Category Archives: Internet

Life as a wanted woman

This is the story of how I became Public Enemy #1.

Ok, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration: I think probably I’m lower on the list. Maybe Public Enemy #14, or something.

And a warning: just so you know, I am apparently a very suspicious character, and there’s a good chance, just in reading this, you might be exposing yourself to radical thoughts and ideas. I wouldn’t want to get anyone involved in whatever I’ve gotten myself into, so you have been warned! Turn back now!

Ok, what? You’re still here? You’re very brave. Total bravery points for you. Ding ding!

Here we go! The story of a social miscreant. One bad apple, if you will. And that bad apple is ME. (Can I be a Granny Smith? I really like those.)

On Wednesday afternoon, I noticed my wifi wasn’t working. Well, it was KIND of working, but not well. So I thought maybe it was just one of those things and I thought I’d check it that night when I got home. (It was working fine in the office, so I knew it was just my house.)

Now, I work nights and weekends, so I get home between 12:30am-1:15am most weeknights. I’ve gotten used to it. No worries. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. (I’ve always been a night owl. I’m ok with it. I love that I get to sleep in.)

When I got home, it still wasn’t working, and my cable company (good old Time Warner, voted least likely to satisfy anyone in the most recent American Customer Satisfaction index) has 24-hour customer service (that should probably be in sarcasm-quotes – “customer service.”) I wasn’t SO tired, so I thought I’d call them. I do so rely on my wifi.

First, I talked to…oh, I don’t remember anyone’s names. Let’s say Ben. I explained what was up to Ben. Ben kept me on the phone for about 45 minutes, trying this and that. One of the things he tried, fo no reason I could ascertain, was to reset my cable box. My cable has nothing to do with my wifi, other than the same company charges me an exorbitant charge to have them. When my cable box came back online, it was 4 hours off. So it said it was 5-something am. I don’t know why, either.

Ben was at a loss, and said “I guess the problem is that you’re going to have to have a code input into your modem, and I can’t do that, so I’m going to transfer you to someone the next level up.” At this point, I was exhausted and annoyed, but not SO mad.

Then I got transferred to…again, who knows what his name was. Claude. We’ll call him Claude. Claude looked over my file and said, “What did you and Maria discuss when she called you on December 20?”

“I’m sorry,” I replied, “I didn’t speak to anyone named Maria from your company on December 20. I haven’t spoken to anyone in your company since August, when you screwed up my move so prodigiously that I have discounted services and free HBO from your company for the next two years.”

(Side note: this is a true story. I have deeply discounted Time Warner services and free HBO for two years because the company so deeply botched my move from Albany to Watertown that it took two full weeks to get things up and running here again. I don’t like being screwed with, and I made my displeasure very vocally known. They replied with discounts. I kind of wanted them to flog themselves in Public Square while crying “I HAVE FORGOTTEN THE FACE OF MY FATHER,” but you take what you can get, I suppose.)

“No,” replied Claude, “it says here you spoke to Maria on December 20 and she marked your account for suspicious activity.”

“OK, there are a lot of things here to reply to,” I said. “First, as I said, I haven’t spoken to anyone at your company since August, maybe early September. Second, ‘suspicious activity’? What does that mean?”

“Well…um…you know…suspicious…like…activity that is…suspicious…and indicates the user and their account need to be flagged…” he said, very carefully.

“Sir, are you telling me this Maria person thinks I’m a terrorist?” I asked Claude.

“We don’t like to use the word ‘terrorist,'” he replied.

“But are you SAYING Maria thinks I’m a terrorist?” I said.

“We really don’t like to refer to people in this situation as ‘terrorists,'” he said, very nervously.

“Um. OK. So you think I’m a terrorist, then, but you’re just using ‘suspicious activity’ instead. OK. Well. That’s fantastic. Claude, how exactly do I get off this watch list that Maria seems to have put me on?”

“I can’t take you off this list. Maria should have discussed your options with you when she talked to you.”

“And, as earlier mentioned, this conversation with Maria never occurred.”

“It’s all really strange,” said Claude. “Usually, there are detailed notes saying what exactly occured with the suspect. But all I have here is that Maria flagged your account, talked to you, and her phone number and extension are here. She wrote ‘December 20′ and a shut-off date of today.”

“Well, this suspect would like to know her options, Claude. Could you let me know if I get a phone call, or will I be read my Miranda rights, or…”

Claude wasn’t amused.

Eventually, Claude told me he would MOST DILIGENTLY continue working on the problem while I slept (and if I believed that, he probably had a bridge in Brooklyn he wanted to sell me, and I have always wanted to own real estate) and gave me a number BOTH for his supervisor the next day, and for the mysterious Maria. He also assured me that this wasn’t done in error; I was most definitely on some sort of watch list and a suspect in something. But he didn’t like to use the term “terrorist.” No, no, no. Well, who does? It’s such a loaded term.

I cannot confirm or deny that this is me.

I cannot confirm or deny that this is me.

So I slept, and the next day I awoke to many messages from my friends (yes, of course I told Facebook I was a potential terrorist, wouldn’t you?) either saying “what?” or “ha ha!” or, my favorite, “I KNEW IT!”

First, I called Maria. Surprise! Maria’s phone went directly to voicemail.

Then I called the supervisor, who was very rude once he reviewed my file. “There’s nothing I can do until you talk to Maria,” said the supervisor. “Maria will call you back.”

Now. I used to work a phone-based job; I know it’s the worst when people get mad at the operator when it’s not their fault. But Time Warner makes it really, really hard to be Miss Merry Sunshine. They hold the area in a total monopoly and just don’t care about their customers. Oh, you have no internet? Yeah, you have to keep paying for that, but we’ll fix it when we get around to it. Oh, your cable’s broken? Same deal.

