Signe Baumane: I sit at a living room table patiently cutting a sign that says 40 out of coloured cardboard. Her husband is turning 40 and this is a surprise party for him. The sign I'm cutting out is pretty meaningless on the scale of the Solar system. Tomorrow it will be thrown out in the garbage and forgotten but today it connects me with people. As the guests come in I show them where to put their coats and point them to the bar. We chat, we laugh. I move the muscles of the mask that covers my pain, it becomes a face again. The feeling of warmth and love melts a small part of my pain. I am a tiny particle in the bigger body of humanity. Acknowledging it and extending my hand to other people saves me from slashing my wrists with a kitchen knife.

Signe Baumane: I was reading the complete works of Victor Hugo for the second time when my mother opened the door: Don't be rude! Come and greet your visiting relatives. But mom, I am at the most interesting place! Put the book down, the relatives won't be here forever, the book will wait. With a sigh I put the book down and grumpily went to see the relatives. For some reason I saw talking to people as a waste of time, they never seemed to offer the wrapture that a good book did. Nor did they possess an interesting character like the people in the book. Besides, coming from my personal quite to a living room full of relatives was always a shock like entering cold water. But once I was in that water, it soon became warm. The little snippets of gossip, the judgements rendered of the neighbours, there were always some stories to be heard, some characters to examine, I just had to make an effort. An effort my mother made me make. I do feel grateful to her forever for forming a habbit of going out and talking to people because the stories the voices of live people tell you are very different from the stories told by the voices that no one but you hear. Being alive and sane is an everyday effort.