Tag Archives: imaginary internet friends

Ten years ago . . .

In September of 2006, I signed up for a Google ID and somehow also ended up with a blog of my own. I had no intention of writing a blog and this was the entirety of my first post:

“Not sure how I ended up with a blog, I didn’t ask for one. Blogger must think I have something to say here.
Blogger is mistaken.
Go read something else.”

And I meant it. I was not going to start blogging. I didn’t have time for that. I was convinced I had nothing to say, never mind knew anyone who would read it.

Pffft. As if that was going to stop me. A mere two weeks later, I wrote another post that began:

“All this white space has been bothering me, you know. It’s just sitting over here waiting for words. So I’m thinking maybe this blog is good for something after all.”

I would not have believed anyone who told me then I’d still be blogging ten years later. And enjoying it.

But I’ve been writing over here, on a somewhat regular basis, ever since. I switched to WordPress after three years with Google (best decision ever) and the stats say I’ve published 307, now 308 posts. Seems like way more than that. Then again, at an average of 1,000 words per post (yes, I do go on, and on, and on) that’s well over 300,000 words.

I’ve made friends, good friends, by way of this blog. And also by commenting on other blogs. Some of those friends have wandered off, as people do. Disinterest, busyness, death. The latter are the tough losses. The people who live on only in your memories. And your heart.

Margaret. Louis. Bryan.

Gone too soon.

But some of the people who have simply wandered off and no longer read my blog, or who do so only rarely, have remained good friends. A handful of them came to visit me, and each other, last week. We had lunch for five hours and it seemed too short. A few came bearing gifts, including this gorgeous orchid, which I have not yet (it’s only been a week) managed to kill.

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The instructions say to give it three ice cubes, once a week. You’d think I’d be able to manage something that specific. Far more helpful than the advice “don’t overwater.” I’m cautiously optimistic.

After ten years of writing blog posts, I feel as if I should be able to impart some similarly specific advice or wisdom. Other than the obvious, “Don’t try to post every damn day, it will destroy your will to live.”

What makes for a successful blog? Hell, I don’t know. I stopped caring about the “success” of this blog so long ago, it’s not even a distant memory. That’s not why I do it.

My thoughts keep returning to Brené Brown and her TED talks about the power of vulnerability, and understanding shame, and how those things are important, even necessary, for creativity. For establishing connection.

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And I think, if there’s any measure of success to communicating on the internet — via blogs or twitter or facebook, or even through fiction — it’s that. The connections you make with other people.

Speak your truth. Even if people ignore or disagree with you, maybe especially if they do. Be vulnerable. Find your connections.

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And if the world gives you a blank space, fill it. Be courageous. Create the thing that only you can create. However long it takes.

 

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Filed under blogging, creativity, deep thoughts

More than you ever wanted to know about: my knees

I have weird knees. I know, you’re thinking, meh, so what, everyone has weird knees. And you’re right. Knees are sort of universally weird. But mine . . . well, mine are weird in a bad way. In a fairly rare, bad way. A way that is extremely painful.

For a very long time, years and years, none of the doctors I consulted had any idea how to fix my weird knees. They said the standard knee replacement wouldn’t solve my problem. In fact, an orthopedic PA told me that from time to time they’d take out my x-rays and look at them and just shake their heads. Like they couldn’t even believe I was walking around with knees that weird, in that much pain.

Want to see a picture? Of course you do.

WARNING: Graphic pictures of weird knees ahead.

For comparison, this is a normal knee. It’s actually my daughter’s knee. I got permission to post it over here. [That was an entertaining conversation: “Mom, this is weird even for you. And that’s saying something.”] See how the kneecap sits right there in the middle even when the leg is bent? Such a well behaved kneecap.

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This is my left knee. It’s neither normal nor well behaved. My finger is pointing at my kneecap. Really. When I bend my leg, the kneecap grinds a path over the bone and hangs out over there off the outside edge. Not occasionally. Not sometimes. Every time. It moves back when I straighten my leg. This hurts. A lot. My meniscus is long gone, a distant fond memory.

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This is different from dislocation, but my kneecaps have done that as well. Many times. So many I’ve lost count. At least four times each, probably more like five or six. That hurts a lot too. You do not want to see a picture of a dislocated knee.

