Category Archives: friends

Meeting real people in real life: an adventure in Virginia

Much like Heather yesterday, I have stolen away like a thief in the night to quick like a bunny post something so you know that a., I have arrived safely in the land of Virginia (but, although Heather promises I was supposed to be assigned a lover per the state motto at the border, I was NOT assigned a lover, so what is up with THAT, Virginia? Seriously? WHERE IS MY LOVER. I am not enjoying your state as I should be in this loverless fashion) and that b., we are having a grand adventure, as promised.

The train on the way here was overheated and very crowded (props to the lady who realized if she put the tray-table down in the seat next to her it looked like someone was sitting there so no one bothered her, CRAFTY) but didn’t seem to take that long, surprisingly, and I’m not dreading the trip home so much. (I really do like the train better than driving, overheating issues notwithstanding. Seriously, Amtrak, make your trains cooler than you think people would like; people can always put layers ON, but people cannot strip down on public transportation. Well, they shouldn’t, anyway.)

sj‘s husband picked me up at the train station with a most excellent sign. I told him I wanted him to meet me with a sign. He threatened to have the sign say…well, see below. My dad was all, “HE WOULDN’T DARE! HA HA!”

He dared.

I laughed SO HARD when I saw this. The people around me coming out of the station were all “THIS IS A CRAZY PERSON” and edged away from me. I didn’t even care. It was an excellent start to my vacation.

(Just in case you’re wondering, I got in the car, bitch. Also, I took this photo of him, and texted sj all, “DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN?” and she was like, “NO!” Hee!)

Then I arrived at sj’s house! And GIGANTIC HUGS WERE HAD! And her kids seem to love me, because I am a whiz with children and animals! So far I have learned I’m awesome, and have long hair, and am very good at naming stuffed animals (what, “Sir Poppington the Third” is an excellent stuffed animal name) but also that I am “too loud and kind of boring” so really, you take the good with the bad. The child that said that was VERY APOLOGETIC afterward and I wasn’t even upset because I am, actually, very loud, and somewhat tedious. So I gave him a hug and a kiss on the head and told him I was not angry because how could anyone be angry at him? And all was well. I’m very good at this childrening thing. (I did make the youngest one cry yesterday for a VERY LONG TIME and I felt terrible and I kept saying “I BROKE HER” because I totally think I did but today she told me she loved me again so I think we’re cool, yo. Also, I changed a diaper yesterday, with tag-team assistance from other children. Are you so proud of me? I seriously felt like I’d won an Academy Award. I haven’t changed a diaper since high school. WHEN I WAS BABYSITTING. I was not a teen mom. Stop thinking that right now. I did put it on backwards but luckily the diapering recipient was very compliant and was like, “eh, I’ll lift my legs up again, this weird lady’s WEIRD, but she means well, yo.”)



Then the next day, we thought Heather would arrive around 7-ish, so we were kicking back and doing a little reading and BAM, Heather ARRIVED, and YAY!!!

Now we were THREE! (Plus sj’s family, of course. I am not discounting them.)

Much chatting and laughter and such was had until very late and then we all slept and had many zzzzs.

ALL OF US IN THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME! If you felt a disturbance in the force around 5-ish last night eastern standard time, it’s because all the awesome was in the same collective place. The rest of the world must have felt unbalanced.

Later today, Laura will arrive, and we will have MORE of a hootenanny. Well, we’ll watch The Amazing Race and chat and eat dinner, but that’s a total hootenanny, right? RIGHT.

Oh, you totally want me to talk smack about the ladies, right? Now that I’ve met them in person?

OK, here’s the lowdown. Pull up a chair.

sj…man. That sj. Get close so I can whisper, because that’s what good gossipers do. Ready?

sj is the same as she has been for the past year and a half-ish that we’ve been talking online.


She is awesome and funny and intelligent and snarky and wise and honest.

Oh, now the dirt on Heather.

You’re going to want to tell ALL your friends this one.



It’s true!

Heather is kind and giving and patient and wacky and intelligent and warm.

Here’s the thing, guys. Heather mentioned this in her post last night, and I can’t do anything but concur most wholeheartedly.

The people you meet online aren’t always the people they are when you meet their faces.

