When I tore open the envelope, I found a miniature piece of art because this little card? It’s hand-painted on one side.
Remember that guy who was following me on Twitter? @Stuart_Sheldon? I wrote about him HERE? Well, Stu wrote a letter for my kid. How cool is that?
I call this one “For a Bro.”
Because Stu penned “For a Bro” in ink on the front of the card.
Stu’s letter contains some profound advice.
On the surface, Stu’s advice may appear to be for the heterosexual male.
If you look deeper, you’ll understand that his words are really a life metaphor for anyone of any sexual orientation.
In fact, Stu’s letter is so profound, the counselors at Tech’s camp should read it to all the campers in the village and then launch a 3-day mass program based on his words of wisdom.
Check it out.
In case you can’t read Stu’s words, I’ve translated here:
So Tech, here’s the thing about camp –
Talk to that girl you think is ALL THAT. You know the one! She makes you feel all shy cuz she’s so pretty and nice and natural and smiley. And maybe you think, “I could never talk to her; she’d never like me. She’s out of my league.” WRONG! She will like you and think you are kind and a gentleman…BECAUSE YOU ARE. Worst case, she will be your friend. Best case…who knows.
But life is about marching up to what you desire most and introducing yourself.
Trust me, little brother. I got your back.
Are you crying? I kinda teared up a little when I read Stu’s words.
The tone found in the letter is a lot like the one inStu’s blog where he writes beautiful, heartfelt pieces about being a father to two young sons. About being a husband and a father, a writer and an artist, a thinker and a dreamer, finding his way in the world.
I know it’s easier to type or text these days, but typed letters don’t feel the way a real letter feels in your hands. I don’t care how many emoticons you use.
There is intimacy in the ink.
I love Stu’s loopy letters, the lightness of his hand in some places, and the places where he chose to linger and make things dark.
And I love Stu’s message, too. And I assume Tech will, too. Once a counselor reads the letter to him. You know, because he can’t read cursive since they don’t teach it in school anymore.
Read Stu’s latest piece HERE, and poke around a bit. He likes that.
Who sent you the last handwritten letter you received? Do you feel the difference between typed and handwritten letters the way I do?
Not long ago it occurred to me, I have all these followers on Twitter, but who are they? I mean, I don’t know everyone who follows me.
So I picked one cute guy and I sent him a quick tweet, asking him, you know, why me?
As you can imagine, we struck up a lovely cyber chat, and I learned a lot about him. And guess what? Now I’m following him!
I intend to make this a kind of semi-regular feature, so if you follow me, don’t be surprised if I tweet you and ask you to tell me about yourself and share your story with my readers. Because everyone has a story, right?
So today I’m introducing you to Stuart Sheldon.
He lives in Miami, Florida with his wife and their two sons.
RASJ: You’ve been following me, Stu. Tell me a little bit about yourself. You know, so I feel a little less stalked.
SS: I am the guy who constantly reinvents himself, because I want to taste everything in life. At 25, I was the youngest vice-president at Smith Barney and destined for untold riches, but I threw it all away at 27 to pursue my artistic dream. Twenty years later, I’ve hosted my own television documentary, written for, launched and sold my own magazine, and exhibited my paintings and sculptures on nearly every continent. My greatest creation has been the mixed media collaboration my wife and I worked tirelessly to manifest – two beautiful boys who teach me each day. With the major bases now covered in life, my laser beam is now focused on the sale of my recently-completed first book and the inception of my second.
RASJ: Whaaaat? You finished a book! Tell me about it. You must be stoked.
SS: A Lonely Fool’s Masterpiece is the true story of a forlorn artist in his late-30s who decides to paint the wife and child of his dreams into existence. This is what I did and, thankfully, the journey burned my oversized ego like feathers in a flame. Now I am calmer, more grounded, and full of constant gratitude. If nothing else, this book is my legacy and gift to my kids, chronicling the emotional play-by-play that led, after much laughter and tears, to their arrival. National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Edwidge Daniticat, called it a “moving book for our times,” which was awesome. Now I’m querying publishers.
RASJ: Wait, you’re a writer and an artist? Have I seen any of your work?
SS: Maybe. One is my favorite sculptures, titled Play! is made entirely out of toys I found in thrift shops in the Bay Area. It now lives in the collection of a producer somewhere in the Hollywood Hills.
RASJ: That piece is wicked cool! Okay, let’s have a little fun. Look! A penguin walked into your room wearing a sombrero. What does he say? And why is he there?
SS: That’s so weird because a penguin did walk into the room. My back was turned and he did not recognize me at first as he said, all spineless and fish-breathed, “Senor (he incorrectly pronounced the enye as a hard ‘n’), you want tamale?” I spun around, grabbed the brim of his hat and tossed it like a Frisbee into the hallway. This penguin, incognito as a tamale salesman, owed me money. But I saw right thru his ruse because I can read people … and flightless birds.. I said, “No, I want those twenty clams. Cough it up, Happy Feet!” Unfortunately, he actually coughed up twenty little neck clams. Directly onto my new Bermuda shorts. I will never again do business with a penguin.
RASJ: So seriously, what made you decide to follow me? Which of my posts caught your eye? You can tell me.
