Meeting Keanu and Other Life Events Ruined by Food Poisoning

I was only 10 years old the first time food poisoning ruined my fun. Kathy was spending the night. I’m pretty sure my parent’s planned the sleep-over to distract me from the fact that they were taking our sweet Border Collie, Bonnie, to a sheep farm. (For real guys, I visited her a couple of times after that. It wasn’t that euphamistic “farm upstate”.)


Me & Bonnie trying to herd snow.

Kathy loved my Mom’s canned sweet pickles, so we snuck into the basement, cracked open a jar and ate the entire thing before my Mom got home. When Mom did get home, she realized that there was a gigantic brown lump inside the lid of the empty pickles. Somehow, the lid had been punctured and that brown lump was mold. We had eaten a jar of moldy pickles.

Doctor ordered that we both take Syrup of Ipecac, then we spent the night hugging separate toilets, tossing up everything from the toenails forward. Between vomits, I hugged Bonnie and told her goodbye, before my Dad took her to live amongst the sheep.

This began a pattern I didn’t realize until just last weekend. Whenever something cool is about to happen (or has just happened) I get food poisoned. Which might make you say, “Well, you do have anxiety, so maybe it’s just a physical manifestation of that.”

Maybe sometimes, but sometimes it happens when cool stuff that is a complete surprise to me. Like my first adult experience with food poisoning.

Chicago, mid 1990’s, my cd playlist consisted of County Crows, Rage Against the Machine and Lilith Fair ladies. I was in the middle of Stage Managing a run of The Caine Mutiny Court Marshal at The Red Orchid Theatre. There was myself and a cast of, I wanna say 12, men. Tracy Letts was the star, Wilson Milam directed and Michael Shannon ran front of house. There is a reason I’m name dropping, even though at the time I had no idea how successful any of those guys were going to be. (I mean, Tracy had already had success with Bug and Killer Joe, but we were just theatre people in Chicago, putting on a show and having a good time.)

It was a teeny production in a small space. Because of that I was more than just Stage Manager, I was also prop person, lighting and sound operator. Basically, I was the entire crew.

We had a great show on Friday, Wilson bought us all Boston Market for dinner beforehand. I went home, after a few beers at our local dive bar, and then my stomach turned on me.

The entire next day, Saturday, I spent in the bathroom, sleeping on the shower rug between bouts of painful herking. BUT I knew the show had to go on that night.

I managed to wash my face, brush my teeth, but didn’t quite have the energy to brush my hair or put in contacts. Ancient, coke-bottle-bottom-thick eyeglasses, one earpiece held on with black electrical tape just shoved onto my face. My boyfriend’s sweatpants and sweatshirt were much more comfy than my normal backstage black dress with tights and Doc Martens.

The hurling had subsided, now I was just week and groggy. I brought blankets and pillows, tucked them under the light board, which was in the booth that sat in a little room, with a glassless window, about 4 feet off state left, just behind the audience. I could have tapped the shoulder of the guy sitting right in front of me. I may have mentioned, it was a small house.


Why does that Stage Manager look like death?

That was the night a young Rachel Weisz decided to visit her old friend Wilson, who had directed her in some play back in England at some point. I was kind of fever-y I don’t remember all the details. She brought the guy who was staring in a movie they were shooting in Chicago. That guy was Keanu Reeves.


So, I shook her hand, in the lobby, when Wilson introduced us. She looked at me like I was insane, and stinky (which, now that I’m revisiting it, I probably was). Keanu was gracious and smiled and shook my hand.

I fumbled back to the lighting/sound booth, flashed the lights, faded the intro music and started the show, then crawled into my makeshift pillow fort below the board and tried not to focus on the fact that Keanu Reeves just met the worst possible version of me.

That was the first instance. After that I got poisoned at a friend’s wedding, which was a destination wedding. That one was so bad I went to the hospital, after the ants overtook the hotel bathroom, where I was trying to sleep between releasing toxins from every orifice.

Here is something you don’t need to know: I can tell when I’m really getting super sick because I can’t have anything touching me, not Seen, not fabric, nothin’. So I was on the bathroom floor, moaning in pain, not a stitch on to protect me, and the ants started crawling in. Very dramatic, but not something that lives in the Fond Memory drawer in my brain.


