Category Archives: conversations

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.”


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!)



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.


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*

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.
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?
Me: OK. Bye. Love you.
Dad: Grumble grumble grumble grump love you bye.



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.
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?
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.
Dad: I found the control center. Is it there?
Me: I don’t know. Is it?
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.



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.
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.

I propose Happy Hour be renamed Confusing Conversation Hour after this.

Actual excerpt from an email to sj Saturday evening:

I’m debating whether or not to blog Drunken Amy’s Dad Stories, which have the subtitles of “Amy’s Dad Talks about Ecstasy” and “Amy’s Dad Discusses Penis Sizes in Various Countries” and “Amy’s Dad Saw a UFO over the Ocean Talking to Whales, Maybe” and “Amy’s Dad Thinks All the Hollywood Stars Live in the White House Right Now for Some Reason” and “Amy’s Dad Went to an Island but When Amy Questioned That, He Yelled, ‘It Was Just the Name of the Store, Not a Real Island, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU TONIGHT?'”

Obviously, my debate ended with the devil on my shoulder shouting down the angel on my OTHER shoulder.

I should backtrack a little or this isn’t going to make sense.

Dad’s in Florida until the end of the month. His cousin P. (my second cousin) is staying with him until Monday. I love P. She is one of the most intelligent people I know. She’s also HYSTERICAL. She makes me laugh until I cry. She also listens with her whole self when you’re talking to her. And gives the most thoughtful advice. She’s kind of the best.

So P. is staying with Dad for the week in his swinging mirrored condo. Apparently this means they go out for happy hour a lot, and he calls me late and is…a tad overserved. And says “IS THIS SO LATE FOR CALLING YOU?” and it’s not like it’s 1am, it’s like 10pm, so that’s not SO late. Then he tells me that P. has FORCED him, AGAIN, to go out for drinks, and what a bad influence she is, and in the background she is saying, “NO ONE FORCED YOU TO GO OUT YOU GRUMPY SO AND SO.” They get along very well. She doesn’t put up with his nonsense. And she makes him laugh the hardest. Didn’t I tell you she was kind of the best? She totally is.

So tonight he was supposed to call me at 6:30, but, no. And then I called him at 9. Not home. (SIDE NOTE! He’s staying at a condo and the owner’s name is Bob…something, I don’t even remember. I make up things when I can’t remember. Let’s say Bob McGillicutty. So my caller ID, when he calls, says “Bob McGillicutty.” And when I answer, I say, “Well! Hello, Bob!” or “Bob! Why are you calling so late?” or “Bob! I could totally be dead and you wouldn’t even know because you’re calling me like 4 hours late.” And he always laughs and says, “Bob here!” in a cheerful tone every time. Hee, “Bob here” is my new favorite.)

So he called me at a little after 10. And Dad had been imbibing with P. And also with Aunt G. and Uncle P.

“AMY!” Dad (also known as Bob) said. “Did you know that there are some places where after a certain time, LADIES DRINK FREE?”

What's a ladys? Is it like someone's name? Like Gladys? Does Gladys drink free?

What’s a ladys? Is it like someone’s name? Like Gladys? Does Gladys drink free? Is it a type of drink? Like a Long Island Iced Tea or something? This is a perplexing sign.

“I’ve heard of such things,” I said solemnly. “I have never attended one, because there tend to be people there. People who are drinking. And that leads to people who are shovey and way too loud, and someone usually spills cheap beer on your nice purse.”

“I had to pay. I am not a lady. But G. and P. did not have to pay! LADIES DRINK FREE!”

“You should have worn a muumuu. Maybe you could have had free drinks.”


Apparently Homer is not a man-person.

Apparently Homer is not a man-person.

So, since sj exhorted me to PLEASE PLEASE blog about what Drunken Dad says about the state of the world, I bring you excerpts from our conversation. Perhaps you will be as confused as I was. It’s ok. It was a confusing phone call.


Dad: P. and I saw a UFO.
Me: What? You did? Where did you see this?
Dad: Over the ocean. She didn’t even take a picture, can you imagine?
Me: You saw a UFO. Over the ocean? What did it do? How do you know it wasn’t a plane? Sometimes they’re planes.
Dad: NO. It was ROUND and then it ZIPPED and LIGHTS WENT ALL AROUND and then it DISAPPEARED.

Ooh, look, Dad, I found a photo for you!

Ooh, look, Dad, I found a photo for you!

