What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

With Valentine's Day less than a week away, I know you’re tirelessly working away on the perfect Valentine's Day card. Whether you agree with the holiday or not, how we talk about the people we care about is worth thinking about.

When someone says I love you, what does it mean? Really?

I love you, I can’t think of a word with more definitions and that's because the more a word is used the more abstract it becomes. It turns into a band-aid, a catch-all, something to say when we don’t know what to say. Our culture has turned a powerful saying into a lazy cliché that is now misused, overused, and completely meaningless. Like a jumbo bag of cotton candy, love looks big but really has nothing substantial. 

This Valentine’s Day, instead of saying I love you I challenge you to write and say exactly how you feel.

When I’m with you, it feels like I am riding downhill on my bike on a warm spring day.

That actually means something.

Every moment with you is like the first bite into a Klondike bar.

With you, I could sit through a whole Adam Sandler movie and not want to gouge my eyes out (but let’s not try just to be safe).

The last time someone made me feel this good, I was getting pumped full of drugs by an oral surgeon.

Being with you is better than the first sip of coffee in the morning.

Talking with you, I feel like I am in control of my breathing. You make me feel centered in this chaotic world.

You know that feeling you get when you read anything by Alan Moore. That’s how I am when we’re together: mystified, in awe, and complete.  

As you are working on your Valentine's Day card, I challenge you to write it without the word love, because the people you care about deserve it.


Megan, remember when we were hiking in Northern Minnesota? It felt like we were sitting on top of the state. The lakes and trees, we could see them for miles and miles. We sat with hands on our knees and drank it in: the landscape turning from green to brown, birds singing of falling branches in the wind, and the air, wet with morning, growing colder. I realized that if two people start opening doors, eventually one hand will be pushing on what the other is pulling back. Sitting next to you, I could feel the doors hanging on their hinges, opening into a hallway between us. Wherever I go I carry you with me, not only as a collection of moments but as a genuine connection I feel whenever I close my eyes and breathe.

Happy (early) Valentine's Day!



Lawrence Block Deadly Honeymoon

In addition to the books I posted yesterday, I started listening to Lawrence Block’s novel, Deadly Honeymoon. This winter, I started tearing through both Lawrence Block and Donald E. Westlake’s bibliographies. They are true word factories, each having written over one hundred books. And unlike most contemporary finger slaves, Block and Westlake wrote their own stuff (Block is still alive and writing) without the help of a ghostwriter and broke new ground in writing about transgressive (taboo) topics. In the 1960s, Block sometimes wrote a dozen novels a year. The only contemporary writers I can think of comparable to Block and Westlake in drive and passion is Stephen King and Stephen Graham Jones.

I’m sure Block and Westlake will come up again in future posts. They are by far two of the most impressive writers I have ever read, partially because of the sheer volume they have written but also because the their writing is always good. Think about it, for years they averaged a novel a month. That’s just bananas. Looks like I have a lot of writing ahead of me.

More updates coming soon…