen- we have a yahoo group. (I know, we just can’t get enough of each other) Will someone please post the link for Maureen?

    Kate? Dee? George?


  253. I am always lost looking for the yahoo group . . . I’m no help, I get there, but don’t know how I did it . . . then can’t get back in . . .

    Linda –

    it is true that the first step is the most difficult. You have more power in your life than you might think right now.

    You have overcome a mountain. Celebrate that as you climb higher. I know we discussed this briefly at lunch last week, but really take your time with changes.

    For instance, just cleaning out a drawer can send out the message to the universe that you are OPEN . . . it sounds silly, but controlling the chaotic parts of your life ARE the first steps in creating a sanctuary.

    Your computer probably has a headphone jack, use it even if you get a cheap pair from BIG LOTS . . . even nature sounds in your ears can create harmony and peace. aol and yahoo all have radio stations you can listen to while you are online . . .

    And I am totally serious about the porch swing – swinging/swaying is medically proven to calm the brain and mind. It is why mothers naturally make that motion when they are holding an infant.

    Strike a deal in the house – he needs cable, you need DSL and a wireless router. Also, make your computer area a shrine by hanging some pretty scarves or noren around you – create a corral of spirit, block that view of the TV!

    Also, I say this gently, don’t project your discontent onto objects and people. You are experiencing catharsys and while, in the end, you might be so different that you have to shed remnants from your past, re-assessment takes time and patience.

    Read – THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, by Zora Neal Hurston. Then read, SERAPH ON THE SUWANEE (Hurston as well).

    You are your own anchor. When you believe that – then you have conquerored. I say this because in my worst experiences (and they are unspeakable and could have left me in a vegetative catatonic state or insane in an asylum) I always maintained a teeny, tiny, microscopic piece of my soul as a sanctuary.


    sanctuary can be inside as well as outside.

    I believe I gave you my cell number. Call me if you need to.

  254. Thanks for the link, Sock. And thanks everyone for the warm welcome. This is my first blogging experience. It’s a bit addictive, no?

  255. Sher…wow!

    George, I love the photos. You guys look so hysterically happy to be hanging out! Someday, all three of us, coffee, in Evansville or Heaven!

  256. Maureen – this blog is SO addictive . . . I really have to fight my urges to log on . . . nighttime is best for me because then I don’t feel I am taking time away from the family . . .

    connecting with these great spirits has been one of the my top highlights for 2008!

  257. oh! we can also have a meetup at the HAVEN club in downtown raleigh.

  258. Here is one of the highlights of the George/Haven Durham Summit 2008: we came up with this phrase. How do you know when you’ve done something well? You receive:

    I Am God, And I Approve This Message

  259. Ha!

  260. Kate, we felt quite clever, I’ll admit.

    And slam-dunk for Sock Monkey. If someone had said to me, on the night I first met you TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO, that you would turn out to be one of the best readers I’ve ever met, I would have said, “Not until he admits that he doesn’t belong in the world he came from, he won’t.” I was a monstrous teenager, as I’ve confessed before.

  261. Linda, please turn to the other women in this community for wisdom, because I belong to the My Friend Katherine school of marriage. Her brother came to live with her and her husband for a short time, and her brother and husband took up watching football together. This was in a home where television had never, ever existed at all. It was unthinkable. Katherine tolerated it for a few days, and then announced that if she walked in her living room and the television was on — one more time — she was putting a hammer through it. That’s precisely the way I move through the world. I call it making my needs known, which is a euphemism rather than an actual description. I even give my loved ones an extra chance, as Katherine did, before the hammer falls.

    WISELY, her husband and brother took the television to the free-for-anyone-who-wants-it-barn at the county dump. An act of good will all around.

  262. I’m thrilled to discover I have my own lounge in Raleigh.

  263. I just needed a nudge in the right direction

  264. Haven and all –
    Does everyone go through the monstrous teenager phase ? I hope so because my 15-year-old boy is about intolerable right now. I remember being pretty awful then too. I just hope he’ll come out sane and kind at some point. He is my oldest so we just keep our fingers crossed and hope we are doing most things right.

  265. Finally getting to comment on the book and all these comments.

    Maureen, yes, they do. Ours will be 15 in Jan. It’s pretty much hell right now although better than a half year ago. We hope he is coming out the other side.

    Sending healing hugs {{{Amanda}}} to Amanda.

    Really have enjoyed your comments Maureen, very interesting.

    I loved the bathroom scene with Claudia. It reminded me of the scene in Witness where the Kelly McGillis character allows herself to stand exposed in front of the Harrison Ford character. So much is said, and so much intimacy is experienced, with no words.

    I also took the bathroom scene as implying Claudia was intersexed. We’re actually all intersexed if you look at genders as being on a continuum (which is what they really are: Not all black or all white.) Some are further on the female end and some on the male (much of which is socially and culturally prescribed,) but we’re all on the same continuum. In the bathroom scene, I pictured Rebekah as having only seen Claudia as a woman up til then, and then seeing her nude, she suddenly realized how gender-neutral Claudia really was. I thought it was a lovely moment of gender-transcendence.

    Loved the crossovers from things in Haven’s life, or lives of those she loves – Owen Meany, eczema, the name Finnimore. Also loved the church scene where Rebekah is opened to the ways of a true loving church, which she has never been exposed to before, despite the constant infusion of religion in her life.

  266. Hi Polly –
    Thanks for the encouragement and solidarity in teen-rearing. I also re-read that shower scene a few times, wondering what was implied, finally decided that the anatomy was unimportant and probably ambiguous on purpose – the point was seeing a very stunning Claudia. Yeah – very like that scene in Witness!
    Speaking of Witness, has anyone else seen this wonderful 1970s film called “Hazels’ People”? One of my favs. A “hippie” goes to Mennonite country when his Mennonite friend at college is killed in a pacifist stand-off with police and he returns for the funeral. He ends up staying and learning about the Mennonites. I highly recommend it. Lots about authentic versus inauthentic Christianity. It’s hard to find, but I am sure Netflix has it.

  267. That sounds great, Maureen, I’ll look on NetFlix.

    I thought our adolescent was hell on wheels until I started working in a drug and alcohol treatment center last month, and now I see him completely differently. He’s doing his job by rebelling and pushing boundaries, and it’s our job to role-model appropriate behavior and set boundaries by telling him consequences if he does certain things, while always letting him know we love him and will love him no matter what. I’m glad I have my new job to show me how completely normal and healthy he really is, and I am incredibly thankful for him and his friends now that I see what a lot of other adols are going through. All of his friends love sleepovers at our house because we live on 3.5 acres, and have a trampoline and a river, and make them go outside and play instead of rotting their brains on video games all day. We also do fun things together like make our own pizzas and sundaes when they visit, and eat all of our meals together at the dining room table, and we always have lots of good snacks for them. It’s amazing how important the little things are to kids, even kids who are now over six feet tall. Even though we make them go to bed early and limit TV time, ours is the fun house to go to and everybody likes coming here instead of to other houses where the parents have no boundaries or control over their kids. I think it’s because we do the work of tending to them instead of expecting our electronic boxes, as I call them, to do it for us.

    Anyway sorry everyone for hijacking the conversation – I love to taslk about family and kids. Maureen, feel free to email me if you ever want to talk teens. I’m sure we could support each other.

    Now I have to go try to find that yahoo thread – pix of Haven and George are too good too miss!

