I’ve been having "conversations" lately with a month-old baby who lives nearby. I at first tried singing lullabies to him, but he’s too feisty to lie still and listen–he flails his arms, he kicks his legs, he burps, he poots, he poops.

I’ve found that this new baby likes to listen to me talk to him. I look right into his eyes and smile as I verbalize, and sometimes he coos back to me a little, trying in his own small way to join in the conversation.

He’s just starting to smile a little. Smiling is one of the very first social skills we learn and we learn how special it is when someone smiles back at us.

I’ve always thought that a smile is a formidable tool. I often smile at strangers when I walk around Los Angeles and I find that, unlike New York, people are likely to smile back at me here. In more sophisticated cities (Paris included), people think you’re slightly deranged if you smile at someone you don’t know, but I find LA pleasantly open in this way. You can even speak to a stranger in a store or restaurant here–something that is also rarely done in Paris or New York.

People are obsessed with smiles–think of all the words that have been written about Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile. I think this is because it was our first way of communicating, once we stopped relying on crying and wailing to express our desires and complaints. We all eventually learn (most of us do, anyway), that you can "catch more flies with honey," i.e. that a smile and a nice request will often get us more than screaming and yelling does.

Some people take advantage of you when you do this, however. We were having some trouble with a neighbor who seemed to think that our communal laundry room was hers alone until Whitley went down there and chewed her out one day. She had been so mean to our poor maid that she even changed the day she comes to us in order to avoid this woman. When Whitley came back upstairs to our apartment, he said, "Some people only respond to intimidation." Alas, I’m afraid this is true–to some folks, being nice is the same as lying down on the ground and saying, "Please walk over me."

Despite the "street smiles" I exchange with people out here, in business most of them seem to function that way–if they’re in the movie business, anyway. I guess it just costs too much to be too "nice," but it does get tiresome at times: The emotional battles you end up fighting can wear you out.

You know, the way this baby functions provides a lesson for all of us. He’s just started to "wake up" to the world around him, but he’s full of life. Although he can’t do much yet, he does everything she can. This reminds me that even if we haven’t been gained many abilities, we can still use what we DO have to the max.

For instance, I regularly throw one of these diaries out into the internet ethos, with no idea if anyone reads them, or remembers them for more than a few minutes if they do. I sometimes wonder why I do it, and have vowed many times not to write any more of them, especially when they elicit a few nasty comments. But no comments at all is an even worse situation–there’s nothing worse than being ignored.

Yet I’m still compelled to write them on a regular basis, and I can only think of one reason for this: Because I CAN.

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  1. Thanks for your diary entry
    Thanks for your diary entry Anne.
    It reminds me of the powerful effect a smile had on me once.
    I was in my late teens and was cycling to a friends house. I had to cycle up a hill which had shops on either side. This evening it was windy and raining hard.
    Cycling up the hill with the wind and rain against me I was getting more and more frustrated and annoyed as my effort in cycling up this hill seemed to be losing in the battle with the rain and wind pushing hard against me.
    Just as I was reaching an angry crescendo of struggle and frustration I looked to my left and straight into the eyes of a girl working in a frozen food shop.
    She smiled.
    My frustration, anger and all negative feeling left me immediately.
    I smiled back, relaxed and laughed at my previous struggle and how annoyed it had got me. I got off my bike and pushed it up the rest of the hill.
    After that, I always believed in the power of a smile.
    It may sound a bit of an exaggeration but I really believe a smile could save a life.

  2. Oh, no, no, no, don’t stop
    Oh, no, no, no, don’t stop writing these diary entries. I love reading them. I like seeing how others see the world, their world, and the variety of people that pass through them. The writer here is from one world, New York, I assume, and so has a unique view on this other part, weird California. There’s only one of each of us, and what she sees here and feels here is good reading. (For some reason, I anticipate one day coming across an entry where Anne takes down someone twice high and among the gods, as my father would say, because she’s Anne effin Strieber, man. I wait patiently.)
    See, now if one kept commenting on every post on this site, it’d be kind of sucky uppy- and who wants to be that kind of person. In any case, onwards upwards, keep going and scroob anything else.