It’s easy to slip into an online persona when you’re someone who lives online, like a lot of us do. Some people even make that their goal; their blog ISN’T them, it’s a persona they’re putting forth. Nothing against that; it works for them. I’m completely down with that.

However, it’s the people who are the same people online as they are in real life that interest me. The ones that are brave, maybe confident, enough to be themselves both in words and in life; those are the people I’m drawn to. Because when you meet them, you’re not trying to reconcile that person with the persona you’ve gotten to know. You’ve already done the work. You’ve met them through email or their blog or Twitter; they’re that same person. You’re really just in the same airspace, hearing the words come out of their mouths with their tone and inflection, seeing the emotions cross their faces. It’s really kind of awesome, seeing that, being with them for that.

The people I’ve met in person have been the same as they are online; I don’t know if I’m interested in meeting people who aren’t. I like reality and I like honesty and I like people who aren’t afraid to be themselves, warts and all, and who accept that they might be a little broken, and put it out there for all to see, and potentially judge, with a jutted jaw and maybe a little fear in their eyes.

That’s where friendship is. It’s in the “take me as I am, please; here’s me, here’s all of me, and if you can’t take that, I’m sorry, I can’t be someone else for you.”

I don’t have to be someone else for Heather and sj; they don’t have to be someone else for me. This is just as it should be. I love them for that.

Time to go be social. Enough hiding with a laptop. Love your faces. Hope you’re having the best holiday weekend. More soon upon the arrival of the luminous Laura. *smooch*


The start of a very grand adventure

This is not a real post! Do not expect real postitude. DON’T, I SAID!

It is currently 8:15pm. Which is PAST MY BEDTIME. Because I need to get up tomorrow at FOUR A.M. Yes! You totally read that correctly. My train leaves just before 7am.

What train? Well! My train to New York City, of course!

But that’s not the exciting part. (Well, it’s SOMEWHAT exciting. I mean, it’s New York City. That’s ALWAYS exciting. But I don’t get to leave the train station, so not SO exciting.)

The EXCITING part is that, after about two hours, I get on ANOTHER train. And THAT train brings me to…


Yes, by the time you read this, I’ll be on that second train, on my way to the lovely state of Virginia. Which is apparently for lovers. (Do you think I am required to find a lover while I’m there? I’m only there for a few days. That’s kind of a time crunch. I suppose I could pick up some random at a gas station but I think that might be ill-advised. Because of the VD.)



We will have all the fun and adventure and talk and talk and laugh and eat foods and play with the kids and watch all the television and sometimes read and write because we totally know we need time to do that, too. That’s why this will be awesome. And then in just one day, Heather arrives! Oh, and then there is MORE hootenannying.

I will do my level best to a., take all the photos and b., let you know what’s going on in the state where I seem to be required to get a lover. (I suppose I will let you know how the quest for this southern lover is going. I’m going to guess it’s going to go poorly.)

Wish me all the train-luck (which means WINDOW-SEATS, which is all I ask for on the train. Oh, and also not a crazy seatmate, if I have to have a seatmate at all. Because a very long train trip with a crazy seatmate eating, say, red-hot Fritos, is not the best thing ever.)



Oh, and just so you know, Dad thinks I’m going to be mugged and then murdered in New York City, and Mom said “don’t talk to strangers!” and I said, “Huh. I’m actually going on this trip to MEET strangers” and she was all “Oh, no. Oh, no no. I don’t know about you. I just don’t know.” Then Dad and I were joking that we should tell her that I joined the zero mile high club in the train bathroom to see what her reaction would be and then I was like “No, but Dad, it’s so gross in there, like, it’s AWASH in urine” and he was like, “Oh, well, don’t do that, then.” I like that his only prerequisite to not boffing in the train bathroom was that I might get pee on me.

I have got to get to bed. Time for an adventure, folks. Here we go!

How to make a perfect birthday

It was a lovely birthday, and to cap it off I am going to bed early, because I think a good night’s sleep is important. Don’t you? Well, you SHOULD. (Mostly I just want to curl up with a book and read a little before I nod off, because that’s one of my favorite ways to fall asleep. I like to fall asleep with exquisite words in my brain. This book isn’t especially exquisite, but it’ll do.)