  268. I finally got a wordpress log in…but I think I liked it better the other way. Sigh.

    Also about the owl–owls are also a familiar for the goddess Hecate. Usually, this goddess is seen as bad…but if you ask me or my sister, she’s really just bad-ass. 🙂 She is the goddess of crossroads, both literally and metaphorically, so the fact that the owl left “tracks” on Hazel’s head…seems to me to be an even bigger indicator of Hazel’s being touched by God.

    Hmm. Someone earlier said Hazel personified God, and I tend to agree with whomever said Hazel was more like a prophet (hence the touched by a goddess thing I said earlier.). It’s also cool because I think this is a book about the power of women, so the goddess connection, whether you go Athena or Hecate, is a big deal.

    You people are brilliant. I enjoy reading what your right. And I, too, feel defeated by the yahoo site. Grr.

    Hey, Haven, I won’t speak for the rest of the bloggers…but you think we could talk you and John into giving up some more of his music? 🙂

  269. I am going to play off my typo as a Freudian slip.

    “reading what your right” should have been “reading what you write.” Gracious.

  270. Love the pix of George, the pix of Haven and her stuffed muses, and George in your Goodwill jacket. These are great! Haven, that closeup picture of you by Aug under Haven’s Pics is truly gorgeous! Sher, Particles and Kate, and others, it’s great to see you.

  271. I am trying to accept that typos are a part of blogging . . . I true to remember that we are all human and that you shirley don’t think i cain’t tipe for shhhheeeeeeeettttttttt.

    Lightning Bug – I am so in tune with your goddess connections. I, too, believe this was an empowering novel for women. Note that the knight doesn’t come riding in (male), in armour, on a white horse.

    As in life, our real heroes/heroines are as individual as we are. And, more important, are usually found within than without.

  272. It’s tragic that I can edit your comments and you can’t. I’m sorry about that and I never do it, in part because it makes me feel like The Great and Powerful Oz, which is absurdity.

  273. ha – now ya’all get to see my 80’s bi-level!!!

  274. I’ll try to figure out how to put more John music up. In the meantime I’ve added a link to his website, where you can see his pottery. It’s over there to the . . . left. Or right, depending.

  275. Maureen –

    I think Polly is right on target with the parenting of teens thing.

    I have a 16 year-old son, Dylan (who is really more of Alex P. Keaton) and a 14 year-old (going on 22) daughter, Lauren, plus our oopsey-daisy baby Claire, who just turned 6.

    My motto goes:

    1. I accepted this parenting job when I had them.
    2. I didn’t get a manual at the hospital but I will do my best and find help when I need it.
    3. They need to see that I am human with emotions, too
    4. I am there to guide, not dictate except for extreme issues, because we learn most from doing and thinking, than from being preached at.
    5. Laughs are worth everything – when in doubt TICKLE – it works I swear
    6. Having fun with your kids doesn’t mean you are a softee, but it doesn’t mean you are their best friend (which shouldn’t happen until they are grown or unless you grew up with them as I have seen many adult children of teen mothers have an amazing bond)
    7. your relationship with your spouse must be maintained until they are the ones damaging your child, i.e., be a united front

    anyway, I am not real girley-girley, so I have to make more of an effort to connect with my daughter, I will listen to her after school for hours (while my ears are bleeding) because I think it is time well spent, that I am banking time for when she really needs to be heard and so she knows my ear is available.

    kids always give their worst crap to their parents. It is the law of life. Because we can be trusted to not hurt them back (we hope). When I kid gets home from school where they have had to suppress every original thought and every physical twitch, it is natural that they need a time to deflect, reflect, and let it all out. You are the conduit – don’t ever be the accelerant.

    may not make sense, but even if you read the lyrics to your kids’ favorite bands – really read the words that they scream out in the night, it will give you a little “in” and you can drop a word here and there and they will look at you in wonder and you might have a great discussion about something neither of you have ever conceived of before.

    Odds are – we are who we are when we are 7 – remember that kid your child was at that point and trust that they will find their way back to that – and use those things as prompters….like remember when you wanted to be a naturalist? what do you want to be now, what changed your mind? or my favorite is to come upon my son and start screaming “Go, Go, PowerRangers, Mighty Morphin PowerRangers”, and with Lauren I sing “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family . . .” – it is a hoot and it takes them back whether they will admit it or not!

  276. Sher, I am glad I’m not the only one with typos. 🙂 And despite my Catholicism, I feel me some goddess connections too. I…do all the saving I can (yes, wonderful people, I know my parents aren’t MY fire…but still..) but unfortunately, there is part of me that is waiting for someone to come save ME. It’s definitely better to figure out how to save myself, but that desire is still there all the same. Sigh. One step at a time, right?

    I have already been to the John Svara pottery site, and. Dear. Holy. God. His work is unbelieveable. Simply magnificent.

    and I am all about Haven being the Great and Powerful Oz.

    **We can’t all come and go by bubble.** Love me some Wicked…

  277. Haven’s first question is especially apt to me right now as I find myself praying (if a quick one sentence plea can be classified as a prayer) to a God…(God, Goddess) I don’t believe in. I wish I could, but I can’t…it’s like I want to believe in aliens, too, but can’t quite find the conviction. I find it fatuous, BUT if you don’t believe in God, then what can you do? It’s most frustrating. I feel like we have no ability to effect the lives of those we love. (or do I mean affect? I never could keep them straght) I HATE that. I feel like this is the most basic human quandry…that what we want has no bearing on what really happens. Events will happen how they will happen no matter what we want or no matter how hard we could wish it otherwise…so if it doesn’t matter what we want, we should just cultivate acceptance like some Asian Bhuddist thing?
    Sorry, Blog Babies, I am upset tonight.
    Dear Haven, any wisdom from the seminary education? (Aside from that in your books which I love. I have purposefully not read them at this time in hospital waiting rooms so as not to associate them with negative happenings…can you not believe in God and STILL be superstitious? or is that the definition of not believeing in God?

  278. Remember…someone could be a Very Good Woman but a Very Bad Wizard. It’s lonely at the top.

  279. Sher, Sher, Sher! I thought of you yesterday! I took a trip to the outlet malls and spent half the day in the Borders store where there was an ehh, okay selection but much to my TOTAL DELIGHT there were copies of Possible Side Effects and Couch. I think I peed a little in my pants I was so excited. Thus, I have extra copies to hand out to friends.
    Ps. You are all so lovely in your words. Sunday nights are always so blah for me as the weekend is over and just reading your words has improved my mood so much.
    HK-walk away. STEP AWAY FROM INDIANA, HAVEN.This made my heart warm towards you even more than before. With our house for sale and an impending move back to Indiana I have such conflicting feelings and just reading that sentence made me feel understood with all of my crazy thoughts and anxieties. Thank you for the 559th time.

  280. I hate to have the tv on. It sucks all the air out of the room. Once, I was on the phone at work. Idly, I started wagging my pencil in front of the tv screen, which I used to keep on CNN constantly. As I watched the pencil move up and down, it was like stroboscopic images. It occurred to me then and there that watching television is like jamming your brain with millions of individual pictures a minute. You brain has to sort that crap out and generate coherence and narrative.

    What I like is classical or some sort of jazz turned on at nearly it’s lowest level. Once in a while, I will catch a phrase, or a measure of music. It’s then when I feel like I got something. Not when I am barraged.

