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All about words



Fifty for fifty - no ragrets

Posted by nancyfreund11 on January 12, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Here's what I posted to my Facebook Author page the other day... followed by Scotty P in "We are the Millers."  NO RAGRETS. See number 11.

Don't be fooled by my sprightly professional photo by the very talented Dee Libine. Fact is I'm about to turn 50! I want to mark the milestone but can't imagine a party or a "thing" that won't make me feel weirdly spotlit. I celebrated 21 quietly escaping my sorority sisters, driving up to Fresno from LA, and going to dinner with my Grandma, who I loved seeing every time I could. Her 83rd birthday was the day after my 21st. We ordered margaritas, and the waiter ID'ed both of us. We each took home half a plate of enchiladas, woke up without hangovers or regrets, and it was perfect.

So 50. I have a present FROM me, or more specifically, THROUGH me. Fifty favorites from books and film. Some lines are about writing or business or bravery. Some are just about beauty. Watch this space.


Fifty for fifty – favorite lines from my first 50 years of life, from books and movies, mostly, sometimes with a link. Enjoy!

1. “Relax, alright? My old man’s a television repairman. He’s got this ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.” – Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, written by Cameron Crowe, directed by Amy Heckerling

2. “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” – Airplane, written and directed by Jim Abrahams and David Zucker

3. “Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no more.” – E.M. Forster, Howard’s End

4. “Publication doesn’t make you a writer. Publication makes you a published writer. Writing makes you a writer.” – Robin Black

5. “I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life.” – Virginia Woolf, The Waves

6. “The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.” – Gustave Flaubert

7. “People who don’t read are brutes.” – Eugene Ionesco

8. “Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. Conditions will always be impossible" – Doris Lessing.

9. “I just like to smile! Smiling's my favorite.” – Buddy, Elf, written by David Berenbaum, directed by Jon Favreau

10. “There's nothing better than discovering, to your own astonishment, what you're meant to do. It's like falling in love.” -- Mike Nichols

11. “Oh this? This my credo. No ragrets.” Scotty P., We Are the Millers, written by Bob Fisher and Steve Faber, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

12. “For a writer, the experience of living in a number of countries is an enormous boon. You can only understand the world if you see it from several sides.” – Milan Kundera

13. “Learn it, know it, live it.” – Brad Hamilton, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, written by Cameron Crowe, directed by Amy Heckerling

14. “…leaving your country is like dying, and when you come back you are like a ghost returning to earth, roaming around with a missing gaze in your eyes.” – NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names

15. “I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” – Ron Burgundy, Anchorman, written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, directed by Adam McKay

16. “Because we were not using our languages we said things we did not mean; what we really wanted to say remained folded inside, trapped.” -- NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names

17. “It was both her and not her, the name. More: something about it made her feel super-eighted, instamaticked. It gave her a feeling something like the word summer used to.” – Ali Smith, There But For The

18. “She had not expected, out in the world, to find herself quite so much the wrong sort of person.” -- Ali Smith, There But For The

19. “You have exactly the right kind of absent presence.” -- Ali Smith, There But For The

20. “…only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then? I mean, oh, it’s flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle… and ancient, on the planet. “ – Miles, Sideways, written by Rex Pickett, screenplay by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, directed by Alexander Payne.

21. “Chabu turned to Maitreyi and said something with great fervour. For the first time I was truly sorry not to understand their language. The rhythms were very gentle, like those of Italian, the vowels very long. One had the impression that the sentence was going to fly off at any moment into a song.” – Mircea Eliade, Bengal Nights

22. “If beginnings are leaps of faith, and middles are vexing, absorbing, full of trap doors and wrong turns and dead ends, sensing an ending is your reward. It’s better than selling your book. It’s better than a good review. When you’re in the home stretch, it seems the universe reaches out to support you. It meets you more than half-way…” – Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

23. “We are all unsure of ourselves. Every one of us walking the planet wonders secretly, if we are getting it wrong.” – Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

24. “Art does not come from ideas. Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where you dream. Art comes from the unconscious; it comes from the white-hot center of you… you have to tell your mind to back the hell off.” – Robert Olen Butler, From Where You Dream

25. “Not that I believed he was a ghost. But I knew he was much bigger than the body he was in as he stared at the curried sausages.” – Robert Olen Butler, Open Arms

26. “… otherwise it doesn’t know you are here/ for love, and like the world tonight, doesn’t really/ care whether we live or die. Tell it you do and why.” Steve Scafidi, “For the Last American Buffalo,” from Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer

27. “It is difficult to imagine now, but there will be a day when they have thoughts that they will not automatically convert to sound. They will become more interior, less transparent, their voices diminished by adolescence, by the virulent social forces that strike at the mouths of girls. They will not live so garrulously in the waves of the air. It’s a terrible thing, an inexcusable thing, really, to wish a young girl to be quiet. Even a squealing girl.” – Chris Bachelder, “Father’s Prayer,” from When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood, edited by Brian Gresko

