I'll write about my magical, ghostly trip to the beach last weekend later (if I can find time to breathe between Halloween and birthday festivities). First, I need to talk about Miss M. Because she is six today. Six! SIX. A mere four years from one whole decade here on Earth. I've been here for four decades, and I still remember when I turned my first decade old. Where do the decades go?

I remember lying in the hospital room after Miss M was yanked from my body, and staring at her--how can a person's body make something so incredibly amazing? And yet so alien-like and freakish? All at once? Yes, yes, Biologists--I KNOW the scientific process; but sleeping babies are all about magic. 

I remember watching her tiny body sleep, thinking: she will never be any more perfect than she is right now--she has never had a bug bite, a scratch, a pimple; she has never had anything tragic happen to her (well, unless being ripped from the liquid warmth of a safe womb counts), there's not a single thing in her world right now to mar her perfection. I remember thinking: here is a human being who's a completely clean slate, existing in the most perfect state of being humans ever get to exist in. (I do sometimes think most of our navel gazing as adults is a dull, pathetic attempt to go back to this state of perfect perfection, to recapture the precise moments in which we were absolutely Okay. Before, you know, our parents' and their parents' and all of our ancestral baggage laid claim to our innate wellness, and the boxing match of wills with the Universe began.)

I remember strapping her baby body into the car seat and climbing in next to her and realizing: Wow. They just...GIVE these things to you. No instruction manuals, no stickers, no warning labels. Just: Here ya go. Try not to have Child Services called or anything. (So far, so good! Fingers crossed.) 

I remember standing in her bedroom one night, holding her soft, sweet, little body cradled on my shoulder, and I remember watching us sway together in a mirror, with a soft nightlight illuminating the room around us...it didn't really feel real then, and I remember thinking: One day, I won't be able to do this with her anymore, and I should burn this moment into my brain forever and ever and hold onto it as tight as I possibly can. And I did. And it is still there. As if it we just did that yesterday.

And then one year passed, and two, and three, and now here we are. At age six. Six! As each year comes and goes, someone will invariably say to me: Oh, I love this age! This was my favorite age. Enjoy her at this age. They grow up so fast and this age will never come again. And then I will spend that whole year going: Wow. You know, I really do miss that one age that one person told me three years ago not to miss...but this age? pssh. Let's go age (X)! I am soooo very over YOU, age (X), and all your ridiculous issues. (Each age has its unique challenges, is what I think I'm trying to say...and you will never appreciate how easy those challenges were until you're looking at them in the muddied rear view mirror of Life's macho, over-the-top, gas guzzling monster truck.)

Miss M can practically read now. I started typing this right before she fell asleep, and she was using her phonics skills to try to sound out what I was typing. Before I know it, I won't be able to get away with things like spelling out the location of her hidden birthday gifts in front of her. 

And she's in love! With strangers and little boys in her class alike. You guys! This is so different from four years ago, when she was mostly concerned with Yo Gabba Gabba and  getting enough yaw-yee bops (lollipops) at her birthday party. In four years from now, when she is 10, will I be longing for the days when she just obsessed over little boys who wanted nothing to do with girls, boy bands from Britain, and Frozen ice princesses? (Probably.)

I think childhood is magical. I wish I'd known, when I was growing up, that I was partaking in this very strange, delicious bit of sorcery called Childhood. And this makes me wish more children were like Peter Pan, who totally understood what odd blackness is afoot when a body and mind begin to get bigger and older. Instead, I was like I think a lot of children are, including my own Miss M: I kept thinking older would better and wiser and I'd have more freedom. When I was six, I couldn't wait to be ten. When I was ten, I thought 16 was when it all started to come together. When I was 16, I was certain 21 was when the magic finally happened. When I was 21, it hadn't sunk in yet that this is IT. There IS no older or wiser or freedom. Just one more year and then another year after that and one more after that.

Year 21 seems to be where Childhood goes to die.

(This may be one reason why some people are driven to have children, but now we're going down a philosophical path that's less about M and more about her Mommy so let's backtrack to the most important part of this essay, shall we?)

Miss M is my most very favorite human on the entire planet. I cannot think of anyone who makes me happier, angrier, more in love, more frustrated, more joyous, more scared, more amazed, and more complete than little Miss M. I remember feeling sort of restless and without form for a good 30 or so years...and then, one day, staring down at a plus sign on a pregnancy stick feeling blown away. It wasn't until a doctor showed me her shadowy form and beating, tiny heart on an ultrasound that I truly believed she was in there. And when I believed that, I felt a huge surge, a tremendous rush of relief, and sort of deep, visceral knowledge: I can plant my feet now. This is why I had to go through THAT tunnel to scale THAT bridge to rock climb THAT cliff. So I could plant my feet, right HERE. With you, dear Child.

I remember sitting very still with her inside of me, before I could feel her move around, knowing that this is what God is like: you can't see, feel, or hear God...but God is in there, somewhere. And then I remember the feeling of her tiny feet swiping around my insides, and knowing: this is what God is like: you can't see or hear or talk to God...but occasionally there will be a swipe, a little something to let you know, Hey there, hello out there--yes! It's ME, I'm really in here.

And then out she came--six years ago. Sucking maniacally on her fingers, hungry from the start. Screaming and shaking balled up fists at the world angrily, on cue, every night from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm when she finally gave out and let go of whatever chapped her little buns every single day. Curly-haired in ways that make her scream like she's being tortured by the Spanish Inquisition when we comb hair. Demanding and indignant, yet kind-hearted and silly. A lover of jokes about farts and stinky feet, terrified of the dark and the Big Bad Wolf, a princess-wannabe, and a budding Oscar/Emmy/Golden Globe winning actress. A reader and a writer with really bad handwriting. Dances like Seinfeld's Elaine, but not with wolves (or dogs, because those terrify her, too). A reluctant swimmer-turned-mermaid. A singer of inappropriately adult songs because her mother refused to listen to kid song CDs on long car rides when she was a baby. An advanced cusser, curator of swears, because her mother also couldn't get a handle on her road rage issues on morning car rides early in M's life. A night owl and grumpy morning person (like her mother); overly opinionated and bossy (like her father). 

She loves princesses and the color pink in ways that make me nervous, so thank god for a sporty dad who's turned her onto soccer and insists she play outside in the dirt as much as possible. She has a musician's soul, but if you could see the song playlist she's demanded I create on my Spotify account for her so we can listen to HER songs in the car, I feel confident in saying you'll agree with me when I contend that Iggy Azalea is simply not a good influence for a six year old's developing psyche or brain. Lourde, maybe. But definitely not Iggy. Don't even get me started on Miley Cyrus.

She would stamp her feet and scowl at you for agreeing with me about that, and try to manipulate you by saying something morose and sad like, "Well then. I guess that proves YOU don't love me EITHER!!!!" before flouncing off to slam her bedroom door. Later, she'll come out and insist on watching STAR WARS or Minecraft or something boy-ish, and will act like she doesn't know she has two X chromosomes because she'll giggle relentlessly about fart jokes. This will make you wonder: (a) where did the angry girly girl go? Not that I miss her, but seriously--where is she? and (b) should I be worried? is this early hormonal surges...or bipolar? 

And then, if you are very sad and crying, or you stub your toe or get a case of really bad cramps, Miss M The Future Psychotherapist and Nurse will swoop in to salve  your wounds with back rubs and shushes: "It's okay...don't worry...breathe...just breathe...it will be okay...you'll be okay, I promise..." Because this is what she hears all the time herself...no, seriously, like 50 times a day, because every day something makes her sob with inconsolable abandon, or she insist she has a mortal flesh wound somewhere. 

Are you getting that she's exhausting? But it's a good exhausting. It's a "I wish I didn't have a job where I have to spend all day with 25 other people's kids so I could really focus on your amazingness" kind of exhausting. But that's okay, because I think most children exhaust their parents, if most children are doing their jobs correctly. 

But more than any of that, I think she's grand. Just darling and very, very grand. I think, one day, she'll take her inappropriate song lyrics-loving, giggling soccer star princess self to far flung places and teach the natives how to fart and belch in ways that will send them into peals of ridiculous laughter, especially if they do so while in a bathtub. And I think she'll be a big, massive super star one day, and also that if she actually does become an Oscar winning actress, she'll also become an Oscar winning screenwriter/director/producer at the same time, because if there's one thing in the world Miss M can't stand, it's to be told what to do, and she's too opinionated to let other people have the final say anyway. 

I think my little Miss M's got transcendent, iridescent, impossibly large fairy wings, finely threaded with the purest of pink glitter-dust, hidden under her mud-soaked soccer uniform, and my biggest wish, each year as she inches closer to Year 21, each moment we pass other people's Favorite, Most Enjoyable Ages of Childhood, is that one morning she'll wake up to realize the Big Bad Wolf knows all about her hidden, impossibly large, iridescently pink glitter fairy wings; that the existence of these wings actually strike terror deep within him and he is afraid of her, far more than she could ever imagine being afraid of him. My heart wants her heart to know this makes her more powerful than she knows, much more capable than she realizes, that she is able to weave certain kinds of alchemy in the world that would marvel Merlin.