Me: Well. That does sound like an alien encounter, for sure.
Dad: If we had a photo, we could send it to that guy you watch on TV.
Me: What guy do I watch on TV that likes aliens?
Dad: That guy that you call a douche.
Me: The Ghost Douche?

Dad: Yes, that one. We would be famous.
Me: Well, the flaw in your plan is that he investigates ghosts? So probably wouldn’t care about UFOs.
Dad: Also, remember that time he thought he was possessed by a girl ghost? Do you think he would think he was possessed by an alien?
Me: Yes. Probably a girl alien.
Dad: I wouldn’t like to watch that.
Me: No one would. Ooh, maybe the UFO was talking to whales, because they’re so intelligent.
Dad: That’s what the government wants you to believe.
Me: That whales are intelligent or that UFOs would talk to them or that UFOs are over the ocean?
Dad: Yes.


Dad: Today we went to buy teeshirts and the best mother ever bought a teeshirt for her daughter.
Me: OK. That’s nice, right?
Dad: You know all the things. You will know about this.
Me: I don’t even know half of the things, but go ahead. What do I know?
Dad: The teeshirt said “Molly is my homegirl.” CAN YOU IMAGINE? (In the background, P. is saying, “MOLLY IS MY HOMEGIRL!” in a jolly fashion. I love her.)

Me: No. Who’s Molly? Molly Weasley? I’d wear that.

Dad: Weasel? No. MOLLY, Amy!
Me: I don’t know what that means. Who’s Molly?
Dad: AMY!
Me: I don’t…is there something I’m missing here?
(I quickly Googled what this meant; it’s apparently a thing with the kids today and some sort of rap lyric referring to ecstasy.)
Me: So P. bought this for her daughter? That seems unlike her. Did J. want that shirt? (SIDE NOTE: J. is my most wonderful third cousin, who I want to adopt. She is a junior in high school and is just utter sunshine. She has a giggle that fills you up with carbonated fizzies. She’s one of my favorite humans.)
Dad: P. has iron balls. She said, “What is Molly?” TO STRANGERS! In the STORE! And no one would tell her.
Me: She bought a shirt but didn’t know what it meant? How did she even know J. wanted it? I don’t think J. does ecstasy. She’s perfection. She wouldn’t do that.
Me: I guess I am just confused why P. would buy her daughter a drug shirt? Isn’t she mad you’re talking about her right now? I can hear her right there in the room with you.
Dad: P. didn’t buy a drug shirt!
Me: What? Who are we talking about, then?
Dad: Some WOMAN! At the store! Not P.!
Me: This conversation is as confusing as talking to Gramma when she says “the old guy came to visit me” and that could refer to, like, anyone she knows, and she expects you to psychically know who she means.
Dad: It makes perfect sense to me. Is there something wrong with you tonight?
Me: I’m beginning to wonder.
Dad: Did you know people make drugs in their houses and sometimes the houses explode? P. read that on the internet.

Ka-BOOM. Goodbye, house.

Ka-BOOM. Goodbye, house.

Me: Yes. Not ecstasy, though, I don’t think. That’s meth. That’s a whole different thing.
Dad: Why do you know about meth?
Me: Well, you know me. I run with a shady crew. Always exploding their meth labs.


Dad: So what are you doing tonight?
Me: It’s like 10:30. I think I’m doing exactly what I’ll be doing for the rest of the night: nothing. I’m tired.
Dad: Good. If you go out that’s when the killers get you.
Me: I have to write a blog about penis sizes in various countries.
Dad: (chokes on something he’s drinking) I think I heard you incorrectly.
Me: I have this map of penis sizes in various countries and I’m pretty sure I need to blog about it but I haven’t decided how to do it yet.

Dad: Who tells their father something like this?
Me: I do. I do something like that. Don’t you find that fascinating? Someone took the time to make this map.
Dad: That is porn.
Me: No. There aren’t PHOTOS of the penises. Just a map with colors on it saying who has the biggest penises.
Dad: P. could find that map on her phone, you know. She’s very good with that phone.
Me: People with smartphones often are. Plus the phones are very smart. Hence the name. Did you know Canada has larger penises than America?
Dad: No. I didn’t want to know that. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s not true.
Me: I’m pretty sure it is. This seems like a very sciency map.
Dad: It’s probably because of the government.
Me: Our lack of penis size is a government conspiracy? Wow, this is wide-reaching, this conspiracy. Also, I’m very excited about my trip to Finland next year, because they are ALSO better than America, penis-size-wise, so you know I’m bound to totally have a very good time.
Dad: I don’t think you tell your father such things. Also, that’s not why you’re going to the land of Finns.
Me: No, but it’s like an interesting perk I’ve just discovered right now. China and India lose. This must make them so sad.
Dad: Are we still talking about this?
Me: Yes. It is SCIENCE! Science is INTERESTING! And AWESOME!

