Commonplace Book (March 25th, 2018)

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“…I was looking at pictures of Greta Garbo, those tough dreamy images of her striding around the city in men’s shoes and a man’s trench coat, taking no shit from anyone, out solely for herself. In Grand Hotel, Garbo said she wanted to be alone, that famous line, but what the real Miss Garbo desired was to be left alone, a very different thing: as in unbothered, unwatched, unharried. What she longed for was privacy, the experience of drifting unobserved…Garbo lived in an apartment in the Campanile building of East 54th Street….Every day she went on two walks: long meandering strolls that might take her up to the Museum of Modern Art of the Waldorf…Often she went all the way to Washington Square and back, a loop of six miles, stopping to gaze in the windows of bookstores and delis, walking aimlessly, walking not as a means but as an end, an ideal occupation in and of itself.”– Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

“The lyrics were great, but did not correspond to what I had expected. I wasn’t particularly happy to sing them. This is when I realized Serge didn’t have anything more to say about me – or rather, never had. He didn’t know me, in fact, only projected his own fantasies through me.” France Gall, as quoted in Yé-Yé Girls of ’60s French Pop by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe

“We feel something, and reach out for the nearest phrase or hum with which to communicate, but which fails to justice to what has induced us to do so. We hear Beethoven’s Ninth and hum poum, poum, poum, we see the pyramids at Giza and go, ‘That’s nice.’ These sounds are asked to account for an experience, but their poverty prevents either us or our interlocuters from really understanding what we have lived through. We stay on the outside of our impressions, as if starting at them through a frosted window, superficially related to them, yet estranged from whatever has eluded casual definition.” How Proust Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton


Commonplace Book (September 17th, 2017)


“A moment of intolerable pain hearing that Gonzalo in Paris has cancer of the throat…Then came a day of quiet acceptance, which comes from the knowledge of all our dooms, illnesses, and deaths. The intensely personal image of his death is finally dissolved by time and thrown back into some universal ocean where all our pains and deaths are one. We do not die individually but in each of these fragments of the death of those we love. There are days when I count the dead, like a ritual of black magic, as if calling up names and not being too certain mine is not among them…I thought aging meant the loss of sensibilities, of vibrations, but I feel more intensely alive than ever. Music pours freely through me, the music by which I know the extent of my receptivity and response. I thought that while parting from the dead or dying or the sick, one parts with fragments of one’s own life. I thought so many deaths would create little cemeteries in me, but I am bless with continuous aliveness, as if on the contrary, I am to be their preserver.” Anaïs Nin, Diary, Volume Six 

“Reading David’s diaries was like coming up for air after being a long time underwater. There is no substitute for touch, no substitute for love, but reading about someone else’s commitment to discovering and admitting their desires was so deeply moving that I sometimes found I was physically shaking as I read. That winter, the piers took on a life of their own in my mind. I pored over all the accounts I could find, fascinated by the spaces, the recklessness of encounter, the freedom and creativity they permitted. They seemed like an ideal world for someone who was struggling with connection, in that they combined the possibilities of privacy, anonymity and personal expression with the ability to reach out, to find a body, to be touched, to have your doings seen.” Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

“I remembered the wretched (pink) buildings in the background; it is hard to say whether they are still being built or already falling into ruins. I remember primitive suburban houses, their roofs so low I can look down on them from the bus. I also remember mended stretches of tarmac, black water containers, antennae, tangles of cables. I remember a tiny garden cafe with dusty chains of colored lights. I still vividly remember the palm tree at the side of the road, a gray and also dusty thing managing, somehow, to live in ground that is as hard as concrete.” Eugen Ruge, Cabo de Gata 

Commonplace Book (July 30th, 2017)

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“He was the first man I ever met who, when we were about ten feet away from each another, I could feel a force pulling us together, like there was an electrical circuit that must be completed. When we left each other I could sense its resistance. ‘Can you feel that?’ I’d sometimes ask him, and he’d say, ‘Of course.’ Then when it broke there was both loneliness and this elated, dizzy certainty of liberation…It’s very hard to know, in the early few months of a love affairs, what is real and what is imaginary. You find signs and confirmations everywhere. Men passing you on the street stop you to tell you that you’re beautiful. Random street signs or airplanes passing overhead prophesies your happiness. Yet the mind of your lover remains as closed to you as that of a face on a billboard, or a distracted cab driver fiddling with this radio.” Clancy Martin, Bad Sex

“Hostess and guest drift into the kitchen…In the kitchen bookshelves are the works of H.G. Wells. She reads them sometimes while the kettle boils, and is no longer sure if they are any good. She regrets the fact that no one will let her forget her afford with Wells: ‘Just how important is something that ends when you are thirty?’ She would rather talk, affectionately, about her late husband, Henry Andrews.” Victoria Glendinning, Rebecca West: A Life

“The more wines I tried, the less of a gamble it became. Instead, each new bottle became an opportunity to learn about wine, the world, and myself. I realized that wine was not a gamble at all, but an experience. It’s abstract yet personal, allowing you to indulge in the moment of how it physically tastes while evoking memories from taste and sensation past. In wine, there are no rules. A bottle of wine cane remind you of your adolescent summers at the beach and a field in France you’ve never seen, in the same sip.” Marisa A. Ross, Wine All The Time: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking 

Commonplace Book (June 18th, 2017)

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“Big drops hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the bungalow gardens were bowed to the earth with wetness. Drenched were the cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves. It looked as though the sea had beaten up softly in the darkness, as though one immense wave had come rippling, rippling—how far?” -Katherine Mansfield, “At The Bay”

“She wondered if tomorrow would fill her with so strange a stirring as today. Soon, in a few months, it would be summer and there would be nothing more to come. Summer would be beautiful, but this spring made promise of a greater beauty than summer could fulfill.” – Elizabeth Bowen, “Daffodils”

“It is the only time that I am thankful for being a woman, that time of evening when I draw the curtains, take off my old clothes, and prepare to go out. Minute by minute the excitement grows. I brush my hair under the light and the colors are autumn leaves in the sun. I shadow my eyelids with black stuff and am astonished by the look of mystery it gives to my eyes. I hate being a woman. Vain and shallow and superficial. Tell a woman that you love her and she’ll ask you to write it down so she can show it to her friends. But I am happy at that time of night. I feel tender toward the world, I pet the wallpaper as if it were white rose petals flushed pink at the edges; I pick up my old, tired shoes and they are silver flowers that some man has laid outside my door. I kissed myself in the mirror and ran out of the room, happy and hurried and suitably mad.” – Edna O’Brien, Country Girls