That is who Barack Obama is - a person of admirable character - and that is who he has remained for me over these last four years. I have not agreed with his every decision, but never once have I seen him break his cool, lose his composure, or abandon his insightful perspective - even during the most serious and/or absurd national disasters.
Absolute certainty is not something I strive for anymore. I've learned the hard way that destiny usually looks upon our most strident convictions with amusement, or perhaps even pity.
But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome - people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons.
You know, why at the end of your life should you assemble thousands of pages of 'Why am I so sad, why am I so depressed?' Instead, assemble thousands of pages of why you're so content.
When somebody has an enormous success in this culture, people start asking two questions, which are 'What are you doing now?' and 'How are you going to beat that?' And I have to say, I love the assumption that your intention is to beat yourself constantly - that you're in battle against yourself.
If I am to truly become an autonomous woman, then I must take over that role of being my own guardian.
I was a bartender for a long time, so I know how to make drinks, but I'm more likely to offer them than to have them. I think this is one of the reasons why I get to live longer than my great-grandmother did, and why I get to produce more writing than she did, and why my marriage isn't in dire straits.
Here's the thing: the unit of reverence in Europe is the family, which is why a child born today of unmarried parents in Sweden has a better chance of growing up in a house with both of his parents than a child born to a married couple in America. Here we revere the couple, there they revere the family.
Oh, I just want what we all want: a comfortable couch, a nice beverage, a weekend of no distractions and a book that will stop time, lift me out of my quotidian existence and alter my thinking forever.
Nothing in the last few years has dazzled me more than Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall,' which blew the top of my head straight off. I've read it three times, and I'm still trying to figure out how she put that magnificent thing together.
My husband is not American. He was born in Brazil, where he grew up under a filthy, corrupt dictatorship. In his twenties, he moved to Europe, where he lived for a while under various socialist democracies. He spent a few years on a kibbutz in Israel, living out a utopian experiment in communal existence.
I've always considered myself lucky that I do not have many passions. There's only one pursuit that I have ever truly loved, and that pursuit is writing. This means, conveniently enough, that I never had to search for my destiny; I only had to obey it.
Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results - the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.
I consider a good dinner party at our house to be where people drink and eat more than they're meant to. My husband is a really fantastic cook. His mother is Italian and if you walk into our house, we assume you're starving.
Men go into marriage with virtually no expectations whatsoever. Ten years later, the men are delightfully surprised to find out that it's actually kind of nice, and the women have sort of had to take a nose dive from what they thought it was going to be.
I think it's wonderful when a love story begins with a great deal of romance and affection, passion and excitement, that's how it should be. But I don't necessarily know that it's the wisest thing in the world to expect that it ends there, or that it should, 30 years down the road, still look as it did on the night of your first kiss.
Part of the elasticity that you need, in order to continue to try to create, is the foregone conclusion that not all of it is going to be fabulously successful. But it's all going to be part of a long lifetime body of experimentation.
There were times, especially when I was traveling for 'Eat, Pray, Love,' when, I swear to God, I would feel this weight of my female ancestors, all those Swedish farmwives from beyond the grave who were like, 'Go! Go to Naples! Eat more pizza! Go to India, ride an elephant! Do it! Swim in the Indian Ocean. Read those books. Learn a language.'
I myself have never been enchanted by the dream of the white wedding, and, heaven help us, the expectation that this exquisitely catered event should be 'the happiest moment' of one's life.
Listen - of course money changes everything, but so does sunlight, and so does food: These are powerful but neutral energy sources, neither inherently good nor evil but shaped only by the way we use them.