Category Archives: Writing

It Does Not Matter That This Is Just A Book Blog.

I’ve been wondering how to address the news in Charlottesville for the past few days, how exactly do I put my thoughts into words. After all, this is a just book blog. I’m not even American. But I think that at this point neither of those matter anymore, because something needs to be said. It does not matter that this is a just book blog and it does not matter that I am not even American, because there are neo-Nazis walking down the streets in broad daylight, with assault rifles and swastika flags. It does not matter that this is a just book blog and it does not matter that I am not even American, because the president of one of the strongest countries in the world would like to “know all the facts” before he denounces the KKK. It does not matter that this is a just book blog and it does not matter that I am not even American, because we have a problem. All of us. And it did not start on Saturday, and it was not invented by America.

There are not “many sides” to this story. There are never “many sides” to this kind of story, no matter where or when it’s taking place. There is one. It’s very easy to spot, because by the time we’re all listening they’re not even running away anymore. There’s no where to run to. They always notice it first, yell, shout, try to make us see. But we humans like to look the other way, until the last possible point, when we can’t anymore, because eventually there isn’t anywhere else to look.

Home - Warsaw Shire

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I couldn’t stop right there

And be one traveler long I stood

And looked at the ground

Praying it would swallow me whole

 

Then closed my eyes and spun around and opened my eyes and walked straight ahead and got lost.

 

Has that made all the difference?

Facts I Like To Believe About My Father

My father knows twenty three languages, not including various baby dialects. My father has two first names and two last names and three more in the middle. And a hyphen. My father is a hyphenated guy. My father is the one billion and sixth tallest man in the world. My father gave birth to himself. My father was a published poet at the age of twelve, and wrote his first biography at nineteen. The sequel, Plus One Year, made him the first twenty year old bestselling author. My father has read Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus, the longest novel in the world. And at the point he didn’t even know French. My father made it around the world in eighty days. By foot. My father’s brain is faster than my calculator. My father’s cursive is legible. My father never burns his toast. My father knows when the avocado is ripe. My father can build a card house in the wind. My father can take money out of a piggy bank without breaking it. My father’s teeth are whiter than my wall. My father has a black belt in all forms of martial arts. My father is a professional dancer. On ice and underwater. My father is best friends with the prime minister of Israel. My father is best friends with the president of Palestine. My father has managed to keep this a secret from both of them. My father never finds himself stuck without a bookmark. My mother says my father is an expert at lying. My father says he’s actually just a very good story-teller.

We’re All Just Bad Philosophers Who Eat Too Much, Do Too Little and Never Sleep Enough

Random-point-in-life-crises usually happen at night. Not saying just “mid-life” because this shit usually happens much earlier than that. Unless your life is halfway up by the time you’ve hit puberty. Or finished high school. Or finished college or got fired or really just had any terrible night at an age where you could form coherent thoughts. They usually happen after watching some indie film, or just anything in a foreign language, while making yourself feel guilty for not doing the things you’re actually supposed to be doing.

All of a sudden from master procrastinator and quite possibly soda addict you’ve gone into full philosopher mode. Everything becomes so profound you’re not even sure anymore whether you seriously feel like you’re drowning or if at this point you’re just mocking yourself. Plato, Aristotle, Kant – they’ve got nothing on you. If your questions and queries become any more questioningly inquiring the universe just might fall apart. No, not the universe. Reality. Anything outside of your own mind is unsure, the external world cannot be known, and might not even exist. You realize you’re quoting the Wikipedia article on solipsism and then you’re fucking proud of yourself for reading philosophy articles on the internet.

At this point you’ve grown hungry, possible even starving, because really who knows or understands anything at all. Desires cannot be measured. Nothing makes sense. Everything is a lie. You go search for food, possibly stopping to impart some information to your cat, if you’ve got one.

You’re not really sure what to do now. In some faraway part of your brain you realize the wise decision would be to go to sleep. You organize your computer files and scroll through endless Buzzfeed posts instead. Eventually the panic of going to sleep once it’s light outside settles in. There’s something unsettling about going to sleep when the entire sky is shouting at you that you’ve missed the opportunity to rest. It’s like being yelled at by your mother, but on a whole other scale. Also, the sky is blue. You crawl into bed, promising yourself you’ll shower first thing tomorrow morning. Well, it’s not exactly tomorrow – technically speaking it’s already tomorrow now. That’s supposedly unimportant stuff but at this time, in this state of mind, it’s actually vital you take a moment to recognize this technicality.