Yes, I believed all those doctors when they said there was nothing they could do, other than occasional cortisone shots. I mean, why wouldn’t I? They were doctors, good ones. Sadly, they simply had no experience with my particular problem.

But I don’t want to dwell on that Dark Time, because I finally found a doctor who not only has seen weird knees like mine before, he knows how to fix them. And there was much rejoicing.

This fix, of course, involves surgery. And maybe also magic. So, this week I’m having magical knee replacement surgery. On just my left knee, for now, because apparently even magic has its limits when applied to weird knees. We’ll do the other one later (sooner, if I have anything to say about it).

This is what my knee will look like after surgery. Well, if you took away all the skin and tendons and blood and stuff. And, you know, if my bones were plastic.

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Pretty cool, huh? Once I get the other knee done, I’ll be starring in the next Avengers movie: Age(d) Knees of Titanium

You’ll notice there is no kneecap in that model. That’s not because they remove it. It’s because the kneecap is sort of a floating thing attached to tendons and that’s not what they’re trying to show in this model. My kneecap will still be there, with a layer of that flat white stuff attached to the underside.

WARNING: Graphic squicky descriptions ahead.

The term “knee replacement” is a bit of a misnomer. Contrary to popular belief, they do not replace the kneecap. What they do is slice off a layer of bone from the underside of the kneecap and chop off the ends of your femur and tibia (those are your big leg bones, for those who fell asleep in anatomy class). Then they attach the stuff you see in the model.

Okay, so “slice” and “chop” aren’t the words they use. They call it “shaving” the bone. Probably to reduce the incidence of patient hysteria.

Since my knees are weird, they’ll also do a bunch of other stuff that I understand but am not sure how to explain. It involves scaling a formidable ridge and releasing the kraken and muttering incantations. Or something. To quote my surgeon: “It’s a pain-in-the-ass surgery.” He said this with a quietly confident alpha hero smile, as if he relished the challenge. It was reassuring, that combination of blunt honesty and arrogance. [reassuring = are you fucking kidding me?]

As you might imagine, the aftermath of chopping off the ends of bones and then attaching stuff to them is painful. Or so they tell me. In fact, there have been Dire Warnings of Extreme Pain. I’m sure this is a good faith kind of thing. They want patients to be prepared for the worst, so they emphasize the pain thing.

But . . . there’s pain and then there’s pain. You know that scene in the movie Crocodile Dundee? They’re walking in the city at night and a guy threatens them with a knife and Dundee says, “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” And then he pulls out a monster Bowie knife.

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Yeah. That scene. It goes through my head every time someone tells me to expect “extreme pain.” I think about the sadistic monster that has been living in my knees for so very long, years and years, and suspect the doctors and I define that term differently. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll discover that my pain has been a paltry kitchen paring knife all along. But I doubt it.

Regardless, there will be narcotic pain meds involved. Two weeks of them, I’ve been told. I don’t like narcotic pain meds. I don’t like how they make me feel. This is why you won’t hear from me for a while. I mean, provided nothing goes horribly wrong, that will be the reason. I don’t have much of a filter on the crazy in my brain even while completely sober. You don’t want to know what I’m capable of in a state of spaced-out narcotic loopy-ness.

Speaking of the potential for things to go horribly wrong, this past week I had my attorney draft a new Will and various other legal documents. No, I don’t think anything is going to go horribly wrong. Not to that extent, anyway. But you never know.

[Creative types: You must go read Neil Gaiman’s post on this topic. My attorney had never before drafted a Will dealing with Creative Property and she used the language in the sample. Thank you, Neil.]

I had intended to do this pre-op legal overhaul all along. But I was prodded by my daughter, delicate flower that she is, who threatened that if I ended up in a vegetative state and attached to life-support because I didn’t make my wishes clear about that sort of thing, she’d come stand over my hospital bed every single day, forever, and yell at me for not having my affairs in order. I suspect the hospital might have something to say about that, but she had a point. She also knows how much I’d hate being hooked up to machines indefinitely.