I had a kajillion good wishes today: from Facebook, Twitter, email, REAL mail, text, the phone…I really was surrounded by all the love today. Can anyone wish for more on their birthday? Some people might want fancy meals and dancing and drinking and all that flash and such. I really want for nothing more than people telling me they remember me and love me once a year. (Well, they can tell me ANYTIME. But it means just a little bit more on your birthday, doesn’t it?)

Best of all (and there was a lot of best) I got a card from The Nephew (and his mom) and The Nephew wrote MY name and HIS name and I’m telling you right now there were tears on that card when I opened it. What a smart kiddo. He’s going places, that nephew of mine. He’s only been in school for a month, and he can write his name! And apparently MY name! Get ready, world, kiddo’s going to take you over ANY DAY NOW.

And, then to top it all off, I got a call and guess who it was? THE NEPHEW! And he said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and he actually talked to me for a little while, which he never does!

Things The Nephew and I discussed:

How much I loved his card and how smart he was that he could write both of our names on it (“I know!”)
How he was liking school (“I do NOT like school!”)
WHY he was not liking school (“BORING BORING BORING”)
That school is often boring for very smart kids, and it will get better (“How do YOU know?” “I was a smart kid too, buddy.” “YOU WERE?”)
A strange thing (“I don’t think my daddy thinks I am smart.” “Oh, buddy! Of course he does!” “NO. My daddy never told you that.” “Of course he did. He thinks you are the smartest kid he knows.” “HA HA! No. Daddy didn’t say that to you!” This was all very curious, as I am quite sure his father has OFTEN told him how intelligent he is. We all remark on it regularly, because he amazes us with his super-quick brain. I asked his mom about it and she said, “I have no idea where he comes up with these things. Then he argues with you about them until he gets SO ANGRY. It’s a new thing he does.” I think he’s honing his speech and debate skills, maybe.)

Then the hung up on me, and called me right back (well, I assume his mom did) and I said, “Did you hang up on me?” and he said, “Yes, but not on PURPOSE” and then he said nothing else and I said, “Are we done with the phone now, buddy?” and he said, “Um. Yes!” and I said, “OK, does your mom want to talk to me?” and he said, “YES!” and I said, “OK. I love you so much! Bye!” and he said, “Bye! I love you!” and my whole heart lit up like a Lite Brite.

Kiddo’s got me wrapped all around his little finger, you know. It’s shameless, how much I adore him.

That was a very good birthday gift. The best.

It was, overall, just a perfect birthday.

Thank you for such a happy day. Onward into the next year! Soon it will be time for a very exciting trip south to have a very grand adventure! Only two more days of work! Which I’m sure will feel like seventeen years of work, because that’s how time works, isn’t it?

Happy rest of your week, people. The bed’s calling me, as is the book. Best way to finish a birthday I can think of at the moment; I’ll take advantage of it, I believe.

Birthday shenanigans and thoughts and…poison?


So I’m officially (of course) writing this BEFORE my birthday but we’re just going to pretend it’s actually my birthday right now because by the time you read this, I will have been a whole new age for almost 10 hours. Yes, my lucky mom had me right in the wee hours of the morning (and two weeks early) because I was in a HURRY to be born, dammit. THERE ARE ADVENTURES TO BE HAD, MOM! said wee, slightly-premature and totally-jaundiced Amy.

So far, and it’s not even my birthday yet, there have been happy surprises. I got presents from my mom and a couple of my aunts when my parents were here this weekend, and when I came home today I had cards waiting for me (THANK YOU R. and BFF!) and then…there was THIS!

Well! THIS is mysterious. You know what they say about taking candy from strangers. DON’T DO IT, is what they say.

Luckily, this was NOT from a stranger! It was from my most favorite Andreas!!! (The hint is the Åland Post at the top of the photo. Those are Andreas’ islands.)

So let’s see what surprises from the land of Finns arrived just in time for my very special day!

DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE! Milk chocolate and milk chocolate with cashews! (Cashews are my favorites. YUM.)

This is a very fancy box of chocolates that I neglected to take a photo of the inside of, but they’re like the prettiest kind that you don’t want to eat because they’re so pretty. But trust me. I’m going to eat them. Because, CHOCOLATES, yo. (Andreas knows my affection for all things chocolate.)

