On Life

Thoughts on Missing Working in Baseball

Orioles friends from our reunion a few years ago.

It’s a question I get asked a lot.

“Do you miss working in baseball?”

Students ask me this often; then they ask what it was like to work in baseball, in sports, for a Major League baseball team.

I have often blogged about how working in baseball changed my life in so many ways. I became a serious student when I got my job with the Orioles as a sophomore in college. I learned how to budget my time and work long hours. I loved every minute of it. I even roped my best friend and college roommate into working there during my second year when I supervised a small staff and someone quit before Opening Day. She was supposed to be a fill-in and ended up staying the entire season…and then some. I grew up there and stayed for 13 total seasons. My best friends are from there. I met my husband there. I learned valuable skills that I now teach my students. I learned about the game, its history, and its pomp and circumstance—all of which I treasure.

Then I wrote a fictional novel about working in baseball entitled Baseball Girl, summoning my recollections and stories about working in the game.

On Friday night, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with my mentor and dear friend, Dr. Charles Steinberg, in Boston. Our students and faculty were in town for a communication convention, and Charles, who now works for the Red Sox and Pawtucket Paw Sox, took us out to dinner. It’s funny how things come around full circle—I learned so much of what I know from Charles and Julie Wagner, and both are still my dear friends and mentors. Both Charles and Julie also wrote a case study for a textbook my colleagues and I wrote about event planning. Sitting at that table with Charles made me realize a couple of things: (1) how thankful I am that I had the job I had for all those years and that it helps me in my current job today, and (2) that strong friendships sustain themselves even when you don’t see each other as often as you would like.

Charles and me from Saturday night in Boston at Pico Niccolo.

Today is Opening Day, and I will not be there at Camden Yards to celebrate its 25th season at the ballpark. I have to teach my classes.

I was there on Opening Day 1992 when Camden Yards took center stage, and I helped coordinate the opening ceremonies. I value all of my time there—first as assistant director of community relations and then as director of publishing. For fun, and at Charles’s request, I even spent time as the ballpark deejay for a while, spinning tunes and getting the crowd fired up.

So the question remains: “Do you miss working in baseball?”

On days like today, with a fresh season upon us, a new team, and a clean slate with 162 games to go and a chance to win a World Series ring as a member of the front office, the answer is simply…

Yes.

Sometimes I do.

Good friends…

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly releasedInn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

On Life

A Word of Love—And Thanks—This Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my faithful followers and supporters!

I wanted to just take a moment to thank you for being loyal, checking in periodically, and indulging me in my silly, sentimental, and inspirational writing posts. I love writing and sharing things with you, and I am incredibly excited to publish my third work of fiction in a matter of days.

innsignificantanovelInn Significant will be out NEXT WEEK, and I’ll be posting updates throughout the weekend of exactly when it will become available.

I know I couldn’t and wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for all of you encouraging me to continue down the path of pursing my passion for storytelling.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I hope you will stop, smell the roses (seriously), spread love, give love, receive love, and tell stories of love to those who mean the most to you.

Wishing you a love-ly day.

xx,

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

On Life

Twice Bitten by La La Land, Love & Regret

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Photo credit: imagewire.com
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Photo credit: imagewire.com
Forget the singing, the dancing, the sets, the terrific, catchy music, and the fantasy of La La Land. What remains at the core of this award-winning film is character development and a love story that viewers are intentionally swept into from the opening scene of this boy-meets-girl movie romp that harkens back to old-time musical storytelling. If you haven’t seen the film yet, first of all, shame on you, and second of all, stop reading here, because I’m going to dissect the guts of the plot and meaning as opposed to an overall review. I honestly don’t want to spoil it for you, so if you haven’t watched it, close your browser now.

For those of you who are still with me, I’ve been bitten by this film twice, as I just returned from taking my 14-year-old daughter to see it. A couple of weeks ago, I saw it with my friend, Elizabeth, and we both loved it.

I may love it even more now the second time around.

