Samara O'Shea

Archive for July, 2009

Satisfied Customer

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I’ve thought about putting a testimony page on this Web site—testifying to my letter writing skills that is. But something about a whole testimony page seems too self-serving. (This is why I’m a writer and not a business person!) Today, however, I’d like to post a response I received from a man I wrote a letter on behalf of. I was feeling bad yesterday and this reaction made me feel oh so good. It was a well timed shot for my self-esteem, but I recognize that such shots are not always so well timed. What I’m trying to work on these days is being the source of my own self-esteem. In other words, not needing anyone or anything to tell me I’m a thoughtful, talented person but being able to tell myself that on days such as yesterday. This—as with anything—requires balance. You also have to be able to say to yourself, “Um, slow down there shorty. You are not the end all be all.” I liken loving yourself to loving a child—you have to know when to administer positive reinforcement and when to enact discipline.

I had a bout of self-uncertainty yesterday. Nothing I haven’t encountered before, and I’m sure I’ll encounter much worse in future. This e-mail swooped in, however, and reminded me that my very random pursuit of writing letters for people is, in fact, a worthy one:

“Your letter is the best thing I’ve ever read about my life. You are so talented and I can’t thank you enough. Even if Joey never contacts me after receiving the letter, I am ready to move on in peace and serenity.”

I Forgot to Wish Everyone a Happy Bastille Day

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Just discovered this. A writer can’t sell his novel so he releases it . . . on Twitter. Clever. He got the NYTimes to cover him, but I’m not patient enough to read a book that way. Are you? [This novel is entitled The French Revolution, which is why it has anything to do with Bastille Day.]

The World Outside My Head

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I’ve been writing in my journal for most of the morning. Well, more like turning to it every fifteen-twenty minutes. I was tempted to tell the story of what has me writing like a fiend and then post the series of gunshot entries, but now I fear I might regret that later. I’ll wait until it’s not so fresh a wound and see how I feel about making it public.

In the meantime, two news stories have me smiling today:

1. The Episcopal Church (of which I am a proud member) is motioning toward banning the ban on gay bishops.

2. Barack Obama does it again—faces a potentially embarrassing situation and carries on like a pro that is! One of his teleprompters fell to the floor mid speech.

This story doesn’t make me smile necessarily, but makes me think: It’s a round up on the morality of text messaging. Personally, I say “No texting at the dinner table!”

In Journal News . . .

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I feel I’ve been writing about letter writing, political prisoners, and infidelity so much lately I forgot about my other love: Journaling! I’ve got some news on the journal front.

1. I Lost a Journal I know. I can’t believe it either. This has NEVER happened to me before. Luckily it wasn’t a journal journal (meant only for writing the deepest of thoughts) but it was rather one of my notebook journals where I write to-do lists, addresses, and the occasional deep thought. After going over it again and again in my mind, I know I must have left it on the train from Newport to Philly. I know I had it with me when I boarded the train. If someone found it, there’s nothing in it that would point them to me. Sure there are plenty of e-mail addresses and phone numbers, but the person who found it would have to say “I have a black journal here with a red car on the cover. I’m not sure who it belongs to, but your name is in it!” The thing I’m most upset about losing is a card with 5 yoga classes on it. I won it at a silent auction last December (yes, December) and haven’t used it all this time. I thought Summer is the perfect time to take up yoga again! Shoved it in the back of my notebook journal (because it’s always with me), and then went ahead and lost it. There’s nothing written in the journal that I’m devastated by losing, except the fleeting thoughts. Those gems are gone for good. Sigh. I hope whoever finds it enjoys it.

2. The Travel Journal Has Made it’s Way to Me: A kindred spirit that I met on Facebook a while back started a traveling journal and it came to me over the weekend. I’m excited and intimidated to contribute. The other entries are wonderful. I took a few pictures of the pages. If you’re interested in contributing, you’re certainly welcome to. Click on the link (traveling journal) and get in touch with Dave.

Journal 1

Journal 2

Journal 3

Interesting . . .

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Remember the blog about infidelity that I wrote for The Huffington Post? I had hopes that it would become a lively discussion. Alas, it only warranted five comments, two of which were mine. Ah well, not the first time I thought a blog/article would yield more attention than it did.

Until today that is, someone reposted the blog at, and the viewers have a lot to say. There are 45 comments—and counting. Some are good. Some are bad. Someone suggests I should be shot. It’s pretty sweet. The humanness of humanity really comes out in the comments section doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing: Whoever reposted this changed my headline from “Infidelity: As it was, is, and always will be” to “Relax: Adultery is Not the Big of a Deal.” That’s a serious shift. It changes the entire concept of what I wrote. My words weren’t changed at all, but that headline has people coming in angry already—and understandably.

On North Korean “Justice”

Friday, July 10th, 2009

This is not the lightest note to end on a Friday, but I have some time to respond at length so I’m taking it. Here’s Matt’s comment on the Yeah, What He Said blog:

Everybody has the right to live according to how comfortable they feel about risk.

