Thank You, Thank You Very Much!

There are a number of questions I’d like to pose to you, my virtual posse, and I’ll get to them in time.  But an interesting one came up today:  what is the very best (or favorite) compliment you’ve ever received?

Here’s why I ask.  On one of my booktours I was flying Southwest and was fortunate enough to get the aisle seat in the third row from the front.  The window seat next to me was empty.  The last person to board came dashing in and up the aisle and said to me – and I don’t know how to describe the way he said it, because it’s not going to sound funny, but it was VERY funny and I knew it immediately – “Look, it’s your fault you have to get up to let me in.”  I said, “OH NAY.  It is your fault for being an untimely slacker.”  He had trouble getting his carry-on bag under the seat and I said, “You’re one of those.”  “One of what?” he asked.  “One of those people who don’t want to check a bag because they’re so enormously important they can’t waste time waiting for the bags to be unloaded, and so entitled they believe they can take up as much space as they want.”  He looked at me gleefully and said, “You really KNOW me.”  Needless to say, we made with the yackety-yack all the way from Houston to Durham, and much of the conversation was side-achingly funny.  It turned out he was a breast cancer specialist, on his way to deliver a paper at a conference at Duke Medical School.  He had developed a very specialized technique of tumor removal, and he showed me the slides he would use the next day.  We took to each other just smashingly well – which is odd, because, you know, he was a doctor, not a bohemian or an outsider or . . . one of us is what I mean.  But after an hour I had reached the point where, when he mentioned how much he loved spending a day on his boat I said, “Oh here we go.  A boat.  Boat Guy.  So you get out on the water and you’re drinking a beer and feeling manly, and the wind is in your hair, and the 25-year-old nurse you’re trying to seduce looks SO fetching in her bikini, and THIS is freedom.  You are free.  And the next day you go back to working 80-hour weeks because you want a bigger boat.”  He said, “Hey, that nurse was twenty-seven.”

When we landed in Durham he turned to me and said, “You know, you are so smart and so attentive and quick – just lightning fast – you would make a great bird dog.”

I am complimented constantly by my readers and by booksellers, etc., also my mother, and I appreciate every one, truly.  But THAT will always be the best. 

Okay, your turn.

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Published in: on September 7, 2008 at 11:29 pm  Comments (122)  

122 Comments

  1. That is a WONDERFUL compliment! I like the man already. If I ever get a bird dog, I shall name him/her Haven or Zippy.

    A sampling of my own favorite compliments:

    After a musical theatre recital I gave, a boy I barely knew told me that my voice reminded him of a Disney Princess.

    A favorite recurring compliment is when gay boys offer to go straight for me.

    One of my best friends who I have turned on to your work recently read a draft of my play-in-progress, looked up, and said, “I can definitely see the Haven Kimmel influence. She’d like it.” Now, I know that may not be the case, but having your named mentioned in the same breath of my writing nearly made me pee.

    This may or may not be an actual compliment — in fact, I think it may have been intended to be derogatory — but when I used to play basketball, I stood alone from the team by getting my pre-game inspiration (“getting crunk”, as the rest of them called it) by reading Beat poetry rather than listening to rap music. I also read on the way to every away game, and since my vocabulary was leagues better than anyone else’s there (not saying much), I earned the nickname “Thesaurus”. One day, a teammate of mine turned to me and said, “Thesaurus, I bet you would read my buttcrack if it had words on it.” I laughed for approximately an hour and think of that wonderful sentence often.

    I feel like I’m forgetting a favorite. Hrrmmmm. Ah, well. Fun game!

  2. A friend, who is actually no longer a friend but not because of this, once said to me ” I bet you were one of those really odd looking kids, who looks a little retarded, but grows into their looks”. One of the nicer compliments came from my nine year old last week, when after I commented on how beautiful the moon was said “almost as beautiful as you Mom”. And everytime my sixteen year old tells me Im not like those other moms, well it doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

  3. My sons and their friends call me the Walking Dictionary. The nice thing is they’re not afraid to ask me to define words, but they do get frustrated when I define them by using other words they aren’t familiar with.

    When our baby (now 12) was about four I was holding and loving him and I said, “Oh Andy, you are my heart’s desire,” and he looked up at me and said with all sincerity, “And you are my princess.”

  4. Buddha said “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

    In Jodi-World, physical fitness would result, not from physical, but from mental, labor. I can imagine this scene and the resulting compliments …

    Friend: Gosh, how long has it been? Six months at least. You look great! Let me guess: you’ve been reading English literature, haven’t you?

    Me: I’m trying to stay away from pulp fiction, chick lit, all those empty calories.

    I started with a few extra trips to the library, and started seeing results right away. I renewed my subscription to The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review – a support system is so necessary, you know?

    When I realized how much I’d ignored certain areas, how flabby and embarrassing that was, I thought about getting a personal trainer. But being low on cash, I forced myself to look at more reasonable alternatives, and you know? They worked fine. Have you wandered through Borders or B&N in a conscious way, letting your psyche show you where your deficiencies are? I would not have believed it if I hadn’t tried it, but I’m feeling my poli-sci and mythology chops in ways I never have before!

    Then somebody told me about some online alternatives. I’ve been doing “The A Plan”: AddAll, Alibris, and AbeBooks. It has really worked for me. It takes time, and you have to put down the book you’re reading and do some research, but the benefits … I can’t tell you how much better I feel about myself.

    Gee, sorry, I’m rambling on and on! Thanks so much for noticing – it makes the time I’ve spent even more worthwhile.

  5. This is a hard one for me because I have never been good with compliments – receiving them, that is. I try, and my friend, Audrey, always hits me really hard in the shoulder when she hears someone compliment me and I say thing like, “this old thing? Nahhh.” The compliments I treasure and can accept, because they are usually the most genuine in my mind, are those from children.

    Back when my son was still in elementary school and parents were still welcomed in the classroom (sigh) I always tried to take an early or late lunch break so I could help the teachers whom I still think were saints for all they did for the children with such scant resources. My kids went to elementary school around the corner from our house, but about 1/3 of the children were bussed in from low income neighborhoods. One such boy always wore the same grey sweat suit. He always looked kind of rumpled but he had big bright eyes and was full of questions. One day he came up to me and said, “Sam’s mom – are you rich?” I told him that I was only rich because I had friends like him. I was not rich in things, but rich in love.” He smiled and looked up at me and said, “Oh, you are rich then. Good.” He was spot on. I am rich.

  6. I have a hard time receiving compliments because my cynical side has a voice that is always whispering in my ear, “They are just saying that because they don’t want you to spiral into another depression”. Why is it that all of the most wonderful compliments you have every received can be canceled out by just ONE negative one? I’ve been told by a few that I am pretty. But, I only hear the time a boy in middle school looked at me and said, “You are so ugly, you should just go away”.

    However, there is one compliment my friend Lori (yes, I mention her by name because she is so wonderful) gave me when describing me to someone else. “Jeannie,” she said, “is my ray of sun in the dark. She can find the positive in any situation and pull it out to show you how it can be. Even when she’s not feeling so good herself, she manages to pick up everyone else around her and make them feel good.”

    Knowing that I can make others smile for a little while or lift there spirits is the best compliment ever.

  7. I was in graduate school and the chair of the department was looking to replace an instructor for a Western World Literature class. I was slated to teach a comparative ethnic literature class, but because of my preference for early time slots only 6-7 students had signed up for it. Anyway, I was sitting in the office shooting the breeze with my fellow academics and I suggested to him that since there were multiple instructors of the comparative ethnic course maybe he should just cancel my class and I would take over and teach the western world literature classes.

    He looked at me and said, “That’s very sensible. You’re a very sensible person.”

    And I’ve been living off of that compliment every day since. I had never heard so much CRAP as when I was in graduate school…I kept a journal of all the ridiculous things my fellow classmates said in the course of discussion in order to sound intelligent. The result? FAIL.

  8. When I was a little boy, and Cary was a sleepy little farm town by the railroad tracks, mom and dad let me walk uptown to go to the barbershop by myself. I was a little nervous, sitting there in the chair, but the barber told me, I had very fine hair…

  9. Someone said to me, “I know you–you’re Haven Kimmel’s mother.”

    So, okay, that was a nice compliment, but not the best one. That came from a scoundrel who was trying to be seductive (years and years ago folks) who said I was the oasis in the desert of his days. How about that!

