Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shared History.

Christmas is Florence was a grand occasion, as usual. I spent ample time with my childhood friends and loved every moment of it. It's always a special treat to see my friends of 20+ years and reminisce about our former lives.

Here's what we look like right now:

We're missing one person, but you get the gist of it: despite our crazy childhood antics, we turned out to be well-adjusted women (for the most part).

But aside from catching up and having a drink at the bar, what really takes us back is visiting our old haunts. Mariann and I, for example (she's on the right of me), took a walk around the old neighborhood twice -- and the second time, we visited the old graveyard of the family who owned the golf course and probably the entire neighborhood back when it was a plantation.

It was just as magical to us last week as it was 20 years ago. The modest little picket fence -- I spotted  it from across the green and announced that we'd found our destination -- the names of the Muldrow family, most of them born before 1800, and the peacefulness of the place, despite its being in the center of a popular golf course. It's always felt like our place.

That's the thing about the memories I share with my childhood besties -- we share them collectively, so they feel real and not simply a fictional part of our individual minds. Yet, they don't feel so real that everyone else (random golfers) understands. It's a secret, shared history.

Not to sound too corny, but as I get older, I really value the bits of shared history with my old friends. And not just the childhood pals, but those from high school, college -- anyone I've known for years. When I was growing up, my nostalgic mother always talked about the passage of time (she still does, actually) and hinted that nothing survives it: not friendships, not locations, not ideas.

Thus, I am grateful for the people and ideas that have followed me throughout the almost-35 years that I've been alive. As a sensitive and artsy person, I have the tendency to focus a great deal on loss. But honestly, there is plenty that I've kept in my proverbial pockets as the years have rolled by.

Here's to 2015.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

On the Art of Transitions.

A few years ago, when I started working on my book, I realized that the hardest part of writing (at least for me) is the art of creating a transition. Thus, I would never abandon the story "between scenes," so to speak. I figured that in order to make things easier on myself, I would reach a stopping point in the middle of some action, so the momentum would still exist when I got back.

This "action versus lull" theory has bled over into my reading habits as well, particularly if I'm enjoying a book so thoroughly that I don't want to stop at a part that might cool my passion for the narrative.

I've tried to explain how hard transitions are to my tutee and probably to any other writer who is willing to listen to me -- including my freelancers, because it's true for magazine articles as well.

But what I didn't realize, until today, is how true it is for real life.

I've always thought of the time between Christmas Day and New Year's Day as a "lame duck period" of the year, when nothing really happens except, well, some people undecorate their homes, I suppose, and get ready to resume real life. You might argue that it's not everyone's favorite place to leave the year -- which is why The Christmas Cliff exists. (You know how everyone insists on seeing you before Christmas, as if the world ends on December 25th after the gifts are opened? That's the Christmas Cliff.)

So, I am proposing a new tradition -- or transition -- for this year, instead of leaping blindly from the action of Christmas Day to the action of New Year's. Let's make the most of those funny days in between. Let's continue celebrating and making merry and enjoying the time off from work (if you have it). I know I said that I'm wary of transitions to the point that I avoid them at times in literature and personal writing, but, if I start facing them in real life, maybe I'll get better at digesting them and creating them for the page.

Writers, after all, often draw on their own experiences. I appreciate y'all being part of mine and helping me bridge to the next chapter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Imagination: I'm Grateful.

I had a heartfelt conversation with my friend Julia at another friend's Thanksgiving dinner party last weekend. Julia is 11 years old, and her mom and I have been pals for years.

We walked up and down the street after dinner, just the two of us, talking about life. I was amazed at how relatable and easy to talk to she is. But then again, I'm accustomed to being enchanted by the imagination and wisdom of children. Before our walk, we jumped rope, hula-hooped (well, she hula-hooped; I just attempted it) and basically ran around the house being silly together.

The quality time with Julia came right on schedule. I've been thinking a lot about what I should be grateful for, versus what I am grateful for. Am I grateful for all the days I spent lounging underneath oak trees and daydreaming as a kid? Or the elaborate games that my friends and little sister and I invented on Saturdays? Not often enough, until something happens to make me think twice.

For example, I went to the mall tonight after my usual tutoring session was canceled. I was feeling gloomy while walking around the mall, fretting about how I would afford all the gifts I want to buy for people; fretting about a friend of mine who's struggling with her health; fretting about life in general. Then I decided that instead of just sulking back to my car, I would try to perk myself up.

My perk came in the form of a conversation with the man dressed as Santa Claus in the center of the mall. It looked as though Santa was winding down for the afternoon (he works so much harder these days, what with everyone's holiday fever starting at Halloween) so I ducked the velvet green rope and asked him how things were going.

"Are the kids asking for iPads and iPhones?" I asked.

He nodded. "Yes. I tell them all they have to wait until they're older." Then he sighed, and I knew he wished kids still asked for simple toys made out of wood. He was an older Santa, with a legitimate beard.  He talked like he's been playing the role for years. I could tell he understands the importance of childhood and tries his best to pass it on.

A minute later, he was escorted by some of the elves off to his break, and he turned around and gave me a friendly wave. "I'll be back, and we can talk some more," he said.

My own childhood wasn't perfect, but I'm glad it was filled with imagination.

And I have people like Julia to thank for reminding me.

Me with Julia on her first day of first grade. We go way back. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tinder is the Night.

Don't laugh at me. Lord knows I've blogged before about how I can't stand dating websites -- and I've gone and joined the silliest one out there.

That's right; I've joined TINDER.

Before you wrinkle your noses and declare Tinder to be nothing but a meat market, hear this! I actually like it. I mean, it's a lot of fun, all the swiping right and finding out that someone else ALSO swiped right. Still, that doesn't mean there aren't any pitfalls.

Here's a short list of informative tidbits that I thought might be useful to others who are single and considering joining Tinder. Note that I just joined yesterday. Note, too, that I haven't been on any actual dates yet, but I have gotten asked out a total of three times and scored a phone number.

1. The ego boost can be significant. Simply put up a few decent pictures of yourself and collect the compliments. But beware -- Tinder is notoriously shallow and you'll be disappointed in yourself for swiping left when a guy has less than stellar teeth, a large nose, weird hair or the like. Since Tinder doesn't really do the whole extensive bio thing (bios tend to be short; all mine says is "wordsmith, social butterfly") people weed through the list based on looks. If you're uncomfortable with that idea, it might give you pause.

