Category Archives: history

This happens. This is something that happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m going to tell you a story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea: Adventures in Baltimore, Part Four

OK, I’m super-sick, but I am determined to soldier on. I AM A BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER. I went to a play tonight and now I am home and feel like utter crap but at least I feel like crap on my couch. That’s the best place to feel like crap, probably. Or your bed. Your bed is also a good place to feel like crap. Preferably with a Dumbcat curled up purring next to you because Dumbcats make you feel better when you are coughing and feverish. Or at least they try to.

And, before I get started, happiest of all happy Mother’s Days to all the mothers who are reading. This is all-inclusive and includes everyone who does mothering, even those who haven’t birthed an actual child through their actual birth canal in an ouchy-ouchy way. So, all mothers of all things, and people who adopt, and same-sex couples, and dads who single-parent, and moms who have lost children, and anyone else I might be forgetting  – you are all wished the happiest of days from me and I celebrate every one of you. All the love to all of you. Amy’s Mom received so many roses this year and was so surprised because I could never afford that before, and they are in many places in her house and I got a “YOU ARE THE BEST DAUGHTER!” so that was a total Mother’s Day win in Amy-land.

So, now we are on to our last day in Baltimore, which was Sunday. We decided to not do a billion things on the last day, mostly because we were very tired. Well, at least I was. And R. and A. were nice enough to agree they were as well, whether or not they REALLY were. We did so many things! It was time for a little calmness.

Our trip Sunday was to something MERKAN! And NATIONAL! And PATRIOTIC! Any guesses?

Fort McHenry!

Now maybe you don’t know about Fort McHenry. I didn’t know about it. Other than it was something Merkan. Here are some bullet-points about Fort McHenry if, like me, your school was sadly lacking in good American History classes (or perhaps you kind of had a little crush on your American History teacher so you spent time daydreaming about him and not paying as much attention as you should have, I don’t know your life):

  • It is three things: a National Park, a National monument, and a historic shrine
  • It was an actual fort in the war of 1812
  • It defended against a British attack in Baltimore harbor in 1814 (were you aware the war of 1812 was so LONG? I wasn’t)
  • While watching the battle, a Washington lawyer was so impressed by the fact that the men at the fort held off the British and that the American flag stayed flying the whole night through, he was inspired to write a song. What do you think the lawyer’s name was? Well, it was Mr. Francis Scott Key. And that song was the “Star Spangled Banner.” BAM, MOFOS!

Yes! This is the actual place that inspired our NATIONAL ANTHEM! MERKAN HISTORY, YOU GUYS!

Now, I feel the need to give you a disclaimer. I know I kind of bag on Merka. Mostly by calling it Merka. And shaking my head at things that happen here in Merka, like Truck Nutz and Fox News. But here’s a huge secret, that, ironically, will not be a huge secret once I tell you: I love Merka. So much. I am so jazzed by the history of my country. It makes me have goosebumps. It makes my whole heart thrill. I love the thought of my scrappy forefathers who believed so strongly in our country holding off against the British. I love the national anthem. I love history and battles and monuments and things that made our country great. I think our country could still be great. I believe a great deal in our country, and it makes me sad, what it’s become. Dad finds this fierce patriotism of mine funny. “For someone who’s part of the enemy’s team, you really do love our country,” he says. (The enemy’s team = Democrats.) “You might be the only Dumb-o-crat who actually loves America. So that means you’re not really a Dumb-o-crat and you’re just confused. Any day now you’ll come over to the right side.”

First we walked all around the fort. Guess what I stood on? NO, GUESS!

THE RAMPARTS! The ACTUAL “o’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!” I WAS ON THE RAMPARTS!

There were many cannons. This whole place was surrounded by cannons. ALL THE CANNONS. I wanted to ride on a cannon because that seemed very Merkan, and we even found one cannon that didn’t say “Don’t climb on this, Amy” but it was kind of rusty and I was afraid I’d get my pants dirty.

This is the view when you’re walking around the Fort. It’s beautiful. The bay is right there and you can see all the boats. It was a little chilly and windy, but that’s what happens when there’s water.

I kind of forgot to take enough photos. Luckily, A. took some photos and he’s GOOD, you guys. Like, artistic-good. He said I could steal. I’m giving credit, so it’s not as much STEALING as it is kind of borrowing, I suppose.

Look, he has this awesome setting on his camera where he can take a bunch of photos and make them into ONE LONG PHOTO!  Isn’t this so pretty?