Because seriously, amid the dancing and singing and suspension of reality, I fully immersed myself into this musical. The story is as old as time, but it’s told well, and the questions we are left asking ourselves when the film ends are these: What did the characters have to give up to follow their dreams? And, if they could go back in time and do something differently, would they?

And then we ask ourselves the same questions about our own choices in life.

When we reach the end, the characters are faced with seeing each other after five years have passed and they were embroiled in a windswept and intense love affair that was replete with genuine love and affection and encouragement for the other. Mia’s dream was to become a serious and successful actress; Sebastian wanted to open his own jazz club. When she finally landed a role in a film, she moved to Paris away from him at the end of the movie, and he was left to follow his own dream of starting up his club in Los Angeles.

The characters of Mia and Sebastian from La La Land.
The characters of Mia and Sebastian from La La Land.
Life changes for them both, and we accept that their relationship did not survive the distance and circumstances. Mia became a movie star, married, and had a baby with a new man we believe to be her husband. Sebastian did what he wanted and opened his club.

Moviegoers are left struggling and asking themselves at the end of the film the following: How could it be that two people who loved each other so much lost touch and did not continue their romance when so much love was involved?

Could it be that long-distance relationships just don’t work? That love cannot withstand the demands of their careers in entertainment? That there really is no such thing as a Hollywood ending? Or, perhaps, that in real life, all of these challenges come with a price, and it often takes its toll on relationships.

Even sadder, can it be that we love some people wholeheartedly and yet we know we cannot be with them or we lost our chance with them or that something else interrupted a relationship that we had with them?

While it wasn’t a Hollywood moment, I remember bumping into an old boyfriend whom I would say I had loved very much after I married. The camera didn’t stay on either of us for too long because there wasn’t a camera and we weren’t in a film, but it felt movie-like because the moment seemed to pass in slow motion, and I remember feeling the pangs of sadness that life moved on and the relationship we had shared was nothing but a memory—a thing of the past.

Some people might call that loss, growing pains, moving on, or regret.

I’m not so sure what I’d call it.

And I’m not so sure any of those words describe what the characters in La La Land felt, either. Was it regret that Mia felt at the end sitting there watching Sebastian at the piano? Or was it an acknowledgement that they had loved, but their dreams and goals were more important than the survival of their relationship?

We all make choices in life.

Their choices in the film just reminded some of us of our own, for better or for worse.

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

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On Life

If You’re Going To Call Me A Name, Let It Be This

heart-1187037_960_720I’m 5’1″.

I’ve been called short before, and a lot of other names, too, that I’d rather not recall.

Nobody’s perfect.

But now that I’m all grown up (debatable), if you are going to call me a name, let these words roll off your tongue:

That girl is a hopeless romantic.

That’s a nomenclature I hold in the highest esteem.

I find the terminology particularly flattering, for in doing my research on what it means to truly be a HOPELESS ROMANTIC, these are the findings:

  • Hopeless Romantics are NOT hopeless. Not at all. They tend to be very true, caring, and loving people.
  • They believe in passion, chivalry, and true love.
  • The are in love with love.
  • They tend to believe in fairy tales and happy endings.
  • They have most likely loved intensely at one point in their life (minimum), discovered that heart-stopping, mind-tingling love, and can’t understand why it was not returned in the same fashion.
  • They are dreamers, idealists, and sincere.
  • They expect a full return of love for their efforts and caring nature—to be loved as much as they loved. (Cue Edgar Allan Poe’s lines of poetry: “We loved with a love that was more than love.”)
  • They can be let down in the long run, even though they gave all they had to give, which might include money, love, time, housing, or belongings.
  • Hopeless Romantics give 100% all the time, and hope for the same in return.
WEDNESDAY | #FROCKTOBER Day 19 | Today's #ootd ... classics with flair from #anthropologie. #moulinettesoeurs polka dot dress with lace trim; #cidra jacket; #apt9 shoes.
Ruffles and romanticism.

My own father has told me that I think life is like living in a magazine. He’s also said, “Life isn’t like Sex and the City.” I have been known to, on occasion (okay, almost every day), wear rose-colored glasses. And I favor quite feminine clothing, preferably with ruffles and softness…also harkening back to the period of romanticism.

