The Quoteable Nerdy Chick: Gertrude Stein

1934 Portrait of Gertrude Stein by       Carl Van Vechten

I think Gertrude Stein was one of those people who can aptly be described as a “force of nature.”  Born in 1874, Gertrude Steinspent most of her adult life in France. She was a patron of the arts who entertained and supported painters like Matisse and Picasso, and writers like Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Stein was a writer herself, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, was perhaps her most famous work.

Stein and her brother Leo moved to Paris in 1903 and began collecting art. At the Metropolitan Museum of art, there is currently a fascinating exhibit of the work Gertrude, Leo, and their other brother Michael collected. I saw that collection on my trip to NY, and you can see it now by clicking HERE.

Stein led an intriguing life, full of art, literature, and intellectual pursuits. She wrote operas and novels. She posed for Picasso. There is much much more to learn about her than I can include here, but you can find out more about her at

I love love love these quotes. Take a look.

Gertrude Stein Quotes

  • Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing.
  • A masterpiece… may be unwelcome but it is never dull.
  • If you can’t say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.
  • Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
  • Let me listen to me and not to them.
  • I do want to get rich but I never want to do what there is to get rich.
  • For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts.
  •  You have to know what you want to get it.
  • Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?
  • One must dare to be happy.



Can I hear an “Amen”? I have never done this before, but I just had responses welling up inside me for all of these quotes. So out of respect for those who like purity, I am letting the quotes above stand alone. Purists, you can stop reading now. But if you are curious about my responses to these quotes, well, here they are.


“Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing. ”Well, all writers feel this way. Thanks for representing, Gertrude!

“Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure?”  This is why I love YA and MG. I can’t bear for a book to make me unhappy.

A masterpiece… may be unwelcome but it is never dull.  She absolutely nailed it! Some of our greatest works of art and literatures spawned tremendous controversy. Catcher in the Rye, anyone?

“If you can’t say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.”  Really?  Gertrude Stein said that? I thought I saw it stitched on a sofa pillow at Cracker Barrel.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” Whoa! Is this poignant or what? And she said this before Twitter, FB, Blogs, and cell phones.

“Let me listen to me and not to them.” I couldn’t say it better myself.

“I do want to get rich but I never want to do what there is to get rich.” I know, right? It is such a problem.

“For a very long time everybody refuses and then almost without a pause almost everybody accepts.”  Human nature at its best. Or worst. Depends on what we’re accepting.

“You have to know what you want to get it.” Amen. Just Amen.

“One must dare to be happy. ” This is true, but why is it so hard? We have to dare to give up our worries, our obsessions, our guilt, our selfishness… and if we can swing that, we might just make it to happiness!

See why I love these quotes? Stein’s speech is simple and direct, and what she said 100 years ago is applicable today.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross in 1820) was an American woman who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist. Around 1844 she married John Tubman, who was free. In 1849 she heard that she was going to be sold, so she fled to Philadelphia. She had to leave her husband and parents behind. After making her way to freedom, Tubman led more than 300 slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad over the next ten years. There is a lot more information about Harriet Tubman HERE and it is fascinating. You should check it out!

Harriet Tubman Quotes

  • Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
  • I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.
  • I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.
  • I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and I felt like I was in heaven.
  • I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.

Sometimes, I think I have courage.  But when I read about someone like Harriet Tubman, I feel like I’ve never known it.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Julia Child

Julia Child is best known for introducing French cuisine to her American public through her cookbooks and television shows. You all know who she is, don’t you?

This was one of those rare weeks when I thought of a great smart woman to feature, looked up the things she said, and violia my work was done. Because who couldn’t use a hardy helping of Julia Child? So clever, so witty, such an artist. If you saw the movie Julie & Julia, or if you were a fan of her show, you’ll know what I mean. Below is just a taste of some of the wonderful things she said.

Julia Child Quotes

• Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.

• If you’re in a good profession, it’s hard to get bored, because you’re never finished-there will always be work you haven’t done.

• The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile. I think of my strawberry souffle. I did that at least twenty-eight times before I finally conquered it.

• Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health.

• Everything in moderation, including moderation.

• Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.

• You find yourself refreshed by the presence of cheerful people. Why not make an honest effort to confer that pleasure on others? Half the battle is gained if you never allow yourself to say anything gloomy.

• It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate — you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.

• I think every woman should have a blowtorch.

• Life itself is the proper binge.

Updated today (August 15, 2012) Happy 100th birthday, Julia!

The Quoteable Nerdy Chick: Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursla K. Le Guin is an award winning writer of science fiction. A master of creating worlds with words, her awards include the Newberry Honor, The National Book Award, and the World Fantasy Award and many others. Because her website is so fantastic, I feel inadequate telling you more. Find out more about this brilliant woman HERE.

I simply could not decide on only 5 quotes from Ursula K. LeGuin, so now I am abandoning the idea of limiting featured quotes to five altogether. I will try to pick fewer than 10 quotes each week… we’ll see how long I can stick to that!


