I wrote an essay in my application to Columbia about a book that meant a lot to me. I had lost the book a few months ago. On the day I submitted the application, I got a text from a friend saying that she had the book.
I was reading an essay from Ariel Levy's new memoir in the middle of a show I was performing in. In one scene in that show, I play a teenage goth witch who recites the mantra "we are magic" at the scene's conclusion. Lately I've been struggling with my dual identity as a writer and as an actress. How do I pursue both? How can I make work that matters? How can I divide my focus? Does loving one mean I love the other less? Well just before I had to run upstairs to go on stage again, I reached the end of the essay--the very last line read, "and we were magic." I think it was a sweet message from the universe.
I just read page 54, Aria's diary is dated 26/04. My birthday is April 26
I listened to a story on NPR in which a father mourns the death of his son, a gifted musician. He shared a lyric from his son that struck him as profound. I thought about that lyric for the rest of my drive. Two days later, I went down to my basement for a first ever attempt at meditating. Written on a notebook, hanging on the wall, in my husband' writing, is the same lyric.
My husband was searching for a different job. We had quit our jobs and sold our home within the course of a week go take care of our little family. One of the prospective employers called his references, only to discover that they were cousins. Ed got the job. Fifteen years later, we still enjoy this piece of the story.
I read a beautiful tribute to a husband in the New York Times that goes viral. I think about it throughout the weekend. When thinking about the article beside the Harbour, I find yellow petals on the ground, petals that do not belong to any plant nearby. I throw some into the water in quiet prayer for Amy, her husband, family and friends. I tell the New York Times about it in a comment.
I'm prompted to finally read 'Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life' which I have owned for some time. I decide to submit my purple flower moment. I take several photos of the 'moment', being my living room and kitchen, to illustrate the point. When deciding which photo to use, I notice the old postcard on the refrigerator. It had been in a box for ten years but, for no reason, I decided some days ago that it belonged on the fridge.
It is a panoramic postcard of Chicago.
I bookmarked the letter you wrote to your husband last two weeks ago and a week later, you died. (I hope heaven is beautiful). It was crazy that I immediately placed a hold at the library for your two books---Textbook and Encyclopedia. I picked up Textbook today from the library and even though I have other books to read before yours I was prompted to just start with yours today. Got to your Serendipity chapter and your birthday is April 29th? That's my sister"s birthday and she is due in April!!! CRAZZZZZZZZZYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!
In 1997 i was working as an outside sales rep for a chemical company that required me to make sales calls on any heavy duty industrial company. One day in August I went into a Rail Road office that looked fairly promising for a cold call. As i walked into the empty office and headed towards the only guy in the room.
I began my sales pitch to find out if he was indeed a qualified buyer. He was not. He was so nice and had such a melodious sensuous voice, was wearing the coolest Rayban sunglasses indoors (!), and besides all that he was very good looking, so I decided to sit down and have a chat.
During the course of that initial chat we found out we had lived on the same street during our childhoods and had ridden the same bus together, albeit to different schools! As our conversation evolved I realized I did not remember him, as he moved away when he was going into 8th grade, but he remembered me in one very distinct situation. We were outside in my front yard and we were going to trade albums. The Beatles for the Kinks.
My mother came outside and broke up the transaction telling him I was not allowed to trade albums!1
We are married now but I still marvel about that day when I was tired and was ready to call it a day and go home and psyched myself up to make that one last sales call.
Best sales call of my life.
My 10-year old daughter Megan has loved Amy's childrens' books since she was tiny. When she was around 8, she discovered "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life " on my bookshelf, and although isn't not technically aimed toward her age group, she's read it at least five times, possibly more. Today, 3/18/17, she was sorting an old pile of papers in the basement, and came running up to show me that she had found an autograph she received from Amy at the Printer's Row Book Fair in 2011. An hour later, the mail carrier dropped off our copy of this book. I haven't told Meg yet that Amy has passed away. I think it will break her little heart. Thank you, Amy, for inspiring my little reader in such a wonderful way.
Just a P.S. to my story from yesterday. When I got home, I dug and dug until I found the picture of my mother in front of her childhood home on N. Sedgwick in Chicago. Jason lived at 2157, and my mother lived at 2208, a stone's throw away. The serendipity of this still has me giddy, and that's a feeling I don't feel nearly enough. I just discovered Amy, and I already feel the gifts of the possible magic that is everywhere if we only notice it. Finding Amy was serendipity.
I read Amy’s memoir, "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life," about 10 years ago. I really loved it and sent Amy an email telling her how much I enjoyed it and how it made me appreciate the small moments of my life (that really aren’t so small). She sent me a very sweet email in reply. Over the years, she sent me other personal emails whenever she launched a new project. In the summer of 2016, she sent me an email about her new memoir, “Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal.” I didn’t pick it up the book right away as I am literally several hundred books behind in my reading. (I buy them way faster that I can read them.)
Skip to September, 2016. It is the 16th of September. My wife and I are at Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh where my daughter has just given birth to our first grandchild, a boy, Ethan. We are happy beyond words. Ethan is perfect. Our daughter, our son-in-law, all us are in awe of this new life. We spend some time together. Then my wife, Teresa, and I leave and go to a Barnes & Noble not far from the hospital. What can I say, when I’m happy I like to wander bookstores. (I also like to wander bookstores when I’m not happy.)
I decide to check out Amy’s new book. I have trouble finding it, a lot of trouble. I have to ask for help. I hate to ask for help. Finally, I locate a copy, the only copy in the store. I start randomly paging through it. It’s a memoir in the form of a textbook. Very creative. Very Amy.
I’m paging through it and my eyes settle on a sentence in the “Math” section of the textbook. It’s on page 216. The sentence (really an “equation” on the page) is as follows: “September 16th is the most common birthday in the world + On average a baby’s first word is spoken at 12 months of age = September 16th is the day of the year when the most humans utter their very first word.”
I am a little blown away by this. It is September 16. My grandson has just been born. It’s his birthday. I happen to be in the bookstore looking at the new memoir by Amy Krouse Rosenthal where, upon randomly scanning a few pages, I come across a passage that describes my grandson’s birthday on exactly the day of his birth.
I can’t quite wrap my mind around this. We leave the bookstore and go to a Panera to get a late lunch. I’m thinking this over trying to analyze it, solve it, figure out how this could have happened. I’m analytical to a fault. Ask anyone. I tell my wife what just happened. She can’t believe it either. She says, “We have to go back and buy that book.” Which we do.
I don’t believe in luck or a deity. I know that odd coincidences can happen and that they can give the appearance of invisible forces at work in our lives. My natural instinct is to resist this notion. But, I have to say, this little episode gave me reason to pause and look for that unseen wind that’s blowing us around.
RIP Amy. We will miss your bright light.
Dear Amy, I know you are gone, but somehow you have provided a serendipitous moment for me ("the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for"). You know what it is...so thanks.
I am in utter disbelief as I write this. A couple of nights ago, I read Amy's shattering essay "You Might Want to Marry My Husband," and I wept for the loss of such a beautiful and unique soul. In all honesty, I had never heard of Amy before reading that piece, but I was taken enough to start doing my research then; I started where all good readers start, on Amazon. Unable to fully access the inside of Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal on my phone, and too sleepy to get out of bed and pursue it, I saved it for another day. That day was today. Thinking I might want to order the book, I took the bait to "look inside" and randomly chose a section that included Serendipity, where I read about the bird that flew into the window, and how at that moment on the table was a note in Jason's childhood writing recording another random bird event when a bird had been inside his house on February 7, 1975 at 2157 No. Sedgwick (no city). Hmmm, No. Sedgwick. Could that be Chicago? My mother, born in 1913, grew up on that street. I entered the address in Google Street View and, lo and behold, if that isn't the very brownstone my mother grew up in, I'll eat my hat. I can hardly wait to get home and compare the addresses and pictures I have of that building. True, there are many brownstones that look exactly the same on that block, and true, it might not be the very exact one (though I think it is!), and even more true, maybe Jason's house wasn't in Chicago (though I bet it was!), but on a random day, in a random search through a book, in a chapter about serendipity, I am near heartbreak that I cannot text Amy and tell her this story. Heartbroken, I tell you. Jason, if you read this, could you tell me - was it Chicago? My heart aches for you.
My husband was searching for a different job. We had quit our jobs and sold our home within the course of a week go take care of our little family. One of the prospective employers called his references, only to discover that they were cousins. Ed got the job. Fifteen years later, we still enjoy this piece of the story.