  10. i was in a co workers office, a man i respected very much, an erudite professional. at some point he looked at me and said, “Is this as beautiful as you get, or do you get even more beautiful?” i gasped. and then we went on working. we are still friends.

  11. Ever since I was a college student, which dates back quite a few years, I have always been mistaken for a celebrity of some kind. Back then, I wholeheartedly embraced the comparison to People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year, John F. Kennedy, Jr. One would think that this would have yielded incredible amounts of attention from women, but I was terribly shy back then and could never capitalize on such comparisons. I remember one day, on a trip to LA with my family, I was being seated at a table at Jerry’s Famous Deli, when a group of young women sitting directly across from me started exclaiming, ‘That’s JFK, Jr.! That’s JFK, Jr.!’ My father, overhearing this, said to the rest of us, ‘Wait ‘til they see your profile!’ I have a big nose – much bigger than that of JFK, Jr.

    In the nineties, as the TV show ‘Friends’ became a sensation, the comparison switched from JFK, Jr. to David Schwimmer (who played the awkward paleontologist, Ross). By this time, JFK, Jr. had tragically died and my public was searching desperately for an association. Some people tried to link me to Adam Sandler (back in the SNL days) but that never really gained momentum. But when ‘Friends’ aired, it became a no-brainer – I was, in real life, a nerdy research scientist, and also, coincidentally, wore my hair like Mr. Schwimmer. I did not, however, have any luck with women that looked like Jennifer Aniston – I was less shy than I was in college but still lacked game. I didn’t appreciate the demotion from JFK, Jr. to Ross; after all, how could one love being compared to anyone after starting with John John himself. There was really no place to go but down.

    As ‘Friends’ winded down, ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ became the toast of prime-time. Yes, that’s right, I was being compared to Ray Romano not just once a day but at least three times every day of every week. This is where I stand today – constant comparisons from people young and old yelling out the name, ‘Ray!’ as I walk by. It has been torturous! Schwimmer is one thing; Romano is something completely different! I was encouraged when ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ went off the air, but until a replacement comes along, I will always be Ray in the minds of octogenarians at the Harris Teeter. I accept it, always hoping that the next best thing around the corner could be a big nosed, Jewish-looking stud gracing the big screen opposite Angelina Jolie.

    My greatest compliment came about four years ago, when I was in the height of Ray Romano hell. ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ was huge and ‘Friends’ was sequestered to reruns on TBS. I was walking across the street in a bustling area in St. Louis called the Central West End, when I heard the sweetest thing I had heard in months – it was a voice of a guy speaking loudly to his friend outside of a bar. He said, ‘That dude looks like that M**#-F*#er from Friends!’ I almost stopped dead in my tracks – I was stunned! It had been a few years since I had been compared to David Schwimmer, and after what seemed like a lifetime of ‘Ray!’ shout-outs, that comment flowed like a beautiful melody in my head. It may not seem like much, but for me in that moment, that guy, who I never actually looked at, gave me the compliment of my life.

  12. Hey, Jeff! How is life in Jeff-World? Here in Jodi-World I’ve been mistaken for Selma Hayek, Marie Osmond, and Cleopatra.

  13. Humm, my favorite compliment is more subtle,

    I was teaching a private handbuildt pottery class at my home near Destin FL, it was a small group of adult women and we met at my house in my then tiny studio. We were a diverse age group, me (35) a great friend, hypnotist instructor (55?), an artist friend (40), a massage therapist (30), a state at home mom (40), and hospice patient (70) who rode in with the hypnotist . . . this all came about because I had been teaching at a local elementary school and then had a few after school classes for the clamouring students . . . image my surprise when adults started coming to the classes!!!
    So after the Fall classes, we decided to do a Spring one at my home.

    Anyway, first class right after New Years’ I have to stop and make myself some mashed potatoes ’cause I was queasy . . . I was sick, so we just kind of reviewed some techniques and I was there to help them with making whatever they felt the need to make (which is different because I usually start with a basic design and let them go off from there) . . . so great, we had fetuses in the womb, cups, crosses, and lots of little, bitty cartoony animals going on . . . I just went with it, modifying and suggesting only when a head fell off, etc.

    Fast forward 2-3 weeks and I am impossibly pregnant and in and out of the hospital for iv’s etc because I have gestational diabetes and the inability to hold down any food . . . so I was forced to bedrest and quit the school job…. but, I felt the need to see the home class through to the 6 week mark . . . so we continue, me living on zofran and pedialyte popsicles, instructing from the coach at times, and at the minimum a chair . . .

    Sue (the hospice) patient would tell me – “One more week, Sher, we can make it” – so, not really getting that irony as I ran to the toilet to puke up NOTHING, I managed to fire the final pieces and everyone picked everything up and the hypnotist delivered the pieces to Sue.

    About a week later I called Sue to see how she liked the finished pieces. Sue had died. The nurse told me she had “held on” to finish my class and that she gave away her precious little animals to all the special people in her life. I have a little brown owl. She had been excited I “let” her make the little animals she wanted to make.

    ~~~~~~~~

    on the funny side – my husband is the understater of the world. if you make homemade lasagna, I’m talking make the pasta, make the sauce, put it together, bake it, sprinkle real cheese on top lasagna, 8 hour lasagna, he’ll say “Not bad” and you want to kill him . . .

    Imagine my surprise when I made some Chicken Parmigaina (double dipped a ala Food 911) and he lifted a brow and said, flatly – “Humm, that’s pretty good” – I was ecstatic!!!

  14. My friend Hillery once said to me: “But Scott, you’re not like the other girls!”

  15. I think we need to see a picture of Jeff.

  16. An old boyfriend keeps telling me I’m the “spitting image” of Susan Sarandon. I think this is wishful thinking on his part but, if I have to be compared to a celebrity, at least I’m glad it’s one who appears to have a beautiful soul as well as a nice looking exterior.

  17. Oh no! Next thing you know, we’ll be starting a poll where everyone will vote John John, Ross, or Ray.

    OK Abby, but please don’t shout ‘Ray!’ at me when you see the picture. Go to http://www.themonti.org and wait for my picture to cycle through in the panel on the left. There is another picture on the site somewhere that may give you a better idea of which celeb I most resemble.

  18. Jeff:

    RAY! (I saw the picture.) Ray, Ray, and only Ray.

  19. OKAY I HAVE THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT SCOTT BROWNING HAS EVER RECEIVED BY A TOTAL STRANGER IN A TERRYCLOTH ROBE.

    PEOPLE, if you’ve ever seen scott browning in a bonnet, you KNOW that he is damn sure “…not like the other girls.” that man doesn’t have a lie in him, which is rather like finding a perfect sand dollar in a bum’s pocket.

    ANYWAY? In fact there’s a bonnet blog entry somewhere in this HAVEN BLOG labyrinth of treasues. FIND THE BONNET BLOG, AND LOOK FOR THE MAN DRINKING COFFEE IN A BONNET.

    HAVE MERCY.

  20. It’s probably needless to say that I love books, right? That I am a fiend for books, that I need to read like I need to breathe, etc. My best friend since childhood was the same way. For the past several years she’s been going through a rough time for a variety of reasons, and I have made it one of my goals in life to find for her a copy of every book she has ever idly mentioned she would like to re-read. Books from our childhood, including a particular volume of a collection of fairy tales that had belonged to her grandmother as a child, and which her mother had thrown out because they were “blasphemous”; books we read as teenagers, from the trashy to the sublime. I track them down and send them to her, or give them to her on the too-rare occasion we get to see one another. And on one of these occasions she said, with great delight, “You’re the book fairy! You make all of my book dreams come true!”

  21. I was once at a bar and a sleazy looking gentleman approached me and stated” You must not be from Fort Wayne.” I replied ” Well actually I am, born and raised.” To which he replied ” Oh, I figured you weren’t because all the girls that were born here are fat.”
    He then walked away.