Loaded up on meds to see The Wall

After that, the highlights of my journey through digestive roller-coasting include: food poisoning 2 days before Thanksgiving with friends, a case the day before Valentine’s Day, which I actually think was Norovirus because it sent me to the ER yet again and I didn’t eat properly for a month, another quick little stint with my active belly the day before we had tickets to go see The Wall LIVE with Roger Waters.

Sensing a pattern?

I realized it last weekend. Saturday was Pride Day here, and my plans including going to the event and meeting up with Buck, a friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade.

Buck was an actor I went to classes with, back when I did acting and producing and other such things. We used to hang out, go to movies, or dinner, he ran the house a few times for the couple of plays I produced in Hollywood. He has a special place in my heart for writing a note to me that said “If you could see yourself the way we (the class) see you, you would have so much confidence!”

Confidence has always been the biggest hurdle for me, so that struck a chord.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 2.43.28 PM

I’m being helpful!

But Friday night, we got home from dinner and my stomach rebelled again. I knew it was serious when I overheated and had to get that pesky fabric away from my skin.

Saturday was spent mostly on the couch, groaning and hoping I’d feel better by afternoon. I did, but just a little, not enough to go enjoy the event.

Food poisoning had struck again.

My choices for the future are:

  1. Not eat for a few days if we have something planned
  2. Find a food that is impossible to poison and just eat that exclusively…forever.
  3. Track down Keanu and see if he is the source.
  4. Or, ya know, just deal with it.

I’ll probably go with the last option. (Though #3 might make an interesting story.)

Aunt Amy’s Comprehensive Guide to Being an Adult

13568835_10153528503316021_2201300065599682128_oSo, you’ve reached a milestone; graduation from someplace, 16th, 18th, 21st, or 45th birthday, you’re moving into your own place, finally buying your own shoes, any of these are a big deal. It’s time to be a grown up, or at least do what the other grown ups do and try to act like a grown up. It’s not always easy, so I wanted to give you a few pointers on how to fake being an adult.

Before we get into this, you should know that none of us know what we’re doing. There are lots of people in charge of things who trained to know how to do those particular things, and they surround themselves with other people who are trained in different aspects of those things, but really we’re all pretending to be adults. Some of us are just much more confident in the delivery (and some of us really relish that we’re getting to play dress up as adults and still act like kids).

If you don’t get this whole grown-up thing correct every now and then, you’re not alone. Just get up tomorrow and put on your best adult costume and keep on pretending, until you practice so much at acting mature, eventually you start to believe it. Kind of like flying, you can’t fly if you don’t believe that you can (and if you’re thinking “well, nobody can fly” that’s just the kind of attitude we need to get rid of.)

Important things to know; the list:

Benice1.Be nice to other people.

This is really hard sometimes. Most current adults fail at this a LOT.

It’s super easy to focus on the tough stuff in your life, and only your life, and take it out on the world. Yes, life can be a complete PITA (Pain In The Ass), but don’t make it tougher on everybody else.

Don’t be cranky to the grocery store clerk. Don’t yell at the mailman. Don’t hurumph your way through your job today. Because, and this is SUPER IMPORTANT, those people you are not nice to, they might be having a crummy day too. Stuff might be happening behind the scenes as they pretend to be a grown-up, and it’s stuff you probably don’t even consider. Go ahead and be the nice part of their day, or at minimum, not pile on their stress.

Even if their life is peachy fuzzy, do you really want to be the jackass who makes them have a crappy day? The answer is “NO”…no you don’t want to be that jackass.

To summarize: Pull your head out of your ass. Think about how your actions affect other people. Be kind.

2. Always pay the rent on time.

Actually, always pay all your bills on time, if you are able. This is just an extension of being nice. There are people who work for the companies you owe money to. They need you to pay for what you’ve used, so they can pay for stuff they’ve used.

This one can be tough sometimes too, particularly if you’re having a rough time making a living. Talk to the people who you owe money to, payment plans are usually an option. And don’t say “The check is in the mail.” or “I’ll be getting the money to you next week.” unless it’s the truth. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Be honest.

First step, be honest with yourself. This one is pretty easy to start, but it gets tough. Next time you feel crappy doing something, ask yourself why. Don’t sugar coat it, or give yourself a million excuses. Be honest.

For example: Why am I yelling at everybody in traffic, or why did I start crying just because the damn strawberry jam jar wouldn’t open?