So we walked all around, then we went INTO the fort, and you could go into some of the rooms. One of them had teeny-tiny cells in it where TRAITORS were kept. Traitors, you guys! Here is an interesting historical tidbit. During the Civil War, one of the traitors kept there was Francis Scott Key’s grandson. He was an editor of the Baltimore Sun, and he wrote an editorial that said although he didn’t approve of the South’s decision to secede from the Union, he didn’t think we should use military force to get them back, and he also criticized the Lincoln administration. WELL! That did not sit well with the powers that be, and they not only locked him up, they shut down the whole paper. SHUT DOWN THE WHOLE PAPER! See, civil liberties were limited during the Civil War. Anyone could be jailed if they were accused of disloyalty or treason, without a trial; martial law was put in place; censorship of journalists and papers was the norm. Doesn’t this scare the shit out of you? It does me. I had no idea about any of this.

Look, I was making history today by visiting the fort! MERKAN HISTORY!!!

There were things in the different rooms like exhibits and tableaus and various things. There was a big flag that was a recreation of the actual flag that inspired the national anthem. It was all very historic and I liked it all very much.

Then we had a picnic! With baby CeeVee!

It was her first picnic. As you can see, she enjoyed it a great deal. That’s A. in the background. I think this is the only photo of A. I got the whole time I was there. But look, he does exist!

CeeVee and I played a game called “Grass is the best!” in which she would pull up all the grass and then hand it to me, and I would say, “Oh! Thank you!” and she would laugh and laugh and give me MORE grass. Grass is her favorite. Even better than grass? Dandelions. She LOVED dandelions. R. told her not to eat the dandelions, and then she picked another one and almost ate it, and then looked at it very sternly and said, “NO” to it, which made ME laugh and laugh.

Dandelions are the BEST! (And A. is the best photographer, isn't he?)

Dandelions are the BEST! (And A. is the best photographer, isn’t he?)

Seriously, she's the best thing. Look at that smile.

Seriously, she’s the best thing. Look at that smile.

Then she decided to go adventuring and did an homage to a famous painting.

Wyeth’s version…

…and the Baby CeeVee version…

I like CeeVee’s version better, but I’m biased.

Then we went to the gift shop, where you could buy things like weaponry and muskets and swords (I didn’t buy those things, I mean, would they even let me bring them on the train?) and then we went on a long long looooong tour of Baltimore and A. and R. showed me a lot of beautiful buildings that I hadn’t seen yet. Dear Baltimore, I am very much in love with you. You are just the most beautiful city full of endless wonder. I am looking forward to returning.

Oh, a thing I noticed in Baltimore that made R. laugh because I kept noticing it was very brightly colored pants. Like, RED! or GREEN! and I think they were jeans. Is that a thing? I don’t know that that’s a thing around here. Whenever I saw them I would stop what I was doing and say “MORE BRIGHTLY COLORED PANTS!” and R. would laugh. The first time I did it, R. said, “You are the most random person I know, Amy.” And yes. Yes, I sometimes am that. But in my defense, those pants were VERY brightly colored.

Then we spent the rest of the day relaxing and I did some internetting and we ate some delicious Chinese delivery and talked and laughed and R.’s friend stopped over to visit for a little while, and that was nice, and then we watched a little television and then it was bedtime, because the next morning was early early early departure for the train.

Then the next morning it was goodbye to R. and Baby CeeVee so R. could get to work and CeeVee could get to daycare! (And since I left? CeeVee is WALKING now! I knew while I was there she was so, so close! SHE IS WALKING HOORAY!) And then A. brought me to the train station, and it was time to make my way back home to my very lonely Dumbcat who thought I was dead and was SO pleased I was not.

The trip home was mostly uneventful. At one point I fell asleep and I think I might have snored, as I do, because when I woke up I had post-snore sore throat and people were looking at me like I was a crazy-person. Sheesh, calm down, it’s not like I was in the SILENT car. It was just the NORMAL car. And in the New York waiting area (which is in Penn Station, and Dad calls that “Grand Central Penn Station”, as in “Don’t go getting murdered in Grand Central Penn Station, Amy, people get murdered in that Grand Central Penn Station all the time!”) some sort of cop was hitting on me until I pretended I was furiously reading so he stopped talking to me. Explain, please, why it is that no one in the history of my whole life has ever randomly hit on me that I’ve been in the least bit attracted to?

Thank you for sticking around for Adventures in Baltimore! It was the best time and I’m so glad I got to go and see some of my most beloved people. Thank you so much, R. and A., for being the best hosts! Now it is time for this sickie sickerson to go to bed and sleep like the dead. Or at least like a person with a weird feverish sickness. Happy weekend, everyone!

Traveling the world with the most enthusiastic/obnoxious photography subject EVER.

I have about an hour to write this. This is going to be word-short and photo-heavy, my little potato pancakes.