I saw John Green's tweets that he'd gotten your start through your Writers Block Party. Funny thing is, I've worked on one book, and it was Esther's memoir. I would have never known Esther's lovely parents if it weren't for John, and maybe the world wouldn't know his work if it weren't for you.
On March 13, 2017, I began reading Textbook after it came in through interlibrary loan. On March 14, I saw your obituary announcement. My heart aches. I could not read. Today, March 15, I finished reading Textbook, at least for the first time.
I love you.
Sunday 3/12 I was inspired to write to Amy. I've never written to an author, but her children's books have touched my & my daughter's life so much & when I read a sample of Textbook after reading the Times piece I felt I had to reach out in some way. I wrote on the back of a picture my daughter (5) drew - a "super hero tree that hugs you back and makes everything sparkle". Just a short note of thanks to send out there. I meant to drop it in a box, but forgot. Then I was getting ready to put it in my mailbox Monday when I read she passed. I don't know if I should hold on to it to remind myself not to hesitate or mail it so that super hero tree might spread some sparkle.
My mail carrier's name is Mary.
Last week, after reading your beautiful essay in the New York Times, then watching your TED talk on YouTube, I went to Amazon and ordered your "grown up" books. I was told that Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life would not be delivered until the end of March.
Yesterday, I read of your passing. My heart hurt. I have so many "one degree of separation" links to you, but we never met. And my children are teens and I have no idea how your children's books never made it to our collection. I drove home feeling sad for your family, sad for my friends who know you. I felt regret that we never had even one conversation (which I imagine would have been delightful) and that my children were not brought up with your books as part of their literary landscape. As I pulled in to the driveway, I noticed a manila envelope at my front door. I picked it up and opened it, and inside was my "supposed to be backordered for 3 more weeks" copy of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I sat on my front stoop, smiled and imagined that you orchestrated that everyone waiting for a backordered copy would get it before you left. I hugged the book tightly.
Lisa Listengart Zarov
Highland Park, IL
I grew up watching the Andy Griffith Show with my father during nights when I could not sleep. The whistling opening always filled me with a sense of calm and joy. Dad would retell me little scenes from the show when we were driving to school every morning and I would laugh, happy that this little show meant so much to the two of us, that I didn't have to worry so much when Barney was hollering about something or other. I saw myself and my father in Andy and Oppie's relationship. When my father died five years ago, I turned on the news and found, with tears streaming down my face, that Andrew Griffith had died too. I like to think these two fathers greeted each other going wherever it is they went.
I work in a bookstore. My coworker recommended "Autobiography of an extraordinary life" to me. I read it and loved it. A few years went by, I was in a shop and picked up "A week in the life of me" Lo and behold it was created by Amy. A few months went by and I was pregnant and in search of a baby book. I picked the fun looking one out, got home, surprise, also by Amy. For my daughter Edith ' s first Christmas I bought her "Holy Cow, I sure do love you", didn't see Amy's name until the first time I read it to her. About two weeks ago I saw a link online, the caption was about an author posting a wanted ad for her husband. I got the tingles. It was once again Amy. I read the article, learned of Textbook and ordered it in to the bookstore. Yesterday Amy passed away, today the book came instock. Now I am enjoying yet another of her wonderful creations.
I kept having a dream that my brother was getting married in the winter of 1994 while living in the Indian Himalayas. Funny thing was that my brother had no girlfriend to my knowledge at the time. He was a loner. I was spending that winter in a remote nunnery in the Himalayas with no access to phone, email, skype from roughly January to May. In late May I left to get my mail in Leh Ladakh, a 2-3 day bus journey from the nunnery. While I was changing buses on the first night of the journey, I heard a nun was looking for me and that she had some letters for me. After a few hours of looking for her by asking asking random strangers about a Buddhist nun, I found her and she told me "I have some letters for you". We went to her room, I got the stack of letters she had picked up in Leh, read them, and there were 3 letters from my brother. The first told me he had met a girl and asked her to marry her. The second said, the wedding was in San Francisco, and the third said, "Get your ass to San Francisco in July, because you, my sister, are my best man!!!!" I made it to the wedding.....
I had been feeling down lately since learning of Amy's illness and still choked up over the letter she wrote for her husband. I googled Amy's website to learn more about her Beckoning of Lovely movement and was connected to her many works. As an elementary school librarian, her children's books are near and dear to my heart, but I had no idea she wrote for adults as well. I instantly placed a hold on Textbook from my local library and it arrived yesterday. Fast forward to the present moment and here I sit with the most delightful and uplifting read, mere hours after this wonderful woman has passed. It is like she is the one comforting me. I'll never get to meet her, but her works will live on in my library and now in my heart. RIP AKR.
My maternal grandmother lived in San Francisco where she occasionally raised my mother. Let me explain: my grandfather had (in my mother's words) had abandoned them when my mother was very young. My grandmother, an artist who created store window displays and table decor for restaurants and nightclubs, would occasionally board the ferry that traveled to Seattle with her daughter, my mother in tow. At the end of the journey my mother would be left in the care of her step grandfather. She would say 'I just can't take care of her anymore'. Then she'd return later, maybe months later or a year later, and say, 'I just can't live without her' and take my mother back to San Francisco.
On one such return trip my grandmother was curling my mother's hair with a curling iron before they went to dinner. She unfortunately did not unplug the iron (no auto shutoff in those days) before going to dinner. The iron overheated, the nearby curtain caught fire and the cabin was in flames. No one was injured but apparently it was quite a scene.
Fast forward to the late 1980's I move, along with a friend, to San Francisco from Texas. One night we decide to go to happy hour at a bar in a small alley just off Union Square. I'm sitting at a table while my friend is grazing at the happy hour food table.
A man, easily in his 80's strolls over and starts a conversation with me. He says he's retired and I ask, 'from what'? He says, 'I was merchant seaman. Funny story. When I was very young I was a seaman apprentice on the ferry between San Francisco and Seattle. One time we were coming into San Francisco and there was a cabin fire. Some woman had left a curling iron on and it set the canon on fire! Darnedest thing'.
My jaw dropped. And he said, 'nice taking to you', and walked away.
For my husband and I, our story started out as quite a coincidence, as our families had indirectly met each other on at least two occasions before we met. They also had photos and video footage of each other prior to us dating.
After mentioning to my mom I was seeing a teacher from Markham (almost an hour's drive from where I grew up), she asked the only person she knew in Markham (a friend of my dad’s) if he happened to know him. In a city of 500,000+ people, how likely is that?
Sure enough, this good friend of my dad’s not only knew my husband, but he was very good friends with his uncle - they taught together for many years. And what’s even stranger is that my dad’s band, The Circuit Riders, was the entertainment at his uncle's retirement party in 9 years before we met. It was a party that my husband would have attended had he not been away at teacher’s college in Australia. When we pieced this together during my first time meeting his family, his aunt showed me pictures she had taken of my dad.
Stranger still, just 3 months before my husband and I met, The Circuit Riders played a party that I attended, where my husband’s uncle and aunt were also in attendance. I was the videographer that night, which resulted in me capturing video footage of my future family.
There have been several additional family and friend small world connections my husband and I have unearthed since then and I'm sure there are still a few left we’ve yet to discover.
As I read the section of your book all about coincidence, it just so happens the coincidence you mention about sharing your birthday with a member of your audience to whom you gifted the ring, is also a coincidence... that's my birthday too. I have goosebumps!
At work today I read your article, You May Want to Marry My Husband, and right away wanted to hear more from you. I googled your books, and decided to buy Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal on Audible, which I promptly began listening to at work. I listened on the ride home, and continued once I got there and began cleaning my house. The last ten minutes or so of your book, I'd (very randomly) decided to finish my long overdue project of covering my refrigerator with old pictures (mostly of my daughter), which I'd started working on months ago and had put off since then. I was using a combination of word magnets and animal magnets, flip-flopping back and forth with each new picture, and then happened to reach into the bag for my last word magnet at the exact same time you ended your book with "goodbye, I love you, thank you." When I flipped the magnet over, it said "more." ...It completely took my breath away. So many tears.
I will never in my life forget that moment, and the beautiful serendipitous gift you gave me. Thank you so much, Amy.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer late November. I have been scared and unsure and well, a bit of a mess. I am about to begin radiation next week.
I am a Modern Love regular reader . I was so touched by your story, your love letter really to your great husband. It has made me realize that I am so lucky to have a husband like yours and that loving him and our two sons and daughter is everything and I will embrace the treatments I need and be grateful . I wish you so much joy as you continue your own battle and if I could say one thing it would be thank you for sharing and I wish you well, everything.
