Retrospect Post Number 241 by
(241 Stories)

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Always ready to try something new

I’m a relative newbie to Retrospect as well as a bit of an outlier. Although I grew up not far from John, Patti, and Betsy, I didn’t go to Harvard and am a few years older than the core group. In the summer of 2018, John Zussman reached out to me, asking if I would be willing to post a story I wrote for Midcentury Modern called Lines of Communication under the Retrospect prompt “Social Network.” I was happy to come on board and published stories on a prompt that came before that one, “1968,” as well as a second story on “Social Network.” I was hooked and loved the challenge of writing guided by a new prompt every week.

Lines of communication 1980s style

As we all take a well-deserved break for the month of January to reflect on the future of Retrospect, thanks to all who read and commented as I responded every week to the question, “What’s Your Story?”

In retrospect, I had already enjoyed the experience of creating a story based on a prompt. In my first blogging adventure at the now-closed ChicagoNow, they had a version of this in which we were given a topic and one hour in which to publish a completed post. Unfortunately, the hour fell in the evening and I am definitely a morning person. I have always done my best writing at the crack of dawn. Perhaps this dates back to my habit of getting up at 5:00 AM to work on my master’s degree when my children were young. I love the quiet and solitude of that time to this day. But I did participate in the prompt challenges occasionally.

My initial Retro posts were sometimes recycled from ChicagoNow, Huffington Post, and MidCentury Modern/Medium, which John thought was fine. As time passed, HuffPo changed its format and Midcentury Modern changed its focus. I was already writing less about education, as I was further away from my passion, both professionally and personally. I was truly ready to think back and share forward. When John stepped down and Suzy took the helm of Retrospect, she did so with the understanding that she would have writers volunteer to help her. I was proud to join Marian and later Barbara in that effort. In addition to divvying up some of the responsibilities, we met via zoom to agree on prompts.

COVID Retro planning zoom

Choosing my favorite stories that I have written thus far is really difficult. Everything I shared with Retro readers reflected a different aspect of who I am. But after much thinking back and going through my stories, here are my Top Ten (in no particular order):

  1. Middle School — All the Single Ladies
  2. An Unforgettable Person — There Are Far Worse Things to Steal Than a Book
  3. Bullying — Grandma and the Mean Girl Dolls
  4. Charity — The Sharing Tree
  5. Finding Your Tribe — A Lifetime of Tribes
  6. Final Farewell — Good Funerals
  7. Inequality — Racial Awakening
  8. Cliques and Clubs — The Club No One Expects to Join
  9. Favorite Fairy Tale — A Sucker for Cinderella
  10. Changed My Life — I Quit My Job and My Life Changed 

I also found it comforting to share pandemic stories with a writing community that understood my point of view as a woman of a certain age. What makes Retrospect so special for me is the sense of community. It became a perfect virtual experience in an era in which so many in-person opportunities had been stolen by COVID-19. Even though the only Retro writer I met in person was Marian when we went to CA for a wedding in August, 2019, I feel like I know so many of you through your stories.

Meeting Marian in person

As we all take a well-deserved break for the month of January to reflect on the future of Retrospect, thanks to all who read and commented as I responded every week to the question, “What’s Your Story?”

I probably wrote about this song on my 50th anniversary t-shirt

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    We have loved learning about you, your passion for early education, followed you through your move from your home to your condo and yes, knowing that you grew up close to me in Greater Detroit was a kick too (and we even had the same pediatrician!). I agree, it was very important to have this wonderful community throughout the pandemic; in many ways, it saved our sanity, so thanks to you and all the other administrators for that, Laurie!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    Thanks for your backstory, Laurie, which I wasn’t fully aware of; it is fascinating, and reminded me that you’re a “pro” writer, unlike those pure amateurs among us. And I loved your pictures.

    You may be a “newbie,” but I can’t help but note — it’s my competitive side — that your 241 stories puts my 197 to shame. (Like Trump in Georgia, I’m tempted to plead, “Just find me 45 more stories!”) And you are much braver than I in daring to do a Top Ten list of your stories. I plan to re-read them shortly, but I have truly loved all your stories. And, to steal shamelessly from my own story title this week, thanks for the memories!

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Thanks for joining the team—I am still learning about who are the wizards behind the Retrospect curtain through this prompt. I have so appreciated your warmth and humanity that comes through in your stories. Don’t stop writing.

  4. Suzy says:

    Laurie, you were the experienced blogger among us, and it shows in all your stories – I have always thought every one of them was worthy of publishing in any major newspaper or magazine. You write with warmth, and always have a clear message. You remind me of my favorite columnist Connie Shultz.

    I also have enjoyed getting to know you better through sharing Retro administrative duties. So glad John Z. suggested asking you to be an admin, and so glad that you said yes! I love the picture of you and Mare together, and was frustrated that the one time you came to CA, I was in New York!

    Finally, must ask what is that “something new” in front of you in the featured image? Presumably something to eat, but I can’t figure it out.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Suzy, thanks for the amazing complement. I used to fantasize that someone would discover me when I started blogging, but Retrospect has shown me that what really matters is discovering one another and sharing our experiences. I have really enjoyed our virtual time together as well as reading your stories with their clever musical tie-ins. The something new is, of course, an amazing dessert that was set on fire at the table. I think we ordered in a restaurant from our trip to Carmel for the wedding when I also met Mare. It was really ice cream with a chocolate coating that tasted like hot fudge when heated. Of course, I had to try it. Looking forward to our next zoom, no matter what direction we decide to go.

  5. Thanx Laurie for articulating what so many of us feel about this wonderful community of Retro writers. Through our stories we’ve come to know each other, and hopefully more of us will meet face to face. And whatever the fate of Retro, I hope we all keep writing and we all keep in touch.

    Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2023!

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    It’s been a fun couple of years learning about you all! I hope we find a way to continue this ride.

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