Dad: I hope you didn’t tell your mother about this. You cannot talk to you mother about things like this.
Me: NO. I don’t mention penises to Mom. When I do she starts muttering prayers under her breath. I worry she’s going to get a young priest and an old priest and they’re going to show up at my door for an impromptu exorcism. NICE YOUNG LADIES DON’T TALK ABOUT DING-DONGS, AMY!
Dad: No one ever said you were nice. Your mother knows you’re not nice. It’s the bane of her existence. However, I like it the most. Wait til I tell P. what you are talking about. She is not going to believe this.
Me: I think she’ll find it hilarious. She loves me. I make her laugh. Plus, I think she’ll want to look it up because it’s good to be prepared.
Dad: I don’t want to think about either you or P. being prepared for such a thing in random countries. WE ARE CHANGING THE SUBJECT NOW.
Me: Fine, but I’m just saying, if you ever want to send me to Venezuela, that seems to be the place to go. Yowza.


Dad: Did you see what your President did now?
Me: Oh, it’s hard to tell. What now?
Dad: He sent that guy to Cuba, but if we went to Cuba, we’d be arrested.
Me: Oh, that guy. Of course. If I ask what guy, are you going to yell at me?
Dad: Some rippety rapper. (The internet tells me it was Jay-Z and he and Beyoncé went there for their anniversary? I could research this more but I don’t even care that much. Unless it’s Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” I don’t care at all.)

Aw, how cute are they? Like a little honeymooning couple. With the little polo shirt and the tropical-print dress. ADORABLE.

Aw, how cute are they? Like a little vacationing couple. With the little polo shirt and the tropical-print dress. ADORABLE.

Me: OK, then.
Dad: The White House belongs to US and now all the people in Hollywood live there.
Me: I don’t…huh. What?
Dad: Why when I tell you a thing do you never believe me?
Me: Mostly because the things you tell me sound like crazytalk.
Me: Uh-huh. The real news told you that all the Hollywood stars live in the White House with the president.
Dad: YES.
Me: Do you think maybe that’s an exaggeration?
Dad: NO.
Me: I think maybe he knows some Hollywood people and maybe some have visited.
Me: Actually, that’s the President’s house, and I think he’s allowed to have houseguests if he pleases. I’m sure Ronald Reagan had Hollywood people visit. And I’m MORE than sure JFK did.



Me: Nah. We have houses. Mine’s here and it has cats in it; yours is there and it’s got trees in the backyard. We don’t need the president’s house.
Dad: If you keep your head in the sand about these things eventually you’re going to suffocate.
Me: I’ll put a straw in the sand like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I’ll be fine.


Dad: When we were at (mumble mumble) island today, P. spent way too much money. I wouldn’t do that.
Amy: How come when I was there, we didn’t go to an island?
Dad: What? There are no islands.
Amy: I’m pretty sure, even though you were being a Mumble Mumblerton, you just said you went to an island.
Dad: THAT IS THE NAME OF THE SOUVENIR SHOP. Seriously, are you ok? You’re not getting it tonight. Do you have a head injury?
Amy: Yes. This is most definitely my fault for being slow on the uptake. Maybe the cats stole my breath when I was sleeping last night.
Dad: I keep TELLING you those cats are going to steal your breath. They’re killer cats. You never listen to me and soon it will be too late. BECAUSE YOU WILL BE DEAD. WITH NO BREATH.

Soon P. will be on her way back to the lovely Capital District of New York State (she lives about half an hour from me) and Dad will be ALL ALONE so his liver can detox, I suppose. I think our phone conversations will be quieter. Much less shouting. Fewer non-sequiturs. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Drunken Dad! I will miss you and your shoutery. I raise my store-brand sugar-free fruit-punch to you. And pour some out for my dead homiez, yo. That’s what I learned you do by watching rippety rappers who live in the White House. See, Dad? I totally learn things from watching teevee. I’m not even a disappointment.