OK, so a looooong time ago, I was all, “Where are my photos of my trip to Europe back when I was a young and still-not-yet-disillusioned kiddo?” and thought they were lost to the ages but then I found them in a bag of things my mother brought me a couple years ago. When I was all, “MOM! Why didn’t you tell me those photos were in there?” she said, “I put those in there? Why would I have done that?” so I think Mom is losing it.

There were ALL KINDS of goodies in the bag. Therefore, you get:



You can see how my hair has gone through many iterations. Also, my eyebrows used to be OUT. OF. CONTROL. And I still like making faces in photos just as much as I did back then.

Let’s see what we have first, shall we? It’s not just Europe in here, you guys. It’s ALL the locales.

Oh, I should warn you, these are terrible because I don’t have a scanner so I took ’em with my cell phone.

Who can guess where I am. Anyone? Anyone? Red rocks? Pretending to look for alien life forms? No one? Really?


This was from a trip my brother and I took to some place in Sedona where there were spaceships. There was a sign that said not to climb these rocks. I did it anyway. Then I made this face. I think I was probably about 24 here.

Please note the flannel shirt; it was the late 90s, so I thought I was Kurt Cobain, still, apparently.

I’m not sure what’s up with that hair. It’s not my hair color, and I guess I was going with shoulder-length that year.

This is 20-year-old-Amy pretending to be shocked at the news that King Arthur is dead. This is apparently King Arthur’s tomb. I don’t know how they know such things, either. The internet tells me I was at Glastonbury that day, apparently. I don’t remember anything about this trip at all. Do we think I was drunk? It’s a possibility, kiddos.

This is 20-year-old Amy again, pretending to be depressed that this super-historic rock is cracked. The back of this photo says “Amy is sad that the Anesbury stone is cracked” and it looks like I wrote that on there in the dark. Let’s see what this “Anesbury stone” is and where I was that day. OK, apparently it’s “Amesbury” and it’s a town close to Stonehenge. I remember going to Stonehenge. I wanted to see Druids but there weren’t even any Druids, it was super-depressing. Why were we hanging out with this stone, I wonder? Man, I’ve forgotten a large chunk of my 20s.

HOW CUTE AM I HERE SERIOUSLY. I want to hug myself, I’m so damn adorable. OK, so this is 20-year-old-me standing on either side of the international date line in Greenwich. Again, I don’t have a single recollection of being in this place, so it’s a good thing I have this photo. AND I AM SO CUTE IN IT. That’s a good smile. As you can see, I have an army-navy black trenchcoat here. This was before the trenchcoat mafia so I was safe, I guess. Also, I miss that sweater, it was super-comfy.

Ooh, now we’re skipping into the FEW-CHUR. I’m 28-ish here. Mer and I went to California for a trip. This is me outside of the Winchester Mystery House. That house totally gave me the shivers. This is pre-shivers, though. I’m not even making an obnoxious face here, so that’s a nice change for me.

This might be my favorite. This is me in Berlin. Dad, when I was little, used to say “CHECKPOINT CHARLIE!” a lot, so when I got to Berlin and there was a whole Checkpoint Charlie museum, I was so pleased I did a little dance. Then I had my photo taken with this odd look on my face to show him I was here. This was 18 years ago and I still have that shirt. And I still wear it, too. That shirt was a good investment. I can’t say the same for the eyebrows, though. WHO TOLD YOU THOSE WERE A GOOD IDEA, AMY?!?!?

I don’t know why this is so yellow, either. The hell, phone-camera? This is young Amy doing some sort of flamenco dance outside of a tall archway. As you can see, I am wearing a skirt. And Doc Martens. As one did in the 90s. I know, I am quite fancy. FINE, I will look up where this arch was. The back of the photo says I am at the Colosseum in Rome. I think this photo looks like Instagram before Instagram existed. I WAS AN INSTAGRAM HIPSTER! I don’t remember visiting the Colosseum in Rome. OH WAIT NO I TOTALLY DO. There were cats. CATS EVERYWHERE. And one of the guides was all, “They live here, don’t touch them.” Well, THAT’S sad.

This is another photo of the trip with Mer. Mer, I miss you the most right now, by the way. We are at Haight Ashbury. However, someone stole the “Haight” street sign so I assume anyone expecting to turn at Haight would be lost. All we could find was this Ashbury sign, and someone said, “Yeah, this is Haight Street, people are always stealing the sign.” Jeez, how about a little peace, love and understanding, you thieving asshole? Anyway, these jeans were a mistake. They came pre-ripped-up and after about three washings they fell apart. They fit really well, though. I’m not even acting like a goon in this one. Mer brings out the LADY in me.

That is all the photos of me. Well, there were a lot of photos of various pieces of architecture, so I was all, WHO CARES ABOUT THOSE. No one, is who. Why weren’t people taking more photos of me? I’m really the most awesome. With the faces and poses and such.

