Can I Quote You?Posted: April 29, 2011
I’ve always loved a good quote — from a book, a song, someone’s mouth. I have journals from when I was 12, 15, 17, in which I copied them down. In college I would read something I thought was profound and scribble it on a slip of paper, often the back of a Microfilm Request Form from my work-study job in the university library, where I often happened to be. I made scrapbooks of my college memorabilia, and a lot of those quotes, as well as funny or wise things my friends and teachers said, are pasted into them. (In fact, I will go upstairs to the attic to find those books, and we’ll see what kinds of quotes had an effect on me 20 years ago.)
Now, as you know if you’re on Facebook, I put them in status updates.
Here’s one I found recently that I liked: “Everything I need to do, I can do.” It’s from a blog post on elephant journal. I’m not sure if the writer made it up herself or got it somewhere; a Google search doesn’t turn it up. For me it’s an offshoot of “I have what I need.”
Here’s another, from the lovely Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Shifts in perspective are seemingly so simple, but often they’re difficult. And then when you do make one, and you wonder why you didn’t do it ages ago.
And another, from Lao Tzu: “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are, and you know what you want.” Love that. It’s comforting and empowering at the same time.
Based on the quotes that speak to me these days, I have become a big fan of feeling secure in yourself and what you’ve got. That there’s nothing else you need to go out and get; it’s all in there, and you simply need to accept it, come at it from a different perspective, perhaps, love it, cultivate it. And whatever it is that needs doing in your life, you are more than up to the task.
My next big task, one I’ve been contemplating a lot now that my younger daughter is almost done with preschool, is resurrecting my career. I’ve been working all this time, editing and writing whatever comes my way. But the longer I’ve been home, the more I’ve been focused on my kids and our domestic life, and, interestingly, the more I have actually enjoyed it. I had a really hard time, in retrospect, losing my professional identity when I decided I was going to stay home with Kate. It was my own choice — I was a freelancer at the time, and I didn’t have to answer to a boss or go back after a certain amount of maternity leave, but I certainly could have hired a sitter and returned to the busy schedule I had before kids. But it felt vitally important to be with my baby. And I don’t regret it for a minute.
There was a healthy amount of work to do from home back then, when Kate was an infant. And a champion napper, too. I got a ton done in the afternoons while she snoozed. Those first few years, the economy was still good, and there was work to be had. We were able to paint the exterior of our new house with some of my earnings.
Once I had Sara, it was more challenging for me to take on big projects. I was feeling more overwhelmed with motherhood. And as the years have passed, there’s been less freelance work as publications’ staffs have grown leaner. They’re doing more work in-house, or giving projects to colleagues who were downsized.
The other thing that’s been happening as more publications take to the Web is the rise of sites like Demand Media, which churn out “content” and who pay a pittance to many people who are more aspirational writers and editors than professional ones. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel it devalues the skills of people like me.
I still have clients who know I’m good and send work my way, but it’s time for me to be more proactive about it.
What I’d love, when Sara’s in kindergarten in the fall, is a regular editing job that I can do in the middle of the day. I like being around after school. It’s interesting — and I’ve spoken to a lot of other moms about this — you’d think that as your kids get older you need to be around less. But in some ways they need you a lot more. And if I can still be present at the end of their day, I’d like to be.
Figuring this out is my new project. It’s something I need to do, to contribute more to my family’s financial well-being. I also want to do it; I think it will feel good. As much as my husband appreciates and acknowledges all the (unpaid) work I do at home, I know he’d also appreciate my taking a bit of the money burden off of him. And I am also cultivating an idea for my own business — so I’m starting to delve into that. It’s exciting and feels like the right path to follow. More on that later.
Okay, I found those scrapbooks. Very fun to page through them! Here are some quotes I kept, to give you a window into me at 20:
“Everything done in weakness fails. Moral: do nothing…one never reacts more quickly and blindly than when one should not react at all. A strong nature manifests itself by waiting and postponing any reaction.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
“Our doubts are traitors/And make us lose the good we/Oft might win/By fearing to attempt.” — from Measure for Measure
“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything.” — Joseph Conrad
“If you read too much all you’ll get is interesting.” — from a Barbara’s Bookstore newspaper ad
“If we concede that human life can be governed by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.” — Leo Tolstoy
“This is my mistake/Let me make it good/I raised the wall/And I will be the one to knock it down.” — R.E.M., “World Leader Pretend”
“brightly colored mushrooms that live in shady places” — World Book encyclopedia (I thought it was a good title for a story)
“Hand in your tests now or burn in hell forever.” — Chuck the Econ TA
“The first woman to whom a man is drawn, if she is really a woman, can never have a rival.” — Honore de Balzac
“…for motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality.” — St. Thomas Aquinas
“Love is a perky little elf, who dances a merry little jig, and then suddenly he turns on you with a miniature machine gun.” — Matt Groening, by way of my friend Janet
“Is anyone lacking a syllabus?” — Professor Weil
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” — Milan Kundera
“Socialism is the intermediate stage between capitalism and alcoholism.” — Russian political saying
“Many people have $20, but few have nine quarters.” — my roommate Robin
“Tell me something from the shallow depths of your heart.” — my friend Allison
“Men: Who are they, what do they want, and what exactly do they mean by that behavior?” — “Not Necessarily the News”