Category Archives: thoughts

Curved like a road through mountains

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.  –Tennessee Williams

This is a line.

(It was supposed to be a straight line, but listen, I cannot draw a straight line with what software is free on the interwebs, ok? So just ignore the fact that it squiggles a little. Pretend it’s totally straight. DO NOT JUDGE MY LINE-DRAWING ABILITIES!)

Most people’s lives follow this straight line, for the most part. They’re born, and they go to school, and then probably college, and they meet someone squishable and they marry that person, and buy a house with a porch swing, and maybe have some kiddos who are equally squishable, and get a job, and work that job for many many years and put money into their 401ks and buy cool things to play with that are shiny and pay their taxes and eventually they die.

This is very stable, isn’t it? It’s really nice. It’s nice to know you’ll wake up, and the same thing will happen, and you’ll have someone there to share things with, and maybe kids, and probably, oh, I don’t know, family picnics, or something. Vacations. Probably a dog.

This is ALSO a line.

However, it is squiggly and all over the damn place and sometimes backtracks upon itself and has strange valleys and peaks that kind of look like a man’s face and I think in one place it kind of might look like I tried to make a penis, and in another place a rabbit, to make you laugh, but I totally didn’t. (Again, please do not judge the line. There’s a reason I’m a writer and not an artist. It is not the nice line’s fault.)

This line is MY life.

There is nothing straight about this line. Like, it starts out kind of straight, but then it goes kind of haywire, and then KEEPS going haywire, because it does not know where it is going or what it is doing. It is a very confused line.

And sometimes, when you think it’s going straight (like, see where there are places where it SEEMS it’s going straight?) it decides “HA HA! I WILL GO JIGGEDY-JAGGEDY ON YOU!”

When, Lord?! When the hell do I get to see the goddamn sailboat?!

When, Lord?! When the hell do I get to see the goddamn sailboat?!

“Amy?”

I can hear you, you know, even though you’re using your most polite voice. It’s ok. You don’t have to be polite with me.

“Your line metaphor is very…nice…and SUPER-artistic…but…where are you going with this?”

Yeah, I probably should get to the point. I try to…but you saw that line up there, yeah? It has a mind of its own.

OK. So when your life is a crazy waggly line, there are good things and bad things. Like, you have a lot of experiences and stories and you meet some of the best people (whose lines are usually all over the place, too…us wacky-line people, we tend to flock together. Probably because our lines get all tangled like the last two skeins of yarn in the bottom of the bag and we can’t extricate ourselves…but that’s neither here nor there, really.)

It's easier to just stick together. We get all knotty if we try to split up.

It’s easier to just stick together. We get all knotty if we try to split up.

However, life with a wiggly line is also about making the most IMPRESSIVE mistakes (falling in love with the least-likely human beings who break your heart into a million pieces; losing your job repeatedly; crazy brain-chemistry; not being able to sleep for days; shall I go on?) and not ever knowing what’s coming up. You’ve heard about waiting for the other shoe to drop? Well, you’ve always got a big old workboot hanging over your head. At first, that boot comes as a surprise. You’re all, “what the hell? I JUST GOT BOPPED BY A BOOT! Where did that boot come from?” and you look up at the sky all suspiciously. Then the second boot falls, and you’re all, “another boot? WHAT IS HAPPENING.” But then another boot, and another boot, and you kind of get used to boots. You’re always on the lookout for boots. It’s not the easiest way to live, always having one eye out for gigantic metaphors falling from the sky. But if you know it’s probably coming, you don’t get so out-of-nowhere smacked.

Duck & cover. DUCK AND COVER, I SAID.

Duck & cover. DUCK AND COVER, I SAID.

This past Monday, I went into work. I do that, on Mondays. Most weekdays, actually. I worked. I went to lunch. After lunch, I came back to an email saying I had a meeting. I went to the conference room, and about ten other people trailed in, and we made some confused jokes about why, exactly, we were in this conference room, and there was this weird whistling noise and I was all, “huh, what’s that, I wonder, maybe the air conditioning?” and then the CFO and HR came in and told us all of our jobs had been eliminated and the BIGGEST BOOT EVER smashed me upside the head and I was all “SHIT that’s what that whistling noise was. It was coming from a really, really far distance, this time, is all. Breaking the sound barrier, far.”

Squiggly line! I had been so happy and comfortable with my amazing job with my awesome coworkers that paid ALL THE MONEY that I forgot about the squiggly line and (eep!) THE BOOT HANGING OVER MY HEAD AT ALL TIMES!

