Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Distressing Once, Distressing Twice, Distressing Over Chicken Soup With Rice

In 1961 Maurice Sendak painted a mural on the nursery wall for personal friends in Manhattan. This wall was recently carved out and moved to Philadelphia—1400 pounds of wall. I've been teaching outside of Philly this year and read about this in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As the end of my absolutely insane year of having no real home base (my partner is in Savannah, my house is in Maine, nothing of much is in NJ) I’ve been traveling, working way, way too much for my 44 year-old tired self—I’ve not been writing nearly as much as I ought to, I had to cancel a book-signing event at the hoitiest bookstore in Manhattan because I practically collapsed and landed in the hospital for three days (my publisher had been working on getting me this gig for months.)

And so all this leads to sharing with you my new all-time favorite Sendak quote, and maybe you’ll understand why:

"We're all orphans, and all our friends die. It's the story of life, and it stinks. You go on feeling that you failed. I don't sit here and say, 'I've got all these books, and isn't that nice?' Who cares! I don't care anymore."

Let’s admit it don’t we all want to be suffering to this degree of pen ultimate success? Don’t you feel better about your own misery? I think I do.
(PS. and no sympathy, please)


  1. Sendak sounds like my grandma, though she has a few years on him. But then again, she's been talking like that since she hit 60. Good times!

    When it comes to misery, candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.

  2. Okay, no sympathy as per request, but I do hope you are all recovered. And I love the idea of pen ultimate success.

  3. That's the funny thing about Sendak. He wrote all the answers on how to save yourself, and then says things like that because he knows writing about it was only half way. No one knows better that every person has two opposite selves inside of them. I think his work is so amazing because only a light that bright could oppose something so dark. If that makes any sense. I imagine myself sitting in a beautiful white house like his, in conneticut or vermont (don't all writers live there?), with my very own studio and my very own desk and enough money to buy something to paint on and paint with. I'd be just as unhappy. What good is work if you don't have someone to eat supper with afterwards who will tell you how wonderful you are?

  4. As usual, Maurice Sendak needs a hug.

  5. Polly, your words weepy-worthy--so true. Thanks.
    And, Peter, I think we all need hugs all the time (except when we are hard writing and have that one brilliant, fleeting moment of utter self-satisfaction and self-acceptance--then everyone needs to get out of the fricking way!)
    And Phyllis, better? yes I am upright!