A MOST BEAUTIFUL NECKLACE! My guess is that Andreas’ super-talented fiancée made it, but he’s asleep right now so I can’t confirm this assumption. It is silver and purple and matches so many things I own and is so, so me. I can’t even describe. I am crazy in love with it. I opened it and my eyes went HUGE and I went “ooooh!” I can’t wait to wear it!



OK, so this only MIGHT be Swedish poison. Other things I decided it might be: perfume, or some sort of foodstuff. See, as you can see, the tag is in Swedish. So I was like, “WHAT COULD THIS BE?”

So of course I tasted it.

Then I was like, “OMG, this immediate tasting of a thing that you have NO IDEA WHAT IT IS is proof of your complete and total love and trust of Andreas, you know, because there are very few people that you would just taste a mystery substance without thinking it could kill you. Or make you grow larger or smaller, like Alice.” Then I giggled.

(It tasted like lemons and sugar and…mapley? And it was very sticky. NOT A EUPHEMISM.)

So then I researched it and “granskott sirap” is some sort of spruce-needle syrup. And the site I checked (and translated with Google Translate, which makes me laugh like a moron because it makes so many mistakes) said it’s helpful as both a cough syrup AND an ice-cream topping, and I seriously laughed SO HARD and emailed Andreas all, “It cannot be both. They are so disparate. OR CAN IT?”

Also, how cool is that bottle? It looks like it’s from an old-timey apothecary, and it’s SO not allowed to be mailed. Whenever you go to the post office they’re all “ANYTHING LIQUID, PERISHABLE OR GLASS?” as if they’re about to take you away in chains if you say yes. BREAKIN’ THE LAW FOR MY BIRTHDAY! THAT’S MY ANDREAS!

Thank you so much, Andreas. I love it all so much, and you are the best of the best.

Also, I totally saved this from LAST year so we could talk about it THIS year. Am I a planner, or what?

LAST YEAR’S BIRTHDAY HOROSCOPE! Let’s see how well it did!

I am a Libra. We like balance and lie a lot. Also, we're PRETTY. *blush*

I am a Libra. We like balance and lie a lot. Also, we’re PRETTY. *blush*

…you are at some sort of a turning point in your life, in terms of personal growth. Events that occur this year act as catalysts that get you in touch with some important issues in your emotional life. Your emotions run high, and mood swings or identity crises are possible. There may be some kind of conflict in your life arising from a great urge to do something different. The year ahead promises to be a busy, dynamic, and significant period in your life.

Yeah, actually, that’s not bad. This year saw a lot of shit go down, and mood swings is kind of an understatement. Also, not only was there an URGE to do something different, I DID something different. So, right on, last year’s horoscope.

You are able to see your life in terms of the big picture this year, and thus you more easily manage stress and your enthusiasm is natural. Others tend to be helpful and supportive.

Maybe over the last few months of the year; not so much the first part. Meh on this one, birthday forecast. (Although others were QUITE helpful and supportive; I have amazing friends.)

Your social life will likely increase and bring you in contact with more influential, powerful, or simply happy and helpful people. Educational, publishing, freelance, and promotional efforts can thrive this year.

Ooh, this is nice. I totally met INFLUENTIAL and POWERFUL people. (Also happy and helpful people.) And I’m working in both publishing and doing some freelance writing this year, and wasn’t doing either at this point last year. BOO-YAH, HOROSCOPE!

There was a huge paragraph about love crap in here. I’m cutting that shit out. No time for love, Dr. Jones.

So, not bad, horoscope, not bad. Keep it up for the year ahead. Predict me a funny guy who knows how to wield a semicolon, more time to write, and all kinds of travelly adventures for the upcoming year, please.

So, this past year: it’s been up and down; unemployment and new employment (times three) and doing things that I love; it’s been heartbreak and depression and joy beyond imagining; it’s been meeting people I never thought I would, in person, and giving them furious hugs, and seeing long-lost friends and relatives again, and giving them equally furious hugs. It’s been both a year of the best things and a year of the worst things, all rolled up into one. I don’t know how to judge such a year. I suppose the best I can say is I am thankful for the good things, more so than I can say, and the bad things…well, if nothing else, they taught me their various lessons, and moved on, hopefully leaving me wiser, and none the worse for wear.