“I’m sure she will, but it doesn’t seem a priority to her. I need the internet in my home; I use it for my job. My job at a newspaper. We’ve written quite a few articles recently about Time Warner and its low customer satisfaction rating and the alternatives people have in the area. I’ll want to talk to Maria to get to the bottom of this; I think they’ll find it very interesting over there that one of their employees was flagged for potential terrorist activities, don’t you?”

Rude McSnotterson got very quiet, and said, “I’ll have Maria call you back.”

You mention you work for a newspaper, apparently.

You mention you work for a newspaper, apparently.

I waited half an hour, then I called the Land of Maria and got her voicemail again. This time I was tricky. I waited on the line and got transferred to the first available agent in Marialand. I explained my situation to him; he, again, told me I had to talk to Maria. He then checked and saw Maria was “out of the office…yeah, there’s no indication when she’ll return” (MARIA IS TOTALLY CIA, RIGHT?) and he was able to input this secret code to get my wifi back online. I guess he didn’t think I was a terrorist, I don’t know. Or maybe he doesn’t love MERKA! as much as Maria does.

Then he realized that both my modem and my cable box had blown up. Yes, that’s the technical term: “blown up.” So I’d have to take them to the Time Warner store and swap them out. “So,” I said, “first this mysterious Maria puts me on a watchlist, then both my cable box and my modem choose this exact day to blow up?”

He agreed, what are the odds? Hmm.

So. Off to the cable company. In blizzard white-out conditions. (Yeah, I had to run some other errands anyway…but I was pretty pissed I had to go all the way over there on the slipperiest roads ever to swap out boxes that just 24 hours ago were working fine. Even the sassy lady I like in the office over there was all, “BOTH stopped working? Girl, who’d YOU piss off?” I wanted to tell her Homeland Security, but I wisely kept my mouth shut.)

Then I almost died getting groceries and random other things (but DUDE did I get some clearance deals at the drugstore…sorry, sorry, tangent) and got home. Reinstalled everything. Crossed my fingers.

Nope. Nothing worked. Not the cable box, not the modem.

Called the help line again. This time, I got my man Dwayne. I don’t remember if this was his name, but he was from Maine and that rhymes. Dwayne had the most prodigious cold, and kept apologizing for his coughing. I apologized for being a terrorist, but I don’t think he was amused. He was polite enough, though; I didn’t even snap at him once.

Dwayne got my cable working. There was a dicey moment where the only channels I was getting were The Weather Channel, every sports channel known to man, and all the home shopping networks. I was all, “Dwayne, THIS WILL NOT STAND” and Dwayne agreed and set things to rights. Even with a cold, Dwayne was damn good at his job.

So, cable’s up and running. However, the modem? STILL FRIED. Come to find out, I have TWO MODEMS. The other one was what one of the millions of people told me was my router, so I didn’t bring it to swap it out. It was the second router that “blew up.” I looked outside. WORSE white out. Nope.

One of the people I’d talked to in the wee hours had a tech coming to my house Friday between 11-12, so I told Dwayne, “can you make sure the tech coming Friday brings a new modem?” and Dwayne said, “oh, I hate to add bad news to your bad news, but there’s no tech scheduled for Friday.”

WHAT IS HAPPENING OVER AT TIME WARNER.

Dwayne set up a tech for me for Friday afternoon who will be bringing me a modem in the NEXT snowstorm (we’re predicted to get 36″ by the end of the day on Saturday, and we already have 24″ or so on the ground from our last storm. Yeah, Watertown is…intense. The man on the news just said an “Alberta Clipper” is headed our way. AN ALBERTA CLIPPER! Well, what do you know about that? That’s like a ship FULL of snow, right? LOOK OUT!)

Look out! SHIP FULL OF SNOW!

Look out! SHIP FULL OF SNOW!

In the meantime, Dwayne and I figured out that I could hook up an Ethernet cable to my modem and I could have internet again. AND I DO. Only it’s crazy-slow. But it’s only until tomorrow. I can handle that.

So. Here’s my mystery.

Why, exactly, am I a terrorist?

This mysterious Maria wrote I’d been flagged December 20. So what was I doing December 20? (I think it only matters what I was doing online, right? That’s what Maria seems to have taken objection to?)

It was a Saturday. So I was at work from 9:30am-8pm. (Yes, I have crazy weekend hours.)

I wrote two emails; one talking about a song I’d heard that I liked, one talking about a possible job for a friend to keep an eye on. (It probably bears mentioning that both of these emails were to people outside of the country. Dad’s quite sure that’s why I’m a terrorist. I have all these “Communist” friends, you see.) I wrote one Facebook message, to someone I used to work with, just checking in. I posted on Facebook about someone in my office listening to something that sounded very much like porn on his work computer (but it probably wasn’t…right? Urgh. DON’T DO THAT AT WORK.) Became Facebook friends with someone at work (but he’s like this all-American guy. He’s totally not terroristy.) Posted a bunch of things to our work Facebook account and work Twitter account, but if she’s going to call me a terrorist for reporting local news, I think probably something’s wrong here. Did one internet search – for my paper I work for, in the morning. (I have to post one post before I get in in the morning, which is why I did that.)

That was all I did ALL DAY online. Most of the day I was at work, so I wasn’t even using this account, and usually on the weekends when I get home, I’m wiped out and can barely do anything online (and hardly want to – so tired. And have been online all day, so the last thing I want to do when I get home is be MORE online.)

So, let’s guess, ladies and gentlemen. Dad thinks it’s my very shady ties to foreign countries that have made this woman flag me. Also, the blogging; he’s sure I’m on a government watch list for bloggery. (And it bears mentioning that my friend Chris tried to visit my blog on Wednesday and was told he could not, because it had “adult content.” Hee! “Doctor Who” was MUCH too adult for his computer!) What do YOU think has been my big transgression?