  22. My greatest compliment I’ve received came from my oldest nephew. Like Haven with Josh, when Alex was born he became “my baby” and always has been. When he was a toddler my sister found herself divorced and I spent a good deal of my spare time taking care of this wonderful boy who is now just about grown. He told me when he was about 5 or 6 that I was his favorite uncle. When I asked him why – thinking it was due to the gifts I always gave him – he said it was because I was always around and I loved him. In the years that followed I moved several hours away and didn’t get to see him as often as I would have liked. However, this boy of nearly 16 still proclaims I am his favorite uncle.

    2nd greatest compliment is from Haven: “Brandon is my new boyfriend. (It doesn’t matter if you’re gay — all my other boyfriends are, too. Except for Elvis.)”

  23. Amy,

    Were you at Pierre’s? I think it’s the only “nightclub” here in Fort Wayne … Sleazoid actually has a point. He just left out the fact that most of the men in Fort Wayne are fat, too.

  24. I would like to go into great detail about the greatest compliment ever paid to me, but suffice it to say that what was said was very uplifting and really changed my self-image.

    That said…

    All I ever wanted to do in life is be a writer. Period. I wanted to string together some words that would have deep meaning and permanence. I wanted to produce a work that would move people to take an action.

    That thing occurred shortly into my career as newspaper reporter. In the old days, a crusty old city editor would teach the who-what-when-where-why (and sometimes) how by having the cubs write obituaries.

    Just a few days into my job, my phone rang, and a woman on the other end who was crying quietly asked to speak to the young man who had written her husband’s death notice.

    I was immediately defensive, thinking I had gotten a name or time wrong.

    No.

    “Young man, I just wanted to tell you thanks for such a wonderful write-up about my husband. It was perfect. We clipped it out and sealed it in plastic and put it in the Bible.”

    I was floored by what she had said and how undeserving I was to have had such a honor brought my way.

    It was nothing to me. Basically, I just wanted to get it accurate. But in fact I probably hadn’t spent more than 15 minutes gathering the information and probably only ten minutes writing it.

    But what a result: a few declarative sentences in a newspaper had achieved everything I ever wanted to accomplish.

    Guess that’s why I have never felt a great desire to accomplish more…

    But the honest truth is that I have MORE than my share of compliments — enough to last three people three lifetimes. Some I deserved, but most came out of the blue — unmerited — because I was just doing my job or just being a person.

    I guess the key is to give away a compliment shortly after you get one. I have a feeling that so many folks never get the recognition, much less the appreciation, they deserve.

    Ok…let me think about this…I will come back later with the BEST compliment I ever paid someone.

  25. I’m going to be a spoiler and say Jim Caviezel for the Jeff lookalike contest. Rest in peace, Jesus.

    (one of the) Best compliment(s): During high school, my best friend said she loved that I actually used my SAT vocabulary words in regular conversation…along with all the swear words. Yes, I am quite the effing dichotomy.

  26. When I sit and count my blessings sometimes it seems like my whole life is one big cosmic compliment that I do NOT deserve, but here are some highlights:

    At about age 12 I prayed before a church service and a man I didn’t know told me I had a “remarkable speaking voice.”

    In high school I wrote a rebuttal to an op-ed piece that was published in the school newspaper. The journalism teacher asked around trying to find me (we’d never met) and she said “I don’t agree with what you wrote, but I love the way you wrote it. Will you come write for me?” And I said, uh, yeah!

    When I was 19 someone told me I resembled Bettie Page and I immediately grew my hair out and starting narrowing my vintage vantage to 50s only. This exploitation worked so well that I was approached by the owner of a comic book store who asked me to do an in-store appearance as the Pin-Up Queen. I declined. Sweaters and pencil skirts were one thing, a merry widow and garters in public are something else entirely. Still, that was AWESOME.

    And now, compliments that make you feel insulted:

    I’ve never made it past 7th grade math. While re-taking non-credit algebra for the third time in college I approached my teacher about how I couldn’t do the work. She was trying to be sympathetic because it was obvious that I was extremely troubled. She looked at my vintage coat with a GIGANTIC fur collar, my screen-printed Roy Lichtenstein inspired shirt, my black mini, red fishnets and black and white spectator shoes and said “Well…you always look so stylish.” That was it…the floodgates turned on and the tears started smearing my mascara as I tried to regain my composure. “Listen…I am not STUPID. I am an ENGLISH MAJOR. I am a WRITER. I just can’t do algebra.” I was shaking, I was so upset. The woman thought I was Teen Talk Barbie. Oh My God.

    The greatest compliment I have ever received is that my husband fell in love with me, sight unseen. We met on the internet over 10 years ago, before myspace, before people routinely knew how to post pictures online. Our first time meeting we already wanted to get married, and it was the first time we ever saw the others face. After all the years I spent working desperately to be pretty, to find love from the outside in, he loved me from the inside out.

    After I gave birth to our first child, after watching me sweat and scream and grunt, after I BIT HIM ON THE KNUCKLE while pushing, and despite my saw my Jabba the Hut like physique and gelatinous belly he told me he had never been so attracted to me. “You used to be a girl…now you’re a WOMAN!”

    Also, he once told me I was so cute that if he were a robot he’d go into sensory overload. WOOT!

  27. Jeff- I would have to vote for Ray, but a much more handsome version of Ray 🙂

  28. I had two compliments years ago which I wasn’t going to tell, but since others are sharing I’ll go there. One time in a supermarket a little girl looked at me and said to her mother, “Look Mommie, there’s Barbie!” Another time another little girl did the same thing with her mother only this time it was “Look Mommie, there’s a princess!” It’s not that I felt any need to be confused with Barbie or a princess. It was that I was once a little girl who loved pretty things and I could relate to their excitement at seeing who they thought I actually was.

    I once had an anti-compliment by a very catty gay patron when I worked as the only straight waitress in a gay restaurant. He asked me if I was a real woman or post-op. If ever I was tempted to expose myself, that would’ve been the moment.

    Jeff, you are SO Ray.

    I believe in giving sincere compliments whenever possible. (But never insincere ones. That’s like breaking an important intuitive law.)

  29. Jeff, you are far cuter than Ray Romano. And for the record, Jewish men are H-O-T. Big noses= me lying in a puddle. I ended up with a Scotsman, but he looks Jewish so things turned out well for me.

  30. Polly-cracking me up!!! You definitely resemble Barbie, not Ken in drag. You have the princess hair DOWN!

  31. Thank you Suzanne. That would be in “Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog: Are the Quakers Amish?” I think of it as a head cozy.

    https://havenkimmel.wordpress.com/2008/07/18/bob-loblaw’s-law-blog-are-the-quakers-amish/

  32. Polly, I think you’re quite pretty, so don’t let that catty man bother you.

    Many years ago I was told by a catty gay man that I had “nice birthing hips”. That “compliment” should only be reserved for horses or dogs or other animals. I’m 6’3” and back then I think I didn’t weigh more than 160 – I was far too skinny – AND the man still had the nerve to say that.

  33. Last year, a senior student I’d taught as a freshman walked by my classroom where I was standing by the door to hound slothful latecomers into their seats, turned around and came back.

    He said, apropos of nothing, “Ms. Steiner, remember that poem we read freshman year–what was it, ‘The Fly’…’The Flea’?”

    I said, “My favorite poem in all the world, John Donne’s ‘The Flea.”

    Malik: “Yeah. That was pretty good.”

    My work as an English teacher reached its zenith right there. I’ve been riding the wave ever since.

  34. Jodi,

    No it wasn’t Pierre’s-but yes, that place is disgusting. I believe it was The Munchie Emporium, probably better described as a brewery than a bar:)

  35. Oh how sad for me…my best compliment came from the hardest working man in the world, Lawrence Frame. He said “By golly Mark, she can pick up anything.” Referring to hay bales. And Wayne (who appears to be too nice for me)”I’ll tell you brother, she can out work most men I know.”
    Yay.

  36. There’s no way I can compete with some of these, but here goes. During my first few years of college, I worked at a steel plant in northern Ohio. My job was basically to shovel bricks. (No joke– they were still making steel out of clay brick molds.) My father worked in the same plant along with several other relatives. My dad’s nickname was Leadbottom, due to an unfortunate incident involving a bad decision to sit on a not-yet-cooled piece of iron. (There is some speculation that his work ethic may have figured into it, too.)