In fact, one day, when she DOES realize all of that, I hope I'm there to see her peel off the soccer uniform, unfurl her pink glitter fairy wings; I hope I'm allowed to witness her flights to as many wild and majestic places of terrifying splendors as she can find. Because I know she will conquer these places, and that these places will be better for having experienced her and she will be stronger for having experienced them. And I pray I will not be too exhausted and can marvel at her artistically adept ability to weave wonder at everything and inside everyone she touches, even when she stamps her feet with all her completely indignant, over-the-top, opinionated, control freak demands along the way.

But for today? I'm just trying to keep all the Frozen- and One Direction-themed shit hidden, because she's also pretty wily at figuring out my game plans. 

I love you, Sweet Melissa. My entire life got better when you came out of me six years ago. 


inappropriate traveler tales.

I wish I had a reason to be at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, like, every day. I've seen on Twitter Jason Isaacs appears to be using it as a layover place (place of laying over?), at least while he shoots DIG (on USA!) in New Mexico. It is the busiest airport on the planet, I hear. Quite frankly, I think he or his manager or whoever bravely books Lucius Malfoy onto flights has good taste, sending him to us. I'm unashamedly biased, because it's the airport I've come to know the best--I've been in it, through it, and outside it thousands of times. It's got its quirks, for sure. But every time I'm there, I feel like I'm home. Is that weird? Our airport has a very "Atlanta feel" to it. For lack of a better term on account of it's after 9 PM and I've tested small children's brains to death all week and so mine is now fried, too. (For all its quirks, Atlanta has wormed its way permanently into my heart; I love this big ol' smoggy, too-much-damn-country-music, traffic jammed up city of Tea Party Republicans.)

Anyway, he's tweeted about weirdos on Atlanta-bound planes asking for selfies at inappropriate moments (we do draw eccentrics like magnets, Jason), and people have posted pictures of him in Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, graciously taking selfies with them. He always seems very good-natured and kind in regards to this...I'd be very: only if my make up and hair are okay and I'm not having a fat day, okay? about it. (In fact, if I ever run into Jason Isaacs and he asks if I want a selfie, this is exactly what I will say to him.) 

Hey, remember when you could walk your loved ones right up to a departing gate and hang out with them until the plane boarded? Those were the days, right? Now travelers have to go through a labyrinth of security and they herd the non-travelers picking up the travelers into an airport version of a cattle pen at a slaughterhouse for humans. Everyone waits in one large crowd together, mooing aimlessly, and then there's a stampede as the travelers slowly come up and off the 5000 foot incline/escalator. I refuse to participate in this--if you're coming in, and I'm picking you up, Hartsfield-Jackson has a very nice cell phone parking lot for me to sit in the quiet comfort and privacy of my car whilst enjoying Damien Rice songs and waiting for you to ride the train, the escalator, deal with baggage claim, and walk out the front doors into the wilds of Atlanta. Call me once your bags are in your hand and I'll swing around and get you. And then we'll go sit in a nice, smoggy traffic jam and I'll school you on why you sound like a big, uncool nerd every time you call it HOTlanta. 

(Stop calling us that, everybody. First off, we're STEAMYlanta or SMOGGYlanta or OVERCROWDEDlanta or THESESTREETLAYOUTSMAKENOFUCKINGSENSElanta. Second, if you must go for cutesy, then might I suggest something more fitting like CocaColaville? Or Peachtreewannabe Town? Although A-Town works nicely if you'd like to sound like a rapper, or try "The ATL" if you feel you're more hip hop.)

One time? At Hartsfield-Jackson when I was headed to Phoenix, my brother and I got to watch a barefoot, 400-pound woman wearing a mini-mini-micro-skirt and way too small thong underwear bend over repeatedly to pick up peanuts she dropped on the floor. And since I can hear your brain thinking it: YES. Yes, she DID eat them. Slowly and deliberately. I'm horrified just remembering it. (I am also shuddering at the many memories I have of negotiating O'Hare International Airport, which is exactly what you do from the moment you step off a plane there: negotiate. For all its quirks, I think if you have to go through O'Hare more than ten times, you really come to appreciate a place like Hartsfield-Jackson.)

Nowadays, everyone has to practically strip AND take their shoes off AND taste any breast milk they brought with them AND go through those x-ray machines where questionably educated strangers can see you completely naked. What I'm saying is, thanks, you stupid airplane terrorists. You've turned us all into barefoot, 400 lb women who bend over repeatedly and eat peanuts off the floor. Hope you're happy now.

Speaking of traveling: I'm traveling tomorrow! And not by plane--woo! This time tomorrow, my feet will be in the sand, and an adult beverage will be at my side. I am taking some good books, this laptop, and my ghost hunter skillz (I don't have ghost hunter skillz). The cabin we are renting has bits and pieces of Ft. Skivner in it, and it was built at the turn of the century. I am certain there will be plenty of things to write about. And several opportunities for one bad poetry jam.

More important than all of that? Magic Mike XXL is being filmed ON Tybee Island! Which is where I shall be plunking my sandy feet. It's true! People magazine had a picture of a shirtless Joe Manganiello tossing a ball on Tybee Island. I suppose he could have been tossing a ball in Destin, Florida or Atlantic City, New Jersey or Malibu, California. But it was in People. And if People magazine says it's true, well then. ....Y'all! My friends and I could be extras! I could be in a real dang movie! Everyone has to get their start somewhere. (As long as my make up and hair are okay and I'm not having a fat day.) 


girl adhd (aka: shoulding all over yourself)

I don't know if it's just a creative person thing or a you-may-need-professional-help-and-some-medication person thing, but I am having the blahs, Internet. I am having a very deep case of the blahs.

I shouldn't be though, because my god--Miss M's BIG Day is coming up, and I should be all excited! (She is.) And I have a trip, complete with good friends, a beach, and ghosts, coming up. And my work atmosphere is exactly 110% better these days. So I should not be having a case of the deep blahs. I should not. I should not.

(I once went to a hippie, God-is-LOVE kind of church and someone talked to me about should-ing all over yourself. Don't should all over yourself; just know it is what it is for reasons you don't know why.) (Right now, this sounds like the kind of advice Ernest Hemingway might have given...while drinking.)

At any rate, I'm in a weird place right now. Somewhere between just wanting to sleep all day with the covers over my head and wanting to sign up for a boxing tournament so I can punch the shit out of the world.

Have I ever mentioned I worry I suffer from ADHD? I read an article the other day that said females actually suffer from this a lot more than we think, and that most research focuses on boys and how boys react when suffering from it (Planet Earth, why do you always care about the BOYS more??). So when a boy suffers from it, he's all psycho and all over the place--the voices in his head never shut up and he's like a pinging ping pong ball. But when girls suffer from it, they look and act like completely normal people...except maybe they can't organize or prioritize themselves, even if someone is offering them a marriage proposal from Clive Owen, say. And they forget things like who they are and all that. But they're calm and not pinging off the walls, so...whatevs. (seems to be the attitude.)

The problem is that this "whatevs" attitude causes anxiety and depression. It also causes social introversion and a whole slew of other problems Freud didn't have a big enough psychoanalysis couch for. Because the world is saying to girls: You're not bouncing off the walls or anything, and you're not trying to destroy shit on purpose, so you're fine. There is nothing wrong with you. You have two X chromosomes! Stop complaining and get it together! Why can't you get it together? Look: SHE can. And SHE can. And look at that one over there--SHE'S totally doing it better than you.

And so the ADHD girl/woman feels lost, alone, inadequate, and for-the-love-of-god can I seriously stop leaving my car keys in the freezer??? And on top of this, if not treated, the girl grows up into an adult woman who mostly maintains and does perfectly fine at life...except she keeps leaving her car keys in the freezer. (I don't do this...I leave them in my purse. Which is practically a Science experiment at this point. So is the backseat of my car. And I'm worried about THAT, because the front seat of my car is fine--this is where I sit. The backseat of my car is a wear-your-Hazmat-suit zone--this is where Miss M sits. And don't even get me started on Miss M's bedroom. I am worried, World Wide Web. I am worried I have genetically effed up my child, and this is again one of those things the God is Love people would tell me to stop shoulding about, but I DO should about it. I should about it all the time.)

So if this is true, then I have this and it explains quite a fucking lot.

But I don't want to take Adderall or Ritalin, even if they will make me lose 500 pounds and help me keep my work area organized and on stay on target. And I don't want to be labeled, or be a stigma. But I do want to stop feeling inadequate and lost. There are moments I am fine, all is well, it just is what it is...and then there are days and weeks like now, where I'm all: WTF? Amy! Are you okay?! And I seriously don't know if I can get through the next day at work.