I suppose she could have flagged me for something I’d done BEFORE December 20, but what made December 20, a day I worked a 10.5 hour shift and came home and crashed because I had to be back at work the next morning at 9:30am, the day she decided I was Bonnie (or maybe Clyde?) And why did it take them almost three weeks to stop my subversive activities? I could have been doing ANYTHING in those three weeks. Causing a ruckus. Fomenting a revolution. Staging a sit-in.

I kind of feel like Arlo Guthrie in “Alice’s Restaurant.” I feel like maybe I’m going to be arrested for littering and this Maria person is Officer Obie.

Obie, didja think I was going to hang myself for litterin'?

Obie, didja think I was going to hang myself for litterin’?

Stay tuned, ladies and gentlemen. I plan on calling our girl Maria a few more times in the next couple of weeks, see what’s going on. Would really like a glimpse into the world of Maria and how she internetually profiles those of us who are very terrory terror suspects.

UPDATE: I HAVE SPOKEN TO MARIA!

Sadly, the answer (which I have to wonder about) is a total letdown.

Maria actually picked up her phone right away, and when I said, “Hi, Maria, it’s me! Amy! Why’m I a terrorist, yo?” she looked into it and asked me to spell my name about 47 times and finally said, “Oh, I SEE” and I said, “you DO?” and she said my account number was one away from someone else with my exact name who lives on the east coast, and THAT Amy is a TOTAL TERRORIST! (No, ok, fine, she didn’t say that, she said that person was “the real problem.”) So my account was accidentally flagged. “But I don’t know why all of your boxes blew up,” she said. “I had nothing to do with that.”

“So that was a coincidence, this all happened at the same time?” I said.

“Ha ha!” said Maria. “Yes, just a total coincidence!”

I don’t know how much of that I believe.

Also, the tech was here. I have wifi again, and my cable’s fine, but he unhooked a bunch of other things like DVD players and such and now I can’t figure out how to hook them back up and I have a call in for him to come back, but nope. No one’s coming. So that’s nice, then. Thanks, Time Warner!

I guess now the moral of this story is, don’t have the same name as anyone else, and don’t be a very terroristy terrorist, and if you have an option to choose another cable company, I’d say choose anyone but Time Warner. Unless you like torture. I mean, who am I to judge, right?

Sayonara, my little jellybeans.


A new year post on the actual day. Go me.

Happy new year, people of the interwebs! OK, so I missed New Year’s day for some of you. I know. I’m the worst at thinking in a timely fashion for other time zones. Please forgive me, other time zones. Here is a photo of Dumbcat looking pensive to make up for my transgression.

Hapey Noo Yere, peeple of bloge. I had a birfday this weeke adn am nowe fifeteene. In humaene yeers that is 76 yeers old. I shoulde reetire.

Hapey Noo Yere, peeple of bloge. I had a birfday this weeke adn am nowe fifeteene. In humaene yeers that is 76 yeers old. I shoulde reetire and get soceel securtee so Momee can stay homee and pet my furrs all the dayys.

A couple weeks ago at work, one of my most favorite coworkers (there are a lot of them…I kind of work with the best people in all the land) and I were talking about blogging. Here, I’ll give you our conversation. If he happens to read this (and I suppose he might, the internet’s a very small place sometimes), apologies in advance for stealing your words and putting them on the internets for all to read, one of my most favorite coworkers whose name I will not put on the blog because I’m about 99% sure it would embarrass the pants right off of you and I enjoy you so much I would never want to do that to you. Plus, also, workplace harassment, yo, I can’t be taking work-people’s pants off. I think there’s a seminar or something about that.

I seriously just snorted orange soda up my nose at this. This was NOT the image I went looking for, but look at the chick's face. It's like she's oblivious to the butt-groping. Or she's looking at a really funny kitten-GIF. Or maybe she just really likes the groping, I don't even know. Either way, it is my best thing of the day.

I seriously just snorted orange soda up my nose at this. This was NOT the image I went looking for, but look at the chick’s face. It’s like she’s oblivious to the butt-groping. Or she’s looking at a really funny kitten-GIF. Or maybe she just really likes the groping, I don’t even know. Either way, it is my best thing of the day.

Impressive Reporter Coworker: So I noticed the other day you’re a tweetaholic. You have over 20,000 tweets!
Me: Oh. Yeah. I used to tweet a lot. I don’t do that anymore.
IRC: Why?
Me: Oh, kind of a long story. I used to blog? And then tweet a lot, kind of in relation to that? I kind of fell out of practice.
IRC: You had a blog?
Me: Yeah. I kind of still do, I guess, but it just sits there.
IRC: What was it about?
Me: Um. Mostly me ranting about some things and making fun of other things? Also I talked about zoos a lot.

By the way, this happened a couple months ago in Syracuse. I like it because it looks like I Munchausen-by-Proxyed my penguin-baby and have gone cheerfully insane.

By the way, this happened a couple months ago in Syracuse. I like it because it looks like I Munchausen-by-proxyed my penguin-baby and have gone cheerfully insane.

IRC: And people would read it?
Me: Heh. Yeah. Lots of people would read it. I won some awards. And I met amazing people. And I went to Finland last year. Got to stay with people I met through blogging, actually. It was fantastic.
IRC: So…what happened?

And I didn’t have an answer for him. Not really.

What happened? Oh, I don’t know. Life, I guess. Andreas and I have spent copious amounts of time discussing that. Priorities change. Things change. People come in and out of your life. Moods rise and fall. Jobs come and go. I can most sincerely say that the person I was three and a half years ago when I started blogging isn’t the person I am now. I think back on that person and she seems like a complete stranger to me. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of her; it’s that I don’t know her at all, and I don’t know how I ever was her. I have a record that I was, I can look back on old posts and I know I wrote them, but as for remembering it, it’s kind of fuzzy. Too much water under the bridge.