I will leave you with this, because just seeing it again made me laugh and laugh:

When we were in Paris, I needed an adventure so one day I left the city all on my lonesome and went to Rouen, which is a pretty little town not too far away. It’s where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. That’s not WHY I went there, I’m not like a Joan of Arc fetishist or anything. I just wanted to get out of Paris and have a solo adventure, is all.

Anyway, this was a Joan of Arc wax museum, only everything was falling over, and it was terrible, and at one point, one of the figurines had a Hanes sweatsock unceremoniously plopped on its hand. Like it was a sock puppet, I guess. It wasn’t on purpose. I think some kid did it. But it struck me as hilarious, so I seriously had to lean against the wall and laugh until I almost cried. SWEATSOCK! I apparently did not take a photo of the sweatsock, or it didn’t come out. A LOT of my photos did not come out. Remember back in the day when you didn’t know if your photos would come out, like, when you used FILM and you HOPED and you PRAYED they would? I don’t miss those days at all. Not even a little bit. I love digital, me. Instant gratification!!!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s installment of Amy Takes You Around the World and Makes Faces in All the Different Places. I’m pretty sure I have more of these photos so can totally do another one of these someday when I have like an hour before bed and nothing else to say.

Happy weekend, all! Remember: the rules for a good photo are location, light, and lunacy!

Last year’s words belong to last year’s language

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

New Year’s Eve always makes me all reflective. Like those strips on your running shoes so cars don’t hit you in the dark.

Super-reflective and artsy as shit.

Super-reflective and artsy as shit.

Tomorrow is for looking forward; today is for looking back.

2012. What can we say about 2012?

2012 was a roller coaster of a year. And listen, it is a fact about old Lucy’s Football that she HATES roller coasters. They make your stomach hurt, they bounce your head all around, they dig your earrings into your neck and they make you dizzy. I’d rather walk through the animal barn at the fair or something, that’s less distressing and sometimes you get to pet some sheep with their warm fleecy wool and soft noses.

Aw, sheepers! *pet*

Aw, sheepers! *pet*

There were good things this year and there were bad things this year and I’m still not sure if I consider it a win or a loss, to be honest. I’d like to say it’s a wash, but I don’t know if that’s the case, even.

But let’s not make this TOO depressing right out of the gate, right? I mean, do you come here for total depressing navel-gazing? What’s that? Sometimes you do? FINE, never let it be said I don’t deliver.

Let’s go through the highs and lows of 2012, yeah? It’s the day for it if there ever was a day. Tomorrow we can optimistically opine about 2013 but today we can look back on the year that was.

Fired. There is really nothing like being called into a conference room with your boss and the HR rep and to be told you are not only being fired, you need to be out immediately. And then being escorted to the door because you’ve possibly become a scary liability who might cause some sort of scene. In this economy, it is one of the most frightening things ever. Especially when you totally kind of brought it upon yourself because the reason you were fired was ostensibly for too much internet usage and also blogging at work even though you kind of weren’t REALLY blogging at work, only writing the drafts there and setting them to publish during work hours once you got home at night, and the only reason you were using the internet at work at all was because there was very seldom enough for you to do and the days stretched out looooong in front of you.

However, when you hated the job – and I mean hated, hated, HATED, to the point you had to pep-talk yourself into going in every morning and not sit in the car weeping, you kind of think, huh, maybe this isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened, on some level. Then the unemployment stretches for about four and a half months, and you spend a month of it sitting on the couch so depressed you can’t take a full breath or move and all you want to do is sleep, and the remaining three and a half months working 50-60 hours weeks just to pay the bills…well, you get tired. July to December was a very long stretch, and a good third of my year. It’s hard to look back on 2012 without thinking of it as the year I lost a third of it to working too hard and being technically unemployed and worrying. Constantly. From the minute I woke up to the minute I fell asleep.

It’s not all bad, though. If I hadn’t had that part-time job that became full-time when I needed it to, I would have been living in my car, or back home with my parents. I was lucky to have it. It saved my life and sanity.

Hired (x2). But for every bad, there’s a good. Finally, after months and months of worry and work and toil and trouble, I was lucky enough to find not only a full-time job, but a wonderful full-time job, with people I love, doing something I enjoy, at a location I really like, getting paid enough money to not only live on, but live on comfortably. I pinch myself daily. I’ll never think I deserve nice things, and when they happen, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. I still wait. I have one ear out for that other shoe at all times. I feel like it’s going to be a very loud, very clunky platform sandal of some sort.

Or a big ol' loafer.

Or a big ol’ loafer.

