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Category Archives: death

“You’ve got to just figure out a way to sort of take what happens and go forward and try to do the best you can”

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” –George Orwell

Sometimes something just hits you on a lot of different levels.

Dad told me about someone who’d died recently. Someone from home. Well, he’d moved away, so it was someone I’d never known, but I knew his family. His uncle was actually my dentist, growing up. It was a small area. Most of us had the same providers – dentists, doctors, hairdressers. You shopped for clothes at the same place. You were all homogenized. You were all bricks in the wall.

This kid’s family was kind of a big deal. He was born a few towns over. His dad was a heart surgeon, his mother was a doctor, both of his brothers eventually became doctors, his grandfather was a doctor, his uncle was a dentist. Dad said I probably would have met him eventually, but the family had moved away before the kids grew up. I didn’t pay a lot of attention. What attention was I going to pay to the brother of my dentist and his family? I was a kid. It’s not like we hung in the same social circles. Hell, when I was that age, I didn’t HAVE a social circle. I read. It is what I did.

But this kid spent some of his formative years in the same environment I did. There are a couple types of people who come out of our area: the kind that love it, and stay forever, raising their own families; and the type that escape and don’t look back, and don’t GO back, other than for brief visits or familial obligations like birthdays or weddings or the ever-popular funeral.

I’m not judging the people who stay. There needs to be a place for everyone. Some people love it up north. And it is pretty, if you like such things. Very naturey. If you buy a house, you usually get a butt-ton of land along with it. So you can have like a garden and a tree-swing or something, I don’t know. And if you like to drive a really long way to get to things like, oh, I don’t know, stores, or movie theaters, then this is the place for you. Or if you want to keep a billion goats. Or if you want to be a farmer.

However, there are those of us who move away because a small town chafes, and in a small town people know everything you do all the time, and in a small town people have VERY long memories, and remember you when you were three and fell in a mud puddle and eight and vomited on the school bus and sixteen and dated that guy that cheated on you. And they don’t hesitate to bring these things up. And they still treat you like the person you were, not like the person you are. And driving half an hour to buy milk is ridiculous, especially in the winter. THOSE LITTLE UNPAVED ROADS ARE SLIPPERY.

Some of us move away because a small town chafes and we wonder, what else is out there? Because we can hear those other things calling to us. And we answer the call. And we don’t look back.

This is Michael Hastings. Until he was 11, he grew up in the same area as I did. And last week, he died. Did you know about this?

He was a journalist. He wrote for Buzzfeed and GQ and Newsweek and Rolling Stone. He was tenacious. He fought for things he believed in. People threatened him if he dared publish some of his stories; he published them anyway. His fiancée died in Baghdad in 2008; he met and married another writer a few years later, but wrote a book about the loss of his fiancée in a war he not only didn’t believe in, but he believed we’d been lied to about.

In 2010, he had an article published in Rolling Stone about General Stanley McChrystal, who was the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in the Afghanistan war.

McChrystal didn’t like the president. If you don’t like the president and are in the military, you shush it. Because, no matter your politics, the president is your commander-in-chief. McChrystal didn’t seem to think he needed to operate under the same rules as everyone else, and in front of a reporter, he criticized the president. Some reports say that Hastings got death threats before he published the article. He published it anyway. McChrystal got a call from the White House, which I believe is very much like getting a very big “See Me” in red at the bottom of your paper in school. He was asked to step down. Guess who took his place? Good old Petraeus. What’s up with these generals doing boneheaded things, I have to ask you? I get it’s a high-pressure position, but seriously, take up a hobby like maybe video games or crochet or something because DAMN, can you even imagine getting called into Obama’s office and being scolded and then fired? It would be SO EMBARRASSING.

I would totally cry if I saw this face, I'm not even kidding.

I would totally cry if I saw this face, I’m not even kidding.

(The New York Times, in Hastings’ obituary, strangely tried to backpedal and say that the article might have not been the most factual, but Rolling Stone stands behind it, saying they have recordings of every moment of interview to back up the words. I have to believe Obama’s administration wouldn’t have let a general of that level go based on just an article without looking into it a little more deeply, and it seems shady of the Times to put that out there after the guy was gone.)

Hastings was confrontational and a little shouty and sometimes cussed at famous people and had kind of a fast-and-loose writing style that got all the facts in there, but skated the edge of sarcasm in a somewhat delightful way. It was journalism for the ADD-generation. But it wasn’t stupid. It was intelligent and well-written and surprisingly world-weary for someone not even in his mid-thirties yet.

On June 18, he sent out this email to his friends:

And then a few hours later, according to eyewitnesses, he was seen driving his Mercedes as fast as it would go in Los Angeles. He crashed into a tree. The car exploded. They had to identify him from a composite of fingerprints and dental records.

The police closed the case almost immediately; they said there was no evidence of foul play. The FBI was quick to step up and say they weren’t investigating him, even though normally, the FBI doesn’t bother commenting at all on what they’re up to. Others who know him, who know the area, and who know that type of car, aren’t so sure this is so cut-and-dried.

The car shouldn’t have exploded. Why was he driving like that? Why was he even there? Why was the FBI asking his friends questions? Why did the police close the case so quickly? What was the big story? (Some say he was onto something having to do with the Petraeus case; some say it was something bigger, maybe CIA-related.)