This is a sad serendipity story, but very meaningful to me. When I went in for an ultrasound for my second baby, my husband and I found out that she had a very rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 18. Babies with this disorder usually do not live past their first birthday. Our baby's heart stopped when I was seven months pregnant and I was never able to have another child. I went into a deep depression. To try to get out of it, I took a job as an Assistant Preschool teacher at my first daughter's school. One day I was talking to my lead teacher and she mentioned that she has lost a baby to Trisomy 18. It is as a very sad but sweet moment for both of us, a communion with someone else who had gone through something that only a few people had ever been through. I feel it was the Lord Jesus' special care for me and my lead teacher in our situation. Why He allows things to happen is a mystery to us sometimes, but He loves us and cares for us even if we don't understand what He is doing. I read your NYTimes column yesterday and have been thinking about you ever since. Amy, you can ask the Lord Jesus to take you through to the other side and He will. Peace to you. I am praying for you.
This is a very sad serendipity and I want to cry. I feel like you are my friend, Amy. I am a librarian, and in our quarterly meetings, we share books we have read. Just this week, I shared Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and I'm in the middle of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I was reading it at my lunch break today when my friend told me your news. I haven't been able to bring myself to read your essay, Modern Love, yet because I know I will not be able to hold myself together while I'm at work.
About ten years ago, my best friend since high school was a new mom and a labor & delivery nurse. Though I always knew, even back then, that she would be a mom someday, I was never really interested. I was surprised to find that she waited until her 30s to have her son. Though she knew I was not planning on having children, she also knew my husband and I had occasionally discussed adopting or fostering someday.
Two days after Christmas, she called me and told me she had helped deliver a healthy baby (with no drug exposure, rare at the County hospital she worked at) that the birth mother intended to give up for adoption but never made any real plans to do so. This is a very unusual situation and meant that the child would end up with child services for at least the first few weeks of her life. In her new mom bliss, my friend was hoping my husband and I would want to adopt the baby so we could have kids close in age. I reminded her that we were not approved for placement as an adoptive or foster family (nor were we really interested at this time).
However, I told her that at Christmas Eve dinner I had seen paperwork at my cousin's house for them to begin the process of looking for a second child to adopt. My cousin and his wife already had one daughter they were in the foster-to-adopt process with and were hoping for a younger sibling for her. I called my cousin (who was on the first real day of their family ski vacation) and told him about the situation. He called his lawyer who checked with the hospital. The lawyer then explained to my cousin that this is a very rare opportunity for a family looking to adopt and if they really wanted this baby, they should fly back home ASAP, which they did late that night.
By morning, my cousin's family was back into town and his wife went straight to the hospital while he went home to pick up their family book (photos and their story to share with the birth mother). Later that day, he had to buy a car seat to bring home his new daughter. They were overflowing with gratitude (though, really, all I did is make a phone call). My new goddaughter was given my middle name and we promised to make plans together when things calmed down.
A month or two later, after getting out of a show late one night, I received a voicemail from my cousin inviting us to dinner to catch up and hear all about the new nanny that would be coming to stay with them all the way from Japan. When I woke up the next day, I saw a message online from my friend in Japan saying she would be moving to Arizona to work for a family as a nanny. I immediately called my cousin and confirmed, of the nearly 50 people they interviewed from a handful of different countries, he had hired the only friend I had in another country to be my goddaughter's nanny!
As a final bit of serendipity, a few years later, my Japanese friend got married and moved to the other side of town, leaving behind her nanny job. She and her new husband were living in his childhood home, which he purchased when his parents moved away. After the wedding chaos calmed down, I went to pick her up for a lunch date and the address seemed terribly familiar. When I got there, it was directly across the street from the house my best friend (the nurse who delivered my goddaughter) grew up in. We had no idea the new husband was the boy neighbor boy from across the street all those years ago!
I was sitting in my room with my sisters, when our cat Dexter came into the room. I was in the middle, with my taller sister on my right, and my smaller sister on my left, and he came and sat on my smaller sisters lap. After a while, I got up to go to my parents room to ask if I could play Portal. They had just recently put up a new photo collage, and smack dab in the middle was a picture of us, maybe 10 and 8 (my little sisters are twins) with little kitten Dexter on the smaller sister's lap. Seconds later, my dad's picture-rotating screensaver switched to that picture.
My maiden name is Campbell. My husband's last name is Polivka, which is Czech for soup. My married name is hyphenated.
Holly Campbell-Polivka (or Campbell-Soup)
Today a co-worker and I were interviewing an internship candidate and during the interview the co-worker asked "do you know how long it takes a snowflake to reach the ground?" I guessed 8 minutes. She said "two hours!" The three of us marveled at this. Half an hour later, on my lunch break I started this book. After reading the entire section on sernindipity and thinking it was so much hogwash, I came across page 47 of this very book, which reads, in part, "It takes a snowflake two hours to fall from cloud to earth." Assuming she had seen the book on my desk I asked her where she had read the snowflake fact. "Online." She said matter-of-fact-ly. I showed her page 47. Screaming insued.
One day in my first year of undergrad, I found a notebook in the basket under my desk in one of my classes. Having my own notebook full of marvelously personal anecdotes and poems and whatnot, I took it upon myself to find the owner and return the notebook. On the cover was what was presumably a photograph of the owner and it said "Crystal F***ing Y" [edited]. I looked her up on Facebook and messaged her: "Alert! You have lost something very important!" The photo on the front of the notebook was indeed a picture of her, so it was easy to know I had found the right Crystal F***ing Y. After a few messages we met up and I gave it back to her, having only briefly scanned its contents because my curiosity momentarily got the better of my respect for other's privacy and the stoic responsibility that had been placed upon me.
Several weeks later, I met the new boyfriend-of-sorts of one of my very best friends. He was okay; seemed very interested in breaking rules and bragging about how much pot he smoked, but he was polite enough to me. After they went for a "walk," we all went to Burger King. While there, he made reference to a girl he grew up with that was his best friend--Crystal Y. I immediately questioned, "Crystal F***ing Y?" He was perplexed about how I knew everyone called her that, so I told him the story of returning her notebook. I never saw him--or Crystal F***ing Y, for that matter--again.
Many years ago my parents came to visit me from their home about an hour away. I took them for their first visit to a local food and ice cream place that is only open during the summer. Next to it was an antique consignment shop. We went inside to browse, and of course my mom got chatting to the woman who was the clerk for the day - Tuesday being the only day she worked each week. The clerk asked mom where she lived, and when mom told her Schuylkill Haven, PA, the clerk said, "Oh, I grew up in Auburn!" That piqued Dad's interest in the conversation, and he told her that he too had grown up in that small town just a few miles from where they then lived. She asked his name. "Fryer." Eyes wide, she said, "Fryer is my maiden name!" She was dad's cousin. They hadn't seen each other for maybe 50 years! The chance encounter grew into a renewed connection with her and her twin sister.
My dad was taken to the hospital at the end of January, 1998. He never left his hospital room, as he died on February 6th that year. While going through his things, I asked to take a special sweater-jacket that he often wore. It was a maroon sweater with a zipper and pockets. I wanted to wear it to stay warm and to have my dad's 'hug' around me when I wore it. It wasn't until sometime in March that I decided to wear it out. I zipped it up, feeling my dad's warmth and closeness. When I put my hand in the pocket, I felt something, took it out, and there in my hand was a Valentine candy heart with the words "LOVE YOU". There was no way my dad could have had a Valentine candy when he hadn't left the hospital, and probably hadn't worn the sweater-jacket since the fall. I knew it was a sign from my dad. I put the candy heart in a little jewelry box and will keep it always.
Last night, my boyfriend (who has historically been interested in coincidences, and kept a "coincidence log" for a while) was telling me about seeing two talks on two consecutive days by the current and former CTOs of the same company - at unrelated events, not knowing in advance that these two different people related to the same company would be there. This is a somewhat trendy company doing interesting things in technology, and he works in technology, but also we're in NYC, where there are lots of companies doing interesting things in technology. When he told me this story, he wondered about the mathematics of coincidence. This morning, reading this book on the subway on my way to work, I turned the page from the humming wineglasses and got to the serendipity/coincidence section, which also specifically touches on the mathematics of coincidence.