But I'm not an episode of Hoarders--I have a nice home and, except for some Ebola hiding behind the toilets in my bathroom, it's totally clean. And I DO get through the day at work, even somewhat adequately. I have lots and lots of friends and love a good dinner out and being around other people. I dress well, and I look okay. I'm functioning, is what I'm saying. I'm a functioning, tax-paying, law obeying, sane, completely nice and kind and normal member of the human race. But the backseat of my car is crazy, and so is my work area and my ability to stay focused or even have A Plan when I start my day. And I let things go until they become huge monsters and then I just go hide under the covers or write navel-gazing blog entries at 1:30 AM because I can't go back to sleep, and I give out a lot of TMI you didn't even ask to know about me.  It's so bad, sometimes I'll read things about strangers' lives (for example, Jason Isaacs' travel schedule and the amount of people who want to take selfies with him), and I will feel completely overwhelmed and want to hide under the covers for about a week. I would make a horrible celebrity--I often feel empathy when I watch celebrities go off the deep end...it IS overwhelming; people can be overwhelming. And if you're not organized or able to prioritize your life, then why not, say, just let a sociopath like Sam Lufti be in charge of you? (making it even more overwhelming.) When Greta Garbo said, "I want to be alone," I totally get it.

I don't know what this is. But it's causing the blahs and also a slight feeling of wanting to punch holes into walls. I feel like a tightly wound steel cable that, given the right circumstances, may unwind so hard and so fast I'll get a severe case of whiplash and it will not be good.

In conclusion, this sums me up right about now:


i edit as i go.

No Sigmund Freud, this one.
Last night I took Ernest Hemingway's advice to write drunk; edit sober. I did not get drunk, but I did get close. And here's what I found out: Ernest Hemingway gives crap advice. Please know this. Do NOT write drunk; edit sober. I'm going to flip that and say it's probably better to write sober; edit drunk. I couldn't even find the correct keys to type, and I gave up about 4 paragraphs in because I just wanted to get on social media and hug someone, tell a stranger how much I loved them. Do not do this, Internet. Put down the bourbon and FOCUS.

I'm signing on for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again. My handle there is amy223. If you're doing it, too, link up to me! Let's suffer for Art together. I've taken on this November writing project in the past, and I have finished a novel this many times: 0. The idea is to just write (sober or drunk, but seriously: do it sober) and do NOT edit for the whole month of November. If you do this a certain number of words/pages per day all through November, you should have a 50,000 word novel completed by the Nov. 30. 

It's the "do NOT edit for the whole month" part that trips me up. I DO edit as I go; it's a disease and I can't help it. I go back and re-read what I wrote and go: WHAT?! That makes absolutely no sense! or What?! Those facts don't line up at all. or Was I on crack when I typed that?! So the not editing part is very very hard for me. I do have a bit of perfectionist in me--I'm certain this is also why I'm a procrastinator. 

Have I promoted Jason Isaacs' show DIG lately? No, I have not. Let me update you on that: It will be on TV in March, specifically March 5, 2015.  AND the network thinks it's so awesome-super-cool they ordered 4 more episodes in addition to the six they already paid for, which makes 10! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN total episodes of DIG on USA! (Please go back and re-read that in the voice of The Count, from Sesame Street) (also, as a writer, I'm thinking: this is GOOD! more writing work for the writers! but, as a writer, I'm also going: holy shit! how do you take a story arc you already finished and add MORE to it??) (I bet the DIG writers don't have that fear at all, that the only reason I even have that thought goes directly back to my problems with my edit-as-I-go disease).

At any rate, set your DVRs, get your inner FBI agent/archeologist ready. They're in Albuquerque, New Mexico filming it right now. (Well, actually, not right now...according to Jason on his Twitter account, he's off promoting the movie Fury. First he was in New Mexico working, then he had to fly to Washington, DC to promote Fury, and now he's in London at a film festival promoting it. Famous people seem to have to change time zones a lot; just reading about how many different places Jason Isaacs has been over the last week or so makes me want to take a nap.) (In addition, he posted a picture of what an actor promoting a film sees when walking a red carpet...lands, that looks overwhelming. A thousand people with cameras going off, shouting at you. I wouldn't even know where to look. Bless you, famous people.) (Unless you're a douchebag--in that case, I hope a wayward camera flash permanently blinds you.) (Jason Isaacs is not a douchebag; I've only ever heard how very very very nice he is, which is why I've put him on my Superhero List.)

In non-famous people news: Miss M got her first report card.  Basically, she's an excellent reader who needs to work on her handwriting, listening/following directions skills, and self-control. I tell her this all the time myself, so I'm glad it's now documented on paper forever. I plan to whip it out and remind her when she's an adult: EVERYbody said this about you. It's a problem. That's on the one hand. On the other hand, sigh. She's a teacher's kid. You'd think teachers would have the niche on how to raise a perfect kid. We do not. I think it's because we're so focused on raising other people's kids and we forget we have to raise our own. (This is the part where I start singing: 

Being good isn't always easy
No matter how hard I try...
The only one who could ever reach me
Was the kid of a teacher woman...)

Next up is her birthday. She'd like exactly 1000 things, needs to analyze the frickin' thing multiple times each day, and doesn't necessarily want to wait another 10 days for her birthday presents and likes to have melt downs when you tell her NO, you have to wait. These are some of the 1000 things she'd like: One Direction stuff, a marriage proposal from Harry Styles, some type of Barbie thing, a FROZEN doll that changes her dress, some cool things, some really awesome things, Monster High, a REAL pony (real as in, it eats grass and you ride it and it poops large mounds of crap on your lawn and your HOA people have aneurysms about it), all the candy she wants, a gigantic chocolate and vanilla birthday cake, a sleepover, lots of cool stuff, fresh pajamas, and a Queasy Bake Oven. (I don't know who taught her to call it a Queasy Bake Oven, but I think whoever did has clearly eaten something baked in one of them.)

This coming weekend, I'll be in Tybee Island with friends. SO excited about this. I don't know how much writing I'll get done, but I do plan to sit on the beach with a notepad and at least concoct one tremendously bad poem. I'm also hoping that walking the beach and collecting sea shells will help me sort myself out. I am finding I need an awful lot of sorting lately, and I don't know where to start. 

...actually, that is untrue. I do know where to start. But I'm reluctant to, and dragging my feet about it. Because it is hard. And I don't do hard very well. (Remember? I like to edit as I go.)

On the plus side, Magic Mike XXL is currently filming in Tybee Island, Georgia. There was a picture in PEOPLE magazine recently of a shirtless Joe Manganiello tossing a ball. WITH NO SHIRT ON (did you get that?). I don't necessarily need to see Joe without a shirt on while I'm there, but it would be nice if he at least tossed his ball and it hit me in the head. And then he felt really bad and was scared I'd sue him, so he took me and my friends out to dinner. And then he gave us all an invitation to the red carpet movie premiere. (Would Jason Isaacs attend that? Shirtless Joe Manganiello is pretty hard to resist, I think.) 

That's all I want: dinner with (shirtless) Joe Manganiello on the beach in Tybee Island. (What did you just say? He has a girlfriend named Sofia? It's just dinner, yo. Plus, I'd bake him dessert in M's Queasy Bake Oven and then he'd know: I am not the one for him.)

I actually had a blog post about why what happens at a kid's home has a direct effect on what happens at school, but it had a lot of swearing in it and was kind of angry. So you got this unfocused mess instead. It's Sunday night and I have a long week of testing ahead of me. Deal with it. 


a sensible plan.

I got this from an image Google search. If it is yours, I apologize.
My excuse was I was channeling Ernest Hemingway.
We both adore him, and so I think you and I should be
BFFs, whoever you are.
I am pretty much done with a story. The title is ALICE'S SENSIBLE PLAN. I rough drafted it this summer and worked on it bit by bit since July. I don't know what else to do with it. I feel like I should be all "kill your darlings" with it, but to be honest? I don't have any darlings in it.

I think the biggest thing about it may be the time switching--there's a bit of back and forth, and it could be an issue for some editors. I tried to address this, but at some point I think I just have to close my eyes, take a big breath, and leap.

It's based--loosely--on my maternal grandmother's relationship with her stepfather, Frank. My grandmother ("MomMom," if you must know) wanted to be a nurse. She had a mean stepfather who told her girls didn't need to get jobs; they needed to get married. I wish I could go back in time and punch Frank in the nose and kick him in the nuts. He also stole my grandmother's (and her sisters') inheritance. My great-grandmother ("Grammy," if you must know) first married a successful banker; MomMom grew up fairly wealthy. Their family had the only car in town, for example. My great-grandfather had some issues (I think most people did, back in turn of the century America. You know: before self-help books and navel-gazing was A Thing) and he died of cirrhosis of the liver. One of my bittersweet memories of my grandmother is this: stroke-ridden MomMom sitting at her kitchen table, slowly mumbling through a story about her beloved Daddy, how deeply she'd adored him, how difficult it had been to say good-bye. And how hard life had been with Frank--they'd lived on a coal miner's salary, while he'd given all her Daddy's wealth to his daughters from his first marriage. But mostly she talked about her Daddy, how much he'd made her laugh, and what a huge hole his death had left in her heart.