    My first week on the job I knew that my crew that little confidence that I would make a good steelworker. (And what was up with those history and philosophy books I read in the locker room?) I shoveled my heart out that week. By the end of week I realized shoveling bricks was not my calling even though the union job sure did pay the bils. I was ready to pack it in. On the way to the locker room, the guys presented me with a custom-spray-painted hard hat with the words “Miss Lead” on the front. I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. Three advanced degrees later and no one has given me a more genuine, creative and hilarious compliment.

  37. Melinda I just snorted so hard it hurt after reading that “complement”
    Damn did then someone say yep Mark she is from FINE STOCK !

  38. In junior college, I was lamenting to a favorite professor [I probably had a crush on her, different story though…] how woefully unathletic I was, relative to my kid brother. She said something like, “Okay, I know because I’ve been told that things like running and jumping and throwing balls into hoops requires talent. But I KNOW because I’VE SEEN IT that writing well takes REAL talent. On that score, I feel sorry for your brother.”

  39. Gah Melinda, in my wildest dreams no one would ever say that about me. My dad’s side of the family is always heaving me the stink-eye because I’d rather talk than fix 12 full meals a day and then hustle up those dishes to the sink while simultaneously cleaning fish, building a deck, and making a quilt. Am I jealous of their ass-kicking ability to get it all done? Yeah. I am.

  40. Love the one about the birthing hips, Brandon. Lovely. Since I’m older now and have gained a little weight, when someone found out I used to live in Wisconsin he said that explained why I look “corn fed.” I had to resist the urge to reply, “Moooo.”

  41. Once a a five year old boy I was babysitting was sitting in my lap. He looked up at me, touching my face, and said, “Laura, you are prettier than that elf lady in the really really long movie with the rings”.

    Sigh, best compliment ever.

  42. When I was about seven, I went to Girl Scout camp. The theme that year was Native Americans, and we each had to make our own (probably hideously unpolitically-correct) Indian costume. One night, we all put on our costumes and went to see some actual Native Americans perform some tribal songs and dances. After a few songs, the chief pointed me out to the dancers and had them bring me up to learn a dance with them. He said I had been moving in time with the beat.

  43. “I can totally see you as a cast member on Saturday Night Live” (which isn’t true, and I’m not just self-deprecating for fun, really and truly, but that was The Best Compliment I Ever Received). Before anyone launches into how there have been soooo many bad seasons of SNL, just know the point is that he thought I was funny and appreciated some good parody.

    Or maybe when the neighbor kid told me the constellation of moles on the far left, back side of my face, which I’ve always loathed, were pretty. Leave it to a wee one. I mean, some of them are bumpy, people, and she still said that.

    Or, wait! wait! When my bestest friend, the afore-commenting Eisha, told me — when I finally just said that I wanted her to watch over/corrupt my daughters and make sure they have good taste and enjoy things like a good, sick joke and good music and good poetry and stuff in life if, heaven forfend, I died young and unexpectedly — that she would hardly be able to stand the Jules-shaped hole in the universe should that happen.

    Now, what compliment could be better than one from your best friend?

    But, durn, Laura’s is pretty good. And so well-put.

  44. (I’ve been lurking for a while, just waiting for a question that needed answering by me. I could take the time to tell you that I knew Beth and Molly and Daniel waaaay back at Ball State a million years ago because I was their neighbor at Schindler and babysat Daniel often and, you know, blah, blah, blah and all that, but I won’t.) (…although, I do want to ask: Is Daniel a gorgeous man? He was a beautiful toddler.)

    I want to answer this because just YESTERDAY, I got the nicest compliment ever in my life! Last year, I organized a spiritual formation group, Growing In the Light, at my Friends Meeting. It went really well and people asked me to do another one this year. I agreed to organize it but said that I wouldn’t be able to participate because, at that time, I thought work would interfere. Well, turns out that I’m loosing my job so I will be able to participate. After Meeting, yesterday, I spoke with a woman who’d expressed interest in doing GItL. Christina is almost 20 years younger than me but wise far beyond her years. She’s got a spiritual depth and centerness that makes me feel like I’ll never get “there” but wanna keep trying because I want to be like her. So, I asked Christina if she is going to be able to participate. She said she’d decided she didn’t want to do it since I wasn’t going to be able to–that she only wanted to if I was going to be in it! When I said that I am, she said she will, too! I feel all warm and glowy just thinking about what a dear gift her faith in me is.

  45. Steiner wins. (I taught high school.)

    Still. In the junior high gym locker room my extremely sardonic friend Elaine said “People like you when they get to know you.” That one is a workhorse, friends — gets you through a lot.

  46. “… not a bohemian or an outsider or … one of us”

    Ouch! If I was at all sensitive I would think that this club would not want a 58 year old Math Teacher as a ‘member’.

    But if this club would not have me, then I want in!

    What say ye, webmaster?

  47. Tie. Laura posted while I was voting for Steiner…

  48. To Jules: I almost put you asking me to look after your girls should anything (God forbid) happen to you as my favorite compliment, but I still can’t really even think about it properly.

  49. Michael, no one ever said I was from fine stock, but they did say “Oh don’t worry about her she can carry it.” I had to take a stallion down a long aisle at the Hoosier Horse Fair because Mark was missing. When that 17 hand black stallion saw the mini horse at the other end of the arena he lifted me right off the floor and took off with his mouth wide open. After I had dug my feet in the wood chips and grabbed a pole (on the way past) and stopped him, Mark came running up and said to his dad “Dear God dad why didn’t you help her?” and Lawrence said “W e l l…I thought about it…but she was doing such a good job on her own…” See what I mean?

  50. These are hilarious. I’m so glad you started this blog, Haven. You get the best commenters.

  51. Polly said it for me!

  52. Jeff – you are SO Ray!

  53. Melinda
    Yeah I got the picture. I would pay tons if there were a video tape. You grabbed a pole and didn’t loose your arm ???? I am suprised they didn’t say “man she is one sturdy woman”

    Well its good to see chivalry is as strong at the Hoosier Horse Fair as it was in my driveway when I would take the snowblower and make my lil 80 pound if that sister use the shovel to “strengthen her legs so she didn’t get a blood clot” at 9 years old she believed me.

    I was told by a dear uncle during a rough time in my teens that no matter what, I was always kin. It was the perfect thing to say to me.

  54. Once every couple of years, my hormones rule the decision-making part of my brain, and I get my hair cut really really short. During the last “episode” I was working with 2nd graders as a classroom assistant while attending college. Even this risky set of circumstances could not kill the powerful control my hormones had over my haircutting appointment. The hair went short, and I went right to school. There were polite compliments from fellow teachers, and mostly silence from the students (I think they may have been counseled by their teachers to respond this way!) Life goes on, summer passes, hair grows slowly, second-graders are now third-graders and fall turns toward winter. One very outspoken and spunky little girl tells me, in a serious but happy way, “Mrs. W, your hair is almost back to normal!”

    It’s nice to be noticed!

  55. Haven, you opened up the floodgates with this one!

    In my late 20s, a not particularly verbal boyfriend (think Cal Coolidge, without the wit) said, in response to my noting that I thought my looks were okay, and in a certain light, I could be considered pretty, “you’re drop-dead gorgeous, and in a certain light, you are a great beauty.” He rode on that compliment for months, probably way past the sell-by date on the relationship.

    When I lived in NYC, I sat down with a guitarist who had a cult following of which I was a rabid member — I admired his playing tremendously. After we played a few songs together, he said, you know, you’re a really good guitarist. I said, you mean a really good guitarist for a girl. He said, no, I mean a really good guitarist. I’ve been hanging on those italics for years.

    And this is along the “you look like” lines — I’ve never been told I look like any celebrity, to my everlasting vexation. But: once, when working in a large company, an internal client called me for something and when I answered the phone, there was a long pause before she identified herself. She came up and as she rounded the corner, stopped abruptly in her tracks. Apparently I was the spitting image, in voice, in looks, and in gesture, of a nun with whom she did her mission work in Africa. (She was a Mennonite — the only friend I ever had who didn’t require I defend my decision not to get a TV.) It pleases me no end that my doppelganger is a Mennonite nun.