I just picked up Textbook at the Library last night and am enthralled. When I got to the part where you talk about giving away your snowglobe ring I had a deep longing to see/have that ring, even though I am also trying to become less "attached" to possessions. I also pictured raising my hand to try to win the ring. And winning that ring. Then I finished reading the story....guess what, my birthday is April 29!!
My husband Anthony and I were on our honeymoon on the island of Capri in Italy in Sept 1993. We had hiked to the top of the island to another tiny town called Anacapri to have lunch one day. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I was enjoying the people watching as we strolled through town. It seemed like such a magical place and I felt very fortunate to be spending our honeymoon there. I asked my husband where he thought famous people, like Dustin Hoffman (first famous name that popped into my head) went on their vacations. We walked into a restaurant for lunch and the first thing I spotted behind the bar was an autographed photo of...Dustin Hoffman!
My husband and I were driving to Oregon. On a prior trip I'd enjoyed sending pictures and texts to my dad and stepmom. My dad had passed though and I missed him. Within a minute of me mentioning this, a little car pulled in front of us and its personalized license plate read, "Dad Jack." Yeah, my dad's name was Jack.
i was living in paris in 1985. i was walking around the city very late at night. i got turned around and lost. i was in an unfamiliar neighborhood. i felt unsafe and confused, but partly it was my overall life that felt lost and confused. i felt so alone. i saw a vending machine that looked very old. i felt compelled to put a franc in it. even as i did, i thought, this is a waste of money. this machine only has junk.
i received a tiny compass. it filled me with the sense that it was going to be all right. i carried that compass for decades afterward.
I wanted to tell you about a small but very cool moment that made us think of you the day of our wedding. But first a little background:
In Lauren's family they have a little tradition that involves looking for "Lucky Stones" when you're at the beach. These aren't just any stones. A Lucky Stone is a solid color with a single stripe around it of a different color. There can be no imperfections on the coloring or the stripe or it's not official. It sounds easy but it's rare to find one that meets the criteria. If you find one, you can NEVER put a glaze on it or a polish because it erases the good luck. You simply get it wet and give it a rub whenever you need a little good fortune.
That being said, I have never found a lucky rock in 7 years of looking....until 9/24/2016. Lauren & I were the last two to leave the beach after taking the last few photos. We were walking back and taking in the scene that had just occurred and I glanced down at the sand for a split second and saw a corner of the stone. I had no idea it was a Lucky Stone but felt compelled to pick it up and sure enough, it met all the criteria. We were both stunned at the timing of such a find and what a good sign it was for our marriage. The next thought that came to mind was that we HAVE to tell Amy!
Neither Lauren or myself are inclined to believe in coincidences and after hearing your story about Miles and the bracelet and witnessing this for ourselves we are even less inclined. Things like this serve as a reminder that we are all small and that there are forces, good forces, at work in the universe if you are open to them. We consider you one of those forces, thanks for helping to remind us to keep ourselves open.
Dylan & Lauren
My mother passed when I was 6 months pregnant with my son. Her name was Joyce. A beautiful older name that you don't hear regularly. After my son was born the baby nurse came in and said "congrats! I'm going to be your sons nurse...my name is Joyce." I busted in to tears and told her my story. Fast forward two years to the birth of my second son....we had the same nurse named Joyce:).
I just had the weirdest case ever, not sure if it's entirely in line with the "ethos" of this cite, but nonetheless...
Last night I had a dream where I was in a book-place (store? museum?). I was floating around in there, all dream like, when I bumped up against a girl who wanted to talk to me about Aleister Crowley. Like every bored 20-something New Yorker, lately I've had a bit of a flirtation with occultic literature (the cool stuff mostly, like Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson, Tim Leaory, ect.). Anyways, here in the dream there's a girl who's ready and willing to talk some Crowley, pretty much my number one fantasy scenario... and I walk away. Why? For the worst, most shameful reason imaginable: I'm not generally "attracted" to girls of her particular ethnic background. It's a horrible aspect of discrimination that more-or-less everyone struggles with but no one wants to give voice to. In pretty much every aspect of our lives and existence, we can make conscious efforts to overcome the prejudices that litter our society. We can work to overcome our instinctual gut reactions instilled in us by the media and generations of hate and stupidity. We can fight against those terrible thoughts that bubble up ("Oh, she must be a bad driver because..." or "better not pull my phone out while walking down this street..." and all the other internal B.S. that cycles through our monkey minds). However, one thing that we can't really change is who we're attracted to... right?
At least, that's what I told myself in the dream, but then outside the bookplace I was overcome by a terrible sense of dread, of a missed opportunity, and I wanted to run back in and tell the girl that I was sorry, that I'd love to talk about Crowley with her, but the dream began to fade away into abstraction, and then I was awake. I mourned. Then I forgot about it.
Several hours later, I swung by The Strand because I won a free copy of your book! Yay! I'd waited until the last minute to pick it up because I'm lazy and that's how life is. I couldn't bring myself to just walk up to the counter and say "hey, can you give me that free thing you emailed me about forever ago" and so instead I decided to see if I could find something cheap to buy alongside it. I putzed around, looking for pop-si books about Quantum Physics. I flirted with a copy of David Foster Wallace's "The History of (Infinity)" before realizing that I was too dumb to be even holding it. I wandered over to their mysticism section to see if they had something silly about Atlantis or the like. I noticed that they actually had a few Crowley books on the shelf. I pulled down "The Book of the Law" and fingered through it unseriously ($13.99 = no way). In my peripheral, I noticed a girl beginning to browse the same section, easing closer to where I was. Like a lot of shy dudes I have a chronic terror of being seen as a creeper, so I pretended not to notice her entirely, instead just placed the book back on the shelf and moved a space over to look at the books about aliens.
The girl, who I could now see was a cool gothy-punk type, actually went and, I swear to god this is true Amy, picked up The Book of Laws and began to scan it. I couldn't believe it was happening. This was it. This was my moment. I NEVER talk to strangers in public, other than to whisper apologies when squeezing past them. I hate that women have to walk through this world being constantly harassed by dudes with intentions when they're just trying to buy a goddam book. But this? This was supernatural. All I had to say was "Oh hey, you're into Crowley?" That's it, that all I had to do. I could even begin with an apology, "I'm sorry, I never do this, but.. are you into Crowley?" Just say it, man. This is where your life changes. This is wedding bells. All you have to do is say those words, right now, "Oh hey, you're into Crowley, huh?"
I didn't say it. Obviously. Why? For one reason alone: because I am a coward. The universe had brought this incredible moment to me, and I was going to slink away because I have no bravery. And so slink away I did, but not before one slithering, evil thought crept into my mind. "I don't even like [insert ethnicity] girls anyways."
I was in the next isle when I remembered. The dream. My god, the f**king dream! My dream had just come true! I felt euphoria at the sheer amazingness of the serendipity, followed by the worst gut wrenching self-hatred and agony. My dream had tried to warn me about the exact thing that had just happened. I'd just used my secret racist thoughts to justify walking away from what could have been the real, actual magic I've been chasing in all these dusty pages. Maybe it wasn't too late? Maybe I'd had the dream for this moment right here, so that I could turn back and fix it before it was too late?
It was too late. "Do you know that author?" My heart sank as I heard this question posed to her by an older gentlemen who'd been earnestly reading a tomb of spells a few shelves down from us.
"Oh, I've just been reading stuff about him lately," she replied. She explained to the old man that she'd been getting into "magic" lately, that she was from Seattle and they're big into that stuff up there.
I know that happens to be true. I moved here to NYC from Seattle two months ago.
I was crushed. That conversation could've been mine, should've been mine, but there was no winding back the clock. I arbitrarily grabbed a copy of Anton LeVay's "The Satanic Bible" (I have been meaning to read it...) and walked up the stairs to the check-out. I paid for it in a daze, received my FREE COPY OF TEXTBOOK AMY KROUSE ROSENHAL, which I knew nothing about, but did like the cover of! I slept made my way to Union Square, not knowing what to think or how to feel about anything? What does it all mean? With no one better to ask, I fished out the Satanic Bible and opened it to the chapter where the cashier had placed the complimentary The Strand bookmark: "The Black Mass". I read through it, hooked by LeVay's cheeky descriptions of the history of the "Satanism-for-fun-and-games" that were "de rigueur for royalty and lesser dilettantes" in Euopean social circles, such as the wicked parties of Madame Guyon, Catherine "LaVoisin" Deshayes, and, of course, "poseur par excellence" Aleister Crowley.