(Apparently I am to blame the economy. Any guesses who Dad thinks is to blame for this? Those of you who guessed “the government” win. What do you win? I don’t know. Nothing from me. I can’t afford to get you a prize. I don’t have a job right now, suckas!)

So here I am, yet again, friends and bloggonians, underemployed, waiting to hear from the unemployment people, waiting to hear from the food-stamp people, picking up a few hours as I can at the answering service (thank you again, answering service!), applying to a million billion jobs, networking with everyone I can think of in the hope I can maybe, just maybe, find a job that I actually really love, not just settle for because it puts money in my pocket but also sucks my soul out of my nose.

I'm not this serious yet. I can't guarantee you I won't get there, though.

I’m not this serious yet. I can’t guarantee you I won’t get there, though.

(Side note: I apparently am VERY equipped to sell insurance. I have, unsolicited, gotten four emails and a phone call from three different companies that want me to sell insurance. I assume they saw my resume on one of the job-searching sites. One was from the AFLAC duck, which was humorous, but I still don’t want to sell insurance, even if an anthromoporphic duck thinks it’s my calling. I also got an email from someone telling me I’d make an amazing realtor. I can’t think of anything I’d be worse at than selling homes or insurance. If I was living on commissions, I’d be eating out of dumpsters.)

Flattering, duck. But, no.

Flattering, duck. But, no.

Luckily, the upside of having a line o’squiggliness for a lifeline is that the ups always come. The downs are always right around the corner, but the ups are there, too. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer for them, but they’re there. The boot gets cranked back up to wherever it hangs in wait and things get rosy again, for a time.

And there’s a slight possibility that the boot WON’T fall again. That’s the thing about that boot. You can’t trust that it will or will not fall. You’re just always nervously waiting for it…but that doesn’t mean it’s a definite.

And shh…I’ll tell you a secret:

Even though it drives me insane at times, and even though there are times I mutter angrily “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE NORMAL LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, AMY!?!?”, I’ll take my squiggly line over a straight line any day. My squiggly life has brought me such joy. I just have to wait out the bad patches. And avoid those falling boots.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a normal life, anyway. I think you have to vaccuum and wear polo shirts or something, in a normal life. I’d be very unprepared for such things. I look terrible in polo shirts.

Time for the next leg of the adventure. Don’t fail me now, squiggly line. I have to believe you have some sort of plan.

(You do, right?)

*grin* (I knew it.)

*grin*
(I knew it.)

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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.


Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.

I think you’re supposed to do resolutions this time of year. That’s the thing, right? NEW YEAR! RESOLUTIONS!

This is for you, Andreas. I know you'll love this.

This is for you, Andreas. I know you’ll love this.

Thing is, those get broken. You’re all fired up for like a week, then you get tired, and it’s so damn cold (well, unless you live somewhere warm; somewhere warm certainly isn’t here) and you might have resolved to, I don’t know, go to the gym more, or eat better, but again, SO DAMN COLD, and it’s so much easier to shotgun episodes of Elementary and eat a lot of comforting bread pudding. I mean. Not that I know anyone who’s done that. Who would do such a thing? Foolishness.

Yeah, who would eat all the warm bread pudding? WHO WOULD DO THAT?

Yeah, who would eat all the warm bread pudding? WHO WOULD DO THAT?

So instead of resolutions, I like to have some objectives. I may or may not reach these objectives, but they’re something to shoot for…and sometimes they’re long-term objectives, and sometimes lifetime objectives, and sometimes short-term objectives. And I try very hard not to beat myself up if I don’t meet my objectives. Being nicer to myself has been a long-term objective for years. I’m working really hard to keep that one.

My main objective for 2014 (hi, 2014! I am so excited you’re here!) is to be brave.

What? Amy? Amy isn’t brave? Amy’s awful shouty for a coward.

I’m not a coward. I just often take the easy way out, and that’s often the quiet route. I let a lot of life pass me by because it’s easier to not reach for what I want, not speak up, not be direct about things.

Being brave is SCARY. You have to step outside of your comfort zone a LOT to be brave. You have to be willing to get shot down, and you have to be willing to be laughed at, sometimes. But you also get the satisfaction of having BEEN brave. You get to take that home with you. That’s yours to keep.