I will say it proudly today as I sit here editing and reworking bits of my forthcoming novel, which does, undoubtedly, have romance in it:

My name is Stephanie, and I’m a HOPELESS ROMANTIC.

Are you?

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the upcoming novel Inn Significant. She is also a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

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On Life

The Friday Random Thoughts Roundup

I haven’t been blogging much lately, and I’m feeling badly about it. I’ve been incredibly busy with two kids in high school, teaching at the university, volunteering for things, and serving on committees, in addition to actually trying to fit my new mentality of health and fitness into my daily regime. I wish I could write an insightful, meaningful post right now, but all I have time for is a quick roundup of random thoughts and things I want to share with you.

So here it goes…

mebeforeyou

  1. I finally got around to watching the movie Me Before You last weekend which was based on the book by JoJo Moyes. I always say the book is better than the movie in almost every instance, and this will be no different. However, I will tell you that the movie did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the book and offered a clear understanding of the novel. I think that the cast was perfect. I loved both of the main characters who were portrayed by Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. There was good chemistry between them, and if I were the author of the book and I watched the film, I’d be pretty pleased that the director didn’t take too many liberties with my original story. Grab a tissue and watch it if you haven’t already. I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. (And I’m saying this as someone who LOVED that book and would put it on a list of favorites).
  2. If you’re ever on a tight timetable to arrive somewhere by car, you will inevitably get  stuck behind every law-abiding citizen who prides himself on doing the actual speed limit. Yesterday, en route to a few engagements, every single time I got behind the wheel, I found myself behind the slowest drivers on the planet.
  3. I’ve been exercising regularly now since the end of May. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and feel better. It’s amazing what a little self-discipline and determination can do for you.
  4. Yesterday, during a lecture in Feature Writing, we all decided that we were going to be word artists. If you think of writing as an art, and consider yourself someone who is crafting prose on the page, thinking about it in the same way an artist thinks about brush strokes is helpful. We should always care what goes into our writing and not be bashful about taking things out. Artists don’t leave things in that shouldn’t be there. We are word artists. I love that.artist
  5. Every time I get together with my Fabulous Friday Travel Writing Class it makes me want to go somewhere, experience it, and write about it. I love writing fiction, but can you imagine how fantabulous it would be to write about travel for a living? Um, yes, I’ll have a slice of that pie and a ticket to anywhere. (This by no means is suggesting that I don’t love my job as a professor; I consider it the best profession in the world. Travel writing might be a close second, or novel writing, or designing clothes…)
  6. As I’m combing through the novel I wrote this summer and making my final edits, I’m always amazed by two things: (1) How much I change as I edit, and (2) How what I’ve written always changes me. That’s the thing about writing: it’s often transformational. My new book should be ready by late October.
  7. I love this quote: I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT RUNNING AWAY AS AN ADULT MORE THAN I EVER DID AS A KID. Remember when summer days were spent outside and nights were spent catching fireflies? Remember thinking summer was long and exciting? Remember watching Little House on the Prairie and The Love Boat? If you do, you’re most likely from my era of childhood, when our primary responsibility was to enjoy ourselves. Nowadays, we’ve got grown up responsibilities. I hope the kids of today try to enjoy their childhoods. There’s no need to grow up so fast.

Really.

running-away

xx |

Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

Feel free to connect on Instagram @stephverni or on Twitter @stephverni.

 

 

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On Life

How ‘Call The Midwife’ Helps Us Better Understand Female Friendships

Call the midwife

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PBS offers a lot of great programming, and I’ve been delighted with several shows that have become my favorites, from Downton Abbey to Mr. Selfridge to Grantchester; the writing, sets, plot lines, and characters keep me coming back. One show that is a must-see for women is Call the Midwife, now in its 5th season, that focuses on the nuns and midwives of Poplar, East London, and their struggles and triumphs. The show is based on the memoir by Jennifer Worth.

