Fat bitch," Kessa murmured as the door scraped closed behind Mrs. Stone."She meant well, Francesca. And you see, everyone thinks you're too thin.""Since when is Mrs. Stone an authority on appearance. I've heard you say a thousand times that she looks like an old hooker.""I never said anything of the sort. What I said was that she wears too much makeup and her clothes are indiscreet.""Which means she looks like an old hooker. Well, if that's the way a woman is supposed to look, I'd rather be too skinny." Kessa felt a flash of pleasure at the argument. Just let her mother try to push food into her now.
I was 17 when my body started changing, and I worried about what I did wrong. I went through a period where I didn't eat at all. I also had someone who was encouraging me to take diet pills. I pushed myself to the extreme because I woke up one day and had hips - and a butt - and thought, 'Oh my gosh, I'm getting fat!'
[My grandfather] returned to what he called ‘studying.’ He sat looking down at his lap, his left hand idle on the chair arm, his right scratching his head, his white hair gleaming in the lamplight. I knew that when he was studying he was thinking, but I did not know what about. Now I have aged into knowledge of what he thought about. He thought of his strength and endurance when he was young, his merriment and joy, and how his life’s burdens had then grown upon him. He thought of that arc of country that centered upon Port William as he first had known it in the years just after the Civil War, and as it had changed, and as it had become; and how all that time, which would have seemed almost forever when he was a boy, now seemed hardly anytime at all. He thought of the people he remembered, now dead, and of those who had come and gone before his knowledge, and of those who would come after, and of his own place in that long procession.
I followed many conversations about what happened in Norway and the death of Amy Winehouse because they happened one after the next. Too many of those conversations tried to conflate the two events, tried to create some kind of hierarchy of tragedy, grief, call, response. There was so much judgment, so much interrogation of grief—how dare we mourn a singer, an entertainer, a girl-woman who struggled with addiction, as if the life of an addict is somehow less worthy a life, as if we are not entitled to mourn unless the tragedy happens to the right kind of people. How dare we mourn a singer when across an ocean seventy-seven people are dead? We are asked these questions as if we only have the capacity to mourn one tragedy at a time, as if we must measure the depth and reach of a tragedy before deciding how to respond, as if compassion and kindness are finite resources we must use sparingly. We cannot put these two tragedies on a chart and connect them with a straight line. We cannot understand these tragedies neatly.
I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her –after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred–I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever–for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation)–and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again–and 'oh, no,' Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure–all would be shattered.
So here is what I see when we reclaim the church ladies: a woman loved and free is beautiful. She is laughing with her sisters, and together they are telling their stories, revealing their scars and their wounds, the places where they don't have it figured out. They are nurturers, creating a haven where the young, the broken, the tenderhearted, and the at-risk can flourish. These women are dancing and worshiping, hands high, faces tipped toward heaven, tears streaming. They are celebrating all shapes and sizes, talking frankly and respectfully about sexuality and body image, promising to stop calling themselves fat. They are saving babies tossed in rubbish heaps, rescuing child soldiers, supporting mamas trying to make ends meet halfway around the world, thinking of justice when they buy their daily coffee. They are fighting sex trafficking. They are pastoring and counseling. They are choosing life consistently, building hope, doing the hard work of transformation in themselves. They are shaking off the silence of shame and throwing open the prison doors of physical and sexual abuse, addictions, eating disorders, and suicidal depression. Poverty and despair are being unlocked - these women know there are many hands helping turn that key. There isn't much complaining about husbands and chores, cattiness, or jealousy when a woman knows she is loved for her true self. She is lit up with something bigger than what the world offers, refusing to be intimidated into silence or despair.
What bothered me is that I just got a memo from the (American) League stating that when (umpires) meet it has to be conclusive. When an umpire in the middle of the field overrules it, that word conclusive (comes to mind). That's a difficult call for me to swallow right there. That was kind of my point.
What I call "slumdog hope" is unique. It is the ability of the mind to be hopeful in the worst of the worst scenarios when a person with normal emotional strength may crack and succumb to the pressures of life. Those who possess this unflinching and undettered hope are likely to become slumdog millionaries.
What a grand revenge you have taken! I saw you innocent, and I deceived you. Four years after, you find me a Christian enthusiast; you then work upon me, perhaps to my complete perdition! But Tess, my coz, as I used to call you, this is only my way of talking, and you must not look so horribly concerned. Of course you have done nothing except retain your pretty face and shapely figure. I saw it on the rick before you saw me—that tight pinafore-thing sets it off, and that wing-bonnet—you field-girls should never wear those bonnets if you wish to keep out of danger.
