Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Journal Writing’ Category

All the President’s Love Letters

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

The June issue of Vanity Fair features a handful of love letters written by 22-year-old Barack Obama. He’s so dreamy. Sigh. I’ll let you know when I get my hands on the issue. For now, a preview:

The Doting Father

Friday, November 4th, 2011

I had Otto Frank (Anne’s Frank’s father) on my mind last night—don’t ask me why. He occurs to me every now and then. When I visited the Anne Frank Museum in the summer of 2010 I left with a new appreciation for Otto. I guess I had just always thought of the story from Anne’s perspective and not her father’s. The poor man lost both his wife and two daughters in the concentration camps, and he had to try and build a life for himself when it was all over.

I went to his Wikipedia page because I was curious as to whether or not he remarried. He did—about eight years after the fact. While searching for this information I came across a short video of Otto. They play the same video at the end of the tour of the Frank Museum. It’s precious. He talks about the experience of reading Anne’s diary. He felt he had a very good relationship with his daughter, but even he was unaware of the deep thoughts she was thinking. He notes that maybe it’s impossible for parents to really know their children:

Window Shopping

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

If you’re reading this, it means you survived the rapture. Hooray! It was a gorgeous doomsday here in the northeast—the most gorgeous day we had all week.

On Friday, reader Mike sent me this photo his daughter took at the Tiffany & Co store where she works. I’m guessing it’s an ad? It’s a fun one! Transcript below the photo.


Hello Maisie,

Did you know that last night was our 18th date?

On our 5th I told you I loved you.

On our 9th you said you didn’t know what love is.

On our 10th date. . .

Well we both know what.

On our 13th date you said love is anarchistic nonsense.

Last night I do believe you used the “L” word.

I rest my case.

– D.

In other news . . . I highly recommend you read the essay on Modern Love Rejects today. It’s about a journal turned blog and a blog that ended up wreaking havoc on the blogger’s dating life.

A Glimpse into Their Lives

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011


As promised, I went to the Morgan Library’s exhibit on diaries. Not as promised, I went on Sunday rather than Saturday. Also, not as promised, I am writing on Tuesday rather than Monday. I’ll get my groove back one of these days.

In any case, the exhibit was intimate and extraordinary. It was in a small room and there were 60 or so diaries on display. I walked slowly, trying to fully absorb each one. It’s incredible to come face to face with the sloppy handwriting of someone you admire who left the world long ago. I copied my favorites passage of the day—some from the diaries themselves and others were posted on the wall throughout the exhibit:

“My journals are callow, sententious, moralistic, and full of rubbish. They are also hard to ignore.” ~ E. B. White

“There are two things in the world—life and death. ‘Art’ is life. ‘Not Art’ is death.”
~ Stuart Davis

“Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.” ~ Virginia Woolf

“I have tried to keep diaries before but they didn’t work out because of the necessity to be honest.” ~ John Steinbeck

“The truth strikes us from behind and in the dark, as well as from before and in the broad daylight.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

[The best aid to memory] is “reading intently—and reading with a pen in your hand taking note of the passages that most forcibly strike you.” ~ George Augustus Sala

“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.

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:


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:


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: