(I once found a list online of a 100 ways to relieve stress, and I used each one as a prompt for writing. This prompt was the tip: step back and observe)
I like this tip a lot. It’s easy to get caught up in your own mind, and not bother or take the time to be still and observe the outside world. Doing something as simple as looking at the sky every now and then is enough to calm you down at times, or at least put things in perspective, and make you realize that your problems are so small and insignificant in comparison to the universe as a whole. And no matter what we think is important in our lives, it pales in comparison and the world will just keep going regardless. So we can either choose to go with the flow and greatly increase our ease in this journey through
life, or choose to fight against it every step of the way.
I’ve always wanted to be able to go someplace, like a coffee shop or something, and simply observe people on the street. I’ve always felt too self-conscious to do so though, thinking that everyone would know what I was doing and would be observing me instead. It’s a weird thing. in cities like new york especially, people are for the most part in their own little worlds and oblivious to whatever or whoever is around them. So people watching should be a simple thing to do.
I remember going to the Siren Festival at Coney Island with an old friend once. We sat at a table after having some food and started people watching. She would talk about people’s clothes, or tattoos or something else about their appearance. And she made the comment that she could be there, doing that all day. She asked me if I was bored after a while. It was weird because I wasn’t used to watching people that way and it was actually interesting. I realized how seldom I stop to observe people around me, I think I’m more of an eavesdropper.
I love to listen to other people’s conversations. I think its interesting to hear the way that people communicate with each other. I guess it has to do with being more interested in people’s thoughts and ideas than in the way that they behave. Stepping back to observe is something that writer’s and artists can’t help but do. They experience the world in a way that is different from most people and it’s just in their nature.
It’s unavoidable. They experience things a second and a third time when they start a new painting, or poem, or story. They pay extra attention and feel things more deeply and are more affected by everything. Maybe that’s why things like a simple work day and work people tend to overwhelm me, when other people simply know how to manage it without letting it get to them. That’s a difficult thing to do if you’re hard-wired to feel and experience life so deeply, without any control over it.
Stepping back to observe takes you temporarily outside of yourself and your mind and your problems, and that can be a great relief. Like when you step back and observe your thoughts during meditation. It’s a break for your mind and a rest. Being still forces you to take note of what your thoughts are actually doing. It takes you back clearly into the present moment, instead of lost somewhere in your mind with your constantly whirling thoughts.
(Below is a paper I wrote in October of 1999 about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, my favorite Shakespeare play)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play which playfully demonstrates the undeniable role that dreams and illusions play in ordinary, daily life. Dreams and fantasies alter the natural world as we know it and in the process, the dreamer is altered as well. The actors, the Athenian world, and the audience all feel the changes induced by things that are beyond human understanding. The rich presence and descriptions of nature in the fairy world contribute to the magical and mystical aspects of the play. These aspects emphasize dreams, imagination, illusion and fantasy.
The audience can fully take part in the green world even though humans cannot identify with the inhabitants of the wood. The fairy world is supernatural, but the audience is allowed a glimpse into the existence of the fairies. Human spectators are invited to experience and appreciate the interesting disruptions of time and space.
The green world is a world of mystery, play, freedom, and love. The fairies that inhabit this world live and operate on a level of art and imagination. The fairy world is fused with these uncontrollable forces. As a result, the forest is chaotic, immortal and lacking in sense. It refutes all the logic of Theseus’s world, which consists of stiff Athenian law. The forest is a place to escape from the everyday world.
The events that take place in the forest can be considered a dream because a dream is also an escape from the everyday world. The woods are always vibrant, colorful and full of life. Imagination is limitless, therefore, dreamers never feel trapped. In the dull court of Athens, the lovers are hopelessly trapped and almost suffocating. The woods allow the lovers to be free to pursue their passions whole-heartedly.
The green world is indeed a world of illusion. It is a home for supernatural, immortal beings, as well as a place for mortals to take part in mischief, spontaneous love, and fun. The green world is a liberated, mystical, magical place. It mocks authority wildly and playfully. Being in the woods resembles being in a dream because there is no logic, consistency nor order.
Any real sense of time and space is lacking which makes dreaming (and life in the wood) liberating, frightening and uncertain all at once. The lovers are aware that they are not on secure footing. The bizarre events occurring in the forest cause them to ultimately question who they are and what has gone wrong. All the answers they seek so desperately are always beyond their reach.
In Act III, when Hermia awakes alone in the forest, she cries out in fear. She has just had a dream in which a crawling serpent was trying to eat her heart. She dreams of Lysander’s betrayal before it happens. The dream is sudden and disturbing just as Lyysander’s change of heart and loss of love for Hermia will be. When the rejection occurs, it turns Hermia’s knowledge of the world upside down.
The serpent dream arouses great fear in Hermia. After her confusion with Lysander is resolved, however, Hermia remembers Lysander’s rejection as nothing more than a bad dream. It was scary but temporary. Hermia’s serpent dream disrupts her peaceful life. The forest disrupts Athenian order and convention in a similar way. It manipulates reality through supernatural forces.
Everything that occurs in the wood is believed to be a dream. When Titania finds herself asleep on the ground with an ass, she tells Oberon that she has seen ‘visions” of herself enamored of an ass. She never considers the possibility that those visions occurred in reality. Her mind has been so full of love and magic that it all seemed to be a dream. The idea of Titania being in love with an ass is completely absurd. She chooses not to believe that it actually happened because it makes no sense to her.
As Bottom awakens from his slumber with Titania, there is no doubt in his mind that his brief love affair as an ass was simple “a most rare vision.” He declares that he has had a dream that cannot be explained, understood, or reported by any human means. He illustrates his confusion and wonder in this passage:
the eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man
hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his
tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what
my dream was.
Instead of telling everyone about his amazing dream, he wants to show it to an audience. Bottom’s experience at this point can serve as a parallel to Shakespeare’s writing of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Instead of attempting to understand or analyze their visions, Bottom and Shakespeare let the dream stand on its own as a wondrous work of art. The dream presented as a work of art contains more substance and impact than it would if it had simply been reported.
Through the encounters between the lovers and the fairies, the audience is able to experience all the extremes of humiliation, love, chaos, and frustration. When the dreams are shown for what they are, it becomes easier for an audience to learn from them and more difficult to dismiss them. Dreams take on a new, heightened meaning when they are viewed as actual events.
When all the spells have been corrected by the lord of misrule, Puck, the lovers are brought back to reality and out of their sleeping (dreaming) state by the nobility of Athens. They explain their stories and are later left alone. There is still a feeling of great confusion in the air. Demetrius speaks of things seeming “small” and “indistinguishable” and Hermia speaks of seeing double. Demetrius then notes:
Are you sure
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
The Duke was here and bid us follow him?
The lovers have to pause for a brief moment and reflect about what just happened to them. They wonder if everything had been a dream because it was so nonsensical and strange.
The lovers still feel the weighty presence of a dream that leaves no remnants. It is as if the lovers had temporarily left their actual, reasonable bodies and stepped into a world of make-believe. Once they realize that they are indeed, fully awake, the problems they have undergone seem to be nothing but silly visions.
The lovers have been manipulated by the supernatural dream world of the fairies. Although it was all nonsense, the green world has changed them all for the better. In their present state, the lovers are more prepared as adults to enter into mature, loving, married relationships like that of Theseus and Hippolyta.
In Theseus’ first speech in Act V, he marvels at the strange tales told by the lovers. He finds that they are very hard to believe.
He is skeptical about the validity of their stories because lovers are known to weave such fantasies that go beyond anything which concerns “cool reason.” Theseus links the imagination of a lunatic, a lover and a poet as being one in the same. Each of these persons dreams of things unknown and these dreams become their ultimate reality. The dreaming may be frantic and frenzied, but the poet makes sense of them by putting them on the page. Written down, all illogical dreams and illusions take on a realistic quality because they then exist in the natural world.
The title, A Midsummer Night’s Dream suggests that the occurrences in the entire play were nothing more than some fantastical dream. Puck enforces this idea in his concluding speech which is addressed to the audience. He attempts to reassure the audience when he says:
If we shadows, have offended,
This but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumb’red here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding than a dream,
These statements, however, cannot fully appease the audience because the play has changed the audience’s perception of dreaming.
Throughout the body of the play, the characters have been so deeply affected by such illusions and reveries that the dreams have become a lasting force in their lives. The characters have examined, questioned, and lived within their dreams so thoroughly that the idea of dismissing the play as a meaningless dream is simply ridiculous. Through the creation of a reality all its own, the play has touched the lives of those in the audience and has succeeded in making those lives more meaningful. When confusing and upsetting things happen in their daily lives, the audience will begin to question and wonder what greater forces are at work.
After experiencing life in the wood, the audience has been permanently altered. In the same way, the court of Athens has been altered as the world of the wood spills over into it. In the final act, the play within a play reinforces the relationship between art and life. The dreams of the lovers join together with the waking world to carry them into the next stage of life- a happy union in marriage. When it becomes “fairy” time, the supernatural fairy world merges with the natural, human world of Athens and blesses the houses in a spirit of harmony.
The fairies have led the lovers to their happy endings through the use of magic, dreams, and illusions. Titania is happily reconciled with Oberon and the two are ready to unite the world of immortality and the world of death. Without the insistent intrusion of fantasy and mysticism, the lovers would never have found love and happiness in one another. The fairy world of fantasy has loosened and improved the Athenian world of fact.
The conclusion made by Puck that the play may have only been a dream is difficult to accept because dreaming has been so abundant in the play and vital to the plot. The audience has witnessed its consequences and the confusion that dreaming can cause. The audience willingly chose to suspend their disbelief and accept the matters in the play as real. By the end of the story, it’s too late to ask the audience to disregard what has just been seen. It has already taken stock in the characters’ lives and been amused by the misunderstandings. The fairy world has already succeeded in changing the way the audience looks a the mad occurrences of life.
In the extras of a DVD I rented called ‘Coco before Chanel,’ Audrey Tatou is shown at one of the red carpet premieres being interviewed. They don’t show the question asked of her, but her reply is ‘It’s important to create your life and not be passive, not wait for something to happen.’ That is as succinct as it gets, isn’t it?
If only I knew how to get past the fear. Sometimes I get this rush of courage and I tell myself to just do it, to just try. To quit my job and try to work somewhere more interesting part-time to stay afloat, until i figure out what else I want to do. Who cares if I fail? At least I would have gone out and tried. But I remain here in the same place. One of the poets I saw read recently at a Bust magazine event has founded her own nonprofit organization for poets, and she’s only 26 years old. What have I done?
Sometimes I’m at work and I think: this is all that I’ll be known for after I’m gone, and it’s a bad feeling. I want to do and be more and help people. I don’t want to settle anymore. It’s not fulfilling and it’s drudgery. Not fun at all.
‘Coco before Chanel’ was a really great movie. It goes into Chanel’s early life as an orphan, and how she gradually was drawn into her vocation of fashion design. She was an artist at a time when women weren’t expected to work. She was a feminist and an individual, a woman who refused marriage, who preferred to be a mistress than a wife.
She mentions that her mother was an idiot because she married for love, and cried and suffered her whole life because of it. She waited and waited while her husband went out and had affairs and one day he came home and found her dead. Dead of a broken heart I would guess.
With all the media surrounding famous unfaithful men, it’s really hard to have any desire to get married. The last thing I would want is for familiarity to extinguish the spark of passion. I guess I have trust issues and worry about the wandering eye. It doesn’t seem normal for humans to be expected to remain monogamous.
It doesn’t seem to work out well for us here in the modern world. Maybe I’m cynical. But considering the current divorce rates, can you really blame me? It’s a scary proposition, but maybe not for some people (if they know they have found the right person). Maybe it is better to be a mistress than a wife, at least then when the man leaves, your whole life doesn’t fall apart as well, and you eliminate the whole betrayal and get to retain some dignity.
I recently watched ‘Letters to Juliet,’ and it wasn’t much to write home about. Amanda Seyfried is all kinds of gorgeous, (how do people that beautiful even exist?) but that doesn’t make up for what was ultimately a flimsy story. This movie had the scenic vistas and rolling hills of Tuscany going for it. It really makes you want to go to Italy.
Amanda and the man she is supposed to fall for had no chemistry whatsoever and their hating each other when first meeting seemed so cliché to me. I guess that’s why I’m not in the habit of watching romantic comedies. The best and most tender scene had to be when Vanessa Redgrave’s character, Claire, was brushing Sophie’s (Amanda’s character) hair. It was a loving moment and one that was emotional because of the reveal of Sophie having been abandoned by her mother when she was nine years old.
