. . .I’ll be teaching a love-letter writing workshop at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, PA. It’s free, open to the public, and starts at 6:45 pm on February 9th. I’ve taught letter-writing workshops before but this is my first one dedicated entirely to love letters. I’m excited! Stop by if you’re in the tri-state area. Philly.com did a nice write up on it: Harcum invites community to love, write.
Archive for January, 2012
Today is Edith Wharton’s 150 birthday. The NY Times put together a stunning slide show of the life and times of Ms. Wharton (slide 7 of 10 is Grace Church, where I attended while living in NYC). She was a fabulous fiction writer, letter writer, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Age of Innocence. Here is the trailer for the film–if only Edith were here to critique it.
Once upon a time I dated a man whose ex-girlfriend still had his voicemail pass code. He warned me that she listened to all of the messages I left him. One time I took it upon myself to say hello to her. I left a message that began with, “Hi Jim and Cindy!” It was an admittedly snotty thing to do and she called me several choice words afterwards. I just couldn’t—for the LIFE of me—understand why he didn’t change the code. He acted so helpless, “What can I do? Cindy has my code?” Um, you could change it. I think he liked knowing that someone cared about him enough to spy on him. It gave his ego a little boost. He and I didn’t last very long.
I’ve heard the argument for exchanging pass codes/passwords, and it goes something like: It’s a way to prove to your significant other that you have nothing to hide. Earlier this week there was an article in the Times about teenagers sharing their e-mail and Facebook passwords as a sign of affection. It’s just like giving someone your ring—sort of.
“It’s a sign of trust,” Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, said of the decision she and her boyfriend made several months ago to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me.”
The great thing about trust is it automatically exists—you don’t have to prove it. Only if the trust is broken, do you have to work to earn it back. If your significant other has given you no reason whatsoever to think s/he is untrustworthy and you are still in constant fear of the trust being broken, then the problem is yours. Your insecurities are playing tricks on you—causing you to see problems that aren’t there. Only you can remedy this by facing your insecurities and, ultimately and ideally, ridding yourself of them.
The other issue with exchanging passwords is relationships can go sour very quickly—especially when you’re a teenager. The damage someone holding your passwords could do to your online reputation is immeasurable. More harm than good can come from this situation.
Again, there’s no need to test trust. Respecting your significant other’s privacy and valuing your own is an important part of a relationship. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted by all the goes on in my own e-mail account. Why would I want to look at someone else’s?
Some amusingly true words I encountered in the book I’m reading:
“. . .but ‘falling in love’ has little to do with love, and I was startled to be reminded of how intoxicating it can be. The sensations involved are, after all, undeniably delicious: not least the sensation of danger, of being aware of risk and of a sudden release from one’s inhibitions against embracing risk. ‘Careful! This is likely to end in a painful mess. . .But so what if it does!’ It is exhilarating.”
~Diana Athill, After a Funeral
I was astounded when I came across this letter from John Steinbeck to his son Thom. Thom, a teenager at the time, wrote his father and told him he was in love with a girl named Susan. John wrote his son back with a thorough and beautiful explanation of and celebration of love. I recommend reading the whole letter. Below are the parts that spoke to me most:
“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
“If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.”
“It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.”
In early December, a good friend of mine shared with me a love letter he wrote just before Thanksgiving. My reaction, “Can I post it on my blog?” (in other words, I love it!) He was flattered but wanted to make sure it was okay with the recipient first. Permission has been granted, names have been changed, and I gladly share this short, sweet, lovely, amusing letter with you. It’s the only Thanksgiving themed love letter I’ve ever seen. Applause!
When I was 5, 6 & 7 years old, my Grandma used to dress up my cousins, brothers & me in pilgrim & Indian costumes, give us index cards, and direct us to act out a play about the story of Thanksgiving (or the sanitized, pretty version, not the one where most of the pilgrims on the Mayflower died and didn’t survive the first winter, then ended up killing most of the Native Americans through germs and warfare, or buying their real estate for trinkets).
It’s been a long while since I’ve given thanks for more than my mom, brothers, good health, and the usual things. On top of our scorching hot chemistry, the decency and mutual respect with which we treat each other–embracing each other for who we are–is something I’ve never experienced with anyone else. For that, for getting to know you, for time spent with you and exploring each other, I am thankful. Here’s to more adventures together.