The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. “I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.— Caroline Knapp
The most pleasurable Caroline Knapp quotes to discover and learn by heart
By definition, memoir demands a certain degree of introspection and self-disclosure: In order to fully engage a reader, the narrator has to make herself known, has to allow her own self-awareness to inform the events she describes.
All dogs can be guide dogs of a sort, leading us to places we didn't even know we needed or wanted to go.
What is this drive to be thinner, prettier, better dressed, other? Who exactly is this other and what does she look like beyond the jacket she's wearing or the food she's not eating? What might we be doing, thinking, feeling about if we didn't think about body image, ever?
I've always been drawn to solitude, felt a kind of luxurious relief in its self-generated pace and rhythms.
When you quit drinking you stop waiting.
Solitude is a breeding ground for idiosyncrasy, and I relish that about it, the way it liberates whim.
Academic achievement was something I'd always sought as a form of reward.
Good grades pleased my parents, good grades pleased my teachers; you got them in order to sew up approval.
My recipe for bliss on a Friday night consists of a 'New York Times' crossword puzzle and a new episode of 'Homicide;' Saturdays and Sundays are oriented around walks in the woods with the dog, human companion in tow some of the time but not always.
The freedom to choose...means the freedom to make mistakes, to falter and fail, to come face-to-face with your own flaws and limitations and fears and secrets, to live with the terrible uncertainty that necessarily attends the construction of a self.
Me, I walk along and feel quietly defensive, a recluse in the Land of We.
That's quite the loaded word, 'we.
It happened this way: I fell in love and then, because the love was ruining everything I cared about, I had to fall out.
Cottage cheese is one of our culture's most visible symbols of self-denial;
marketed honestly, it would appear in dairy cases with warning labels: this substance is self-punitive; ingest with caution.
American companies spend more than $200 billion each year hacking women's bodies into bits and pieces, urging comparisons between self and other, linking value to air-brushed ideals, and as the girls in my seventh-grade class graduated to high school and beyond, the imagery around us would only grow more specific, more pummeling, more insidious.
Why do I find the fantasy - husband, family, kids - exhausting instead of alluring? Is there something wrong with me? Do I have a life?
Was he smart enough? Introspective enough? Was it just enough to love him, or should I attach myself to someone who seemed farther ahead of me, someone smarter and more ambitious than me, who'd be sure to carry me along into the version of adulthood I thought I should be striving for?
But then the wine came, one glass and then a second glass.
And somewhere during that second drink, the switch was flipped. The wine gave me a melting feeling, a warm light sensation in my head, and I felt like safety itself had arrived in that glass, poured out from the bottle and allowed to spill out between us.
For years, I ate the same foods every day, in exactly the same manner, at exactly the same times.
Passivity is corrosive to the soul; it feeds on feelings of integrity and pride, and it can be as tempting as a drug.
So it persists, for many of us, hunger channeled into some internal circuitry of longing, routed this way and that, emerging in a thousand different forms. The diet form, the romance form, the addiction form, the overriding hunger for this purchase or that job, this relationship or that one. Hunger may be insatiable by nature, it may be fathomless, but our will to fill it, our often blind tenacity in the face of it, can be extraordinary.
Consumerism thrives on emotional voids.
When I drank, the part that felt dangerous and needy grew bright and strong and real. The part that coveted love kicked into gear. The yes grew louder than the no.
Alcoholism is the disease of more.
Around the time I began starving, in the early eighties, the visual image had begun to supplant text as culture's primary mode of communication, a radical change because images work so differently than words: They're immediate, they hit you at levels way beneath intellect, they come fast and furious.
There's something about sober living and sober thinking, about facing long afternoons without the numbing distraction of anesthesia that disabuses you of the belief in the externals, shows you that strength and hope come not from circumstances or the acquisition of things, but from the simple accumulation of active experience, from gritting the teeth and checking the items off the list, one by one, even if it's painful and you're afraid.
A lot of people, quite frankly, think intense attachments to animals are weird and suspect, the domain of people who can't quite handle attachments to humans.
Cats ... are like four-legged poster children for OCD.
Desires collide; the wish to eat bumping up against the wish to be thin, the desire to indulge conflicting with the injunction to restrain. Small wonder food makes a woman nervous.
Dogs possess a quality that's rare among humans -- the ability to make you feel valued just by being you -- and it was something of a miracle to me to be on the receiving end of all that acceptance. The dog didn't care what I looked like, or what I did for a living, or what a train wreck of a life I'd led before I got her, or what we did from day to day. She just wanted to be with me, and that awareness gave me a singular sensation of delight.
Dogs are fantasies that don't disappoint.
Smooth and ordered on the outside; roiling and chaotic and desperately secretive underneath, but not noticeably so, never noticeably so.
Before you get a dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way.
I'm still prone to periods of isolation, still more fearful of the world out there and more averse to pleasure and risk than I'd like to be; I still direct more energy toward controlling and minimizing appetites than toward indulging them.
Dogs have such short life spans, it's like a concentrated version of a human life. When they get older, they become much more like our mothers. They wait for us, watch out for us, are completely fascinated by everything we do.
The real struggle is about you: you, a person who has to learn to live in the real world, to inhabit her own skin, to know her own heart, to stop waiting for life to begin.
Happy and alone, you say? Reclusive and merry? How oxymoronic! Pas possible! Alas, the concept is lost on so many.
The key, I suppose, has less to do with insight than with willingness, the former being relatively useless without the latter.
I am shy by nature, a person who's always found something burdensome about human interaction and who probably always will, at least to some degree.
Fall in love with a dog, and in many ways you enter a new orbit, a universe that features not just new colors but new rituals, new rules, a new way of experiencing attachment.
To a drinker the sensation is real and pure and akin to something spiritual: you seek; in the bottle, you find.
Before you open the lunch menu or order that cheeseburger or consider eating the cake with the frosting intact, haul out the psychic calculator and start tinkering with the budget.
When you're starving or wrapped up in a cycle of binge-ing-and-purging, or sexually obsessed with (someone), it is very hard to think about anything else, very hard to see the larger picture of options that is your life, very hard to consider what else you might need or want or fear were you not so intently focused on one crushing passion. I sat in my room every night, with rare exceptions, for three and a half years.
On the broad spectrum of solitude, I lean toward the extreme end: I work alone, as well as live alone, so I can pass an entire day without uttering so much as a hello to another human being. Sometimes a day's conversation consists of only five words, uttered at the local Starbucks: 'Large coffee with milk, please.
I don't think that the world would be a better place if everyone owned a dog, and I don't think that all relationships between dogs and their owners are good, healthy, or enriching.
You'll reach into your wallet to brandish a photograph of a new puppy, and a friend will say, 'Oh, no - not pictures.
Love—the desire to love and be loved, to hold and be held, to give love even if your experience as a recipient has been compromised or incomplete—is the constant on the continuum of hunger, it's what links the anorexic to the garden-variety dieter, it's the persistent pulse of need and yearning behind the reach for food, for sex, for something.
When you love somebody, or something, its amazing how willing you are to overlook the flaws.