Tag Archives: storytelling

Receiving a Random Act of Kindness

3 Apr

Today, something amazing happened.

A few months ago, I signed up to be a beta tester for a site called GiftOn (and if you want to be a beta tester too, you definitely should sign up right now!). It’s a fun concept – people share stories of the best gifts they’ve gotten/received, and users can search for gift ideas by occasion, relationship, type of gift, interests, etc. I’ve submitted two stories so far, and one was a story about taking my boon companion for a bookish birthday:

“My friend and I are huge bookworms. We’ve bonded over books and spent many a happy day wandering bookstores (and lamenting the fact that we can’t afford everything on our to-read list). So for her birthday, I came up with the present I would want to be given myself.

I gave her a homemade coupon for a day out, in which I took us out for a meal (most likely brunch) and then we went to a bookstore – and whatever book she wanted was on me! She loved it and we had a great day together.

This had the bonus of being a shared experience sort of gift as well as having a physical reminder of our fun day out. We both loved it!”

I submitted this story a few weeks ago and got some nice reactions and comments, then gradually forgot about it.

Until today.

Today, the site’s founder (who is a lovely person I networked with on The Job Hunt) sent me an excited email with a subject line I would have rejected as spam from someone I didn’t know: “Surprise gift for you!!! $100 cash for books!!!

I furrowed my brow and immediately opened the email. She was almost as thrilled to write the email as I was to read it – someone had read my story and sent her this note:

“I probably can’t afford her whole to-read list, but I’d like to anonymously offer Allie $100 for her to buy at least a few of the books off her list.”

I sat there blinking for some time, then made some half-choked noises and looked up to see who I could stare at open-mouthed while pointing at my phone. (I did end up interrupting my coworker from dialing in to her conference call. NO REGRETS.)

I can’t get over this. I don’t know who this person is, but they made my entire day. I’ve never been on the receiving end of a Random Act of Kindness quite like this, and it made a grey Chicago day into a snuggly one with the thought of new books.

So, whoever you are – thank you!!! I can’t wait to spend the gift card (which will have a carefully-marked sticky note on it labeled “FOR BOOKS”) at local bookstores that I always want to support but can rarely afford.

I better get reading! There are new books out there waiting to be discovered!


My shelves runneth over. But only a little.


Eye On Wisconsin

18 Mar

I went to the eye doctor last week and lasted about three minutes before I started telling him about my roller derby class. He said he was very appreciative of the sport because he used to play goalie in hockey.

“Were you any good?” I couldn’t help but ask.

“Must’ve been… I played on my college team for two years.” I smiled appreciatively but couldn’t talk due to my chin resting on a platform so he could blind me in just the right spot with the various lights. (At least I assume it was multiple lights. Perhaps the goal of the eye torture device is to make you see double.)

Since he was a very nice man, I was curious. “Who did you play for?” I asked, expecting the name of a small and well-meaning school. Macalester, Dartmouth, etc.

“The University of…” he paused, perhaps for emphasis, “Wisconsin.”

Eye On Wisconsin (Story O'Clock)At this point, Badger bells went off in my head. As all alumni know, meeting a fellow Badger is equivalent to discovering a distant cousin you never knew you had. And, if all goes well, frolicking off into the sunset with linked arms is the end goal. Or is that just me?

“I’m a Badger too!” I said, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that not only is my trusted eye doctor of many years a Badger, but that my eye doctor was a Badger hockey goalie.

After various forms of light torture to each dilated pupil, we shared graduation years. When he said 1969, I realized what that meant.

“So you were there for the protests?”

“Oh yes,” he said, shaking his head. “It got to be so bad that by spring semester of my senior year, I wouldn’t leave my apartment to go to class. It was too dangerous.”

He then proceeded to tell me horror stories from my very own campus. Tear gas thrown into lecture halls for no reason. Linebackers taking out police so students could escape. ROTC kids with their fingers on machine guns pointed at student buildings. I always enjoyed sharing protest facts with visiting friends (two buildings I often frequented were specifically built so that students couldn’t take them over, for example), but I hadn’t really stopped to think what life was like on a daily basis for students just like me until I heard about it firsthand.

And this is why my blog is called Story O’Clock. It’s been said a million times in countless ways, but stories connect us. They define us. They carry on our legacies. It’s all fine and good to read about the student protests of the sixties in a textbook, but talking to a real person who was there gives it real meaning.

Listen to your elders, kid. You just might learn something.

(And can I just mention one more time that my eye doctor played goalie for the Badgers hockey team?!?)


27 Nov

Wow. Here I am with my very own grown-up blog. Also, here I am trying to write an introductory post, which is no fun at all. (I much prefer those already-established posts…don’t you?)

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t my first match in the blogging ring. I’ve blogged for Improv Playhouse, Volunteer Expeditions, and AARP Illinois. I also have a Tumblr, which I thought could be writing-focused. Turns out I was a weensy bit wrong. My friend proclaims my blog as getting Who-ier and Who-ier (as in Doctor). Which I certainly don’t mind…but that’s not that helpful in terms of keeping me writing.

So here I am, sharing some stories. Telling a tale is my natural instinct in conversation and, after reading Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A Low-Flying Duck, I’m more convinced that storytelling is the bread and butter of any relationship. I’m not quite sure what I’ll post yet, but I don’t want to start setting any limitations for myself.

I may feel like sharing a story from work. Or a story from my job hunt. Or a book review. Or a plea for sanity amidst celebrities/politicians. Or my favorite quote from last night’s 30 Rock. Or my feelings on the local economy of Kosovo. (One of those is a joke. I’ll let you tackle that headscratcher.*)

Whether you’re reading my blog because you know and like me, you know and dislike me, you’re thinking about hiring me, or I’m a total stranger, I say hello. I hope you enjoy my musings.

*Fun fact – my browser is giving me the red underline of YOU SPELLED THIS WRONG on “headscratcher” and instead suggests “headteacher”. Any idea what that one could be?