To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

In the early 90’s, there was a rather seedy-looking bar near my office in mid-town New York City called “Billy’s Topless.” It was what it was (it’s now a bank), a throwback to a different time and place in our culture. …

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

~ Seneca

My father was always looking for his wallet, or worried he had lost it. Most times, he had given it to my mother to hold and had forgotten, or had left it in his car, or in a jacket pocket or so on. But it always turned up, and, really, I never remember my father ever actually losing his wallet.

Now, I have it. The last wallet he owned. It sits in my bedside cabinet. Because of his attachment to…

Silence is a source of Great Strength.

~Lao Tzu

My wedding to my wife, Mr. Pei’s daughter, was held in Wainscott, a beautiful hamlet by the Atlantic Ocean. Wainscott is part of the Hamptons, but while having much the same power to allure and be home to celebrity and wealth, it has retained, or at least I believe, a grounded sense of self. In this regard, Wainscott, if I gave it more human characters, is gentle, tough, resilient, humble, generous, and altogether charming.

Silence is a source of Great Strength. ~Lao Tzu

My wedding to my wife, Mr. Pei’s daughter, was held in Wainscott, a beautiful hamlet by the Atlantic Ocean. Wainscott is part of the Hamptons, but while having much the same power to allure and be home to celebrity and wealth, it has retained, or at least I believe, a grounded sense of self. In this regard, Wainscott, if I gave it more human characters, is gentle, tough, resilient, humble, generous, and altogether charming.

So why wouldn’t I want to get married in Wainscott? In addition to my stated love of…

Never be daunted

― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

The first thing I noticed on the plane to Paris was how similar my wife and her father, Mr. Pei, acted once seated. No slumping or slouching with either of them — they sat like they walked — straight up and down, like exclamation marks in motion. They also fell fast asleep after takeoff and woke only when the stewards came with food or drink. Then they went back to sleep. Neither read anything nor watched television or listened to headphones. It was serene and strange and completely impressive.

Unlike…

It was the summer after my senior year in college. I was a graduate who barely graduated, who enjoyed collegiate life too much, and who saw the diploma more as an ending than a starting point.

Luckily, as I navigated the painful and confusing transition of leaving my beloved Villanova University, I had the benefit of living in Wainscott, a beautiful, oceanside hamlet in the Hamptons (situated between East Hampton and Bridgehampton).

I also had a job that kept me outside and exercising and in beer money. I worked for my uncle’s landscaping company, serving, rightfully so, at the bottom…

Mr. Pei Goes to the Hamptons

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” Bob Marley

My father in law, Mr. Pei, was a celebrity barber in Taiwan. It’s true. Like so many Chinese immigrants he came to Taiwan in the mid 1940’s to be free of communist oppression. But first he stopped in Shanghai where he learned his trade. And if you were going to be good at the job, Shanghai, at that time, was the place to be, with a…

One of my literary heroes, and my writing sherpa — the person who has influenced me more than any other when it comes to styling my prose and shaping my fiction — is W. Somerset Maugham. His works, if you don’t know, include Of Human Bondage, The Purple Veil, A Moon and Sixpence, and countless other iconic novels, novellas, short stories and plays. He also was a sage when it came to the business of explaining to writers the essence of writing, including this tidbit:

A good rule for writers: do not explain overmuch.

So I won’t. Not for this…

One of the most important courses in any meal is the dessert. And, like the final act in a good play, is long remembered with pleasure.

~Duncan Hines

CHOCOLATE MARIE

4 eggs
4 oz (mailondes?) sweet chocolate
4 egg whites

Work in egg yolks to chocolate melted gradually. Stir until smooth. Then beat whites to a stiff froth. Mix together lightly. Pour in dish and let stand in ice for 4 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Upon my grandmother’s passing many years ago, and in going through at the time with family her personal papers and belongings, I came to…

This story starts in the sea. And it ends in the sea. It begins with water. And it ends with water. It is never stopping. It is always starting. So what’s it about?

Well, a swell, can’t you tell.

Let’s begin. It was late afternoon, late fall, and I was on a private charter a mile off Montauk Point. There was a touch of breeze and light from an emerging, honey-gold sun had made short haste of a heavy fog determined to keep secret the fact that massive schools of striped bass were prowling the surface. But we could hear…

John McCaffrey

John McCaffrey is a writer and a director at a nonprofit mental health treatment and training center in NYC. jamccaffrey.com

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