Amy, I don't know what any of this means. If I ask my materialistic rationalist minded friends they'd tell me it's a concoction of coincidence, delusion, corrupted memories, and self-fulfilling prophecies. I prefer to think, like you say in your book, that it was a minor miracle. A sad, sad miracle that simultaneously revealed to me that there's magic in this world and that there's also a darkness in myself. Anyways, I would've let this whole thing die with the day (who would ever believe me?), but then I picked up "Textbook" and now here we are. Thanks for giving me a space to write this all out. I have some serious reflecting to do. Congrats on the book!
While reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, I kept thinking about a woman that I worked with. I thought it was a book that captured her own sense of humor and style. I didn't know her particularly well and she was having some health issues, so I was nervous about approaching her. I finally messaged her on Facebook and told her about the book. Her reply was quick...she said that she had attended an event in Oak Park hosted by Elizabeth Berg and Amy Krouse Rosenthal was there selling her book...but...a person in front of her in line had purchased the very last copy! She thanked me for reminding her about the book and promptly put it on hold for herself at the library.
Oak Park, IL
As a child, my grandmother and I spent an afternoon making homemade toffee/candy apples. While waiting for them to set in the fridge, my aunt and uncle stopped by and brought with them toffee apples from the store for my brother and I. We had never made them before and my aunt had never bought us them before.
I bought Textbook on Monday afternoon based in a Goodreads recommendation from an avid reader friend. I finished it on Tuesday morning, despite the fact that I had bought it to take on vacation on Wednesday. I met up with two friends for a quick catch up on Tuesday night, and brought Textbook to give to my friend for an honest, literary snob review. (We generally share titles, but don't share the actual books.). She pulled Alain de Botton's book "How Proust Can Change Your Life" out of her purse, a book she had read years ago, and sent it home with me. Then last night on the plane as I was reading "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" I read that Botton's book influenced AKR, and though not a major miracle, I'm just enjoying the serendipity of it all, as well as all three books.
The day before my husband and I were getting married we gathered up our birth certificates and stopped by the bank on our way to get our marriage license - while waiting for my husband to finish the ATM transaction I glanced over our documents and noticed that in the bottom right hand corner of my certificate his last name was printed .... his unusual name was the the name of the paper company that printed my birth certificate.
Three separate times within 48 hours I came across the saying "Do you know what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
I have a feeling someone is trying to tell me something...for I feel this directly relates to my life right now. Time for some change!
Recently, I've been writing a book. One of the characters is a monarch butterfly. After writing this character, I saw more monarch butterflies than I ever have any other summer. It could be that writing about them has made me come to value and notice them more, whereas before I wasn't paying attention; however, it may also be that serendipity is creating more of them as burst of inspiration floating in front of me. Either way, when I see them I feel empowered and I more fully appreciate their existence.
It is September 16th, 2016 and at precisely 1:16 pm I turn the page of this book and land on page 216 that talks about September 16th.
My serendipity story is short and sweet. One night, I was talking to my boyfriend and he asked me what made you fall in love with me? My answer was, "Obviously your smile, the first one you gave me at work" He said, "I don't remember that day ?".. Few minutes later I found a conversation that we had the same day he made me laugh I showed him and the funny part was that he also fell in love at the same moment and it was also the same date as we started dating❤️. (Cheezy I know.. But I love it)
Caroline Fajardo R
Just a small serendipity moment from this morning: I had a doctor appointment, so I hurriedly downloaded this book before going in case I had a long wait. A good decision, since I waited almost an hour....I was enjoying reading this book while trying to tune out the tv show which was blaring right above me, which was The View. I had just finished reading the part about serendipity and the rhino letter and had moved onto the next section when I heard randomly on The View that a rhinoceros has foreplay for 30 days before mating. Apparently this was a segue to some type of discussion about sex, but I tuned out again after the rhinoceros bit. Normally I could go days, maybe even months!, without hearing anything at all about rhinos! :)
I really don't attach much importance to coincidences. But here is a two level one that happened recently. My daughter 's bf commented how my daughter had never seen GOONIES. Saturday, they were moving and I stopped at a Walgreen to buy a beverage. Low and Behold, they had a display of DVD's and on top was..... wait for it.... GOONIES. If that is not enough, the day this happened was the day I read about your love of coincidences and I scoffed. I feel my life is a lie now.
At least 14 years ago, my husband, toddler daughter, and I were enjoying an unexpected getaway courtesy of an incredibly generous friend. My husband's job had been very stressful and our friend though we could use a treat. She gave us a map and keys to her cottage in Michigan and sent us off with no idea what we would find. The beach cottage was amazing and perfect beyond our wildest dreams and is still one of my favorite places on the planet. But that's not the best part. Our second night there we went in search of places to eat. I took along the skinny local phone book so we would have the addresses of places to try (this was pre-smart phone days). We were on our way back to the cottage after dinner when I decided on a whim to look up our last name in the tiny phone book. No one with our last name was listed I looked up my maiden name...nothing interesting ....Then I looked up my mom's maiden name, just for fun. I came across a name that was familiar...the same name as an aunt I hadn't seen since I was still a teenager, nearly 20 years earlier. She was my mom's brother's wife but the marriage fell apart after the death of their only child. What were the chances???? Feeling silly, I nervously dialed the number and got a machine. I left a flustered message asking if this was the person I thought it might be and told who I was and left the phone number of the cottage. Sure enough, the next day, my long-lost aunt called. She lived about 15 minutes from where we were staying!! We met for lunch and I was able to reconnect with her and introduce her to my husband and our daughter. I will never stop being blown away by this chance encounter in the phone book of a tiny town which only came about because of the generosity of a loving friend. (We continued to visit the cottage and my aunt for years afterward.)
I have more than one story but I will start with this one. When I was a sophomore in college, I had dated several men but nothing ever seemed to work out. I had a close friend from my sorority who felt the same way. One Easter Mary Ann needed a place to go because her parents were not going to be home. Come home with me, I said. While we were there, we both complained to my parents about how there were no good guys out there for us. We were really down about it. Being Christian girls, on Easter Sunday we first went to a Catholic mass for Mary Ann and then to my Lutheran service with my family. We went back to college and were invited the very next weekend to a party at one of our other sorority sisters appartments. I saw a really cute guy standing alone and said hi even though I was sure he wouldn't want to talk to me. Well we just seemed to click. I didn't remember seeing Mary Ann at the party. A few weeks later it became apparent that she too had met someone. Seems she had met her fellow at that exact same party but by the time she arrived, I had already met Joe and ignored her. We both ended up marrying these guys and were in each other's weddings. Both couples are still married over 40 years later. Another weird thing is that my guy was Catholic. He later changed to Lutheran when we had our first child. And Mary Ann's Leon was Lutheran. Mary Ann converted when they married. I guess it pays to verbalized your needs because I know each of us was doing a lot of praying during those Easter services. And God obviously listened.
Karen Krueger Rybowicz
Des Plaines, Illinois
So my mom and I don't have a traditional mother-child relationship but we do have a lot of little "oddities" that connect us. One such thing is about the day I was born & involves the U2 song "I Still Haven't Found (What I'm Looking For". The video for the song was shot in April 9, my birthday & my mom was going to be in the video. Everytime I find myself missing her, that song pops up, no matter where I'm at: my car, restaurant, community center, the mall. My phone has 400+ songs on randomized shuffle but if I'm listening to that, it will still pop up. It's like a reminder to to text or call her. Sometimes I even record a bit or snag a pic of it & share with her.
Las Vegas, NV
I was watching a vlogbrothers video about Amy's first celebration for Encyclopedia at the Bean. I was frustrated because here I was, going to Chicago in a week, and I seemed to have missed everything exciting going on, including this (although it was ten years earlier). Then, John mentioned that she would release another book at the Bean on August 9th... the same day I was due to arrive. And I had not made any plans for that day. So essentially, I met the Serendipity Lady serendipitously. (Also, I was pleasantly wrong about Chicago's lack of excitement.)
It always seems that when I am struggling with something or thinking deeply about myself or my circumstances, my dad ends up texting me something sweet and encouraging about that exact topic. It's always a sweet surprise that makes that problem seem a little bit smaller.
I wish I could leave a picture: imagine cherry tomatoes nestled in a box, shades of red and orange. I love cherry tomatoes. I bought a small carton at the farmer's market on Friday and have snacked on them like candy. They don't last long. And then just now--my friend Carolyn rings my doorbell and presents me with some cherry tomatoes. "These were on the produce table at church, and I thought you'd like them." Yes, I would! They are exactly the same beautiful range of red to orange.