    I think of all the compliments I’ve ever gotten, the best one is some variant on a recurring one from friends — that I make them feel more like themselves, but a more expanded version.

    Kate: your husband is the most gifted compliment-giver I’ve ever heard tell of. So pleased he saves the best ones for you.

  56. A man I admired many, many years ago told me I had beautiful peasant hands before he kissed them.

    And then he cheated on me. The end.

    What great comments.

  57. Jeff – I hate to say it (because I personally am not too fond of Ray) but it’s Ray. BUT if it makes you feel better, I MIGHT not have thought that if you hadn’t actually said it. I might look at you and spend the entire day trying to figure out who you look like. And I MIGHT have come up with Ross over Ray.

  58. Abby (and the rest),

    You are all kind and wonderful people. And I thank you for being delicate with me on this issue. Personally, I don’t see it! I look in the mirror everyday and think, ‘There is not a shred of resemblance between me and Ray Romano!!!’ But everyday, I am bombarded with comments! Oh well…

    Thanks again!

  59. Carrie: I agree. He’s a man of few words but when he does speak, it’s always something worth hearing, and usually hilarious.

  60. Haven,

    Totally off-topic: There’s an 1890s photo postcard of Glen Miller park in Richmond, IN on ebay. Here’s the link:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Glen-Miller-Park-Cabinet-Photo-Richmond-Ind-c1890s_W0QQitemZ290257794325QQihZ019QQcategoryZ13705QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

  61. WELL LAND SAKES. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT ALL THE BEST COMPLIMENTS WERE OVER, I GET THIS IN MY YAHOO MAILBOX TODAY.

    Dearest ___________,

    I like your wit and your pictures. You are a very beautiful spirit, I can see by your deep seated eyes and your sexy bangs.

    I am including three of my shorter poems to give you a sense of who I am as a spirit guide.

    I seek emotional, mental, physical and spiritual intimacy with a woman with an open heart. A poet, scientist, counselor, author, musician and mathematician trained at Caltech, Brandeis and Harvard, I’ve abandoned academia and much of what I’ve been taught in search of my soul. I value wisdom over intellect, guilelessness to craft, passion above mediocrity, and a quiet, noble spirit to the shallow modern persona. My partner is intense, deeply feeling, familiar with her own shadow, and knows that the only thing there is is love. She has a strong need for intimacy with a man, an essential spirituality, an appreciation for the arts, and a sensual appetite.

    I love to make others laugh, and my friends enjoy my wit and playfulness.

    I meditate (Vipassana), play the trombone, and practice Tai-Chi daily-or as often as I can. Although that brash, east coast energy of my New York and Boston roots is comfortable and familiar, I appreciate natural refinement and reserved passion in a Lady. (This does not mean that I need you to be inexpressive or repressed) Self-employed as a consultant, counselor, and author! I write, bind and publish personalized Zen master books-I live my life at my own pace. I’m intense yet with strong, contradictory and integrated traits: deeply feeling yet with a high intellect, shy yet confrontational, strong yet sensitive and empathic, a poet yet a mathematician, sensual yet open and emotionally available. Skilled in communication, I see others deeply and love beauty in all things, particularly in a woman. I know myself and women fairly well, have a great deal to give-and I do.

    Here are three of my poems.

    Queen of the Sea

    Surrender like a woman,
    Hold the clouds to your breasts,
    The earth turns in majesty,
    Drowning in the West . . .

    The heavens love a drunkard,
    The drunkard is a Queen,
    Surrender, like her majesty,
    And come home, once again.

    You

    When you arch your back,
    Cities rise beneath me
    In which I wander
    Lost in your fleshy continent.

    When you dream of desire,
    I fall into my body
    Through the miles of you,
    My Queen.

    Trees

    Trees do not sleep in the night:
    In the blue-white winter night
    They stand long and hard
    And rise to the lips of God.

    Then who am I of flesh and blood
    Who counts by nights and days,
    Who feels with skin and bone so soft
    That sleep must soothe the kiss of God?

    My primary photograph and the one of me sitting in a wooden chair without a trombone or eyeglasses were both taken Feb. 22, 2008. Those of me with my trombone were taken by my mother in August 2007; those with the intense, blue shirt are from early 2007; the remainder are from the last twenty years.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Carl

  62. I heart Carl.

  63. Suzanne, Carl sounds almost too good to be true (with all that new age stuff how does he have time to sleep, eat, do his laundry, etc? You know, the stuff us regular humans have to do.) How’s his pictures? If the return address isn’t a prison and he has all his teeth I say go for it.

    I have to say I agree with him about the bangs. You do have a touch of a Bettie Page thing going on there.

  64. Hi Haven,

    I met you in a corner (literally) of Naperville, Illinois where I had the great pleasure of hearing you read. I am the writer of a lost letter (I am very sad about this) in which I basically explained that I am a filmmaker (and a Hoosier, though I reveal this very selectively) and that I feel called to adapt something of your work for the screen. I would love to begin a conversation about the possibility of a screenplay adaptation of Something Rising (Light and Swift), if such a possibility exits.

    Many thanks,

    Dalila

    p.s.
    I had a suitor once who compared me to a goat. He even wrote a poem about it, which may still exist somewhere in my Mother’s basement. It went something
    like

    mountain goat
    pure, white
    seemingly precarious yet steadfast

    Unfortunately, I accepted this as an actual compliment. I was also accepting when I was told we couldn’t hold hands on the street in case he needed his for sudden combat with an attacker. Ah romance.

  65. Haven did great tonight at Anderson’s bookshop in Naperville IL, and there was a good turnout. But her laptop is being cranky, so she may not be posting on here for a bit.

  66. Suzanne,

    Carl? Omigod. Narcissus with an Oedipus complex (photos “taken by my mother in August 2007”)and — worst of all — no substantial income (“poet, scientist, counselor, author, musician and mathematician trained at Caltech, Brandeis and Harvard, I’ve abandoned academia …”). Or did you write this? =)

  67. My mother-in-law, who is a DELIGHTFUL and totally UN CRITICAL person, told me once when I wore my favorite little black number. “I NEVER get tired of seeing you in that dress.”

    Nice. Haven’t worn it since.

  68. Suzanne,

    Carl Jones posts regularly on craigslist in New Hampshire. He does not have many fans there. Check it out before you reply to him.

  69. You know that 6 degrees of separation thing? I think it is happening to me with a lot of folks commented here….

    * my parents live in Naperville
    * Bettie Page is an alumna of my daughter’s high school here in Nashville- Hume-Fogg. Apparently she was salutatorian in 1940.
    * speaking of Nashville….
    * I think George mentioned Robert Penn Warren being one of his favorite authors in a comment. I work at Vanderbilt University ans while a student here he became associated with the group of poets there known as the Fugitives, and somewhat later, during the early 1930s, Warren and some of the same writers formed a group known as the Southern Agrarians.I walk past the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities located in the old and beautiful Vaughan House on a regular basis.
    * I drive through Indiana on my way to visit my parents in Naperville (ok, I am running out of clever ones so I will stop now…)

  70. Hmmm, about old Carl, the Zen-meister, I’d ask to see that portrait the police took of him right after he was taken into custody, charged with dangling his modifer, interstate distribution of trite poetry and impersonating a rinpoche.

    —————

    To Linda: I do really like Robert Penn Warren. His voice is pitch-perfect. I would have loved to have met him. And darn, I was in Nashville in August. I just always think of RPW as a Kentuckian. Turned out I have read the RPW book I checked out from the library, but, hey, I am going to give it another whack and also re-read It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis so I can be prepared and properly ironical when the McCain-Palin team comes to Washington.

    ————–

    Actually, the Sunday I plan to join our local Dems to knock on doors in Northern Va. on behalf of Obama. We simply cannot lose this election! As I see it, my mission over these next several weeks is to help get Obama-Biden into the White House.

  71. ok. another six degrees. I lived in Northern VA before moving to Nashville in 1986. I lived in Vienna and then in Centreville, which back then was WAY out in the boon docks! Not any more, I guess! This was also back when the Redskins won the Super Bowl several times.