I’ve already set some of the scaffolding in place for this for the year; nothing I’m going to discuss at the moment, but it’s actually progressing as we speak. (Another objective: not waiting until some random day like the first of the year to start things. I started working on this one big bravery-objective probably mid-2013.)

So, if we had to pick a watchword for 2014: brave. Not in the Sara Bareilles way or the badass-archer-redhead and her bear-mom way, either. Just in an Amy-way, which is a much smaller-spanning way, and probably has very little impact on anyone but me…but I’d like to know that I have it in me to be brave.

2014 is also going to be a year for travel: that’s not as much of an objective, but a given. I have the tickets. I’m going to Europe. The clock flipped over to 12 and it became The Year Amy Goes to Europe. (Well, I suppose technically it’s the year I go to Europe AGAIN, as I’ve been ONCE, but this time it MATTERS.) This is the year I’m old enough to APPRECIATE Europe, and give some people that have my heart some HUGE HUGS. And spend actual face-time with them. Extended face-time. I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this. I’m marking days off my calendar like I’m facing parole in a little under 5 months. Europe! I am so going to rock you with ZOMGs and excited laughter and wild eyes of wonder and hair that is totally intractable! Look out!

Here I come, land of the Finns! We are going to have the best of times!

Here I come, land of the Finns! We are going to have the best of times!

I’m also planning at least one, if not two, trips to my favorite city in all the world (which is…who’s been paying attention? NEW YORK CITY! You win! What do you win? Hell, I don’t know. My applause, I guess!) and will go with/see some more of my favorite people while there. My favorite city plus my favorite people? Total win.

I miss you, New York! It's been too long!

I miss you, New York! It’s been too long!

Maybe some other smaller trips; maybe just little adventures around here. There are adventures to be had close to home, not just far away. There are places I’ve totally not explored here, even after living here for 11 years. It won’t hurt anything to have a few close-to-home adventures. Plus, upside: I know where all the bathrooms/escape routes are!

It’s also going to be a year of books (not a surprise to anyone that knows me, I’m sure) and theater (again, not at all a shocker) and catching up on television shows and spending time, both in real-time and internet-time, with the people I love, and none of that varies from this year. Those things have all worked. You keep the things that worked, you see. The things that didn’t, you boot to the curb. You don’t need to carry those things with you into your shiny new year. If you keep carrying around all that garbage, you’ll give yourself a sore back, you know?

And I’m going to risk things, and go on adventures, and I’m going to be brave, because you don’t get anywhere if no one knows you want to go. You can’t just sit at the station and watch the trains go by; you have to get up your courage and get ON one of those trains. Where it’s taking you? Well, you might have an idea, but it also might be a bit of an unknown to you. And that’s the scary bit. But you’re never going to go if you just sit and watch. You have to actually be part of what’s happening.

Here’s to stepping in the middle of it and not getting trampled. Welcome, 2014; your big brother 2013 hasn’t been overly kind to anyone I know, and we’re all so, so glad you’ve arrived. You be good to us, ok?

Welcome, welcome, happy new year! I'm so glad to meet you!

Welcome, welcome, happy new year! I’m so glad to meet you!


Where do we go from here?

I know. You’re probably wondering, what has happened to Amy? Is she dead? Has she forgotten about us? Does she think she is too good for us? IS SHE TOO GOOD FOR HER HOME?!?!? 

Nothing this shocking, my little tater tots. Nothing this gossip-worthy at all. The answer’s a lot more mundane, promise. 

Total and complete case of what seems to be some sort of writer’s block. Well, no. Not WRITER’S block, per se: blogger’s block, I guess.

I have nothing whatsoever to write about. Nothing in my head; no ideas to write about; nothing at all noteworthy in my life to share. I’ll sit down to write something for you all and nothing at all comes to mind. 

I have plenty of things to write about in other arenas; I can email/text my friends all day long, I can write about books, I can review plays, I can write poetry, I can do work-related writing. None of this has suffered at all. 

But when I sit down to write HERE…nope. Nada. Nothing big, nothing small, nothing at all. (That was strangely Dr. Seussian, no?) Not even a little post making fun of a ridiculous thing I read in the news. Nothing seems right and nothing seems worth the bother. 

I have three posts planned for next week, possible four; I know exactly what they’ll be about, so that’s something. I have ideas for five posts for December. I’m working on a separate project that’s writing related that I can share sometime in the next couple of weeks. Other than that? Don’t know. Might be a few more posts, depending on what comes across my radar that I think needs to be shared; might not. 

But AMY! What does this MEAN? Are you OK? 

