Samara O'Shea

Archive for March, 2011

Italian Surprise

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

It happened on Friday March 4th. My friend Jennifer wrote told me she’s renting a villa in Tuscany for a month—a 40th birthday present to herself. She asked me if I wanted to join her for a week. I wrestled with the idea: Oh no I can’t. But I have to! But I can’t. But I should! Then she sent me the link to the villa, and my mouth fell to the floor. I landed on But I have to! Because THIS opportunity is never coming around again.

I asked my bosses if I could have a week off. They graciously said yes, and I leave for Italy early next week. I’ve never planned a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants International Trip before. Needless to say, I am very excited.

When I travel I usually sacrifice space—staying in hostels or very small hotel rooms—which I’m happy to do because traveling cheaply is what enables me to travel. This trip will be drastically different because the place we’re staying in is as appealing to me as the country we’re staying in. If it’s rainy, I’ll light a fire in my bedroom and open a bottle of Montepulciano. If it’s sunny, we’ll visit the town itself.

I usually try to ignore the Internet when I’m abroad, but this time I might make it a point to blog. The house has ample and inspiring room for writing, so I’m sure it’ll get my creative juices flowing. Jennifer is there already and she tells me the wireless is temperamental, so I make no promises, but I will do what I can.

The Ides of March

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

I have a surprise trip coming up to the land of Julius Caesar. (Surprise = this time last month I didn’t know I was going). More details tomorrow! For now, enjoy the Ides of March–it’s always been a good luck day for me.

The Writings of Eva Braun

Monday, March 14th, 2011

It’s difficult—near impossible—to think of Adolf Hitler as anything other than a tyrant. He was a human somehow able to function without a beating heart. Yet, even tyrants need a little TLC I suppose. Enter: Eva Braun—the mistress and eventual wife of Hitler. I’ve been made aware of a website dedicated to her writings. Here is a note she wrote The Führer shortly after they met in 1931:

Dear Mr. Hitler, I would like to thank you for the pleasant evening at the theater. It was unforgettable. I shall always be grateful for your friendship. I count the hours until the moment when we shall meet again …

And here’s a journal entry she wrote a few years later. It reads like any woman’s diary does when she’s frustrated by the actions (or lack thereof) of a man she has feelings for. So odd to think of Hitler as a boyfriend. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t a very good one.

March 11, 1935

There is only one thing I want. I would like to be seriously ill, and to hear nothing more about him for at least a week. Why doesn’t something happen to me? Why do I have to go through all this? If only I had never set eyes on him! I am utterly miserable. I shall go out and buy some more sleeping powder and go into a half-dreamlike state, and then I won’t think about it so much.

Why doesn’t that Devil take me with him? It would be much better with him than it is here.

I waited for three hours in front of the Carlton, and had to watch him buying flowers for Ondra and inviting her to dinner. (That was just my mad imagination. March 16th.)

He only needs me for certain purposes, otherwise it is not possible. This is idiocy.

When he says he loves me, it only means he loves me at that particular instant. Like his promises, which he never keeps. Why does he torment me like this, when he could finish it off at once?

Color Me Happy

Friday, March 11th, 2011

This day in digital age, we often keep up with our friends by checking out their websites/blogs to see what they’re doing. Last night, I stopped by my friend Jennifer Paganelli’s page. She owns a colorful company called SisBoom, and she’s got some really fun stuff going on! First, she has a book coming out called Girl’s World: Twenty-One Pretty Sewing Projects to Make for Little Girls. I’m not much of a sewer, but I could certainly give the book as a gift. More importantly, she has a custom SisBoom journal coming out. Look at this:

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Jennifer spent her adolescent years in the Virgin Islands, and everything she makes has that lively Caribbean way about it. She’s also created a vibrant notecard book:

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These will both be in my paper collection soon. As one final, shameless promotion for my buddy Jen, here is a dress she made. It’s colorful and very comfy:

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Virtual Acts of Kindness

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

While thumbing through this quarter’s alumni magazine from Duquesne University (my alma mater in case that’s not obvious), I came across an article about a once friend of mine. When college was over we went our separate ways, and I’ve wondered from time to time what she’s been up to. Attempts to find her on Facebook have been unsuccessful.

What she’s up to—and what the article highlights—are random acts of kindness. She leaves thoughtful, embellished notes of encouragement and small gifts all around town (Pittsburgh) and she’s launched the website Secret Agent L to chronicle her missions. Many people in different cities have taken to becoming her Affiliate Secret Agents, and they’ve got a great thing going on—harnessing both the power of the Internet and the power of compassion.

I like it because it involves lots of letter writing and because spreading kindness is a noble feat if ever there was one. Well done old friend!

I Dropped the Ball on IWD

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. By the time I realized it, I was well into my day—feeling too busy and uncreative to find a fun yet meaningful approach to it for the blog. This morning I pulled out The Susan B. Anthony Reader—hoping to find one of her wonderful letters to post. I’m sure a stellar letter is in there, I just wasn’t meant to find it today.

I’m on the verge of feeling defeated but also know there’s no real reason to. I celebrate my love of the female gender each day. I offer support in any way I can, and continually hope that in my lifetime women around the world will be set free from the economic and religious chains that have bound them for far too long. I am proud to live in a country where women started fighting (and eventually winning) that fight long ago.

A few links in honor of IWD:

A friend wrote an amusing post called What the Heck is International Women’s Day?

This morning another friend sent me this: Why I’m not married (and it’s not because I’m an angry slut), which seems apropos somehow.

Finally, here is a classic and controversial clip of John Lennon and Yoko Ono discussing the plight of women on the Dick Caveat Show.

Postcards from Africa

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Hello, I hope everyone had a splendid weekend. I did. I loved the rain last night (it was pouring over most of the east coast). Falling asleep to a determined downpour is a treat and a sign that spring is near—as it was rain and not snow.

I also hit my PO Box and received a letter from my traveling friend. There is a very nice man out there in the world somewhere who sends me letters and postcards when he travels through Africa. Here’s one from Rwanda:

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This time he sent me a letter from Dakar, Senegal, and in the return address spot is a haphazard drawing of the continent of Africa. It’s cute. In the letter he asks me this:

“As a lover of letters, I’d like to hear your opinion regarding the postcard—what should be on them? Describe the day? The scene, sights, smells? I always think about that scene in Under the Tuscan Sun where Diane Lane’s character writes out a card for a fellow tourist.”

I’ve not been able to write him back because he is ever on the road. So I’ll answer him here and hope he happens to be perusing LetterLover today.

First, I love the scene in Under the Tuscan Sun. For those of you unfamiliar, what happens is a tourist asks Diane Lane what she does for a living, and she says she a writer. He says, “Oh will you write my postcard for me?” She does, and he hates what she writes.

In any case, I find people are usually so excited to receive the postcard itself—and to know that you were thinking of them while away—that it doesn’t matter what the card says. That’s how I felt holding a card from Rwanda! It’s a cliché of an answer, but it’s true: write whatever you feel in the moment. Even if you simply write, “Wish you were here!” it’s the card and the trek it takes to the recipient’s mailbox that’s worth more than the words in this case.