  1. Everybody sucks, everything sucks. Nothing is ever going to be good again
  2. I didn’t get enough sleep and only ate Cheetos for dinner last night
  3. I’m stressed out because I can’t figure out why the dog is sick, or how I’m going to make my paycheck last until the end of the month, and it’s weighing on me.
  4. I’m just having a crabby day. It’s just emotions or hormones. It’ll pass. I’m taking the day off and watching crappy Rom-Coms on Netflix.

After that, be honest with other people. You can be gentle and honest at the same time.  (This does not mean you have carte blanche to be a total dick and just spout whatever random thought crosses your mind. Remember item #1.)

4. In regards to people who are different than you.

That is literally everybody. Do NOT judge anybody’s life choices, unless they are hurting themselves or others (human, animal, planet…but not plants, some of us can’t help the fact that we can’t garden AT ALL [I’m sorry beautiful, purple daisies!]).

We all grew up in different places, different influences, different financial backgrounds, etc… Everybody is different from you.

You are a unique snowflake, they are a unique grain of sand. Every, single, solitary, soul on this planet is different. You will not get along with everybody, but try as hard as you can, to live and let live. Help those who ask, or who need help but can’t ask. But do not ever judge. Every. Body. is. Different. And that is a good thing.

5. Dating.

Pay close attention to your adult dating choices. They should adhere to rule #1. If they do that, you’re an awesomely lucky dater and have won the dating lottery.

If they adhere to most of these guidelines, all on their own, without ever knowing about them, marry that fucker. If marriage is your thing.

6. Listening to other people’s rules listicle.

Guidelines are not hard and fast rules. If somebody tells you something is 100% right, they aren’t paying attention to guideline #4 (everybody is different). Latch onto what works for you, let go of what doesn’t. That doesn’t make you bad, or the listicle maker stupid, it just means every journey through life is different.

grave7. Life is short.

I know it doesn’t feel like it when you’re 18 or 21 or buying your own shoes for the first time, but it is. Enjoy your life. Enjoy the moment. Don’t worry too much. Just be nice and enjoy stuff.

Creative Sprint Day 3: The Name Game

20160403_131654 (1)The prompt for todays #CreativeSprint is “Make something inspired by your own name.”

When I was little, I wanted to be named Virginia. It wasn’t that I was a big fan of The Martian Chronicles, the name just sounded charming and it had way more letters and syllables than my name – Amy. (Amy Lynn, if you’re my Mom and I just broke something.)

But the name Amy stuck, happily now since my buddy Siri used to sing me the “Davey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” song, substituting my full maiden name for Davey Crockett’s and gender switched the royal moniker to Queen of the Wild Frontier. (And now you know, the rest of the story…about my Instagram and Twitter account name: AmyQOTWF)

AND, Amy is a super short name to use to create something inspired by a name, so really happy I’m not a Virginia.

I first attempted to be artsy and spell my name with pictures of my myriad of nieces, nephews and greats, but that looked like a big pile of pictures, so ditched that and I’ll just tell you some acronym’s that crossed my mind, which all kind of match the AMY I am.

Aunt to Many Youngsters (obviously)

Articulate Monkey Yodeler

Aging Mediocre Yogi

Amazonian Master Yeller

Average Midichlorian Yield

Artistic Married Yokel

Amazed at Mischievous Yesterdays 

Arranging Monochromatic Yurts

And now, as the Thera-flu kicks in, I bid you all happy creating and a wonderful evening. In the words of the immortal, creative and flawed Hank Williams “If the Good Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise, we’ll see you here tomorrow.”

If you would like to join the Creative Sprint, you still can!


Creative Sprint and Stuff and Things

Remember that whole “I’m going to write a blog every day all year.”? Yeah…let’s not speak of that again.

Let’s talk about something new! I signed up for the Creative Sprint dealie. Basics: You get a prompt every morning, through the month of April (2016, y’all) Try not to think too much, just be creative for a few minutes and share it with the community.

Yesterday, the prompt was to make something that would fit into the palm of your hand from things in the “general vicinity”. I made this really quickly from stuff on my desk:


Then I saw all the genius things other people worked on and I felt, in a word, simple. BUT then I sat my brain down, held it’s little brainy hand and said “It’s not a competition, honey.”

So my brain stopped being such a little whiner and decided to just do Amy things and not compare/despair. (Thanks Stuart Smalley!)

The prompt today, Day 2, April 2, 2016 was, to create something based on your favorite children’s fairy tale. Which gave me pause, for like a couple of hours, trying to come up with something perfect.

