If you’re reading this…

If you’re reading this, then you follow my blog Random Acts of Writing — either by email, or from Facebook, or within the blogging community at WordPress.

According to WordPress there are about 1,500 of you who might, at any moment, read something I’ve written or see something I’ve seen. How cool is that?

Of course, some of us remember the old days of WordPress, when we seemed a little more connected than we do now. But that was before the shorthand days of Facebook, the cryptic moments of Twitter, and the no-words-necessary glances at Instagram and Tik-Tok.

We weren’t memes back then, we were writers and poets, philosophers and considerers, photographers and artists, sharing ourselves with the world. And the world shared back. Not just with a thumbs-up or heart emojis, but with questions and conversations. Some so real, we’d find ways to meet in person to keep talking. Imagine!

One of my dearest friends today is someone I met right here, in the comment field of this very blog. Seriously! Here we are, seven years ago, meeting in-person for the first time. >>>

Some of you have been following Random Acts of Writing from its very beginning — 10 years ago this month! Some of you have joined us along the way, and some of you are brand new to this hodge-podge of writing, photography, art, and musings I call my blog.

No matter your history here, I’d like to say Welcome and Thank You and Please Keep in Touch. Because if you’re reading this, you’re curious and inquisitive and maybe of like mind to start a cool and lasting conversation. I’d like that.

First Love

It’s the first love I resent so much I can’t look back,

can’t muster enough for even a retrospective love poem —

the glare of that reflection is blinding, still, and perhaps for the best.

She so young and hopeful and revoltingly naive.

He so wrongly fit one wonders why no one said anything those first long years,

put a stop to the nonsense before

that first virginal kiss, that awkward stumble into love,

that goddamn Brides magazine under the mattress after the glittering rooftop proposal.

What were any of us thinking?

It was no more a match made in heaven than my parents

who would suffer like good Catholics for only a few more years themselves.

Thank god he went to war, ate a dog, voted for George Bush —

I might no longer recognize myself.

Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. Image: Lovers by House, Jeffrey Smart

Light Years from Lilac Sunday

this is it, Memory

that day when lilacs bloom

and I think of him…………of us

our trespass in the arbor

boughs so heavy with starlight

we felt drunk…………or were we

when those first expected kisses

found places in the sky and he named them

like he named the flowers and trees

his fingers marked the heavens

the branch the blossom

the small of my back so

still now a trace remains

forever notes

the day when lilacs bloom

and we made you, Memory

light years from now,

never love…………never nothing

just a sweet, sweet something in between

solace for heartaches never dreamed.

POEM ©2019, Jen Payne. For CG. Image: Lovers among Lilacs, Marc Chagall.For more poetry by Jen Payne, purchase a copy of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind! BUY THE BOOK TODAY!

Christmas: We’re All A Little Mad Here

Yesterday, while making my way in six lanes of holiday traffic through what locals affectionately call The Pretzel, I was blessed to catch a snippet of David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries.”

Santaland is beautiful. It really is. It’s a wonderland with 10,000 twinkling lights and diversions. People enter and walk through a maze, which affords views of mechanical dancing penguins, train sets, spinning bears, and really big candy canes. They walk through a quarter mile of maize and wind up at the magic tree, at which point they brace themselves for Santa.

Above the din of holiday horns-a-beeping, I was delighted to hear this classic Sedaris piece that tells the story of his time working as an elf at Macy’s during Christmas.

Partnered with Sedaris’ take on the holidays was David Rakoff’s essay “Christmas Freud,” about the time he portrayed Sigmund Freud in a department store Christmas window.

In the window, I fantasize about starting an entire Christmas Freud movement. Christmas Freuds everywhere, providing grown-ups and children alike with the greatest gift of all, insight. In department stores across America, people leave display window couches snifflingly and meaningfully whispering, thank you, Christmas Freud, shaking his hand fervently, their holiday angst, if not dispelled, at least brought into starker relief.

So, yes, yes, that was me – driving next to you laughing so much and so hard you probably thought I’d gone mad. But we’re all mad here, aren’t we? Especially this time of year!

Both of these gems were first broadcast in 1996 on NPR’s This American Life. The episode “Christmas and Commerce” featured four acts: “Toys R Us” by Ira Glass, “Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris, “Christmas Freud” by David Rakoff, and “Act Four” by John Connors.

Do yourself a BIG favor and…

Click here to listen to the complete broadcast or
Click here to listen to individual chapters

You’re welcome.  xoxo

Waiting out the Storm in Room 221

The lights are dim

and the WIFI’s not working

— not worrying—

I came to get away, after all.


From the vantage point of the couch,

I can attest that the wind is blowing:

the west weather vane points north,

but the eastern one can’t make up its mind.


As suggested, in case of emergency,

there’s water in the bathtub

hot and bubbly,

with a new book right nearby.


Forget the milk and bread —

the rationed supplies of

coffee, pastry, pâté and wine

offer comfort enough.


They’d warned of this,

offered alternative dates;

I just brought candles

and my yoga mat.


So the building rocks,

the waves roll,

and I watch from my lookout,

second floor with a view—


like they said,

the porch makes all the difference.




The Great American Read

Check out the list of America’s 100 most-loved books brought to you by The Great American Read, an eight-part PBS series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey).

Click here for more information.
Click here to download a printable list.

Do you have a favorite from this list? How many have you read? Write your comments in the commend field below!

A Way with Words…

By Pam Johnson, Senior Staff Writer, Shore Publishing

No doubt about it, Jen Payne has a way with words. From her place among invitation-only Guilford Poets Guild to her newest book, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, the shoreline author and artist brings together words and images to champion the natural world and remind us of what she terms “our divine and innate connection with nature.” The book also provides telling social commentary and photos showing “evidence,” warning of a growing disregard for nature’s gifts and for each other. (Read More)