The antidote to over thinking, over analyzing, and life crisis-ing is not-night-time. Once it’s properly day again you realize how stupid you are and how unproductive it is to waste away the night, thus ruining the following day as well. You’ve literally achieved nothing. In fact, you’ve even regressed because now you’re very tired, you’ve eaten way more than you ever planned on eating and you have a brand new stock of terrible poetry saved in various states of completeness all over your computer.

Really, your entire life is one big crisis. You can feel the clock ticking, the time passing by. You still haven’t discovered the meaning of life. You’ve probably just gained a few pounds, lost a couple of inches from sleep deprivation, and ruled out a future in creative writing.

Well, considering the fact that you’re a fully formed human who still has no clue what that even means and you’re hopelessly confused about practically everything, and you’re going to die anyway and probably be forgotten the minute it happens, that’s actually a considerable achievement for one night, don’t you think?

Practice Makes Perfect?

Guys, I think horror books are sort of like playing guitar. You gotta read a couple before you get the hang of it.

I finished reading Red Dragon by Thomas Harris at 2am. This was my second time venturing into the feared genre of horror. The first was last year, with Stephen King’s Cell. As I’ve mentioned before, the King round ended quite badly, with me quitting the book about 100 pages in because I was simply… bored. It had started off pretty well and then very quickly became pointless.

You can imagine I was hesitant to start Red Dragon. I was excited to try horror again, but also worried it would end in another unfinished book. The novel had a great start. There was something about the writing that made it enjoyable to read. That feeling lasted through about 30% of the book. By the time I reached about halfway I’d sort of lost interest. It wasn’t that I wanted to stop reading; I just didn’t care to continue either. I pushed through and read the last 30% yesterday.

I’ve never seen horror film before. The closest I’ve gotten is NBC’s Hannibal, which is actually what got me reading Red Dragon in the first place. Reading for me is most times a better experience than watching, and so I was waiting for that creepy scare, that struggle to turn the next page for fear of what lies behind it. I never got that. Simply put – I wasn’t scared. I liked the reading, the characters were likeable enough – the book just wasn’t scary. Maybe I need to read more to get used to it. I don’t understand why I’m not scared. I was waiting for that fun horror feeling the entire time and it never came!

It’s not me, it’s you. Or is it?

I don’t know.

Is something inherently wrong with me, or have I just chanced upon the not so scary novels of the horror genre? Tell me, guys. What’s wrong? Why am I not creeped out? Why am I still sleeping at night? Why do I still forget to double-lock the door at night, and why do I not jump at the sound of footsteps outside my room at night, even though I know it’s just the cat?

BA’s 26 Posts Blogging Challenge – June 30th

The 26 Posts Blogging Challenge is a challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour, which poses topics for 26 years. I have not completed every topic, and I don’t plan on continuing on a regular basis, but I did want to write up something and this is a good way to find prompts. This week’s topic is –

Your Changes: How have you changed since your blog began?

This is actually a really interesting topic, and it has more to do with my love of writing than with my love of reading. I do run a book blog and so of course I enjoy reading but a passion of mine I’ve discovered and pursued only relatively recently is writing. I write short stories, poetry, essays, spoken word poems – everything. I originally intended on running a book blog with reviews mainly, but eventually I realized that – unlike many book bloggers I follow – I simply cannot keep up with reading a library every week. I got into the weekly meme posts and those seemed to be a big hit with you guys and so I do them often now. At one point I also realized I wanted to incorporate writing into this blog and that’s how my “Book Talk” page began. I guess I never made it clear but that page basically just rounds up links for all of my more personal posts about books that aren’t memes or reviews. My first piece was one about Orson Scott Card and my own personal agenda regarding him, and authors who partake in activities I am against in general. My second post was about literary tattoos, one that for some reason never picked up – you can view it here, in case you’re interested. I’ve gone on to write two more of these (My Reading History & Book to Movi- TV Show?) and to be honest they’re what I enjoy most, besides my very favorite Top Ten Tuesday posts. In fact, Jayde-Ashe @ The Paperbook Blog has started a project of putting out a monthly (maybe twice a month even) literary magazine online and I’ll be submitting a piece about what I like to call “book murder” in there. I’ll make sure to link you guys when it’s up.