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking…and I realize there’s this itchy little part of me that wants to start writing again, and writing more. Otherwise I’m going to probably self-destruct.

I’m not juvenile enough to think resolutions ever stick. The first day of the year always seems so shiny and new, doesn’t it? Like you can accomplish anything. Like you have 365 days of newness (ooh, 366 this year, yeah?) to tackle and make your own. But I don’t know about you…but every resolution I’ve ever made has fizzled around February once you realize “oh, look, this shiny new year is very much like last year, what are the odds, yo.”

Instead, I’m going to be kind to myself, and promise myself I’ll do things that are good for me – and writing’s good for me. So writing here? Good for me. Writing poetry, essays, maybe even some short fiction? Good for me. And it’s good for my mind, because I need it to stop being so itchy. An itchy mind never did anyone any good.

(Side note: I have an amazing job, and every now and then I get to write. I got to write part of an article – FOR THE ACTUAL PAPER! – a couple months ago, and then got asked to write a LONG article for one of our related publications. A three-page article about traveling to Albany and all the things you can do there. It’s not online yet – will be eventually, and then you can read it, if you’re so inclined – but long story short, I get to write for work. I also get to do our social media, copyedit, proofread, and sometimes there’s totally a STOP THE PRESSES! moment with late-breaking news which makes me jump around in my chair because I feel like I’m in a 40s film with very impressive fedoras. My coworkers are fantastic, because they’ve totally accepted me even though I’m the biggest goofball. And I can say, with 100% certainty, I’ve never had a job where I can be more myself, and where I’ve felt more immediately at home with the people, than this one. Ever. When you can completely dork out about something three days in and no one even bats an eye? You have won employment.)

Sometimes I like to imagine that I'm in "His Girl Friday" only there's a lot less sexism (and also a lot fewer typewriters, ashtrays, and, sadly, fedoras.)

Sometimes I like to imagine that I’m in “His Girl Friday” only there’s a lot less sexism (and also a lot fewer typewriters, ashtrays, and, sadly, fedoras.)

I’m kind of rambling, here.

Anyway: I have a couple of people I’m going to encourage to blog, and they’re going to, in turn, encourage ME to blog, this year, so we’re responsible to one another as well as being cheerleady. And this will, hopefully, stop the brain-itching and get me back writing and being creative.

Happy New Year, internets. I hope your 2014s weren’t as fraught with weirdness as mine was (and most people I know had a TERRIBLE 2014, what’s going on, 2014, why were you so cursed?) and your 2015 looks like 366 (or 365, sorry, people of other time zones, I really meant to do this earlier in the day but I was too busy painting a unicorn head to go over my new fireplace…YES THAT IS REALLY A THING I DID TODAY, WHY ARE YOU ASKING) new and shiny days of awesome that you can tackle and wrestle into submission and make yours, all yours.

This is my unicorn head that is hanging over my fireplace. I don't have a name for him yet, but I'm leaning toward Reginald von Sparklenstein.

This is my new unicorn head that is hanging over my fireplace. I don’t have a name for him yet, but I’m leaning toward Baron Reginald von Sparklenstein.

Much love to your shiny little new-year faces. *smooch*


This happens. This is something that happens.

I am watching Magnolia. It is my favorite movie. This probably says a lot about me; mostly about the fact that I can relate, all-too-well, to broken people, to people with flaws that run deep and don’t ever let them go, not completely.

I’m watching Magnolia today because Philip Seymour Hoffman died, and I wanted to see him in one of my favorite roles of his, in my favorite movie. I wanted to just have a minute to say my goodbye to someone whose work I respect a great deal, and whose death I’m taking maybe a little too hard because that’s a thing I do. I am talking to someone I love about how much this movie means to both of us, how much it affected us back in the days when we weren’t yet part of each other’s lives, and I am crying over this movie, and I am crying over this particular magic, this thing that brings people together at just the right time, in just the right place.

Magnolia has the recurring theme of coincidence, and connection, and how we’re all intertwined; how the smallest action can turn into the one thing that your entire life hinges on. I like this. This is the magic I hold onto in life. This is what I hang around for; those little moments where you can almost see the greater plan peeking through the velvet curtains at the edge of things.

The movie starts with some stories of coincidence, each one harder to believe than the last: a man killed in Greenberry Hill in London by men named Joseph Green, Stanley Berry and Daniel Hill; a scuba diver killed by a firefighting airplane flown by a man he’d coincidentally run into a few days prior; and a teenager attempting suicide by jumping off the roof of his building, only to have his mother accidentally shoot him as he falls past her window – and land in a net put up to save window-washers, so he wouldn’t have died, after all, had he not been shot.

After each of these stories, the narrator tells us “and I would like to think this was only a matter of chance.” Until the last story.

And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that this is not just “something that happened.” This cannot be “one of those things”… This, please, cannot be that. And for what I would like to say, I can’t. This was not just a matter of chance. Oh, these strange things happen all the time.

I’m going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I lived across the country. That iteration of Amy was not one I am proud of. I suppose you need to learn from your past, from your mistakes, to form the person you are today; if that’s the case, the mistakes I made, and troubles I dealt with, while living in the western part of the country, built a big old foundation upon which to position this life, the life I am proud of.

I worked at a theater there, for a while. I was one of the broken people, while there. I drifted. I was lost. I was doing what I could to survive. I was in and out of disastrous relationships and crushes on the least-likely candidates. I cried a lot. I was one of those thousand-yard-stare people you kind of see on the periphery.

