Ellen Goodman


American Journalist, Speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning Syndicated Columnist

Author Quotes

How come pleasure never makes it on to ... a dutiful list of do's and don'ts? Doesn't joy also get soft and flabby if you neglect to exercise it?

The world [in 2003] seemed to divide between international fundamentalists who want to keep women veiled and Internet spammers who want to unveil them on your computer screen.

I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference.

There’s a trick to the 'graceful exit.' It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.

I regard this novel as a work without redeeming social value, unless it can be recycled as a cardboard box.

Values are not trendy items that are casually traded in.

I write about different things than other columnists. But I do it out of a sense of news judgment. The major stories today are the family and what I call life-and-death issues.

We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck... But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.

If there's a single message passed down from each generation of American parents to their children, it is a two-word line: Better Yourself. And if there's a temple of self-betterment in each town, it is the local school. We have worshiped there for some time.

We criticize mothers for closeness. We criticize fathers for distance. How many of us have expected less from our fathers and appreciated what they gave us more? How many of us always let them off the hook?

If women can sleep their way to the top, how come they aren't there?

We owned what we learned back there; the experience and the growth are grafted into our lives.

In the biotech revolution, it is the human body, not iron or steel or plastic, that's at the source. Are the biocapitalists going to be allowed to dig without consent into our genetic codes, then market them?

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives ... not looking for flaws, but for potential.

Maybe at 20 you can write well, but I don’t think you could do what I do. Some things have to happen to you first.

Well, I do not think that women should train in the Ann Coulter School of Opinion-Hurling. I avoid leaving teeth marks on innocent ankles. We don't need more women — or men — in the Strunk and Food Fight Stylebook. There are many ways to be heard. But writing out loud, saying what you think on the op-ed page or in the blogosphere, on talk radio or in politics, requires a little hide-toughening.

Most people do not consider dawn to be an attractive experience - unless they are still up.

What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.

My generation is the first in my species to have put fitness next to godliness on the scale of things. Keeping in shape has become THE imperative of our middle age. The heaviest burden of guilt we carry into our forties is flab. Our sense of failure is measured by the grade on a stress test.

What he labels sexual, she labels harassment.

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.

When speech is divorced from speaker and word from meaning, what is left is just ritual, language as ritual.

People have been writing premature obituaries on the women's movement since its beginning.

When we describe what the other person is really like, I suppose we often picture what we want. We look through the prism of our need.

All in all, I am not surprised that the people who want to unravel the social contract start with young adults. Those who are urged to feel afraid, very afraid, have both the greatest sense of independence and the most finely honed skepticism about government.

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American Journalist, Speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning Syndicated Columnist