Not only did the amazing job come through (thanks to theater friends) but ANOTHER job came through thanks to theater friends and I now can say I write for the paper. And I get to see plays for free, and review them, and people can read what I’ve written, and how much that actually influences people, I don’t know, but it’s what I do that I love more than anything else. When you have a job that doesn’t at all seem like work…well, you might be the luckiest person alive. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? It’s what I always dreamed of for myself, a job that I loved, that I’d do even if they didn’t pay me. And I have one now, even if it’s very much part-time.

Friends. Any recap of 2012 would not be complete without mentioning the friends that have walked through it by my side. I’ve made friends this year (one of whom is, I’m quite sure, my sister separated at birth – sj, my love, what would I do without you? I can’t even imagine) and become closer than I ever thought possible to others (Andreas, my beloved Science Fellow from the land of the Finns, you are a blessing I will never stop being thankful for), both near and far. I know some of the best people in the world, both that I’ve met with my face and that I’ve yet to meet but talk to on a daily basis. I’ll never stop being grateful for this; I’ll never stop being a little tearful when I think of how lucky I am.

I have also lost friends this year. It’s the way of the world, I think. Life’s constantly changing; things happen, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the…well, not-better. People change. You change. Whether you want this to happen or not. Sometimes you can fight this; sometimes you can win. Sometimes it’s beyond your control and you lose, or you’re just so tired of fighting the inevitable you just give up. Sometimes the loss is a good thing. Sometimes the loss leaves you unable to breathe and with a heart so filled with sorrow and regret and memories that sneak-attack you when you least expect it that you don’t know how you’re going to pick yourself up from it because you never imagined a life without that person in it. But you do, of course. Pick yourself up from it. Of course you do. Life goes on. It’s what life does, right? No matter how shattered you are inside, life just keeps on truckin’. And every day things hurt a little less, until the most hurtful thing that’s left is how something that once mattered so much is now no more than a distant ghostly memory.

Sometimes being an adult is all eating chocolate for dinner and staying up past your bedtime and sometimes it’s the deepest sadness you can imagine. We don’t tell our children this when they’re little. Otherwise they wouldn’t want to grow up, now would they?

Book. For all of the other things it was, 2012 was the year I finally had a book I’d written published. It is possibly my proudest moment of not only the year, but of my entire life. Holding a book in my hands I’d written…hearing from people who’d read it, talking to them about words I’d written and labored over and worried about and lived…seeing reviews of it go up, seeing it hit number one in the Kindle store, even if for a very brief period of time…absolutely amazing. All of it. I’ll never get over that as long as I live. Thank you to all of you who bought it and told people about it and geeked out with me about it. You helped make a dream come true. Someday maybe I’ll do it again, who knows? Life’s a funny place, really. You never can tell what will happen.

That’s one big apple. It wasn’t a year of much bon vivantery, but the teeny amount I got to do was awesomeness. I got to go to my favorite city in the world and meet one of my favorite PEOPLE in the world, my wonderful Susie. And we had a day of adventure and walking and talking and shopping and eating and so many things. Say what you will about the interwebs, but if you do it correctly, you can meet the best people the world has to offer. My Susie is one of those people, and meeting her in person just proved that. Love you, Susie!

Blog. What would a year-in-review be without talking about what takes up a majority of my free time, this here thingamabobber? The day in 2011 when I decided, “what the hell, let’s start a blog, Ms. Amy, what have we got to lose, really?” will live in infamy as the day a very silly off-the-cuff decision led to rewards beyond imagining. Without the blog, where would all these words in my head go? Without the blog, how would I have met all you wonderful people? Without the blog, how would I be this person I am now? The answer to all of those questions is a big old, “I don’t know.” A lot can live in an “I don’t know.” A lot of emptiness and sadness. I love it here. I love what we’ve all built. I love every bit of this. Thank you all for being part of this. Without you, it’d be a lot less fun, now wouldn’t it?

Half an hour trumps three and a half hours. As of two days ago, The Nephew and his mom have officially moved half an hour away. Half an hour is much better than three and a half hours, visiting-my-favorite-person-in-the-world-wise. I’ll be polite. I’ll give them some time to settle. Then I’m going to show up like the magi bearing gifts and I’m going to read him books and play with him on the floor and giggle with him and tell him stories and big words that thrill him and I will be happier than all the things in all the land.

So if we weigh the good and the bad…well, I guess the year was a wash, all-told. But not the awesome kind of Wash like on Firefly.

More than ready for my 2013. Big plans for you, year. BIG OLD PLANS. Starting with a whole day off tomorrow in which I will do whatever the hell I want.

Hope you all had the best 2012s known to man, and that your 2013s are amazing wonderful sparkly affairs full of wonder, mystery and magic. It’s all I want for you, really. It’s not too much to ask, right? Right.