  281. I’m going to say an early thanks for the teen tips. Hopefully I’ll remember them in 14 or 15 years from now. 🙂

  282. Brenda – I have been in that barren desert before. I had a time when I was pounding on the doors of religion screaming “where are you” . . . no answer

    I think part of knowing what you believe is figuring out what you don’t believe.

    I do believe in (I think the current term is the Law of Attraction). I don’t know an exact religion, but I have experienced that you get what you give. Tenfold sometimes.

    I don’t understand everything. I absolutely do NOT believe that ‘god’ has his eyes on the sparrow. Because then hell where was he when I was 7 and I shouldn’t I be half as important as a sparrow?

    I hope, at least, you can believe that here in HavenLand you have many people who are thinking of you/prayering for you in their own ways/and that you find some comfort in that thought.

  283. Polly K–We rhyme! I am a Molly. 🙂

    RE: bathroom scene p.182-183

    I agree with you 800% about the intimacy of the bathroom scene. I think in the heat of a sexual encounter, you can be caught up in the sensations and never take the time to actually know your partner’s body. For me, Claudia was being so brave to just stand there and not try to cover up. As for making Claudia gender-neutral, though, I disagree.

    The physical description of C, while spatially organized to begin with shoulders and move down to her feet, is very compelling and mysterious for me. Errrrm–I’d like to say I’m not trying to make this an X-rated post or be icky in any way, but Haven mentions everything except Claudia’s…stuff (sorry, I hate the real and slang words.). I wonder about the omission there, though honestly, unless it’s a romance novel or erotic story, I’m not sure what you could say…but clearly one’s stuff is an important part of one’s sexual identity. I think we are led to believe Claudia’s a virgin, so perhaps the exclusion of “stuff” description here is in reference to how that’s unknown? I wonder if I am making sense or just sounding nasty.

    Haven does mention however “…hip bones, their protective curve.” The English major in me ponders this very hard. At first I thought protective curve meant just the shape of her hips, how women are formed to support babies. But now I kinda wonder if the curve is what I would call the “pooch,” that flesh below your belly button…Either way, I think that that’s a very womanly description, not to mention how Rebekah spends a good amount of time considering Claudia’s bust.

    Oh, and it was POS who said Hazel was a prophet. 🙂

  284. Sock…I haven’t forgotten the article. I will get that for you.

    The main teen tip I have comes from the oldie-but-goldie song by the Animals, Squeeze Her, with a slight adaptation in the lyrics. Here you go:

    ..listen to me baby, when I talk to you
    When you´re in love love love
    And you know it´s true
    There’s nobody else will do
    Then you got to squeeze her
    Tease her
    You got to say yeah yeah yeah, I love you
    Sure enough I do

    Brenda: I think there are enough people in her who believe in God and the power of prayer who can get a few words in on your behalf.


  285. Brenda, I am so sorry you’re feeling so adrift. There are so many times where I say the same thing…where is God when I need Him most? Sometimes that “Footprints” thing is a comfort to me, but 99% of the time, I wanna yell, “Get your ass in gear, Lord! I wanna see sand flying from how quickly You’re working to resolve this problem!!!”

    I don’t know the answer, but I am seconding and thirding everyone on this blog who is thinking of you and praying for you and crossing our fingers. I’ll light a candle for you tonight too.

    And Amanda–chin up as well. In a crisis moment, sometimes the only thing you can do is endure. That’s what’s gotten me through October and now. Well, endurance and this blog. 🙂

  286. I’m here to report that I have a Seventeen yr old that’s never been a problem. I give her my trust, and a long leash, and she repays me with telling me everything she’s doing and not doing.

    One time, last year, I found out, after the fact, her friends where drinking in her large upstairs bedroom. She told me she kept them there because she feared they would just go drink in their cars and drive. I almost blew a gasket, but then decided it was better to tell her she did the right thing. It worked. It’s never happened again. She also knows my history and it’s, so far, kept her from drinking. She spent an entire summer without her friends, because they were smoking weed and she was angry with them.

    Hope for the best, Jim. 🙂

  287. Hey Molly! Any “olly” is okay with me!

    The lack of description of Claudia’s stuff was part of what made her gender-free or ambiguous for me. I really liked the way Haven didn’t focus on that in the scene, because we are so much more than our genitals, or genders, or anything about sex. That’s all just silly physical stuff that we hopefully transcend when we fall in love or connect with people in other, deeper ways. I wonder now, Haven, was this one of those places where NYC editors tried to make you add sex scenes? How that would’ve ruined it.

    Can you weigh in on this, Ms. H?

  288. Maureen- my son is 15 (will be 16 in Feb) and I am happy to say for the most part he is pretty darn cool. He does not come out of his room very often, but when he does I can usually coax a smile out of him. So, yes, there is hope.

    Sher- you are so wise and wonderful and I feel blessed to know you. Thank you.

    Haven- my sister has twins (who both graduated from college last year and no longer live at home – instant empty nest). When they were still living at home (and she has a wonderful home – an old stone farmhouse in Bucks County, PA. She even has chickens and she makes 40 different kinds of cheesecake. Yes she does)she would get frustrated if she was the only one doing anything around the house. She told me that “sometimes you just have to freak out on them. That is the only way to get their attention.” Your hammer through the t.v. story reminded me of that.

    And, George, you also hate t.v.? Is it possible for me to have a bigger crush on you than I already do? I think not.

  289. Seriously now, who here does not crush George? I mean, at least intellectually? I want to swoop him up and make him come live with me just so we can talk every day.

  290. Polly. That is a good point.

    And on that note, I have to hit the sack. I’ve got to get my butt in gear for class tomorrow. As is usual, I have not made ANY of my lesson plans for the week. At least I have Tuesday off.

    And if anyone here is military or has military loved ones as I do–thanks for serving, thanks for saving.

    Nighty night!

  291. …oh you girls, stop it! Big teasers…intellectual, I don’t think so. I just know my limits and try to not call attention to them.

  292. I am so glad to see bug’s cutie pie face and know that her name is Molly. And to know she is friends with Amanda in “real life” makes me smile too.

    Whew, glad to know I am not alone in the George crush area. But, if it makes any difference I also have a crush on Brandon. 😉 Speaking of, where are you Mr. B?

  293. I got a crush on everyone here in this blog.

  294. George, you have limits? I don’t believe you.

    Brenda- getting serious again (of course it is dangerous when I try to do that, non-intellectual that I am)…
    I believe God is everywhere. You and your husband are in God’s loving care every minute. It may not seem like it, sometimes it may seem the opposite. I don’t believe that God takes control of situations, even terrible ones like you had to endure, Sher, but God gives us the strength to endure, for good to overcome the bad in the end. Your strength is surely proof of that. I know that a lot of people can come up with big arguments against this faith I have -why do evil things happen? Why doesn’t God stop them? I don’t know. But with every measure of evil there is an equal ,if not greater, measure of good. I really believe that. Good grief, I am so not a theologian (is it that obvious?) but it has taken me years to get to a place where I can rest in God’s care. That is all I have. And all I know is that today I am sober and if that is not a miracle I don’t know what is.

  295. I want to share one other thing. This site I love:

    It has been helpful to me. I hope it is helpful to others. Peace.

  296. Me too, George. Me too.

  297. I came to this blog looking a haven, where I could find people with sass and imagination, love of words, willingness to be awed and to learn and to share. There’s a bunch of open hearts here. It makes me think that indeed there is something in the universe that draws us together to draw from one another. An epoch ago, it might have been a fire in front of a cave, now it is our computer screens, blue in the dark, souls between then and now virtually unchanged, saying their needs, getting them met.