You know what Dad has to say about this. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, of course you do.

“That’s what your government does, Amy. Your government kills people. To shut them up. That’s what they do.”

Dad, much like Sugar-Tits Gibson in the conspiracy lunatic movie, thinks the government is plotting to KILL! US! ALL!

Dad, much like Sugar-Tits Gibson in the conspiracy lunatic movie, thinks the government is plotting to KILL! US! ALL!

(Dad also told me not to write a blog post about this, or I’ll be the one silenced next. And if I WAS foolish enough to write about this, when I got in my car after work tonight, check for A., cut brake lines, B., a ticking sound as if there’s a shoebox bomb under my seat, C., the failure to start immediately, which means there’s an ignition bomb “or at least that’s what happened in a show I watched one time,” or D. a blanket in my backseat that wasn’t there when I got to work and it’s kind of lumpy, because under that is a contract killer who will pop up when I’m halfway home and kill me dead dead dead.)

I don’t know if there’s a conspiracy. I have to agree the whole thing seems Scooby-Doo-and-the-gang hinky. I like the writing I’ve read from this guy. He wrote well. He gets my respect for that. Whether or not he was the greatest guy, had the highest moral standard – well. I didn’t know him. I know if you’re good at something, if you’re very good at something, you get a sort of tunnel-vision. You see that thing you’re good at and you don’t see much else. I think his tunnel-vision was reporting. He wanted the truth to be out there for general consumption. He also, whether it’s a selfish thing or not, wanted to be the one doing that – breaking the news, getting the accolades for it. Hell, why not. If you’re good at it, why not be the one getting the kudos.

But did the FBI kill this guy because he was onto something and then cover it up? Oh, I hope not. I really hope that’s not the case.

Listen. I (not surprisingly) have a soft spot for our writers. I have an additional soft spot for our reporters. It’s easy to read the paper or articles on the internet and not see the author that wrote them. It’s easy to read for information and not for the heart that’s beating behind it, for the person that did the work to bring that to you.

I still carry the romance of journalism around inside me. I always thought it would be just brilliant to be that person, the one getting up at 2am to cover a breaking story, the one typing toward deadline, dealing with the copyeditors, holding a fresh copy of your work in your hand, knowing people were reading your words with their morning coffee. I have a little of that now that I’m able to write theater reviews and I’m over the moon about it. I’ve had friends who’ve been that person, the person who writes the stories, who have to deliver the not-so-pretty truth to the masses. I know how hard it is. And I respect the hell out of these people. (And honestly, envy them. Just a little. OK. A lot.)

I will never not think this happens in all newspaper offices as long as I live. ACTION! ROMANCE! TYPEWRITERS!

I will never not think this happens in all newspaper offices as long as I live. ACTION! ROMANCE! TYPEWRITERS!

If this is some sort of cover-up and not a terrible accident (Dad: “Of COURSE it is. Get your head out of the sand. You’ll get sand fleas”) then I’m disappointed in wherever this order came from. And I’m (again, again, AGAIN, it seems like I am more than I’m not, nowadays, doesn’t it?) disappointed in my country. Because you don’t kill your writers. You don’t kill the seekers of truth. You don’t kill the people who are looking to disseminate that truth out to the public.

Or, well, yes. You do. You do, because those people scare you. Because there’s nothing more dangerous than the truth. And you need to make them be quiet. And there’s no sure-fire way to do that, so you silence them permanently.

He was a small-town boy for the first 11 years of his life, though. He grew up where I did. The same landscape molded him as molded me. He carried the same sounds and sights and smells around in him as I do. We came from the same soil. We had the same shared experiences flowing in our veins.

I like to think, somewhat optimistically, that at some point in the past, we crossed paths; that our eyes met and we saw there the shared understanding that we were meant to get out, that we were meant for other worlds than this.

And I mourn him. And I mourn the loss of a distinctive voice, and I mourn the loss of someone who, when presented with death threats if he dared publish the truth, shrugged and had the article hit the presses anyway. I admire the drive that compels one to write. I admire the drive that compels one to right.

I feel we lost someone who could have helped us find our way a little more clearly last week, and this hit me hard.

Stay safe, writers; stay safe, those who bring us the truths, both large and small. We need you more now than ever.

(Title from a transcript of an interview with Hastings, here)

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Musings on the virtues of a Norse funeral

I am terrible with a lot of things. Most of them social-related. But most of all, I am terrible with the grief of others. Most specifically, the grief when someone has died.

I never know, when someone has passed away, what to say. I assume you’re supposed to say, “I’m so sorry.” But then I think, everyone says that. So does the mourning person need to hear that AGAIN? Really? Don’t they think you’re being very disingenuous if you’re just saying the same thing everyone has said? But if you try to shake it up and you say something like “He/she is in a better place,” well, I think the mourning person has a right to punch you in the schnozz. Dead is a better place? Than being alive? And there next to you so you can talk to them and hug them and tell them how much you love them? I mean, I guess. If they’d been burned over 98% of their body and were in agonizing PAIN or something. But otherwise, no. Earth is a better place. Isn’t it? At least most of the time?