In retaliation, I appointed her trustee of my Creative Property. She got a bit flustered until I explained that her job would basically be to say NO to anyone who wanted to do something with work of mine that wasn’t finished. Because I’d hate that. Not that I think this is going to happen either. But you never know.

“I’m really good at saying NO,” she assured me.

“I know you are. But if some of my Imaginary Friends really really REALLY wanted to read a story and didn’t care that it wasn’t finished, your job is to tell them NO.”

“I can handle that.”

“And if someone decided they wanted to buy an unfinished story and offered a lot of money, your job is to say NO.”

“Not a problem.”

“Even if they promise they’d have someone else finish it and it would sound just like my writing, your job–”

“Mom, I understand. I tell them NO.”

“People can be very persuasive.”

“Hey, I learned from the master of saying NO. I’ve got this.”

I have no idea what she’s even talking about.

So I’ve done all the research and asked all the medical questions and have all my legal affairs in order. I’ve done the laundry and emptied the dishwasher and cooked and frozen enough single-serving size meals to feed the entire 82nd Airborne. I’ve even packed an overnight bag. I am SO ready.

Now there’s nothing to do but wait. And write too-long over-sharing blog posts. Apparently.

I hate waiting. But I’ve been waiting for a very long time, years and years. I think I can endure a couple more days. And I’ll be back before you even miss me.

 

EDIT TO ADD: I’ll have my daughter give you all updates in the comments on this post. Provided I can convince her it’s not all that weird for her to talk to my Imaginary Friends. Not as weird as asking for a pic of her knee, anyway.

 

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Filed under health and well-being

. . . and then there are losses that are personal

We received the news of this last night, and today I posted the following on facebook. I decided to share it here as well.

 

Feeling sad and mourning the loss of one of my Imaginary Internet Friends. Louis was a true gentleman and a real life cowboy, a storyteller and a poet, an avid reader who enjoyed the romance genre. He was a veteran of the US Navy who once described seeing San Francisco from aboard ship by quoting Carl Sandburg. A man of few words, yet his descriptions of life on his horse ranch never failed to captivate and charm. He died last week — “drifted off gently in his sleep” according to a daughter-in-law — at the age of 90. He was a dear friend who enriched my life in so many ways. His absence from our community will be keenly felt. Rest in peace, Louis.

 

 

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Filed under deep thoughts

A Place to Start, the ending

IN WHICH we find out whether I can stick the landing at the end of this story.

Happy New Year! We’ve come to the end of things here today, on a day symbolizing the beginning of new things. May this new year bring you many amazing new stories, to read or even to live out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with these posts and reading this story . . . this story that was meant to be a short story and ended up being a 27,000-word novella, the first in a trilogy.

Ah, well, these things happen.

If you want a copy that isn’t broken up into eleven blog posts, a copy you can read straight through in one sitting, I do intend to publish it on all the various online sites in a week or so. I’ll let you know once I do that.

This story was offered here as a gift, a thank you to my long-time readers, my imaginary internet friends who seem to have an endless inexplicable supply of faith in me. Granted, it’s been sort of like those gifts of dried beans and macaroni glued to construction paper in the shape of the words “I love you” that your kids bring home from kindergarten and you put up on the fridge for a couple weeks and then shove into a cupboard and hope the ants don’t get into it. But it’s the thought that counts, right? And my thoughts are filled with gratitude.

If it made you smile or laugh or even tear up a wee bit there at that one part, if it distracted you for a few moments from the reality of daily life, then I’ve done my job and am absolutely delighted. If you liked the story, my fondest hope is that you’ll tell someone else about it, share it with a friend who you think might also like it, in whatever manner suits you.

Because stories, by their very nature, are meant to be shared.

Here it is, the eleventh and final installment of this particular story.

A Place to Start

A McIntyre Novella

Book One:  Winter

by KD James

Mac arrived back in town just ahead of the next cold front. He stopped off at Charlie’s place to return the propane canister and couple extra water bottles he’d borrowed. Everything else he needed for a few days hiking and camping, he’d already had in his Jeep.

Charlie was sitting on the front porch cleaning one of his rifles when Mac drove up. “See you had the sense to come down ahead of the snow.” He paused to spit and then went right back to what he was doing.