One day I was walking around an antiques mall near home. A thought flashed through my mind – What if I found something that had belonged to my family?!? – when I turned down the next aisle, I spotted a framed pastel of two kittens. It was the picture that had hung in my childhood room while we were growing up. It wasn’t a print or even similar, it WAS the pastel drawn by a friend of my mother. Another time I told my husband as we walked into another antique mall – I bet I can find a Bonzo figure in the next 5 minutes. Bonzo was a cartoon dog that was very popular during the 30’s and there were many small china and metal figures available on eBay but I had never found one while combing antique shops. But, that day I walked right up to a case and spotted the little dog sitting on the shelf. I have never found another.
I was flooded by thoughts of my friend, Page, who had lost her father a few months ago. I felt I had to reach out to her as I knew she was missing her father this summer as they had always spent so much of the summer together in Lewes and Capon. She responded to my email that she appreciated my note especially as the day I sent it was her father’s birthday.
I fell in love at first sight with my husband. I believe that people need to be open to love and at the right time in their life to commit to one another. Will and I met at a party when I was a senior in college and he had just finished 4 years in the Air Force. It was Dec 1971, we were both standing on the edge of the cliff of adulthood, we decided to grab each other and jump. We got engaged a month after we met and were married in Aug 1972. BUT, I first met my husband at the end of 8th grade at a party. He swears he doesn’t remember this incident. I remember slow dancing to “End of the World” by Skeeter Davis. It just took us 8 years to find each other again.
I met my current boyfriend at a party in high school. I always thought that was the first time we'd both been at the same party, but I was wrong. It turns out that we both attended a large halloween party earlier that year, and we were both dressed as referees. Funny that it took me a few more months to find partner.
Well, it didn't take me long to experience serendipity since reading this part of the book -- not even 36 hours. The backstory: last week while on vacation, my daughter and I were driving around upper Cape Cod enjoying a day of hunting down thrift shops, seeking cool vintage clothes. One of the shops we came upon helped support programs at the "Riverview School," a school about which I knew nothing. In their cafe adjacent to the store I read a small blurb about Riverview that described its mission as a private, residential, special education school. We enjoyed shopping and snacking there knowing we were supporting a worthy cause. Fast forward to the evening after reading submissions about serendipity. Tonight (back in our home community) I attended a showing of the film "Life, Animated," a recently-released, brilliant, poignant documentary about Owen Suskind, a young man living with autism, and his experiences with his family (and later, the outside world) learning to communicate through his passion of Disney animated films. And where was Owen filmed while attending school in the documentary? Why, Riverview School in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, of course!
It was my senior year, and I was praying that God would show me where He wanted me to go to school. But it was winter break. I was basically like, "Put a stamp of approval on one of these." Then my high school campus ministry had a retreat - but we'd only just met, so my hyper-protective parents wouldn't want to let me go. Except they did. I wasn't going to talk to the speaker, but the guy with the room info was sitting next to him at dinner - I wanted to prank the guys from my school. I wasn't going to say more than, "Hey, your sermon was cool." Then I talked to him for an hour about my dreams, my passions, missions, and my college-picking-predicament. He casually mentioned his church and the many great schools near it. Within a week I applied to them. Another 3 weeks and I was accepted. A few more and I was notified of my full-ride. Over a month before I heard back from my so-called dream schools, I was committed, and everyone thought I SHOULD be committed. I'm starting my second-year at this top 5 school I'd never heard of, working full-time with that church this summer, and I could not imagine being anywhere else.
Back when I worked at a radio station in the late 1990s, I met a woman in promotions named Stephanie Mangino. My name is also Stephanie and I told her, "Hey, I used to date a guy with your last name." It's an unusual surname, and as soon as I shared that with her, she immediately said, in her bubbly way, "Oh, wow. Just think, if you two got married you would Stephanie Mangino and so would I." "Ah, I don't think that'll happen," I said. Well, eventually, I did marry that guy I had dated in the past. And I am Stephanie Mangino, just like she predicted.
I had taken a one year teaching position to work with children with special needs. I had returned to teaching after taking time off to raise my family. I was certain I could help these marginalized students. The needs of this specific classroom of children along with a lack of qualified teaching assistants and administrative support would not allow me to provide the supports they needed. It caused me sleepless nights. I had committed to a one year position and the thought of resigning was ominous. I was also the one carrying the family on my insurance plan. My husband and I spent many nights talking it through. We could switch insurance carriers even though my husband was self employed and it would mean a financial hit. Still I felt like I was failing. I consulted my union representative. I went to my doctor. My blood pressure was skyrocketing. My husband and I spent many more nights talking it through. You have children at home that need you he reminded me. I went to therapy. I went to church. I prayed. I typed up my resignation, cited my health and emailed it in. I went for a calming walk on the beach. As I looked down a small blue rosary came in on a wave. Thanks for the message of approval I thought.
I wish I could attach a photo!
I read the book and was as mesmerized as everyone. Even though I am a constant reader I had to take a couple days before starting a new book just to let this one absorb and sink in. The passage that I kept (keep) showing to friends (and the one that blew my daughters mind because she didn't know you could do that in a book) was the one about music being the silence between the notes. The next book I pick up has the quote at the beginning "Music is the silence between the notes" and for reference the author (Liane Moriarty) attributes it to Claude Debussy. Cried and cried because Amy has shown me how close we all are and how connected we can all be. I want to always live in Amy's world of rainbows, green/blue and synchronicity.
My 18 year old daughter woke up mad at me, because she had a dream that I was pregnant. She said in her dream, her and her 16 year old brother were both very hurt, and felt that me having another baby meant I didn't love them the same anymore, and that me wanting another baby was my way of saying that. Let me assure you, 6 kids is more than enough, and at 44, I have NO plans for more children. Later that day, we came home from doing errands and went to get the mail. On the front porch was a delivery for me; a box of Enfamil baby formula from the baby company!! Ummm, what? Honestly, we are NOT planning to have anymore children!
My mother planned my wedding and selected October 11, 2008 as the date we would be wed.
Our friend Amy (yes relation) threw us an engagement party. She had a little slip of paper that read 10:11 and at that time made a little speech about how she hoped every day at 10:11 we would think about our marriage and love. We do not do this but we have held onto that slip of paper for some eight years no.
A few years ago we were househunting for our forever home. We weren't finding much we liked and we decided to expand our search a bit, price-wise. The first house we looked at was 1011 [STREET NAME]. I jokingly said we would probably end up living there because of the 1011.
We live there now.
My serendipity stories always involves Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
I have been writing emails to her every Thursday for many weeks.
One Thursday trying to find something interesting to say I googled her and watched her Ted talk on her first "gathering of lovely".
She told everyone that was coming "look for me I will be holding a yellow umbrella"
That same day I received a video from my daughter who video her 10 year old daughter outside in the rain on a gloomy day creating bridges with sticks and stones singing .... happy making a gloomy day into a sunny one.......
With her yellow umbrella by the side of the tree!
The Universal Numerical Date (UND) for 8/08/08 (20080808 is the proper mathematical representation) was 735597.
August 8, 2008 was the 735597th day from/including August 11th in 6 BC.
735597 factors "beautifully" as follows:
735597 = 47 prime X 47 prime X 333 (37 prime X 3 prime X 3 prime)
Using reduced gematria (1-9, 1-9, 1-8 = A-Z) 47 is the prime factor of the english word Truth (29328) = 47 prime X 624 (13 prime X 48)
333 is 23 "I (9) Am (14)" from Leo (356).
Weather permitting, if anyone would like to witness what is so special about August 11th all they have to do is get up early in the morning and head to Chicago's lakefront to witness the sun rising over the eastern horizon at exactly 5:55 am.
I've lived in Evanston for 40 years. This year I am planning on being on the campus of Loyola University right by the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue.
If you are there I'd be happy to share more of the math behind this incredible yet natural serendipitous event!
One of my hobbies is numbers, especially prime numbers. I've had a fascination for numbers and cycles since my days working in the financial markets in downtown Chicago.
This fascination led me to study the way numbers appear in history and in the lives of famous people and events throughout history.
Back in the Fall and Winter of 2000-2001 I was called to study the life, times and history of Dr. Martin Luther King as well as the history of the Bahai religion.
During that time the number 23 kept appearing. For example, 23 days are between the birth the two founders of the Bahai Faith - Baha'ulla on 11/12 (1817) and The Bab 10/20 (1819).