It negates the fanciness if you trip over your own feet and almost faceplant.

So I have to be brief; this is between eating and running off to the theater to review a show and I wanted SOMETHING to post today. I mean, otherwise, mightn’t you think I was dead? Is mightn’t a word? That looks strange.

Anyway, this is a story called Unexpected Fanciness.

On Thursday night, friend K. and I met after work to go to dinner and a play. I was reviewing the play so, FREE. I do so like this reviewing gig. Not only because, well, free, but because I get to write and get paid for it. And then it gets published in the paper. And I like to imagine people reading my review over their morning coffee and saying, “That Amy. What a writer.” Although probably that doesn’t happen. ALLOW ME MY DREAMS, PEOPLE.

Oh, this. Yep. This. This is the face people will make upon reading my scintillating reviews. For sure.

Oh, this. Yep. This. This is the face people will make upon reading my scintillating reviews. For sure.

So I forgot to get gas (sorry, my brain’s been a mooshy squooshy mess lately) and then I had to get some on the way home and then I was like five minutes late meeting friend K. in my parking lot and she texted me all “I am here, are you?” and I texted her back as I was pulling into the lot all “Am here mow.” Mow? Like mowing a lawn? That didn’t make sense. So then I had to change it to “Um, NOW, obviously” but by then she’d already gotten out of her car and we’d said hi so that horse was already out of the barn. Mow. I’m so embarrassed. This is why I don’t text while driving; not because of potential accidents, but because of typos.

Caution! TYPOS AHEAD!!!

Caution! TYPOS AHEAD!!!

So then we took off for the restaurant, which was about 20 minutes away, but with after-work traffic, much longer of a trip. Didn’t matter, though. SO MUCH TALKING! I have not had substantial friend-K. time in a while. We’re theater friends so mostly see each other there, and talk via email, so actual outside-of-theater-time is special and infrequent. We’re both busy and VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE. (Also, she’s in the middle of producing a show, going back to school, and planning her wedding to friend A., so she’s got more valid busy-ness than I do, to be honest.)

Here is a story about friend K. We promised we would never talk about it again but I’m totally going to because…well, it’s reached the statute of limitations, I think. When we first met, there was ALL THE ANIMOSITY. This was on my part. Because I am a jerk. I saw her as a threat? For no reason at all? I got this weird thing in my head about her that she was trying to take my place at the theater and there wasn’t enough room in this town for the two of us, pilgrim? Yeah. Like I said, jerk. And once I make up my mind about someone, I don’t change it. DEAD TO ME. So we kind of went on with this weird frenemy thing for a few years, until THE BIG BLOWUP. THE BIG BLOWUP happened because she turned off some lights backstage (in order to help me out) and I STARTED YELLING AT HER TO LET ME DO MY JOB. Yes. Did I mention, jerk? Total jerk. (She was acting in the show and I was stage managing. SHE WAS DOING ME A FAVOR.)

This town ain't big enough for the two of us...

This town ain’t big enough for the two of us…

So the next day, we had the worst email fight I’d ever had in my life. SO MANY MEAN EMAILS WERE EXCHANGED. Accusations and insults and passive-aggressive crap and it was TERRIBLE. I didn’t even want to open my email program, it was so bad. And at one point, she said something…well, I’m not going to repeat it, it’s kind of just for me. And it was SO HURTFUL. And I was shocked to tears.

Thing is? She was right. She was completely right. She wasn’t being hurtful. She was being honest. And when I took a step back to think about it, it was one of those a-ha! moments that hit you every once and a while and totally change your whole outlook on things. (And it has. To this day – like 5 years later? – I still think of that comment, and it’s changed who I am as a person. For the better. So much for the better. And I bet she barely remembers saying it. No, seriously. Sometimes the biggest moments in your life are the smallest ones.)

So the next time we saw each other, we had a moment of weirdness, then we apologized tearfully and said “WE WILL NEVER TALK ABOUT THIS AGAIN” and we haven’t, until now (and she doesn’t read this often if ever, so I don’t think she’ll see this.) And that turned frenemy K. to friend K. and someone I would totally happily jump in front of a bus for. This has, honestly, never happened before. Like I said, if someone’s dead to me, they’re dead to me. I’m a stubborn ass. But that thing she said – that took balls. Listen, I’m scary as hell when I’m angry. That she stood up to me when I was in a righteous fury and said, “No. NO. Listen, I am telling you this thing?” She won a lot of respect right there.

She's totally kind of a superhero, my K. Only she doesn't wear a weird bustier and underwear as pants.

She’s totally kind of a superhero, my K. Only she doesn’t wear a weird bustier and underwear as pants.