I loved my time at the theater, though. It was brief – probably 8 months, all-told – but it seems longer, in my mind. I found family there. For someone as lost and alone as I was, this was huge. I had people, and I had a place to go, and I felt like I belonged. I was still broken, and I was still lost, but I had a tiny corner where things could be alright. (Theater’s saved me many times, and I have no doubt it will again – this is a good example of one of those times.)

But I screwed it up, as I did many things back then. Things got hard, and I got nervous, and I eventually shut myself off from everyone I loved there. I left and didn’t go back. I had reasons, which were varied (and kind of ridiculous, and even as screwed-up as I was, I knew they were ridiculous) but when the going gets tough, a lot of times, I just put up walls and make ‘em thick. No one gets in. I don’t go out. And I can pretend I made that choice! I don’t need anyone! But really what made the choice is the fact that I’m depressed and I’m freaking out and it’s easier to not have anyone in your life when that happens. People are just a complication, right?

I think I ended up saying goodbye to maybe two of the theater people when I left the state. I didn’t even think that might be hurtful. I just wanted out, and I wanted to get back to where I thought I could rebuild, and things might start to be ok.

And things were ok. More than ok, actually. I got my fresh start, both due to the change of scenery and a change in me. I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I wanted to be someone else – someone who didn’t hide, someone who had friends, someone who had more blue-sky days than black-cloud days. It’s amazing how far a change in attitude can take you. It wasn’t overnight – the person I was hung around longer than I care to admit – but eventually, I shed most of her off, I kept what worked, and I became the person I am now: flawed, sure, but happy. And happy begets happy. Happy draws IN happy. It’s something I never knew, and something I was so joyful to discover.

I compartmentalized who I used to be; I didn’t shut it off, because you can’t deny things that happened, but I didn’t let it color me, either. I’m friends with a few people from those days in the now; BFF is one of them, and Mer another. They’re my best takeaways from that time, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’m peripherally friends with a few others on Facebook, but you know how Facebook is. You like a status here and there, but it’s what you put into it, and we’ve grown too far apart to mend those fences. I don’t know that we really care enough to, honestly.

Remember the dating site? Yeah, that’s going about as well as you might imagine, but that’s not the point of this story.

The dating site sends you a list of people it thinks are good matches for you. (Strangely, most of these people are what I would consider exactly the opposite of a “good match,” but that’s neither here nor there.) The other day, I was idly paging through them (an audio track of me doing this would be “no,” “ugh, OMG, no,” “where are your CLOTHES?”, and “Why does this site think I want to date a 62-old-man?”) and I saw a photo of someone that looked very familiar.

Now, I’d assumed at some point I’d run into someone I knew. It was kind of inevitable. It’s a big area, but not THAT big. I’m not going to DATE anyone I kn0w – if I wanted to date people I knew, would I be on the dating site to begin with? – but it wasn’t someone I knew from HERE.

It was someone I knew from the theater from all those years ago. J., who’d run the theater; who’d been the one who took me in to begin with, who gave me the family I was too closed off to accept as fully as I should have. I hadn’t seen J. in twelve years. We weren’t Facebook friends. We’d dropped off each other’s radar. Not out of spite or any sort of hard feelings; I liked J. I just lost touch with J., and then compartmentalizing that part of my life hadn’t led me to look up people from that time. Honestly? I didn’t know if they’d remember me. I’d been a bit of a ghost. At first, didn’t even believe it WAS J. – I did a Google seach first, to see if he really was in the area.

Because what are the odds, right? What are the odds that someone you were close to twelve years ago, all the way across the country, would show up in your list of people on a dating site you just joined?

But it was him. He was here, somehow. And after sending him what was probably the goofiest message ever (but, in my defense, he replied with an equally “ZOMG!” email) we met up for dinner the other night.

Dinner became over three hours of talking and catching up and laughing and utter amazement over the fact that it had been twelve years and here we were, and we both looked pretty much the same (few more gray hairs, maybe, but it wasn’t like we were unrecognizable to one another) and how was he here? And what had happened in the past twelve years? And we caught up over food and the time melted away and I remembered some of the good things from all that time ago; that everything wasn’t terrible, not all the time, and the good things I brought forward with me were the things that made my friendship with J. still work.

(And before you all get excited: no, this is not a love connection. I care about J. a great deal, but it’s never been THAT kind of relationship, and never will be. Solid friendship with nothing more behind it. Sorry to burst your bubble, all of you rooting for me to find love on the interwebz.)

I totally told J. "IT WOULD BE LIKE KISSING MY BROTHER" then I realized I probably had to say that was from a movie or it was just a really rude, or slightly incesty, thing to say.

I totally told J. “IT WOULD BE LIKE KISSING MY BROTHER” then I realized I probably had to say that was from a movie or it was just a really rude, or slightly incesty, thing to say.

J. is here working at one of the local colleges, rebooting their theater program. (Can’t think of anyone better to do it; he’s got this energy that just beams from him.) Things have been going well for him; he’s also had a good twelve years. He also realized he needed a fresh start and took his life in a different direction. And I have to admit, it was nice to tell him what I’d been up to; I didn’t have much to be proud of then, but now I can say things like “writing for the paper” and “traveling to Europe in the spring” and “published a book” and MEAN all of them.

And J. and I made plans to get together again, and soon; if the world hands you a coincidence like this, you don’t waste it. You grab that puppy with both damn hands. I can’t wait to introduce him to the theater scene; the first time we met, he took me in, and made the introductions, and I was just given the chance to return the favor.

And there is the account of the hanging of three men, and a scuba diver, and a suicide. There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which and who only knows? And we generally say, “Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it.” Someone’s so-and-so met someone else’s so-and-so and so on. And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time. And so it goes, and so it goes. And the book says, “We may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”

If the past ain’t through with me, I’m cool with that. I take the magic of the world where it’s given. If the world wants to bring back an old friend when I’m finally at the point in my life when I can appreciate him? I’ll take that magic. With thanks. And tears. And wonder.