2. If you're anything like me and you simply like meeting new people to have a text-a-thon with, you'll adore Tinder and become an immediate convert. Heck, I've already alerted my ex-roommate Dana to the idea that she should join!! I'm a WITNESS, y'all.

3. Unless your fellow single gals are on Tinder too (shout-outs to my one friend, who shall remain anonymous, for suggesting it to me) they are going to tell you that it's all about sex, because that's what the media and everyone else says it's about. And my friends, in particular, are concerned because, well, we all know what an asexual diva I can be. Plus, some of them have their own sordid stories and are now anti-Tinder. Still, it's like any other brand of romantic bitterness; you have to learn from your own mistakes, not your BFF's mishaps. I've reassured my gal posse that I'm just having fun. It's like my mom's favorite song from the 1980s by Adam Ant -- "Desperate but Not Serious."

4. Like other apps, Tinder can take up a lot of time. The swipe game is like crack, and sometimes you don't even realize that you've swiped through every dang body in your area already. Then, once you have about a billion matches, you're stuck answering everyone. I made the mistake of sending messages to about six dudes yesterday -- and then about six more dudes messaged me. Right now I'm talking to more guys than I know what to do with, and they're all asking me the same "get to know you" questions. If I had a dollar for every time I've typed "I'm the editor of Mount Pleasant Magazine! I'm from Florence! I'm a writer!" in the last 24 hours, I'd probably be able to take the rest of the holiday season off from work.

5. As I've mentioned before, online dating is like renting an apartment in Charleston. If you don't answer these dudes right away, they're likely to swipe right on some other babe and schedule a lunch date for that very instant, leaving you in the dust of a forgotten conversation thread. Last night, for example, a dude asked me to meet him out somewhere, after I told him two seconds before that I'd just washed my face. I replied that I normally cleanse my face "in order to go to bed, not to put makeup back on and go hooch it up somewhere." He was mildly amused by my wit, but, as it is with most men, his need for booty was stronger than his need for a clever woman.

6. Since bios are not really important - or are nonexistent - on Tinder, I've been trying to be as real and as interesting as possible in my conversations with various dudes. I told one guy I liked his chicken wing picture, for example. I told another guy that I'm "an idealist with just the right amount of snark." I don't want people thinking I'm just another girl they swiped right on, ya know? I mean, they don't know WHO they're dealing with until they actually go out with me ...but I'll save those stories for another post.

So stay tuned, everyone. I think this is going to be fairly interesting. And if it all blows up in my face and I end up hating Tinder, I hope I don't rain on another newbie's parade.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On Inspiration, and How the Three Day Guest Rule Doesn't Apply.

It never ceases to amaze me how inspiration strikes. Of course there are all the usual places (like sitting on my couch and drinking coffee, which seems to be a standard for artists) but once in a while, inspiration happens in such an awkward way that you can't help but take notice.

I just got back from a stellar trip to Auburn, Alabama, where I attended a writing conference for the first time and totally got back into student-mode faster than you can say "MFA wanna-be." In particular, I loved my short story workshop and my poetry workshop; both the instructors were really cool; I bought their books and got them both signed. It was a great trip, and I'm thankful for all the interesting trips I've taken this year -- Nashville, Florida, Charlotte, Auburn -- but when I got back, my friends kept asking me what I wrote while I was in Auburn. And the truth is, I didn't write much, except for workshop notes on how to craft poems and stories. I was like a sponge there, soaking it all up so I could wring it out later when the time was right.

One incident of this "wringing" came a week later, when I had the annoying and disappointing experience of driving 40 minutes in traffic to see this dude I was quasi-interested in, only to have him announce to me that he was "smitten" with someone else. It was not a big deal (I barely knew him) but really, what a waste of gas -- he could have texted that before I got on 526 during rush hour, right?!?

Anyhoo, so I went and had a drink by myself, feeling sulky. And lo! before I knew it, I had my phone out, typing an entire section of my memoir on the bar top, wishing I'd brought actual pen and paper so people wouldn't think I was texting someone with that furiously engaged look on my face.

Another time in the last week, I was fretting over the fact that I had not written so much as an introduction for a magazine article that was due right away. Then, Saturday morning while I was babysitting my best friend's son, I had this incredible first sentence pop into my head while I was lounging in their front yard, soaking up the autumn rays. Again, I got my phone out and typed a few lines (I've become quite the pro at emailing myself phone memos) and felt thrilled to have the hardest part of the article finished. Because, really, once you write a killer first paragraph, the rest just tumbles out.

For as many years as I've been a writer, none of this should surprise me. I know good and well that inspiration is like a butterfly, true love, boiling water or anything else that arrives when you aren't watching the doorway like an overeager freak. So maybe it's not surprise I'm feeling after all. Maybe it's joy at inspiration's arrival.

She's one guest in my life whose welcome is never worn out. In fact, I think I'd let inspiration rent my walk-in closet or couch-surf for as long as she wants to stay with  me.

Auburn's campus. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Could E.T. Phone Home Now?

The other day, I was using my "phone" to make a call for something or other and I received the following message:

We're sorry! Dialer has stopped.

In other words, my phone application on my pocket computer had stopped working for a bit.

It got me thinking, rather wistfully, about phones. I've always loved to talk on the phone, long before I became a busy magazine editor and HAD to talk on the phone 24/7. In those days, of course, there was no such thing as texting or carrying around a phone in your pocket -- but I still managed to keep in touch with my people most of the time. I would drag the phone from the hallway in my grandmother's house, where I was brought up, into my bedroom. It reached only so far that I could sit on my floor, head propped against the foot of my bed. For hours I'd sit, tracing the patterns on the rug with my finger, talking to my best childhood friends about crushes, music and the woes of school. I'd talk until it was time to go to sleep or someone asked me to hang up; I never had my own private line as a teenager.

My favorite aspects of phones hardly exist now, thanks to technology. The other night while I was in Edisto, I was both amused and baffled to find a landline phone inside the condo, complete with push buttons and a cord. You couldn't even walk around with the thing. I picked up the receiver eagerly, ready to hear the dial tone.


But, really, all the sounds that we once experienced with our phones -- from busy signals to dial tones to that obnoxious beeping when you left it off the hook -- have almost disappeared. I never gave it much thought, since the real point of a phone is to keep in touch, and I've done that part well enough as phones have evolved. But this week, I find myself a little nostalgic for these old phones. Maybe it's because I've craved a source of comfort during the last few crazy-busy days. Maybe that old phone in Edisto reminded me. These pocket computers that we call phones just aren't the same. I suppose it's almost like music -- we still have the songs. But we're missing the CD cases, the artwork, the lyric sheets, the stereo plugged into each kid's bedroom wall.