As for Dr. King I was amazed that he actually visited our hometown (Evanston, IL) on a speaking engagement during the early years of the Civil Rights movement. No hotel or motel in Evanston or Chicago would allow him to reserve a room at the time so he had to sleep on a cot in the back of Beth Emmet Synagogue here in Evanston where he spoke the next day 1/13/58 which was EXACTLY 23 days from the day I was born.
The culminating work of Dr. King's work to secure Civil Rights for blacks was the Memphis Sanitation Strike. On March 28th 1968 Dr. King led a march in Memphis in support of the Memphis Sanitation workers which was sabotaged by acts of violence. The following day on March 29th the entire city of Memphis resembled a war zone with tanks and armed military throughout downtown as the sanitation workers continued their strike in a procession thru the streets of downtown Memphis.
The key phrase that drove the spirit of this strike and march was "I AM A MAN." The striking sanitation workers all held up packards that displayed this phrase.
33 years later on March 28th 2001 I was called to visit a used bookstore in Evanston IL where I pulled this little book off the shelf by Helen Keller entitled "My Religion."
Inside that little book I learned about the life and works of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) who was one of the greatest mathematician-scientist-inventor-theologians in all of world history. Helen Keller's spiritual transformation began when her mentor started to expose and read to her the 28 spiritual-theological works of Swedenborg.
I read that little book that night and was so amazed that I was called to learn more about Swedenborg. I had never heard about this man. So I got online and visited the site of the Swedenborg Foundation where I learned how Emanuel Swedenborg's writings influenced the lives of Blake, Emerson, Thoreau, Kant, John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), even Abraham Lincoln and many of the early leaders of Chicago such as Daniel Burnham.
This really hit home for me since my Godfather is the grandson of Daniel Burnham and both sides of my family have roots in Chicago and Evanston.
When I called the Swedenborg Foundation I found myself speaking to a dear lady in their customer service department who recommended several books by Swedenborg beginning with Heaven And Hell and Divine Love and Wisdom. She also was called to put me in touch with this elderly man in upstate NY by the name of Dean Fagerstrom who was also a Swedenborgian. As it turned out Dean was a master in this ancient Divine Science of Numerical Correspondences which has deep connections to the writings and influence of Swedenborg. And as crazy as this may sound Swedenborg himself has even appeared or visited him on a few occasions.
For the next 2 1/2 years I became a student of the writings of Swedenborg as well as the writings and research of Dean Fagerstrom. His 1400+ page "The Book of Anglion" contains many amazing equations rooted in the prime number system that reveal and confirm that August 11th in 6 BC was the Divine Birth of Jesus Christ.
So what about the number 23?
Well I learned that 23 is a prime number that corresponds to "I (9) Am (14)" which was our Lord's original name and title given to Moses on Mt Sinai - "I Am...the Lord thy God..." Exodus 20:2.
I also learned that the year 2001 (When I learned all these things) = 23 prime X 87.
Dr. King spoke at Beth Emmet Synagogue here in Evanston on 1/13/58 which was 23 days prior to 2/5 the day I was born.
Baha'ulla and The Bab - the co-founders of the Bahai Faith - have birthday's that are separated by 23 days - 11/12 and 10/20.
The Memphis Sanitation Strike and marches - one of which Dr. King took part in on March 28, 1968 - featured striking black sanitation workers carrying placards that read "I AM...A MAN."
I (9) Am (14) = 23 prime
My father was 33 when I was born - which mirrors the 33 years between Dr. King's march in Memphis on 3/28/68 and 3/28/01 the date when I first discovered the works of Emanuel Swedenborg thru Helen Keller's little book "My Religion."
Back in 1996 my father passed away of a heart attack on 9/03 which was 23 "I (9) Am (14)" days from August 11th.
Exactly 101 days later on 12/13/96 my mother's mother passed away on the 19th anniversary of the passing of my wife's father in 1977 of a heart attack.
101 is a prime number and - as later learned - these two dates actually connect back to day ONE (1) of the 101st year of the birth's of Baha'ulla and The Bab - ie. the 100th anniversary of their birth's 11/12 (1817) and 10/20 (1819).
This is the same 101 prime cycle that connects all the way back to the Divine Birth of Jesus Christ on August 11th in 6 BC.
I later learned that my father's 23rd "I (9) Am (14)" birthday fell on the 23 day prime cycle that connects back to August 11th in 6 BC.
I know this may sound wacky and very strange but it really involves only 5th grade math, the prime number system and reduced gematria which is 1-9, 1-9, 1-8 = A-Z.
Years later I learned that a statue of Swedenborg which had been stolen from the lakefront in downtown Chicago had been restored.
As instructed I typed in a word in the Sifter (sort of like the Sorting Hat, I expected). "Hugs" I typed. But there was no story. Nothing serendipitous. Like a 404 error or a rainy day forecast that spent the day in occasional sunshine among clouds.
Someone should have a serendipitous experience with hugs.
One of you.
Amy inspires hugs.
We were driving to visit our boys at camp, and while I drove my husband was reading a Best of List. He said "Homers was voted best ice cream parlor in the north shore." I then looked at the car in the lane next to me..."Homers towing"!
I was in my favourite city in the world, Paris, at la Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen. I found some beautiful tops ( well for those long legged French demoiselles they would be mini dresses but for this hobbit they would be tunic tops). The fabrics were gorgeous, one combined two of my favourite things, the colour purple and Japanese designs. There was another one in bright pink and green, I looked at the price tag, 40 euros each. Having already spent a small fortune on salades chèvre chaud and rosé I was debating whether I could afford to buy one. Then as I was resisting the charming French man's suggestion to try them on, I noticed something was embroidered at the bottom. 'Pickles' it said. I smiled. Decision made. I bought them both.
Can't think of a single serendipity story from my long life (68), sad! So I'm also going with B—everything!
There was a billboard for the movie Aloha that had remained up at my corner for a year. This small phenomenon created quite a hubbub around the neighborhood—news blogs were written about it, a party was planned to celebrate its anniversary. Then, one Friday, just before the anniversary party, the Aloha billboard was taken down as mysteriously as it had remained up for so long. The day it came down, I walked over to my corner to pay my respects (took a selfie with the blank space/posted on the Facebook party invite, etc.). Then I went for a run. A mile down the road, I ran into a guy in a Spam shirt that said "Aloha." He had no idea.
When I was a boy, I used to stare at an old black-and-white photograph of my mother's, of a beautiful woman with big hoop earrings, a long-lost friend of hers called Molly. All my life I loved that name, and always told myself if I ever have a daughter I will call her Molly. A decade ago, on a first date with a woman I'd met in a bar, I was able to guess her middle name (Anne). Later, we started talking about babies. "If I ever have a little girl," she said, "I'll call her Molly." We dated for five years, and shortly before we broke up she got pregnant, quite by accident and out of the blue. I'll be picking Molly up from her mother's house this weekend. She's seven.
I wrote a review of your book on my blog and mentioned that I discovered
you through your "15 Megabytes of Fame" column on the Center for the
Easily Amused at amused.com. The second person to comment on my review
was Cathie Walker, the creator of the Center for the Easily Amused web
site. She'd been following my blog for over 7 years, and I had no idea.
Was just raving about your Textbook AKR to a work friend... reading
passages, catching his interest. I read the piñata bit and we talked about
how awesome that would be.
Five minutes later he was packing up for the day and as he closed up his
web browser he said - alright Sarah, here's a quote for you from my google+
feed - "Life would be infinitely better if piñatas suddenly appeared
throughout the day."
So then of course I got to reference the Serendipity section - and here I
I have had serendipity situations but the last one I can think of involved Amy. I came home from the library with my 4 boys while they ran off to play I checked my emails. I saw a tweet for the Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal and applied, while replying to the questions, I looked over at our library books and there was Friendshape.
My mother passed away in August, 1986. My father passed away in July, 1996. On the day my father died, I told my siblings that I thought it was the same day in the Hebrew calendar even though I didn't really know. A few years after that I consulted a rabbi, who told me that indeed I was correct. In addition, the Hebrew date they died was considered the Jewish "Sadie Hawkins Day", Tu B'Av, a day in ancient Israel where women would go out and get their husbands. The day that lovers find each other. I am immensely comforted by this. (I also feel the presence of my very practical mother, who ensured that we didn't have to remember two dates).