Troubleshooting and chatting it up with Amy’s Dad

Dad’s in Florida. He’s in his condo by the ocean for two full months. He left at the beginning of January and has been there, therefore, for most of the month.

Dad is bored out of his skull.

His people don’t arrive until February (my aunt and uncle, his sister and brother-in-law, are arriving then, and his cousin is visiting then, and I think he’s going to visit another cousin then – yes, my entire family has become a flock of snowbirds) so Dad’s been hanging out at buffets and the American Legion (do NOT ask him if they’ve given him a fez; he’ll just yell “THEY DON’T WEAR FEZZES!”) and walking on the beach and getting scratchers at the 7-11 and – best of all – calling me up at all hours to tell me things. Or texting me. Or emailing me weird links, like “You should read this good site, do you know about this?” and it’s MSN.

Dad said he's not doing well on the scratchers this year, and therefore I will no longer have an inheritance. Oh, well, I wasn't betting on one, anyway.

Dad said he’s not doing well on the scratchers this year, and therefore I will no longer have an inheritance. Oh, well, I wasn’t betting on one, anyway.

So I thought you would enjoy a glimpse into the type of conversation Dad and I have been having lately. You like such things, right? Right.

Oh, a thing you need to know for this to make sense…

Dad bought a laptop so he could take advantage of the free wifi in the condo. Dad’s never had a laptop before. Or high-speed internet. It’s like Dad was released into a very big playground. Or the ocean. Without a lifevest. Or a map, to completely muddle this metaphor.

So, I had the day off today. I had car work to get done, which got done a lot sooner than planned (also, goodbye, savings! sniff), so I used the day to do all of my usual after-work errands like grocery shopping and laundry and such, so I don’t have to do them after work this week. I was PROACTIVE! And when I got home Dad sent me an email to call him RIGHT AWAY so I did. (Dad + boredom + high speed internet = lots of email, you guys.)

So of course I called him. It’s a day off. Lots of time to talk to Dad.

Me: Hey, old man. What’s up?
Dad: Stop calling me that.
Me: Fine. Howdy, young lady, what’s shakin’?
Dad: Not at all better.
Me: But funnier.
Dad: Not really. I have a computer question.
Me: I will answer that!
Dad: You broke my computer.
Me: That’s more an accusation than a question.
Dad: Remember you made me put that antivirus on here?
Me: Yes, so you didn’t get viruses and no one stole your identity.

Oh, Dad would HATE this.

Oh, Dad would HATE this.

Dad: It gave me a virus.
Me: The antivirus gave you a virus. No, I don’t think that’s how that works.
Dad: No! True story! Ever since I bought it, the computer keeps shutting down if I walk away for ten minutes.
Me: Huh. That’s weird. Did you change any settings?
Dad: What does that mean, settings. No. I put on this virusy virus thing.
Me: Well, go into the settings of Norton and see if one of them says “sleep settings” or “power saver” or something.
Dad: That is SMART. Where are Norton settings.
Me: I don’t know, I’ve never needed that. Click on Norton? It’s probably at the bottom of the screen or something.
Dad: It WAS! You’re good at this.
Me: Yeah, I’m totally an IT guru.
Dad: It says I need to sign into Norton.
Me: Sign into Norton, then.
Dad: It says I don’t know my password.
Me: Do you know your password?
Dad: No.
Me: Did you write down your password when you signed up?
Dad: I did but I wrote it down wrong.
Me: Well, that’s unhelpful.
Dad: There’s something to click if I forgot my password! Should I click that?
Me: Yep.
Dad: This is exciting.
Me: SO exciting.

Look at my excited face. LOOK AT IT!

Look at my excited face. LOOK AT IT!

Dad: I am resetting my password now.
Me: Maybe use the one you wrote down, then you already have it written down.
Dad: Man, you are really good.
Me: Yeah, I’ve got brains to spare.
Dad: SOMETHING IS WRONG! SOMETHING IS WRONG!
Me: Uh-oh. What’s wrong, jellybean.
Dad: It sent me a reset link and then I reset it and then it said it was wrong AGAIN.
Me: OK, well, there’s something wonky with Norton. Try again tomorrow.
Dad: That’s not a solution.
Me: Turn the computer on and off?
Dad: That is also not a solution.
Me: Oh, it surely is. Turning things on and off fixes more than you know.
Dad: I’m just going to give up now and go watch television and think about how terrible my life is.
Me: Do you want me to try to talk you through the computer settings and see if those somehow got screwed up?
Dad: No. I HAVE TO GO NOW.
Me: OK. Bye. Love you.
Dad: Grumble grumble grumble grump love you bye.

TWO MINUTES LATER!

THE PHONE RINGS!

Me: Yo, s’up, Pops.
Dad: I got into Norton.
Me: How’d you do that?
Dad: Don’t even know.
Me: Fair enough.
Dad: What do I do now?
Me: I don’t know. Let me ask the internet.
Dad: How does the internet know about my computer problems?
Me: Because the government’s watching you.
Dad: I KNEW IT!
Me: Foolish. Because other people often have the same problems you do, if you Google problems, they can help you.
Dad: But then the government knows you’re having a problem.
Me: *sigh* Yes, there’s always that. Oh, ok, here. Someone had the same problem. I’m going to talk you through how to fix this, ok?
Dad: STOP TALKING SO FAST.
Me: I wasn’t…ok. FIRST. CLICK. ON. NORTON.
Dad: Well, if you talk slow, I just feel stupid.

(Eventually I talked Dad through clicking some boxes and unclicking some other boxes and setting some things. This took a very, very long time. Pretend there’s a musical montage here, or something.)