So, now with this lengthy introduction in place – you guys know how I tend to get off topic – I guess I should address the real question here. I think I’ve mainly changed in the fact that I’ve stopped just listing ideas. Nowadays, I actually tackle them. The Scott Card post is a topic I’ve been involved in ever since I discovered the topic after reading Ender’s Game about a year and a half ago. I discuss it verbally with people all the time, but I never actually sat down and wrote about it. This platform finally got me going. I finally DO SOMETHING with my ideas, and it makes me so happy with myself. I’m a professional procrastinator  and this blog has managed to hack away at this laziness I’m encased in. I’ve also started writing reviews of course, something I’ve been interested in doing but never actually made the effort. The main change I guess I’m trying to emphasize is that I’ve become a “do-er”, along with just… a thinker.

In addition to that, ever since I started writing I became more confident in my own life. I’m generally a shy person with strangers – not loud or outgoing. My writing has helped me discover other sides of myself – the opinionated, strong, humour person I come off as through these posts. The fact that people actually read MY writing – you guys have no idea how happy it makes me. Every email I get from WordPress makes my day. It still astounds me that 69 – NEARLY SEVENTY – human beings in this world choose to invest time in reading the words I type up here in my little room. Having readers? It’s crazy. I never thought I’d reach that point. I don’t need crowds of people or mainstream websites printing my writing – just this. Anyone. Someone who listens. I know every blogger is glad to be read but when it comes from that BEING A WRITER aspect it really affects me. I love what I do with books here, but at the end of the day my writing is most important to me.

So yes, I’ve changed. I’ve become more confident both in real life, in writing, and in sharing my writing in real life. I’ve started accomplishing things instead of just piling up ideas and plans. This show of support I get here with every follow, comment or like has encouraged me to continue. I’ve changed because I feel like people care, and I think that’s honestly the best motivation. I’m not big in the book blogging community and I might never be, but my goal is to have people listen and for now this is more than enough.

I think it’s only right I finish this post off with a thank you. I usually do the whole “What do YOU ______” thing but this post isn’t so much about questions for you – it’s just… thanks. You guys have no idea how much every one of you means to me. We’re nearing the 70 now. A small community. All of this wouldn’t exist without you or your support.

Thank you, danke, gracias, merci, תודה.

Book to Movi- TV Show?

    

We’re all familiar with the book-to-film phenomenon. Someone takes a book, turns it into a movie. Or, in my slightly unobjective opinion, someone takes a book, rips it open, stabs it thirty times in the heart, writes a murder plan, turns it into a movie, and hacks away at my heart and brain as I suffer through said movie.

We all have our own opinions regarding these movies. Some turn out good, others not so much. We also are all familiar with that unfortunate event where people watch a film and then never read the book because they’ve “already seen the movie.” That’s when us readers usually intrude, making futile attempts to convince this poor, ignorant friend that “the book is so not like the movie!” We fail, of course, and return to our computers defeated and angry – prepared to rant to the Internet about this awful incident.

Something that has been on the rise lately though is not movies based on books, but TV SHOWS based on books. Sometimes these are series that get translated to many seasons; sometimes the show begins with a book and deviates from it, becoming a creature of its own.

With films, we walk into a dark room and experience the book we’ve read on screen for no more than three hours. We experience a very basic version of the book – this intimate knowledge of characters and their lives and troubles simply cannot be translated as perfectly in such a short time. Most films don’t convey that feeling of getting into somebody’s head, viewing the world through their eyes. It’s a very special experience – one you can almost only find in a book.

On the other hand, with TV shows there’s suddenly this whole huge time span. These characters we read about become full-fledged people. Our books don’t get condensed – they get stretched. Many times the writers of these TV shows start inventing new situations to put characters through – happenings that didn’t take place in the original novel. Movies that are book-based are usually created in order to pair a visual experience to the imageless one we get from our book. Book based TV shows, however, take these people we’ve befriended on paper and put them in our own very real world. The TV shows aren’t meant to perfectly portray the novels. They’re meant to expand them, to show us what happened before and after or what happened in between in the parts the author chose not to mention. It’s why these TV shows usually tend to stray from the original works they’re based on. On screen these characters come to life and with so much time to fill they become their own standalone individual, no longer based on that snippet of their life that we read about.

