Samara O'Shea

Archive for April, 2011

“A black day to begin a blue journal. . .”

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

I have just learned that there is a mega diary exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan. It’s called The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives and runs from January 21st through May 22nd. How such an exhibition could exist without my knowing is beyond me. The important thing is, I found out about it with enough time to see it. I plan to go up the weekend of May 13th.

The title of today’s blog comes from Tennessee Williams. The Morgan website says, “Tennessee Williams, too, relied on his diary in times of loneliness. In February 1955 he made his first entry in a cheap Italian exercise book with a cover featuring white polka dots on a blue background: ‘A black day to begin a blue journal.’”

If you aren’t up for reading the whole exhibit description, here’s what stood out to me:

~ As more and more diarists turn away from the traditional notebook and seek a broader audience through web journals, blogs, and social media, this exhibition explores how and why we document our everyday lives.

~ The exhibition illustrates that even before the era of web diaries, many writers envisioned (or invited) an audience.

~ The marriage notebooks of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) and his wife, Sophia (1809–1871), for example, were interactive documents. The newlyweds made entries in tandem, reading each other’s contributions and building a joint narrative of their daily lives, from Nathaniel’s first contribution— “I do verily believe there is no sunshine in this world, except what beams from my wife’s eyes”—to Sophia’s breathless declaration “I feel new as the earth which is just born again.”

~ One of those who read and benefited from Scott’s revealing journal was English art critic John Ruskin (1819–1900), who kept a diary in 1878 leading up to a severe mental collapse. After he recovered, he meticulously re-read his diary, marking it up and indexing it in search of warning signs to help him anticipate future breakdowns.

~ The Morgan holds the corrected proofs for the first published edition of Pepys’s diaries—evidence of the longstanding human impulse to read other people’s diaries.Notable Diarists Included in the Exhibit: Henry David Thoreau, Albert Einstein, John Steinbeck, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Brontë, Tennessee Williams, Anaïs Nin, Sir Walter Scott, and Samuel Pepys.

Modern Love Rejects

Monday, April 18th, 2011

My new website is up and running! It doesn’t have the full content yet, but I’m excited to give you a sneak peek. It’s is called Modern Love Rejects, and Modern Love, in this case, refers to the weekly NY Times column that appears in the Sunday paper. The Modern Love column has been around since 2004. Anyone is welcome to audition for the column by writing a 1,800 – 2,000-word essay and sending it to modernlove@nytimes.com. Many have made it in and plenty of others have not.

Among those who’ve been rejected are myself and, the site’s co-founder, Kiri Blakeley. We’ve both attempted and been rejected three times. Thus we’ve decided to create a place where the rejects could gather and post their not-good-enough essays. Other writers we know who’ve been rejected include: Alisa Bowman, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and Judy Dutton. They will be contributing essays for us. If you, or anyone you know, has been left brokenhearted by Modern Love, please get in touch with us.

ModernLoveRejects.com

Apology Accepted

Friday, April 15th, 2011

There’s a thoughtful article in this month’s Oprah magazine about forgiveness. In recent years I’ve learned that sometimes it takes as much grace and self-reflection to accept an apology as it does to deliver one. My favorite insights from the article:

~ “Study after study has found that forgiving is good for the body as well as the soul. It can lower blood pressure and heart rate and reduce levels of depression, anxiety, and anger. People who forgive generally have better relationships with others, feel happier and more hopeful, and score higher on just about every measure of psychological well-being.”

~ “. . .there are really only two steps in the process: grieving and letting go. Grieving, after you’ve been wronged, means letting yourself feel the anger, hurt, trauma, in all its original pain—but not indefinitely.”

~ “The decision to forgive touches you to your very core, to who you are as a human being. It involves your sense of self-esteem, your personal worth, the worth of the person who’s hurt you, and your relationship with that person and the larger world.”

~ “Forgiveness, I begin to see, is not about pretending you don’t feel angry or hurt. It’s about responding out of kindness rather than rage. It’s about letting yourself feel the full spectrum of emotions—grief and anger and hurt, but also kindness and compassion. Even toward someone who’s hurt you deeply.”

Eulogy for the Letter

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

I’ve been invited to write a eulogy for the art of letter writing. The Alliance of Pentaphilic Curators in Chicago is putting on Five Funerals, which is “a series of solemn celebrations that will memorialize five cultural ideas and give them the fanfare they deserve,” and they’ve asked me to participate.

Now, we all know I don’t believe letter writing is dead, but I do recognize it is dead for some people. Some will never write another letter. Sad but true. I can mourn for those people, which is why I’ve agreed to write the eulogy. I’ve also agreed to it because I love taking part in unique projects, as this is. I won’t be in attendance, I’ll just be writing the eulogy. For my efforts, my name and website will appear in the program. Here are the five funerals that will take place every Sunday in May:

1. The (Un)Timely Death of Multiculturalism

2. Racetrack Player

3. Public Access Television

4. The Letter

5. Painting

As for my other website, the saga continues. I have a site that’s been designed, and I have a company to host it. I just can’t seem to put the two together. This and the eulogy will be my weekend project.

Self-Reliance

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

“Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession . . . Do that which is assigned to you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Forgive Me. . .

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

. . .for being MIA. I am working on a new website. I’ve been working on it for a while, but it’s ready to launch and having some technical difficulties. That’s where my focus has been. I hope to show it to you by week’s end!

In letter news, I learned that John Lennon’s letters are due to be published soon. Excellent!

Short & Sweet

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Leaving a note for someone in an unexpected place is one of the best ways to make his or her day. It can but doesn’t have to be of a romantic nature. You can extend this effective gesture to friends, co-workers, and, of course, significant others. My friend Blake left this for me last time I was in NYC. He calls me wife, even though he’s a fierce & fabulous homosexual.

blakenote.jpg