  72. Some years ago, a young fellow (maybe 10 or 12 years old) walked up to me out of the blue in a convenience store in the Dominican Republic and said, “You have really well defined calf muscles. Do you do anything special to work on them?” Now to be honest, why he said that has always been a bit of a head-scratcher.

    A couple of years later, my friend Wendy (first-hand witness in the DR) said to me in a physique-related conversation, “But your forearm muscles ripple very nicely.” I immediately thought she might be gently tugging my leg. Wendy (who thinks very quickly on her feet) then added that she noticed my remarkable ripples while I was pulling on ropes while showing her how to sail a Sunfish on that very same trip to the Dominican Republic! Hmmm, very suspicious…

    But either way, I’d like to say:

    Thank-yuh, thank-yuh very much!

  73. I was once compared to Lorelei Gilmore, of “Gilmore Girl” fame. Not so much in the looks department but because I walk and talk really fast. Often much faster than my brain.

    As a needy writer, I love getting compliments about something I’ve written. Preferably from strangers. I can only hope to someday be compared to Haven, but until then, I remember the letters I get from kids who say, “I never liked to read until I read your book.” Stuff like that sustains for a LONG time!

    My favorite compliment as a mother came from my youngest son, written in his second grade scrawl. “I love you more than monkeys. You hold me in your heart and I hold you in my heart.” And on another occasion, he listed the Ten Reasons You Are A Good Mom, two of which were “I like how you help me be not sad” and “I like how you don’t force me to eat pbj.”

    That last one was kind of a left-handed compliment because he was allergic to peanuts. Almost like saying, “I like how you don’t try to kill me.”

    I love reading all the compliments! My last blog entry was about Pringles. Feel free to weigh in on that vital issue.

    BTW, Haven, you’re listed on my brand-new blog (which hasn’t technically been announced to the world) in the People To Know category. You can thank me later for getting my half-dozens of readers turned on to you and Zippy.

    Becky
    http://beckyland.wordpress.com

  74. Good call about Carl, jean9. I went to craig’s list in New Hampshire and looked up his name under personals. Scary stuff, Suzanne, or as one woman says,

    “Total psycho!! He will stalk you until the day you die!!
    Don’t test the theory!!”

  75. It was not a verbal comment, but an action. I boarded my horse at a local stable. A single Mom had trouble keeping her two preschool kids under raps (soccer hooligans, before soccer came to America). If their Mother was doing the same thing as me, they would help me, and want to hang out ( as in poop scoop patrol). One of the kids did something mean to me, and the Mother said” no, be nice , she’s special”. I’m not sure if this meant I was retarded or defective in some way, but went about my business. We all moved on in life. Then about five years later I went to see them. The girl came up and hugged me like I was her long lost friend. i still don’t know what I did, but it must have been right??.

  76. to Scott, George, and Jodi

    you are all SO CORRECT. CARL IS A LOON.

    george, you’re particularly droll. dudes, it was the craziest ass email i ever GOT. he looks like a wizard without a wand. it was FRIGHTENING. “fleshy continents”??? MAMA DON’T THINK SO, as Haven would say.

    people, it;s making her SICK that she cant be here. her laptop is on fire and is in the Near Room, i’m afraid. oh it;s just awful. let’s all send her light and love!!!!

    ps yes, i get the Betty Paige thing all the time. it prawly doesn;t help that i wear a torn leopard skin onesie with 7″ pumps to go to Whole Foods. people just need to look beneath the surface of the animal, i always say. BENEATH the pelt lies golden treasure. or a black-hearted varmint. it’s a 50-50 chance.

  77. WHAT?! How did I not know of this blog before? Your memoirs are on my list of Five Books I’d Take To A Desert Island.

    My favorite compliment is not funny, it’s mushy. A few years ago, I was designing the lights for a local dance company. It was my first professional lighting gig, and I hadn’t designed in a couple years. I was rusty and so nervous that I’d do a crappy job. My mentor came to see the show, and afterward, she told me how the whole show looked great, but the lighting in one particular piece made her cry. She told me that she knew at that moment what it must be like to have a daughter and be proud of her.

    It gives me the warm fuzzies every time I think of it.

  78. Taking a left at the bakery in Haven’s absence …

    If you haven’t checked out Brian Andreas’ Story People at
    http://www.storypeople.com
    I’d say you’re missing a lot. You can sign up to have a story delivered daily to your email. For example, here is today’s story:

    Dark Way

    I’m not sure if the world’s all that serious, she said, or if it just has a really dark way of having a good time.

  79. Now that’s what I call a compliment (see Suzanne Fenimore Cooper post above): “george, you’re particularly droll.”

    Makes my day…

  80. well george, i feel you’ve earned it. my spies are everywhere, and they report that ou are an erudite, beautiful, sensitive, compassionate and loving sumbitch.

    IF ANYONE WANTS TO SEE A PICTURE OF GEORGE AND WHAT THAT SWEET, STRONG MAN DOES EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE TO COMPLIMENT OTHERS, GO IMMEDIATELY TO http://finnablog.blogspot.com/

    HAVEN AND AUGUSTEN ARE ALSO FREQUENTLY DISCUSSED, HERE. IN FACT, I AM SHAMELESS IN MY GOSSIP-Y BLOG THAT ANY DAY NOW WILL BE SUBPEONAED AND SHUT DOWN.

    suzanne

  81. PRIVATE to Suzanne: Darn, spelled your name wrong (wrongly), sorry. Hey, I guess I’m a Hoosier, but I didn’t connect your name to the book I just bought for my brother who is going through a really weird divorce initiated by his soon-to-be-ex. I can give no details but — and I swear this is true — it involves French Lick Springs, car insurance, grandkids, sexual ID, and a very cute little dog who is very puzzled by it all.

  82. That’s not me, folks…Suzanne is only trying to take us down to her place by the river.

  83. oh,nothing would surprise me, george. you’d have to go a fair piece farther to do that. i live in CALIFORNIA.

    but yea, my real name on amazon.com is suzanne finnamore. i wrote my latest book, Split: a divorce memoir, EXACTLY so that fewer divorcing people would feel like they were THE ONLY ONES GOING THROUGH A SQUALID TUNNEL OF DISSOLUTION HADES. thanks for buying it. haven gave it a BLURB. oh she’s my fairy godsister. it’s not one quarter the book that haven oraugusten could write, but you know? we NEED THOSE EGGS.

    xo
    sfc

  84. to george
    yes i am trying to take you to my place by the river
    i’m “..wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters..”

    don’t think i dont praise leonard cohen and aretha every day of my LIFE for that Suzanne song. MY GOD. although i like the latest Suzanne song on the BAVARIAN FRUITBREAD cd as well. it’s dark black, with CELLOS.

  85. To George, re: “…plan to knock on doors on behalf of Obama. We simply cannot lose this election! As I see it, my mission over these next several weeks is to help get Obama-Biden into the White House.”

    That’s EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling this week! I literally have the urge to go door to door and PLEAD with people. America has GOT to get it right this time! No more smirky, squinty-eyed, uncomfortable-in-their-own-skin, hee-heeing, white guys!!!

  86. I will pass on the river invite because I am leery of West Nile Virus, but, hey, can we eat some oranges that come all the way from China?

    Hold it…wait…I see by your outfit that the rags and feathers (and the tea) came all the way from China, too.

    And wait, wait…I just noticed something else. My tennis shoes, my cell phone, Jesus’s lonely wooden tower and the MP3 player also come all the way from China!!!!

    ———————-
    Sorry if I have offended anyone who loves L.C. and there are several here in this blogosphere.
    ———————-

    But what I await is Joni Mitchell using the name George in a song. Preferably in a positive context, or at least pensively.

  87. PRIVATE (not really) TO ANNWITHANE:

    …actually, I am feeling a lot less dismal after having watched Obama on the David Letterman (another Hoosier and Ball State grad) on tv last night.

    Obama discussed the “lipstick on a pig” furor at some length, explaining that the phrase is idiomatic to Illinois and other places. This, I can personally vouch for because I heard it a lot when I lived in Indiana, and I see it a lot now that I live near DC.