It's weird, the way so many forms of art have become just another computer application. But my grandmother, for one, has never given up her regular phone, nor her regular stereo that plays classical CDs each time I visit her. No matter how many times I power up Pandora on my Android, those Beethoven compact disks are still important ....and I still love picking up her old-school phone in the kitchen, saying "hello" and feeling surprised at who's on the other end of the line.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


"Genuine beauty is always quite alarming."
--Donna Tartt, The Secret History 

I just got back from my first ever trip to Edisto Island. Yes, I'm a South Carolinian who'd never ventured to this quaint, quiet beach until now. My experience was ...interesting. I guess what I'm trying to say is, after my CRAZY week of work and juggling a million things at once, I found the snail-like pace of Edisto to be slightly maddening when I first arrived. I checked into my eerily quiet condo all by myself on Thursday, found that the television didn't work (there wasn't any wi-fi either!) and tried to figure out what to do with myself. The obvious answer would be to read something or write something, but it wasn't that simple. 

For those of you who don't know, I struggle quite a bit with anxiety and panic. It took some work to calm myself down that night (a little bit of song therapy, if you must know, and a well-timed visit from my roomie, John, who was concerned after my phone call about how "SPOOKY" my accommodations were) but by the next morning, I was quite all right. I figured out the pace of Edisto, and darn it, I embraced it the best I could. I poured myself a cup of black coffee and walked to the bookstore, where I purchased a book of the island's history and another novel by Donna Tartt, since I loved The Goldfinch. I met a few of the local business owners and chatted them up. I swam in the ocean. I took a post-beach nap. I rode in a boat. I ate plenty of fresh seafood. 

In the end, Edisto turned out to be a beautiful and serene place. I just had to ...dial it back a bit. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For --


It's been forever since I've blogged. Maybe you guys haven't been thinking about it, but I have -- and I've missed it! But honestly, I've been incredibly busy with work and winding the summer down and a whole slew of other projects. That's why I am setting my alarm for 6:30 a.m. these days.

Anyhoo, I thought I'd share the good news that I am hard at work getting my byline elsewhere in the region. I've been pitching a few new magazines and lo! -- I'm getting assignments. Hooray! I have an assignment to write a piece on fashion illustration for Eide Magazine; an assignment to write a piece on the rise of e-cigarettes in culture for The South Magazine; an assignment to write a piece on adult enrichment classes for Grand Strand Magazine and two articles coming up in Celebrate Hilton Head.
I'm pitching national magazines as well, but the region is a good start.

I'd like to point out that preparation for getting what you want in life is important. That might seem like a weird thing to say, because we're so conditioned by society to think that if we work for a goal, and the goal is met, everything is suddenly peachy. But I've discovered that you have to be ready; getting what you want is hard work!

Yes, I've gotten new assignments, and yes, I'll have new magazines to put into my family's hands this holiday season and show them that my English degrees were NOT in vain, but from now until about Halloween I'm pretty much booked. That's right -- none of these publications gave me any TIME to write anything. They all said: "Great, Denise! Welcome aboard! Can you turn it in by October 15th?!" or whatever. And as y'all know, I also deal with the deadline of my beloved publication, Mount Pleasant Magazine, where I'm the editor, in addition to side projects. So I'm pretty dang busy this month. To top it off, I'm going to a conference in a couple of weeks in Auburn, called "The Inspired South!"

But of course, none of these new editors knew that I was pitching my face off to multiple zines, all the while getting ready for my own magazine's deadline or other ventures. It's kinda like when you're in college and your professor doesn't give a hoot about what your other professors are assigning you -- only THAT paper matters.

In conclusion, I couldn't be more excited about the new opportunities. This is a real exercise in time management, and I'm up for the challenge. And when I say up, I mean it literally. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go chug my coffee and email a few people.

Happy Fall, my lads and lassies!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In Praise of YA Lit.

Not so long ago, my best friend Sarah McGuire used to hesitate whenever she'd confess her affection for young adult fiction. She knew that I didn't really read it (I've been known to be a book snob in the worst way) and I guess she thought I'd think it was silly.

Well, I don't think it's silly anymore. In fact, young adult (YA) literature is quickly finding a place in my bookish heart, for several reasons.

First of all, I do have a 15 year old writing student, as y'all probably know if you've talked to me lately. And while I try to introduce him to adult classics all the time (Frankenstein, Animal Farm, Things Fall Apart), sometimes we're forced to read the YA novels on his school book lists. Right now, I'm waiting for my copy of The House of the Scorpion to arrive at the Mount Pleasant library branch. It's not my typical pick -- it's got science fiction and cloning and all that jazz as part of the plot -- but I'm keeping an open mind.

I've also been mentoring my tutee's sister, who's just one year younger and happens to be an avid reader. She let me borrow her copy of John Green's novel, An Abundance of Katherines, and I rather liked it. I mean, I laughed out loud at it a few times. More importantly, I realized why all the kids are crazy about John Green: he's clever and funny! Anyways, she and I have been working on a series of short fiction this summer (my latest project is about a pair of maids who work in a ritzy hotel) and the practice is definitely pleasing my muse. Who knew I could be so inspired by a teenager? Or teenage books?

And right now, bookmarked on my bedroom floor, I have a copy of a book called Fangirl by an author named Rainbow Rowell, whom Sarah recommended. I went to the library yesterday in downtown Charleston, and, for the first time ever, I made a beeline for the YA room. I wanted to find out if they had a copy of The House of the Scorpion (they didn't, so I have to wait in line) and I wanted to grab a copy of Rowell's book, Eleanor and Park, which Sarah said I would like. Plus, Sarah invited me to a Sunday book club meeting where all the members will be discussing Rowell's work.

"Eleanor and Park is all checked out," said the friendly YA librarian. "Can I offer you Fangirl, the author's earlier work?"

I happily accepted. Perhaps I can add to the conversation on Sunday.

Anyhoo, after collecting my prize, I headed to an art showing of local photography and joined the artist and a few friends for a beer afterward. But -- oops! -- I forgot about my car, which I left in the library garage, which is locked at 8 pm! And it was 7:55 when I remembered. So I ran like HECK (barefoot because I was wearing heels) and got to the library at 8:02 pm. The cops were already standing at the door, telling me that the library was closed. I was out of breath and frantic.