Dad: Is this even going to work?
Me: I don’t know. I’m not there. Try going to your desktop and changing your power saver settings there, too.
Dad: What’s a desktop?
Me: Like, if you turn on the computer, before you open the internet. On my computer, it’s where I have that big picture of The Nephew scowling because I love his attitude.
Dad: I don’t have this on a desk, though, it’s on a table.
Me: NOT THAT KIND OF DESKTOP.
Dad: I found the control center. Is it there?
Me: I don’t know. Is it?
Dad: THIS IS SO HARD.
Me: It would be easier if you were HERE and I could SEE the computer, yes. Yes, it would.
Dad: Your brother just sent me gibberish email.
Me: What does that mean?
Dad: He sent me an email that said “IDK what a good price is.” What is IDK.
Me: I don’t know.
Dad: Should I look it up online? Did he make a mistake?
Me: Oh, this is like an old comedy routine. No. It MEANS I don’t know. IDK equals I don’t know.
Dad: Why didn’t he write I don’t know?
Me: It’s textspeak.
Dad: But it’s an email.
Me: Yeah. It’s a thing people do.
Dad: You should write a whole thing out and not confuse your father, is what I think.
Me: Write him back and say LOL.
Dad: I will not say LOL.
Me: Ooh, say YOLO.
Dad: I DO NOT SAY YOLO. Is my computer fixed?
Me: I guess you’ll see the next time you don’t use it for ten minutes in a row.
Dad: If Norton ruined my computer I’m going to call them up and yell at them.
Me: Oh, they’ll like that a lot, I think. You’ll be very popular.
Dad: Your governor hates me.
Me: What? Is this related to what we’ve been talking about at all? I think I have conversational whiplash.
Dad: No. Look up what your governor said now. He wants to kick me out of our state.
Me: Shush, I like our governor. He’s all gruff and cranky and passionate about things and I think if you make him mad he’d either punch you in an alley or shoot you in the face.

SO MAD!

SO MAD!

Dad: LOOK IT UP.
Me: Oh, so he said extreme conservatives don’t belong in New York State. Huh.
Dad: I’d like to have him come upstate and say that! WE WOULD TROMP HIM!
Me: I don’t know. He seems pretty badass. He might punch or shoot you. Or give you a really dirty look.
Dad: When he runs for president you’d vote for him.
Me: Is he the Democratic candicate in this scenario?
Dad: Well, duh.
Me: Then yes, I’ll vote for him.
Dad: Who are you. WHO ARE YOU. I am so disgusted.
Me: I am going to watch television now, and write a blog post. Are you good?
Dad: Yes. Don’t tell the internet where I live.
Me: I won’t.
Dad: Or put up photos of me.
Me: Nope. Won’t.
Dad: Or tell them what I like to say or do or wear.
Me: OK. Noted.
Dad: THAT IS HOW THEY GET YOU.
Me: Yes. I’m sure it is. Go play on the beach, bub.
Dad: I might call you later.
Me: OK. I might answer.
Dad: GOOD. You SHOULD answer! If I call you ALWAYS should!

Don’t worry, interwebs, Dad will have friends to play with soon. Only a few more days. I think he will manage to retain most of his mental stability with people to interact with. Hopefully, anyway. I mean…

Crap. Gotta go. Phone’s ringing.


Someone’s doing this wrong. It may well be me.

In an attempt to be a normal human, and to take 2014 by the horns (THE HORNS, people!) I decided to do something that might be a gigantic mistake.

NO, I didn’t dye my hair blonde. Don’t be absurd. I look terrible blonde. Tried it once, in grad school. I looked like I was wearing a terrible wig. I immediately went to a salon and had them fix it because it was too embarrassing to leave the house with. (Well, obviously I had to leave the house to go to the salon…I wore a hat.) Then I did it AGAIN years LATER but that time it was an accident. So I just dyed it back myself, because I was poor then. Anyway, in summation: I’m not a blonde, nor will I ever BE a blonde.

Yeah, I didn't even look this good. There might have been weeping, though.

Yeah, I didn’t even look this good. There might have been weeping, though.

Nope. What I DID do is sign up for online dating.

See, here’s the thing: you don’t meet a lot of people hanging around your house. You meet your cat, and sometimes the old guy who lives downstairs and coughs a lot and Dad talked to him once and said “he’s just waiting to die, his wife’s dead and he’s so depressed” and I said, “how did you find all that out from talking to him for, like, five SECONDS?” and Dad said, “Well, I might have guessed parts of that.” You sometimes meet package deliverymen and Chinese food deliverymen and maintenance men. None of these people are really dating potential. This isn’t a porn. No one’s showing up at my door asking “Did anyone call for a PLUMBER?” and then bow-chicka-wow-wow music’s going to start. Also, ew, that’s how you get the clap.

So even though the last time I tried this online dating situation I had…well, let’s just say the worst luck ever…I decided to give it another go. It would be nice to date someone. Or maybe a few someones. See what happens. It is a thing that people do, right? This dating thing? Yes. Yes, it is.

So with the support of my friends, who were all “that is a very good idea! You do that! You will meet someone awesome!” I filled out pages and pages of questions and silly blurbs and whether I liked dogs or cats (WHY MUST I CHOOSE?) and how very, very much I love long walks on the beach and getting caught in the rain and laughing like those people in the online dating commercials while eating pasta by candlelight. Online dating commercials about meeting the love of your life on the internet can’t lie, right? RIGHT?

However! I have learned some things from the online dating site that I think are important for people to bear in mind when attempting to online date. And I thought, should I share them with the internet?

Well, what the hell else am I going to do with them? The cat doesn’t care. He’s napping at the moment. As he does.

THINGS YOU LEARN FROM ONLINE DATING

(Note: I’m not telling you WHAT site I signed up for; I think they’re all pretty much the same, other than you pay for some, and you don’t for others, and there’s one that hates the gays and athiests. Or at least it used to. I think I remember reading it grudgingly decided the gays and athiests had money to spend, too, and therefore changed things up a little bit.)