The movie made me realize how much I love writing too. Sophie is a fact checker for a New York magazine in the movie but she really is a writer trying to get her start in publishing. Seeing scenes of her writing in a journal in a beautiful outdoor backdrop of Italy filled me with deep envy, and a longing to write.
I thought about how much pleasure I take in writing and in thinking of myself as a writer. I wondered why I tend to let other things get in the way of that simple act, even though I know that writing is what I most love to do, and what I would do (even more so) if I didn’t have to work for a living. For someone to actually pay me for my writing would be like a dream come true, and wouldn’t seem like a job at all.
Writing is just fun, it’s what I’ve always loved, it’s what I’ve always done and always will do. And maybe it won’t make me rich, but writing itself, getting lost in it, is its own reward.
At the end of ‘Letters to Juliet,’ Sophie takes a story she wrote about the adventure of helping Claire find her long-lost love in Italy to her editor/boss in New York, and it gets published by the magazine. I may have to watch this movie again simply for the inspiration it gave me to keep writing, or I should say, go back to writing on a more regular basis.
Maybe I’ll listen to the director’s and Amanda’s audio commentary track to see if they have any writing tidbits in there, or more information about the lovely locations where shooting took place. It must be amazing to be a young actress and get to travel to these exotic locations to shoot movies with beautiful people and spend entire days outdoors in a lush countryside. Too bad the script wasn’t as poetic as the locale.
There’s a scene towards the beginning of the movie where Sophie’s fiance tells her that she must write because that is her passion. I thought, yeah, it’s mine too, so why am I living most of my life as someone I’m not?
I saw a great movie recently, called ‘Everything must go’ which starred Will Farrell. It was a dramatic, sad story and kind of depressing but I loved the hopeful note it left on which was that anyone can get a fresh new start, shed their old stuff, their old life and faded memories. Anyone can head into their future as a new person who is ready to start over, start a new journey. He was very convincing in this troubled, serious role and I was surprised.
The movie had a similar tone to ‘Ghostworld,’ which also features a garage sale and the ending of one part of life and the beginning of another. It had a fresh realness to it, just like Ghostworld. The future can be scary and intimidating, but it can also bring lots of hope. You can choose to become someone new at any time.
It’s like my old meditation teacher used to say, ‘The only way to change, is to change.’ You simply have to make up your mind and do it. To become tired of your old life and decide to become someone better, someone else.
Prompt: If I had my way….
If I had my way, everything that tastes delicious would be good for you. If I had my way, children would always behave, the perfect song would always be on, passion for things and people would never fade. I would have long periods of time in which there was nothing to do but sit and reflect. If I had my way, my days would be free to spend in any way I wish, instead of at a day job that I don’t like because I don’t know what else to do. If I had my way, I would never be required to get out of bed and go anywhere early in the morning.
If I had my way, I don’t think I would ever work again, and be taken care of by someone else- or if that’s not possible, I would want to be able to take a year or a month off from working. I’d get a chance to take a breather, to think, and a chance to experience life the way it really is. If I had my way I would live in a climate that is always warm and not humid- maybe around 70 degrees all the time, where it never ever snows.
If I had my way, my parents would never die. If I had my way, I would never grow old and would always be full of energy for the things I want to do and the person I want to be and the things I want to experience. I would have my old brain back and never have the experience of a panic attack or need medication. If I had my way, I would have the discipline to meditate, exercise and write every day.
If I had my way, the daily newspaper would be filled with inspiring poems-different every day, instead of bad, scary news. If I had my way, people would be able to date for however many years they wanted to without constantly being asked about marriage and babies. If I had my way, all people would be able to live their own lives without question or input from others about how to live.
If I had my way, no one would need to hear pointless criticism about their appearance. If I had my way, there would be more national holidays to allow the workforce more rest, which all human beings need. If I had my way, I’d hire a personal trainer to whip me into shape. And I would be able to write poetry as easily as I used to, every single day. If I had my way, life would always be as simple as it is now.