"Can I get my car?" i gasped.

The lady cop took me upstairs with my dirty, bare feet and asked the library employees whether any of them would be kind enough to check my ticket out. Then, a friendly face in the crowd stepped forward. It was the YA librarian from earlier.

"Oh, I remember her. I can let her out with my employee card," she said, much to my immense gratitude.

So, in the end, I parked for free, got a new YA book to devour between now and Sunday and learned an important lesson.

All books are vehicles for good in this world.

My girl Rachel and me. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bad Language - A Personal History.

Throughout my childhood, my mother never used bad language. In fact, she'd admonish people who had the nerve to say anything than worse than "damn" or "hell" around my sister or me -- even as I got old enough to handle it, hear it, even say it. In fact, no one we knew (the adults, anyway) had a filthy mouth. After all, we were closely monitored kids with MTV removed from the remote control (my grandma said it was "trash"), R-rated movies removed from our wish lists and friendships supervised with a careful eye.

Later, as I became a young adult, I was exposed to more bad language -- but I still wasn't much of a potty mouth myself. In fact, I was sometimes made fun of for being a goody-two-shoe, but I wore the label proudly. It was part of being Denise. I came to high school, and eventually college, as a late bloomer, determined to hold onto my virtue and not snort lines alongside strangers or miss class the next day. I'm not sure how or when those not-so-nice words crept into my vocabulary. But they did, little by little.

Here's a short list of experiences that stand out in my mind.

In the third grade I had my first real introduction to bad language -- though I wasn't the one who used it. I was brought to my teacher's desk along with a couple of other female students. We were informed that one of us had used a racial term on the school field trip -- but our superiors weren't sure which of us it was. At the time, I was a Catholic schoolgirl, and when the teacher repeated the word to me, I told her with honesty that I didn't know the word, and that I'd never heard my parents say it. She didn't believe me. I was mystified.

I had a babysitting job at age 16. At that point, I wasn't using bad language but I was listening to it -- I've always had a soft spot for rock n' roll. I remember popping in a Cake CD and playing a song with some choice words, only to be called out by the 7-year-old. I quickly turned off the CD -- who knew kids were so perceptive? -- but it was too late. I didn't babysit for that family very often after that.

My first job after graduate school was at a tiny book publisher that dealt primarily with military fiction and reference. My boss, an old dude around 70, let the F-bomb fly one afternoon because he was angry. I blinked in surprise, but I didn't question it.

One day, when I was around 27 or so and sobbing on the phone to my mother over a particularly brutal break-up, I let a word slip out that she had never heard me say. She gasped in shock, but she knew I was upset. Thus, she didn't say too much about it. But I still felt guilty.

Two and a half years ago, I started working at Mount Pleasant Magazine and Brian told me I had a dirty mouth. I dismissed his comment; I was stressed out and needed to vent.

I guess the point is that even now, at the age of 30+ years old, I still get scolded for using bad words. It's not that I don't know other words to use; in fact, I think of myself as having a decent vocabulary. I'm not exactly certain how I picked up the habit of uttering anything other than the Biblical "damn" or "hell" from my childhood years. Maybe it was all that Cake. And while it's true that a lot of people find bad language to be offensive, it's probably my worst habit. I mean, I don't drink that much (anymore); I don't have cigarettes in my handbag; I don't like porn and I don't snort lines.

Everyone has a vice, dammit.

Monday, June 30, 2014

St. Augustine: A Welcoming Place

I have just returned from a delightful long weekend in St. Augustine, Florida. I decided to take Thursday and Friday off from the office (the magazine is uploaded) and drive down on a whim, having never been there and having an offer for free lodging (my roommate is there on business). I invited one of my best pals from childhood, Mariann, to meet me since she lives in Florida. The result was a tantalizing weekend of good food, touring the city and wallowing in decadent relaxation.

In fact, it was probably one of my top five out-of-state vacations. I've been thinking about what made it such a winner, and I came up with the solution: It's because I pretty much lived like a local the whole time. Oh, sure, I did enough touristy stuff -- Mariann and I took a ghost tour; I bought some souvenirs; I stayed in a hotel and shaved my legs with a Bic. But the bulk of the weekend was spent getting to know how the natives of St. Augustine live. Below is a list of the ways I fit right in with the scene.

1. The first afternoon I was in town, I wandered to St. Augustine Beach and struck up a conversation with several locals in a beachfront bar that had no AC (just a bunch of fans blowing), befriending them to the point of trading poems with one guy and scoring free drinks.

2. While I was waiting for Mariann to arrive on Friday morning, I Googled a local yoga studio and signed up for an a la carte class, which just happened to be the same type of yoga I'd taken at home in Mount Pleasant two days before.

3. I went to Mass on Sunday morning, paying a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. It was lovely. Sure, I was wearing a strapless sundress like an obnoxious tourist. But so was everyone else. Plus, Catholics don't really dress up for church much.

4. John and I went shopping at Target. I bought a pink swimsuit bottom. We also went to Barnes & Noble, where i picked up the local publications.

5. Hanging out with Mariann (or any close friend) always makes me feel more at home. It was fun laughing at random stuff like the old days in 1993.

6. I read three poems in a local coffee shop called City Coffee. John and I had lunch there, and I noticed they were hosting an open mic that afternoon. So, I signed up and read off my phone screen, just like I would in Charleston!

As you can see, playing tourist was only part of the agenda over the weekend; I also did a swell job at playing local. I can't wait to go back and visit St. Augustine. It's hard not to love a place where you feel so at home.

No, that's not cough syrup. We're at a wine tasting. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Millions of Peaches...Well, Enough for a Pie, Anyway.

I got some peaches gifted to me yesterday. There were enough of them that I decided to make a peach pie. I had never made a fruit pie before tonight (y'all kindly remember my lack of kitchen skills) but this one turned out well, if I do say so myself. I pretty much used the easiest recipe on earth and a pre-made crust. Is it silly that I'm still proud of myself? 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Things I've Noticed Since Moving Back to Mount Pleasant.

Well, here I am, writing this post from East Cooper. I've lived in Mount Pleasant before, but this time around I've taken note of a few new tidbits of information. I thought I'd share them with you.

1. I change my clothing multiple times per day now. I might leave for work in one outfit, then go home and don a completely different one by the afternoon. I can't decide if this is good or bad. I mean, is it better that I can put on a slouchy skirt before cocktail hour, or should I suffer in high heels from 9 am until I walk through my front door for dinner?