“Just barely. It’s already pretty heavy west of the ridge.” He set Charlie’s gear on the table and leaned on the porch railing, facing him. “Thanks for the loan.”

Charlie grunted in acknowledgement. “You manage to clear your head?”

“Hell, Charlie, I don’t know. Life used to be so simple. No responsibilities, no obligations. No guilt.”

“No death.”

“Aye. No death on my conscience.”

“You’re takin’ on burdens that ain’t yours, son.”

“It’s there all the same, Charlie. There’s no turning back from it, no denying it.”

“Life is chock full of pain and death. You can spend all your days anticipatin’ it and, by God, you won’t be disappointed.”

“I don’t spend time anticipating it.”

“Sure you do. That’s all you been doin’ these past three years. Waitin’ for someone else to die. Ain’t no way for a young man to live.”

Mac couldn’t even remember the last time he’d felt young. “We all grieve in different ways.”

“That’s the truth. But after a time, it’s just purely selfish. It ain’t helpin’ those done gone and it sure ain’t good for the people still here. Wallowing, is what it is.”

Mac couldn’t argue with that, but still. “Harsh words.”

“Truth often is.” He spat again. “Fact is, you got a choice, the way you look at things. And you been focused for so long on those moments of pain, waitin’ on the next one, you done lost sight of the happiness and peace in between ’em.”

“Aye. Haven’t seen much of either, lately.” Except with Jo.

“That’s ’cause you ain’t been looking, son. There are whole long stretches of it, between the pain, days and weeks and even years of it. There’s love mixed up in there too, if you ain’t too dense to see it.”

“I’m not ready for love, Charlie. I’m not even sure I know what it is.”

“Hell, Mac, ain’t a man alive was ever ready for love. Women, now, that’s a whole different story. They’re all the time lookin’ for it and know it when they see it. It’s one of the many things they’re right good at, thank the good Lord. Though it ain’t much use if you’re not payin’ attention.”

Mac wasn’t sure about Charlie’s assessment of women. He knew plenty of women who weren’t looking for love. Didn’t he? It’s not like he went around asking them about it. How would he know? Bloody hell, he didn’t care about other women. The one woman he did care about had told him, literally and emphatically, to leave her alone. He wondered what Jo was looking for.

Charlie stood and picked up his reassembled rifle. “Snow’s started. Best get on back to town.”

“I’ve got one stop to make, then I was planning to drive straight though. Back to Atlanta.”

“Not in this, you ain’t. You’ll be lucky to get down as far as John’s old place ‘fore this catches up with you.”

Mac turned to look at the snow, falling heavily now at this altitude and already accumulating, and swore under his breath when he realized Charlie was right. Looked like he’d be spending at least one more night in his cabin after all. No one would be going anywhere on the mountain tonight. And he suspected the old man had distracted him with conversation just long enough for it to be true.

Charlie’s next words confirmed it. “If you’re lucky, once it stops, I’ll wait and plow that place out last.”

Mac scowled, ready to set the man straight about where he’d be staying, but decided to just let it go when he saw the sudden relief on his friend’s face. “And there’s my woman, now. Best get dinner started.”

Mac saw Maybelle’s truck pulling into the drive and gave Charlie a teasing grin. “You cook? When you could eat your wife’s fine cooking instead?”

“Hell, yes, I cook. Man don’t stay married long as I have, he don’t learn how to cook a few meals.”

“You’re one lucky bastard, Charlie, to have found a woman willing to put up with your ugly mug and your cooking.”

The old man let out a cackle of laughter. “Damn, son, you know that woman was the one what found me. Get on with you, now. And try to pay attention.”

Mac would be paying attention, all right. But he didn’t think there were enough apologies in the world for Jo to forgive him for the way he’d deceived her. Or for his arrogance. That door was closed and he’d best get used to it. Still, he owed it to her to say the words in person.

He owed it to himself to try.

* * *

Jo had just returned from her daily run and was doing cool-down stretches outside in front of the cabin when the snow started falling. Thick heavy flakes that looked like they meant business. Unlike the first storm, the old men at the diner had been predicting this one. Unlike that first time, this time she was prepared.