Bracketology 101 (with help from Amy’s Dad)

Quickly: thank you so much for your reads, shares, comments, tweets, and altogether amazing response to yesterday’s post. It was not an easy post to write; I’ve been agonizing over what I wanted to say and how to word it and how to express myself about this for quite some time now. When the verdict came down this week and the public response was…well, unexpected, to say the least, I was in utter shock. sj was the one who told me, after a series of emails, that a letter to Jane Doe was my angle. sj was also there for me when I doubted I could write it, and when it proved almost too triggery for me to continue with. So for every thank you I got for writing that, half of those thanks (or more) should go to sj, who in the whole grand scheme of things is that cheerleader you want in your corner and that intelligent friend who operates as both the angel on your shoulder and that other set of eyes you need sometimes AND the most hilarious woman you know who can make you laugh until you both cry AND snort. Love you, chica. Thank you for being amazing.

This will be a quick one today, as I am kind of drained, but I think we need to lighten up a little today, right? And as a thank you for being so amazing, and reading me no matter if I’m serious or if I’m goofy? You’re all fantastic, seriously. And how better to do that than with DAD STORIES?

I have TWO.

One is very, very brief, and one is a peek into the world of Amy and Dad, every March, for the past 5 years or so.


Me: So when I went to C. and C.’s house, guess what they have outside their front door? Roses!

Dad: Well, that’s weird. Since it’s winter.
Me: Sigh, sigh. NOT NOW. They WILL have roses. Right now it’s just the PROMISE of roses. Thorny branches that will HAVE roses on them, once it warms up.
Dad: Oh, well, if there are thorns, there will be roses. You know what they say about thorns and roses, right?
Me: Yes, I do. Every rose has its thorn.
Dad: Yep, that’s it.
Me: Just like every night has its dawn.
Dad: No, I don’t think they say that.
Me: Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song.
Dad: What? Cowboys? No. No one says that. Cowboys don’t have roses. Roses don’t grow in the desert.
Me: Every rose has its thorn.
Dad: Now you’re just repeating yourself. No one says those other things, Amy. You’re just making things up.


(Backstory: every year, Dad and I pick our brackets for the NCAA playoffs and have the best time watching the games together over the phone and shouting gleefully and laughing at each other and calling each other losers and sharing our thing. It is our favorite. Dad and my brother have car racing, Dad and I have basketball. I love watching the playoffs the most, but mostly because I know I get to share them with him. Picking our teams is hilarity-filled every year, because he takes it VERY SERIOUSLY and pays attention to statistics and coaches and what players are strong and things like that. Me? Um. Well, you know how when I go to the racetrack and I pick my horses based on what color silks they have, or if they have some permutation of the word “cat” in their name? That’s kind of how I pick my bracket. Surprisingly, I beat him about half of the time using this method. MAGIC VS. SCIENCE! IT IS A TIE!) (Don’t get worried, Andreas, I know it’s not a tie.)

This year, Dad and I are doing two sets of brackets. One against each other – whoever wins buys the other one a meal at McDonalds, and it’s a GOOD meal, per Dad, not the dollar menu, either, BIG MACS IF WE WANT THEM!, and the other set are against Jim. Now, Dad says Jim is dead to him, because we were supposed to meet Jim in Florida last year but Jim blew us off. Dad has blown this up to EPIC proportions and tonight said “That guy was about 10 minutes away from us and treated us like we were garbage. JUST. LIKE. GARBAGE. If that’s not dead to us, I don’t know what is.” I’m pretty sure he was like an hour away, and plans just didn’t work out, not that he treated us like refuse, but Dad’s never let a vendetta pass him by, no siree Bob. So if Dad wins, I think maybe Jim stays dead to us, and if Jim wins…um…well, probably he’s still dead to us. (Jim’s not dead to me. I like Jim a lot. Dad finds this suspicious and thinks I should ALSO think Jim is dead to us but it takes a lot more than that for someone to be dead to me. Hell, I’ve had people completely devastate me and break my heart into a million billion shattery pieces and I’d still stand in front of a train for ’em. I’m not as hard-core as I seem on the outside, my little marshmallow peeps.)