I know that the circumstances surrounding their capture remain unclear, but these reporters decided to tackle a risky subject in a risky country with risky motivations.

Clearly these two reports did not properly weigh the risks (N Korea, border patrols, bad USA relations) with the other subjects in their lives (children, freedom, employment).

Take a look at the NYT information about these reporters:

“Ms. Lee, 36, moved to the United States from South Korea in the mid-1990s and had settled into a quiet, steady life of work and family; she and Mr. Saldate have a 4-year-old daughter. Mr. Saldate, a stand-up comic and actor, was the public performer in the couple; Ms. Lee’s sole appearance on the Current TV Web site is a five-second clip of her holding up a can of soda. “Euna loves Dr Pepper,” the clip is titled.

Ms. Ling grew up with her sister in Carmichael, Calif., where she excelled at school and, according to a friend, Marcus Marquez, charted an ambitious life. She graduated with a communications degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1998.”

Come on now! A MOM and someone with a COMMUNICATIONS DEGREE? That doesn’t sound like two people who should be messing around a militarized border in a country that isn’t very nice.

Luckily for these two fools this is a political battle and not a battle of justice or law. NKorea is trying to push weight around in the face of criticism around nuclear testing.

The question is: how will the USA respond politically?

I agree that the girls took a huge risk. Up until now, we didn’t know if they were trespassing or if they were abducted while still on the Chinese side of the border. In the past few days, it has been announced that they were well aware of the fact that they were on the North Korean side of the border. The Twitter account set up on behalf of Laura said this:

@LiberateLaura Laura Ling, 7/7: “We are so apologetic and remorseful about what has happened. But we did break the law and people need to know that.”

Here’s another confirmation on Gawker.

Honestly, I don’t care. I didn’t care when I knew it was a possibility, and I don’t care now. I don’t care if they played hopscotch from China into N. Korea. The punishment is still atrocious and completely unnecessary. A fine! How about a fine? That seems appropriate. Or why not do what we do: when Mexicans are too close to our border we . . . send them back to Mexico.

I understand that the girls took an enormous risk—especially now that we know they did, in fact, take that risk. But I also think we need journalists to take those risks. We need Anderson Cooper in the Congo, and we need Christiane Amanpour in Tehran.

This is how we know of the horrors going on all over the world. With these stories exposed, some people might be able help directly while the rest of us can pray, write letters, and stand in solidarity with our fellow human beings. I can stop buying Shell gasoline because of the way they treat the Nigerians all because of journalists who took risks.

Laura and Euna were doing a story on human trafficking. (The word trafficking makes my stomach turn). Their cause was noble, and I suspect they wanted to go into N. Korea to get a real glimpse into how the people are moved. Tragically they got caught. I don’t look at this as the two of them as breaking the law—I look at the laws in N. Korea and see that they are wrong. It is abhorrent to deny prisoners a fair trial and sentence them to 12-years hard labor–where the conditions are unsanitary and prisoners can be beaten if the guards happen to be in a bad mood*. My heart goes out to every North Korean citizen who has been sentenced to 20-years for stealing a candy bar or looking a Kim Jong Il cross-eyed.

But Laura and Euna are American citizens, and we, as Americans, can see how their punishment is undeserved. We live in a country where we have the right to notice that things are wrong. Someone noticed slavery was wrong. Someone noticed denying women the right to vote was wrong. Someone noticed segregation was wrong. And thank God they did!

That’s why I’m so impassioned by this story. These girls know what freedom is, and they have done nothing so offensive that they should have it taken away. Knowing this, the United States needs to go get them, and I, too, am curious as to how this will play out politically. I hope the silence means that there is a plan in the works, and not that people are forgetting about it.

I know that there have been many journalists who have been put in prison in other countries who were not released, or who we don’t even know about. Laura is fortunate to have a high profile sister. And as long as I know about it, I’ll continue to pass the word along and do what little bit I can.

*They have not yet been sent to the labor camp, and are being held in “decent” conditions according to Laura. Laura tells her sister, Lisa, that if she is sent to the camp that she will not survive.

How to Break-Up with Your Mistress by Senator John Ensign

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Howdy. I’m really itching to respond to Matt and Rodney’s comments about the imprisonment of Laura & Euna, but it’s going to take time that I don’t have just now. As you can imagine, I have a lot to say. Plus some important announcements were made yesterday regarding the two girls. It all must be incorporated. I just wanted to let you know that’s coming.

In the meantime, The Las Vegas Sun released the break-up letter John Ensign wrote to his mistress. Cindy Hamptons’s (mistress) husband, Senator Tom Coburn turned the letter over to the newspaper. Reportedly, Hampton received a $25,000 severance from Ensign when the affair ended. I don’t have much to say about the letter. It didn’t move me. Read between the lines and you’ll see “I really really really really really wish we hadn’t gotten caught.”