A Real Conversation

“I saw a photo of your book at the MLA expo. Congratulations! Which one of those books is yours?”

“Erm. The one with my name on the cover.” 

I never know if people are being passive aggressive or simply bad conversationalists.



Facebook is suggesting that I view a video explaining the amazing secret that helped Bruce Lee achieve great success and get everything he wanted in life. Given that Lee died at the age of 33 and I’m already over 40, I couldn’t imitate Lee’s life journey even if I really wanted to.

Few things are more ridiculous than targeted marketing.


It’s understandable, of course. The best cure for enmity is exposure. Writers go in to interview serial killers and come out feeling connected. And Bannon is nothing as bad as that. So how surprising is it that Wolff hung out with him a lot, started him as a human being and grew to like him. It would be great if he had some sort of an awareness of all this and especially of how this kind of exposure to different human beings could have benefited Bannon himself.

The Power of the Word

I detest Steve Bannon. He stands for everything I deeply dislike. But the author of Fire and Fury depicts Bannon in such a way that I have started harboring warm and fuzzy feelings towards him (or, rather, the character called “Steve Bannon” in the book). I need a reality check after each chapter because I don’t like where the book is taking me. And Wolff isn’t even a particularly good author. He’s wordy, he’s repetitive, he is extremely pompous. And yet 200 pages of reading about how Bannon is an idealist, a working-class fellow who is rejected by snobby, cynical elitists and how Trump is a big old softie whose heart is “a marshmallow” (that’s a direct quote from the book) and who feels deep compassion for Syrian children is starting to have an effect.

I’m still hoping to get to the end of the book but the moment I start developing warm feelings towards Kushner, that’s where I draw the line. There are places that I refuse to go, and that’s one of them.


It’s impossible for a mother to conceal what she feels from an infant or a toddler. I have learned that I can’t afford to be anything but completely cool and relaxed no matter what happens. The electricity and heating go out on a freezing winter night, but I’m totally fine. The flight gets cancelled 6 times, but I’m in a happy place. Three enormous Baskerville-type dogs are charging straight at us and I go, “Look at the beautiful doggies! Hi, doggies!”

My reaction to dogs used to be completely physiological and visceral. I’d have adrenaline gush out of my ears whenever I saw even a little puppy. But it’s easier to train myself not to feel that than to deal with an anxious toddler. And it has to be completely sincere because it’s the emotions they catch, not the narrative.

So now all the people in the neighborhood think I’m some sort of a crazy dog lover. They bring dogs for me to pet, so I have many opportunities to practice my zen state.