Ryan’s notes

The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser (book)

A story of relationships and family, and how the author moves through life finding comfort, love, and distress in a different kind of family than she'd imagined for herself.


  • Live an interesting fucking life

  • I want to learn from what went wrong in the past but sometimes it seems everything worth knowing has been redacted. As if ignorance is the only thing that allows each successive generation to tumble into love, however briefly, and spawn the next.

  • Because it seems unfair that I should have made these very same mistakes but not spared her them. That everything that has happened before, to our family and our friends and even to ourselves, is so heavy to carry, and yet is in no way a protection against our future stupidity and pain. Is in no way a promise that we will not make these mistakes again.

  • In the driveway of the old house, I released my biological family from my unreasonable expectations of how much we could possibly be to one another. How much I expected them to teach me. Do for me. And this freed them to be what they actually are to me. Which is plenty.

  • On the one hand I want to be done with bee skits, done performing my false belief in a fantasy future that my life likely won't ever resemble-one I'm not even sure I want anymore. But on the other hand, here I am, writing my grandmother's obituary for you. And this obituary is absolutely a performance. It is full of beautiful lies. When is a performance a lie and when is it a celebration? When does performing make a person feel expansive and generous and when does it make you feel full of shit?

  • I watch as my grandparents' ashes linger, and linger, and it goes on for way too long, and maybe the too-long is what's funny about it. How excruciatingly long it takes to get to the point, and how, once you get to the point, you realize the buildup, the stalling, was the whole gag. After that, all that's left is a punchline, and the punchline, it turns out, is: cut to black.

  • All of these people-who did not live with me, per se-became part of the life being lived in my house. And this was what made it livable for me. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that whenever a couple is shouting and fighting, what they are actually shouting at each other is "You are are not enough people." Because we have deluded ourselves that a human can be happy living alone with one or two other people in this world. But we need so much more than that.

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