  298. …that’s looking FOR a haven. Haven, too, for that matter.

  299. Well said, George. As usual.

    Oh oh – I just visited John’s pottery site too and I agree with Molly. OH MY GOD. Wow. How can there be so much artistic genius in one home without the roof blowing off? And, can there be a cuter little boy on this planet than baby Augusten? Well, and Kate’s boys. Ok, and Caryn’s Charlie. But, you know what I mean.

    I am such a goober sometimes. Thanks for putting up with me dear sweet people.

  300. When I first heard Haven’s name, I thought it must be her pen name, because Haven: a Name? When you think about the meaning of haven – an anchorage, a port, a safe place, a refuge, a sanctuary – isn’t it truly a beautiful name? Grace and Hope are lovely names, but Haven? I’m assuming it was Delonda’s brilliance that appointed her thus.

  301. Count me in for crushin’ on George. And his jacket. And the way he makes words dance.

  302. As if I was not blown away by John’s pottery, I just jumped over to the yahoo album and OH MY GOD… Mr. Sock- if Riley is not an angel on this earth I don’t know who would be. She is precious. And, you and Robbie and the pups are pretty adorable too. But, Riley? Priceless. Perfect.

    I am sure I can speak for Sher when I say we stand ready to be her Tennessee aunts.

  303. Good night, friends. School night / work night. Sweet dreams.

  304. Good night all, my grownup job requires me to sleep tonight. It sure was fun actually being caught up on the comments for a change. I expect they will be in the 500s by the time I get home tomorrow evening…

  305. remember Jim Carrey in Mask? That’s what the black jacket does for me. In real life, I get slapped around a lot, but with a black jacket on, “Watch out, dudes.”

    Jerri: I thought your scrapbook/recipe book was just about the nicest gift possible to a child. You are a champ in so many ways and everyone here on this blog knows it.

  306. Me, too. Kids.

  307. You are too kind, sir. Rest well. And let us know if you get caught out without the jacket and slapped around. Several folks here would (peacefully) come to your defense, big time.

    We might even push the boundaries of peaceful, come to think of it.

  308. Thank you, Linda, and thank you, too George (count me in as one more with a crush on you…especially after I saw the video you made for your boys….sigh. Thank you ALL (someday I want to actually see y’all…POS, AND SHER AND GIRLFROMTHEGHEETO AND AMANDA AND BRANDON AND ALL OF YA) for your support. I feel better, I called my lovely daughter who is my harbor in these times and she will be the intercessor with the surgeon for me tomorrow, as she is a medical professional and I have given her some control…a hard thing for me to do.
    And Haven…..big time synchronicity in that the woman in your antique mall was named Brenda, too. I got the shivers twice over!!

  309. big tip on teenagers – send them some funny youtube sights . . . enter their world with them

  310. When I was 13 I wrote a list in my journal of the do’s and don’ts for parents of teenagers. i threw away the rest of the journal, but kept that list. i will keep looking for it and post it here if it turns out to be worthwhile at all!!!

  311. I made the same kind of list, Amanda.

    My #1 DON’T was: “Do not say ‘Because I said so.'”

    My #1 DO was: Explain.

    There were hard rules to keep, but I have to say I stuck to the first and managed the second with decent regularity. Worked out pretty darn well.

  312. Pssssttt!:

  313. Sock-monkies!!!

    I should have shared this story months ago, but it seems particularly apt for me tonight.

    Dave and I had only been dating for a few months when and Incident occurred at my apartment complex.

    My neighbors were (are) two young kids… she can’t be 20 and neither can he. We had said hello to one another but had not had much interaction beyond that. One night I hear pounding on my door and find my young neighbor girl standing there. She immediately starts pushing her way into my apartment and I respond by pushing back until she looks at me, wild-eyed, and says “My boyfriend! He…!” which was all I needed to hear to grab her arm and jerk her inside. Locked the doors. Immediately called 911. She had been hit several times in the face. He had doused their apartment with oil and threatened to burn it down and kill their dog. I stayed on the phone with the police while she sat and shivered. I took pictures of her bruises. He came pounding on the door and yelling for her. It was a scary, scary night.

    Eventually the police came and arrested him. As soon as he was in the car I called Dave and got about 2 sentences out before he said “I’m coming over.”

    He held me and told me over and over and over how I did the right thing, and then he said he had brought me a present. He pulled a home-made sock monkey out of his bag. His mom had made it for him as a child and he wanted me to have it to “protect” me. 🙂 Or at least to remind me that he would do everything he could to protect me.

    Tonight I am sleeping with Mr. Socks in my arms.

  314. That is the best Sock Monkey story yet!

  315. That is the best Sock Monkey story yet!

  316. Ooh Polly, I should add some clarification: 1) yes, who doesn’t have a crush on George? and 2) I am beginning to see your point in re: to your rebuttal on the whole skipping Claudia’s stuff in a description thing.

    Also–I WISH I were friends with Amanda in real life. It is AMBER who is, as Jay from the Kevin Smith Jay and Silent Bob movies says, my “hetero-life partner.” Seriously, I’d be lost without her. But Linda, you’re sweet to call me a cutie pie. 🙂

    Re: the girlf-beater. Men like that will burn in a special place in hell. I know I should not be judgmental, but sometimes, I take a day off from caring about that.

    Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I would not come peacefully to George’s defense. I love the Quakers, God bless ’em, but the Irish in me loves a good fight. And nobody but nobody slaps George around. There would be some serious ass-kicking going on. GRR!!! (Wasn’t my growl fierce?!)

    And I am jealous of all you who will get to view the blog throughout the day. My school just updated its firewall/protective/blahblahblah and now all blogs are a no-no. Something to do with being used for dating. We have to keep the high/middle school students from accessing things they ought not access on school grounds. So think of me today while I slave away at descriptive writing with 11 year olds!! 🙂 Have a fabulous day! See you tonight. 😉

  317. Are you a teacher, Molly? Oh, I just love teachers.

    Speaking of teachers, my daughter just gave me a spelling lesson while rolling her eyes and saying “sound it out, Mom, geez.”


    As in: My daughter played Amazing Grace in a ukulele band in church yesterday.

    Thank goodness for smart children.

  318. Brenda, I’m not sure if your “tomorrow” is today or tomorrow, but I’m sending out happy healthy vibes to you both days just in case.

    Molly, your pretty face is a breath of fresh air.

    Riley is gorgeous, and one very lucky little girl too I reckon.

    Good suggestion with the youtube, Sher. Nothing helps bring us together with the kids like a good laugh. One day when our older son (14) said Shit at the dining room table, hubby Ken answered with Damn. Then I put my two cents in, followed by our twelve year old. We kept going around the table saying every swear word, dirty name for body parts and bodily functions and sexual euphanism we could think of until they were all used up. By that time we had gone through every obscenity in the book, plus made up a few wild ones up just for good measure, and we were all laughing until we were crying and falling off our chairs. Okay, maybe it wasn’t altogether socially appropriate, but we all just went with it and it was hilarious. Later both kids told us they were glad to have parents they could be silly with that way.

  319. Did anyone use ass-clown?

  320. Polly: Thanks! We feel we’re the lucky ones. And the story of your family going around saying all the swear words you can think of… Priceless!

    When my nephew was in little league, during one game the umpire made a bad call and my nephew went “What the f@&k!?!? The umpire asked “what did you say?” My nephew knew the second it came out of his mouth that he was in trouble and just replied (with his head down) “yeah, I know, I’m out of the game.” Zero tolerance policy. My brother had a talk with him and was very smart and rational (I think) with what he told him. He said that he knew that Matt Jr. was going to say it no matter what, but he shouldn’t use it around adults because they tend to freak out. He should just try to say it around his buddies.

  321. George you slay me!

  322. Sock, you just slayed with me with a dose of sweetness and goodness when I went over to the Yahoo site and looked at your family photos. Thanks so much for that. I won’t see anything more beautiful than that today.

  323. Linda:

    A couple of weeks ago I heard Amazing Grace sung to the tune of the House of the Rising Sun. Try it…rhythm and rhyme works perfectly. Hope you are having a good day.

    Gentle healing thoughts today go out to you, Brenda, Amanda…

  324. Riley is too, too sweet. I remember seeing her in Indy at Big Hat Books. I could not stop smiling!! My daughter was with the rest of the family at Chuck E Cheese and I just wished I had a baby to hold every time I looked at her.

  325. George…we used to sing Amazing Grace that way at Church Camp…also, to the tune of Gilligan’s Island!

    I hope this won’t ruin Dickinson for anyone, but nearly all of her poems can be sung to “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”

  326. Riley makes me want another baby. I don’t actually want to birth another one, but maybe I can find one to take like Claudia. 🙂

    The bubble pictures are amazing. Now, however, every time I show Shelby a picture, related to this group, she says, “Is that stuffed?”

  327. what is it about Amazing Grace rhyme structure that makes it so adaptive? I just came from the bathroom where I was humming it out to the tune of Gilligan’s Island.

  328. Jim,
    Your family is beautiful

  329. i just heard amazing grace sung in a church–at a funeral–the song is so moving. it gets me every time. every. single. time. and this version in particular was impeccable. a woman singing acapella with her voice resounding through out the church. AND, it’s a sunny day. a day of remembrance for me.

  330. The Blind Boys of Alabama do a cover of Amazing Grace to House of the Rising Sun, and it’s heart-stopping.


    A dear family friend is terminally ill, and last night I dreamed I’d gone to visit him. His house was on the water, and as I arrived a group of fishermen pulled a dead baby whale out of the lake. The house itself was large and had many (now nearly empty) rooms. There were just scraps of things left in corners and in closets. I walked in and looked around, and as I was about to walk upstairs, a wolf came up beside me. I didn’t look him in the eye, of course, but instead started climbing the stairs, and he stayed next to me for the rest of the dream, which was long and complicated. He was always there, and we never made eye contact.


    Claudia is 100% female, biologically and otherwise. Because sometimes the person who leads the tribe across the desert to safety is half-a-foot taller than the historical Jesus, and also a woman.


    I was given a very stern talking to by one Ms. Jodi, and so I have been resting. It feels odd to try to do so, but YOU try arguing with her.


  331. Had coffee at my mother’s this morning, where the television is rarely turned off. A woman with the longest legs in the world was to be interviewed. They showed her several times, wearing a short shirt. Her legs and height were treated as things to be admired.

    My immediate thought was, “Oh, I wish Claudia could have felt like that, could have been treated like that.”

    And then I realized she is a character in a book.

  332. Looks like somebody did their job! I’m looking in your direction, H!

  333. I admire Claudia. I wish I knew a Claudia. 🙂

  334. Thank you, Cupcake! But also fictional characters are real, at least psychologically. I borrow this idea from the British notion of non-deistic religious practices, but would you say that Hamlet (the Prince of Denmark, not the play) is real? He is to me. The main proponent of deist-free universalism (I’ll have his name in a minute — all those books are out in the Natural History Museum) calls certain figures ‘necessary fictions.’

  335. Haven’s characters are so real to me. I think about them all the time.

  336. Of course! I feel that way about George Costanza and Homer Simpson.

  337. Oooohh! Necessary fictions. Like writing them is a way to correct the omission of their existence. I LIKE that.

  338. Don’t you feel so silly when that happens Jerri??!

  339. Jerri, you’re QUICK.

  340. I DID feel silly, AiO. But now that I know she’s a necessary fiction, I’m feeling much better.

  341. FYI – If you have $20 you get get one of those Yes We Did designs in Poster size from Move on. I don’t have $20 so boooo.

  342. Necessary fiction, ahhh, I love it!
    Therefore it was a inevitable that someone would have had to create Harry Potter as the world needed him in it.
    I remember when my sister in law was in pharmacy school and she was so stressed and she made the comment to me once in such a wistful voice and it always makes me smile. ” Amy, I wish I went to Hogwarts.”

  343. Don’t we all!

  344. I was so stupid when I was a kid that when I started reading realistic fiction stories, I thought they actually were “real.” It took me some time to actually come to terms with the abstraction.

  345. You all have some amazing grace yourselves…all your healing thoughts and prayers have worked…my honey is on the mend…the surgeon is happy and my daughter is happy and I can stop worrying so much. I thank you all so much for your kind thoughts. This morning I looked at all your pictures on the blog babies site and sent thanks your lovely way as a good luck ritual and it worked, too.
    Haven…REST…we need you…loved the pictures of you and George.

  346. I was so convinced of the reality of these characters that I remember being bummed out, when, finally — maybe I was 18 or 19 — it hit me that these characters were creations of fine minds. Growing up is indeed hard to do.

    To this day, in my private mind, I still think of certain characters as living, breathing entities. That’s one reason I am fascinated with books, such as Finn or Wicked, that picks up from where “we last left off.”

  347. Two things I keep meaning to say:

    1. Speaking of kindness, George Stuteville is KIND.

    2. Gregory Maguire is a dear friend of mine. I think he’s a national treasure, and a magnificent writers.

  348. Listening to the audio book of Wicked was once of the greatest times for me. Having that story read to you is sublime.
    George~ Speaking of confusing reality and fiction…whenever I listen to Loretta Lynn I still picture Sissy Spacek. I used to watch Coal Miners daughter everyday when I was little.

  349. This is waaaay off-topic, but what a brilliant article in the New Yorker about John McCain. I was especially moved by the letter he received from Frank Schaeffer:

  350. I don’t have anything earth shattering . . . but, Bill Ivey is going to be Obama’s GO-TO ART guy – he is from Nashville, has run the NEA during Clinton and recently headed the Curb Center at Vanderbilt – – he rocks and we, as creatives, are so lucky to have him in our political corner!

    I am moving SLLLOOOOWWWWLyyyy, but moving. Actually took a slow walk around the grounds of Cheekwood this morning when I picked up my Scarecrow – it is GORGEOUS here in Nashville – everything is golden and crimson, breathtaking – I thought of you all, but I can’t share it because I forgot my camera (I am not a 9 a.m. girl!)

  351. George: “Sock, you just slayed with me with a dose of sweetness and goodness when I went over to the Yahoo site and looked at your family photos. Thanks so much for that. I won’t see anything more beautiful than that today.”

    That’s why I’m trying to get that information. Proper acknowledgments need to be done.

  352. here is a great “cursing” story – it is imfamous in our family and with our friends.

    My husband, Don, was raised in Jersey by very lax Episcopalians . . . damn and shit were not considered cuss words . . . they were just adjectives or exclamations.

    My family was fundamental Baptist at church and in public, my mom’s father was an alcoholic – so we did NO SLANG, NO SMOKING, NO DRINKING, NO SMILING . . .