I remember MomMom as a stern, unloving sort of matriarch. My mother tells some incredible, sad stories about what it was like to be raised by someone struggling with anger and severe depression. But when I heard the Frank stories, I sort of clicked some puzzle pieces together and understood the Why of MomMom. I'd be enraged and depressed, too, if my stepfather had been an evil sonofabitch. (MomMom once had a pet chicken--I forget her name, but she loved her, as one would love a puppy or a kitten. One day, the family had chicken for dinner. Everyone ate, including MomMom, and at the end of dinner, Frank sent her out to look for the pet chicken, who was of course gone. He announced triumphantly the pet chicken had been the family dinner that night. MomMom never ate poultry again. Seriously--even on Thanksgiving. We'd all eat turkey, and MomMom would eat everything but that. Again: life sucks when your drunk and happy, rich daddy is replaced by your evil, unscrupulous sonofabitch stepdad.)

So I wrote the story based on Frank, and on MomMom. MomMom, like Alice in the story, cuts off her nose to spite her face by doing exactly what Frank wants. Like walking right into a spider's lair. Abuse is insidious. But unlike MomMom, Alice is a little vengeful and kind of macabre. And there's no real happy ending. (Sometimes there just isn't, World. Sometimes, there is no happy ending. I'm sorry. This is Life.)

So I posted a snippet of it in my snippets section, because I haven't updated that in months and I should. And please go there if you can, and if you'd like to leave feedback, you can. Or you can just wait for me to find someone willing to publish it and then you can read it there. Or maybe no one will want to publish it, and I'll just sigh and do it myself, just like the Little Red Hen.

I've had kind of a bad evening and 3 glasses of Apothic Dark Wine in me, and so I apologize if this is coming across all What the hell is wrong tonight, Amy?! It's the wine, friends. It's usually the w(h)ine. Plus, Ernest Hemingway said: Write drunk; edit sober. And so I'm going to try that tonight and see if it works. I'll let you know if it does or not. (Once I've recuperated.)

(P.S.~I have a 50% less weird blog post for tomorrow.)

talent agency of amazing amazements.

I know a buttload of talented, gifted people. A BUTTLOAD. (I keep hoping some of their gifts will rub off on me and I shall fly! Fly to the top of the highest mountain!)

So I'm going to promote them, because (a) I can since this is my blog and I get to do whatever I want and (b) this is my blog and I get to do whatever I want on it.

Disclaimer: these products are fully, wholy, absolutely being endorsed by me, and if I could make you, I would force you to buy their products and you would THANK me for it. I swear on all that is holy and St. Mary's left buttock, you would thank me. Because your life would be happier and you would be at peace.

Endorsement #1.  Patresa Hartman is a thoughtful, introspective, wise, and funny wordsmith/songwriter. I met Patresa on a blog years and years ago when I was reaching out to other writers and creative/expressives, and I latched onto her like a burr from a bush full of brambles. Fortunately for me, she has never pulled me off and we are friends to this day. I heart her, a lot.

Several years ago, Patresa and her friend Holly gathered me and about 7 other creative/expressive women (and 1 man) together and challenged us to a group project called COFFEE (it was an acronym for something real hipster--I can't remember what though. Something about chickens or champions). We each picked something that scared the bejeesus out of us or something that was really challenging to us--we tackled those things, wrestled around in the mud with them, and kicked their asses until we were standing tall and proud, flexing our muscles like Rosie the Riveter(s).

Someone's project was writing a novel...another was going to tackle an entire Be More Creative program...another was going to jump out of a plane or something. My project was Cooking More (seriously, 2010 Amy?). Today, my project would be Pitch a Television Show to a Real TV Producer...or Take an Acting Class and Audition for a Real Play...or Write Your Effing Novel Already, Amy. But 2010 Amy was a big, ridiculous idiot, so I wrote about shopping at Whole Foods and filmed myself "cooking." Like I'm Jamie Oliver's hick wannabe cousin.

Patresa's project was to sing in front of a live audience. Patresa can SING, y'all! She always has, but she was scared shitless to do it in front of strangers. So she wrote about her fears on the COFFEE blog, filmed a bunch of YouTube videos of her sharing her beautiful song creations, and then, finally, one night deep in the darkest of winter ('cause that's when the magic happens), she went to a coffeehouse, stretched out her wings...and she flew

Inspiring. She's simply inspiring. (This is the part where she is cringing in embarrassment at her computer and rolling her eyes and going: Dude, you're really overselling this.) (And this is the part where I am shushing her, and telling her to stop that, stop it right now!) I am determined for Patresa to be a household name.

So here's what she has done since embarking on that journey four years ago: she's written a bunch of gorgeous, heart-filled songs. Songs that, when I heard them as I drove to work one day, kind of made me teary-eyed. I said out loud to nobody in the car except maybe to her heart miles away, "Patresa! Oh my god! This is YOU! This is YOU, Patresa!" Because I remember what a big chicken she was, and NOW look at her. Just LOOK at her!

I love Patresa's voice, I love her words, I love her soothing melodies and rhythms. Her music is beautiful, reflections of her soul. And I promise I am not just saying this to get you to buy her product (the stuff I'm about to write is to get you to buy her product). Her songs remind me of Ani Difranco and Alanis Morrisette (but after she got over being angry about being dumped and discovered Buddha). With a tad bit of Ingrid Michaelson. Maybe some Suzanne Vega here and there. And then big chunks of her own sound that nobody else has done.

Here's the really creative part: she wrote a book (with only 8 cuss words in it) to go with the CD. And the consumer conscious, gorgeous part about that is if you'd really rather just read words, you can skip the CD (although you'd be insane to do that) or if you'd really rather just listen to her music, you can skip the book (although you'd be insane to do that). The book is a collection of essays to go with the songs, and the essays will have you connecting so strongly to Patresa's creative musings, you will wonder--as I often do--if she's stealing your inner thoughts somehow. She writes from the heart, and is an innate storyteller/connector of people.

So here are some links to Patresa's  Reverb nation and Facebook pages. But if you just want to cut to the chase and go get you some amazing amazingness, go HERE: patresahartman.com.

Endorsement #2. I met my friend Angie several years ago when we worked together. We got very close due to extenuating and stressful circumstances, and then? One day? Angie stopped me in the hall and went, "Hey. I have a project I need your help with." And proceeded to let me know she had an idea for a television show, but she needed someone who could write...and would I be willing to consider writing the script for it? At least the pilot?

I had never written a script before, but I have written a lot of other stuff, and so I thought: writing is writing is writing is writing, right? How hard can it be? I high fived her, and said: "Let's get her done!" And then proceeded to slowly discover: writing is NOT writing is NOT writing is NOT writing. Script writing is much different than short story writing...but I'm working on it. I'm totally trainable! (Unless it's cooking...that's going to be a lifelong in-training project, I discovered during the COFFEE project.)

At any rate, that was just information to tell you why and how Angie became such a dear friend. She has a sweet, creative, imaginative little girl a really great husband, and she has a bunch of chickens (plus 1 mean old rooster), goats, a donkey, and an awesome saltwater swimming pool that Miss M and I are completely going to commandeer all next summer. 

The coolest thing about Angie is that she's not only a creative/expressive, but she's a Scientist on top of it. Who says Science and Creativity aren't connected?! (Not Albert Einstein.) She's a talented photographer AND she's a budding fashion designer. I just discovered this the other day when she sent me a link on Facebook to her Etsy shop and offered up the exact kind of dress I'd have lived in when I was 5 or 6. (okay, fine...it would have also needed sparkles, but I'm sure Angie can do it.) So go HERE if you'd like to own some of her amazing fashion creations...hopefully you also have someone near you who can wear it. (If you're telling me you could totally wear something a 4 year old girl could wear because it's just your size since you are a size negative 12, then we can't be friends. I'm sorry, I know that's very shallow of me, but it's how I feel and so I'm sorry, no. We can't hang out.)

Endorsement #3. My sweet friend Jaime is an amazing photographer! In addition to star photographer, Jaime is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know. She's a consummate problem solver and vessel of positivity. When I broke my foot a year ago, Jaime showed up at my house with one of those long handled claw thingies so I could sit in my makeshift wheelchair/office chair and be able to reach stuff up high. She brought Miss M star sunglasses, because Jaime's that kind of thoughtful. Later, the claw thingie became a toy for Miss M, and she would play with it while wearing her star sunglasses. 

And on top of all that, Jaime's got an artist's eye.

Really, I don't know why she's languishing in a day job when she could be out there, traipsing the world on assignment from National Geographic. Or snapping pictures of famous people (she would be the CLASSY section of the paparazzi).

Last summer, Jaime got to go to Portugal and Spain, and I completely traveled vicariously with her through all her lovely photographs. When Hugh Jackman stars in the movie version of one of my books, I will invite Jaime to the red carpet premiere and Hugh and I will give her all the exclusive photos and make her world famous and rich. Annie Liebowitz will fume for years about it.

