Samara O'Shea

Archive for August, 2010

Kindle & Me

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Kindle terrified me when it first came out. I called my agent in panic mode, “Is this the end of books?!” I have since calmed down. Mainly because I don’t think books are going to go away as quickly as records, cassette tapes, and CDs. Music is sound and it doesn’t matter where the sound is coming from. Books are a bit different. People (myself included) love the book experience—dog-earring pages, underlining passages, putting a book on a shelf where someone will see it and say “Oh I read War and Peace, too.”

In addition to still loving books, however, I have warmed up to the idea of the Kindle. I don’t own one, but I’ve seen them around and they don’t bite. If someone prefers to read an electronic screen that’s fine by me. Hey, I read the NY Times online and rarely hold it in my hands. It’s all about preference. The thing about Kindle that appeals to me the most is having a stack of heavy books in one small carrying case.

Yesterday, Kindle endeared itself to me even more when I saw my digitally-blessed books. My sister’s boyfriend bought her a Kindle a few months ago and she’s just getting around to using it. Like any good sister, she purchased my books once she figured out how. I’ll admit I had a moment of pride. It wasn’t the same as holding my hardbound for the first time, but I was excited nonetheless. I’m glad the people who prefer Kindle can access my work—should they choose. What matters most is the words are exactly the same.

A few pics:

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The pink-covered Kindle.

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The first page of For the Love of Letters. Available on Kindle.

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The first page of Note to Self. Also available on Kindle.

Women Have Come a Long Way, Baby

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I’m not sure how it escaped me that today is the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote). On second thought, I do know what happened. I prefer to think it was the 20th – August 20, 1920 – it’s easier to remember.

In any case, I forgot and Jezebel reminded me. What an inspiring day. Women have had the right to vote (in the U.S.) for less than 100 years, and we’ve pretty much taken over. This victory did not come easy. It was 1848 when a young suffragist name Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented her Declaration of Sentiments, proclaiming that women should be granted the right to vote. It took 72 years for it to actually happen.

Whatever you’re fighting for. Keep fighting!

Letters of Note

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I’ve known about this website for a while and can’t believe I haven’t plugged it here. At least I don’t think I have. Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

Letters of Note is the greatest digital collection of letters there is. Creater Shaun Usher has amassed (and continues to amass) letters, postcards, and ephermera of the most impressive kind. What amazes me is that he posts a letter each day. Yesterday it was a letter from Bruce Lee. Today it’s a letter from Wil Wheaton (who I had huge crush on way back when). It’s a reminder that there’s no shortage of amusing missives in the world. I highly recommend you add this to your list of blogs to visit on the daily.

P.S. This Steve Martin letter is worth a gander, too.

Unnecessary Roughness

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

“You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can questions someone’s views without questioning their motives or their patriotism. Throwing around phrases like ‘socialist’ and ‘Soviet-style takeover’ and ‘Fascist’ and ‘right-wing nut’ may grab headlines, but it closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation.”

~ President Obama in a commencement address at the University of Michigan as quoted in the September issue of Vanity Fair.

The Liberation of Being Alone

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

A few weeks ago I was in New York City—out and about with a group of girlfriends. My friend Emma asked me, “How’s Philly?” I responded, “It’s fine.” She then said, “Don’t you get lonely? I would get lonely.”

I’m not sure if something made her associate Philadelphia specifically with loneliness or if she equated being away from New York friends or the city itself with being lonely. I didn’t ask her to clarify her question, I simply answered, “No, I don’t get lonely.” That answer is tried and true no matter what she meant. Loneliness is not an emotion I feel, and I don’t think it’s an emotion anyone has to feel and certainly not one anyone has to suffer.

I’m not sure when I overcame loneliness, but I am endlessly grateful that I did. I can trace an early lesson in being alone back to my cousin Kate. Right before I left for college, my family was gathered and going around the room offering me advice. Kate advised, “Never be afraid to do anything alone. If you want to go to a lecture or a play and none of your friends want to go, go anyway.” I followed her suggestion frequently when I got to school. I also assume it’s my craft that insists I be okay for hours, sometimes days by myself. Writing is not a group activity. One must endure the silence and the blank page for as long as it takes.

For someone who isn’t used to being alone, I imagine it’s difficult at first. Figuring out why it’s difficult and working through it, however, is an essential way to get to know yourself.

I am not afraid to be alone literally—as in by myself in a room—nor am I afraid to be alone in the grander scheme of things—as in not in a relationship. They both feel like freedom to me. The former grants me the freedom to do what I want when I want, and the latter means if and when I end up in a relationship I know I’m there because I want to be and not because I’m afraid not to be.

I’ll go so far as to say being able to be alone can help a relationship. There will be plenty of times when your significant other can’t pay that much attention to you whether it’s due to work, child rearing, a death in the family, or any number of other things. If you’ve already learned to enjoy your own company, then this can happen without necessarily being a problem. Your being able to be alone becomes a form of silent support. Author Ester Buchholz emphasizes how good solitude can be not only for the soul but also for intimacy.

What sparked this entry is the following video that I caught on Feministing earlier today. Well done Tanya! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Enjoy:

ADDENDUM: Was reading the book Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and came across this quote:

“If you cannot be at ease with yourself when you are alone, you will seek a relationship to cover up your unease. You can be sure that the unease will then reappear in some other form within the relationship, and you will probably hold your partner responsible for it.”

The Bucket List is Born

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I don’t have an active bucket list, but I have just come up with a fun life assignment and since my self-imposed deadline is “before I die,” I suppose the list begins today. Here goes . . .

I, Samara O’Shea, declare that before I kick the bucket I will attempt to visit every place on the planet named Samara, which includes the following:

~ Samara, Russia, a city on the eastern bank of the Volga River, Russia

~ Samara River (Dnieper), a river in Ukraine, left tributary of the Dnieper River

~ Samara, beach city in Costa Rica

~ Samara, Agra, village in Uttar Pradesh, India

~ Samarra, an ancient city in Iraq (if I’m willing to go to the good places I must brave the dangerous ones, too. Plus the Great Mosque of Samarra looks really cool.)

~ Samara Flag Monument, a monument in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

~ Samara (house), also known as SAMARA or the John E. Christian House, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright located in West Lafayette, Indiana

If you know of other places called Samara please tell!

Are there any travel magazines out there willing to sponsor the journey to such a unique set of places? Any?

Stealing Ideas from Mark Twain

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (pen name: Mark Twain) is at it again. His words have stood the test of time and continue to move mountains to this day. His words usually shift me toward hysterics—he was a witty one. Alas, this letter leans toward the heartfelt side of things, though it’s no less clever than the rest of his musings.

This is the letter he wrote to his wife Livy for her 30th birthday (I’ve blogged about it before). In this article I do more than blog, however, I dissect the letter so that the rest of us can use it for our own personal gain. It’s a little confusing as to what is mine and what is Mark’s. Allow me to explain: I wrote the introduction (yes, it’s in the third person), and all the insights in [brackets] are mine as well. The rest belongs to Mr. Twain, er, Clemens in this case.