2. Mount Pleasant has poor people. Yes, East Cooper has the reputation of being a land of wealthier folks -- and, yes, there are plenty of wealthy folks here. But let's face it: there are wealthy and poor people in every area of the Lowcountry.  I'm living proof that someone can make a paltry income and enjoy life in these parts. Ha.

3. I visit different grocery stores now. Back on James Island, I always went to the same grocery store: Publix. It was right by my house (I could even walk there) and going anywhere else seemed downright silly. Nowadays, I've tried everything from the Wal-Mart to Harris Teeter to Whole Foods. Today, though, I did go to Publix. And I felt at home.

4. Work-related stuff is everywhere. During my aforementioned trip to Publix, I ran into the cover star of the May/June issue of Mount Pleasant Magazine, Crystal Brodie, plus her kids. We smiled and chatted and talked shop for a few minutes. I guess this means I shouldn't go to the store without wearing lipstick and/or a bra anymore. Sheesh.

5. I'm regularly late to go tutor. Before I moved, I allotted myself plenty of time to make the trek to Daniel Island. Now, I simply tell myself that it only takes a few minutes to get there -- and the next thing I know, there's traffic on 526 and I'm there at 5:07.

I'm sure I'll think of more things as I go along, but this seemed like a good list to start with. I miss James Island, but it's cool being back in Mount Pleasant, the scene of my earliest days in the Charleston area, living with Heidi and going to graduate school. I almost feel like I'm 24 again.


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers (and Friends) in Bidding Theresa Drive Farewell.

Friends and fans, I apologize for my absence. I've been busy preparing for a move out of the house I have lived in for seven years. Long time to not even own the dang thing, eh?

It's been emotional, and it hits me at unexpected times. Like tonight, when I was snipping a Spoleto poster to fit inside the nifty frame I purchased at the thrift shop. Suddenly, all the occasions my friends (and ex-boyfriends) and I stood in this very kitchen, mixing up cocktails and dancing in circles to songs piped in from Pandora flashed through my head. Yes, I've had some good times here.

And I've been busy and absentminded during the process of moving my crap from James Island to Mount Pleasant. That's why I decided to take this breather and talk about the people who have made my week a little more bearable and, to be honest, have restored my faith in the notion that human beings are often kind.

Actually, I never lost that faith. It's part of what makes me Denise.

Scene One: Yesterday, in Mount Pleasant, I carelessly ignored the low fuel light in my car and drove around like an obsessive person for hours, trying to find a case for my new cell phone (a Moto X, which I adore) and eventually purchasing a vintage Vogue poster from a consignment shop. The next thing I knew, I ran out of gas and my car stopped.

On Bowman Road. In traffic.

I put the car in neutral and got out to push it to the side of the road. I was joined by two fine gentlemen, who helped me steer the Saturn to safety. I thanked them each several times, but they seemed pretty accustomed to saving damsels in distress. Next, I grabbed a ride from a friendly cop -- do those two words go together? -- and filled a gas can at the Exxon up the street. (I'm a chick, so I had to buy the gas can. I mean, I didn't have one in my trunk or anything.) And the Exxon folks showed me how to operate the spout and everything. I felt so fortunate, even as I walked back to my car in the hot sun after the cop dumped me off to attend the Blessing of the Fleet. Whatevs.

Scene Two: Today I made a complete jerk of myself in the Goodwill parking lot when I dropped a vase of silk flowers I had just purchased, and glass/stones/fake daisies went EVERYWHERE. Luckily, the sweet-natured woman from the checkout counter came outside and helped me gather up the pieces of my spill, even going so far as to find me another vase and pick up the colored stones, one by one.

"Thank you. I appreciate your help," I kept saying. She earnestly insisted that it was her job. She was happy to assist me -- and I was happy to be surrounded, yet again, with people willing to go the extra mile for a stranger.

And, of course, I've had tons of help from my best friends as well, on everything from packing the kitchen to driving the UHaul to carrying boxes of miscellaneous notebooks filled with short stories. I don't know what I would do without y'all. Really.

So, as I depart Theresa Drive after seven happy years, I think I'm going to be OK. And it's a good feeling.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Art of the Visit.

On Sunday afternoons when I was a small child, we'd get out of church, have lunch somewhere with my mother (usually Pizza Hut) and have visitors at our house later in the day. My grandmother, ever a classy lady, has always understood the art of hosting - just ask my mom. Well before any of us were born, grandma cultivated a knack for hosting lively dinner parties, festive holiday gatherings - and, on peaceful Sundays, the perfect visit.

I feel sometimes that the perfect visit is lost. And y'all know what I mean by a "visit" - having a friend or cousin who comes by your house for a couple of hours in the afternoon, has a glass of wine or cocktail along with a few salted nuts or some cheese, chats with you about the week and leaves before imposing about supper.

I, too, am guilty for not knowing how to visit people properly. When I go to a friend's house - especially my best friends - i pretty much camp out with them. We start with breakfast and by five o'clock we're pondering dinner. Nothing is really wrong with this method of socializing - but I've found that if you limit yourself to shorter visits, two things happen: you see more people and you get more done at home. Plus, if you're just dropping in on someone, a shorter visit ensures that you don't hog their day without asking. 

This weekend I did some visiting, or made the rounds, as I like to call it. I saw all of my best friends and a few casual acquaintances. I shared snacks, drinks and chatter with these folks. But I also cleaned out my sweater closet, wrote a few articles for work, cooked brunch at home, caught up on sleep and read a few chapters of Frankenstein (the book my tutee and I are currently engrossed in). 

I liked it. Not to say that I'll give up camping out with the besties when the time is right. But when a girl is lucky enough to have so many people to hug in a short time, my family's visiting tradition is a good way to go. 

Even today, visits at grandma's house are the best. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dating Websites: The Real-Life Review.

It's not much of a secret that I've been mostly single for about two years now. Sure, I've been on some dates here and there, but I've identified myself as single since spring of 2012, when I split up with my last "serious" (the word is used so dang loosely nowadays - it's like "friend" or "cray-cray") boyfriend.

Anyways. I've tried my hand at a couple of dating websites. Both free and both terrible. I'm ashamed to name them here, but okay, I will: Plenty of Fish and OKCupid. And I've had epically rotten luck with both of them. Sure, I've gotten a few "winks" and emails. I've even joined a miscellaneous dude or two for a cup of coffee and/or margaritas. But it always went nowhere after our first meeting. Naturally, i started wondering, as any insecure woman would, what the problem might be.