Better to be here than...wherever. Right? I'll take the devil I know over the devil I don't, thanks.

Better to be here than…wherever. Right? I’ll take the devil I know over the devil I don’t, thanks.

Mostly I just give them a hug and kind of a sad face like I am SO SAD that I don’t know what to say. It’s not completely false. I don’t know what to say. Because that grief, that loss, is huge. And my stupid, awkward, clumsy words aren’t going to make it any better.

This is why I avoid going to wakes and funerals as much as I can. Because if you’re not there, you don’t have to say these things. You can send a card. It’s completely acceptable to write “I am so sorry for your loss” in a card. Or “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know.” Or things like that. That doesn’t seem as weird as those words coming out of your awkward stupid mouthhole.

Also, wakes are the worst because of the dead person. The dead person hanging out RIGHT THERE.

There was a photo of someone glamour-shotting in front of a coffin here, but she contacted me and said there was a lawyer and a stolen photo and something about it being tradition to glamour shot in front of dead people in her family and I don't even know so I took it down just in case of lawsuits.  As one does.

There was a photo of someone glamour-shotting in front of a coffin here, but she contacted me and said there was a lawyer and a stolen photo and something about it being tradition to glamour shot in front of dead people in her family and I don’t even know so I took it down just in case of lawsuits. As one does.

I’m trying to think, and if I’m remembering correctly, I’ve been to maybe four wakes in my whole life? Maybe five. Or six. I wonder if I went to my great-grandparents’ wakes? I was pretty young when they died. As you can see, that averages out to about one every ten years, unless you count my great-grandparents, which I don’t think I will. My plan to avoid wakes so I’m not the awkward weirdo in the room is going SPLENDIDLY. Three were family members and one was a close friend’s relative and I love her and her family so much that I didn’t care about the awkwardness, I was going to be there for her, dammit. And I was.

And I’ve been to two funerals. They’re not AS awkward. And after my first one I was very sad we didn’t get to do that cool “throwing dirt on the dead person’s coffin” thing that they do on television. I always wanted to do that. Do only certain religions do that? I’m honestly curious. Or is that only a television thing?

See? The Pretty Little Liars got to do it. I WANT TO THROW DIRT DRAMATICALLY!

See? The Pretty Little Liars got to do it. I WANT TO THROW DIRT DRAMATICALLY!

Anyway. The dead person. OK, so the dead person is just hanging out there, and the dead person is so made-up they look whorish, and I realize (listen, I watched a LOT of Six Feet Under) that if there was no makeup on the dead person, that dead person would look, well, dead. All gray and sunken and it’d be like four hours in the room with a zombie corpse. I get it. But Andreas told me the other night that the point of an open coffin was closure. Well, wouldn’t people get more closure from seeing the dead the way they really are, as opposed to all tarted up? I mean, sincerely. My poor grandmother was made up like a $2 Amsterdam whore. (NO, I have no idea if there are $2 whores. Don’t all go flocking to Amsterdam to find these $2 whores and report back to me all angry they charge substantially more. I USED $2 TO MAKE A POINT.) My grandfather had so much base on he looked like he’d been tanning. He would have been SO ANGRY about this.

Kind of like this. ONLY IT WAS MY GRANDFATHER. I know, disconcerting, yeah?

Kind of like this. ONLY IT WAS MY GRANDFATHER. I know, disconcerting, yeah?

Also, and I know we’ve talked about this before, but the amount of sentimental crap, the garbage tchotchkes, that people put in the coffin with the dead person? INFURIATE AND DISGUST ME. This is the most hilarious thing in the world to my dad. He knows how much this upsets me so all he has to do to get me to rant is to say, “Hey, Amy, when you die, want me to put little crystal animals in your coffin with you?” and he’ll get a twenty-minute harangue about “WHAT THE HELL OLD MAN? THIS ISN’T THE GLASS MENAGERIE! I AM NOT BLUE ROSES! AND IF YOU ALLOW PEOPLE TO PUT TRASH IN MY COFFIN I WILL HAUNT YOU TO *YOUR* GRAVE! THIS IS WHY I WANT TO BE CREMATED!!!” Then he laughs and laughs.

The dead person does not need a magnifying glass. What, so he can peer around in the afterlife? No. That is foolish.

The dead person does not need a magnifying glass. What, so he can peer around in the afterlife? No. That is foolish.

Also, you get fake-criers? Do you know what I mean by this? People who I think LIVE for death like vultures of mourning and they come up to the grieving family and they’re all “I AM SO SO-HO-HO-REEEE” and then they like shake with all the grief and when they finally move the hell on, one of the family members asks another, “Who was that?” in a hushed tone out of the side of their mouth, and NO ONE KNOWS. Because they’re NOT EVEN TANGENTIALLY INVOLVED WITH THE DEAD PERSON. They are GHOULS. PROFESSIONAL MOURNING GHOULS. Now, before you say “Amy, come on, everyone has their own way to show grief,” no. I don’t even care. Being obnoxious and making a funeral all about you is not appropriate.

BOB IS DEAAAAAAD! And how did you know the deceased? Oh, I read about him in the paper, I didn't know him at all. SO SAAAAAD, THOUGH!!!!