SS: “The Day the Last Baby Tooth Fell Out” really punched my lights out. And not because it rode the tails of Sandyhook. No, this one was a direct line from your heart to the rest of us with kids. It really captured the essence of our perspective as adoring yet helpless observers of our children.
Your son sounds like such a good boy. Through your words, I love him and his cream sodaeyes. He is kind and patient in the face of inconvenience and even pain. He does not play the victim. Far from it, he is every bit a mensch. As the father of two young sons, I understand every bit of the idea of time passing. And milestones falling. And the purity of youth evaporating. In that piece you magically transformed your son into one of my own.
RASJ: Thanks for your kind words, Stu. It’s nice to learn a little about you. We havea Happy House in Florida. Maybe we can meet up in real life sometime, you think?
• • •
If you’ve been lurking around and you’d like me to notice you, tweet me. You could be next!
Way back on Monday, April 25, 2011 at precisely 8:07 AM, I emailed Clay Morgan from EduClaytion.com. He and I had established an “easy, breezy, beautiful” rapport; we’d talked on the phone a few times, and for a while, we were on the same cyber-page. But suddenly, Clay had a Twitter icon on his page. And I didn’t.
What the deuce? I thought. So I tapped out a quick note.
Dude, I seriously need to understand Twitter. I either need a 15 year-old girl. Or you. Can you call me?
Clay responded like a firefighter would to a burning building. He emailed me and assured me Twitter was “pretty intuitive” and that I could probably figure it out. He said he had faith in me.
Still, I had every intention of making Twitter priority #1 on my list of Things To Do. (You know, after I got back from Florida. And all the grocery shopping was done. And I had unpacked and put the suitcases away and done all the laundry and scrubbed the baseboards and taken out the garbage and fed the animals.
(Note: We have no pets. Not even a goldfish. Not even an ant.)
I was a little bit horrified that I had so easily morphed into one of the typical student-types: the kid who pretends the deadline hasn’t come and gone, but never goes to talk to the teacher about it.
But Professor Morgan was onto me.
Clearly I was delaying. We set up a time to conference around noon.
After my massage.
(What? I have a long-standing back injury, people.)
On the day of our exciting teleconference, we started with the simple stuff.
Clay explained that, for a writer, the purpose of Twitter is to help network with other writers, to acquire followers, and to spread one’s writing around to other interested readers. He said Twitter can be a place to gather with my fellow writers, where I can find people to hold me accountable to achieve my writing goals, and where I can find people willing to critique my work.
That all sounded good.
He explained it also meant supporting and promoting the people whose writing I adore.
I heard “cheerleader.” I was a cheerleader in high school. I may have lost my splits, but I can still cheer. And if tweeting and re-tweeting my favorite writers’ stuff was going to help them, I could drink that Kool-Aid.
So Clay taught me the basics. About the Timeline. And how to check my Direct Message Box — to see if anyone has sent me a private message.
“How do I know that?”
Clay patiently explained.
He also told me I should always check Mentions to see if anyone has tweeted any of my posts and, if they have, that I should be absolutely certain to send that person a short thank-you.
“It’s Twit-tiquette,” Clay explained.
He taught me about how to set up a list of my most favorite bloggers. And while we were on the phone, I understood everything perfectly.
Clay was extremely patient and gracious. And then, like any good therapist smart person with outstanding time management skills, after one hour, he announced our session was up.
“I haven’t mastered this yet!” I whined.
He assured me that I’d figure it out if I played around with it a bit.
I thanked Clay for “eduClayting” me, and I messed around on Twitter for a while.
I tried to send messages to the people I knew best.
Eventually, I got a response from Clay himself.
Whaaaaat? I was sending messages to myself? Awk.Ward.
I tried to figure out that mess. And I set out again.
After a few weeks, I saw I got my first retweet! And then I got a RT from Mark Kaplowitz, someone whose writing I really like:
And then that started to happen more and more.
Eventually, I figured out the secret language of hashtags: the weird letters that come after the numbers’ symbol (#). Like #MyWana. Or #IYKWIM. For a while, I felt like I sitting alone at a table in the middle school cafeteria, and everyone knew everyone else and everyone knew what they were doing – everyone except me. But then I learned that you can Google these letters after the number symbol and find out the inside joke. And boom, I was instantly sitting at the cool kids’ table because I was speaking the same language.
And guess what, writer tweeps are a lot nicer than the mean girls in middle school.
The big moment came when author Kristen Lamb sent me a tweet. I would post it, but it’s kind of like looking into the sun. Too much truth. Your pupils might burn, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for that.
These days, I have myself on a strict Twitter diet. I check in three times a week, spend 15 minutes responding to people, sending thank-yous, and trying to connect with one new person. I literally set a timer. It is really easy for Twitter to become a time suck.
Alas, now that all this time has passed, I don’t remember how to add people to that list Clay helped me to create. Also, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with that list. I think it was supposed to save me time somehow. I’m not really sure. So that’s not great.
I told Clay that I was going to write a blog about how much he helped me.
I estimated that I would have that post written by late August.
So I’m a little ahead of schedule.
But I really need to work on my fall curriculum. And my book.
You remember, my book?
The thing that started all of this…
It’s calling me.
Do you use Twitter? If so, who taught you? And what do you get out of it? Any funny stories about stuff that has happened to you while you were learning to tweet? What are your Twitter woes?
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