Are my feet too large? Am I too talkative? Was my shirt too boxy? 

But tonight, in none other than Gene's, a classic Charleston bar, I discovered the truth. Dating websites simply don't work!

But wait, let me back-peddle, lest I offend the peeps who got married after they met on Match or EHarmony. Dating websites work if you are willing to follow to rules. Are you wondering what the rules are? Well, here you go:

1. Do not use a free dating website. If you do, be prepared for failure.
2. If you sign up for a dating website that requires a fee, be prepared to meet people who are ready to get serious (in the true sense of the word!) and get married fairly quickly.

The three men I spoke with tonight at Gene's Haufbrau in West Ashley were fully in agreement with these rules. What surprised me was how eager they were to share their own tales and experiences with me. They all wrinkled their noses at free sites - because, let's face it, all of us have been there, done that. And those of us who'd used the sites with fees had other, not-so-great things to report.

"I put up a photo of myself with long hair and a beard and NO ONE emailed me," lamented one guy. "Then, i put up a photo of myself in a short haircut and a dress shirt and the women went BANANAS! And the entire time my profession was listed as LAWYER! But it's all based on APPEARANCE!"

None of us could stop laughing. We knew he was right.

"We should all get together for beers again!" I declared, after the conversation continued to go swimmingly.

No one disagreed. In fact, we all exchanged business cards, Twitter handles, names and ages.
By the end of the conversation, we were fast friends. And I realized something important. I don't need any stinking dating websites! I need to HANG OUT AT THE BAR! With MENFOLK!

"You're going to be just fine," said one guy, after we clinked glasses for the umpteenth time.

I believed him. I went to Publix, got a pizza, came home and started pondering my current dating life. It's like my sister said one day - I can't meet men while I'm having dinner at my best friend's house (though those evenings certainly have their place). I gotta get out there and meet them in person! And dating websites don't count as meeting people!

But you know what does count? Hanging out on the patio at Gene's. Or whatever social atmosphere strikes y'all's fancy. The computer isn't real life. Go figure.

I know y'all like photos, so here's  one of the cider I was drinking.

Monday, March 24, 2014


So, I bought this skirt yesterday. It's a pencil skirt, which i don't normally wear. (i don't really have to follow a dress code at the office so i don't have too many dressy outfits, but I figured that you never know when you're going to need a sleek pencil skirt.)

Unfortunately, when I bought my size yesterday, I didn't try it on. Before y'all slap me on the wrist, let me explain that I tried on the size right below mine, found it to be just a hint too snug, and realized the next size up would be perfect. When i got my beloved skirt home and tried it on in front of the full-length mirror with my beige heels and a blouse, I felt totally beautiful. Then, I tried to unzip.

Nothing happened. The zipper was stuck.

Try as I might, the thing wouldn't budge, no matter how much I moved, sucked in my stomach, or fussed toward the heavens. I was home alone, and for a few panicky moments, I imagined wearing the skirt for the rest of my life. Then, I managed to wriggle it off my hips. Whew. At least I didn't have to call the fire department, right?

Upon examining my skirt, I immediately realized the problem: the zipper's teeth are somehow warped. So, I set my skirt to the side and went about my evening with the plan to visit my seamstress on James Island promptly in the morning. i had a feeling she'd fix it at very little charge. She's known for me ages - and has altered all the bridesmaids dresses I've ever worn.

But this morning, I was greeted with a rather unpleasant surprise: my seamstress is no longer in business! Her shop is gone and her number is even disconnected. I headed to Mount Pleasant with my lip poked out, wondering if my favorite consignment shop owners, or my friend Kim, would have a solution.

But this is ridiculous, i said to myself. Why don't I just get another skirt in my size at the North Charleston location? Why put more money into it and have it repaired?

So, after Brian couldn't fix the zipper during our morning coffee meeting, i gassed up the Saturn and drove to North Chuck, meeting Sarah and her sons for a harried lunch at Chick-Fil-A first. I arrived at the mall full of adrenaline and chicken, ready to remedy the problem - or so I thought, until they didn't have my size.

At customer service, after I sadly recounted my tale to the woman behind the register, she kindly offered to order me another skirt in my size and have it shipped to the store. It sounded like a splendid idea - except I don't live in North Charleston, so I wasn't sure I wanted to have it shipped there. I told her as much, and she agreed that I probably needed to go back to the West Ashley mall with my broken skirt. She put it in a bag for me and sent me on my way. I could not believe my luck.

"I finally buy a professional item of clothing - and spend decent money on it - and it breaks the second I put it on!" I lamented to Sarah and Marie on the phone. "This is a sign from the universe. I'm never moving forward in my career. I might as well dress like a disheveled hippie at a Phish concert for the rest of my life!!"

Marie and Sarah both thought I was overreacting a tad.

"Maybe I can fix it," Sarah suggested. "I'm pretty sure it's easy to replace a zipper. And they cost about eight dollars."

But at this point, I question whether it's all even worth it. Like I said to Brian on the phone, if this skirt doesn't want me, why should I want it? It's like a relationship that just isn't working out - except it's with an inanimate object!!

I suppose I'll give it one last shot at the Citadel mall and try to order my size. Or should I just take the refund and consider it a failed mission?

What would [insert name of someone other than Jesus here, since I'm pretty sure he wasn't a slave to fashion] do?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday (In Da Club).

Last night was Cullen's birthday celebration - he's one of my writers - and I assured him earlier in the day that I would come out and have a drink. Well, imagine my ...hesitation when he texted me that he and his crowd were at Mynt, a bar/nightclub known to be for the under 25 set. (Cullen is 24 this year, so I can't blame him, but yeah.)

Nevertheless, a drink obligation is a drink obligation. So I put on my sparkly tank top and headed downtown to Mynt to rub elbows with the college kids. It's not like I do it that often, really. Mostly I have a very adult-like evening of red wine and chat with other adults.

Fortunately, it turned out to be a wildly amusing and interesting time. I kept myself fairly sober - but frankly, anyone would be more sober than a shot-saturated, pill-hopped college junior - and soaked up the atmosphere. Naturally, there were a few times when I remembered my age. Here are a few examples of those moments:

1. When I asked the bouncer, who was also in his mid thirties (we had a chat outside; he's 35 and a fire fighter), for a squirt of antibacterial liquid after touching the stair banister along with about 100 other kids on my way to the outdoor lounge.

"Do you have hand sanitizer?" I yelled, over the roar of house music.
"I wish," he sighed.