(And I will now freely admit: I was being a jerk. Nope, even worse, I was being an ASSHOLE. There was more than enough room for both of us at the theater. Why did I ever think there wasn’t? Why did I need it to be all about me? What is so broken in me that I needed it to be just me, and I didn’t want there to be two of us, when there’s so much work that there’s no WAY I could have done it without her, and also, it’s so much fun to work with her, I wouldn’t WANT to do it without her? Asshole. Total asshole. Weirdly broken-inside asshole.)

And now friend K. can pretty much say whatever she wants to me and I’m down with it. (And has. The other day she said something and I was all “Whaaa?” for a second, then I was like, “No, you know what? She’s right. YOU ARE RIGHT.” And she WAS. She doesn’t pull punches. Man, do I love that about her.) She’s friend K. She gets a blank check. Very few people do; she does. She’s earned it. Seven and a half years we’ve known one another. She’s earned that blank check and she can use it whenever she wants. It’s an infinite blank check. She’s one of the best people I know, and that’s not even an exaggeration. And you KNOW I love to exaggerate.

Also? Her fiancé A. got me my job. Well, he told me about it and said “Email me your resume immediately, goober.” (I don’t think he called me a goober. He might have, though. A. can call me whatever he wants. I absolutely adore him.) So there’s that. K. and A. are two of my favorite people. I don’t know where I’d be without them; I’d walk through fire for either of them. I feel so lucky to know them both. Also, I’ve already warned them – I’m going to BAWL at their wedding.

Me at every wedding EVER. Well, except not male. I CRY AT THEM ALL. Because I LOVE them. They're so optimistic, you know?

Me at every wedding EVER. Well, except not male. I CRY AT THEM ALL. Because I LOVE them. They’re so optimistic, you know?

This kind of went off-topic.

Anyway, we ate dinner. Guess what I had for dinner. NO GUESS. Well, I suppose that’s kind of an impossible task, I could have eaten like almost anything, couldn’t I? You’re right, that was mean of me.

Schnitzel. I totally had schnitzel.

Mine looked better than this. I should have been one of those assholes who takes pictures of their dinner, shouldn't I? Sorry.

Mine looked better than this. Less bready. I should have been one of those assholes who takes pictures of their dinner, shouldn’t I? Sorry.

Then when I got home I yelled* at Ken for not telling me that schnitzel was DELICIOUS and therefore I went almost forty YEARS without trying such a thing and what a very long time that was wasted, dammit. (*Of course I didn’t really yell at him, I don’t YELL at him very often. What kind of jerky friend yells at people? Come on now, give me a little more credit than that.)

SCHNITZEL IS BATTERED MEAT. Meat! With BATTER on it! But not like fried fish or something. Like a very thin meat cutlet with a very thin batter or some sort on it and then I’m going to say probably cooked in an oven because it wasn’t at all greasy. It was DELICIOUS.

There were also other things involved like a salad (which I ate AROUND – this is how I eat a salad. I eat the leaves and I eat some of the other things but I totally don’t eat things like cucumbers or onions, and if there ARE onions, I have to pick them off before I even get STARTED, this is how much I hate onions and everything in the world onion-related.) Then with the DELICIOUS SCHNITZEL there was red cabbage, which I attempted to eat but I will never like cabbage, apparently, not ever, and also there was some sort of potato pancake thing which I ate but then it was FILLED WITH STEALTH GARLIC so I had monster dragon breath for the rest of the night and no breath mints. Remember this for later, it’s important. Also applesauce? I assume that was supposed to go on the potato pancake thingy but it was mega-sweet. I didn’t eat much of that, it tasted like pie filling. Who just eats pie filling? Heathens, is who.



THEN (I know, it was totally a night of bon vivantery) we went to the theater. The theater was only about five minutes away but my GPS was being a jerk so it didn’t direct us there smoothly so it took about ten minutes. BAD JOB TOMTOM.

We got to the theater and I said, “K., sometimes they treat me like visiting royalty when I review; sometimes they are all blasé and ‘whatever, you’re here,’ no way to tell, really.” She said, “ok, then.”

So we got to the ticket window and it was kind of magical.

“YOU’RE HERE!” the very nice lady said. She gave us our tickets and a press packet (I like when I get a press packet, it’s just a little extra touch, but it shows you care) and then said “since it’s general seating for this show, we wanted to make sure you had good seats, so we taped off a couple of seats for you. Front row aisle in the balcony – you can just seat yourselves there, or elsewhere if you’d like.”

“Um. Wow? Thanks?” I said. K. and I were DULY IMPRESSED with this. “I am FANCY,” I hissed. “YOU SO ARE!” she responded. We both marveled in my fanciness. (K.’s known me a long time. She’s well-aware I’m far from fancy and, much as I do, revels in the fact that somehow, in some way, I’m being all-of-a-sudden celebrated for fanciness.)