I haven’t actually read many books whose series I later watched. I read the first book in the Dexter series, which according to Dexter fans is very similar to the first season of the show, even though later on the show and the book part ways. I still remember the surprise I felt when one day a few years ago I turned on the TV and discovered that there was a Tracy Beaker show. I never took a particular liking to it; then again I was not exactly at the appropriate age anymore.

The Pretty Little Liars series was a different case because I actually read all eight books before the series was announced, and I can still recall phoning my friend and telling her that a TV series was going to be made. The eighth book had an open ending, and when the series turned out to be a huge success Sara Shepherd immediately announced she’d be writing four more novels. I read the first one in this new continuance and was very not surprised when it turned out to be a complete waste of time. It was obvious right from the announcement that this was simply a way to make money off her new fame, and I was both prepared and disappointed. Many of my friends started watching this show and immediately fell in love. I remember being shushed and hushed at every conversation regarding the show because I knew what was going to happen. It was an unusual experience – we’re used to not spoiling short stories – movies and books with clear beginnings and clear ends. With a TV show it’s different. You don’t know how it’s going to be spaced out, what’s going to happen now, how they’re going to wrap up a season. I used to have my friends tell me what’s going on in the show and then I’d compare it with the book progression. In the beginning I absolutely hated the TV show – the characters were all wrong, the plot was completely off track – so much of it was different and made up. It’s the exact thing I hated about book-based movies. The episodes seemed to be airing whenever I decided to watch TV – no matter the time – and of course I ended up watching them and slowly, over time, learning to like this new version of the books I’d read. Unlike my experience with movies, I managed to put the books aside and view this series as a sort of alternate universe to my books – slight similarities mixed with new ideas and inventions. Eventually the show went completely off course and now it’s just a TV show that happens to share a general idea and a couple of names with Sara Sheppard’s original books.

I cannot stand seeing my fictional friends being abused for two hours as every shred of character is taken away from them, but when they’re given a new life with their own adventures the case is different – I see my fictional friends go from limited entities to proper beings. I think the difference in my attitude toward these two mediums stems from the fact that I view movies as a recreation and TV shows as a new creation.

My History of Other People’s Stories

I was just browsing my Facebook News Feed when I came across a link to a post called My Reading History by Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner. In it she describes in lovely writing and even lovelier images the history of her reading over the years – from child, through teen and college all the way to today. She inspired me to write one of my own posts, although without the wonderful graphics because I am hopeless at creating things using a computer. I’ll just stick to words – hope you guys don’t mind. Actually, I’m sure you guys won’t mind because trust me; images will make this a lot more messy.

I guess I should begin from… the beginning? Wow, how surprising. So, I’ve loved reading since I can remember myself. In fact, in 2nd grade I was already reading proper books. I was one of few 2nd graders in my class, maybe even the only one, who’d reached the stage where they move on from picture books. I didn’t like this difference and I insisted on reading picture books even though they were below my level. Eventually Ms. Golden, my 2nd grade teacher, told my mom she refused to allow me to read picture books when I could be reading proper writing and that’s when my love story with picture books ended. It was in 2nd grade that I first read a Roald Dahl book – George’s Marvelous Medicine – and fell in love with rhyming poetry in the form of Jack Preluztky. I specifically say “rhyming” because I was convinced that any poem that didn’t rhyme wasn’t really a poem at all and that it was just stupid. On the first day of 2nd grade my teacher gave every kid a small book of poems by many different poets. I still have the book, along with a decent collection of Jack Preluztky books.

In 3rd grade I discovered Harry Potter, which of course took over the rest of my life. I read all six in record time, the books breaking my tiny eight year back; the seventh came out only a year and a half later.  My friend and I printed Potter related things, wrote Potter poems, practiced spells, drew characters and basically just had our own fan club without knowing that’s what we were doing. I still have two letters I wrote – one to Harry himself and the other to JK Rowling – somewhere in my room. As you can probably tell, I don’t throw stuff out. Like, ever. I also read all twelve A Series of Unfortunate Events books that had been released till that point. Funnily enough, I ended up ordering The End off Amazon and only making it halfway through. I also remember reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin – a book I later read one or two more times and yet still do not remember even now what happens in the end.

