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How many ways can you ‘Spell Heaven’?

Pacifica Municipal Pier at sunset
Toni Mirosevich
Pacifica Municipal Pier at sunset

How do we find human connection? Being “in with the out crowd?" Author and poet Toni Mirosevich finds peers on the pier.

Toni Mirosevich reads from her new book, Spell Heaven and other stories, on this week’s Out in the Bay. In Spell Heaven, a lesbian couple moves to a coastal town and unexpectedly finds a sense of belonging with a group of outsiders. The collection, set in “Seaview,” reflects on finding meaning and connection in an increasingly isolated world.

Seaview is a name Mirosevich dreamt up for the real town of Pacifica, where she lives, just down the coast from San Francisco, and Spell Heaven mirrors her actual life. The book’s narrator, like her, is a retired creative writing professor looking for meaning.

“I saw a sign on a post down by the sea one day. It said ‘I’ve lost something. I don’t know what it is. Can you help me find it?’

“And I thought, that’s very true to who this narrator is,” says Mirosevich. Like many of us, especially in this COVID era, “she’s lost some kind of meaning, some kind of connection.” Her stories show how dropping presumptions about others, and making friends out of strangers, can rebuild connection.

In the title story, a child’s note found on the pier gets Mirosevich musing on different meanings of “heaven.” Hear it about halfway through our talk.

Join Out in the Bay supporter Project Open Hand September 29th for Dining Out for Life East Bay, an annual foodie event when diners can dine out to support Project Open Hand’s HIV/AIDS services in the East Bay. Partner restaurants, which donate part of their proceeds, include Le Bateau Ivre, Lin Jia Asian Kitchen, Pig in a Pickle BBQ, Communitē Table, Calavera Mexican Kitchen & Agave Bar, Cafe Buenos Aires and more. Find a partnering restaurant in the East Bay – or become one – by visiting https://www.diningoutforlife.com/city/eastbay/.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.