BOB IS DEAAAAAAD! And how did you know the deceased? Oh, I read about him in the paper, I didn’t know him at all. SO SAAAAAD, THOUGH!!!!

(Also, I’ve already informed my parents that when they die, I’m hiding in the back of the funeral home. Or, even better, under my bed. Because I refuse to be in the line of people that all the mourning people come through and condole and touch. TOUCH! Can you even IMAGINE? I don’t know those people. I don’t want my grief on display. WHY ARE WE SO GHOULISH ABOUT MOURNING IN THIS COUNTRY?)

Seriously, I want to put our dead on a boat, light the boat on fire, and set that ship a’sailin’. The Vikings had the right idea. This whole thing is stressing me the hell out.

Yes. This. Please. Thank you.

Yes. This. Please. Thank you.

All of this snarky leadup is to tell you that my beloved great-aunt Jan passed away last week and I will be attending her wake tonight which is an hour away in the town where she used to live and I will be seeing my extended family who I love very much and my father was on vacation but he cut it ten days short because it was his last aunt or uncle left on that side and he’s kind of devastated and made a marathon drive back from Florida for the services and I don’t best know how to handle all of this. Not even a little bit. So what I do when I’m freaked out is I become very inappropriately sarcastic because that is the wall I hide my pain behind. What? That’s not normal? Too bad, it’s all I know.

(Also, FYI, through a snafu of miscommunication, where did I find out about her death? THROUGH A FACEBOOK POST. It was one of those “I thought your father would tell you!” “I thought your mother would tell you!” things. No. I READ ABOUT IT ON MY LUNCH BREAK AT WORK. This is not what Facebook is for. Facebook is for theater announcements, kitten GIFs, and people getting ranty about politics. THAT IS ALL THANK YOU.)

Aunt Jan was my grandmother’s baby sister and she was awesome, you guys. She got married and had three very little kids and then her husband died in a terrible accident only a handful of years into their marriage and she raised those kids all by herself. (And those kids became three amazing adults that I love to pieces, and their kids are great, too.)

And damn, did she rock the cat-eye glasses. She was ADORABLE.

She was tough as nails. She was a nurse and a teacher and she was wickedly sarcastic and funny and one of the most independent and intelligent women I’ve ever had the honor to know. She was never on time for anything and she couldn’t sleep any better than my dad and I can and when she laughed, you couldn’t help but laugh along with her, because she laughed with her whole self. And she listened and cared with her whole self, too. She was just the best. And she was tiny, only a little over five feet, but she was a FORCE. She entered a room and you KNEW. She and her sister, my grandmother, were the best of friends, and went on many jaunty adventures together, just the two of them, getting into all kinds of shenanigans. And when my grandmother died, and I’d talk to Jan, sometimes I would just close my eyes, because they had the same voice. And I could pretend my grandmother was still talking to me and she wasn’t gone from my life forever because, oh, you guys. How much I miss my grandmother. How much I miss hearing her voice. How much I miss making her laugh.

(She liked funny faces in photos, too. I didn't get all my traits from the neighbors.)

(Jan liked funny faces in photos, too. I didn’t get all my traits from the neighbors.)

Two years ago, she had a stroke, which is what my grandmother died of, and I broke one of my most important rules and went to the hospital to see her, because I was not able to see my grandmother before she died because I lived five hours away and everyone said, “no! Don’t worry, don’t bother coming home” and I didn’t and then she was gone and I couldn’t have lived with myself if that happened again. (I avoid hospitals as I avoid wakes or funerals. Hospitals are where they put your loved ones before they die and no one escapes and they smell like death and despair and soup and cheap cleanser and they make my chest hurt.) Even though the hospital still smelled like death and I felt like probably I would die the minute I entered, I soldiered on. She looked terrible and so small and there were a million tubes and wires and her eyes looked so scared and my family was all exhausted and I hate these things, you know? I find death very stupid and very terrible and I don’t know how to deal with it. And, as mentioned, my default is humor, but I highly doubt that’s appropriate there. (Not that it doesn’t slip out sometimes. And sometimes it’s totally appreciated, and sometimes not so much. The phrase “tough room” was built for a room of people waiting to find out if their beloved mother is going to make it through the night, I’d think.)

But she did pull through, only she couldn’t talk or move much, and she moved to Pennsylvania to live with her son, and this past week she had an aortic aneurism and it was fairly quick, I think, only two years isn’t all that quick, not really, not if you think about not being able to talk or take care of yourself when you’ve spent your whole life taking care of yourself and everyone around you.

So Dad wasn’t coming home for the services, but then he surprised me and told me he was, and I might have cried a little because I am most sincerely petrified at these things and it makes me feel more comfortable if he’s there because he knows all those people and he makes sure to introduce me to people and make me feel part of things and he knows I get overwhelmed and sometimes need to go out for some air or maybe just to walk around or something because people make me claustrophobic and death makes it worse.

“You were going to go anyway, though,” he said.

“Of course I was,” I said. “That’s my family, too. Not just yours. I love them. Even if it gives you panic attacks, you do things you hate for the people you love. I know that.”

“Well, huh. You sure are my girl. Huh,” said Dad. Then he got a little teary but if you ask him he’ll say it was the things blooming in Florida that were triggering his allergies and then he said he had to go.