But then my sister, who I roped into doing this along with me, texted me that she had done her #CreativeSprint, and by Grabthar’s Hammer, I’m not going to be out done by my stinky, lovely, sister. So I wrote a little poem that incorporated a few fairy tales, told from the POV of the woods. Because it has to be traumatizing to witness that much carnage and the trees totally try to tell the kids, but the trees must suffer from the Cassandra Complex, because nobody, but NOBODY ever listens to them.

Listen to the trees people, it might end up saving your life.

Here’s my little poem for day 2 of #CreativeSprint.

The Trees Have Seen Things
By A.H. Robinson

I’ve tried to warn them

as they pass by.

It’s mostly children

carrying snacks to Granny,


or they’re lost, hungry and

looking for shelter.


Some decide to set themselves

up in the bears den,

others eat the sweet maple

bark on the old ladies house


None of this is

going to end well.


The bears, the wolves

the old ladies who only

like children if

they’re prepared in enough butter


These creatures live in me.


I try to warn them,

the children who walk

through my woods, I try

to tell them not to stop here.


but they think

it’s just the wind rustling my leaves


Do You Realize?

Do-You-Realize--Video-Stills-flaming-lips-287202_480_297There is a thing going around Facebook. Loads o’ things go around Facebook that I pay no attention to (that whole “Be like Bill” thing, for instance, which is definitely a thing that “Bill” would ignore.) The current thing going around Facebook, that I’m referring to, is the “I’m Beautiful the Way I Am” campaign thing.

A friend of mine posted 5 lovely pictures of herself, and then challenged a squad of her female friends to post pix of themselves, feeling beautiful. I felt awkward to be in that squad. The more I examined why I felt awkward, the curiouser I got about it.

Why is it difficult to say “I am beautiful“?

Little kids have zero issues with stating their own beauty. I have no problem telling my friends, family, random people I see in the grocery store, that they are beautiful. (Hopefully in a non-creepy way.) And, I say “Thank you” when complimented, because it’s just polite, and it’s okay to listen to nice things about yourself on occasion.

But claiming my own beauty feels so narcissistic. Whenever I even think “I am beautiful” little nun-lizard type monsters of doubt, modesty, and self-absorption crowd out that sentence and swarm the words. The thought is impossible to take seriously.

QueenBut why? Is it portrayal in movies, tv, fairy tales of woman, who claim their beauty as wicked, evil, conniving? Does that teach us to tone down our self-love? Or is the decline related to bullying and destruction of complete, child-like confidence? Does saying “I am beautiful” equate to “I’m an untouchable elite, you may momentarily gaze upon me. Conversation costs extra…” It doesn’t. It shouldn’t.

Do you have trouble saying “I am beautiful”? (about yourself, not about me, it isn’t all about me.) Or am I the only one who get’s skitchy, and has to make a joke about it, when that phrase comes out of my mouth?

Not sure I have the answers just yet, but I’m going to experiment this week. I’m going to pepper that thought into a few of my meditations. It’s going to feel a little Stewart Smalley-esque, but I’m going to try to believe it.

Ironically – I was listening to the Yoshimi album from Flaming Lips all day yesterday. This song fit quite well into today’s inner monologue, which was all created by Leslie posting that one thing on Facebook. Way to make me think about societal norms, language and confidence!

He Told Me to Smile, Then Kicked Me Out of His Shop

SmilingBuddhaI have been told to smile by a variety of people over my life. As a woman with a mild case of RBF (resting bitch face) it’s not a frequent nor uncommon occurrence.

Usually, the person requesting my smile is older and well intentioned. They typically return the request with a smile of their own, so I don’t take offense. Well wishes are always welcome, even if the language conveying them is a little off.

But this past Saturday, a man told me to smile in an aggressive and offensive way.He yelled it into my face, because he didn’t want to look at me without a happy expression. I politely told him that wasn’t cool. The man owned a Buddhist collectible store (it’s closing) and I was completely shocked by his decidedly non-Buddhist reaction.

I hesitated sharing this with you all, because it was a bit of personal drama and I tend to keep that stuff to myself. But then I saw this article about a woman who was refused her gum purchase because the shop owner couldn’t make her smile, and I thought of how many of us get verbally assaulted if we don’t put on a smile for somebody who has no idea what might be happening in our lives. A quick Google search shows how often it does happen. You’re not alone!