You can buy some of her amazeball photographs of amazing places HERE: JaimeMara Photography.

Endorsment #4. My friend Brenda is also a former coworker. If you need your kid to learn anything, she's the person to put your kid with. She's also got a supernatural ability when it comes to being organized and on target. In addition to all of that, Brenda bakes hot cross buns. No seriously, she bakes. Like a madwoman, she bakes. In fact, she has a whole business called Brenda Bakes. She can make amazing cakes! And cupcakes. And cake pops. And other sweet treats that will send you into sugar shock and put you on a diet until mid-2015 but good god it'll be worth it.

Listen: if  you need a cake? This is your cake lady. She could make you a cake of Godzilla looking pensive yet irreverent as he holds leftover bits of chewed up humans bleeding out guts and stuff. I don't know why in the world you'd even want a cake like that, but let's say you did. Brenda could make it.

So if you live in Atlanta, you should...wait, what? What did you just say? You don't live in Atlanta?! Oh. Jeez. God. Sorry. Well, that sucks so much for you. But if you DO live in Atlanta, (1) high five on choosing to move here and (2) if you need an amazing cake while you're here, you can click THIS: brendabakes.com and Brenda will totally bake you one. (If you ask for my Godzilla cake, you have to save me a piece.)

That's it. I bet I forgot someone amazing. If I did, I will be doing another round of talent agency of amazing amazement endorsements later, and I will fix this! (This is the problem with knowing a lot of talented creatives. There's so many my brain doesn't always get them all.)

In conclusion: by the end of today, I expect you to have ordered a CD/book by an amazing singer/songwriter...a gorgeous dress that hopefully your daughter/granddaughter/niece/brave nephew in touch with his mystical feminine can wear to parties...a stunning rendition of life in Spain or Portugal or Georgia/USA...and a Godzilla cake (of which you will save me the bloody guts piece and I don't want to hear a single complaint about that since I was the one who told you about this).

Got it? GO!


harry potter and HERmione's journey.

Lands, Internet. NOW the blinking Blogger emoji cats have taken on a Halloween theme. Every time I log on here, I have to click an X to get rid of them. This is completely effing with my lazy-ass 1st world snobbery of convenience. I'm sick of clicking the X. Sick of it, Blogger! And Gmail, you too! This is 21st century techno-world! I should be able to will away the emojis with just a blink of my eye. Make it happen, Google.

Let's talk writing, shall we?

First, can we talk about Harry Potter? Because over the summer, I finally read the first book in the series (one decade behind, how I like to do most everything). What a stupendously talented writer this lovely soul named J.K. Rowling is. What I loved most about her initial Potter book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone aka: the only one I've read) was that she can take a very simple sentence or two and pack a whole lot into it--wisdom, back story, foreshadowing, character development, tidbits of story arc, etc and so forth, and she does this on a 10-12 year old's level but in such a way a grown up reading it can go: Wow, this is masterful writing. That's a gift. That's amazing. She's amazing. I admire so deeply writers with the ability to do this, because I strive for it. I don't know if you've noticed yet or not, but conciseness is not my forte. 

Other things I love about Jo Rowling: this is a woman who thought up a story on a train ride, an inspiring story that would eventually spark mystic connections amongst people of all different ages and cultures and languages all across this hard-to-live-on planet. Then she sat in a coffee shop in Scotland and developed an intricate, finely detailed, nuanced world of infinite possibilities, all while struggling with poverty, raising a child alone, and enduring god knows how many Dark Nights of the Soul. She and her magical story were rejected multiple times but she persevered boldly forth, and at the end of this journey her rags have become riches and she is now one of Earth's most adored storyteller heroines who gives back to those still in rags because she's been there and knows. Her biography is a Hero's Journey of sorts and she's a good, writerly egg who followed her bliss, trusted open doors, and who's become an incredibly inspiring icon for people from every culture on this celestial rock in the Milky Way Galaxy, even to those who haven't (yet) been mystified and spellbound by her tales of Harry and his Hogwarts gang.

True confession: I cannot get into these books. I want to get into these books. I want to, because I see how they've affected people from all over. The writing is stunning. The movies are gorgeous. The mania surrounding it all is enthralling to behold. But I just don't...I don't feel it. (Here, I am ducking, and praying the Potterites are far calmer than the Directioners, who--should you suggest you feel even a tiny bit of disconnection to the band One Direction--will fling large chunks of steaming piles of cow dung at you while screeching obscenities as they detail how they will haunt your dreams and will also promise to murder you in front of your father as they finish up with a slew of really inappropriate Yo Mama insults.)

.......I know. I KNOW!! Potter Friends! I am Sacrilege!! I am not fit to be a human being, it is true. I own it, and I am sorry, People of Potterdom. I am so so sorry. I am not saying I won't keep trying--I will keep trying. These are important books, literary foundations for many a childhood, all around the world. I will read all of the Harry Potter books eventually and at some point in the series, something may click and I'll end up buying all the DVD movie versions too and will become completely, utterly, nerdily obsessed. I see these Potter Obsessives on Twitter now and then, and they make me feel like an outsider. And you guys! I HATE FEELING LIKE AN OUTSIDER. (I have a story about when I think this phobia developed, but it's too long for now. Remind me, and I'll tell it to you later.) 

I'm a nerd, too! I am a nerd, just like you! my soul cries out, when I see their Potter obsessings. But I don't speak their Potter language; I don't understand the connections between the characters or why. One day on Twitter a few weeks ago, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) tweeted to Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) something about a Maison Blanc and asked him what he was ordering and holy House of Slytherin, I thought that corner of Twitter was going to explode. I mean, people were tweeting about how they were sobbing with joy about this exchange, their whole lives had been altered.

And I was all: what's Maison Blanc?! Who cares what Draco's father's going to order? And why is Jason/Lucius telling Tom/Draco he's worried about having an aneurism and calling him an arse for this? There's a Maison Blanc/evil dad & son connection, apparently, but I don't know? So I googled "Maison Blanc" and "Harry Potter" and "The Malfoys" but all I got were weird links to French articles about someone inhumanely dressing up Bo, the White House dog as Santa Claus. (What?!) It remains a mystery to me, still. I'm sure I could Sherlock Holmes it away, but I have other projects going on right now and...I'm just, it's just. I'm sorry Tom, Jason, and all the other Potter geeks of the world: I've just got other stuff to do and the Bo as Christmas Dog links are too overwhelming to wade through.

But dagnabit! I feel so left out! Lost! So alone! You know what this feels like? This feels just like when I first swallowed my Internet shyness and left Jason Isaacs a tweet and at the end told him to get Dobby the house elf a pair of socks (because a friend told me to say that to him, promising me Jason would laugh and laugh at that) and then I found out that Dobby was freed from The Malfoys with a sock and I was all: Oh. Well, that was damn cheeky. Because I bet Jason Isaacs probably has had to wade through sock jokes about a billion times every week for the last several years. Note to self: no more Twitter advice from Potterheads. That happened because I'm out of the loop. And you guys! I hate being out of the loop! I'd like to be amongst other geeks and connect. I like to high five and geek fist bump the other nerds and know: nobody gets us like WE get us.

But. Yet. I am not connecting (for now) to Harry Potter. 

May I explain myself? Because I've figured out why I'm having--have always had--a hard time connecting to Harry Potter. I get the mania to Harry Potter; but I don't connect to him. Please don't be offended; stay with me for a minute:

Joseph Campbell's theory of the monomyth. I wrote about this right after I was at Oprah's amazeballs Life You Want weekend and heard my writing hero Liz Gilbert speak of it. So I researched it. Joseph Campbell was a mythologist, lecturer, and writer. He was fascinated by religion and spirituality. He believed in the psychic unity of mankind. You know that quote "Follow your bliss"? That was Joseph Campbell. He followed that up with the assertion that, when you do choose to follow your bliss, extraordinary doors of astounding opportunities will supernaturally open for you.

Joseph Campbell did years and years and years of research and study, and he was able to precisely pinpoint one common, universal theme amongst all human beings everywhere, regardless of language or culture or planetary location: we all tell myths. But even more important than that, we all tell one myth. We tell this myth in many different versions, in many different languages, with many different cultural elements. But the myths all have basically the same story arc with basically the same story components and because of this, Joseph Campbell decided to call this common, very human, myth The Hero's Journey

Note. One problem with Joseph (and why I think I have a hard time connecting to Harry Potter): He (Joseph, not Harry) only believed in the psychic unity of MANkind and his myth was always the HERO's Journey. WOMANkind belonged in the kitchen, with a baby sucking on her boobs, and so ha ha silly girls! There can be no such thing as a HEROINE's Journey. Since women are too busy cooking and birthin' babies and such. Somewhere, Rush Limbaugh is reading Joseph's Man Snob attitudes about women, and Rush Limbaugh is nodding his head so emphatically right now, in a self-medicated fog of OxyContin painkillers, and he is hallucinate-high fiving Joseph Campbell so hard, so very very hard. (O! Chauvinism! Thou dost maketh homo sapiens such ugly bedfellows!) 