So tomorrow I am leaving work early and driving about an hour to go to the wake and won’t be home until late. Dad says people don’t wear black anymore because we are not in olden times. “Probably I shouldn’t wear clown-colors, though,” I said. “No, probably that’d be inadvisable,” Dad agreed. We have also discussed whether or not I need to go to the funeral and it has been decided no because I would have to miss almost a whole day of work and since I’m going on vacation next week and missing a lot of work that would ALSO be inadvisable and plus Dad says if you go to the wake people don’t expect you to go to both, it’s just nice that I’m going to the wake at all. I feel like this means people think I’m some sort of terrible caveman with the worst manners who never attends family gatherings and the sight of an Amy in the wild is a rare one, indeed, but he said that’s not what he meant at all.

She’s in a better place. She’s with God now. God called another one of his angels home. She’s in heaven with her sister and her husband. She’s watching over us all now.

Don’t. Please, don’t.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Better.

How about, just, I’ll miss her?

Yes. That.

I’ll miss her.

Because I will. Because it’s true.

And I can still hear her laughing in my head. She sounds just like my grandmother. I close my eyes and I can’t tell the two of them apart.

(Photos stolen from my beautiful cousin J.’s Facebook page. Thanks, J. The woman you’ve become amazes me. I love you fiercely and would like to beat anyone who hurts you with a two-by-four studded with railroad spikes. Love you to pieces.)


Death by Chocolate (not a euphemism)

One more weekend of the play and we’re all done! I am ready for some relaxing so I’m glad to see it go, although I’m very proud of it so will be sad for it to end. CONFLICTED I AM CONFLICTED. But not all that conflicted, mostly because it means my weekends are (mostly) my own again.

AND AND AND! A week from tomorrow – so EIGHT DAYS FROM TODAY – is TOTALLY Andreas-day! He will actually be here much earlier in the week doing work-things, but I will get to meet him on Saturday. I’m seriously so excited I can barely sit still. BOUNCING AND BOUNCING. Tonight Dad said, “You might be a little keyed up about that.” I MIGHT JUST BE! JUST A LITTLE BIT! (“Keyed up” is a Dad-ism. It’s a step above excited and just a weeeee bit below manic. Dad disapproves heartily of being keyed up. He thinks people should always be calm, cool and collected. Or at least they should PRETEND to be; otherwise, it is unseemly. Dad thinks we should always be seemly. OTHER people are unseemly. WE are SEEMLY. (I constantly let him down by having EMOTIONS and FEELINGS which are not RATIONAL ZOMG!!!)

I'm fairly sure Dad would find Grover unseemly. I am very much LIKE Grover, however.

I’m fairly sure Dad would find Grover unseemly. I am very much LIKE Grover, however. THIS IS HOW EXCITED I AM.

I have an important work story called: I Am Practical.

My boss (who sits kind of across from me and behind a counter with some printers on it) was VERY EXCITED today because someone left her a candy bar on her desk while she was at lunch. So she totally ate that candy bar. Then she was all, “I wonder who left me that candy bar! I would like to thank them.” So she started calling people randomly to see if they were the chocolate-gifter but no one fessed up to it.

SUSPICIOUS.

SUSPICIOUS.

I sat there kind of horrified because I was pretty sure she was doing that in the wrong order. Aren’t you supposed to FIRST find out where your gift chocolate came from, THEN eat it? It was like Halloween, only MUCH MORE DISTRESSING.

So she said, in a musing tone, “I wish I knew who gave me this. Ooh, it could have been John.” (She didn’t say John, I don’t remember who she said, someone we work with. There are a billion people there and I only know like three of their names. I’m really terrible with names.)

So of course I said, “Or maybe a killer.” I mean, what else are you going to say, other than the truth?

Think about it. Wouldn’t this be the best way to kill someone? You poison a candy bar and then cunningly wrap it back up and place it on someone’s desk. And probably they’d eat it. Most people would think, aw! A thoughtful and delicious gift!

NOT ME, SUCKERS. I WOULD NOT EAT YOUR SUSPICIOUS GIFT-CANDY. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ME THAT EASILY!!!

My boss said, “What? Amy? What?” and I said again, “A killer. A killer probably left that, N.”

This made her laugh and laugh. Then she kept saying, “Amy thinks it was a KILLER that left me that chocolate!”

Listen, I’m just practical, here. I’m just looking out for my boss, who is also a wonderful person and my friend and I like her lots AND much. You don’t just eat gift chocolate. That could be the last thing you eat, you don’t know. YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT FOOD THAT APPEARS WITHOUT WARNING. Did we learn nothing from Snow White? Ok, fine, so that apple didn’t appear out of NOWHERE, a seemingly benign little old woman gave it to her, but STILL, that put her in a glass coffin where people STARED at her for like EVER and then some man KISSED her without even her SAY-SO. I mean, is that the path that my boss wants to go down? Is it really?

Bad move, Snow. BAD MOVE.

Bad move, Snow. BAD MOVE.

I had to drop some files off with her before I left for the day and I told her she looked peaked and then I touched her arm and said, “Yep. Definitely feverish. First sign of mystery chocolate poisoning” and shook my head sadly. She laughed the most. I told her I was just keepin’ it real, yo.

