Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lillian Disney

No one's ever gonna pay a dime to see a dwarf picture.

--to her husband, Walt Disney, about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Sunday, December 18, 2011


On judgement day if God should say, "Did you clean your house today?" I will say, "I did not, I played with my dogs and I forgot."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Noel Coward

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Martha Beck

Researchers at Northwestern University have found that people who'd just watched a comedy video were better at solving a word puzzle than subjects who'd watched clips from a horror film or a lecture on physics. It seems a part of the brain activated by laughter and lightheartedness is especially well suited to helping us find clever solutions to our problems.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gabrielle Hamilton

In the university program where I was supposed to be emancipating myself from the kitchen, preparing myself to go back to New York having at least answered the question of my own potential, the novelty and thrill had thoroughly worn off. I could not find the fun or the urgency in the eventless and physically idle academic life. It was so lethargic and impractical and luxurious. I adored reading and writing and having my brain crushed; but those soft ghostly people lounging around in agony over their "texts," endlessly theorizing over experiences they would never have, made me ache to get out of the leather chairs, to put my shoes and socks back on, and get back into the kitchen, which I increasingly found practical and satisfying. The work may not have held much meaning and purpose, but I was gunning the motor of my car to get off campus and get to it each day.

To tackle a prep list at eight a.m. and have it knocked out by four p.m., black Sharpie line crossing out each item on the To-Do list:
  • 6 quarts aioli
  • brown brisket
  • butcher salmon
  • toast walnuts
felt so manageable and tactile and useful. I could wake up and tackle that in a way that I would never be able to wake up and take a crack at certain literary pursuits, like for example, illuminating the fog surrounding the human condition. This is not suggest that I accepted this understanding about myself gladly, with just a sneering dismissal of the pursuit in the first place. Human condition. It's a blow to have to admit to yourself that you are not quite cut out for something that matters so much to you. More than a blow--it's a knockout. I had to lie down on the floor of my apartment for a very long time letting that one sink in. Did I have something more to offer, any other talent than a strong work ethic? Did I have something in me other than dishwasher?

As it turns out, I did not.

To stand at the prep table with other cooks who were just doing mundane things like fixing the car over the weekend, cleaning the house, and shuttling kids to doctor's appointments felt newly satisfying and meaningful enough. I liked these people and their lives. But more to the point, I came to understand that I liked People and Life. After sitting around for too long in those leather chairs, I welcomed the intense pressure of getting a dinner for 200 plated quickly, and came to see that there was a rush and a method in that that I hadn't quite known to what extent I liked and needed in my life. And I will admit, spending that chilly hour cleaning out a cluttered walk-in and putting impeccable order to it is still, 30 years later, my favorite part of kitchen life. I bring my mother's compulsion for concrete order with me wherever I go.

--Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (2011)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Anne Lamott

...the garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things. The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe. It's part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food. It's a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses; it's about winning, about providing society with superior things, and about proving that you have taste and good values and you work hard. And what a wonderful relief every so often to know who the enemy is─because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth and growth and beauty and danger and triumph─and then everything dies away, right? But you just keep doing it.

-from Bird by Bird, c. 1994

Anne Lamott

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.

-from Bird by Bird, c. 1994