Samara O'Shea

Archive for March, 2009

April: The Way It’s Going to Work

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

National Card and Letter Writing Month officially starts tomorrow! As promised, I will be writing one letter per day and blogging about the blessed recipient of each letter. I’ve already figured out who I’ll be writing to. I have a big desk calendar, and a few days ago I turned it to the month of April and just started writing names. Any name that came to me—new friends, old friends, and family members—and I wrote the names completely out of order. I was a mad scientist with my oversized calendar—writing a name on the 15th and then the 30th and then the 8th—cackling aloud while thunder and lighting fought each other to the death outside my window. Not really, but it’s a fun mental picture is it not? There are a few people that I’ve been meaning to write to forever, so I’m excited that I’ll finally get around to it. Yes, even a professional letter writer finds it very easy to procrastinate when it comes to writing letters. There are also few people that I really really want to write to, but I know it’s unwise—I’ll be writing (but not sending) letters in their honor. I’ll explain as the month goes on. Of course, I won’t get to everyone I know and love in one month, but I’ll get to a few of them and hopefully continue on writing when the month ends. I’m very excited that a few of you have written and said you’ll try to write along with me. Good luck! Keep me posted on your progress.

For those of you who don’t have it in you to write a letter a day, consider entering the essay contest I’m hosting with We’d love to hear your letter-loving stories.

And now, let the letter writing begin!

Double Trouble

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I somehow ended up in this wonderful crossfire of book reviews. Check out: The Bluestocking Society and Care’s Online Book Club . Two bloggers teamed up to review the same book and delineate the subject matter. Thank you ladies for making Note to Self your guinea pig book. I look forward to your insights on many other books.

Preparing for the Big Month

Friday, March 27th, 2009

My Brookdale personalized stamper arrived yesterday. Just in time for April! Do you know what April is? Alright I’ll tell you. It’s National Card and Letter Writing month. Yes, such a thing exists. Last year I wrote a blog to celebrate the occasion, but this year I’m going a bit further. . .

1. I teamed up with Gifts in 24 (supplier of my awesome new stamper) to host an essay contest. We’re asking everyone to tell us (in 500 words or less) about a letter that they’ve held on to for years. Tell us all about a letter that meant the world to you when you received it and still means the world to you now.

2. I’m going to write one letter every single day of the month. I think that’s going to be harder than it sounds. My letter writing is sporadic—it’s the same as my journal writing. Some weeks I write every day and other weeks I don’t write at all. This April, however, I’m going to write a letter each day to one friend or family member, and I’m going to blog about every person, too. I’ll tell how I met them and why I love them so. I’m really looking forward to it. Please participate! Enter the contest, write a letter a day, or just write one letter to someone special if you haven’t done so in a while. Let’s keep letters alive.

The Taxpayers Write Back

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

In response to the Jake DeSantis reisgnation letter published in the New York Times yesterday, a handful of civilians put pen to paper (probably fingers to keyboard) and wrote back.

These letters are well thought out and expressed in a mature manner, as I’m sure they could have been written in the fury that many people are feeling. The Times probably received many angry letters and chose to go with the reasonable ones. Here’s my favorite:

To the Editor:

It should be satisfying that Jake DeSantis is willing to give his A.I.G. bonus to charity so that others far less fortunate than he will receive at least some benefit from the A.I.G. debacle, but his unwarranted self-pity and sense of entitlement truly poison the gesture.

He is not making anyone on self-serving Wall Street look any better with this tirade.

In these economic times we will all be ruined if we view giving as a painful sacrifice. To Mr. DeSantis, Wall Street and conservatives everywhere I offer this paraphrased proverb: There are those who are not pained by giving, nor do they seek joy. They give as naturally as the flowers in the meadow breathe their fragrance into the air.

Laura Oltman
Phillipsburg, N.J., March 25, 2009

Sarah Jessica Parker On Letter Writing and Life

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I flipped through the March Harper’s Bazaar yesterday. Sarah Jessica Parker is on the cover. The cover I saw (the one with her on the Brooklyn Bridge) is a little too reminiscent of the ads for the last season of Sex and the City for me. It’s time to move on! The inside photography is fun though. The photos have SJP channeling legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland. At the end of the article, which I admittedly didn’t read, there’s a list of SJP’s little things that she thinks make life better. I copied down the ones I like, too. I’m sure you can guess which one I like the most . . .

~ Try, for every 20 e-mails you send to write a letter, an old-fashioned letter, and post it. Remember how it felt to receive an actual letter or postcard in the mail?

~ Use your local library. So few people do anymore. And if you are a parent, introduce your children to the neighborhood library. It will give them a real sense of independence to have their own library card and enjoy borrowing books.

~ Walk more. It simple feels great. And for those who have an “allergy” to working out, it’s a great way to get the blood moving. If you are feeling extra adventurous, try putting some speed into that walk.

~ Read the editorial page of your local newspaper. It introduces you to opinion and can be terrifically provocative and perhaps a great motivating force for you to get involved in your community, regardless of your political ideology.

~ Get eight hours of sleep, though I never do.

Now THAT’S a Resignation Letter

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Jake DeSantis writes a resignation letter to Edward M. Liddy, President of A.I.G.

The letter is certainly noble in some ways, but it’s also frustrating. I don’t think that Mr. DeSantis is responsible for the implosion of A.I.G., but he has to know how this looks on the outside. He is very hard on Mr. Liddy without acknowledging what a difficult place the A.I.G. President was in. We, as outsiders, have no idea what’s going on inside A.I.G., and it does look awful when a company almost collapses and then hands out bonuses. A bonus is what you get for a job well done. That is my elementary understanding of bonuses. How are we to know who is and isn’t doing their job? Had Mr. Liddy come out and said, “I’m still giving bonuses to the people who are keeping the company afloat. I’m sorry if you disagree, but that’s my final word.” Then there would have been just as much if not more public outrage. I think it makes perfect sense that Mr. Liddy was pressured into requesting the bonus money back. I am sorry for Mr. DeSantis’s situation, especially if he was playing by the rules all along. This letter is a good look at the other side of the coin.

This is my favorite passage:

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

I like the analogy.

Gawker does not.

A Side of Doubt

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I usually don’t post journal entries so soon after I write them, but I re-read this one this morning and decided to go for it. The fellowship that I’m applying for has posted documentary-style profiles of the 2008 recipients on their Web site. I wrote this entry after watching a few of the reels.


Doubt is good. It’s humbling. It makes you wonder, “Have I done enough?” And the answer is always no. There is always more to do. I’ll take a side of doubt with my hope. Hope is still the main course though. It’s hot and savory. I’ll wash them both down with a glass of full-bodied purpose and have sweet passion for dessert.