So we got into the theater and went up to the balcony and there…there…was a SATIN RIBBON taped over TWO SEATS with MY NAME ON IT. My name spelled wrong, but my name nonetheless.

Hee! Kind of like this only not at all like this. But this made me laugh.

Hee! Kind of like this only not at all like this. But this made me laugh.

“I know your name is spelled wrong,” said K., “but look at the bigger picture here. YOUR NAME IS ON A RIBBON ON SEATS!”

So I pulled off the ribbon among much oohs and aahs from me and friend K.

An usher ushed on over, very officiously. “You cannot SIT there!” said the usher. “Those seats are for the REVIEWER!”

K. became both a protective mamma-bear and a proud parent. “SHE IS THE REVIEWER!” she said.

“Oh! OH! I’m so SORRY!” said the usher.

“It’s ok,” I said to her. I didn’t want her to feel bad. I don’t look like a reviewer. I don’t have a little pad and my hair was all sticking up. She ushed off to ush another day.

A fairly pretty man was sitting next to me. “Well!” said the fairly pretty man, who was rugged and beardy. “I wondered who was sitting here. Someone important, I see!”

When I did a search for "rugged bearded man" this came up, so now I'm going to pretend Ron Swanson hit on me at the theater. That's cool with you guys, right? Good.

When I did a search for “rugged bearded man” this came up, so now I’m going to pretend Ron Swanson hit on me at the theater. That’s cool with you guys, right? Good.

I laughed. And then promptly tripped over my purse and coat and almost face-planted. “And also clumsy,” I said. Rugged Beardy laughed in delight. I DELIGHTED HIM. However, what did I tell you to remember about dinner? I COULD NOT FLIRT WITH HIM. I had the worst breath. I spent the entire show laughing with my mouth closed. DAMN YOU GARLIC!!!

I totally saved the satin ribbon and name tag. I’m hanging it up in my home. Listen! Unexpected fanciness! How often has that happened to me, I ask you? The answer is NEVER. I was absolutely DELIGHTED.

Happily, the play was wonderful; I didn’t have to give a bad review to the theater that made me feel like a superstar (thank goodness.) It was funny and intelligent and well-acted and well-directed and only an hour long, which was nice, because I was garlic-breathed and also kind of tired and had a review to write and wanted to come home and tell people about the SATIN RIBBON OF FANCYTOWN. Dad was all, “those people were buttering you up in order to get a good review” but I assure you if the play was bad, no satin ribbon would have stopped me from saying so in the paper. I might be easily delighted but I’m not that easily bought. Now, if they’d provided CHOCOLATE or perhaps even BREATH MINTS I might have CONSIDERED swaying my review. I AM KIDDING I AM KIDDING. (No, honestly, I take the reviewing thing seriously. Perhaps way too seriously. I don’t like lying in the paper. Who’s ever going to trust me if they can’t trust my reviews? I’ve wanted to write for the paper since I knew it was a career option; I’m not going to desecrate something I consider a sacred position by SULLYING it with LIES.)

Then we drove home with more talking and laughing and awesomeness and  promised to do it again soon because ALL THE FREE TICKETS YAY! and then I wrote my review and stayed up too late doing things and now I am exhausted today.

Oh, on the way home we saw what I THOUGHT was a shooting star but what was APPARENTLY a meteor shower of some sort but I totally wished on the meteor anyway. Sometimes you have to take your magic where you can find it. No, I won’t tell you what I wished for, and no, you can’t know if it came true. Do you think I’m a dilettante in the ways of wishery? If I TELL you, it DEFINITELY won’t come true! Come on now.

The interwebs tells me it's the Geminid meteor shower and it's going on Friday and Saturday, too. Good, I could use more wishes. I have people who need them; I'll share them around this time.

The interwebs tells me it’s the Geminid meteor shower and it’s going on Friday and Saturday, too. Good, I could use more wishes. I have people who need them; I’ll share them around this time.

And that is the story of unexpected fanciness and satin ribbons and schnitzel and bon vivantery and friend K., who I almost lost many years ago because I was being a stubborn asshole for no reason at all.

Friday night: more bon vivantery! And Saturday: more working! And Sunday: DAY OFF I CANNOT WAIT!

Hope you’re all having the best weekend. Love you all to pieces. Hope you all get satin ribbons or the equivalent thereof someday, you all deserve it times a million.

Oh, and I wrote this before the school shooting on Friday. I don’t…I don’t think I can talk about that right now. Hug your kiddos for me, ok? Just so tight? Thanks. My heart hurts.

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