Social Media and Letters and Such #1

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We may be a global village, but instant communication often isolates us from each other rather than uniting us.  –  from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

This profound statement was written in 1977! Now, nearly 40 years later, it is even more true. I have read several articles lately about the detriments of social media, and they are many. Thinking about some of what I’ve read, I ‘d like to break down what L’Engle had to say.

She refers to a global village, which is an oxymoron. A village brings to mind a community of people who are physically close as well as socially. People who know the needs of their neighbors and share many common bonds. Global pertains to the whole world, where, though we may know some of the needs and share interests, we can’t fully enter into the daily groove.  

Little did L’Engle know in 1977 how instant communication would become. How often have we (me included) spouted off on facebook, only to have to go back later and delete, though not always before the words have seared the eyes and hearts of a loved one. Or sent an email that couldn’t be deleted? At least when writing a letter, we have a little more time; time to tear it up before we lick that stamp.  

But, one may wonder, how does instant communication isolate us? It is a weapon, I think, driving us apart by comparison. All the happy vacation pictures, relationship updates, and check-ins. It’s just fuel for the fire of  “I want what they have”, and when we don’t have those things we distance ourselves.  At least that’s my take on it.

You can read other posts inspired by Madeleine L’Engle HERE

Wonder #2

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“Some people pass through your life and you never think about them again. Some you think about and wonder what ever happened to them. Some you wonder if they ever wonder what happened to you. And then there are some you wish you never had to think about again. But you do.” – The Wonder Years

There are many people who I think about and I wonder what happened to them. Like Christy who lived across the street. We played together when we were little and I was fascinated that her family ate real turtle soup. In high school she sometimes rode to school with me on days I was able to drive my mom’s car. And then there was her brother, who shot my brother just above the eye with a BB gun.

I wonder about Stephanie who got married and had a baby the year before she was in my wedding. I haven’t seen her since and that makes me sad. And Susan who left school before she graduated. We were so close our sophmore/junior years, and then we drifted apart.

And those I wish I never had to think about again? My second grade teacher, Mrs. Nash, who hit us with rolled up Weekly Readers. I don’t remember her ever smiling. My fourth grade teacher who humiliated me over a boy. Those two coworkers that liked to steal away my customers at Dillards.

Are there some who I wonder if they wonder about me? Sure. Maybe one day our paths will cross again.

FUN FACT:  I own the  5-disc compilation box set under the title Music from ‘The Wonder Years in 1994 thanks to my daughter, Kat.

Thanks for the Memory

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London, July 26, 1943 – “When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. The man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people,” – from Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck

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After reading this, I had to do a little research on the man. I’ve enjoyed his movies over the years, and knew about his USO work, but I wanted to know more.

The song “Thanks for the Memory”, which later became his trademark, was introduced in the film The Big Broadcast of 1938 as a duet with Shirley Ross, accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra. The fluid nature of the music allowed Hope’s writers to later create variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour. It has been sung by many of the greats over the years, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, as well as in numerous parodies. When I was in college, my sorority wrote several parody songs and jingles to use during rush, and this was one of them. I sure wish I could remember the words we sang!

Hope performed his first USO show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California, and continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War. Sometimes his wife, Dolores, joined him and once his granddaughter, Miranda, did also. Hope made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991 and was declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress.

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1944

 

Other things I learned:

  • He and Dolores were married in 1934 and they adopted four children.
  • He was very involved with Fight for Sight, a nonprofit organization in the United States which funds medical research in vision and ophthalmology.
  • “Thanks for the Memory” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
  • Hope was an investor/part owner of the Cleveland Indians.
  • Hope died of pneumonia at his home, two months after his 100th birthday.

Here are the original lyrics to “Thanks for the Memory”

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse
Nothing in my purse
And chuckles
When the preacher said
For better or for worse
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of Schubert’s Serenade
Little things of jade
And traffic jams
And anagrams
And bills we never paid
How lovely it was

We who could laugh over big things
Were parted by only a slight thing
I wonder if we did the right thing
Oh, well, that’s life, I guess
I love your dress

Thanks for the memory
Of faults that you forgave
Of rainbows on a wave
And stockings in the basin
When a fellow needs a shave
Thank you so much

Thanks for the memory
Of tinkling temple bells
Alma mater yells
And Cuban rum
And towels from
The very best hotels
Oh how lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of cushions on the floor
Hash with Dinty Moore
That pair of gay pajamas
That you bought
And never wore

We said goodbye with a highball
Then I got as high as a steeple
But we were intelligent people
No tears, no fuss
Hooray for us

Strictly entre nous
Darling, how are you?
And how are all
Those little dreams
That never did come true?

Awfully glad I met you
Cheerio and toodle-oo
Thank you
Thank you so much
Songwriters: Leo Robin / Ralph Rainger

There are so many versions. Here’s a clip from the movie – some of the words are different from those above.