28. “When you unclog a pipe, something tangible is accomplished, and there’s no pretense.” – Bruce Machart, “A World in Which We Refuse to Play,” from When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood, edited by Brian Gresko

29. “I don’t know when I got old. I certainly don’t feel old; I feel like the rest of the world has gotten young around me.” – Garth Stein, “Man, Dying,” from When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood, edited by Brian Gresko

30. “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later. Something better.” – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

31. “She misses Papa, Paris, Dr. Geffard, the gardens, her books, her pinecones – all are holes in her life. But over the past few weeks, her existence has become tolerable. At least, out on the beaches, her privation and fear are rinsed away by wind and color and light.” – Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

32. ”The silence extended itself, there amid the glittering water and the glaring sun. I became aware of the sound of the water sucking at the sides of the boat, of the harsh cries of the seagulls on their rocks, of the faint sound of engines coming from the mainland. My neighbour lifted his head and looked out to sea, his chin raised, his eyes searching the horizon. There was a certain stiffness in his manner, a self-consciousness, like that of an actor about to deliver a too-famous line.” – Rachel Cusk, Outline

33. “And as she lay baking in the sun, she listened to the silence and the sounds of the river, until like onions cooking so long that they caramelize, sharp turned to sweet. The billows of green hillsides here at the river went back behind each other like countless backdrops, always another behind the last one, slightly taller, back as far as you could see.” – Anne Lamott, Crooked Little Heart

34. “Rosie wanted to feel these terrible, empty held-breath feelings, this extremely sad thing that had happened, Charles dying, and she didn’t want her mother to take it away and define it for her, and then hand it back. She didn’t want a guide.” – Anne Lamott, Crooked Little Heart

35. “… as soon as I leaned close and disturbed the air around them, my nostrils filled with the sweet scent of secrets, of wine cellars and old canning jars and the thrilling surprise of turning a stone to find a bustling community of potato bugs and millipedes thriving beneath. The excitement of life where it wasn’t expected.” – Steve Himmer, The Bee-loud Glade

36. “All my fears and memories stayed behind, beneath the dark spruces, to attack me every time I went down there. It was as if the big meadow exuded a mild narcotic called oblivion.” – Marlen Haushofer, The Wall

37. “My favourite ritual is to collect the eggs from the hens; they are brown and warm and I have to reach into the hay under the hens’ bottoms, which makes them chuckle pleasantly. They are used to my disturbing them in the mornings and evenings. When it’s time for making chicks, in the spring, bunica brings all the eggs in the willow basket to the kitchen table and we look inside them with a lamp, letting the light filter through the yolk to see if there are babies in there.” – Carmen Bugan, Burying the Typewriter

38. “This is the first time in my life when collective emotion, a sort of light, pulses through me and I understand that something bigger than me is happening – some kind of unity. Everyone smiles. And then hundreds of candles are lit.” – Carmen Bugan, Burying the Typewriter

39. “Now don’t be stupid over this. I don’t require you to fall in love with my boy, but I do think you might try to understand him. You are nearer his age, and if you let yourself go I am sure you are sensible. You might help me. He has known so few women and you have the time… Let yourself go… Then make my boy think like us. Make him realize that by the side of the everlasting Why there is a Yes – a transitory Yes if you like, but a Yes.” – E.M. Forster, Room with a View

40. The simple motion of stretching reminded me of something Cal had done once. Sometimes, the whole world can come down to a single gesture.” – Amber Dermont, The Starboard Sea

41. “I didn’t know the calm and deep wellspring of mother love could sustain itself through years of such storms.” – Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World

42. “Although I’d had very little practice, the prayer, as crude as an old stick, was surely the genuine article. I could feel the words, feel them crawling on their hands and knees through my hollow bones, clamouring and shouting. As for religion, I was dimly aware that I had no more tools than a child, and in addition I had the obstruction of scepticism.” – Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World

43. “I have known how the paintings in a room, the dishes on the shelf, the peaches on the table, how everything comes into relief and looks clear, sharp, against your own emptiness.” – Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World

44. “I’d forgotten how your blood flows toward a person when they move, so that all at once you know what the pull of gravity feels like.” – Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World

45. “For need can blossom into all the compensation it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know anything so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing – the world will be made whole.” – Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

46. “There is so little to remember of anyone – an anecdote, a conversation at table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfil itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long.” – Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

47. “So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

48. “You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” – Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

49. “i thank You God for most this amazing

day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees

and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything

which is natural which is infinite which is yes.” – e.e. cummings, i thank you God for most this amazing

50. Watch this space, it’s a work in progress… I’m not 50 yet!




Categories: marriage, parenting & family, writing & publishing, expat, travel, & cross-cultural issues

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