I am a very good coworker, as you can see. Very practical. Lookin’ out for ma peeps.

(No, she never found out who gave her the mystery chocolate. I know. It’s distressing.)

AND, this week, we announced (FINALLY!) our 2013-2014 season at the theater, hooray!

We are doing:

  • Big Maggie by John B. Keane, which is an Irish dramedy about a woman whose cheating husband has just passed away, so she decides to lay down the law with her children, who she thinks are going down the wrong path. It’s dark and a little twisted and the director is one of our best local directors and it will be wonderful. I’m really looking forward to it.
  • ‘night, Mother by Marsha Norman, one of my favorite plays of all time (cue the daughter of one of my friends who always says, “AMY! All you like are REALLY DARK THINGS!” She’s not wrong) directed by my friend N., who loves it as much as I do, so I know he’s going to knock it out of the park. You know ‘night, Mother, right? If you don’t, I’m not going to spoil it for you, as much as I’d like to. It’d be a totally asshole thing to do. It’s just that good. In brief, and non-spoilery: the play opens with Jessie telling her mother, who is also her roommate, because Jessie’s life has kind of imploded, as lives go, that she has decided she is going to kill herself. Jessie’s mom, of course, doesn’t believe her. Over the course of the play, Jessie explains: no. She is very serious. Her life is terrible, she has nothing left, and she’s made all the necessary plans. This is the night, she has the gun. This is it. Her mother’s job is to attempt to talk her out of it. Yes. I love dark things. Love them. And this play has been one of my favorites since college. Mainly because it clearly and honestly represents depression. It’s the one play this season I am most excited about; I’ve wanted to see it onstage again for almost twenty years now. I’m so very excited it was chosen, and with N. directing it.

    Here is a very young Kathy Bates in "'night, Mother" on Broadway. IT IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS. Also there's a movie, with Sissy Spacek, if you like that kind of thing.

    Here is a very young Kathy Bates in “‘night, Mother” on Broadway. IT IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS. Also there’s a movie, with Sissy Spacek, if you like that kind of thing.

  • Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti, which is a silly French farce where a man thinks it is a very good idea to have THREE GIRLFRIENDS who are ALL FLIGHT ATTENDANTS and since they’re always in and out at different times, they don’t know about each other so HE WINS GIRLFRIENDING. Well, if you guess “they all happen to have layovers at the same time” as to what happens in this play YOU WIN GUESSING FRENCH FARCES. People will love this; it will do very well; we need to have at least one comedy because this is a very dark season (which, as mentioned, I love.) Friend A. is directing this one and he is wonderful and has such a good eye for things. It will be great.
  • All My Sons by Arthur Miller. WE ARE DOING AN ARTHUR MILLER PLAY. I know. That totally needs a ZOMG, right? Surprisingly, I hadn’t read this play before the committee this year and it’s important, beautifully-written and heavy and sobering; it’s wonderful theater, and one of our OTHER best local directors is directing this one, so it’s going to be amazing.

I’m really proud of the season, and proud of the work we did choosing it. I’ve got some more theater news coming up soon, probably in a few days, but we’ll talk about that when it comes. Also some OTHER exciting news, but that’ll come when it comes. No point jumping the gun. You’ll just get shot, who needs that shit? If you go to the ER, they have to report that to the cops. ALL GUNSHOTS GET REPORTED TO THE COPS. Don’t you watch Law and Order?

Have a happy weekend, all good boys and girls. Also, all bad boys and girls, I’m not picky about your goodness. You be as good or bad as you want, just don’t get arrested, I don’t have bail in my back pocket, yo.


What do you want to be?

“When you’re drowning you don’t think, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I’m drowning and come and rescue me.’ You just scream.” –John Lennon

I did this last year. I’m not going to do it again this year; I’m happy with how it turned out last year, and I honestly don’t have anything else to say that I didn’t say last year.

Every year, December 8 hits, and every year, I get a mean case of the blues. It’s not like I don’t know it’s coming and it’s not like I can avoid an entire day. Well, I suppose I COULD, but I have to go to work and live life and such. It’s generally frowned upon to drop off the map for 24 hours, I suppose.

I guess I would have the blue meanies, then. These things always freaked me right out.

I guess I would have the blue meanies, then. These things always freaked me right out.

So instead of me repeating myself, you can just read last year’s post (for the first time, some of you, and again, if you want, the rest of you, I suppose) and I’ll just give you three Beatles songs to listen to. I don’t know if they’re my favorites, but they’re the ones I’ve had in my head for the past couple of weeks. (A secret about me? I almost always have a Beatles song rolling around in my head. Even if I’m thinking or doing or singing something else. True story.)

And what’s funny is, every time one of these songs pops up, not just these, but the others, so many beautiful others, and starts rolling around in my head like a snowball getting bigger and bigger – it’s like a whole new song. But it’s not a whole new song. It’s me that’s changed. The song stayed exactly the same, waiting for me to get to the point in my life where I was ready for it to mean this exact thing for me. I love that. I don’t know that there are too many other bands, or even musicians, that do this for me. Which is probably a failing more in me than the music, but that’s really neither here nor there, now is it?