    For the curious, here is a picture of lipstick on a pig:

    Oops!!!! Wrong picture!!!!!

    Here is the picture:

  88. To George, NOT PRIVATE, pass the word…Obama for President! I’m bummed I missed him on Letterman, who I love b/c besides being wickedfunny, I (and several others on here it appears!) am a fellow Hoosier AND BSU grad.

    Leave it to the Reps to try turn their own use of folksy down-home aw-shucks humor against the Dems. (Yes, Johnny himself said it not once, twice, but three times…AND in reference to Hillary, who of course said nothing, being the class act that she is.) I just worry the rest of America is gonna believe this latest obnoxious attempt at crying wolf. One of these days, probably years from now, Sarah will realize that she was USED! They are setting her up just so someone can knocks her down and they can cry “misogyny.” And Obama (another CLASS act) has refused to take the bait (although I worry Biden won’t be able to help himself–calm down, Joe!).

    I may be taking this all too seriously.

  89. Is it possible NOT to take this too seriously?

    The moral dilemma of this election, as I see it, is whether America goes down the road toward fulfilling the entire beautiful and noble human dream for which she was constituted, or keep America on a pathway to preserve — and thus freeze – that small portion of the dream she has already attained.

    Seems to me this is about starting a resolution of the culture wars that politicians have inflicted on the electorate for the last two decades – riving the people with issues like abortion, gun control, gay marriage, illegal immigration. These controversies divide us and perpetuate the wedge majorities that win (or, at least, not lose) elections when few people actually vote. If that’s not enough, we are cleaved by class distinctions and economic disparities that split us apart when our best – and probably ONLY — hope is to be united.

    Obama challenges us to be courageous; McCain challenges us to be vigilant. These are two very different propositions and two divergent responses to the post 9/11 fear that has also gripped this nation. History has given us times that necessitated vigilance: the Cold War being one example. It has also handed us moments that required courage: the Civil War’s destruction of slavery.

    A big garrulous, querulous, cantankerous public such as ours is always beguiled by the calls of vigilance and courage, and it should and does answer both. A cognitive dissonance, for sure, but one or the other must outshout the other at varying times.

    I think these times demand courage because we must change as a people if we are to continue as a people toward perpetually fulfilling the promise. If not resolution, or common ground, we have to find new ground because the world has changed. We all know it, by now.

    It’s reflected in a gun in the hands of a kid at school; it’s revealed in millions of home foreclosures and in the costs of gasoline and groceries; it’s displayed by the service industry’s dependence on labor from other countries; it’s shown by hate crimes and and unfairness thrown at gays, or blacks, or women, or Hispanics, or the poor, or the medically uninsured, or the educationally underserved.

    I think I overstated my mission regarding Obama…the best I can hope for is to change one single mind.

    Besides, he and Biden are much cooler than McCain and Palin.

  90. I just saw Al Gore in the lobby of my office building. Only I didn’t recognize him at first because he was grayer than I would have thought. I walked past him and thought, “gosh that man looks like Al Gore.” Then, as I was getting into the elevator I heard him say something and as the doors closed I thought, “Dang it, Linda, that WAS Al Gore.” Then I debated running back to the lobby and out the door to catch up to him and talk to him and say, PLEASSSSEEEE help us. Sarah Palin is not good for this country. John McCain is not good. What should we do?!! OMG. I’m with you, George. We need to take this very seriously and try to get every single person we talk to that is not already committed to Obama to be committed to Obama.

  91. I loved Split, Suzanne. You did a great job conveying your feelings throughout the whole ordeal. It was very helpful to learn what it feels like without actually having to go through it myself. I certainly hope I don’t have to, anyway. What a frickin’ nightmare.

    Love your blog too, but it’s frustrating to not be able to leave comments. Howver, considering how many Haven gets and how much work it must be I can understand why.

  92. well, thank you miss polly. you made my day.

    and while it’s true that i don’t allow comments on my blog (just like mad Augusten) , the reason is not for lack of time. it’s because i am an irredeemable coward. comments would make me anxious. they always have.

    that said, i LOVE HAVEN’S BLOG; i get to benefit from her inimitable courage and sublime mental health.

  93. I am half way through Iodine and it is incredible.

  94. I contemplated leaving my complements for Otherwise Engaged and Miss Fennimore here, thinking perhaps I shouldn’t. But it seems to me Miss Haven would probably be happy to share her comment space as a place for others to pick up thanks. So consider me another gushing fan for Suzanne.

    I’m reading the trilogy – just started Zygote Chronicles. I have over 100 pages of textbook to tackle this weekend. In part because I’ve put off some of those pages to finish Otherwise Engaged and start Zygote Chronicles. I predict a few late nights and very little toilet cleaning this weekend.

  95. This has veered way off course from Haven’s original question, but for those of you so inclined, I’ve written about my funny Facebook group “I Have More Foreign Policy Experience Than Sarah Palin” at http://beckyland.wordpress.com

    Straight to the article

    http://tinyurl.com/3o32r6

    I totally enjoy this blog and your comments, but I’d expect nothing less from Zippy fans!
    Becky

  96. Hi Everyone,

    I saw Haven today in Muncie, and she wanted me to let everyone know that she hopes to be back online and in blogsville shortly. Her laptop is currently out of commission but it’s been sent in for possible repair.

    Sit tight.

    Becky – Great blog post!

    Haven – Great to see you!!!

  97. I miss Haven!!

  98. oh my god. BIG thanks to Bleiva. in regard to study? IGNORE ALL TEXTBOOKS, JUST SKIM. that’s my advice. or ask Delonda, haven’s mom.she knows everything.anything she doesnt know,haven knows. but haven’s not here. that makes me so … queasy. i mean i just dont think we’re well enough to have haven gone. SCOTT? JOHN? FOR GODS SAKE. someone has to step in and host, like on Letterman….

  99. okay. i know i have no boundaries…NONE? i know i’m like the ocne-headed children in France who hug severyone they see and gran their hands to hold? but i just emailed augusten just to see if he would be willing to drop eerything and GUEST HOST THIS BLOG. this is what i wrote…(ps, since we’ve known each other, Augusten calls me Bwaby and i call him Bwabee.i know, i know. bear with…)

    BWABEE, HAVEN’S GONE AND WE’RE ALL JUST GOING NUTS.

    YOU NEED TO STEP IN AND HOST THE BLOG, JUST FOR TONIGHT. JUST START THE BALL ROLLING, BWABEE. YOU NEED TO STEP IN FOR HAVEN, LIKE JOAN RIVERS USED TO DO ON JOHNNY CARSON. JUST STEP RIGHT THE FUCK IN.

  100. Is Augusten home from Australia? I should know this because I just looked at his blog this morning but now I can’t remember. I need to go to bed. I am so tired, but I am not sleepy, but I know if I try to read I will immediately fall asleep. Why do our bodies do that kind of crap to us? Suzanne- when I bought Iodine last weekend I wanted to buy split too but they were out of it. I guess that is good because it meant someone bought it but then again why didn’t they have more copies?? I just hate when that happens – when I really want a book and the book store doesn’t have it. ugh.

  101. well, they were out of Split because i’ve done something very cruel in previous life. and they havent reordered it yet because they’re on porn sites, i bet….yup, every single store clerk. JUST KIDDING. BARNES AND NOBLES ROCKS.

    ahem. but, still… thas why i rely on amazon sometimes. because, like, 2 days can often go by without me even NOTICING, so. then? when the box comes, i’m all surprised, like maybe it’s a GIFT. i’m that fucked up. xo

  102. augusten may not BE home from Australia. i mean, people, these writers are just JETSETTERS. it;s just awful, because we need them here at all times. we honestly do. izzat too much to ask?

    sigh

  103. you know what? i just had a moment of GRACE. let;’s all just SHUT DOWN OUR comPUTERS and pick up our hymnals and read (or re-read() anything by Haven or Augusten. that’s the answer. god just whispered it in my one good ear. the other ear was cut off THE LAST TIME HAVEN WENT ON TOUR. it stopped NOTHING. so, i think reading is a good idea….

  104. I didn’t realize quite how much I depended on this blog until Haven was gone.

  105. Suzanne- it was actually Borders books. But, you are right- Amazon is more dependable. Just not instant gratification which unfortunately I need sometimes!