2. I asked the deejay to play "nineties rap." Then when he supposedly did, I didn't recognize any of it. I concluded he must be playing rap from the late nineties, when I'd already entered my "hippie shit" phase in college. So, I asked him if he could play me some disco.

"Uhhh, I have some disco mixes," he offered.

3. There is nothing more age-affirming than being in a bathroom with a bunch squealing girls. Also, it was pretty funny when I casually commented to the line of ladies that "a bar this packed should have more than one restroom."

"They do have more than one," said one chick, gesturing at the 3 grimy toilet stalls. "One, two three!"


4. I hate to list this example, because it means I'm telling everyone I smoked a cigarette, but while maneuvering around the thick, drunk crowd outside I held my smoke high above my head, so as not to burn anyone. One girl leaned over and said, "You are so respectful! Thank you!!"


5. I kept checking the time, feeling sure that I would turn into some form of pumpkin at midnight. After all, today's a weekday. And the crowd was getting so heavy and boisterous, I knew it was my cue. Plus, I need my sleep.

But overall, it was a terrific night - and I got lots of compliments when I revealed that I was over thirty  but enjoying Mynt for my first (perhaps only) time.

"Well you look 25," said one girl heartily. I returned the favor and told her she looked 18.


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Lit Geek's Tour of Nashville.

I decided to check out Nashville for a post-magazine-deadline long weekend. I'd never been there and it seemed like a cool place to visit, possibly consider for relocation one day. It's one of the only cities I've never heard anyone say anything negative about. Plus, I found a mega-cheap guest house on The only minor challenge was that I knew nothing about the place and I was traveling alone.

Fortunately, I used my resources and had a killer - not to mention writerly - vacation. I scheduled appointments with a couple of local publications and met their editors, inquiring about whether Nashville might be a cool place to live if you're a wordsmith. (They said yes.) I visited the FABULOUS public library and snapped pictures in the courtyard and the Grand Reading Room, which was like my version of church. I camped out in two bookstores: a used bookstore called BookManBookWoman and Parnassus, the charming book emporium started by writer Ann Patchett.
All the locations were brimming with readers and writers who were eager to talk to me. It was paradise. Oh, and I enjoyed a latte at a well-known coffee shop called Crema, ate everything from farm-to-table veggies to caramel gelato and got into a St. Vincent show for free after befriending the bouncer. I also gathered local publications from grocery racks, restaurant tables and a guy on the sidewalk selling newspapers. (I tipped him extra.)

I have to give credit where it is due. I discovered most of my itinerary through the two literary city guides that I printed from the Internet before my trip - one from a blog called Eat This Poem and another from Poets & Writers Magazine. I kept both of them stashed in my purse, referred to them often and pretty much kept my GPS plugged in 24/7 while on the prowl for inspiration.

In the end, my trip was a huge success. I think I'm ready for my next literary city tour. Suggestions?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

(Don't) Take Cover.

I plopped down into a bar seat at Page's Okra Grill for an early, solo lunch, and the owner, Courtney, (whom I met when Brian and I interviewed her for a story) came to me and said her hellos - then asked why I had a long face.

"I don't know," I sighed. "Being a magazine editor is hard sometimes."

Before all of you start chuckling at that comment - or, worse, rolling your eyes - let me explain.

Not long ago, I put our March/April cover together rather shakily. I had a notion (vision?) that I wanted a garden cover. The only problem was that it's been a rather harsh Southern winter this year, and I had plenty to mull over in terms of making it work.

"What about vegetation?" asked my coworkers. "Won't it just be dirt at this time of year?"

But I insisted that it would look the way early spring/late winter is supposed to look in a garden - full of watering cans, shovels, seeds and cheerful gardeners.

I ran into a few obstacles, naturally. I had to find the people who would agree to be on our cover. I had to obtain our gardening props. I had to frame the shot right - or help my photographer, Kate, frame it right.

After putting together a mock cover with our art director yesterday, I paraded the results around the office to a few people and received a bevy of replies - some feedback a little hard to take. I started feeling insecure. I even started lamenting the subjective nature of my profession - how it's always open to discussion. How any kind of creativity is open to discussion, both negative and positive.

That evening, I cuddled up in bed after my tough day with a fresh issue of Elle, one of my all-time favorite magazines, as y'all know. I flipped to the editor's note and, to my amazement, Roberta Myers was defending a cover from the issue before! She talked about how Elle strives to publish "images to surprise, to convey a side of someone you may not have seen...." Lo and behold, she sounded a little insecure herself. But she courageously stood by her cover.

I know I've written about this topic before, in some form or fashion, but knowing that other magazine editors out there go through exactly what I go through is heartening. It's also a little scary and strange, knowing that no matter what publication I end up working with in my life, I'll encounter the same questions. The difference is, I'll eventually learn to be better at dealing.

Anyway, back to the lunch scene at Page's.

"I think you do a great job," said Courtney, as I placed my order with her for fried shrimp.
"I always pick up your magazine."

"Thank you," I replied with a smile. "That means a lot to me."

And it does. And it will. The great thing about doing creative work is the chance to live each day like it's an adventure. And part of that adventure is being open to discussion, both negative and positive.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Adventures in the Old Kitchen.

I grew up with my grandmother - who is an excellent cook - preparing the majority of my meals. She'd make an array of classic dinners, from beef stew to chicken with rice. I took it slightly for granted as a kid, but now I recognize that she has mad skills. She's also a killer cake baker.

My sister took after her, always inquiring about how to prepare certain dishes, particularly traditional, Lebanese plates that my grandmother only made on special occasions. Marie is definitely more talented than me. But she's also always had more of an interest in the art of cooking. I've always been more like my mom; I can put something simple together, but my passion for eating always outweighed my passion for putting food together.

I don't know if it's been the chillier than usual temps this winter, or just a newfound inspiration in the kitchen, but I've been making food at home a lot more. And yes, I'm enough of a newbie that I need to brag about it (at age 34). There are always the usual reasons to cook meals at home: You'll save money; you'll be healthier. However, I've compounded a list of additional reasons I like making food at home.

  • My computer is nearby, as are my books, papers and anything else I might need to jot down a poem, take photos of my food without receiving withering looks from a tableful of people, etc. 
  • Genessa often comes home, asks what I'm making, and sounds mildly impressed when I announce the evening's project. 
  • The grocery store is apparently a good place to meet men, or so I hear. I haven't met one there yet. 
  • I can listen to Pandora. 
  • The smell of the food cooking pretty much counts as an appetizer. I think I eat a little less at home, because I'm not as frantic when I finally sit down with my plate. 