    Anyway we survived the wedding, barely, then in 2 years had Dylan. My Mom and Stepdad came for Thanksgiving (my little brother John about 20 was living with us and he was Don’s sports fanatic buddy and DRANK [a lot]). I WARNED Don to try to hold back on his cussing because I don’t want to disrespect their beliefs . . . blah, blah, blah – (I curse like a drunk sailor, by the way)…

    So I am sitting with my parents, neices, little sister and baby at the kitchen table playing Uno or something, Don and John are in the den watching a RE-RUN of a world series game – the one where the guy misses the ball and it rolls through his legs, thus losing the game.

    I call Don into the kitchen for some silly question and he decides to try to sneak 2 beers into the den. He is kneeling down, twisted so my Dad can’t see what he is doing . . .

    Then John is yelling “Now. Now. Don. Hurry” – – – Don tries to stand up, gets tangled in his legs, and the beers roll away and he yells –

    Then he looks at me and says –

    “FUCK!!! I SAID SHIT!!!!”

    It is dead quiet in the house. Don picks up the beers and goes in the den and I hear him tell John –

    “Don’t open it yet . . .”

    John mumbles “No shit! way to go, Donny!”

  353. JIM: I am on the case, friend. I’ll try to have your info tomorrow.

  354. George, I’m a patient man. Any time is fine. That’s Haven snickering in the background, by the way.

  355. JIM: Clicking through your family pics on yahoo, I kept thinking surely THIS was the most lovely. But they kept getting better.

    The Mona Lisa smile went straight through my heart.

    What an absolute joy.

  356. Starbucks Orange Mango Banana Vivanno recipe:

    one banana
    1/4 cup each of milk, orange juice, mango juice
    one scoop (comes in the can) whey protein
    ice to taste

    Blend the banana and liquids. Blend in the whey protein. Add ice until the liquid achieves fruit smoothie consistency.

    Starbucks also adds protein fiber. I left that out, because it tasted and “textured” right without it.

    This is the recipe I devised after buying dozens of Vivannos at Starbucks and discussing their preparation with the baristas there.

  357. Frank Schaeffer has gone all progressive. He was at Christ Community Church here in Spring Lake not to long ago. I get C3’s Newsletter and posted Schaeffer contribution on my blog sometime before the election.

  358. Haven – I, too believe in fictional characters as real people. These people became my friends, anti-heros, mentors, boyfriends, and inspiration – Gatsby, Carrie Bradshaw, Mr. Darcy, Bridget Jones, Forest Gump, Tyler Durden, Ramona Quimby, Sally J. Freeman, Holden Caulfield, Romeo and Juliet, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Laura Ingalls-Wilder, and Scout Finch. I could go on and on, but after trying to read through all of these comments, I’m beat. Plus, Jon & Kate Plus 8 is almost on … people, have you seen that show?

  359. POS: The book True Spirituality was a major influence in my spiritual understanding and I adhered to the elder Shaeffer’s point of view for many years until I saw his tragic and misguided veer to the wing-nut right. This link you posted gives me hope that at least Shaeffer’s son sees things clearly now. One of the most damaging things to happen in our society is the Right’s appropriation of Christian fundamentalism to give themselves moral underpinning for their dark side.

    I think the doctrine of separation of church and state is among the top three greatest gifts we were given.

    Thanks for posting that link. I still think True Spirituality is an important book.

  360. Particles of Spirit, Thank you for your post. I live quite close to San Francisco. Maybe by this I am jaded but I see people living alternative lifestyles successfully every day of my life. I understand ostracism. Being childless by choice and married in a small bedroom community where not many people understand my choice helps me to have compassion for those who march to a different drumbeat. I have two gay sisters and one who is “born again.” I struggle everyday to try and find a way that we can all love and support each other. No offense was meant, is I guess what I am trying to say. And thank you Amy and Carrie, your comments are always so kind.

  361. George, C3 has a 2 minute video clip on their website of his DVD called “Confessions of a Fundamentalist.” I thought about buying it back a couple weeks ago when I had $17. 🙂

  362. I felt for Claudia because I am six feet tall and it was a matter of much self-consciousness for me when I was younger. I was 5’9″ in sixth grade and towered over everyone. I got over it in my adulthood when I was constantly asked if I was a model (not nearly as annoying as all those “do you play basketball” and “how’s the weather up there?” questions.)

    So George, how tall IS our Haven? Other tall gals with inquiring minds want to know. (and don’t be telling me nothin’ like no lousy 5’8″ either, that is NOT tall!)

    Love the swearing story, Sher. I too swear like it’s goin’ out of style and I’m tryin’ to bring it back. We also allow our boys to swear at home. They appreciate the privilege, use swears judiciously, and are very kind and appropriate in public. It was clear we had to address it in kindergarten when our older son was taught the F bomb by some older kids who thought it was funny. The nice thing is they come to us with really sensitive and intelligent questions about things like sex, which seems to be instilling a good sense of responsibility and self-respect in them, as well as respect for others. It’s very different from how I was raised so it’s actually turned out to be healing for me, too. And we sure do have some good laughs at this crazy world of ours.

    GirlFromGhetto, Jon and Kate live about five miles from us in a suburb of Reading PA called Wyomissing, and they’re house hunting in our tiny town of Wernersville, so their kids will be going to our school district. Our librarian is pretty pissed about it. The production crew has been going around telling businesses that they may be bringing cameras in, and the librarian says if cameras come in the front door she’s going out the back. (Camera-shy.) Our little town is three blocks long with about five businesses so this should be interesting.

  363. Girl from the Ghetto, that is so funny that you mention Jon and Kate because a few months ago I was having a discussion with a lady I work with on what the proper term is for a pacifier. I said without thinking ” Oh my friend calls them passies.” The friend I spoke of was Kate…I obviously need to get out more.

  364. Wow. I promised myself no blogging until after 7 PM and I can’t believe how many new posts there were! Thanks for all the teen advice. It’s a great comfort. My son is catually pretty cool. I just miss him because we used to be like Kanga and Roo.

    Molly – I think we have a lot in common. I’m also a teacher and a Catholic – raised in it, left it, came back with a new view.

    I actually took today off from teaching. I felt I was channeling Ludie. Our hired man dislocated his shoulder a week ago and I have been in the barn more than usual. My house was looking post-atomic and I realized my boys were feeling un-founded or foundering or lacking foundation or something. So I called in sick and dealt with farm accounting and house cleaning. A good use of time.

    I inter-library loaned Iodine today and while I’m waiting I am wanting to reread The Used World. I have so many new insights now.

  365. I forgot to say that I’ve met Jon Clinch, who wrote Finn, and we’re both members of the same writers site, and he is a good person and a very genuine person (and a very smart person too. Plus he’s cute too imo.) George, you’d like him a lot.

  366. That’s funny Kate, I didn’t know anyone but me called them Passies, and I live near Kate. I wonder if it’s a colloquialism?

  367. Oopsy, I mean AMY.

  368. I was asked by a newborn nurse if my son (this was 16 years ago) needed a binky? (this was in Princeton NJ) . . . I was like, what are you talking about?

    I always thought they were pacifiers, or a “nukie” which has so many connotations I can’t even go there – – born and ill-bred from IL/IN farmland.

  369. Haven is not quite the same height as me and I am 6-1, but it’s not her height that’s the issue, it’s her stature and presence, and girl, THAT’S tall!