    I read more of Iodine so I got a little Haven fix. Now I have to go to an AA meeting. Not because of Iodine. ha ha. Because of my alcohol addiction. Haven’s books are good therapy for me as are Augusten’s. Love them both.

  106. LINDA. you are showing all the signs of a thoroughbred, here. i also am dry. haven is too. AUGUSTEN MADE US, oh he’s a pistol savior, allright. yes, my books come in lovely, free shipping perfect cheap hurry from amazon. sometimes i buy them myself, ten at a time, just because i gave away all my 30 author’s copies in about ten minutes. also because i love seeing them all together like that; as though i haven;’t wrttien just a book, but a BUSTLING, LARGHE, CLOSE & TIGHT FAMILY of books. also i admit i ike to see my amazon score spike when i (pathetically, neurotically) order 10 at a time.

    IODINE is so very brilliant and addictive and luscious and SCARY IN A GOOD WAY? that i’ve been reading one page a day FOR FOUR MONTHs. sometimes i start at the beginning and savor that again. when most people talk about a fav book or writer, they are employing hyperbole. not so w/ haven. if she doesnt win the national book award or the booker mann prize or the pulitzer by the time she’s 50, i’ll eat my hat. and i have about 44 hats.

    as for Augusten, well. there’s a reason those 2 angels are best friends. they have talent, beauty, grace andthe devil – all in equal parts. and they are the funniest twopeople – and the most integrity-filled and honest, loyal people — alive in the “world of literature” today. every day i feel blessed and honored to know them. they are my blood family, the heart’s blood.

    everybody read everything by both of them,this weekend. try the library if you’re pressed for cash. and dudes? if you know any man or women whose heart is breaking or who is angry as a bull over a divorce? but they cant afford to buy the hardback of SPLIT: A MEMOIR OF DIVORCE? yall just send me their email address or home address, and i will send them one for free. i’m at sfinnamore@gmail.com. okay? kay.

    i learned a long time ago that if you don’t give your love away, it withers. and that we are all here to keep each other going. day by day. xo sfc

  107. You’re a trip, Suzanne. In a good kind of way, not a Rose Linkletter falling out the window bad kind of way.

  108. damn, suzanne, wish you’d made that offer before i shelled out my hard-earned cash…well, solace in knowing that i am helping support another author

  109. “You’re a trip, Suzanne. In a good kind of way, not a Rose Linkletter falling out the window bad kind of way.”

    I just spit my coffee out. POLLY, Publish immediately! you’re a STITCH. and i can really see the Haven Kimmel influence, here .

  110. To all my BLOG BABIES –

    Am in airport. Will be home later this evening. In the meantime, no gossiping about Augusten.

  111. Thanks Suzanne, I promise to try to get published immediately.

    Three cheers for the return of our Haven.
    Hay-ven!
    Hay-ven!
    Hay-ven!

  112. Here’s a compliment for you, Haven. I’ve been checking this blog 10 times a day waiting to see if you had come back yet!

  113. Kate – I’ve been doing the same thing. I fear we all may need a 12-step program one day. Haven said she had the pleasure of meeting you at the reading in Indy. I thought about attending that reading but decided on the Muncie luncheon instead.

  114. GUESS WHO HASN’T GOTTEN DRESSED SINCE SHE GOT HOME LAST NIGHT??

    Whew, I owe a whole lot of people a big thank you for coming long distances to see me. And for other stuff, too. I better get crackin’ on that. I was worried about all of you the whole time I was gone — I told my Meg that my laptop dying in such a spectacular, blasphemous, projectile-vomiting fashion should have given me some Thoreauvian insight, but instead I just walked around in a panic about what was happening in the world and to my commenters. My real live children I knew were fine, which left room in my Worry Area.

  115. Ummmm, Jeff? Sorry, fella. But at least Ray is attractive! What if you looked like his dad?

    And Brandon, you do NOT have birthing hips. That is lunacy. But then neither do I, so don’t lose hope.

  116. OH MY GOD “And not in a Rose Linkletter falling out a window way,” is making me SNORT. Polly, oh lord. You get the Commenter’s Tiara for that one.

  117. Now that you know what my sister considers a compliment, you’ll understand why she takes special joy in saying about me, as if I weren’t there, “Oh, we can’t ask the baby to do it [that would be me]; she’s fragile.”

  118. Yes! I had the supreme pleasure of meeting Haven…I’m not sure what I am said but I’m sure I was babbling incoherently, which she was a super sweetie about. The reading was terrific, I love the book and I’m reading it again (I will have to read it 5 times to really absorb it. Also, I might have to go back to college.)

    Who is Rose Linkletter? Google, who has almost never failed me, did not turn up any clues. I HATE missing a joke!

    Fragile People of the World UNITE!!

  119. Darn it, wordpress keeps logging me out. I’m not a quilt block! (No offense to all the other quilt blocks out there.)

  120. “You’re the strangest person I ever met, she said & I said you too & we decided we’d know each other a long time.” Brian Andreas

  121. I once got the following comment from a New York couple I knew who strangely moved to E. Lansing, MI: “You could act on Broadway. Seriously. There is just something about you.” Now, I am no actor, no fancy ass singer, no hot ass hottie, but at the time I had a fantastic personality when I worked as a waitress and met them. Perhaps this is what compelled me to work as an extra in a movie …

  122. So:

    Just LOOK at all these cans of chili beans.

    Tomorrow, before I go to work I will stop in at St. Theresa’s, and pass these beans off to the men in black, nice enough guys, kind of a creepy pat boonish quality about them tho. One time, I gave one of them five dollars to bless my dogs. Can you believe it? I will give those beans to them, and they will say thank you. And I guess they will then ship those cans down to a food pantry in or around Galveston. At least that’s what they said they would do with them.

    The difference is, these will be slightly different beans. These will be MAGIC beans. Because I just wrote “HAVEN KIMMEL LIVES!” on the label of each can. With a felt tip marker. And underneath: “Read her books! They RAWK.” Now, someday, one of you is going to talk to someone and they will say:

    “Well, I read this message on a can of beans we got at the food pantry, and then I was at a public library and there was this book, A girl named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel, so I read it. It was really good.”

    Then you can say: I am not suprised at all.

    So: Do I get a poem, too?

    Cause if I do, I will tell you about watching my
    Dad yell at a badger one time. It wouldn’t get out of the road. (My Dad was a rural letter carrier, and I always had to ride with him on snow-days and Saturdays). I am not sure how old I was, but I know I couldn’t read yet, and Kirk and Spock were on the cover of a TV guide we’d be putting in one of the mailboxes. I had been looking at that thing for twenty minutes probably, shivering like I was reading a love letter. Fly in Space! Cool! I asked Dad about who these guys were, and why did that guy have ears like that, but he didn’t know. He said it was some new television program and ignored further questions.

    And then: badger.

    They were truly kindred spirits, those two. The badger hissed like a demon baby, inflated itself, performed a hellish pep-club routine demonstrating just how much it hated us and our stupid truck.

    Tooting the horn didn’t work. Dad even took some firecrackers, black-cats he got down in Missouri, lit them one by one off his cigarette and threw them near it: they popped. The badger wouldn’t budge.

    My dad didn’t want to run over it. He could have shot it, but he didn’t. Besides, that would be too easy. He got out and yelled at it, called it a stupid shit-heel and so forth. GET THE HELL OUT! OF! MY! ROAD! he yelled, which only prompted more bad behaviour from herr badger. Hell, who knows, it could have been a lady-badger. I stayed inside with Kirk and Spock.

    Then he got in the truck and drank some coffee (this was a minimum access road) and we ate some candy bars and listened to Ralph Emery on the radio and he smoked a cigarette and sulked.

    The badger must have gotten tired of our shenanigans and finally gave us the road. It had shit to do.It waddled off into the ditch and ran some badger errand I suppose. I threw some peanut-brickle after it (I didn’t care much for the stuff), I don’t know if it found it or not. As soon as I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

    Hee hee, I have a bike helmet, and it’s name is Norman!

    Sincerely,

    Matt Piersol
    Nebraska


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