Here’s the funniest thing? I’m just about as ok as I’ve been since I started writing here. So I have to wonder if this was my free therapy, and maybe at the moment, I don’t need it as much? Not really sure. I’m more stressed about the fact that I’m randomly letting the interwebs down than I am about not having a multitude of words at my beck and call. (Now, if I didn’t have any words at ALL, like, to say or email or use at WORK, I’d be worried. But they’re still there. They’re just not there for the blogging, is all.) 

ALL THE WORDS! Except when I sit down to blog.

ALL THE WORDS! Except when I sit down to blog.

As for what it means? Well, it means the updates here are going to come less frequently. I’m not leaving altogether; I like it here too much to run away like Brave Sir Robin.

I like the community we’ve made here, and I like the things that blogging’s brought into my life (and the people.) Blogging’s become such an innate part of who I am that it seems so strange to not be doing it. But another thing is – I’ve kind of (against my better judgment) developed some sort of a life. With actual people in it. People who want to see me! And do things with me! And add to that my part-time jobs, and the time I’d like to spend with myself just recharging, reading or watching endless episodes of Catfish (sincerely, WHO SENDS SOMEONE THEY DON’T KNOW THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, I CAN’T EVEN) and planning for the holidays and and and…the endless hours I used to spend blogging seem…sort of decadent, to me. Like something from long-ago. I don’t know where I found the time, and I don’t know that I’ll ever have that kind of time again, or that drive, or all those pretty, pretty words, all lined up at my beck and call, ready to make you laugh, or cry, depending on the day. 

See, Nev and Max know how shocking "Catfish" can be and HOW IMPORTANT IT IS I WATCH EVERY LAST EPISODE, DAMMIT.

See, Max and Nev know how shocking “Catfish” can be and HOW IMPORTANT IT IS I WATCH EVERY LAST EPISODE, DAMMIT.

I will, of course, still be around. I will still be reading and commenting on blogs; I will still be lurking on Twitter and Facebook (I’ve become just terrible about tweeting and Facebookery; I think they’re things I need to get back into practice of, but, again, there are all those episodes of Catfish to watch.) I will still be updating social media here and there. You know how to reach me, should you feel the need to do so. I’m not DYING. I’m just going to not be around HERE as much. 

I suppose we could see it as an “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing, right? “Oh! THERE IS A NEW LUCY’S FOOTBALL POST! It is a FRABJOUS day! CALLOO CALLAY!” Right? Right. 

And there are things to look forward to. You will get all the bloggery come next spring; you’re all coming with me to the land of Finns, because tickets have been purchased for my grand European adventure to visit my beloved Andreas and his most wonderful family.

Look at Andreas' beautiful islands I will be visiting! I AM SO EXCITED!!!

Look at Andreas’ beautiful islands I will be visiting! I AM SO EXCITED!!!

Plans are being made as we speak for this. I will be spending two weeks on the continent of Yerp, adventuring and chatting and traveling and eating fancy foreign foods and using my hard-won new Swedish vocabulary. Ready? I will share it with you. “Hej.” I CAN NOW SAY HI IN SWEDISH. I know you’re impressed. You really should be. Even better: “hej” is pronounced “hey” so it’s SUPER-hard to remember, I mean, seriously. I will also be in a couple of other countries while I am there and I think you’ll need to hear all about those, too. I mean, it’s not like I can’t share that with you guys. Who better to represent Merka in Yerp than me, I ask you? I will be the MOST excited. (Side note: Andreas says Finns are a very stoic people, and my natural ebullience will make them think I am either mentally ill or on the drugs. I CANNOT WAIT TO GO TO A COUNTRY WHERE PEOPLE THINK THAT, JUST BY BEING ME, I AM MENTALLY ILL OR ON THE DRUGS, YOU GUYS!) There is a little countdown clock thingy on the right over there so I can look at it and grin about how close it’s getting. Less than 200 days to go, now! 

So really, I’m just here using all the words to tell you I have no words and you won’t be seeing me so much, which seems a very confusing thing to do to you all. Sorry about that. 

I’ll be around, here and there, which makes me sound like I’m watching you like Sting or Santa or a stalker (those are very alliterative, whoo.) Love your faces, and thank you for being here, you know? You’re the best part of the bloggery. Most sincerely.


Mom always told me my big mouth would get me in trouble someday.

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.” –Bette Davis

This week, I was VERY controversial.