What she wasn’t prepared for was the sight of Mac’s Jeep driving up the road toward the cabin. He parked and got out, hesitating before he walked over to her.

He scowled at her. “You’re going running? In the snow?”

“No, I just finished.” God, she’d missed that scowl. “You came back.”

“Aye. Headed up onto the trails, hiked and camped a bit.”

He looked good. Actually, he looked better than good, with a three-day beard and tousled hair and something fierce in his eyes. She cleared her throat. “Thank you for the rabbit. And the apology.”

He gave a brief nod of acknowledgment and started to say something. Then stopped. Then said it anyway. “Steve? You named a rabbit Steve?”

She felt her cheeks flush. “Yeah, I did. I first started writing a simple version of those stories after I left here that summer. As a way to remember. There was a boy in school that year named Steve and I sort of, you know, had a crush on him.” She shrugged. “I was nine. The boy moved away, the name stuck.” And she was rambling on again, nervous.

“That story and your characters struck a chord with me, Jo. Reminded me of things I’d forgotten. Good things that deserve to be remembered.” He paused. “So, did they survive the encounter with bears, then? Your characters?”

“You’ll have to read it and find out.” She smiled as she said it, flattered that he’d asked, but it wasn’t what she’d hoped he might say to her.

“Aye. I’d like that.” But he looked uncertain. Like maybe he was nervous too. “I’ll say it again, Jo, so we’re clear. I’m sorry. Sorry I hurt you. It was wrong of me to deceive you and try to make you want to leave.”

She huffed out a breath of surprise. “Is that what you were doing? Trying to make me leave?”

He nodded and then stood there, rigid and silent, as if he had braced himself to accept the onslaught of her anger.

“Mac, those days in your cabin . . . I’ve never felt so cared for, so pampered, in my entire life. There wasn’t a single moment when you made me want to leave. Believe me, if you had, I would’ve been gone in a heartbeat. Not from the mountain, but from your cabin. You made me want to stay.” She studied his face, considered his actions. “It’s like you’ve got this huge protective streak and don’t even know it.”

His posture, his tone, everything about him was unrelenting. “I don’t enjoy seeing people suffer.”

She saw the shadows in his eyes and ached to lighten them. “I heard about what happened to your fiancée. I’m sorry for your loss.”

She watched as the shadows gave way to surprise and disbelief.

“Fiancée? Is that what people are saying? Bloody hell. Carly and I weren’t engaged. In fact, we had words about it that night. She’d driven up as a surprise, wanted things to be more serious than they were between us. I thought she had gone outside to walk it off, but she got in her car.”

“And you blame yourself.”

“I should have stopped her.”

“You can’t always stop people from making foolish decisions. That doesn’t make it your fault, Mac. And one accident doesn’t mean this is a dangerous place.”

Mac looked down at his boots, his jaw tight with emotion. “It’s not just that.” He stopped and stared up at the sky, seeming oblivious of the snow swirling around his face. He exhaled a long breath and looked out over the mountain. “I have two younger brothers. But I also had a sister. She was the baby of the family and had always been frail. One winter, she came down with a cold she couldn’t shake. It settled in her chest, like it did with John. It was icy that winter. Maddie died before the roads cleared enough to get her to the hospital.”

His voice cracked a bit on the name and Jo put her hand on his arm. “Oh, Mac. I’m sorry.”

“But it’s not just the weak and elderly, Jo. This place is tough on everyone who lives here. My dad, he worked with the crews building the Parkway. It’s why he and Ma settled in this area. There was work here, even for immigrants.”

“The Blue Ridge Parkway?”

“Aye. It was hard work, but it paid well enough. He was a master carpenter and he took odd jobs on the side. He worked harder than any man I’ve ever known. And one day in December, a week before Christmas, he came home and ate his dinner and sat down in the big easy chair he’d made with his own hands and died. Just like that. Massive heart attack.”

Jo felt her eyes tearing up at all the loss this man had endured in his life. But it didn’t feel right to let him blame it on this place.

“Mac, people die everywhere, all the time. You know that. My dad was shot in a convenience store in Atlanta, a statistic in a robbery gone horribly wrong.”

“John told me. But your dad was a cop, Jo. That’s different.”