I’ve written a lot; I’ve read a lot; I’ve laughed a lot; I’ve cried a lot. Most of all, I learned a lot. And I loved people in my crazy way I have. And I tried to leave things better than I found them. I am hoping I was successful in that, if nothing else.

This is my last year of my thirties; I plan to live it to the fullest. Adventures and travel and laughing and loving and living and living and living. And then living a little more.

Thanks for coming along for the ride, people of the interwebs. Knowing you’re all out there makes for a very happy birthday indeed.

I’m ready. I’m cookies.

I’m going to let you in on something I’m not at all proud of.

In college, I was a huge dick.

I’m not even exaggerating. I had my moments of NOT being a dick, but overall? Huge, huge dick. I thought I knew everything, and I was drinking, like, constantly, and when I wasn’t drinking I was crying or throwing shit around or overreacting about something and being a total theater queen or going on and on and ON about something and the sheer fact that people that knew me back then still want to talk to me kind of amazes me, to be honest.

Yup. Me. Pretty much.

Yup. Me. Pretty much.

Now, I know. College-age is a shitty time for a lot of people. We’re just babies when we’re that age. I look at kids that age now and I seriously think, “OMG, you are just a BABY” and usually I forgive them a lot of things because that’s a really tough age. You’re away from home for the first extended period of time in your life, and you’re experiencing a million billion things for the first time, and you have all this crazy-ass heady FREEDOM, and some people handle that better than others.

And some people come from a very, VERY small town, where their graduating class was 60 people (the same 60 people, give or take, that they started kindergarten with 13 years earlier) and their parents didn’t give them a curfew because why give someone a curfew if they’re not allowed to go out at all anyway? Curfew was whenever I got home from school, and it ended whenever I LEFT for school the next MORNING. And then they got to college, and there WAS no curfew, and there were all these PEOPLE, some of them MAN-PEOPLE, and there was ALCOHOL (even though a person was seventeen) and some of us may well have gone a little crazy. For quite some time. Years longer than was necessary, actually. As if it was ever necessary.

I think of Buffy a lot when I think of myself at that age. (I look to Buffy for a lot of life lessons, actually. Don’t we all? If we don’t, shouldn’t we?) I think of Buffy telling Angel, “I’m cookie dough. I’m not done baking. I’m not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day I turn around and realize I’m ready. I’m cookies.”

I think a lot of us in college were cookie dough. Gooey, poorly-behaved, self-absorbed cookie dough. Waiting to become whoever to hell it is we’re going to turn out to be.

It just takes some of us a little longer to bake, is all.

In college, I had a friend named Josh. Josh and I met in my sophomore year and his freshman year. I believe we met in a playwriting class, or were perhaps introduced by David, who knew everyone who was anyone. It’s been a long time. And I was gooey cookie dough, remember.

We had a lot in common. We were theater people. We were readers, which was perhaps even more important; our mutual Stephen King obsession was HOURS of conversation. We were both writers. We both enjoyed movies, and picking them apart into little teeny tiny pieces afterward. He introduced me to Kevin Smith films, which I will never be able to thank him enough for.

Problem is? Cookie dough.

I don’t think I appreciated him enough. Because I was a dick. Because I was so mired in my own shit and my own broken brain that I found it very hard to pull myself out long enough to give even a moment’s thought to anyone else, or what they might have been going through. I think I put on a good enough front; I don’t think people walked away from me thinking I was a sociopath – at least most of the time. I’m sure some people did. Those people were probably the smart ones. (Smart ones: I’m better now. I promise. I spend most of my days thinking of others now. I most sincerely guarantee you this.)

Not long after I graduated, Josh and I got in a fight. Well, no. That’s kind of strangely overstating what happened. I’m not going into detail; it’s no one’s business but the two of us (and the third person involved, I suppose, even if he was involved tangentially.) I got angry at him for something that, in retrospect, was very small. Words were exchanged. I remember very well the last exchange I had with him, which was on our terrible inter-collegiate email: I told him I would neither forgive or forget what had happened, and I would never, ever speak to him again.

