Beautiful…

Many years ago, I paid a random compliment to a sales clerk. I think it was her earrings that caught my attention. I watched her whole face transform. She thanked me and helped me (and the next customers) with enthusiasm. I realized that the smallest compliment had the power to change someone’s mood, perhaps someone’s day.  From then on, I’ve made an effort to be kind and pay compliments.

My story, “All the Beautiful People” was inspired by my people watching. People are always so concerned, worried, picking at themselves. It occurred to me that rarely do people see their own beauty – and that everyone is beautiful.  I’m not talking about physical beauty – I’m talking about that which goes beyond the physical.

A student experimented with her video camera and her compliments. The results are pretty amazing.

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Student Video Captures People’s Faces when They Were Told They Were Beautiful

Student Video Captures People’s Faces when They Were Told They Were Beautiful

 

Sometimes, people don’t hear these very important words.

Language, compliments, can change someone’s mood, change their day. Maybe, it has the power to change a life.

Be positive. Be kind. Be generous with compliments.

The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe

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Jane Craig Stanton

A mother one of his friends who encouraged his poetry, he described her as his first “soul love.”

 

Elmira Royster

She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman who didn’t appreciate Edgar; When Poe went off to college, her father kept all his letters from her. When Edgar came back to town, her father scurried her off to the countryside so they couldn’t see one another. By the time Edgar returned from college for good, she was betrowed to someone else.

 

Virginia Clemm

His cousin whom he met when she was thirteen. They married later, and seemed to have a relationship that rivaled the best storybook romances until her death.

Learned Virginia portrait

 

Mrs. Whitman.

He was engaged to her for a short time, as they respected each other’s work.

 

Elmira Royster

Widowed and free – Edgar sought her out and romanced her again. They were engaged when he died.

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I Used to Use My Brain; Now I Use Google.

The other day, I googled a location in downtown Los Angeles, made mental note of the ease of its relationship to the freeway, and hopped in my car, confident in my Google Maps app.

(I must admit, it is a place I don’t visit unless required to by an errand, appointment, or event. I went to the Staples Center for a concert. I’ve met friends for events, even did a 5K. I like downtown. Yet, with traffic and one way streets, my lack of knowledge of the area, and my fear of the crime that still infiltrates the lovely old and new buildings of downtown, I don’t find myself exploring too often, and especially not by myself at night. And yes, I know, to some extent this is silly. My friend metro’s down there all the time, by herself, at night!)

In any case, my Google Map app suggested a plan different than I was familiar with. But I took it to avoid the traffic that GM claimed was blocking my rather straighter path. I felt confident in my Google app abilities. It once saved me thirty minutes from a blocked freeway due to an accident in San Juan Capistrano by announcing forcibly and loudly, “exit here.” And I did. I took to unfamiliar streets and roadways, and found myself at the right place even ahead of schedule. This had endeared me, allowed me to trust the app that I’d never relied on alone before.

Previously, when GM suggested I take the 605 instead of whatever I was on, I clicked the dismiss button because I know nothing about the 605; and even if the 5 or the 405 or whatever was cramped or sauntering, limping along, I knew those freeways. I could get off, get on, get to the other, find a gas station, a starbucks.

But emboldened by my Google Maps’ saving grace at the unfamiliar beach town, I allowed GM to tell me to take the 210, transfer to whatever, and then turn here or there.

But then – my phone shut down.

I was in the middle of nowhere – well, I was somewhere, obviously, but I didn’t know where. I didn’t know what turn was next, and then what after that? And what if it got dark as I was attempting to find my way? And why did my phone turn off? Do I want to be lost downtown without my phone at night?

Uhm, no.

Wait, wait. I am of another generation. I am of the generation that grew up without Google Maps or even electronic, satellite connected, mapping devices. I’ve been stuck in other downtowns, at night, I’ve gotten lost in every major city of every country I’ve ever been to. I always found my way home. Or found my way somewhere.