My entire reading history can be summed up into one word – whatever. That’s it. I read whatever I found, without considering the genre or age it was meant for. It’s how I ended up being asked by a teacher in 4th grade why I was reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and why I to this day am still unsure of the definition of children and young adult literature. I simply never went by definitions. I read everything and anything. I do remember despising non-fiction books, the only exceptions being the non-fiction companions to the Magic Tree House series books.

Between fourth and fifth grade I moved back to Tel Aviv and ended up reading the last Harry Potter book in my first summer back here without my own proper room or friends – specifically my best friend who I’d read the entire series with.

I’ve never had a lull in my reading. I mean, nowadays I read less but that’s because I have so much more to do and so much less time to do it, and that’s even though I sleep way too little – as my mother never tires of reminding me. I also haven’t really gone through any “periods.” I’ve always read anything. I do admit that when I was younger I preferred longer and bigger books because I hated that feeling of finishing a series and not having anything more to share with those characters, contrary to today when I prefer shorter books that don’t make me feel tiny and discouraged.

I have so many great memories associated with reading. There was that time I was visiting my grandparents in Israel back when I still lived in New York and when I was bored one day they gave me a box full of children’s books, namely The Babysitter’s Club books by Ann M. Martin. I was probably around eight years old at the time, and I decided I’d read all of the books in the series in chronological order. I reached the eighth book and that’s when I came across the book numbered 108. Needless to say, I gave up that plan.

Another story – one I’ve mentioned here before – is the time I got left behind on a 3rd grade trip because I spent too much time in the library and the class left without me. I ended up riding a taxi to the theatre with the meanest, scariest teacher in the school and the copy of A Wrinkle in Time that I’d finally chosen before I’d discovered my class’s disappearance and all hell broke loose inside eight year old me. (Wow, lots of stuff happened to me when I was eight.) After the teacher’s incessant apologizes to my mom over the phone we sat together and complained about the play we were supposed to be watching the entire time.

I don’t remember anything about the book The Wind in the Willows, except for the fact that I hated it. It was the first book my mother chose to read to my sister and me when we decided to start a bed-time story ritual in the winter of 2006. I remember how one night, after reading, or maybe instead, my mother told us we were going to be moving back to Israel the next summer.

My obsession with Jodi Picoult I established after reading her book The Pact. The interesting part of this is that I picked up The Pact after recognizing Picoult’s name since I’d read My Sister’s Keeper. I found it on a random rack of not-yet-shelved books in the library I absolutely hate and have been to very few times – an even number because I had to return the books of course. This is the only good thing I ever got from that place. Ever.

In 2012 I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and then visited the places he mentioned in it when I visited Amsterdam in the summer. Somewhere in my massive Sent folder I still have the email I wrote to fictional Hazel and Augustus while riding the train from Holland to Germany.

Oh, and at some point during my younger years I developed an unexplained hate for Narnia and all things related which explains my Narnia-less childhood.

My reading history is basically just a big mess littered with thousands of memories. These days I’m pickier and I tend to avoid huge commitments – it’s why I’m still putting off Game of Thrones.

I’ve also always had this… fear of classics. It’s the same feeling I have regarding cult films – I’m always worried I won’t get what they hype is all about and then end up just feeling stupid because I haven’t experienced a revelation or epiphany of some sort after reading said book. Or worse, I won’t even like it.

So, yeah, this is it basically. My “reading history.” Well, actually, it’s more like a bunch of memories that cover it, but maybe that’s just the same thing. I mean, I could go on listing books forever but I find that highly uninteresting not to mention pointless. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of Judy Blumes and Roald Dahls and so many other books but in the end it’s the memories that make up my history, so I think presenting them is much better than just listing. The Wayside School tapes we listened to in the car, the spell practicing with Potter and my friend, the poetry obsessions – those are what matters. I still read young adult literature these days, along with what you’d categorize as “adult novels.” I don’t know if I’ve ever had a certain taste – I just went along with what I found. If it looks good, I’ll read it.