I’ve said it from the beginning: the thing I like best about the show is it focuses on  women’s friendships, the sincerity of them, and what makes and sustains them. The relationships highlight the support and love the women offer each other; the pure acceptance of each other and their mistakes, failures, and successes; and the notion that women are not afraid to go out on a limb and let the other know that love means acceptance of who you are as a person.

Friendships between women sometimes come easily. At other times, friendships are tested. This show proves that the underlying success of friendships is the withholding of judgment. Tender, honest, loving relationships between women are constantly evolving; and whether that evolution proves to strengthen a friendship or nullify one, the lessons we learn from Call the Midwife help us understand that it’s often a misjudgment that can kill a friendship.

Unless you have actually walked in your friend’s shoes or know the full scope and complete background of someone’s life, you honestly have no idea what her situation is—for better or for worse. That’s my takeaway from the show. More love, less judgment. It seems to work in fiction. If we examine the friendships portrayed on the show carefully, maybe those lessons have a chance to resonate in real life.

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

 

On Life

One Little Prayer

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My daughter and me, September 2015.

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When I read the reflections my students wrote at the end of last semester, I was surprised so many of them cited an article by writer Tom Junod as their favorite. It  wasn’t because Junod isn’t a fantastic technical and creative writer—he is; I find him brilliant—but rather because they were so moved by Junod’s storytelling. Can You Say…Hero? is Junod’s 1998 profile piece from Esquire about Mister Rogers. That’s right…the late Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, that iconic PBS show that lasted for decades. And some of my students barely knew who he was.

The article is a glimpse into the real Fred Rogers, and he isn’t too far off from the man we saw on television. Junod crafted a masterpiece, one filled with Mister Rogers’ beliefs, love, and charity toward fellow man. He was humble beyond belief. But perhaps what moved us most of all is the ending: a single prayer Fred Rogers urges the writer to say when he is at a complete loss. The prayer consists of three words: Thank you, God.

I found myself uttering those exact words yesterday morning as tears filled my eyes. I had to hold it together when a specialist doctor who examined my daughter for something the general pediatrician discovered during a routine visit told me: “She is fine.”

Immediately, I thought of Junod’s article, the power of spirituality, and Mister Rogers, who humbled us all and made us understand so powerfully what one little prayer can do.

misterrogers

To read Mr. Junod’s piece, click here. And let me know what you thought of it.

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

On Life

When Someone Dies

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I’ll keep this post short and sweet because it’s Friday as well as Father’s Day weekend, and I don’t want to be glum or morose, but…

The other day, a former student of mine passed away in an unfortunate car accident. She graduated in December. Those who knew her are saddened by her death, especially at the young age of 22. When someone passes at that age, it’s unexpected, and we have to come to terms with a loss like that. And while that in itself is difficult to grasp, it is no less sad when someone older dies. No matter what age, when we love and care about someone, we always wish we had longer with them, and I’m sure my whole family would say that’s true about my grandparents. While we did have some time, we never believe it’s quite long enough.

So, as we move on from talk of death, we take with us sharp reminders–that life is precious, and we owe it to ourselves to not just say we’re going to live life to the fullest and live with gratitude, but to actually do it.

Have a safe an happy weekend, all. And Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there.

In memory of Ebi Short, July 13, 1993 – June 14, 2016

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

 

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On Life

Your Earliest Memories: What Do You Remember?

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My great grandparents: Old Pop and Nana

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I remember dearly my great grandparents. In fact, my great grandfather outlived my own grandfather, who died of Leukemia at the young age of 63. I bring this up because we were having a conversation the other day about our earliest memories—things we remember from being a kid. I have some distinct early memories as a child growing up in New Jersey before we moved to Maryland when I was five years old.

