Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

On Love

“…Thereafter, the computer so juggled things that it placed Chloe over the wind of the aircraft in seat 15A and I next to her in seat 15B. What we had ignored when we began speaking over the safety instruction card was the minuscule probablity that our discussion had been reliant upon. As neither of us were likely to fly Club Class, and as there were 191 economy-class seats and Chloe had been assigned seat 15A and I, quite by chance, had been assigned seat 15B, the theoretical probability that Chloe and I would be seated next to one another (though the chances of our actually talking to one another could not be calculated) worked itself out as 220 in 36,290, a figure reducible to a probability of 1 in 164.955.” (pgs. 8 & 9)

-On lovers’ predilection toward attributing their meeting to destiny. “Because you are perfect for me and I am perfect for you, we were born for one another and the entire journey of each of our lives was undertaken for the sole purpose of coming to this one place at this time to meet you, my love.”


“Chloe and I would never have been as brutal to our friends as we were to one another. But we equated intimacy with a form of ownership and license. We may have been kind, but we were no longer polite.” (pg.62)


“When I told Chloe my idea that people’s personalities in relationships were a bit like amoebas, she laughed and told me she’d loved drawing amoebas at school… “I’ll draw you the difference between what shape my amoeba-self has at the office and what shape it has with you, ” [she said.]…

“What are all the wiggly bits?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s because I feel wiggly around you.”


“Well, you know, you give me space. I feel more complicated than in the office. You’re interested in me and you understand me better, so that’s why I made it wiggly, so that it’s sort of natural.”

“OK, I see, so what’s this straight side?”

“… Well, you don’t understand everything about me, do you? So I thought I’d better make it more realistic…” (pgs. 106 & 107)


“Dr. Saavedra had diagnosed [Chloe with] a case of anhedonia, a disease defined by the British Medical Association as a reaction remarkably close to mountain sickness resulting from the sudden terror brought on by the threat of happiness.” (italics mine, pg. 123)


Never has an analytical book, which dares use political terminology more often than you think possible, captured realistic love in such a, well, realistic way. Part fiction, part series of essays, de Botton’s debut, published when he was 23 (23!) is perhaps one of the greatest works ever written on the subject of romantic love, because here the lover, as mad as he is, manages sobriety long enough to give us a first person account but also somehow makes it as objective as one can dare hope for — and so interesting! He deftly and articulately explores depths the rest of us only know instinctively, emotionally and wordlessly. Thus, we recognize on these pages our own ways of falling in and out of love, our own ways of masking something terrible, of faking this or that, of giving in completely and of flailing about, having lost our identity, of being too happy for words and inexplicably, uncontrollably sad; we recognize ourselves in Chloe, who stops buying the narrator’s favorite cereal all of a sudden, while continuing to call him by his nickname. We recognize ourselves in Chloe when she, again all of a sudden, buys it one last morning, and that’s how we know she doesn’t love him anymore. Have I given too much away? No. You must read this book.

Here are some of the chapter headings:


Speaking Love

False Notes

Love or Liberalism




The Jesus Complex


I so want you to read this book, I’d give you all a copy if I could. Because I can’t,  if you call in today and order it from us, just mention this saccharine post and we’ll discount the price 30%. If you order today, you’ll have the book on Friday and be preparing to read it a second time Saturday morning. Consider it our Valentine to you.


After today, I promise to never talk about love. Ever again.

But read the book.

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The Kiss

by Stephen Dunn


She pressed her lips to mind.
— a typo

How many years I must have yearned
for someone’s lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place
that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows
to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she’s missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,
this is the wisest tongue
since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear,
speaking sense. It’s the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.
She was in. We married as soon as we could.

from Everything Else in the World

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Long Distance II

by Tony Harrison

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn’t just drop in. You had to phone.
He’d put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.

He couldn’t risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he’d hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she’d just popped out to get the tea.

I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven’t both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there’s your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

from Selected Poems

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Love is all you need…

A Christmas Valentine’s Tale

Last Monday at about 5pm, my office door opens and in pops Lilly’s head. Her face is cloudy but I can almost see the adrenaline rush around in there.


She calls me out to her illegally-parked car and asks me to look in through the passenger side window. Inside a temporary pet carrier, snuggled in the far corner, looking to me like it’s sleeping the long sleep, is a little squirrel. I mean really little. The same kind of squirrel you see scampering up a tree, or sitting there staring at you as you pass by like it’s possessed; the same kind of squirrel you chase off your fruit trees and the same kind you drive past, shielding your eyes from the little display of horror.


This little guy had been wandering around, dazed, on one of the busiest streets in Toluca Lake. Lilly, proper, law-abiding Lilly, stopped her car and got out in the middle of traffic and single-handedly made every car whizzing by stop! She carried the squirrel to her car and came rushing to work. “I didn’t want to be late,” she told me.


She talked and cooed to the squirrel. So afraid and almost sure that it didn’t have very long to live, she called a local pet clinic and begged  them to take the squirrel in so that “at least it will be in a peaceful, loving environment when it takes its last breath.” They told her to bring the little guy in. I so wish you could have seen the relief and joy on her face at that moment.


She took the squirrel in.


The next morning I received this email:

Welll, the squirrel made it through the night and is eating peanuts right now.

[The pet store] has calls in to several wildlife rescue places and he’ll/she’ll eventually be in rehab!

Ha ha ha!  He’s still not well, and may be injured, but he’s still with us.
The pet store named him Charlie.
Charlie. I thought that suited him. Cute and scruffy Charlie. But what I thought and didn’t want to tell Lilly was that even if there were no broken bones Charlie was still likely not going to be with us much longer. A little body as little as that, having sustained such trauma.
Well. I was wrong. Not only is Charlie now called Charlene, but she is with someone Lilly calls the Squirrel Whisperer and is doing so well she will be released into a “tranquil, squirrel-friendly environment” in a few days.
Love saved the day.
Full Disclosure: Squirrel pictured is one of Charlene’s brethren and not Charlene herself.

Go love someone! Anyone!


Filed under The Other Day at Portrait...

When a Woman Loves a Man

by David Lehman

When she says Margarita she means Daiquiri.
When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
And when she says, “I’ll never speak to you again,”
she means, “Put your arms around me from behind
as I stand disconsolate at the window.”

He’s supposed to know that.

When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
is raking leaves in Ithaca
or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
at the window overlooking the bay
where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

When a woman loves a man it is one-ten in the morning,
she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
drinking lemonade
and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
where she remains asleep and very warm.

When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
When she says, “We’re talking about me now,”
he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
“Did somebody die?”

When a woman loves a man, they have gone
to swim naked in the stream
on a glorious July day
with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
of water ruching over smooth rocks,
and there is nothing alien in the universe.

Ripe apples fall about them.
What else can they do but eat?

When he says, “Ours is a transitional era.”
“That’s very original of you,” she replies,
dry as the Martini he is sipping.

They fight all the time
It’s fun
What do I owe you?
Let’s start with an apology
Ok, I’m sorry, you dickhead.
A sign is held up saying “Laughter.”
It’s a silent picture.
“I’ve been fucked without a kiss,” she says,
“and you can quote me on that,”
which sounds great in an English accent.

One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
another nine times.

When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
When a man loves a woman he’s there. He doesn’t complain that
she’s two hours late
and there’s nothing in the refrigerator.

When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
She’s like a child crying
at nightfall because she didn’t want the day to end.

When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
A thousand fireflies wink at him.
The frogs sound like the string section
of the orchestra warming up.
The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

from Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art


Filed under Poetry