I intended on one day making a post about the memories we associate with books and how the books I read can tell the story of who I am but maybe this is it. It’s just… my history. Or maybe I will end up writing another post and you guys will recognize stories I mention there because they probably appear in other posts of mine as well. Who knows? We’ll see.

What do you guys think? Is our reading history just an assortment of books or does it mean more about us? Have you had periods in your life where reading just wasn’t a top priority anymore? Or maybe it only became important later on in life?

Bookish Ink – Hypothetical Ideas for Theoretical Tattoos (Brought to You By a 16 Year Old With Underdeveloped Decision Making Skills and An Extreme Fear of Needles)

I’ve always found the concept of tattoos fascinating. The idea that someone can decide to just… print something on their skin, knowing it’s going to stay there forever and ever is astonishing.

Of course, having considered getting a tattoo at some point in time, I always wonder what I’d get. Even if I somehow managed to overcome my extreme phobia of needles, I am such a bad decision maker that I’d probably end up dying before I made up my mind. I have decided though that if I were ever to get a tattoo, or even a few, they would most likely be book related. After I discovered Sir Douglas Adams’s brilliant mind, that idea changed to “most likely be Douglas Adams related.”

Now that we’ve covered that little intro I think I can begin with the actual point of this post, instead of just rambling on forever. I used to think if I ever got a tattoo it would be a quote, but recently the idea of images has appealed to me as well. Thing is, seeing as I am an avid book-to-film hater, many famous book icons or symbols come from their films. Also, I would want to get a tattoo that isn’t the biggest cliché ever, one that I won’t find on every single living being were I to attend a convention of some sorts discussing said book. These two criteria make it sort of hard to think up of ideas, but thankfully I have a creative mind and lots of time – infinite amounts actually, since this whole idea is hypothetical – so I can spend forever wondering how on Earth (and surrounding planets) I’ll achieve this goal!

There are only a handful of books I’ve ever read that I can definitely define as “life changers,” whatever that means. In most cases I can’t even explain why or how – which is why I’ll avoid reviewing these books, they are too important to me for that. I just… know. That’s it really. I can feel them. I know that makes no sense at all. I feel like they have become a part of my thought, whether I’m aware of their influence or not. The books I put in this category are Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams. I am not so sure whether Harry Potter deserves a place in that category or a whole unique category of his own called “My Childhood.” As for my favorite quote, the one I think describes me most from all of the sentences I’ve ever read, that award goes to Jodi Picoult in House Rules where she writes “Frankly, I wonder who Frank was, and why he has an adverb all to himself. I think I’ll keep this post focused on these novels because I really can’t cover all of the books I love and my ideas will multiply over time.

And now, for the ideas!

Continue reading →

Group Therapy

By Hadas 

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We’ll all begin by introducing ourselves, says the brown-haired-average-height-has-at-least-two kids-and-a-real-estate-agent-of-a-husband-both-of-them-nearing -midlife-crisis group counselor.

Dr. John Smith, Cardiac Surgeon, states the blue eyed blond haired man to her left, followed by redheaded Professor Mary Thompson, Historian who is sitting on crew cut Sergeant Bill Miller, Ex-Marine’s right who has his chair slightly turned to his skinny-as-a-stick wife Madame Angelique Dupont-Miller, World-Famous Baker who just smiled at dressed for a funeral Judge Claire Gessler, New York Supreme Court.

Jess, citizen of Planet Earth.

How about each one of us tells the rest of the group something about themselves, the counselor continues.

Been married for thirty years, with two lovely children. I’m currently just in the middle of a new research project, which has unfortunately coincided with the new house my wife and I are planning for construction in the summer, says the blonde, slipping his hand through his over gelled hair before quickly trying to smooth it down again. Just began writing my third book about my travels in Africa along with a team of archeologists. It’ll be published alongside a documentary film that follows my month long trip, the Professor announces, her red curls bouncing up and down as she speaks. I’ve finished my active duty and we’ve just adopted three year old twins from Japan. Hopefully, the big contract we’re trying to sign on the bakery will be finalized in June, sending us all on our way to London for a three year stay, the couple describes, cutting into one another’s words and finishing each other’s sentences. After finishing law school I went on to work as a criminal lawyer, starting with minors and young offenders. Promotions led me away from that area to more high profile cases and today I work with the leading court in the state of New York. I have three kids, all high school graduates, two in the army and one studying abroad, says the daunting judge, sounding more like she’s giving a speech to a courtroom than talking to a support group.