FullSizeRender-2Several of my early memories involve my mom’s parents’ house on Myrtle Avenue in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. They lived in a Cape Cod style house—an adorable little thing with a back yard full of gardens, a bocce court, grape vines, and way in the back of the yard, train tracks that ran through Cedar Grove. There was a swing my grandfather (Poppy) put up for me in the back left corner of the yard. I remember swinging on the swing. I also remember that my grandparents were going to have a party one afternoon, and my mother made me take a nap at their house before people came over. I had a piece of gum in my mouth, and I slept in one of the two bedrooms upstairs. I did fall asleep, and when I woke up, the gum was mush in my mouth. I ran to the bathroom and stood on the toilet to peek outside the window. The party was beginning, and I remember not wanting to miss it.

Perhaps that’s why I have a love of parties and entertaining.IMG_5202

I also remember wanting to wear my aunt’s high heels. I went upstairs on another occasion and tried on her shoes. As a small kid, I didn’t realize those high heels would make it difficult to walk down the stairs of my grandparents’ house. I fell down the stairs—tumbled all the way down and gave my mother a pretty awful fright.

I’m blaming my aunt for my love of high heels.

Another distinct memory I have as a child is going visit my great grandparents; their home was not too far from my grandparents’ house. Nana and Old Pop had a cukoo clock in their house that did, in fact, cukoo. I loved that thing. I remember being mesmerized by it. I also remember the smell of Nana’s house—it smelled like a combination of old house, basement, and pizza dough. I can still picture Nana in the kitchen tossing pizzas in the air. I remember it distinctly.

I’m pretty obsessed with clocks, used to have my own cukoo clock given to my by my dad’s parents, until it no longer worked, and I make my own homemade pizza now.

I also remember when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. We were living in an apartment in Cedar Grove…I was four at the time…and we had a black and white television set. My mother woke me up very early so that I could see history take place that morning. I remember sitting on the green rug watching it unfold.

FullSizeRender-1And finally, I remember riding my bike and playing on the driveway of my grandparents’ house with the neighbor’s kid Michael. We would play together when I would go over there. He was my first friend who was a boy.

When my grandmother died and I attended her viewing, those very neighbors showed up to pay their respects. Michael wasn’t there, but the parents were. I remember being so touched that they came, seeing as how my grandmother hadn’t lived in that house for many, many years when she passed.

BTMTNEWCOVER3-17.inddAnd perhaps meeting them again was all it took to inspire me to write a story about two kids who grow up next to each other and fall in love in my first novel called Beneath the Mimosa Tree.

These are my earliest memories from childhood. What are your earliest memories from being a kid?

 

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice

 

 

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On Life

Meeting People Makes Travel Magical

Cranley Hotel

My husband and I were sitting in a restaurant in London one night trying to get in touch with his Italian cousin who is a surgeon in the city. We were there for vacation, but we had promised Massimo and his wife that we would get together during our stay for dinner. In our effort to contact him at work, we were failing miserably. The people at the table next to us recognized that we were struggling with the phone and our attempt at communication with the hospital and promptly invited us to their table. When we explained that the hospital said he was in “theatre” we assumed he was seeing a show; the British folks who were next to us giggled and explained that the term “theatre” in England meant he was in surgery—performing a surgery. Embarrassed, we thanked them for the help, and began to make our way back to our table, but they wouldn’t hear of it. They insisted that we stay and dine with them that evening—and we did. It ended up being one of our most memorable and enchanting evenings in London, and we still make references to the Stevie Nicks look-a-like who touted Steely Dan and told us that her kids didn’t understand what really good rock music was. When she continued to tell us the story of how she made them listen to her old albums, we all laughed heartily and she was one of the funniest people I’ve met. Our fleeting friendship ended with the couple and their friend inviting us to their house in the South of France, but our time was limited, our trip fully book, and we were unable to do it. But it sure was nice to be asked.