Here's a brief explanation of how The Hero's Journey works: there's a hero (aka: a boy ). 

He's living a very ordinary, normal life in the village or kingdom or cave or wherever, and then one day he meets some sort of helper who gives him a Call to Adventure. He suddenly realizes: I have to go on a journey. And so he sets off. Along the way, he has more helpers like supernatural aid(s) and guardian(s) of some sort, and he has many adventures both good and bad. The hero does good deeds and foils temptations, and along the way he meets friends who are enemies and enemies who are friends. Usually, the hero is on a journey to defeat something--a troll, a dragon, a demon, a witch; or to rescue something--a princess, a chalice, someone trapped in a curse. At some point, invariably, he reaches an abyss, a dark moment in which all may be lost. Campbell called this moment The Dark Night of the Soul, the part of The Hero's Journey that, if the hero stops, he will die and the journey will end and Good will lose.

It's in this moment, in the Dark Night of the Soul, the hero realizes: I have to change. In some way big or small, in all of the stories from every single one of our expansive, extremely diverse planet's cultures and legends and languages and values, the hero realizes to go on he needs to make some kind of transformation. And when he transforms, he defeats his obstacles, overcomes all of his temptations, and he emerges better, stronger than before, and his transgressions and wrongdoings are completely absolved. Numerous doors of tremendous possibilities are opened for him, and he is given magical gifts to take home with him where he is received by his village (or kingdom or cave or wherever) with acclaim and adoration and stories are told of him for years and years and years the end. 

Harry Potter is one really good example of how to expertly weave The Hero's Journey into a story: there's a boy. He's living his life, and one day he wakes up and meets a Helper (in this case, three: Dumbledore & McGonagall & Hagrid) who gives him a Call to Adventure (come be a wizard at Hogwarts). He realizes: I have to go on a journey and sets off. Along the way, he has many adventures: supernatural aids, guardians, and adventures both good and bad. He does good deeds and foils temptations, and meets friends who are enemies (Professor Quirrell), enemies who are friends (Professor Snape). At some point, he reaches The Dark Night of the Soul and by the end of the series Harry is transformed. He changes from a scared, awkward, weak boy into a brave, adored hero, and tales are told of him forever more (and, if you follow JK Rowling like I do on Twitter, you see hugely important these tales are to many people from different countries and cultures out there...some of whom maaaaay need to get a little bit of a life when it comes to this stuff, but god bless them it seems they've found their bliss and I think that's just perfect. Power to the Potterheads).

The stories of Harry Potter are transfigurative tales of a boy's journey from small and weak to large and brave--if I were a ten year old boy, I'd be all OVER these books. But this is precisely why (I've figured out) I've had a hard time getting into Harry Potter books/movies/etc: He's a boy. He's a HEro, not a HERo. 

A self-aware thing about me I've learned to proudly embrace over the years: I am drawn to stories about girls. Specifically, I am drawn to stories that feature strong, imaginative, self-reliant girls. Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, I connect to stories about females who transform or impact the world in important ways. I have always been like this; I cannot think of a time when I was not like this. I have been, am, and always will be drawn to stories featuring strong females. As a child, I wanted to journey in Dorothy's ruby Oz shoes. I loved smart and sleuth-y Nancy Drew mysteries, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's tomboy boldness. I completely identified with Alice in Wonderland and would have followed her down many dark, adventurous rabbit holes; and I was certain, as a young girl, that Peter Pan's Wendy wasn't some trembling damsel in distress who needed constant rescuing--I sense she could lop off Hook's other hand while blindfolded. 

In fact, for my high school senior year AP English class, I had to choose two books from the same genre or with a similar theme to read and compare--I wanted to read DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and GONE WITH THE WIND because they seem to tell similar sort of stories, but was told GONE WITH THE WIND was too soap opera-y. So I read ZHIVAGO and FATHERS AND SONS. My paper was titled "Strong Women in Russian Literature," and I got an A because I know how to word-work an Emily Dickinson-like English teacher. Nerds Unite. (In spite of the fact that, essentially, I really had just been trying to weasel out of actually reading so I could watch the movie versions of the books instead. Shhhhh.) 

Listen: I love boys. I love boys a lot. And there is a very crucial literary niche that boys need--boys need books and stories and Hero's Journey tales about boys and things boys like so they can discover a love of words and storytelling. It can be so hard to get boys to fall in love with reading, for some strange reason (I actually know why, but this will turn into a 200 page essay if I tell you--Google it). How many boys are voracious readers today thanks to Harry P.? This is good. This is important. 

Yet it bothers me that I find so much of the world still so dominated by the masculine. I mean, Joanne Rowling was asked by her publishers to change her author name to J.K. instead of even just "Jo," out of fear boys would be reluctant to read a boy adventure story written by a female. (This is all kinds of fucked up, but I'm already 10,000 words in and I know you have things to do, so I'm letting it go for now.)

And, god bless this amazing writer, she conjured into life the magnificent, empowering character of Hermione. Oh, how I love Hermione in spite of not having read all the books. And oh, how I love Emma Watson, who appears to have absorbed the very essence of Hermione and become such a stunning, impressive, courageous role model for women and young girls of Planet Earth. Oh, how I wish JK Rowling would write an entire series about Hermione and her Hero's Journey. In a way, Hermione also has a Hero's Journey threaded throughout the Harry Potter tales, and because I haven't read all of the Harry Potter books, maybe there is a book in the series where Hermione's journey is predominantly featured. But I sense the series is pretty much about Harry and his journey. 

These books are magnificent. The movie versions of them are sheer magic, which is a nearly impossible feat for Hollywood/movie makers. I think Somebody Somewhere loves these stories, too. Something special is going on there, some type of...wizardry? I dare say. And I think the reason so many worldwide connect so deeply to the story of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and all the rest of the Hogwarts' gang is because this is the quintessential Hero's Journey tale, which every human from every culture has ingrained in our very beings; it seems to be our instinct, as a species, to take journeys of daring adventures and weave magical tales from them. 

I also think that stories most kids (and grown ups) tend to feel the most for are dark, with notes of extreme danger. The Hero's Journey tales and stories that pull from that theme all have that darkness, that sense of danger. At our core, we know we are essentially powerless against The Forces That Be, and I think there is nothing scarier in the world than to be a child facing The Forces That Be--those unseen and, sometimes, those that live in your house or go to school with you. 

But there are, in existence, other stories that have pulled from The Hero's Journey, and these are stories that DO feature girls taking a brave adventure with moments of peril and darkness. What about Wizard of Oz? I will posit that Wizard of Oz is a Hero's Journey of magnificent proportions: a girl wakes up one day and realizes with the aid of a helper (Glinda), I've got to go on a journey. She has adventures both good and bad. Along the way, she fights temptations, is given supernatural aids (ruby--silver in the book--slippers, a protective kiss) and guardians (Scarecrow, Lion, and Tinman) to guide her. She meets friends who are enemies (Oz), enemies who are friends (Oz) (what? I say making Oz both Great and Powerful and a lowly little humbug to be a brilliant turn of the century story twist of M. Night Shyamalan-like proportions), and has a Dark Night of the Soul moment when all is lost (the balloon leaves without her) and she has to transform (realize the power to have what she wants was always in her possession) and she goes home. And the flip side of Dorothy's tale, WICKED, is witch Elphaba's perfect Hero's Journey tale.

And what about Disney's sole feminist heroine Merida? Or Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games? What about the journey of Morgaine in Marion Zimmer Bradley's superb The Mists of Avalon? Or Margaret George's Mary Magdalene? May I also suggest the story of Greek goddess Athena could be considered a sort of loose version of The Heroine's Journey as well?

In other words: Joseph Campbell! You misogynist old flirt, you couldn't have been more wrong about the Hermiones of the world. Girls can take journeys, in fact girls should take journeys, and they can do it even while mankind is suckling at their breasts. And you know what? They'll do it and you'll never hear them utter a single complaint or moan about their chapped nipples along the way--I know men who act like the world's about to end when they have a tummy ache and stuffy nose. Because women are strong, and Nature inclines toward the feminine. I'm actually not making that up; Google it.

Did I have a point to this post? I think I did, and I think it was somewhere in my last paragraph: girls can take journeys, women are strong, and Harry Potter is a wonderful book series with a great, iconic female character in it written by a strong woman who (goddammit) was asked to her put her initials on the book cover instead of her full name because they were worried boys wouldn't be comfortable reading a book by a woman (seriously? WTF, publishers). And dammit, my chapped nipples want stories that take strong, iconic females on Hero's Journeys! And Mother Nature does, too.

I'm going to start one of those this weekend. (A heroine's journey tale, with a girl I'd like to know, on an adventure I'd like to have.) (I hope the guardians of my heroine open up doors painted blue for her, and that at least one of them strongly resembles Joe Manganiello without a shirt on.) (Okay. Okay. I'm sorry. I apologize for that last bit, men--that was completely and revoltingly sexist of me. Joseph Campbell is somewhere right now, flipping me the bird and telling me to get my ass back in the kitchen. But I will not. I will NOT!)