    1. Sophie, I love your style. I
      Sophie, I love your style. I love Ann, too. Great seeing you in chat. I guess I don’t write a lot either, because it does hurt when nobody responds. It makes you feel uncared about, ignored, or even like people don’t like you.
      A smile is nice. It’s recognition, it’s nice, and it’s caring. Those things go a long way in making someone’s day, I’ve been thanked for my smile, even if I didn’t know the other person might have needed one.
      I love Ann. She’s sweet and I love her on the Contactee Interviews-and the recognition she gives at the start when she says, “Hi subscribers.”
      Thank you!

  3. Dear Anne: Please don’t stop
    Dear Anne: Please don’t stop writing your Dairy entries. Sometimes I check in just for your stories. They are always so thoughtful and well written and almost always make me Smile. I have never had the honor of meeting you, but, when I read your diary, it’s like having coffee with a friend. Thanks.

  4. Anne – I love your diaries
    Anne – I love your diaries and check the website daily.
    Thank You for your thought provoking and inspiring messages.

  5. I make sure to smile everyday
    I make sure to smile everyday to people at work–even when it’s not the best day at work. It takes the edge off! Even the lady I work with, that’s grouchy all the time, will smile back, and growl. Thank you, Anne!

  6. My son and I were discussing
    My son and I were discussing this very thing yesterday. He is going to college and working a pizza delivery boy. He told me that people to whom he delivers pizza never smile at him; don’t see him as a person, just an arm with a pizza hanging off the end!
    This is very difficult for him, because he looks people in the eye and smiles. He has since he was a little boy. He can’t understand why it’s hard for people to at least acknowledge that he is human and has feelings.
    I think I’ll share this diary entry with him. It will make him smile!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. It is a very important thing you’re doing.

  7. I agree with all of the
    I agree with all of the above, my wife. I read them and get light from them. Please keep them coming!

  8. I love smiling at strangers
    I love smiling at strangers at work and seeing their startled surprise, and the slow shy smile that appears.

  9. I love smiling at strangers
    I love smiling at strangers at work and seeing their startled surprise, and the slow shy smile that appears.

  10. You wonder if anyone reads
    You wonder if anyone reads these diaries, well I do every time there is one. I think they are very lovely. As Meli says, “thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. It is a very important thing you’re doing.”

  11. I have always smiled more
    I have always smiled more than any other expression. If a time-averaged photo were constructed of my face, it would be smiling. My life has been a slog, but for some reason it’s never worn off my smile. I’m a Libra, so on balance, I’ve managed to somehow keep smiling–it’s my rest state. I’ve never understood how people who don’t smile can keep it up; it would wear me out. I must confess I haven’t noticed how much you smile, Anne. My eyes have always been south of your chin.

  12. I think a good blog can be
    I think a good blog can be cathartic, even if in the *unlikely* event that nobody reads it, least you have gotten our thoughts out there and expressed them.. better than bottling them up.

  13. Anne, I always check in and
    Anne, I always check in and read your diary entries. Keep them coming! As for smiles, when I am in the supermarket check out, or getting coffee in the drive-thru window, I always try to make eye contact with the people who are helping me, thank them and smile. Most of the time, it seems as though they appreciate being seen as a person who is worthy of acknowledgement, which they are!

  14. Yes, please keep writing
    Yes, please keep writing Anne! You have a sweet, subtle, sly and also spicy voice that speaks honestly to our humanity; I am always checking to see if you have updated.

  15. Yes, Anne, don’t stop writing
    Yes, Anne, don’t stop writing your diaries. I love your subscriber interviews and everything you contribute to this site. I have always felt an affinity toward you and I think it is because when I read about your childhood I could see similarities to mine. My mother died when I was six and I also had a stepmother who wasn’t very kind to me. Although your adult life hasn’t always been the easiest, I’m glad that it has been an interesting one.

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