In Memoriam: Shann Palmer

Shann Palmer

Shann Palmer

Dear Friends and Family of Shann,

I first came to know Shann Palmer via Twitter. Over the years, I’ve heard people say Twitter is a dumb platform and claim it’s silly to “mention what you had for lunch” on the internet. Those of us who used Twitter realized there was more to it than sharing our daily meals.

If you used Twitter right, you could create or find a community.

Several years ago, in a chilly October, I started the Twitter Poet Party. We held it every Sunday. Shann often attended these online events, and she also missed a lot since “Dexter” came on TV at the same time. Those of us attending these online events never seemed to tire of the “who brought the wine?” or “I brought cookies” jokes when we knew it was likely we’d never meet in person.

At some point, Shann invited me down to Richmond, VA to read at the Museum of Fine Arts. Her reading series blew all of my expectations away. I entered a modern stone and glass structure and was to give a reading in the lobby. I was warmly welcomed into the community of artists and poets who attended the reading.

“Need wine?” Shann asked me.

Shann had brought wine with her, and we drank a glass with John Hoppenthaler (my fellow reader that night).

John had met her at a conference. I had met her via Twitter. I began to get the sense that Shann was a person who made friends everywhere and kept them with her funny jokes and warm smile.

Shann— We’ll miss you.

Dear Tina Fey…

Dear Tina Fey,

We have much in common. Recently, I discussed our commonalities in a Facebook update.

We have, for instance, brown hair.

And children.

We’ve survived the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We fall asleep when our husbands drive. Except I wake up when he swerves to miss roadkill.

You and I? We have not had plastic surgery (yet).

Like you, I’ve taken Benadryl to remain breathing at the home of my in-laws, who have a cat. For years, after taking Benadryl, I often responded to their queries with: “Qwtyruuuu uuuhhhhhhhhh dddddddddagh.” And then I’d fall face first into my Michigan apple cobbler. I think it was years before they knew I could speak English.

Although I never made it happen, I dreamed of meeting relatives at mid-way points so we’d not have to drag an impatient, screaming baby across the country. Eventually, I decided to look at these travel moments as an opportunity for deep personal growth. I let my husband drive while I drank bourbon.

On another note, I too have survived the Western middle-to-upper-class woman’s diatribe on how and why I should breastfeed all day and night.

I love this quote from your book:

“Women who not only brag about how much their 5 year old still loves breast milk, but they also grill you about your choices…let me be clear, millions of women around the world nurse their children beautifully for years without giving anybody else a hard time about it. The Teat Nazis are a solely western upper-middle-class phenomenon occurring when highly ambitious women experience deprivation from outside modes of achievement.”

Have I mentioned I may love you a little?

On a more positive note, I have learned many things from your new book. For instance, who knew men working in television urinate into jars? I thought only male novelists did this.

I figure you are like the rest of us despite your fame. You get up every day and put your pants on one leg at a time—and then you Google yourself. It’s these kinds of actions that bring humanity together.

I hope it’s nice to know at least three of us read your book (more than you said would)— and maybe four if you count your mom, who sounds very nice by the way. My mom will only read your book if you are a poet selected to read at a presidential inauguration. (Sorry.) I think about five people read my book of poetry (available on Amazon—cough, cough).


Deborah Ager, your new “BFF” in a totally non-threatening non-stalker way

PS: I think our Dads would like hanging out.