Prompt: Write about a longing
(from A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves)
(hand written on 3/13/2011)
I’m longing for myself. I long to know myself. I long for meaning. For the days that stretch into nothingness to have some meaning. A life like mine that will someday end. I long to be remembered. My longing is always there beneath the surface. It is unquenchable. It’s a longing for experience, for life. I long for understanding and kindness from others. Some longings I have satisfied, like the longing for passion and a love life and a place of my own.
I long for solitude, to get back in touch with my creative side. To see the beauty in things again even though now I have the mundane tasks of cleaning and laundry and taking out the garbage. I long to find a way to express myself. To let out that still, constant voice in my mind. I long to connect with people, to form strong bonds of friendship, to see and stretch beyond my own imagined limits.
I want more days like today, of freedom, exploration, independence and joy. I long to be something more than I am. Someone who makes a contribution to society, I have a longing to take action instead of always thinking, wishing and over-analyzing. I want the complete freedom and space to be myself, without apology, without holding back. I long for going to different places, breaking the routine and experiencing life anew.
I long for the space and the time to always be creating, even when I have to be doing something else like working, or taking care of my place. I long to be a person that I can be proud of, someone not content to hide in the shadows but longing to stand out apart from the crowd. This prompt asked me to write about a longing, but in following it I find that I have many, as I suppose all human beings do.
Not one of us is fully satisfied. Maybe some are complacent, but even they must have hidden desires of the heart. My main longing is for myself. For me to fully embrace who I am, my personality, my freedom and options and independence. My other longing is for work with meaning. It can be hard to face one’s self, with all our faults, but doing so is the only way in which to grow. And maybe no one else will ever truly understand me, but through writing maybe I can finally and fully understand myself.
These are some of my various journals kept throughout the years. The girl in the pic (on journal at top, second from the left) is Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage and my idol since I was 16. The words beneath her picture are lyrics from the Garbage song called “Trip my Wire.” The lyrics read “be careful with me, i’m fragile, i’m easily…..broken.”
The journal with the red bird on it is the one I’m writing in currently. The words the bird is singing were “‘je t’aime,” but I crossed it out.
(Entry below is a continuation of the entry that was hand written on 12/25/2002)
For some reason Monday, people kept talking to me or introducing themselves to me without me really being any different than I normally am. The freelance writer sitting next to me all of a sudden started chatting with me about writing, Christmas shopping and asking me about myself. I found what he spoke about so fascinating and I realized that I really love to hear people talk about what they write, where and how and why they like to do it.
It’s really nice to work with people who have the same love of writing that I do. It’s like finding kindred spirits. I was having fun listening to him talk about how he likes to freewrite during his long commute to work. And I totally understood what he meant by his words, movements and subtle gestures when describing the cathartic release of freewriting.
Some other guy also came up to talk to another guy named Dan who was sitting on the other side of me. He said “Hi, are you a new intern?” and I said “Yeah, Karen” at the same time that he asked for my name, so I had to repeat myself. He said his name was Andrew and he pointed to other guys around me saying “That’s Dan, Dan, and Mike” and I already knew two of the three. He told them, “Be nice to Karen, guys.”
I got to go to an editorial meeting around 5pm, when most people are getting out of work, and these reporters were getting ready to stay working for a better part of the night. I actually got some face time with the editor-in-chief who up until that point had been so elusive and secluded in her huge office. It was strange to be standing there staring at covers and I was told to give my honest opinion when the editor-in-chief asks questions. So we had to vote on which cover would catch someone’s attention most and make them want to buy the issue.
No one paid much serious attention to either mine or another intern’s opinions at all so I wonder why people like me and her are even invited to those meetings. Everyone chose to vote on the exact opposite of what we voted on, even though we voted on different covers. I (silently) had the same opinion as the editor-in-chief on one cover that looked too crowded with heads, but I didn’t voice it because she hadn’t asked for any opinions at that point yet.
(Entry below was hand written on 12/25/2002)
The other day at US Weekly was sort of everything: trying, hard, interesting, boring and fun. I had to run a few errands in the morning which was when I was most busy. The first was the running of some sort of food basket/Christmas gift for the people at the gym where the editor-in chief is a member. It was on 57th and 5 I think, or almost at 5th. I walked down from 52nd Street and luckily it wasn’t too cold out. Once I got there, they had me pick up two heavy bags to bring back to the editor-in-chief. Her assistant, J, said to only bring one if they were too heavy but I picked them both up to try to impress them by bringing both back at the same time. It was killer stress on my arms though, which I didn’t realize until the next day.