  370. I like the word passies,if I ever have children I think I will use it!

  371. My family always called them pacifiers. Robbie’s family calls them Nukers, which I believe is a brand name. I’ve also heard them called binkies. Redtexansun can correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t they call them “dummies” down under?

  372. And would whoever left me an anonymous comment on my blog today let me know who you are? The part about “beautiful, mercurial Troy” was just the most perfect two word description of him.

  373. Sock, I want to know who left that comment, too. We have a mystery.

  374. No one’s fessin’ up yet, Haven. It’s still early though.

  375. The torch I carry is handsome
    It’s worth its heartache in ransom
    Now when that twilight steals
    I know how the lady in the harbor feels

    When I want rain, I get sunny weather
    I’m just as blue, blue as the sky
    Since love has gone, I can’t get myself together
    Guess I’ll hang my tears out to dry

    My friend ask me out, but I tell them I’m busy
    [ Find more Lyrics at ]
    I’ve got to get a new alibi
    I hang around at home, and ask myself:
    “Where is she?”
    Guess I’ll hang my tears out to dry

    Dry little tear drops, my little tear drops
    Moving on a stream of dreams
    My little memories, those precious memories
    Remind me of our crazy schemes

    Then somebody says, just forget about her
    But I gave that treatment a try
    Strangely enough, I got along without her
    Then one day she passed me right by – oh well
    I guess I’ll hang my tears out to dry
    Lyrics: Guess I’ll Hang my Tears out to dry.

  376. we call em binkies, always have

  377. Oh, my friends call them passies and we are from MI. And 5’8″ is tall … I used to be 5’10” and had a hard time of it, but now that my spine is degenerating I’m 5’8 1/2 and still want to be considered tall.

    Amy in Ohio – how do you know Kate Gosselin?

    Polly – I thought I heard they were building a house in N. Caroline? I’m so confused … I’m sorry to hear your librarian is upset … I can imagine that it would be disruptive to the other patrons, as when I go to my library i enjoy total silence. I wonder how long the show will run?

  378. Binkies!!!!

    So..funny cursing stories…grew up Army, knew all the bad ones by the time I was talking, but Dad and Mom were always quick to censure…so it cracks me up that my sister does not guard her mouth around her kids at all. Liam is 10, has autism and ONLY swears when appropriate (but that’s a few other stories.) Aiden, on the other hand, is your average gorgeous boy and he and my sis love a band called Bowling For Soup. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

    One of their less well-known songs, and my ABSOLUTE favorite, is called “My Hometown.” Allow me to regale you…

    This song goes out to my good friends,
    Especially the ones I had before the Grammy nominations in 2003
    And all the girls from back in high school,
    Who actually spoke to me,
    Even though I was a fat kid and a marching band geek.

    I hope this song finds you well.
    And I hope that you’re doin’ fuckin’ swell.
    I hope that you’re back up if you’ve ever been down.
    And I hope that you got the fuck out of our hometown.

    Here comes a shout out to the professor,
    Who said “Son pick a path and stay the same, cause charisma is the key to opportunity”
    And to all the clubs that let us play.
    To our family and friends and the music stores,
    For giving us gear when we couldn’t pay.

    I hope this song finds you well.
    And I hope that you’re doin’ fuckin’ swell.
    I hope that you’re back up if you’ve ever been down.
    And I hope you got the fuck out of our hometown.

    You know I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say (heard people say)
    “Be proud of where you’re from, you’re gonna put us on the map”
    But where the hell were you back in the day, (back in the day)
    No one came to see us,
    So we got the hell out of there.
    So there…

    This song goes out to my big brother.
    For putting up with me following you around.
    And making me smile when things at home weren’t great
    And not getting pissed when I humped your girlfriend
    For letting me take your car to the prom.
    For beating up the guys that hung my bike in a tree
    For hand-me-down down albums and guitars with no strings
    For never beating the shit outta me

    I hope this song finds you well.
    And I hope that you’re doin fuckin swell.
    I hope that you’re back up cause I know you’ve been down.
    I just wish you’d get the fuck out of our hometown.
    I hope you get the fuck out of our hometown.
    I’m so glad I got the fuck out of our hometown.

    You know what I’m talking about don’t ya?
    Damn it!

    Anyway, Aiden and Megan were singing along with it, and it occurred to Megan that her at the time 4 year old son might cause quite a stir, so she said, “Now, A, Mommy knows where you learned these words, but other people will get quite upset if you say them. So instead of saying ‘fuck’ you should ‘heck.’ Aiden agreed and they went back to singing. They are quite successful with no (pardon me!) fuck ups 🙂 and as the song ends Aiden (love of my life) says with joy, “Mommy!!! I didn’t say fuck!!!”

  379. Girlfromtheghetto~
    I don’t know Kate, but I cannot tell the difference from reality and and reality tv therefore Kate is my friend:)

  380. Maureen, you are so right. I am a teacher. I have math, english, and lit for 6th graders. I can’t imagine doing anything else (well, besides writing romance novels. 🙂 )but it does irk me that they’ve blocked my HK access. I think I am going to play hooky tomorrow, just because I want another day to lie in bed. It’s been a busy/crazy/gut wrenching 6 weeks so I think I am going to pretend to be entitled. You at least had a good reason to stay home. 🙂 I just want to finish some books I’ve been reading.

  381. Amy in Ohio – Oh, that is funny. I totally get that!

  382. I am not a fan of the F word. I can’t really say why, exactly, but I’m just not. I cant’ say it. Even if I try, I just can’t. My kids know not to say it around me. It is strange, I know. Growing up my dad would not allow us to say “pissed off” . I still have trouble with that but my son says it all the time. Then he looks at me and says, oops. Sorry. LOL

    I may have mentioned before that my father spent his entire career as a professional with the Boy Scouts. Back in the day, being a Scout executive was kind of like being a minister. It was not just a job, it was a 24/7 way of life. And, well, swearing just was not in the oath I don’t believe.

    Also, when I was in 8th or 9th grade I was at basketball practice (in PA where the winters were cold). I missed a shot and accidentally said ‘shit’. The whole gym went quiet. The coach looked at me and told me to go outside and run. And run and run and I didn’t get to put a sweatshirt on or anything and I froze my friggin pattudy off. Never did that again. At least not within range of a coach.

  383. I always find people’s reaction to swear words interesting…The way you used shit is totally inoffensive to me, Linda, and I wonder why we get het up over it? My mom doesn’t usually say the f-word… I’m 27, and I’ve heard her say it…twice…both times in regards to some very bad juju going down. I wonder, when it’s not being directed AT anyone (because let’s face it, if someone says f-off to you and MEANS it, it’s incredibly offensive…), why people are bothered?

    I say this in the true spirit of curiosity. I am honestly baffled by this.

  384. I don’t really know. It is truly curious. Maybe it is my age. I’m 48. But then, I don’t know why that would have anything to do with it. Ok, now this is going to sound really weirdo and bizarre, but perhaps, just perhaps I feel that sex words are best used when having hot passionate sex. There I said it.

    For instance, if my lover says “fuck me baby” during sex, I may find that erotic. But if that same lover were to say, oh fuck, while we are not having sex, I might think what the hell is your problem?

    Um, ok, I am probably opening up a big old can of worms here.

  385. Ok, I think we need to get back on track talking about Used World. Where were we?

  386. I haven’t finished Used World yet (some books I whip through in an hour, others I have to digest in bits and pieces; guess which category UW falls into? and then there’s the zillions of comments here to wade through and digest, which isn’t helpng matters any), nor am I able to answer any of Haven’s discussion questions… so why am I here, exactly? I think that’s the point. I don’t know the answers, and I’m ok with that. In fact, I like it that way. And I also like the way the book and the questions make me think and question perception and reality (and how both might change) of pretty much *everything*.