Photo from Chipping Campden Tourist Info: http://www.cotswolds.info/places/chipping-campden.shtml
Photo from Chipping Campden Tourist Info: http://www.cotswolds.info/places/chipping-campden.shtml

While travel does involve seeing the sights, taking in historic sites, and eating food,  what I remember most about traveling are the people we meet along the way. From the man who told me I had a lovely neck at the Tower of London to folks we met in a French pub who shared an evening with us talking about the Cotswolds, each and every person we have met along our way has been interesting and has certainly added some magic to our trips. Even on our quick jaunt to California last week, a place my husband and I have not spent any time visiting, we were tickled by the friendliness of people. On a bike ride around the vineyards in Napa Valley, we stopped to take a photograph and were off our bikes. During those few moments, two sets of people in cars and on bikes stopped to talk with us and made sure we were okay—that we knew our way around and that all was well with our bikes. At the resort, The Carneros Inn, the staff and reception folks were tremendously friendly, inviting, and helpful. And, along the way during our wine tasting, we met some lovely native Californians, as well as people from all over the globe, who were there to experience wine country.

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Similar to our experience in London, in Italy we made many friends. One older British couple in Florence ended up hanging out with us at the bar in the Mona Lisa Hotel where we were staying. We had lots of laughs with them and talked about the difference between American and British cultures. At an Italian family-style local restaurant, we ate side-by-side with folks as we shared plates of uniquely prepared pastas, cheese, and topped it off with good wine. In Venice, one of my favorite pictures of the trip is of my husband and me with a group of folks who invited us to their table—two women writers who wrote for PBS and a German professor and his wife. The six of us got pretty tipsy that night, shared stories, and swapped a lot of hilarious stories as we stayed together until about two in the morning.

Of course, there’s no discounting seeing the places where we travel and experiencing them fully, but traveling somehow brings people together. It has the ability to help you realize that the world is small—that we are all connected by and large—and that part of growing comes from having these interactive experiences.

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Having just returned from Napa Valley and San Francisco, the success of that trip makes me eager to plan our next jaunt, and hopefully it’s a trip that our now 13 and 15-year-old children will experience with us. I can’t wait for them to become wide-eyed with wonder for all that the world has for us to experience and digest.

And meeting all kinds of people is a big part of that impressionable, magical journey.

 

On Life

A Really Short Story Told in Text Messages—Friday Fiction

suitcase

Leaving

She picked up the cellphone. The text message simply said, “Very clever.” It was his response to the previous text she had sent which stated, “It took me all this time to lose my mind…what on earth made you think I would want a piece of yours?”

She could picture him standing there holding his phone looking at her words and smiling. She liked the image of him doing that.

The funny thing was, she didn’t feel very clever in general. In fact, she felt quite inept, singularly stupid, and deliriously daft. She had only known him for a few weeks. What was she thinking? How could she have become so enamored so immediately? This behavior was unconscionable, ridiculous, juvenile. It went against every feminist bone she had in her body—her successful job, her financial independence, and moreover, the ability only to have to answer to herself.

“I’m not so sure how clever it is,” she typed.

“You know u r…and beautiful 2.”

She placed the last bit of stuff into her luggage and zipped it shut. She took a look around at the boxes that filled the apartment one last time, sat on the edge of her bed, and cried.

“Not so sure about anything, actually,” she typed into her phone.

“You r. U r just scared,” it beeped back.

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This week’s Friday Fiction began with this short sentence prompt: The text message simply said, “Very clever.” I wanted to write a super short one to challenge myself to set a scene and feel a mood.

On Life

Five Inexpensive Ways to Make This Valentine’s Day Special

Egad! I’m really about to do this. (And did I really just used an expression that is as archaic as I feel lately?) The answer is, yes. I’m about to end my push to write mushy Valentine’s cards and create something truly magical this year and by wooing those you love in a different manner. (But if you do want to write a mushy Valentine to go along with an inexpensive night, that’s not a bad idea either. Click here for some suggestions). If you’re struggling for that perfect Valentine, rest assured. Your Valentine is really just hoping that the special day gets to be spent doing something together. That’s what makes the memory, not an expensive gift.

But if you’re sitting here at a dead stop and can’t even muster up the creativity to figure this Valentine thing out, there is plenty of magic you can do that costs very little. Here are Steph’s Scribe’s inexpensive suggestions that will make memories and not burn a hole in your pocket on February 14.