I met with friends for dinner early in the week. When I arrived, J. said “I don’t know, should we be having dinner with such a controversial person?” and I was all, “Whaaa?” and they all giggled and then got serious faces because they assumed I’d heard and now they were tasked with letting me know what was up.

Heard what, you may ask? What exactly WAS up?

Well! Apparently, I angered some people with a review I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Angered them enough that I got two – count ‘em, two – letters to the editor written about me, and a comment on the review itself, and a private message on Facebook.

Whoo! Look at me go! Angering people all OVER the region!

A little background, I suppose, is in order.

I went to the show. It starred some of the area’s best actors. The kind of actors that, when you say their names around here, people take notice. The set was gorgeous. The costumes were perfect. The acting was quite good; the direction couldn’t be faulted.

That having been said, it was the second-worst show I’ve seen all year. And I’ve seen a LOT of shows.

It was the show itself that was the problem. It was extremely dated; it had very little to do with anything contemporary, so it was very hard to relate to. It was abnormally long; almost three hours, including intermission. It was extremely talky; a good hour could have been cut from that script and not sacrificed a single bit of the action. Sorry – “action.” That needs ironic air-quotes. Nothing that could be described as action happened in this show. Like, at all. It was painful. I wanted to leave at intermission but I was getting paid to review it so that wasn’t an option.

VERY close to me during Act II. Not quite, but almost.

VERY close to me during Act II. Not quite, but almost.

I’m not saying I need, like, a shoot-out scene or a huge sex scene or anything. (Well, not EVERY time.) But something needs to HAPPEN, dammit. And nothing happened in this play. There were some scenes that I think were supposed to be shocking, but they were just yawn-inducing. Maybe they were shocking in the 30s when this was written, I don’t know. The characters were written so flimsily and ridiculously that only a couple of them were at all believable.

It was a TERRIBLE show. It wasn’t terribly acted, directed, set designed, or costumed (or even lit or sound designed); it was just a poorly-chosen show, and poorly-written, and it was so hard to watch.

Now, I realize this is just my opinion…and you know what they say about opinions, right? Yep. Just like…elbows. Yeah, that’s it. Elbows. Everyone has one. (Or two, really, if you’re going with the elbow thing.) Thing is, I get paid for my opinion.

I don’t like to be mean. I really think there’s something to be celebrated in every piece of work, no matter how much I dislike it. I wrote a review saying how much I liked and admired the actors, set, and costumes; I even gave the director kudos (although I did say he could have cut some of the script, for our sake.) I did, however, excoriate the script. Listen, I’ve read a lot of plays. I have a decent handle on what’s out there; I have a somewhat informed opinion. That’s why the paper hired me, and not some yahoo who’s never been to the theater before.

I ended the review with the following, which I think I can share without being fired for sharing something that you’re all supposed to pay for:

“It’s a shame that, with such powerful actors on stage, their talent is being wasted in such a lackluster play. With so many shows in the area currently in production, audiences are — and I say this with regret, as these actors alone are worth the ticket price — advised to give this one a pass.”

I’ve ended a number of reviews with a similar sentiment (as have other area reviewers) – either that I recommend the show, or I don’t. It’s usually clear, from my review, whether or not I actually SAY I recommend it or not, whether or not I do. (I think that’s the point of a review, isn’t it?)

Apparently, it’s this last paragraph that upset people.

The comment on the review said they “felt (my) review was unfair-especially your final comment” because it “probably kept many people from attending.”

The first letter to the editor said the author took “exception to one of (my) comments” because “(e)veryone has the right to their own opinion; however, to come out and tell people not to see a show is going too far. People should be able to read a review if they need to, and decide for themselves…a comment (like this is) hurtful and detrimental to the company.”

The other letter to the editor said (in short; it was a VERY long letter) “Amy…advises potential patrons to give it a pass. I disagree with that.” (She then went on and on about how flawed the script was, but that the show was so relatable, and then broke down my review point by point to say why she was right in her opinion and I was wrong.)

Oh, and I also got a private message from an aquaintance on Facebook, asking me to explain myself – why did I advise people to not attend a show he’d PERSONALLY enjoyed very much?

OK. Here’s the thing.

First: I didn’t write that review to hurt anyone. I actually went out of my way to NOT hurt anyone. The only one at fault was whoever chose the show, and a lot of factors go into choosing a show. I’m not going to pick those apart; I wasn’t part of that selection process.