Browsing in a used book store I found a book of photos taken by the photographer Nathan Lerner. I really liked his photos - primarily street photography - though I never had heard of him. The paperbound book appeared to have been a catalog of a photo show he'd had at the Chicago Cultural Center. The price was far beyond the usual bargain prices I found at Open Books and I said that to the cashier. Yes, I can take $10 off she said, and although it still seemed expensive I purchased it. About ten days later I participated in an open studio day in my city (Evanston), welcoming people to come in and see my photography hanging on the walls. A man and his wife were looking at one of my photos and he said to her, "This reminds me of Nathan Lerner's work." I asked him what he could tell me about Nathan Lerner and he replied that Nathan had been one of his best friends.
That's my recent serendipity. As I write it now, I wonder what serendipity might be an outgrowth of my sharing this tale.
My first experience in a hospital delivery room was with my own daughter in Chicago at Northwestern. The doctors, nurses, and staff members made us feel safe and well-cared-for during my delivery of our first child. My second experience in a hospital delivery room came a little over a year later in Frisco, TX, where my sister was giving birth to her first daughter. One of the nurses helping with the delivery of my niece asked, over her shoulder, where we lived. After answering that we are recent Frisco transplants from Chicago, she turned around to face us, where we all recognized one another as she had helped bring my own daughter into the world the previous year at Northwestern, over 800 miles away.
I had moved three hours away from my mom, who was my best friend. Each good-bye involved a tight hug and an "I love you." But on one occasion, after she told me she loved me, I told her I loved her more. As any parent would do, she said there was no way. There was something in her voice, a firmness, that made me concede the playful argument. I did not have kids at the time, so I didn't know motherly love from this side yet; I just assumed we loved each other equally. I held this moment dear to my heart and never had a reason to share it with anyone.
A few years later, she passed away suddenly from a heart attack.
For my most recent birthday, my grandmother gave me a braided leather bracelet with a charm attached. Inscribed on the heart were the words, "I love you more."
My moment of serendipity actually happened with Amy! I was attending a math conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts a couple of summers ago. Amy was a speaker at the conference. In her presentation to us she said she would unveil her newest book. The unveiling almost knocked me out of my seat. Uni the Unicorn?! No way! I couldn't believe that this was the name of her book! You see, at that time, my daughter, Payton, had an imaginary friend; A UNICORN SHE CALLED UNI! Payton's UNI was a unicorn who ate corn and had a best friend who was a dragon named watermelon and only eat.....WATERMELON, of course! I have a copy of the book, signed to Payton that I am keeping sacred until she has her own little believer in magic!
My story is about the number 23. Well, not really about the number but what it involves. Here is the story:
My mother passed away on May 23, 2016. I soon thought, "That's a nice date to die, since she was born on July 23." Then I remembered my best friend died 4 months to the day earlier on January 23. My mother was 23 years old when I was born. I feel that the number 23 was significant to my mother because earlier this year I was testing her memory (she had Alzheimer's ) and I asked her, "Do you remember when your birthday is?" She paused a moment and said with such excitement, "23!"
The other day I was really tired and in a bad mood and driving in traffic with a lot of construction. The driver in front of me was going about 1/2 the speed limit and I was pounding on the steering wheel until I noticed the license plate, "Luke: 23. " Ha ha, I laughed and said, "Ok, mom, thanks. "
Today while reading Amy KR's new book, my favorite thing so far was the recording of the wineglasses which made me laugh so hard.
It is on page 23.
When I was 17 years old, I lost my best friend. She was taken. One minute she was here - the next she was missing, and eventually, it was ruled she was likely gone in the most permanent sense. Losing her was an utterly demolishing experience. There were the tragic circumstances surrounding her disappearance to contend with, but privately - selfishly...I mourned the loss of laughter, questionable choices and whimsy from my world. I was without my favorite accomplice.
The summer before she disappeared, we attempted to go camping over Memorial weekend at a lake in northland Kansas City. Every ridiculous, half-planned teen-age scheme played out to hilarious results. Ten years later I returned to that lakeside campground with a new friend for another funny, but failed campout. We couldn't set the tent up properly, and ended up driving back into town to hit a fast food stop in lieu of braving campfire cuisine. While sitting in a folding chair, dousing myself with mosquito repellent, it hit me. It had been ten years since I had last tried this.
I felt the sadness creep in, but was able to hold it back because I caught sight of a spectacularly fluffy dog leaping around at the end of a leash one campsite over. I can't resist fluff. Spotting a creature I could potentially pet is the Scarlett O'Hara - "I'll think about that tomorrow," equivalent for me. Distraction = accomplished. I walked over to see if I could indeed pet the dog, and the woman who stood to greet me was none other than the mother of my lost friend. I had not seen this woman in years. I had just been thinking of her daughter moments prior. We fell into an easy hug, and shared stories, and it was like my friend was sitting there with us. Neither of us frequented this area, or even lived close by. This was pure serendipity - pure coincidence; so much so, I could almost believe in anything.
Thanks for letting me share.
I loved Textbook AKR, and gave it a favorable review for Booklist. Thanks for such a marvelous book as well.
When I was 37 I found out I was having a baby (big surprise). I had no idea what to do. It seemed to me this baby needed safe transportation. I bought a brand new armored tank, a 1995 Volvo station wagon. Then, I began to fret about genetics. I was adopted and had no information about my biological people. I hired someone to track down the information. She called me at work one day - she told me that my birthmother had named me- then she told me the name. My new license plate were my original name's initials. And then, I discovered an intern at my workplace was from the same town as my birthmother. I casually asked her if she knew "Mrs. So&so" - she squealed with delight! "She was my favorite teacher in high school! I have her picture on my desk!"—and there she was —in a photo—my face in hers!
Years ago, I was visiting San Francisco from my home in San Diego when I ran into my old friend Mason on the street. We'd been friends years prior in Boston, where he still lived, and hadn't been in touch in ages. So, we bump into each other in the midst of a major city where neither of us lives, and he says to me, "Did you get the email I sent yesterday?" After years without contact, he'd emailed me out of the blue the day before! I had not yet seen it.
San Francisco, CA
The other day, I asked my mom for a suggestion of a TED talk she thought I would enjoy. At the beginning of the talk, the spoken word poet talked about the value in writing things you know to be true. The last thing on her list of things that *she* knows to be true was “*I know* I’ve been waiting all week to tell this joke.” She asked, “Why was the scarecrow invited to Ted?" She answered herself, "because he was outstanding in his field.”
Once I was done watching the talk (which I loved, she was right), I checked my email, like I regularly do. There was an email from Student Council, the one that comes out weekly to update the student body on what’s been happening in student government. It always starts off with a joke to grab people’s attention and to get them to actually read the rest of the email. The first two lines of the email read: “Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field.”
One of my good friends is a former opera singer who I met ten years ago when I volunteered to be a supernumerary at the Dallas Opera (fancy for a background stage extra who gets to wear pretty dresses and wigs and mildly react to very loud singing). Very soon after I moved to NYC...and so did he! Very soon after he was in a crummy relationship, and so was I!
Strangely, our personal lives often mirrored each other. Long distance relationship? Check! Searching for a new job? Check! Struggling to find a new apartment? Check! We often bonded over these shared experiences.
Then we both embarked on relationships that were the stark opposite. He was miserable with her, and by all means, was "settling." I, however, was head over heels with my beau, and I often wrung my hands at night wondering if my relationship would start to take on some of the worse qualities that my friend's relationship had.
Thankfully, it didn't. I'd like to think that's when the similarities began to diverge, because a month ago, he bought a large boat with his girlfriend and took off for Florida for good. I can't help but wonder if I'm due a crazy purchase or impulsive move too...
Two weeks after I moved to New York City, I landed the job I'd been dreaming of. I couldn't believe my good luck and went out to celebrate over happy hour drinks with some friends already in the industry. On my way out of the bar, I ran in to a girl I went to college with and who served on the e-board of the UF College Democrats with me. I knew she was in the city, but we hadn't had any contact in a few years, and I had no idea where she was living or working in the city. As it turns out, that was her LAST night in NYC before moving to Washington, D.C.
I am in Florida on a business trip of sorts. I have a free afternoon, so of course I go for a walk on the beach and think about my complicated love life. I see a pack of high schoolers holding a sign that says "Prom?" so I obviously sit the heck down to observe. A high school girl who is clearly the recipient of this gesture walks onto the beach, sees the sign, and gasps. As in... hands on the side of her face, Home Alone style. I am very amused/jaded/judgmental. Then TWIST she runs into the arms of another young woman and they smooch and everyone cheers! This made me cry a little bit and feel hopeful about love. I can't believe I walked by at that exact moment.
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