“No, it’s not. He wasn’t on the job that night. He was off duty, stopping for a soda and a bag of chips on the way home. The entire world is harsh, Mac. There are no safe places.”

He put a hand over hers where it rested on his arm. “I can’t help that I’m not comfortable with you staying up here alone, Jo. I won’t be apologizing for that.”

She made a sound that was a mix of laughter and the pain of remembered of loss. “Hardly alone.”

He pulled his hand away and took a step back, horrified. “You’re involved with someone?”

“God, no. That’s not– no. I meant no one could ever really be alone up here, not with all these people, this community.” She watched the hard planes of his face soften with relief and let herself hope that maybe he cared.

“Aye, that’s the truth.”

“Besides, I won’t be living here year round. Just coming up for long weekends and holidays when I can get time off.”

“Time off? But you’re a writer. You could work anywhere.”

“Yes, well.” She ducked her head briefly before looking him in the eye. “I am a writer. But you’re not the only one who hasn’t been completely honest. I’m also an accountant, a CPA.”

Mac frowned, his confusion apparent. “Is that a thing you’re ashamed of, then?”

“I’m not ashamed. I make a good living with it. It’s just— you know how they say to dress not for the job you have, but the one you want?”

“Do they.” He seemed amused by this information.

She smiled. “Yes, they do. This was sort of like that. When you asked what I did for a living, I told you what I want to do. Like, if I said it, out loud, it would come true.”

He seemed to think about it and then nodded seriously, as if her wishful thinking made perfect sense. “And if I were to say, out loud, that I’d like to see you again once we get back to Atlanta, do ye think that would come true as well?”

Oh, God. She was falling for this man beyond the point of no return. “I think there’s a very good chance that it would.”

“That’s good to know.”

They stood there for a moment, quiet and awkward at the prospect of a first date after what they’d already shared.

He reached up to gently brush the accumulating snow off her knit cap. “Are you sure you don’t want to sell? John knew your mom wouldn’t want this place. He intended for the two of you to have the money from it.”

She tensed, wanting to trust his motives. Desperately wanting to trust her instincts about the man. “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

He simply nodded, accepting her decision. Confirming her judgment of him. “I’m going to miss this place. I surely miss the man.”

“You loved him.”

“Aye. John was a friend. A good friend.”

The sadness and loss he felt were almost palpable. “He loved you too, you know. He shared this place with you.”

“That he did. It’s just a place, lass. And it belongs to you now. Maybe one day I’ll build another.”

But it was more than just a place and she knew it. For both of them. It seemed too soon for what she was feeling, for what she wanted to say. But she felt a sudden sense of urgency, a certainty that if she waited it would be too late. And, for once, she didn’t stop to consider all the possibilities. “Or we could share this one.”

“Share?”

“Yes, share. It’s a simple concept. Most of us learned it in kindergarten.” She tried for insouciance, but she’d never felt a more gut twisting apprehension than she did in that moment.

“Ach, but we’re not five years old any more now, are we?” He attempted a smile but the look in his eyes was full of pain and longing and regret. “It’s a generous offer, but I don’t think it would be a good idea.”

The thing was, now that she’d said it, now that she’d taken that chance, she was sure it was the best idea she’d ever had. She refused to let go of the possibility, the opportunity, the reckless hope. “You shared this place with my grandpa.”

He ran a hand over the back of his neck and turned away to stare out over the mountain again, his jaw clenching with tension. “I didn’t want to kiss your grandpa.”

She exhaled a short laugh of relief. He still wanted her. “I suspect my grandpa didn’t want to kiss you either.” Her expression grew serious as she pulled on his arm until he turned to look at her. “But I do.”

“Do ye, now.”

“Yes. Very much so. Right now, in fact.”

His look was hesitant, uncertain. And at the same time, threaded with promise. “Jo, ye can’t mean–”

“I do mean it. Kiss me, Mac. Share this place with me. It’s a start.”

She saw emotion flare in his eyes and it looked like desire. It looked like the seeds of hope and love and a future and in that moment she felt herself let go of all her careful plans. And then his hands were on her, pulling her into his embrace there in the falling snow, and it felt like coming home.