 

Thoughts Stirred by The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society #2

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“I remember lying in our hay-loft reading The Secret Garden with a cowbell beside me. I’d read for an hour and then ring the bell for a glass of lemonade to be brought to me. Mrs. Hutchins, the cook, finally grew weary of this arrangement and told my mother, and that was the end of my cowbell, but not my reading on the hay.” (Juliet to Dawsey)

The Secret Garden was written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who also wrote A Little Princess. When I was about 10 years old, my Aunt Billie gave me a copy of  A Little Princess. It was the only time I remember getting a gift from her and it was one of the first hardback books I ever owned. I absolutely loved it! There have been several movie versions produced, but none compared to what I imagined as It read this treasure.

A few years later I received a make-up mirror for Christmas. This was not only used in vain attempts to glamorize my pudgy adolescent face, but it was also a boon to my evening reading. Many a night I would settled this device under my covers and read after bedtime without being caught.

My daughter-in-law has made a cozy reading nook in my grandkids room, with cushy pillows and a string of colorful star lights. I would have been over the moon with a space like that as a kid! They both love books; the six year old is a beginning reader and it warms my heart to hear him read so eagerly. I’ve found that books with CDs are fantastic in the car – they listen and read along and don’t fight (as much).

If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, aunt, friend – I hope you are able to be a part of a young reader’s life. I am grateful to my Aunt Billie for giving me that book, to my parents for driving me to the public library downtown, to my elementary school librarian for introducing me Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and to my husband who loves exploring used bookstores as much as I do.

Thoughts From A Man Called Ove

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…nowadays people are all thirty-one and wear too tight trousers and no longer drink normal coffee. From A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Even though Ove was a curmudgeon, I have to say I fully get where he was coming from here. There are a few schools I go in to substitute where all the teachers look like they are 31 and, though they don’t wear too tight trousers, they do have faultless hair and snow white teeth and perfectly polished nails. I don’t know what they drink, but I’m guessing some kind of soy milk concoction. But, that’s okay.

Sometimes being around younger adults makes me feel young. Other days it makes me feel my age. Often I can’t relate when it comes to what many of them value. Like when a young couple expecting their second child feels like they need more than a three bedroom house. Or when the conversation turns to the latest iphone and when they are going to get theirs. Or The Walking Dead. I.Just. Don’t.Get.It.

As I sat writing this it dawned on me that perhaps it isn’t always age that really makes the difference. It’s often money and culture and upbringing that puts the wider gap between me and some younger people I encounter. So, instead of being jealous of their snow white teeth or judging them for their too tight trousers, I should accept these things for what they are. And try to know them for who they are on the inside.

After all, I don’t always drink normal coffee. When I don’t, it’s likely to be because a mocha was calling my name.

P is for People

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photo by Tanatat

“Go to every live reading, every literary party at your library, go to every book signing and open mic. Your task in all this is to learn how to be with other writers.” – Heather Sellers

This is advice I will continue to take this year. In past years I have been able to meet other writers in several ways. I attended free meetings at libraries where authors spoke on creative writing, how to choose titles, traditional vs.e-books, finding an agent, and other timely topics. Volunteering at a writing conference gave me free entry to workshops where I gained valuable tips. A few years ago I went to a function sponsored by my city’s library system and the local TV station. There we met, via Skype on the big screen, Ernest J. Gaines, a well known author who talked about writing his latest work.

Before I moved to Alabama, I was a part of a local writing group that met once a month. I also joined a writing community that was working on developing a network of writers in Jacksonville, FL. Through this community I met other local writers, some published and some not. We met together for a dialogue workshop, once a week for three weeks before I got busy with the move.

I have also interviewed four authors for magazine articles. I loved picking their brains about writing and received a lot of helpful advice.

Do you work on meeting other writers? Do you have any other strategies that help you as a writer?

For the poetry focus I have written a Pantoum. The pantoum originated in Malaysia in the fifteenth-century. The modern pantoum is a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.

Night Pantoum

Until the eyes adjust it all seems dark 

Slowly stars appear, constellations form 

Twinkling in a sky once barren and stark 

Until the night clouds roll in with the storm

Slowly stars appear, constellations form 

First is the Big Dipper, called The Great Bear 

Until the night clouds roll in with the storm 

And spirits drift, want to be elsewhere

First is the Big Dipper, called The Great Bear

But it becomes so very hard to see 

And spirits drift, want to be elsewhere

As gusty winds blow clouds, bend low the trees

But it becomes so very hard to see 

In all the sky no stars are to be found 

As gusty winds blow clouds, bend low the trees 

As lightning flashes, thunder starts to pound

In all the sky no stars are to be found 

Twinkling in a sky once barren and stark 

As lightning flashes , thunder starts to pound 

Until the eyes adjust it all seems dark