Vote for Your Favorite in Our First Ever Simply Stated Blogger Contest

Thank you to everyone who entered our first-ever Simply Stated Blogger Contest. We loved reading all your posts about the person you are most surprised to be friends with. From the more than 1,000 entries we received, we narrowed the pool to nine finalists. Now, we want to give you a chance to help choose the reader who will be joining our Simply Stated blogging team in the month of October.

Below you’ll find excerpts from each of the essays and links to continue reading each story. Then be sure to come back here to vote for your favorite. You’ll have until September 18th to choose, and we’ll announce the winner at the end of the month!

Patti Murray DiBona

When Olivia made the Honor Roll, Donna promised they’d pierce their belly buttons.  The report card arrived. The news wasn’t good…C+ in History.  Thumbs flying, Olivia texted Donna.  “She says I worked hard.  We’re still going!”  Always one to pick my battles with this teen daughter, I agreed.

Hours later, Donna pulled her pickup into my driveway.  Olivia flashed her pierced belly to her sisters while Donna kicked off her workboots and opened my well-stocked pantry, sighing with pleasure…and relief.

Continue reading Patti’s story.

Sandi Hutcheson 

Perfection is simply a matter of perception.  I have a friend, Ann, whose house consistently looks like downtown Kabul.  Cats vie with Diet Coke cans for countertop space in her kitchen, and visitors are cautioned to watch out for the central vacuum hose strung out across the foyer.  The powder room wallpaper is peeled off in huge chunks from the day she got tired of it and decided to take it down but then abandoned the project.

Continue reading Sandi’s story.

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Two days before she died at the age of a hundred-and-one, my friend Hope Davis lost her false teeth in a bowl of popcorn next to her hospital bed. I was the one who found them, and we laughed until our bellies hurt.

Continue reading Elisabeth’s story.

Kristine McLain

I come by my love of food–cooking and eating it–honestly. When my family dines together, we don’t discuss politics; we talk about what we are going to prepare for the next meal.

So, when my niece was getting married, I did what I love to do–prepared an Italian meal for a gathering of friends and family a few days before the wedding. Several kinds of pasta, salads, and homemade biscotti.

Continue to read Kristine’s story.

Nancy Méndez-Booth

I knew by her outfit that we had nothing in common. She was a nun. I’m a reluctant Catholic. There we were in the church hall. I couldn’t remember if ignoring nuns was a sin, so I returned her smile.

We introduced ourselves. I wondered if it was a lie to say I was a writer when Sister Mary Pat asked what I did. I was unemployed and spent as much time writing as I did wishing the manager who laid me off got zapped to hell.

Continue to read Nancy’s story.

Shelly Miller

Squeezed together on the bench seat of an old van, Speciose and I couldn’t help knocking into each other as we bounced over potholes, swerved around pedestrians crowding the red clay roads of Kigali, Rwanda.   She speaks Kinyarwanda to someone on her cell phone, clothed in vibrant African dress, hair braided like a piece of art.

I only know one language and this woman, living in a third world country, can speak four.  I am one of several visiting Americans shifting through her world, fascinated by her skill in translation and bartering.

Continue reading Shelly’s story.

Megan O’Keeffe

When my sister left for college, I gave her a little box with a tiny picture of us when we were small and willing to hold each other tightly.  I enclosed a Dr. Seuss poem, “Oh!  The Places You’ll Go!”

I was trying to say, “I love you.”  I was trying to say, “I’ll meet you somewhere down the road.”

She said nothing.

Continue reading Megan’s story.

Stacey Shannon

“Hend?  Who in the world is Hend?” Opening Facebook to find the red “Messages” balloon always gives me a little thrill.   But, this Hend (who is he anyway?)  was new to me.  Trepidation mixed with irritation as I considered opening it.  With one eye open, one closed, bracing myself for the inevitable spam about “male enhancement “or painkillers, I clicked on it.

Stacey, Thank you for your kind comment to the Muslim Americans on NPR’s post. Your comment really touched me and made me cry. I am a Muslim…

Continue reading Stacey’s story.

Jill VanHimbergen

The summer I went on Prozac, Angie was the only thing that kept me from weeping uncontrollably at what was easily the most depressing job to ever decorate my resume.  We graded proficiency essays at a long, gray table in an office park for nine dollars an hour.  I was home from college that summer to see my long distance Florida boyfriend, and Angie was planning a trip back to Russia to see her Afghan refugee boyfriend whom I was sure was a mobster.

Continue reading Jill’s story.