  1. Bundle up and take an evening stroll in your local town or city. For example, we live right outside of Annapolis, Maryland, and there isn’t anything more romantic than walking the streets arm in arm as the city goes from dusk to dark and the lights illuminate the water. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea and chocolate-covered biscotti and sit in the window of a coffee shop. Put away your cellular devices (or if possible, just leave them at home) and enjoy an old-fashioned, uninterrupted conversation with the person you love.

    Take a walk...no matter the weather. Photo credit: hdwallpapers.com
    Take a walk…no matter the weather. Photo credit: hdwallpapers.com
  2. Set up a carpet picnic. For those of us on the East Coast who have just endured a tremendous amount of snow and are expected to see temperatures below 10 degrees this weekend, a little carpet picnic can be lots of fun. Spread out your favorite blanket and prepare a little basket full of goodies, from petite sandwiches to fruits, cheeses, and nuts, along with a decadent (but inexpensive) brownie mix, can set the mood for a sweet time together.

    Beautiful carpet picnic from in.lifestlye.yahoo.com
    Beautiful carpet picnic from in.lifestlye.yahoo.com
  3. Dig out some old CDs or records and reminisce as you merge music with a new trend: coloring for adults. Take advantage of this hot trend and pour a glass of wine and color as you relax with the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, or John Coltrane playing in the background. When you’re done coloring your masterpiece, date your artwork and put it in your scrapbook as a Valentine memory.

    Adult coloring books are very popular right now...make it a cozy and relaxing night for two.
    Adult coloring books are very popular right now…make it a cozy and relaxing night for two.
  4. Host a small gathering of friends and ask each friend to bring one dish for a potluck Valentine celebrate. Leave the video games behind and play a board game, Pictionary, or Charades. My friends and I have been playing a game of Charades that is so fun, it became a standard we played at all of our gatherings. This particular brand of Charades has left us with memories which we recall fondly. To have your group play, give each player three slips of paper. Have each player write the name of three famous people on each–people the group would all know from history or from today. Split into two teams [we like to play boys vs. girls]. Get a timer and set it for 60 seconds. Place all names in a hat or basket. You will play three rounds alternating turns; as each 60-seconds runs out, keep track of how many names that team got right and score the points. The first round is Charades with speech: you can talk and act things out to get your team to guess your person. When you have gone through all the names on the paper as each team has taken turns, that ends that round. Put the names back in the basket and mix them up. Using those same names, you are ready for round two. For the second round, no talking is allowed, and players must take turns acting out the clues of who the person is. When all the names have been acted out and there are none left, you are ready for the final round. Place all the papers back in the basket and shuffle. The third round is a bit more challenging. Players must get their team to guess the name on the paper by only saying one word to describe that person. Players are not allowed to act anything out, but only to say one word. The group at the end of round three with the most points wins. Trust me when I tell you this game is a ton of fun, costs nothing, and is only as good as the names of people you write on the piece of paper. If you have less people, I suggest putting five names on five slips of paper to make it more challenging. We have a ton of fun with it.
    Who can forget this great scene from "When Harry Met Sally" and Baby Fish Mouth during Pictionary?
    Who can forget this great scene from “When Harry Met Sally” and Baby Fish Mouth during Pictionary?

     

  5. Make it black and white. This one’s easy. Order up an old black and white romantic comedy (or check it out of your local library) and curl up with a bowl of popcorn and a warm blanket. Sit back and enjoy the film. Some of the old black and white films are still classics today, and it’s a chance to walk down Memory Lane–or to see what Memory Lane must have been like–during your parents, grandparents, or for some of you, even your great-grandparents time.
    Casablanca...such a classic romance.
    Casablanca…such a classic romance.

    If you never got the chance to see The Artist, it's wonderful. Shot in black and white like an old-time movie with no talking (until the very end). From 2011.
    If you never got the chance to see The Artist, it’s wonderful. Shot in black and white like an old-time movie with no talking (until the end), the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. From 2011.

Whatever you choose to do, it’s all about that old saying: it’s not what you do, but rather with whom you do it.

Wishing you all a love-filled Valentine’s Day, from us to you.

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