 Ursula K. Le Guin Quotes

  • The creative adult is the child who has survived.
  • It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music.
  • It is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception and compassion and hope.
  • Love does not just sit there, like a stone; it had to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
  • My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.
  • The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself.
  • It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.


This time, I can’t pick a favorite quote. I love them all.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Jane Addams

Jane Addams (1860 -1935) was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Addams co-founded Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago where middle-class women volunteered to uplift the communities in which they lived. She was a leader in women’s suffrage and worked for world peace. Nerdy chick Janelle Bitikofer, who is also a humanitarian, turned my attention to Addams in her interview here. Finding out about amazing people like Addams has been my favorite thing about starting this blog. Here are some of the wonderful things Addams had to say. I couldn’t narrow it down to five this time!

Jane Addams Quotes

• Civilization is a method of living and an attitude of equal respect for all people.

• Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.

• Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.

• Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we often might win, by fearing to attempt.

• America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.

• The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.


I added the one below, because it is so interesting. Have we had the chance yet, do you think?

• I do not believe that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.

For more information about Jane Addams, click HERE.

To see a compiled list of quotes from featured Nerdy Chicks, click HERE





Quotable Nerdy Chick:Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet from Amherst, Massachusetts. She is famous not only for the multitude of poems she wrote, but also for being introverted to the point of being reclusive. In her later years, she wore almost all white. Only a handful of her poems were published during her lifetime, though she wrote almost eighteen hundred. Emily’s poetry is simple, yet extremely insightful. To read more about Emily Dickenson, click HERE.

Here are some of those insightful things, Emily Dickinson said:

Emily Dickinson Quotes:

  • Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent.
  • Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell.
  • Forever is composed of nows.
  • Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.
  • Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned.

Forever is composed of nows. I love that. And look at that first one. Emily Dickinson could not have known how crazed the cult of celebrity would become, but those words she wrote in the 1800s, seem to ring true today.

Quotable Nerdy Chick: Mary McLeod Bethune

When nerdy chick Kathy Erskine quoted Mary McLeod Bethune in her interview, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know who she was. I was curious though, because I grew up in Camden, SC, which is right next to Bethune SC. I wondered if Mrs. Bethune was from SC. So of course I did what every nerdy chick does when faced with the unknown: I researched the topic until it wasn’t unknown anymore. Yes, Ms. Bethune was from my home state, though apparently not from Bethune itself.  And wow, she did some amazing things. She started a school for African Americans in Florida that became Bethune-Cookman University. She pushed for standards that rivaled the best schools around. She worked for civil rights, was awarded the Springarm Medal by the NAACP, was named one of the 10 greatest American Women in 1935, and she advised President Franklin Roosevelt. Really, the short format I use here does not do her justice. Please read more about her HERE. You will be amazed at what she was able to accomplish. And you will be inspired by some of the things she said.

  Mary McLeod Bethune Quotes

  • Cease to be a drudge, seek to be an artist.
  • Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.
  • Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.
  • The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.
  • We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.

Amen. Amen. Amen to that last quote!  Click HERE to read quotes from other smart women. This list is updated weekly!

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Jane Goodall

This week I am highlighting quotes from Jane Goodall, in part because this week’s interviewee, Audrey Williams, suggested a quote by her for the original Quotable Nerdy Chick page. And the first interviewee, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, has written a biography about her. And let’s not forget that she’s even mentioned in THE BOY PROJECT.

Jane Goodall is acknowledged as the world’s most authoritative primatologist. I have long been an admirer of hers. I saw an interview with her a few years ago and was amazed at her humble and extremely compassionate nature. Two things she said in the interview have stuck with me for years. When asked what her most amazing accomplishment was, she said that having her son was amazing. Wow. This woman who has done so many things the rest of us only dream of could site something that so many take for granted as amazing! She also said it was up to those who could afford to liver more greenly to do it, because sometimes living green is not the most cost effective way to live. Here are some more wonderful things Jane Goodall has said:

Jane Goodall Quotes:

  • If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities, and never give up, you will find a way.
  • That I did not fail was due in part to patience….
  • The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.
  • Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.
  • “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Are you surprised that I didn’t include any quotes about animals? There are plenty of them, but that was on purpose. Because I think it is the philosophy she expresses in the quotes above that drive her to live in the admirable way in which she lives.  But okay, here is one more.


  • If we kill off the wild, then we are killing a part of our souls.


Food for thought, nerdy chicks! To see other Nerdy Chick Quotes click  HERE. I will be adding to this list weekly… but only one quote per chick!




Quotable Nerdy Chick: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was born in 1884 and is best known for her role as an outspoken first lady while her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. She is also admired for her humanitarian work. After President Roosevelt died, she was appointed to the United Nations General Assembly and later chaired the United Nations Human Rights Commission. She spoke up about human rights, women’s issues, poverty, and racial discrimination. She said a lot of witty and wise things. I’m sharing five of these with you today!

 Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes:

  • A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.
  • Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.
  • Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.
  • Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.
  • Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

I think some of Eleanor’s words are timeless. In fact, I’ve seen a few of these quotes floating around Facebook recently. To see other Nerdy Chick Quotes click HERE. I will be adding to this list weekly… but only one quote per chick!