    As for the tangents (at least those I’ve read through), those I can wax eloquent on: I don’t like tv, but can’t live without it. I don’t watch it much during the day, but am physically unable to fall asleep without the tv on. I only wish I had one of those new-fangled ones with a sleep timer that turns off, because I can’t tell you how many disturbing dreams I’ve had as sitcoms such as Roseanne (my son loves Nickelodeon) seep into my unconsciousness. Come to think of it, that probably explains a lot, right there.

    Teenagers: be thankful for what you have. Maybe that’s not so eloquent, but it’s heartfelt. My teenager has anxiety issues that lead him to go *blind* or have seizures, rather than rebel. Thanks to very expensive doctors (and yoga), he’s improving markedly, but I cannot tell you all how much I would give for a kid who gives attitude rather than internalizing everything.

  387. Someone asked my why I really liked this book and the first answer that came to mind, without any analysis or fancy english degree thinking, was that I loved the women. Then of course, I had to explain, lol.

    I love how their fragility and their strength coexist. They are each damaged, but so determined.

    It broke my heart when Rebekah left with Peter, but it didn’t surprise me at all. I’ve known Peter. With hindsight, it’s easy to see that is the wrong decision, but in the moment, almost impossible to resist.

    My original copy of the book has been hijacked. I lent it to a co-worker, and she lent it to another and it is now making the rounds. I don’t think I’m ever getting it back. Thankfully, I have a copy from Haven herself that I am reading so carefully so as not to bend the spine, bend the pages, or get food on it (I snack when I read).

    Thank you thank you for the book! It will now be one of my treasured possessions, that I wouldn’t have without your generosity or Molly’s speaking on my behalf (which she has done the entire time I’ve known her, pushy little thing 🙂

  388. Wow, I obviously picked the wrong weekend to be out of town…especially after receiving Haven’s generous gift of The Used World! I loved all the women in this book and also saw the three main characters as representative of the different stages of life. I think that Hazel speaks in a past voice because she has lived a lot of her life, then switches POV when her life story catches up with current day Rebekah and Claudia. While Claudia is older, I thought that she is really just beginning her real “life” so speaks in the present. I loved the humor in the book as well because even when life as it its darkest, there are still funny things that happen that can just about knock you over with laughter. (Said by one who is well-known for laughing at inappropriate times/situations!)

  389. this book knocked me out for lots of reasons, but one subconscious reason- i realize it now, looking back- is that i have a difficult relationship with my mother. she’s been clinically depressed for most of my life, up and down with meds and hospitalizations, etc. in many ways, she was utterly unavailable to me, even thought when she WAS available she was a hoverer- overprotective and overly sentimental, etc. traits i have come to completely despise, in anyone. as a result of this push-pull thing with her, i have felt pretty much abandoned and motherless, seeking wisdom and guidance and examples of womanhood and motherhood from other women in my life- older cousins, aunts, friends’ moms (i am an only child, so no sisters to turn to). i have cobbled together a way of being in the world that is all mine, drawing on many sources and ultimately my own core. but practically none of my identity is akin to my mother’s. in fact, over the years, she has taken to imitating ME sometimes, in style and behaviors, and this REALLY pisses (ed) me off! i love her, i do, but i really don’t feel close to her at all. i know she would be hurt if she heard me say that, i know she has tried to be a good mom, but her illness, coupled with the demands of my manipulative and needy father, have prevented us from having a real connection.

    whew! ANYway, i think i am drawn to stories of strong, smart, funny, UNSENTIMENTAL women precisely because i still seek out examples of womanhood that appeal to me at my core. the Used World is peopled with three such women, who though the certainly have their frailties, have found their way through painful and difficult situations and have made lives for themselves that simply radiate love. and i really adore the idea of family defined as we choose, not as we’re told. that is so appealing, maybe because my own family of origin is such a mess! another book that features this sort of self-defined family is kent haruf’s Evensong. if you haven’t read it, i strongly recommend it.

    i am married now with two sons, and i am a very different mother than my mom was, sometimes by choice but mostly by hardwiring, i think.

    in any event, THANK YOU, THANK YOU haven for this and all of your other wonderful books. i’ve read them all, more than once, and they never, ever disappoint.

  390. this book knocked me out for lots of reasons, but one subconscious reason- i realize it now, looking back- is that i have a difficult relationship with my mother. she’s been clinically depressed for most of my life, up and down with meds and hospitalizations, etc. in many ways, she was utterly unavailable to me, even thought when she WAS available she was a hoverer- overprotective and overly sentimental, etc. traits i have come to completely despise, in anyone. as a result of this push-pull thing with her, i have felt pretty much abandoned and motherless, seeking wisdom and guidance and examples of womanhood and motherhood from other women in my life- older cousins, aunts, friends’ moms (i am an only child, so no sisters to turn to). i have cobbled together a way of being in the world that is all mine, drawing on many sources and ultimately my own core. but practically none of my identity is akin to my mother’s. in fact, over the years, she has taken to imitating ME sometimes, in style and behaviors, and this REALLY pisses (ed) me off! i love her, i do, but i really don’t feel close to her at all. i know she would be hurt if she heard me say that, i know she has tried to be a good mom, but her illness, coupled with the demands of my manipulative and needy father, have prevented us from having a real connection.

    whew! ANYway, i think i am drawn to stories of strong, smart, funny, UNSENTIMENTAL women precisely because i still seek out examples of womanhood that appeal to me at my core. the Used World is peopled with three such women, who though the certainly have their frailties, have found their way through painful and difficult situations and have made lives for themselves that simply radiate love. and i really adore the idea of family defined as we choose, not as we’re told. that is so appealing, maybe because my own family of origin is such a mess! another book that features this sort of self-defined family is kent haruf’s Evensong. if you haven’t read it, i strongly recommend it.

    i am married now with two sons, and i am a very different mother than my mom was, sometimes by choice but mostly by hardwiring, i think.

    in any event, THANK YOU, THANK YOU haven for this and all of your other wonderful books. i’ve read them all, more than once, and they never, ever disappoint.

  391. wow- why did my post post TWICE? i’m SO the novice. 😛


  392. Lorraine I’ve been thinking about this since you posted the other day – how do you define “UNSENTIMENTAL women”?

  393. […] is similar to a line I pulled out of The Used World. It deals with the same […]

  394. particles- i guess i mean that they don’t allow their emotions to completely overtake their ability to reason. in my experience, sentimentality is a veil that obscures the true value of a thing, like a misty, emotional insincerity that keeps us from seeing the true heart, the true feelings there. in my experience, it’s nauseatingly maudlin, which i myself am not. here’s what i found as synonyms for sentimental, which may convey what i’m trying to say better than i’m able to:

    Synonyms: These adjectives mean overly or insincerely emotional: a sentimental card; a bathetic novel; maudlin words of sympathy; mawkish sentiment; mushy effusiveness; a romantic adolescent; a schmaltzy song.

  395. I don’t have much use for sentimentality. Guilt, either, for that matter.

  396. well, maybe I am a touch sentimental…here’s something beautiful for all you blog babies. Enjoy:

  397. Lorraine thanks for returning to answer my question.

    George, that’s really cool thanks for sharing.

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