Friday Five

1. Ridiculous corporatizaton tag line of the week: Our human resources department is being renamed the “people department.” Can you imagine the job titles? Director of People? Assistant Manager of People? Aren’t all managers, by definition, managing people? Me thinks this is a sly move to make the HR department seem friendlier and more approachable.

2. Most enjoyable bubble gum movie I’ve seen in a while. Whenever I’ve had a tough day, watching a light movie is my Calgon bubble bath. It puts my focus elsewhere, just for a little while. I laugh and decompress. It works better than chocolate. Really. (Longer lasting, no guilt – ok, maybe a little) This week, boy I needed it. Luckily I had Easy A next on my queue. I know. I know. It was no Will Farrell and his bare bottom running through the streets in Old School, but it was the perfect mindless fun. (Side note: They referenced another one of those 50 things that makes me smile: John Cusack with a boom box in Say Anything.)

3. A rousing recommendation! I rarely (well, honestly, never) get whole-hearted, unsolicited praise from anyone aside from my mom. So I was really excited when my friend Ken wrote this fantastic post about moi and the new writing classes I’m teaching, starting next Saturday, March 12. These classes are going to be great – fun and informative. I got the idea after I’d been editing manuscripts. I’d suggest ways for the authors to improve their work, but many of them were unsure of the next step. Even when I was in school or workshops, a classmate would inevitably say, “This character isn’t well-rounded.” Or, “The opening is flat.” That’s good, but now how exactly do I fix that? That’s what these classes are about. Giving writers the how. Each session is going to focus on the how of a different writing technique. And only $25 each – what a steal! Check out the sessions and register online. When you’re starting a new business, you can use all the help you can get. A big THANKS to Ken. I didn’t even have to bribe him!

4. The annual Poets & Writers Gala was held this week. It’s a giant fundraiser for the nonprofit organization that serves creative writers. During the gala PW honors several writers who have given back to the literary community in some way.  All sorts of writer bigwigs are there, including editors, agents, and of course writers. This year’s honorees included poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Elizabeth Nunez and John Grisham. They each gave short acceptance speeches (because writers are not necessarily the best speakers). At each table was seated a literary host which made it easier to mingle with writers even for someone like me. I find it very hard to go up to someone like Jonathan Franzen and just introduce myself. “Uh, I like your book. So what was that whole Oprah debacle anyway?” “Excuse me, Wally Lamb, have you ever thought about condensing any of your books to say under 400 pages?” “Mr. Grisham, has every single book of yours been made into a movie? Oh, they have? I can see that we we have a lot in common.” Right. But by passing the bread to Michael Cunningham, I could make a mental note that he prefers the foccacia to the roll. That will surely benefit me later in life, I’ve no doubt.

5. It’s hard to teach compassion. I’m not sure you really can at any rate. It’s not a piece of knowledge that you can acquire. It’s something that is modeled for you by your parents and your community. I believe that every human emotion we have stems from compassion or lack thereof. Think about it: love, thoughtfulness, respect, tolerance, sympathy. Compassion is a key component of them all. But what about kids who don’t have role models to show them compassion? What if all they see around them is indifference and cruelty? Joy Southard with Healing Species is trying to bring positive role models to at-risk kids who haven’t experienced much compassion in their own lives. Her role models are rescue dogs. Dogs who have been abused and neglected are showing these kids, who also have terrible stories of their own, what it means to move on. The kids realize that if the dogs can forgive, maybe they can too. I’m proud and humbled to call Joy a friend. The world would be a better place if there were more Joys in it.

Here’s a little video about some of the work Healing Species does. “To care about something else other than themselves…It allows them to be real, to be human and not to be this hardened person that they have convinced themselves they have to be in order to survive.”



  1. I love your Friday Five as always! Especially #5…it makes me think of a program we have here in Columbus.

    For whatever reason, my city has a problem with people breeding greyhounds for sport/gambling. When the dogs are past their prime, they’re basically mistreated and/or abandoned.

    One of our local prisons takes greyhound dogs that have been rescued, and they allow well-behaving prisoners to nurse them back to health and prepare them for good homes. The process teaches hard-edged convicts how to be compassionate and responsible. They become so attached, they weep when their dogs find new homes.


  2. What a wonderful program! I’ve heard of something similar with prisoners training puppies to be placed as guide dogs for injured veterans, but I love that this organization uses rescue dogs. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks so much for sharing!


  3. LOL I loved your Wally Lamb comment! Something I had been thinking too (and wrote about on my blog, but I don’t think it went down too well!).

    I’d find it very difficult to talk to Jonathan Franzen because I must be one of the few people on the planet who didn’t like his last book. Made the mistake of also posting my thoughts on that one . . .

    I hope that your writing classes are a huge success!


    1. Thanks, Lisa! A few people have registered for the classes already. Hopefully word of mouth will work its magic!

      I have not read Freedom yet. It’s one of the many books waiting on my night table. I’ve heard some mixed reviews as well. For Wally Lamb I’m going to have to wait to get a Kindle before I carry around another one of his doorstoppers! 🙂


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