Today, tired, not feeling well, not motivated to spend the hour in traffic to go downtown anyway, I pulled off the freeway and sat in an empty lot staring at my dead phone. What did I do?

In the past I’ve made mental notes, or even physical notes, of the freeways, the exits, etc. Previously, I might have printed out the directions, just in case. Today, however, I’d done no such thing. I’d barely looked at the route. I let Google take over.

I sat there deciding. Did I continue on, hoping signs would tell me what to do, where to go? Did I ask directions? In the old days, the gas stations had maps on their walls, map books behind the counter. Now they had advertisements on the walls, vapes behind the counters.

The attendant looked at me strangely. “I’m not from this area.”

The other employee said something to the effect, “take the 210 to the 5, and then….”

A customer pulled out his phone, “Where?” he asked. “Take the 210, to the 2, get off at ….”

And it was all lost to me. I didn’t trust these strangers. I’d trusted Google. I’d trusted Samsung.

How much we trust our electronics instruments these days. How lost we are, literally, and metaphorically, without them.

Google finishes our sentences for us. Google saves our searches. Google offers us suggestions in random order controlled by those who clicked before us. Google helps us with our every day lives and allows us the luxury of not having to think, to plan, to do much of anything. Press a button, watch a movie, press a button listen to the summary of a book, press a button……

But – not really – Google doesn’t do these things.

We allow Google to do these things for us. To us. And we became just a little bit more comfortable in our dependence.

Had I taken a moment to even look at the route. Had I made the decision to take the route I was familiar with. Had I done a little more planning and work, everything would have gone a little more smoothly.

Google, I do appreciate you. But I really need to count on myself a little bit more.

Grandma’s Tour

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My Poem, “Grandma’s Tour” will be published in Pilcrow & Dagger’s November/December issue!

This is especially poignant as my grandmother passed in August of this year. She wrote poetry herself and left me her book of touching, handwritten poems.  It is one of my treasured texts.

  I think she would’ve liked this poem. I’m saddened she didn’t get to read it or see it published in her honor.

 

Of Strays and Exes… And better yet – Friends. Congrats to Jo Rousseau!

I’ve been asked to read my as-of-yet unpublished fictional story “Of Strays and Exes” at Jo Rousseau‘s publication party.

Jo Rousseau is celebrating the publication of her first book of short stories, titled Inside Stories.

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She’s published short stories and won Charter House Press’ essay contest last year with her touching memoir “Becoming Rousseau”, which is available in Banking the Bacon.

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Check out her website!

Congrats to a lovely woman and a good friend; She deserves all the success life (and publication) have to offer.   Much Love!

Spoiler Alert!

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Daughter: My friend invited me to Oregon, I need a new bathing suit.

Me:  Bathing suit?  It’s going to be chilly.

Daughter: So I’ll take a sweater. We’re going sit on the beach at night and watch the stars.

Me:  At night….On the beach… In Oregon…. at this time of year?  It’s going to be cold.

Daughter: So we’ll take a blanket too.

Me: You’re going to need a coat, maybe gloves.

……………………..

Me: Last time I was on the beach at night, we saw a rat.

Daughter:  Your new nickname is SPOILER ALERT!

Me: That’s what they called me in college!

Daughter:  Why do I not doubt that?!

Paintings with Owls.

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C: Let me guess- are you a third grade art teacher?
Me: no.
C: Oh, your friend showed me that picture of you with paintings of owls.
Me: So, it looks like something a third grader could do?
C: No, no. I just haven’t painted owls since I was in the third grade.
Me: It was a class I went to, like a workshop.
C: So, what do you teach?
Me: English.
C: You have a PhD?
Me: MFA.
C: Hahahaha! Oh my god! and you paint owls?! I thought you’d be painting Reniors with an MFA!
-A moment of silence.-
Me: I don’t teach painting.
C: But that picture? You were in a classroom.
Me: It was a class that I took. I didn’t teach it.