Dad: OK, we have to hurry up and do this because I have to yell at Prost soon.
Me: You know his name is really Probst, right? (This is Jeff Probst from Survivor; Dad thinks he’s the devil incarnate.)
Dad: Yes, but I don’t think he deserves that extra letter because he’s annoying.
Me: FINE. Let’s do mine first.
Dad: OK. Then mine, they’ll be faster. I researched them and everything. Then, PROST-YELLING!
Me: Hee, ok, good, I bet Mom’s really looking forward to that.
Dad: Your mother doesn’t even hate Prost. She doesn’t think his dimples are surgically implanted or anything. Something’s wrong with that woman. (Mom in the background: “He yells so loud I can’t even HEAR the show! It is ANNOYING!”)
Me: I already picked the ones for Jim.
Dad: Who do you have winning that one?
Dad: Gonzaga cannot win. That’s foolish.
Me: No, they’re going to win, and I’ll tell you why. Because of three reasons. A., their name sounds like garbanzo beans; B., they have a ‘z’ in their name, and I like letters at the end of the alphabet the most because they give you the most points in Scrabble, and C., their nickname is the ZAGS. So they will zig and zag and WIN. It is THEIR YEAR.

Dad: I can see you’ve really thought about this in a scientific manner.
Me: YES.
Dad: OK, well that bracket is already pre-busted, let’s work on your real one with me.
Me: Fine. I’m picking Colorado because one time I went there and it had twisty mountains and so therefore those players are used to being all running around and avoiding obstacles. But they won’t go too far, because they’ll get tired from all that dodging.



Dad: Hmm. OK.
Me: I’m also picking Duke, because Blue Devils. I think the Lord of the Underworld would want them to go pretty far. But good always wins out over bad, so they won’t win it all.
Dad: Yeah, they’re not doing the best this year. That’s a good call.

Me: And on this one I don’t have the Zags winning it all, even though I feel like I’m selling them out. I do love the Zags.
Dad: People are saying they’re only #1 this year because they played teams that were easy to beat.
Me: People are jerky and mean. Stop maligning my Zags.
Dad: They can’t win, Amy.
Me: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Remember that year that like the #8 team won everything and everyone’s brackets were busted and people were like SOBBING in the STREETS?
Dad: Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but yes, things like that have been known to happen.
Me: In the south section, I totally picked all the losing teams to win. Because sometimes that happens and I like the underdogs. I picked Villanova because they have a ‘v’ in their name and then I ALSO picked VCU because they ALSO have a ‘v’ and when they play each other it would be V vs. V and wouldn’t THAT be exciting?
Dad: Well, for some people it might, I suppose.
Me: Also I picked Georgetown because I think their mascot is a cranky bulldog.
Dad: Aren’t they the Hoyas? I don’t think a hoya is a cranky bulldog.



Me: In my head they are. I knocked Syracuse out early because every year I pick them to win and every year they break my heart. They are evil, those Orangemen. They are heartbreakers. NO MORE, ORANGEMEN! I refuse to have my heart broken again this year! It’s already been bumped around enough lately, dammit!

That'sone heartbreaky orange.

That’s one heartbreaky orange.

Dad: Did this just stop being about basketball just now?
Me: Maybe. I can neither confirm nor deny that.
Dad: Fine. Do you need me to get your mother?
Me: No. She doesn’t know about basketball or heartbreak.
Dad: You are correct about both of those things.
Me: Also, I have Marquette going to the final four. Do you know why?
Dad: I can’t even begin to imagine.
Me: Because they have a ‘q’ in their name. Q! I like ‘q’s.
Dad: Of course you do. Who do you have winning the whole thing?
Me: I played it safe and picked Louisville, even though they’re known for baseball and not basketball.
Dad: Well, their basketball team is probably known for basketball. And they’re heavily favorited to win it all, so that was a good choice.
Me: I’m so going to win that McDonalds meal, right? I’m getting a hot fudge sundae if I do.

Dad: Wait, DESSERTS are included? You never said DESSERTS were included.
Me: Oh, whatever we WANT is included.
Dad: I don’t like desserts. Can I have two Big Macs?
Me: If you win, you can. If you lose – and you WILL, because none of your teams have ‘z’s or ‘q’s or ‘v’s – then I guess you can have whatever you want, but it will all taste like TEARS and LOSS.
Dad: This is really the best thing.
Me: I KNOW. I love March Madness. It’s the most mad. PLUS ALSO EXCITING.

Time for sleep, pumpkins. Have the best Thursdays filled with excitement and joy and all the happiness the world has to offer. Also maybe a little madness. We all go a little mad sometimes, you know? Worse things can happen.

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