There was a young couple in front of us as we walked to he bridge where the bats emerge. He was much taller than she was, and they were both lean and thin. Sometimes I feel myself fading into the background when I see young people like that. I am only 31, and feel like I missed the bud of youth somehow. I was going crazy and then struggling to survive when I was young. I barely had time to notice my youthful skin. I barely had time to notice anything. Hardly anyone does. I’m trying to notice it all now, and it hurts.


Read Part 1 of Crushed Rubies” here When Mariana was 16 she had seen a therapist who she felt okay to cry around. He told her she was just surviving now, and that she needed to thrive. Years later, she felt like she had never not been surviving. From the people she knew and saw and the books she read, she did not know if there was really any other way. There was sorrow everywhere, so much heartbreak and pain… Read more »


On “Big Edie” Beale’s death bed, her daughter “Little Edie” asked her if there was anything she wanted to say. According to Little Edie, she replied “There’s nothing more to say, it’s all in the film.” In 1975 the Maysles Brothers presented Big and Little Edie Beale to the world with the documenatryGrey Gardens. The Beales were former socialites who had created a world of their own together as impoverished hermits living in squalor with cats and raccoons. Highly educate in the arts, and used to a life of decadence, the Beales carried on for the camera in front of filth and dilapidation as if nothing was wrong. They sang and quarreled and pranced,and relived the past in both a state close to delusion, and a staunch refusal to give up the joy they still had admit dire circumstances. As Little Edie so poetically put it, “It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.”


The first image I saw of Anna Schuleit’s 2003 art installation project Bloom was a sea of orange tulips, lit up as if they were made of glass, in an old room with an office chair floating among them and an old air conditioner window unit. It was otherworldly and transcendent, and then I read that it was in a mental hospital, and I fell in love with it.

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Celebrated contemporary writer George Saunders’ stories are works of futuristic satire that sting with the dark truth of pessimism, but still have a moving sweetness at their core. Binging on his short stories is like binging on raspberries; they taste like candy, but they are still really good for you. While many of his stories are emotionally moving and infused with a thread of kindness, they are still quite dark. Uplifting isn’t exactly a word I think of when I… Read more »


The initial thrill of leaving was gone, and Mariana was in a highway trance. She felt numb from the driving. Numb in her body, and finally, after weeks of overwhelming emotions, numb in her mind. In her head little scenes from her life played out detachedly, without regret, without longing. She remembered Hunter as he was when she first met him seven years ago. He had aged rapidly, and was already an old man at 27. When he cleaned up and got his hair… Read more »


“When you grow up, your heart dies.” That line from The Breakfast Club is so painfully true, it shatters me every time. The good news is that you can grow a new, improved one if you’re up for it. As we mature we learn hard truths about the world, and ourselves, our innocence shatters, and we feel betrayed by all the lies and misunderstandings we had as a child. We see how ruthless people can be, and how devastating hard it is to live your dreams or find any little scrap of happiness. Growing cold and bitter can seem like a perfectly reasonable response of a sensitive creature to a cruel world.

We all know grumpy older people, and may even feel that we are becoming one ourselves, but in reality it may actually be younger people, teenagers and twentysomethings, that struggle the most with blaming their problems on others, and having sour world views. You can make disillusionment work for you if you realize you don’t need illusions to begin with.


Mariel Hemingway is attempting the lift the “curse” of self-destruction that plagues her gifted and beautiful family. The patriarchal figure, Ernest Hemingway, whose golden words still seduce the masses, is at once a symbol of robust life, and of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. There is growing research that indicates these traits: alcoholism and mental illness are often linked to genetics. Of course, a toxic or emotionally unstable family life can lead to mood problems regardless of the genetics – whether it’s nature or nurture or a poison soup of both, madness tends to run in families. In Running From Crazy, a Barbara Kopple directed documentary film that came out last year and is now getting a run on Oprah’s OWN Network, Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter Mariel Hemingway confronts her family’s decades-long curse of despair in an attempt to understand it and break free of it.


In 2010 author Zadie Smith offered these 10 tips for writing as part of a project for The Guardian inspired by a similar list Elmore Leonard provided The NY Times 10 years earlier. Other authors participated in this exercise, but Zadie’s was the one I found on Tumblr today, and it stopped me dead in my tracks with it’s leveling wisdom. Numbers four, nine, and ten can apply to absolutely anything in life, but number three gets down to the core of it: “You can either write good sentences or you can’t.”