I have five cats and one dog. I spend most of my time writing spoken word poetry and trying to remember to get milk so that I can make my morning chocolate milk and survive the rest of the day. I own 543 CDs, a type-writer and all 46 Dr. Seuss Special Collector’s Edition books with a personal dedication and autograph. My favorite food is pizza.

Who would like to begin with sharing some of our main goals in life, asks Ms. Counselor, and then of course points to Dr. Blondie, as if he wasn’t first already.

I hope to be promoted to head of my department and hopefully receive a grant for my research, he shares, and then turns to the Prof who continues with her answer. My main goal for this year is to finish my basic plan for the book and to start meeting up with the movie producers and working on the layout of the film. We’re obviously aiming for the contract and our move to London along with our children, Crew Cut and his skeletal wife declare, yet again speaking in plural and at the same time, as if they were one person with two bodies. I’m hoping I finally get the vacation I’ve been waiting for and my husband and I can go visit our daughter in Venice. Of course I also have work goals which include completing and publishing a paper that I’ve been working on for the past two years, Colorless Claire says.

I once had a bucket list but I lost it while sky-diving, which was ironically enough the first thing on the list.

Now that we all know a bit about each other, how about we all tell the group why we’re here, the counselor says, taking on her reserved-for-important-subjects tone.

Well, the combination of research and intensive work in the hospital is very stressful and I haven’t been sleeping well lately so my wife advised I should go see a doctor, funnily enough, and he recommended I come here, Doc reveals. I, too, lead a very stressful life and my sister goes to one of these and told me I should try it out myself. The trip to Africa was very refreshing and spiritual, yet very demanding and tiring, Mary explains. Adopting two toddlers at once is the hardest job on the planet, and trust me – I was in the army, jokes the former soldier. My wife’s sister said I should try group therapy. She spent a couple of years in India and since then she’s all about healing the soul. Yes, the kids and the contract with the possible move have been making my nights a living hell. Bill’s sister recommended this sort of treatment to me. Our sisters became very close since the day they first met and I guess Amelie – Angelique’s sister, Bill intrudes to clear things up – and her incessant nagging about spirituality and India finally cracked through someone’s skull, the French toothpick says. I’m pretty sure most members of the judicial system have been to at least one of these sorts of meeting before, the Judge says, the corner of her mouth hinting at a smile but not quite reaching it, as if it’s forgotten how to. Life in court is very… tough on one’s soul, she says, embracing a quieter, more thoughtful tone – so unlike her previous short and sharp speech.

I was skateboarding down the path of life when I suddenly slammed into a tree and found myself at a dead end. I then proceeded to enter the first building I came across, which just so happened to be this one. No, wait, this was the second building. I first went to the cupcake shop just down the street.

The counselor glances at the clock hung on the wall behind her. Well, guys, I’m sorry but our time is out, she tells us, putting on an obviously rehearsed sad face, once she probably flashes at every single client, hoping to convince them she really is sorry to see him go and to make them forget how many houses they had to mortgage in order to afford the meeting in the first place.

Dr. John Smith pulls out his Smartphone and glances at the brightly lit screen. I have an appointment starting in less than an hour, he remarks. Pleasure meeting you all! The end of the sentence is left echoing down the hall is he dashes to his car downstairs. I have to go prepare my class for tomorrow, Professor Mary Thompson comments, pulling out her iPhone. She departs with a cheery farewell. Sergeant Bill Miller rolls up his sleeve to reveal a shiny silver watch fastened tightly ’round his thick wrist. He shows it to his wife who says, the girls should be returning from my mother’s soon. The two go around shaking hands with everyone who hasn’t left yet, before following in the footsteps of the Doctor and the Professor. My husband’s flight from DC should be landing soon, Judge Claire Gessler says after glancing at the face of a round gold pocket watch she pulls out on a long golden chain from her front suit pocket. She gives a short wave, one that looks just as unnatural on her as the attempted smile earlier on in the meeting. The tap of her heels lingers long past her departure.

So, the counselor says when just the two of us are left. Where are you going?

Good question.