Then I will give you two things that will make you giggle. Because we all need a laugh now and then. I know I do, today.

“You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind”

This has been my song for months. It’s gotten better since new job started, but I still have “can’t stop my brain” nights. And I often would give everything in the whole world for a little peace of mind. It’s the curse of those of us who can’t turn our brains off. Brains don’t come with off-buttons.

“How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
Now that you know who you are, what do you want to be?”

I listened to this one a lot in high school. A LOT. But I wasn’t this person then. And then just recently, I listened to it again and this line just knocked the air right out of me. Because I do know who I am now. And this is giving me permission to figure out what I want to do with that.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be one of the beautiful people. But knowing who I am is so much better than that for me, anyway. Suck it, beautiful people.

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…”

This song, man. The melancholy in this song gets me every time. This one’s been in my head a lot lately. It does that. It goes away and comes back and I’ll get “this bird has flown” circling around my mind and it’s like the swallows coming back to Capistrano or something.

Aw, hi, little swallow.

Aw, hi, little swallow.

There. Those aren’t the happiest songs ever but I’m pretty sure you’re all internet-savvy enough that if you want something happier, you know how to YouTube it yourself. I have every faith in you. (I don’t have anything against happy songs. They’re just not in my head today. I’m sure I’ll get something more upbeat all up in there any day now.)

I promised you cheery, didn’t I? I don’t like to lie to you, my little tater tots. Here, I found these things for you. They should take some of the sting out of the terrible waste of the day that is today.

Apparently, someone (or multiple someones, I don’t know) have been taking Beatles pictures, captioning them with Mean Girls quotes, and things like this happen (which is going to only be funny for those of you who know/love Mean Girls, sorry, Ken, I think you’re out of this one…unless you’re going to surprise me with “Amy, I’ve SO seen Mean Girls” like the time you surprised me with your extensive knowledge of Pauly Shore’s tour de force, Son-in-Law):

SHE DOESN'T EVEN GO HERE!!!

SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE!!!

Click the link up there for more. Again, I don’t know how many Mean Girls-slash-Beatles fans you’re going to find in the world – seven? I’ve made up that number and that number is seven – but they’re kind of oddly entertaining for the seven of us there are.

Then I found this one, and…um. HAND CROTCH SLACKS!

Apparently years ago Yoko Ono made a men’s wear line for men built like John Lennon, and now it’s being sold. These pants are only $335. And they come with a HAND. Right on the crotch-area! Which is handy (heh, handy) if you wanted to give someone some direction as to where to grab, I suppose. Or if you wanted to say, in an understated way, “I’m a huge douchecanoe.”

There are other things. You should click the link. Highlights are a thing you wear around your neck that looks like a sandwich board made of Plexiglass with bells on it and a pair of slacks with a mesh cutout in the ass-area. I don’t know, either.

It’s nice to know that good old Yoko is still kooky and thinks of things like hand crotch slacks.

I’m going to listen to some Beatles music now and be a little sad. It’s December 8. That’s what I do today. Love your faces. Thank you to my people who save me when I’m drowning. I wouldn’t even have to scream. Please be nice to each other, everyone, ok? Every day, but maybe just a little more today? Thanks.


The time I almost got killed but not really killed at all.

I wrote myself an email called “these are funny things to remember to talk about” and now they don’t seem as funny as they did when I was half-asleep this morning. Huh. Imagine that, something seeming funnier when I’m all sleep-fuzzy. Can’t even fathom.

OK, so the first story is called THE TIME I ALMOST GOT MAULED TO DEATH LAST NIGHT.

So last night I had to work until 11, and then I had to get up super-early to get to work this morning. No, ok, not THAT early, but early enough. Especially since I was at work until 11, then got home and I TOTALLY MEANT to go right to bed but the internet beckoned, and MAN is the internet beckony. Like a mistress. Or in my case a mister, I suppose. Anyway, so I was sleepy when I got home. I parked the car in the secret back lot no one ever uses because the front lot was all full. It’s totally dark and creepytown back there and it’s where the killers live, I’m pretty sure, but luckily I live in a pretty safe place so there aren’t a lot of killers. THAT I KNOW OF. But if there WERE killers, they would TOTALLY make that back lot their home.

No, this isn’t a picture of my actual lot. How the hell would I take a picture in the dark, my phone doesn’t have a flash on it.

So I did some phone-stuff in the car before I got out, and then I opened my car door and then I was getting all my things together like my purse and my phone and my work bag and my lunch bag (I’m like a beast of burden with all of these things, seriously) and so I was all “la la la GETTING MA SHIT TOGETHER” when a very cold THING bashed up against my arm and went “MRPH!” and then I screamed right out loud.

So I jumped three feet in the air (well, that’s kind of an exaggeration, I was in the car, so I just kind of bumped out of my seat a little) and looked over all “well, this is where I get killed” and it was A VERY HAPPY RED DOG.

It kind of looked like this. But redder. And also more awesome.

Now, I was ABOUT to say “the happiest red dog you have ever seen,” but then I thought, that’s a total lie. Because there are two dogs that fit that criteria, and therefore, this dog CANNOT be the happiest red dog you have ever seen, because the happiest red dogs you have ever seen belong to Ken.