My body actually did what I asked it today, and it better keep listening. I was very excited to play this week because I knew I was striking the ball the way I used to and my body is feeling a lot better. It's going to be fun to come to this major with some semblance of a clue on what was going on with my golf swing.
What is this thing called life? I believeThat the earth and the stars too, and the whole glittering universe, and rocks on the mountains have life,Only we do not call it so--I speak of the lifeThat oxidizes fats and proteins and carbo-Hydrates to live on, and from that chemical energyMakes pleasure and pain, wonder, love, adoration, hatred and terror: how do these things growFrom a chemical reaction?I think they were here already, I think the rocksAnd the earth and the other planets, and the stars and the galaxieshave their various consciousness, all things are conscious;But the nerves of an animal, the nerves and brainBring it to focus; the nerves and brain are like a burning-glassTo concentrate the heat and make it catch fire:It seems to us martyrs hotter than the blazing hearthFrom which it came. So we scream and laugh, clamorous animalsBorn howling to die groaning: the old stones in the dooryardPrefer silence; but those and all things have their own awareness,As the cells of a man have; they feel and feed and influence each other, each unto all,Like the cells of a man's body making one being,They make one being, one consciousness, one life, one God.
I didn't mind what she called me, what anybody called me. But this was the room I had to live in. It was all I had in the way of a home. In it was everything that was mine, that had any association for me, any past, anything that took the place of a family. Not much: a few books, pictures, radio, chessmen, old letters, stuff like that. Nothing. Such as they were, they had all my memories.
...What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might.When the churches learn to take this rational view of things, when they become true schools of ethics and stop teaching fables, they will be more effective than they are to-day... If they would turn all that ability to teaching this one thing – the fact that honesty is best, that selfishness and lies of any sort must surely fail to produce happiness – they would accomplish actual things. Religious faiths and creeds have greatly hampered our development. They have absorbed and wasted some fine intellects. That creeds are getting to be less and less important to the average mind with every passing year is a good sign, I think, although I do not wish to talk about what is commonly called theology.The criticisms which have been hurled at me have not worried me. A man cannot control his beliefs. If he is honest in his frank expression of them, that is all that can in justice be required of him. Professor Thomson and a thousand others do not in the least agree with me. His criticism of me, as I read it, charged that because I doubted the soul’s immortality, or ‘personality,’ as he called it, my mind must be abnormal, ‘pathological,’ in other, words, diseased... I try to say exactly what I honestly believe to be the truth, and more than that no man can do. I honestly believe that creedists have built up a mighty structure of inaccuracy, based, curiously, on those fundamental truths which I, with every honest man, must not alone admit but earnestly acclaim.I have been working on the same lines for many years. I have tried to go as far as possible toward the bottom of each subject I have studied. I have not reached my conclusions through study of traditions; I have reached them through the study of hard fact. I cannot see that unproved theories or sentiment should be permitted to have influence in the building of conviction upon matters so important. Science proves its theories or it rejects them. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. I earnestly believe that I am right; I cannot help believing as I do... I cannot accept as final any theory which is not provable. The theories of the theologians cannot be proved. Proof, proof! That is what I always have been after; that is what my mind requires before it can accept a theory as fact. Some things are provable, some things disprovable, some things are doubtful. All the problems which perplex us, now, will, soon or late, be solved, and solved beyond a question through scientific investigation. The thing which most impresses me about theology is that it does not seem to be investigating. It seems to be asserting, merely, without actual study....Moral teaching is the thing we need most in this world, and many of these men could be great moral teachers if they would but give their whole time to it, and to scientific search for the rock-bottom truth, instead of wasting it upon expounding theories of theology which are not in the first place firmly based. What we need is search for fundamentals, not reiteration of traditions born in days when men knew even less than we do now.[Columbian Magazine interview]
I love you,' Buttercup said. 'I know this must come as something of a surprise to you, since all I've ever done is scorn you and degrade you and taunt you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn't matter.' Buttercup still could not look at him. The sun was rising behind her now; she could feel the heat on her back, and it gave her courage. 'I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. I love you so much more now then when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring a bottle back for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do. I know I cannot compete with the Countess in skills or wisdom or appeal, and I saw the way she looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at her. But remember, please, that she is old and has other interests, while I am seventeen and for me there is only you. Dearest Westley--I've never called you that before, have I?--Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley,--darling Westley, adored Westley, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love.' And with that, she dared the bravest thing she'd ever done; she looked right into his eyes.