5 year itch.

This was my 2009 Facebook profile picture. Hope you like feet.

A friend of mine re-visited a sixty-five (!!) question questionnaire (?) thingie we both responded to on Facebook way back in 2009, and I loved seeing how she got to reflect on herself as she was 5 years ago vs. where she's at today. So I copycatted her (translation: ripped off her creativity) (but this is okay! Pablo Picasso said so) and I'm doing my re-visit here. 

And then I started answering some of these questions again, and goodness, Internet. Some of these questions are just so...WHY? But I answered them back in 2009, and so I answered them again, hoping to gain some inner insight into Me Then vs. Me Now. (In conclusion: I've learned that nothing's changed, really. This is both good and bad, I suppose.) At any rate, it's 65 (!!!) questions, and they're all ego-based, narcissistic-y and so if you have laundry to fold or grades to import like me, you should go do that instead. Actually, no! Wait. First scroll down to my 2014 Facebook profile picture so you can see what that cute little baby foot up there turned into, and THEN go fold your laundry and import your grades. 

1. First thing you wash in the shower?
my hair. my hair is horrible in the morning. it must be washed. every morning. first thing.

2014: I still wash my hair first. Because I like routine.

2. What color is your favorite hoodie?
it's a red st. louis cardinals hoodie and it's HUUUUUGE. it's very forgiving. and warm on cold days. and the only piece of st. louis cardinals clothing i'm allowed to touch, since i officially own it. everything else st. louis cardinals is off limits. 

2014: I don't wear hoodies anymore. (And it has nothing to do with George Zimmerman. I just don't wear them.) (But let's be honest: I do feel safer not wearing a hoodie when in Florida.) St. Louis Cardinals clothing not officially owned by me is still off-limits.

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?
absolutely. there is nothing as nice to kiss as a smooth, soft, squishy baby cheek. 

2014: I would STILL kiss this person. There is nothing as nice to kiss as a smooth, soft, squishy 5 year old cheek.

4. Do you plan outfits?
yes, while i'm in the shower thinking, "man. what am i going to wear NOW." 

2014: Whatever's clean.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?
sad and happy. sad because i have to get up at 6 AM tomorrow for a class about teaching little english learners to read, but happy because i'll get paid for it. sad, because C is coming home on thursday and melissa has to sleep in her crib then. but happy because her fever's gone (AND she pooped, finally!)...and C is coming home. i hope he doesn't smell like fish.

2014: Seriously, 2009, Amy? You were worried about poop and fish? Today, right now, I'm feeling stressed. Stressed, stressed, stressed. (Maybe I need to eat some fish and poop.)

6. Whats the closest thing to you thats red?
melissa's sweet mouth is pretty red. ish.

2014: This is a ridiculous question.

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?
i think it was about melissa being sick. clearly, i was a tad freaked out by the high temperature and all the crying.

2014: I dreamt about sharks. I dream about sharks a lot--I have a recurring dream about them. Sometimes I'm swimming with them all nice but nervously. Sometimes I'm terrified because there's a big one below me I can't see but it's there and it could eat me at any moment. You know what's nuts? The other day, M woke up and told me she had a bad dream about me: I was a shark and I wanted to eat her, so she had to swim to daddy.

My crazy recurring dream is transferring psychically to other people. GREAT. Thanks, dream sharks.

8. Did you meet anybody new today?
just some pissed off people at the Kaiser Pharmacy. they were muttering things like "why'd they change the set up??? this is HORRIBLE!" one woman said, "now! this is just pissing! me! off! sorry y'all, for my language. but this is just pissing! me! off!" 

it did take 25 minutes to get a simple prescription for loosening up poop filled. but i kept my mutterings inside my head. 

2014: Thank god, no. And thank god I don't have Kaiser Permanente insurance anymore, apparently.

Also, my 2009 self didn't know the term "crowd rage." See? Even back then, I was a total, complete crowd rager. Except now I'm out of the closet about it.

9. What are you craving right now?
i wish i could fall asleep on cue. 

2014: I still wish I could fall asleep on cue.

10. Do you floss?
no. i'm probably going to have dentures by the time i'm 50.

2014: I do. I start flossing obsessively about 24 hours before a dental check up.

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?
fiber. way too much fiber. also, coleslaw. 

2014:  Still coleslaw.

12. Are you emotional?
it depends on my estrogen/progesterone load that day. but typically: yes.

2014: I've embraced it now. I live and breathe my hormones.

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000?
once, when i was a 4th grader, my math teacher got mad at our whole class. our homework assignment was to write all the numbers from 0-1,000. 27 years later, i'm still highly resentful about it. also, 27 years later--as a teacher--i now know that making kids write as punishment is wrong, wrong, wrong. totally turns kids off from wanting to write anything--stories, essays, poems, you name it.

i wish i could find that 4th grade math teacher. her name was mrs. belcher. i'd tell mrs. belcher i'm pretty sure her write to 1,000 math assignment was what started my life-long math issues. teachers! stop psychologically messing up your students!

2014: I'd still like to find Mrs. Belcher. I'd let her know that NOW we make 2nd graders go up to 1,000. I suspect Mrs. Belcher is behind this.

........what kind of a name is "Belcher"? 2009 Amy, did you make that up?? 2014 Amy can't remember ever having a teacher named "Belcher."

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?
i refuse to answer this question. it seems obscene.

2014: Because licking ice cream IS obscene, 2009 Amy. You weren't being completely honest when you answered this: you should have let everyone know that  you'd read your mom's smutty How To book on fellatio techniques and that you used soft serve ice cream cones for practice, and that now, at 42 almost 43 years old, you STILL sort of practice whenever you eat soft serve ice cream cones. Just because it amuses you.

15. Do you like your hair?
most days.

2014: I have an amazing hair lady who is magic. So I like it best after I see her. Otherwise, meh.

16. Do you like yourself?
most days.

2014: Much more now than I did in 2009.

17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush?
yes, but only if i could get him to drink several beers. i think we really would have fared better as a country from 2000-2008 had george w. bush still drunk beer.

2014: Absolutely! And I'd make him pay.

18. What are you listening to right now
kung fu panda. i'm not really watching it though.

2014: Silence. The beautiful sound of silence. And keyboard tapping.

19. Are your parents strict?
i bet the person who created this questionnaire was as old as this question number.

2014: I bet the person who answered this in 2009 thought that was a really pithy, snarky response.

20. Would you go sky diving?
horrors!! no!! no, no, and no again! why don't you just go ahead and ask me to stick my bloodied hand into a vat of hungry great white sharks while you're at it!

2014: You know what? In 2014 I'd consider going sky diving.

Ha, no. I 'm just messing with you. No, I would never sky dive. In addition to shark dreams, I have a recurring dream of plummeting to my death via plane. Planes and sharks: still my nemeses. Neither one even 30,000 miles near my bucket list.

21. Do you like cottage cheese?
sometimes. i like it with pineapples and/or peaches, though.

2014: I do eat it still. With pineapples and/or peaches. Sometimes I get really wild now and put mangoes in it. (?? who came up with this dumb questionnaire in 2009??)

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?
yes. when i was 7, i met the actors who played robin and catgirl on the TV show batman. i've also met the lead singer of pantera and several members of skid row. i liked the pantera guy much, much, much more. and once, i missed running into usher at a phipps plaza vase store by only several hours.

2014: I sat in front of Crystal Fox, star of stage and screen/IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and HAVES AND HAVE NOTS, at Oprah's amaze-balls Life You Want weekend. I had no idea who she was, until after I got home and imdb'd her. Now I'm all impressed, but glad I didn't bother her. She was super nice, and deserved to be a regular person at an amaze-balls event.

I'm sure I've run into other celebrities since 2009, but I'm completely unobservant about things like that and slow on the uptake. Celebrities of planet Earth, breathe a sigh of relief about that.

23. Do you rent movies often?
no. i wait for them to come on hbo or showtime.

2014: Nope. I stream line 'em now.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?
just my personality.

2014: still my personality. Still sparkly, with some patchouli notes on top of it.

25. How many countries have you visited?
one--mexico. but two if i can count the bahamas. three if i can count key west, which is technically america but feels like another world.

2014: Still just Mexico, Bahamas, and Key West. How can FIVE years have passed and I've still not set foot in at least Europe?! This is just effed up, 2014 Amy.

26. Have you made a prank phone call?
as a tween, we used to like to order pizzas for our elderly, curmudgeon neighbors. i'm not sure why we picked pizzas, but i'm sure it was very passive aggressive.

2014: I don't do prank phone calls still. I send emails now. I'm sure it's still very passive aggressive.

27. Ever been on a train?
yes. i've been on the old fashioned kind they drag around amusement parks, but also the regular amtrack kind. 

2014: Amtrack now has a writer residency program. Writers win spots on Amtrack trains and write as the train travels from one end of America to the other. I would love to do this. But in Europe. (I'd want there to be a murder on board, so all of us writers could recreate Agatha Christie's MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.)