I am quite old-world in my vendettas. If someone is dead to me: they are dead to me. There’s no gray area, here. I erased him from my life. I erased three years of friendship; I erased three years of spending time together almost every day, of longhand letters back and forth in the summers, of constant conversation and sharing of ideas and writing and our lives. I took a big old Pink Pearl eraser and I got rid of all of that. Because I was angry. Because I felt betrayed. Because, as stated? I was 21, I thought I was always right, and I was a dick.

And seventeen years have passed. And we didn’t speak. For seventeen years. Because DEAD TO ME.

We had mutual friends; I knew he was teaching, and writing, and that was about it. I didn’t want to know anything else. No interest. I would have made a very good Italian widow, forking the evil eye and spitting when my enemies passed my doorstep.

And then, through a twist of very, very weird fate, we ended up with a mutual friend on Facebook (who was not a mutual college friend, but a mutual friend we didn’t know each other knew.) And Josh reached out to me.

This panicked the shit out of me.

Didn’t he know he was dead to me? What the hell with this? I waffled back and forth on what the hell I was supposed to do, here. Ignore him? Delete the friend request? Send him a message telling him thanks but no thanks and THEN delete the friend request?

Then I thought, Amy. Amy, it’s been 17 years. You need to be an adult about this.

Also, I don’t know if you’re aware, but carrying a grudge? It’s a very heavy weight. And you carry that alone. No one helps you carry a grudge. No one can. It one of those loads you HAVE to carry alone.

I accepted the friend request. I sent him a message that was probably ruder, in retrospect, than it should have been, telling him I was ready to forgive, and move on. I was bristly, though. I don’t trust easily, once trust has been broken. This comes from years of practice with broken trust. I’m a wary little wombat.

We’d been tentatively in contact for a while when he said he was coming to town for a conference, and did I want to have dinner?

Yeah, you think being friends with the guy online scared me? Invite me out to meet in person. You know I have social anxiety. Rachet that up with this kind of baggage, and I was MANIC.

But I thought it out. Like a grownup. Like a fully-baked cookie. And I thought of that heavy-ass seventeen-year-old grudge riding my back like a jockey who didn’t make weight, whipping me when I wasn’t going fast enough and muttering hateful words in my ear.

Yes, I said. Yes, I will meet you for dinner. Yes. Let’s do this.

Then I panicked quietly (and sometimes not-so-quietly, sorry, people I panicked to) for days about this, because, well, it’s what I do.

We met for dinner after work the other night at his hotel. I put on my brave face. I can do this, I thought; I can do this. This is dinner. We eat, we don’t talk about touchy subjects, I am light, I am breezy, I am Monica leaving a message for Richard, I CAN DO THIS SHIT.

And there was Josh. And Josh looked the same, only like a grownup now. Seventeen years will do that to a person. (Seventeen years – a seventeen-year-old is only a year younger than I was when I MET him. That length of time – a bit mind-boggling, really.)

I’m not going to go into detail. We didn’t have a grand adventure; we didn’t take a billion photos. (Or even one, actually. I know. I’m terrible about photos.) We spent the evening reconnecting. We spent the evening drawing back what I’d erased, all those years ago, when I was 21 and I knew everything and was, as mentioned, kind of totally a dick.

There were waffles and a waiter who was possibly with the mob and coffee beverages and terrible music and the sharing of war stories and eclairs that were sexworthy and talk of books and movies and shared stories of the meeting and geeking out over famous people and laughter over possibly inappropriate things.

And guess what, you guys?

It was awesome.

It was awesome because we are the same people who connected all those years ago, but also better.

Because we’re ready, you guys.

Josh and I? We’re cookies.

And as we said our goodbye, much later than I’d planned because I’d had the whole evening mapped out in my head and I was SURE it would be awful and we’d have nothing to say to one another because I (shock! awe!) freak out sometimes, and gave each other a super-fierce hug, I felt this weird thing.

A seventeen-year-old grudge disappearing, that weight being gone, is a nice feeling. A light one.

A better feeling?

Forgiving your dicky younger self for, well, some of the dickishness? An even lighter one.

The best feeling?

Having an old friend back in my life.

The lightest feeling of all.

(Thanks, Josh, for not giving up when you most definitely could – and maybe should – have. Thank you for understanding I needed to keep baking, and for being patient enough, and kind enough, to wait. You’ve baked into a most fantastic cookie, my friend.)

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