I stand by that last paragraph. I couldn’t recommend the show. (And I’m not naming names, but I spoke to a number of theater friends who saw the show over the couple weeks it was playing. Not a single one recommended it, either. And I got thanks – thanks for writing a review of a terrible show in such a way that it highlighted the positive, and didn’t hurt anyone. I take their praise over these letters any day. They matter to me. A great deal. These letters? Meh.)

When you read a review – a movie review, a theater review, a book review – do you read it thinking it’s an encyclopedia entry? Or do you (as you should) read it thinking it’s the author’s opinion, and when you see/read what’s being reviewed, your opinion might differ? As it’s an opinion? And what worked for one person might not work for another?

As I said, I’ve said “I do recommend this show” or “I don’t recommend this show” before. As have other reviewers. (And I don’t want to play the sexism card, here, but I’ve seen a lot more Letters to the Editor/mean comments on the reviews written by the female reviewers in the area than on the reviews of the male reviewers – and there are two, maybe three, female reviewers in the WHOLE AREA and, oh, I don’t know, maybe a dozen or more male reviewers – I just have to think that maybe men having opinions, that’s ok, but women? GAH WHAT DO STUPID CHICKS KNOW WITH THEIR STUPID CHICK BRAINS.) I don’t see anyone complaining when I DO recommend a show. So I’m allowed to recommend a show – because that INCREASES their box office – but I can’t NOT recommend a show, because that would DECREASE their box office. Because people are JUST THAT STUPID. They will read my review and walk, all zombie-like, to the theater…or they will STAY FAR AWAY.

Listen. I worked at a local theater for 8 years. We weathered both good and bad reviews. Did they have an effect our box office? Sometimes, yes. An excellent review got more people in; a bad review did tend to keep some people away. But that’s just the way the game is played. Sometimes the reviewer has an axe to grind; sometimes the reviewer only likes comedies or dramas; sometimes the reviewer is just extremely negative all the time; sometimes you luck out, and the reviewer loves the show, and you read it and you just grin. It’s just a review, in the grand scheme of things, really. It’s a quick flame of either helpful or hurtful.

But these letters and comments and private messages…

Listen, people. It was my opinion. As I say, I stand by this opinion. If I had it to do all over again? I’d write it exactly the same. (And, just so you know, my editor read that review, and ran it exactly as I wrote it. She had no problem with it, either.) Amy the reviewer couldn’t recommend that show; Amy the PERSON couldn’t recommend that show. If I’d just seen it for fun, I wouldn’t have recommended it to people. To be honest, I texted a friend while the show was in intermission who I knew was trying to find a way to squeeze it into his schedule with “DO NOT SEE THIS. DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF. TALK TO YOU MORE ABOUT IT WHEN I SEE YOU ON MONDAY. DO NOT DO NOT DOOOO NOOOOOT.” And that was Amy the person, not Amy the reviewer.

I could have left that last paragraph out. Sure I could have. Thing is? Not to be too horn-tooty, people, but I’m a decent writer, and from the rest of the review, you’d know exactly where I stood. I came out and said I couldn’t recommend the show, but without saying it, I said it all through the rest of the review. That last paragraph was really just a summation of what came before. Take umbrage with it if you must, but the rest of the review said the same thing. Also? If you want a rainbows and sunshine review, and the show’s not (in my, as stated, OPINION) good? You’re not getting that from me. I don’t lie. Even if I have people I care about in the show, which has happened in the past. I will not lie in my reviews. It’s a promise I made to myself when I started, and it’s a promise I have vowed to keep to myself. I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eye if there was something published in the paper I didn’t 100% stand behind.

And, much as I have the right to my opinion, those people all have a right to theirs. I’m so very glad they enjoyed the show; I have to say I can’t exactly understand HOW they did, but I do understand that everyone’s respective cranks are turned in different ways, and this show turned theirs, and it left mine completely frozen in place. (THE CRANK IS NOT A EUPHEMISM.)

However: I do believe I’m completely in the right, as a reviewer, to say IN THE REVIEW that I recommend or don’t recommend a show. How this affects your ticket sales is not on my shoulders. As a friend who will not be named said when I told him this story: “If you don’t want bad reviews? STOP PRODUCING CRAP.”

Also, I’m pretty sure once you start getting hate mail, you’ve totally made it, right? I’m a wicked big deal now, yo. Look out, world, I’m like the next Michiko Kakutani. It’s only upward from here. Today hate mail, tomorrow LETTER BOMBS. Whoo-hoo!


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