28. Brown or white eggs?
brown. i've been buying organic, free-range chicken products now. i only want chickens, pigs, and cows that are treated nice before we send them back to the Great Spirit in the sky.

2014: Still trying to buy as much organic, free-range foods as humanly possible. Monsanto is an evil empire, and only us Jedi grocery shoppers can defeat it. May the produce be with you.

29. Do you have a cell-phone?
yes. don't call me on it.

2014: yes. Don't call me on it. (text me! I always answer my texts.)

30. Do you use chap stick?
i use cover girl lip smart supreme. or something. it's by cover girl.

2014: This was SUCH a stupid question.

31. D0 you own a gun?
absolutely not. you can shoot your eye out. 

2014: Absolutely not. You can shoot your privates out.

32. Can you use chop sticks?
sometimes, when the pieces fall into all the right places. and i've had two glasses of wine.

2014: What the hell kind of 2009 answer was that?

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?
just M.

2014: Miss M. I am ALWAYS with Miss M.

34. Are you too forgiving?
usually. though i do remain snarky about certain things for years to come. it's my passive aggressive gene, i can't help it.

2014: Yes. I give people 2, 3, 5000 chances. Well beyond their expiration date.

35. Ever been in love?

2014: Constantly.

36. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow?
hopefully not waking up at 6 am.

2014: Hopefully not answering anything with any type of ridiculous questions on it.

37. Ever have cream puffs?
i don't know what these are. i bet i'd eat an entire box of them, though.

2014: sigh.

38. Last time you cried?
today. i was terrified i had a child with a hernia, or an obstructed intestine. or stomach cancer. (it was just a virus and some stopped up poop.)

2014: Friday night. I got so emotional watching my sweet girl dancing with friends, at a school she's thriving in.

39. What was the last question you asked?
did tanner ASK grace to put full make up on him and dress him up like a princess??

2014: Who came up with these questions for the love of all?

40. Favorite time of the year?
i'd say february--it's my birthday month. but the last several februarys have sucked. so i'm going with....june. i like june.

2014: The Summer. I. Love. Summer.

41. Do you have any tattoos?

2014: No, but I want one now. I want a small tattoo, somewhere discreet, and I'd like it to be the Sanskrit symbol for God next to the sign for Pisces. Because I think you can combine religions, and also I like to cover all my spiritual bases.

42. Are you sarcastic?
what's it to ya?

2014: Me? Sarcastic?? Noooo.

43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect?
did ashton kutcher make this quiz up? i'm pretty sure he was in that movie.

2014: I think Ashton Kutcher wrote this questionnaire. (Quiz? Quiz?? Lands, 2009 Amy.)

44. Ever walked into a wall?
this is just ridiculous. now i'm positive ashton kutcher created this quiz.

2014: I'm only at question 44??? I'm so sorry if you're still reading this. Are you SURE you don't have some laundry or something to fold?

45. Favorite color?
i like combinations of green.

2014: Blue + green. I think they go well together: sky + grass + water. Why not.

46. Have you ever slapped someone?
just a love tap. really.

2014: Oh come on, 2009 me! You never love tapped anyone either!

47. Is your hair curly?
no, but m's is!

2014: Miss M, still the curliest haired one.

48. What was the last CD you bought?
i do itunes now. i haven't bought a CD in many, many years.

2014: Now I do Spotify.

49. Do looks matter?
only if you're shallow.

2014: Only if you're shallow. (And if you have blue eyes. Do you have very blue eyes? And an accent? If you do, let's talk.) (What? My husband? He's totally fine with this.) (What?! NO!! Don't TELL him!! Jesus Christ, never mind. Just. Go back to wherever you were.)

50. Could you ever forgive a cheater?
it depends on what's being cheated on.

2014: It depends on what's being cheated on. (I have no idea what this answer means, and I bet my 2009 self didn't either. But it sounded pithy and mysterious, so I'm re-using it.)

51. Is your phone bill sky high?
not since we schooled at&t on how they were working for us, not the other way around, boy!

2014: I wish you could see how hard I'm laughing at my 2009 self right now. Clearly, I thought it was very humorous to impersonate an egotistical bad ass.

52. Do you like your life right now?
my life is pretty peachy keen right now. 

2014: Parts of it.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?
yes. it's not by choice--C can't sleep without it. and now? neither can i. though the few times i've had to sleep without one, i feel much better rested the next day.

2014: I sleep without the TV on now. When the TV is on, whatever's playing on it worms its way into my dreams and mixes with the sharks and the plane crashes. And I can't have that. I can't have it.

54. Can you handle the truth?
wait. now i think jack nicholson might have made up this quiz!

2014: Jesus god. I can't even. Some of these questions are just so...sigh. No. No, I can't, strange questionnaire writer from 2009. I can't handle the truth. Nobody can.

55. Do you have good vision?
yes, whenever i'm wearing my (ridiculously thick) glasses or extremely chiseled contacts.

2014: no. Physically and emotionally and mentally and spiritually: no.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?
hate takes up way too much energy. and to dislike you i have to get to know you. and once i get to know you and decide i dislike you, we no longer know each other and so that's that.

though i will say some people seem to try to make it really, really, really easy for people to hate them. rush limbaugh comes to mind.

2014: I still hate Rush Limbaugh. And Bill O'Reilly. And some new people I've discovered or met since 2009 (for instance, the mayor of London: not on any of my party invitation lists). I do agree with myself still: hate takes up way too much energy. And most of the people you're hating aren't worth the energy to begin with.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?
only when i have to.

2014: Here's the thing with me and phones. I'm actually okay once the conversation starts. I'm nervous as I'm dialing and waiting for the other end to pick up--what if it's awkward? what if we run out of things to talk about? phone silences are so strange, and I feel a deep need to fill them but then I worry I sound like a big, dorky chatter-y person just babbling about nonsense. But if the middle of the conversation is flowing, I'm fine. But then there comes that moment where I really need to hang up and go, but I don't know how to end the call--I don't want to be abrupt, because that feels abrasive. But I have to GO. But I don't want to say that and disappoint the other end person if they were having a great time talking to me. How do I end this, oh god, what do I DO??? I am always relieved when the other person knows how to say good-bye and does it first.

I'm not a good phone talker, is what I'm saying. I feel like an episode of SEINFELD when I'm on the phone.

58. The last person you held hands with?
m, so she'd go to sleep.

2014: Still little Miss M. Oh, and Larry from school. He and I have to hold hands, practically all day.

59. What are you wearing?
light blue pajama bottoms and a dark blue tank top.

2014: I still have those PJs! But tonight I'm wearing cheetah print pajama bottoms and a black shirt with a rabbit skeleton on it that says: CRAZY ON THE INSIDE. It glows in the dark just like me. (This question sounds like something a creepy 65 year old guy posing as a creepy 19 year old guy would ask a creepy 58 year old guy posing as a 17 year old girl on an internet late night chat board.)

60.What is your favorite animal?
dolphins. and cats and dogs. but i really wish i could have a pet dolphin.

2014: Still dolphins. Still wish I could have a pet dolphin.

61. Where was your profile picture taken at?
in my classroom. m is trying to stand (she thinks downward dog pose is going to get her there...i think she's channeling her standing zen) and i am taking odd pictures of my bare feet. (that day, EVERY one got to take off their shoes and socks and go barefoot. just because i said they could.)

2014: At my house, in my kitchen, where I take most of my pictures. Because lighting.

62. Can you hula hoop?
i could when i was 7. but then, when i was 7 i could also do a handstand, a really cool cartwheel, and i could bend myself from a standing position to an upside down crab crawl position. today, i think i'd break several bones, tear many ligaments, and fracture a hip or two if i attempted those crazy moves. i'm pretty sure hula hooping would throw my back out.

2014: Last Spring, I attempted to do a cartwheel to impress Miss M. It did not go well. I am old, Internet. I am old. So young, yet so very, very, very...old.

63. Do you have a job?
thank goodness, yes. and it gives me free time in the summers.

2014:  Yes, I still have one of these. But is it the RIGHT one of these? For me, and where I want to go/what I want to do. That's changed a lot over 5 years.

64. What was the most recent thing you bought?
medicine. prescription laxatives, and then glycerin suppositories. those were not for me. for me, i bought strawberries and low fat cinnamon-flavored graham crackers.

2014: Groceries. And copy paper. (I have to buy my own copy paper and laser printer cartridges for work.) (I know. I know. I wish I had a dime for every time I told someone about this and they looked at me all crazy eyes and went, "Wha--?!" Listen, don't even go there with me right now. It's a thing.)

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?
i think i did that when i was 7. today, i'd dislocate a shoulder if i tried window crawling.

2014: Last year, I climbed a 7 foot fence in flip flops. I broke a foot. Where were you when I really needed you, 2009 Self? Probably avoiding my call.

This is my 2014 Facebook profile picture. M is showing you all her chewed up, gross mouth food. Classy, just like her mommy.