Many people can’t spell and make no attempt to do so. It’s not going to surprise you that I actually have it written in my profile that I’m a grammar nerd and there are extra points given to people that contact me that write well. Actual emails I’ve received on the site: “YOUR PRETY,” “what r u doin,” and “its cold in winter.” Yes, I realize that sometimes, a very good heart beats within the body of a person who cannot express themselves in their native language, but it still makes me cringe. Also, if your entire profile paragraph is an all-caps “TWO HEATS BEET AS ONE I AM LOKING FOR MY SOLEMATE” and you “flirt” with me (don’t ask, these sites are kind of ridiculous) I’m not replying to you. I’m not a cobbler. You’re going to have to keep looking for your solemate, my friend. All my best to you.

People can be very aggressive and persistent. One guy “flirted” and then “favorited” me and then sent me a message (which was “ANY LUCK HERE?” and that’s not at all off-putting) and we were not even a little compatable so I sent him one of the pre-written “no-thanks” responses and then the next time I signed on he immediately popped up as wanting to chat with me so I clicked the “I’m busy” button and seriously, dude? I feel like maybe you’re chasing me down the sidewalk. Down, boy. DOWN. (Also, why so interested, when I don’t meet any of your criteria? You wrote those damn criteria. If you hadn’t written you were only interested in young, young women and “no fatties” I MIGHT have replied, but since you did, I was all, “nope” and wrote you off as a dick.)

The particular site I signed up for doesn’t seem to understand how “matching” works. You put in your criteria (like, age and such) and the site’s supposed to send you daily matches, only my matches aren’t within my criteria, so either I’ve broken the site, or they don’t care what I like. Or maybe they know better than me. Do you think the site knows better than me, and I’d really love dating a 60-year-old with kids the same age as I am? I guess we could hit up the Golden Corral for the Senior Buffet. Thrifty!

My new husband! Only a couple years younger than Dad, so they could be besties!

My new husband! Only a couple years younger than Dad, so they could be besties!

People are either very vague or very specific in what they’re looking for. Some people don’t fill anything out, so you don’t know if you’d fit their criteria at all, and some people are all “I want a woman who’s 5’7, athletic and toned, with red hair, green eyes, 20 years younger than I am, liberal, only has a high school education, and has a cat.” This seems extremely limiting to me. Who is this person? And does she exist? I think you might have better luck contacting Warren to build you a Buffybot.

There you go, boys, I found you your perfect match.

There you go, boys, I found you your perfect match.

Apparently quite a few people don’t bother to read the information you took time to post. I get contacted by people regularly (that sounds braggy…please note that it’s not. These people are not anyone I want to hang with) and then I look at their profiles and the person they’re looking for is my exact opposite. Did you read my profile? Or did you just notice I’m female and live in your area? I’m confused.

Having conversations with these people is like pulling teeth. OK, anyone who emails me knows exactly what kind of emails I write. They look very much like one of my blog posts. I don’t know how to reply to an email of “yup” or “going to get food now.” How do you even answer that? You could start some sort of new conversation, like “let’s talk about your favorite cheeses” or something, but I’ve found in the past you’re not allowed to be kooky until the person’s known you for a while, or they think you’re insane and run off screaming. So apparently I’m in for a lot of back-and-forth of “Hi”/”Hi”/”How are you”/”Good”/”Weather’s nice today”/”Yes”/”How was work”/”Busy”/”Here too” and SINCERELY, I’m climbing the walls with boredom at this point.

Sooooo booooooreddddd

Sooooo booooooreddddd

Stop asking for more pictures. OK, I have pictures up on this site? But not, like, ALL the pictures. I’m undecided about whether or not I’m going to stay there, and also I find it creepy to put a billion photos on a dating site and then a stranger could see me at the grocery store and be all, “OMG, YOU ARE LOOKIN’ FOR LOVE ONLINE I RECOGNIZE YOU YO” or something. So people email me and their opening gambit is, “do you have more photos?” and what’s funny is, THEY hardly have any photos so I’m not sure if they want tit-shots or what the point here is. One guy was displeased and was all “I’m quitting the SITE” when I told him nope and one guy was all “OK, cool” but I’m pretty sure our conversation about dinner, weather, and such has come to a natural conclusion so we’ve broken up and I’ve already gone through the five stages of grief and I’ve come out the other side a better person for it.

What have we learned?

I’m very bad at this. I have been informed by a friend who does this on the regular I need to be more open-minded in order for this to work, and also maybe it would help if I lowered my standards a little. The former, probably. That would be better in a lot of aspects in my life. The latter…I don’t know. How can you force yourself to be attracted to someone? I’ve only had my mind changed twice, romantically, about someone (I mean, from my first impression to falling for them) in my life, and I’m kind of old. Maybe some people can become attracted to someone after some time and getting to know someone, but I’m weird about such things. I like the click. Everyone who’s important in my life, who’s been long-term important in my life, either romantically or on a friendship level: there’s been that click, where it’s like meeting someone you’ve known all along but have been separated from for whatever reason, and then you found them again. Is that naïve, waiting for that? Yeah, maybe. Is it likely I’ll get over that? Probably not, but I suppose anything can happen.

If anyone wants to tell me a., how to do this correctly, b., if there’s a dating site for internet geeks who like books and where people can SPELL, dammit, where I would be in high demand, or c., that they have a brother/cousin/male BFF I’d be perfect for, I’m down for all the advice. Comment it up, yo.

Stay tuned, jellybeans. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT. Will Amy go on an actual out-of-the-house date with one of these people? Will she give up and delete her whole profile because the whole thing gives her the willies? Will she be psychokilled by an internet murderer? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.


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