Seriously. SERIOUSLY. Happiest red dogs ever. (I stole this from Ken, because one time, he gave me like a free pass to steal from him? I’ve been taking advantage of it ever since. THANK YOU KEN. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in your Germany. I’d be coming over all the time all “give me a bag of sugar and all your CDs WHAT YOU SAID I COULD STEAL.”)

So, although this dog was SINCERELY HAPPY and SINCERELY RED, it was not the HAPPIEST red dog ever, because, well, just look up. Because that title is TAKEN.

So in about 3 seconds I went from “ZOMG A MONSTER IS ATTACKING ME GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD” to “ZOMG! LOOK AT THE PUPPY!!!” and the dog was wagging his happy tail ALL OVER THE LAND and smiling a doggy-smile and I LOVED HIM SO MUCH.

So I said, “Hello happy red dog! What are you doing all alone here in the middle of the night?” and he sat down and smiled up at me and I made up this WHOLE LIFE IN MY HEAD where I ran off with this happy red dog and adopted him and we had the best time ever, and then a man said, “Come here, Dexter” and happy red dog gave me a look like, “Oh, well, see ya” and bounded off and a scruffy college-looking kid took off with MY NEW DOG. Sigh.

So I COULD HAVE BEEN EATEN BY A SASQUATCH but mostly I met a new friend and his name seems to be Dexter which is a television-serial-killer name so I don’t think that’s appropriate. What do I think is more appropriate? I can’t tell you that. I don’t name animals arbitrarily. I take weeks. I make lists, and then I ask the animal what they think. Right now, you think I am being sarcastic. I am not. Why wouldn’t you involve your animal in its name? That’s ridiculous. Dumbcat’s really real name is a VERY good name, and when I said, “So I think I’m going to name you THE NAME I CANNOT SAY ON THE INTERNET BECAUSE YOU ARE IN WITNESS PROTECTION SO I CALL YOU DUMBCAT,” he blinked wisely and headbutted me, and he didn’t do that with any of the other names that I said to him. So that was his name. IS his name. REMAINS his name. It’s the name I call him when we’re home alone. (Along with things like Tater, and many other things, because he is a cat of a billion names.) Also, when I named my other cat, I read her a very long list of names, and when I got to her name, she MEOWED. She totally picked her own name. I think we should take things more seriously like naming. Especially when it comes to animals, who are superior to humans in almost every way.

Oh, this is getting kind of long and I didn’t even tell you the other things that were on my list of things to talk about that weren’t even all that funny. I really liked that red dog. I want a dog. Why don’t I have a dog yet? Oh, because I don’t have time for a dog and that would be unfair to a pet. That’s right. I’m a responsible human, I forgot. I don’t want a little red dog, anyway. I want a pit bull. Because when I worked at the shelter they won me over and are my favorite breed. (I will always love beagles, but I want to own a pit.)

My most beloved pit in the world looked just like this, and looking at this makes me have tears. I miss him so much.

OK, let’s see. Well, in news of “I have the sense of humor of a child,” the fire station next to me is having this fundraising dinner and they were putting up a sign and they were only halfway done putting up the sign so there was this guy putting up the letters and all it said outside the fire station was “PORK” all big. Hee! PORK. So that made me laugh, thinking of what they might be doing inside that fire station. Porking, I guess. Later when I drove by they’d finished the sign so it said “Pork Dinner” and had all the details so it wasn’t funny at all anymore.

Someone trademarked this, so don’t you go stealing Pork 101. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!

Hee. Pork. Pork at the fire station.

Oh, and and AND, there was a man standing at the bus station talking to himself SO VIOLENTLY and that made me super-sad. But he also seemed to really be enjoying the conversation? Like, he was using his HANDS and he was being all VIBRANT and he had VERY WIDE EYES so I thought, “that can’t be that bad, he seems to be having a good time” and then I thought, “oh, shit, using his hands, wide eyes, I TALK TO MYSELF ALL THE TIME, this is my future THIS IS MY FUTURE” and then I was the saddest all over again. But probably I won’t be a guy who looks like Santa Claus at the bus stop on Central Avenue.  At least I don’t THINK I will. I guess anything could happen, it’s a weird world. One never knows.

There. Those are the things I wanted to tell you in the middle of the night on a Thursday which in your world is a Sunday because I am trying to be proactive before I go to bed and get up early for another day of work tomorrow SIGH SIGH SIGH.

Also, I want a happy dog. I so want a happy dog. Dumbcat says to tell you, “No dogz becuase they maek me skeered and also HIED!” but I think he’d get used to it. Eventually. He’ll have to, I mean, once I get a DOG. Also another cat. And some fish. And a frog. And then I have a whole menagerie up in here and all will be well in Amy-land.

HAPPY SUNDAY! Oh, today, I am doing that fancy theater thing? Where I am fancy and talk in front of people with my whole mouth? And I am, probably as you read this, TERRIFIED AS ALL HELL. Gulp. Send good thoughts. ALL the good thoughts. I’m probably hiding in the pots and pans cupboard at the moment, so think them hard, they have to make it through the wood paneling and such.

Heh. Wood.

Heh. Pork.

I AM NEVER EVER GOING TO GROW UP, AM I?

Nope.


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