And, if you're wondering what I've been making as of late, it's nothing to get ALL excited about. Here, a short list.

  • French toast with a side of oranges 
  • Salmon with Brussels sprouts tossed in balsamic, olive oil and bacon bits 
  • cheese and onion omelet with toast 
  • steak and eggs with a side of spinach 
  • fajitas with steak and bell peppers 

So, as you can see, I'm still a beginner. But I'm getting better. I didn't mean to make a resolution for 2014, but I think I've come up with one without meaning to: Eat at home at least a few times per week.

And flirt with a man in the grocery store.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Here's Looking at 34.

My birthday was over the weekend and I turned 34. I can't believe it. Luckily, I've been so bombarded by the well wishes of my friends and family (who downright spoiled me this year) that I haven't had the time to dwell on the aging process. Whew!

Normally, the gift du jour during birthdays is a shot of liquor or a glass of champagne during the party - and I did get plenty of those. But this year I also racked up a few nice gifts. Here's the short list:

a homemade journal, made by my pal Jim
gift cards to Chick Fil A and Barnes & Noble (two of my FAVORITE places)
cake and cupcakes (chocolate and red velvet!)
designer stationary
candles with fine scents
homemade birthday cards
homemade candy, made by my pal Emily
a book journal - I called it the "old-fashioned version of Goodreads"
lottery tickets

So, as you can see, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my people. But I pretty much feel that way every single day, because their unwavering support and friendship gets me through whatever life tosses onto my (cake) plate.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not About Baseball But About the Pitch.

I once picked up this book at a thrift shop on freelance writing. You want to know something even funnier? The book is from the 1970s - and I bought it just a few years ago, in the thick of our ongoing social media and Internet frenzy. Still, this book has helped me as a freelance writer more than many other sources I've consulted. For one thing, it introduced me to the magazine pitch, a skill any successful freelance writer needs tucked under her belt.

Writers don't discuss pitches too often. Not sure if it's because we think we'll steal one another's ideas or simply laugh at the ideas for being no good. (Or both.) Recently, I've been (secretly) pitching a few magazines that are, for the moment anyway, a little out of my league. But it's because I've been coming up with ideas.

Here's the thing about pitching. Once you come up with a good idea and get an editor to listen, your foot is in the door. Ever notice how magazines publish plenty of repetitive stuff - from how to meet a man to five new ways to wear a white shirt to earth-friendly products to clean your household? But you can't address an editor and pitch the same old boring ideas about meeting men; you won't get his or her attention that way. You have to pitch something new and different. And if you come up with something fresh, the editor will take you seriously and know that you're capable of thinking new thoughts.

It seems weird that my 1970s pitch book helped me think new thoughts, but apparently I just needed a little guidance. You never know where ideas will come from.

Ironically, I just received a pitch from one of Mount Pleasant Magazine's contributors this evening - just now, as I'm writing this blog! I loved his suggestion and told him as much. At the end of the email I wrote, "Great pitch," followed by a smiley face.

It's gotta be good karma, right? Receive pitch and ye shall be received? Or something?

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Shameless Rerouting of Traffic.


My friend Joy has been hard at work on my professional site, Please take a look and let me know what you think.

I'm really stoked at how well it's coming along. It even has a page to redirect folks to this blog, which is crucial.

2014 is coming along nicely so far. More to report later.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

In Praise of Technology (For Once).

These days, we treat technology like a toxic relationship - we know it's bad for us but we just can't help but overindulge like stage 5 clingers. Right? I mean, every time we turn around there's a story on the Web (ha) about how technology is driving a wedge between actual, flesh-and-blood human beings, profoundly isolating us, ruining the record and magazine industries and making us robots.

But we're logged in, for better or worse. And tonight, I have a few good words to say about technology.

My mother has never been a tech person. Here's an example: Whenever I've tried to text message her phone with a simple message such as "have a good day, mom," she's been known to CALL me back and thank me.

"Thank you for the message! I just got it!" she'll crow.

So, you see, my mom has never quite gotten the hang of modern technology, from smartphones to computers and social media. Until now.

It started when I bought her a tablet for Christmas. I knew that it'd take her a while to get it up and running (it's not like she had wi-fi in the house or anything) but I knew she'd eventually love it. Like any concerned daughter, I nudged her to move forward every day on getting the Internet hooked up and learning how to surf the Web with the best of us.

As of tonight, I'm proud to announce that my mom has a Facebook page. You might wrinkle your nose at that statement. After all, Facebook is a time waster. It is the reason you've whiled away hours talking to someone you've not seen in ten years, rather than doing something adventurous and productive like learning electric guitar riffs. Nevertheless, I'm proud of my mom. When I talked with her tonight (on the regular phone), she sounded happier than she's been in ages - like she had a new project on her hands. Which she does. And I'm thrilled right along with her.

It's refreshing to see things from the perspective of a newbie. We tend to think kids are the only people who can reintroduce us to every day concepts that we've gotten tired of ourselves. But thanks to my mom and her zealous new tablet lessons, I've stumbled onto a secret: to enjoy something you've started to take for granted, teach it to someone else.

Mom and daughters - I tagged her in it! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dear Reader.

I can't say for certain the first time I heard the phrase "dear reader" (or "gentle reader," or the like) but I have a hunch it was in my Victorian novel class, when we read Jane Eyre. To this day, it's one of my favorite novels.

Jane was constantly referring to her reader with affection. And I liked it. I liked how she made me feel relevant to her life - heck, I suppose I've always liked metafiction for that reason.

But lately I've noticed the appearance of "dear reader" in other places. For example, an article featured on one of my favorite websites, Also - and this might be a little more surprising - in the January issue of Glamour that I picked up from the newsstand the other day. Furthermore, I have to admit that even I, as a magazine editor, use the phrase when I'm addressing my readers, either in my editor's note or even on social media posts.

What is it that makes me - or any writer - want to refer to my own readers with the same affection so brilliantly displayed by Jane Eyre? After all, I'm not beckoning to my readers from within the pages of a classic novel, or even a website brimming with "highbrow" literary stuff like the Rumpus. I'm just a small potatoes editor of a community magazine.

But perhaps it's the dialogue between the reader and the author that makes something worthwhile. If an author knows that she is being read, she's bound to love her reader.

Dear readers, what do you think?