“Aye, lass, that it is. A fine place to start.” And then he kissed her.

As beginnings went, it was pretty spectacular.

* * *

The End

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It’s a party! And you’re invited!

UPDATE: The party is over, sorry if you missed it! Thank you to everyone who placed an order — we managed to generate a not insignificant commission for my friend. At least enough to allow her to partake of a pint or two. You all are awesome and I hope you enjoy your new instruments of torture toys of a culinary nature.

I have a friend — let’s call her Diane, because that’s her name — who is planning a trip for next summer. Diane is going to Ireland. I can’t remember exactly WHY she’s going to Ireland, because I have the attention span of a fruit fly, but I’m sure it’s for some properly edifying reason. Probably it’s not to hang out at pubs, drinking whisky and picking up gorgeous charming guys with lovely Irish accents. I mean, just because that’s what I’d do if I went to Ireland doesn’t mean that’s what she has planned.

Anyway, my friend is a teacher (a professor, actually) and an avid reader, and so of course she has a supplemental, if inconsistent, source of income. How else is she going to supply her book habit?

Diane is a consultant for Pampered Chef, which means she earns a commission if she convinces people to have parties and invite other people to attend and spend money on really cool kitchen gadgetry. Hey, beats being a paid assassin. Results in far less jail time. And gore.

I wholeheartedly support this concept of going off to Ireland to have an adventure, especially since I’m convinced all the men over there are single and look like Pierce Brosnan.

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So I offered to host a party to help her out. And also because she assured me I could do the entire thing online and wouldn’t even have to get dressed or talk to people in real life.

Now, I know, if you have a kitchen, you’re thinking you already have all the kitchen things you could ever need, and then some. So do I. But just look at some of this stuff. I bet you don’t have one of these:

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You don’t even know what that is, do you? Neither did I. It’s a stoneware microwave egg cooker. This is pure genius. I want one.

I bet you don’t have these, either:

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Those are something called microwave grips. Great for removing hot stuff from the microwave without burning yourself.

And I know you don’t have these:

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OK, you might have the citrus peeler. I remember my mom had one and it was pretty useful. The other tube-like thing is a garlic peeler and I used to have one but then I made the mistake of showing it to my daughter the last time she was home and she said, “That is SO cool!” and now . . . I no longer have one (it’s OK, I told her she could take it).

Or maybe you know someone who really needs a set of these:

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They look like the things my mom used to twist up into my grandma’s hair back when she’d give her a home perm, but they’re actually clips for holding things shut. Although I guess you could put them in your hair.

And now you’re curious, aren’t you? What other gadgets are you missing out on? Well, here’s the link to the website. Click on the tab in the corner that says “shop online” and when prompted, enter my name as the host: “KD” for the first name and “James” for the last.

Full disclosure: Apparently, I get some free stuff for being a host. Not sure what, exactly, but something. I’m thinking I might invite gorgeous Irishmen random people over to my house and force them to [redacted] ask them to use this free stuff to cook for me.

So, go take a look around. You’ve got about ten days before the party’s over. Pace yourself. Shop early and often. There’s a ton of stuff: cookware and bakeware and stoneware and bamboo and cutlery and knives and cookbooks and spices and rubs and oil infusions. They also have drink mixes: Lemon Drop Martini, Appletini, Margarita, Strawberry Daiquiri . . . yum.

There’s even non-mysterious stuff, like these placemats. Seriously, placemats are not mysterious. Not even a little:

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Really, if you can’t find something over there that you didn’t realize you didn’t have but now suddenly need . . . well, you’re just not trying. Or you don’t have a kitchen. Maybe not even a stomach. Poor baby.

Or perhaps you just don’t have room in your budget for extras. I certainly know that feeling. So be devious helpful and send the link to this post to a friend or two. Maybe they’ll invite you over sometime to check out their new toys. Hey, they might even feed you.

Seriously, it would be awesome if you could pitch in and help my friend earn a few bucks to cover some of the incidentals of international travel. I’m going to work on convincing her those incidentals should include that whole pub/whisky/flirting thing.

What would you put on your list of “things to do” if you ever were to travel to Ireland?

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Filed under just for fun, travel