One of my projects this weekend was to clear off my bulletin board. It’s a personal museum of things I don’t necessarily need to think about very much, but which I don’t want to forget. It’s been at least three years since I last purged it, and it was layers deep with business cards, notes, artifacts, pictures and quotes. It looked like this:

I pulled everything off, and threw a lot of things out. I saved most of the quotes, though. Some of them I remembered, and some of them were surprises. Some of them are funny, and some of them are devastating. I’m collecting them here so I can toss the dozens of bookmarks and scraps of paper. They’re in no particular order, so if you read them I apologize for the mood rollercoaster.

The new bulletin board is a single photograph of Amanda Palmer, which came from this post on her blog. The day she wrote that post, it was all the things I needed to hear right at that exact moment. I read it four times that morning, and I clung to it for the rest of the week. The photograph is lovely in itself, but it’s really a talisman for trying to keep my feet on the ground. Possibly it’s a little creepy to have a single photo of a stranger in the dead center of an empty bulletin board in my kitchen, but I don’t care. I need all my talismans at the moment.

“Coyote is always waiting; Coyote is always hungry.” – Navajo saying

“…mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness; the other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” – Woody Allen

“Never kill a customer.” – Monty Python

“I would rather be funny than gorgeous, absolutely. Because it’s too hard to be gorgeous, you know. I could make a stab at gorgeous as long as I had something funny to say to get out of it.” – Gilda Radner

“Desire, despair, desire. So many monsters.” – Annie Lennox

“If you’re gonna be a hero, you gotta learn to drive stick.” – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

“I keep trying to remind myself that when Jesus shuts a door, he opens a window.”
“Yeah, so you have something you can jump out of.” – Saved

This is just to say
(for William Carlos Williams)

I have just
asked you to
get out of my

Even though
you never 
I would

Forgive me
you were
me insane

– Erica-Lynn Gambino

“Understanding, kindness, compassion and love are the only true revolutionary ideas. When we compromise those, we become what we despise and we lose our humanity.” – Bones

“With the wrathfulness and the vengeance and the blood rain and the heyheyhey it hurts.” – Professor Frink

“Blood vengeance is a luxury of the lesser being.” – Lorne (Angel, “Happy Anniversary”)

Pale Bliss

Splitting a bottle of white wine
with a naked woman
in the middle of the day.

 – John Updike

“No matter the group counseling or the pills or the months or years of confinement, the crazy person nearly always returns to the island of their grief or madness. If you are on the outside, no matter how sick you might consider yourself, you are on the outside and cannot claim the lunacy or the malaise.” – Anthony Swofford, Jarhead

“When love and duty are one, then grace is within you.” – W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

“I am utter flesh. Density of desire, the gravity of skin.” – Tony Kushner, Angels in America

“OBJECTS THAT DON’T EXIST: Objects that don’t exist don’t exist. If you were to imagine such a thing as an object that didn’t exist, it would be that thing that God hated. This is the strongest argument against the nonbeliever. If God didn’t exist, he would have to hate himself, and that is obviously nonsense.” – Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

“My hopes have been raised and dashed in a matter of moments. I have hope-lash.” – King of the Hill

“We can’t go on, there’s too much dust!” – Frieda, A Charlie Brown Christmas Special

“To whom shall I hire myself? What beast must be worshiped? What holy image attacked? Whose hearts shall I break? What lie must I uphold? In what blood shall I wade?” – Rimbaud

“Bobby, why don’t you go look in the adventure section? Anything about a boy with gumption should be fine.” – King of the Hill

“The wit of the staircase.” – French phrase for thinking of the exact right response after the moment has passed

“Brooding on God, I may become a man,/Pain wanders through my bones like a lost fire;/What burns me now? Desire, desire, desire.” – Theodore Roethke

“I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet

“And the next time I saw a polite character drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, I would depart rapidly in several directions. There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.” – Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

“I feel sullied and unusual.” – Pirates of the Caribbean

“I am a futility. The life of prayer begins with that. And God is not a comfort, to be offered like Kleenex. God is a poisoned sea, with broken syringes washing up on the beach. God is shopping malls stretching to the horizon and warplanes in the sky. God is a flat tire in a rainstorm and beer cans in the ditch, a bottle shattered on a highway and the taste of gunmetal in your mouth.” – Tim Farrington, The Monk Upstairs

“This is beyond my ken. And my Barbie. And all my action figures.” – Lorne, Angel

“…laughing with your broken eyes.” – Ryan Adams

“His father? I thought Wesley was grown: some sort of greenhouse for dandies.” – Spike (Angel, “Lineage”)

“After all, a murderer is only an extroverted suicide.” – Monty Python

“Ok, you know what? Don’t make fun of the big hammer.” – The West Wing

“I thought of the lines from the Hindu scriptures, the Bhaghavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that, in one way or another.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer

“Oh, this is going to be so much worse than I’d imagined.” – Tony Kushner, Angels in America

“I cannot find my nightvision goggles in the dark. There is a fatal flaw in the nightvision goggle plan.” – Monk

“Somebody will be sorry someday.”
 “Well, naturally, everybody will be sorry someday.” – My Man Godfrey

“All you need to start your own asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.” – My Man Godfrey

“Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house. Courage tastes of blood. Stand up straight. Admire the world. Relish the love of a gentle woman.” – John Cheever

“You only think you’ve heard everything, but you haven’t.” – The West Wing

“I wonder if this might not be that bad thing we were expecting.” – Fred (Angel)

“Great. Now I have guilt.” – Toy Story

“He not busy being born is busy dying.” – Bob Dylan

“6 a.m., and already the boy ain’t right.” – King of the Hill

“I suppose at one time in my life, I might had had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” – Donna Tartt, The Secret History

“Something in the moment made me want to pretend I was fearless.” – Matt Power (on Alan Ginsberg – from NPR?)

“Too much ha-ha, pretty soon boo hoo.” – Scrubs

“Whatever happened to please and thank you?”
“I think they killed each other. You know, one of those murder-suicide deals.” – The Simpsons

“One may not regard the world as a sort of metaphysical brothel for the emotions.” – Arthur Koestler

“You stared at that one lock/ of windblown hair against/ my nape, and on my neck you were a prisoner/ gashing yourself in one of my eyes.” – St. John of the Cross

“I write you from under the bed, where that Catullus drove me. I mean it PASSETH understanding.” – Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road

(Bonus ephemera. This was from a package to a customer in Japan. Her first name is Yoshimi, so naturally the package had to have a pink robot on it. When I shipped this, she’d recently moved and the package came back as undeliverable. With “JAPAN” stamped on top of the pink robot: best returned mail ever.)

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3 thoughts on “talismans.

  1. shanalee

    hey! i know that robot!

    also, its not creepy to have single photo of a stranger on your bulletin board. it gets creepy if you turn it into a crazy person collage, complete with strings and thumb tacks. if that happens, we’re breaking out the intervention banner.


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