Before I dive into
Where luck took me…
Let’s welcome our new Subscribers & Contributors!
An essay I wrote about TPYL was published yesterday on Brevity Blog for a community of writers, readers, and lovers of “concise literary nonfiction.”
Thank you for taking the time to check things out here.
New subscribers have contributed to past themes, and their stories will be included in this Friday’s Round-Up with links to their Comments.
Feel free to go through the Archives to Read & Post at any time.
Every new Post is included in the Round-Up.
If you Post, take a moment to read the other Contributors for that Episode & click the Heart to let them know they’ve been read.
Don’t be shy. Those writers will come back to read your new Post!
Back to Luck.
I work freelance in advertising, and I’ve read over 2,000 campaign briefs of everything being sold to us in the past 15-years.
The result of this training is a healthy dose of skepticism. I always “smell the sell” behind expert claims, snappy slogans that sound like headlines, and memes.
So, if I’m out with friends, and it’s getting late, OR if my partner has just run 68km and needs to eat familiar food to keep it down,
Pizza Near Me is my go-to.
When I Google, PIZZA NEAR ME, the first listing is not where I stop my search. I know algorithms favor businesses that plant keywords in their sites, images can be manipulated, and reviews are deceptive.
Remember, I work in advertising.
I don’t consider myself lucky when I find excellent Pizza Near Me, which I always do. My relationship to high-quality pizza was established years before
The Internet, Google Maps, and their inflated rankings.
Thanks for reading That Place You Love! Subscribe for free & gimme some truth.
Eleven years into il Duce’s reign of National Fascism, a baby named Alfonso was born to his parents out of wedlock. This was bad luck for the baby. Even though his parents would soon marry, he was considered a bastard and raised away from his future siblings.
Alfonso later sold instruments during WWII and at some point emigrated with his wife to the United States. He excelled in math, astronomy, and physics and became a professor at the University of Maryland. He also worked for the Navy.
Some years later, his oldest son committed suicide. His wife, who suffered from bipolar disorder, tried to blow up his car. His daughter stopped talking to him.
If Alfonso’s luck were one of Maxwell’s equations, heartbreak would be the law.
Alfonso met my mom at a New Years Eve party in Baltimore, 1987.
When the guests were invited to share their wishes for the new year, the recently divorced Alfonso said, “I’m just looking for someone to love.”
My mom said, “Why not try me.”
Alfonso was my stepfather from the time I was sixteen to when everything fell apart five years later. In those five years, however, he introduced me to a world I had no idea existed.
Aside from being a physicist, Alfonso was a published poet, cookbook author, and chef. Larousse Gastronomique, the 1,100-page encyclopedia of gastronomy, sat on a stand in our living room.
For a single mom and daughter who rarely discussed what to eat for dinner or when to eat it, we suddenly had a proper meal… an exquisite meal.
Alfonso encouraged - praised - the way I devoured his paper thin veal piccata and spaghetti carbonara.
“Misha,” he’d say in his thick accent, “You are eating so well.”
Alfonso would not eat the food he painstakingly prepared for us.
“No, it is too good for me.”
He would say, drinking his wine.
Alfonso was so accustomed to bad luck he undermined any good luck that came his way. Perhaps, it was his way to control the tragedies that often found him.
Traveling through Italy with Alfonso and my mother, I noticed he would eat if the food was prepared simply.
The chef would come to our table before we ordered to speak with Alfonso. While my mother and I ate risotto with tiny fish tongues and lightly fried zucchini flowers with ricotta, Alfonso would be served Pizza Margherita, his favorite, with the perfect amount of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil on a thin crust.
This was Neapolitan pizza. And Alfonso… was Neapolitan.
So is it luck when I suss out the best PIZZA NEAR ME?
YOUR TURN: Where does LUCK take you? When we take qualifying words like Bad, Good, Beginner’s, Dumb, and Blind out of the equation, we’re left with Luck on its own.
Does something need to be completed for it to count as luck? What if luck is only part of a longer process? What about odds? Does something need to be repeated to prove it’s not about luck?
There’s no wrong answer here.
Share your story in 150 - 200 words
POST IT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
Click the HEART when you read a post so the writer knows to come back and read yours.
Heart = Heard.
Don’t comment on my or other people’s stories.
For more about the rules & intention of this Zine, check the About page.
Want to publish in TPYL Zines’s Anthology series?
The Zine will live on its own website (URL) separate from Substack. There are no submission or reading fees. The only prerequisite is active participation (4 post minimum) in the TPYL Substack community in the 4-month period before the publication month (January, May, September).
The first edition with artwork will launch some time in May 2023.
More info in the Forum!
Last year, after Keith took me out to lunch for Mother’s Day, we stopped to pick up groceries. While piling our purchases into the back of our car, we saw a female mallard with a dozen ducklings, crossing the parking lot. The mama duck seemed purposeful and distracted, her chicks wandering and scurrying after her. I prayed she was a lucky duck, as I was the evening my grade-school-age son went missing. The sun was setting when I stepped into our backyard and called into the woods behind our house, “David, time to come home.” No answer. “Da….vid!” No answer. I walked across the street and knocked on the neighbor's door. “Have you seen David?” “Last we saw he was down in the woods,” the brothers said. I ran along the edge of the woods and raced up and down our street calling, “Da…vid, Da…vid.” No answer. I grabbed the phone and called every friend of his I could imagine. No David. I paced the kitchen floor and looked out the front and back windows while praying 'beggy' prayers. "Please, God, please. I’ll do anything if you bring him home safe." Visions of headlines: "Boy Found Dead, Mother was Distracted." I was ready to call the police when I heard the door to the garage open. David strolled into the kitchen. “Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” “Where in the world were you? It’s been dark for over an hour.” “I was playing at Sarah’s house.” “Sarah? You never play with Sarah. I’ve been calling you. Didn’t you hear me? I almost called the police.” “Oh, Mom. There wasn’t anything to worry about. I knew where I was.” His luck looks don't kill. David turns forty this year. Yesterday, he texted me, "Happy Mother's Day." For all his wandering, I know I am a lucky duck.
My wallet went missing while I shopped at the Farmer’s Market.
I searched, backtracking. It was gone.
I searched trash bins.
It wasn’t there.
I widened my search beyond the market,
getting back on my bicycle, looking in the trash all through downtown.
I called the Market. I called the police. No one had it.
I rode home, called the bank, the credit card companies.
I rode my bike downtown again. I searched where I’d searched earlier.
It wasn’t there. Nobody had seen it.
I searched the trash bins. It wasn’t there.
I rode home again.
It was gone.
The sadness of acceptance, the bitterness of loss flooded me.
I thought the universe can do whatever it wants.
It can bring my wallet back to me, if it wants.
It’s up to the cosmos to do whatever.
I let go, and gave it up.
Days later, there was a knock on my door.
I opened it, it was my ex. He had something.
“Here,” he said. He handed me my wallet. My mouth fell open.
He said, “Someone put it in your mailbox.
Everything seems to be there except the cash.”
Yes, that was true.
It was all there.