After that errand, J gave me a box from Tiffany & Co that had something of the editor in chief’s that she wanted to return. He said they might give me a problem because they might want the editor there in person to give the store credit to, so he left me his phone number to give them to call him up so he could explain the situation- that this is the editor in chief of US Weekly and she can’t just leave her office.
I took the bag with the box in it and went all the way back down to exactly 57th and 5th where Tiffany’s is located. There was a small line of tourists and shoppers to get into the revolving doors and there were crowds inside shopping and browsing because it was the last few days before Christmas. I tried to find an employee who didn’t look too busy or snotty and I got to a watch counter where a woman was on the phone. She smiled at me and said she’d be with me in a minute. She was kind of heavy, with straight brown hair pulled back into a ponytail.
When she was finally ready to help me I told her I had to return something for the editor in chief of US Weekly (I said her name) and she asked if it was a watch. I said I didn’t know because they had only given me the box without saying what it was. She took out the box and said it looked like crystal, so I had to go up to the third floor where the crystal is and where there is a returns desk. I headed to the elevator and waited a few minutes with a crowd of people. The store was stuffy and hot and the elevator was not coming.
Not wanting to be crammed into a packed elevator should one ever arrive, I saw where other people were going through a door and taking the stairs. I decided to do that too. I walked up about 3 short flights and only got to some other main floor door. Then what seemed like three more flights only got me to the 2nd floor. Then a couple of more flights and I was finally almost at the 3rd floor. By this time, my legs and back were aching from my previous errand with the two heavy bags from the gym and carrying my purse also which held this big, heavy journal. I have to make it a point to stop carrying this journal around when it is not likely that I will write in it during the day.
Anyway, by the time I hit the 3rd floor, all my leg muscles were tender and I could not catch my breath, every deep breath I tried to take was painful and my heart beat hard and fast. I spotted the customer service counter but there was no way I’d be able to utter a word yet so I walked around the 3rd floor, waiting to catch my breath. God, I thought, I am really in terrible shape. Running out of air, I pretended to browse around but I can’t remember really looking at anything, except for a little closed off area that had a sign explaining that it was the wedding registry or ‘bridal’ registry, I don’t remember which. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a bride whose wedding guests can afford such extravagant gifts.
I finally caught my breath and got in line at customer service and an old man walked in behind the desk slowly behind another employee and asked who was next. I walked up reluctantly and afraid that he wouldn’t understand and would give me trouble with the store credit. I said I had to make a return and he asked me “Was it a gift?” I thought “I wish!” But said no, that it was a return I was doing for the editor in chief of US Weekly. He opened the box and carefully removed its contents, which looked like two little crystal votive candle holders engraved with very intricate, beautiful linear patterns. He was so careful handling them and then setting them down on the counter and out of their paper packaging. He said that he just had to go and get a stock number for them and I said OK.
The two beautiful crystal pieces just sat in front of me and I touched the top of one, turning it slightly and running my purple, glitter-polished fingernail over some of the deep cut line patterns. The crystal sparkled and shimmered as it caught the light, and I was dying to take one of them home with me. I am never materialistic by any means, but a beautiful piece is still a beautiful piece. The Tiffany’s man returned after a while and asked me under whose name did I want to put the store credit. I said her name and spelled it, but then he asked for her address. I pulled out the packing slip that J had given me and luckily it had her full address on it.
The Tiffany’s man went back and printed up a receipt. He bought a card back to me with a balance on it and explained that it had no expiration date so it could be used at any time. He said he needed me to sign the editor’s name on the receipt and I did, which felt really weird- signing some important woman’s name on the third floor of Tiffany’s on the day before Christmas eve. He gave me a copy of the receipt which he said explained everything for her. I thanked him and left for lunch.
I got back and got to J who put on a relieved face when seeing me. I guess he expected Tiffany’s to give me more trouble for doing a return for someone else, as he said other places weren’t going for it- like Barnes & Nobles, which is really strange. He said, “and they gave you that?” almost a little surprised that they had given me the card for the editor with her balance on it. I, very matter-of-factly, told him that it had no expiration date and she could use it anytime. He said thank and I said “no problem” and smiled. It feels good to know that I helped people.