As for my own experience, I looked the store up on Yelp and found out I’m not the only one who experienced aggressiveness from the owner. I shared my story there, and because I wrote my own Yelp review while still working through the aftermath of the altercation, I’m going to post my review below.

I’ve just come home very shaken from my experience in this store. I’m so glad I looked the place up on Yelp, because I had the same horrible experience that several other people have had. Other reviews have helped me make sense of what just happened to me.

The store is closing, and after what happened today, I totally get why. I debated Yelping this guy, because he *is* closing, but after reading about the same thing happening to other people, I thought it would be cathartic for me to get this out of my mind. The experience was confusing and confounding.

My husband and I stopped by on a Saturday morning, we were headed home from a driving meander around town, checking out architecture and estate sales. We were on our way home when we saw his “Store Closing” sign and decided to take a look inside, since we both love the aesthetic.

Oh, how I wish we had kept driving.

The owner was standing in the door with a push broom as we tried to walk in. He was talking to other customers, so we waited a few seconds for him to let us through. The energy in the place is a bit frenetic, which seemed odd for a Buddhist store. He was popping around to the customers in back, haggling, making a deal. It didn’t seem too out of the ordinary.

After a slow walk around the store, admiring pieces, imagining where some of them might fit into our home, we walked toward the display in the front. Standing near the prayer flags, and ironically enough, next to a wall hanging with the “My religion is kindness” quote from the Dalai Lama, the owner rushed over to us.

He addressed my husband first. “You two aren’t going to buy anything because you’re walking around with your hands in your pockets. If you like something I’ll discount it more…” Super frenetic energy coming off of this guy. (BTW, it was still a bit chilly, so hands in pockets to keep them warm and to hold onto cell phones, which are not allowed out in the store. I see on reviews here that he has said this to others. That little factoid, which he must have learned in some retail marketing psychology seminar, does not always apply.)

The thoughts running through my head, when he was standing next to us, were “We did make a resolution to not purchase anything decorative in January. We’re trying to cut back on consumerism.” I weighed saying that out loud, but seriously, he didn’t need to know that. So I just continued to look towards the prayer flag pile, which was about knee height.

Then the owner got about a foot away from my face and aggressively said “You should be happy. You need to smile….” This was not a kindly person trying to lift my spirits, he didn’t like the way I looked apparently. He kept talking about how I didn’t look right.

I know I have resting bitch face, but my thoughts are generally thoughts of kindness. I replied “You know, you probably shouldn’t tell people to smile. You don’t know what they might be going through.”

Then he said “Get out of my store!!” gesturing wildly toward the door we were about to walk out of any way. “GET OUT!!”

I said “You aren’t very zen are you?” in a mild voice. (NEW BLOG NOTE: In an afterthought, I realized this was probably the best, most prescient thing I have ever said to anyone.)

He continued to yell at us to get out as we were walking out. (NEW BLOG NOTE: Full disclosure – I did look at my husband and say “What a dick!” after we were outside the store. So I didn’t totally keep my cool.)

I was completely shocked. It was an out-of-the-blue verbal assault.

So, I came home and tried to rationalize that behavior: Maybe going out of business made him extremely hostile, maybe he’s going through other health/financial concerns that have him riled up. As I sat, trying to dispel the negativity, trying to release the thoughts of this man, so he wouldn’t dominate my day after this interaction, I thought of the teaching that everyone you meet is a Buddha, they have something to teach you.

So what did this man have to teach me? Perhaps to not take personally how other people might look when I’m near them. Maybe that not all “spiritual” stores operate on a spiritual level. Maybe it’s to reply with kindness when approached with hostility.

I still don’t know. Going to meditate this away and try to get on with the rest of my day.

I’m not meditating on this anymore. Seeing reviews of him having similar interactions with other customers made me realize this is his issue.

I’m glad I actually spoke up this time, and am taking this experience as a learning opportunity, on how I react to people who don’t respond with a smile or hello when I offer one to them. You don’t know what is going on in somebody’s day or life. Be positive and patient and kind when you are able. Full stop.

Another programming note: I started realizing that sitting down and conjuring up a PE blog everyday was actually helping me procrastinate my “real” writing. So I’ve gotten into a habit of sitting in the chair and writing every night, but now it will be a blog only 2-3 times a week. Fiction the rest of the time. That de-escalated quickly…
Featured image credit: E K


Losing a handful of cultural icons over the last few weeks, to effing cancer, has me, and a lot of everybody, feeling shipwrecked. In a coincidental oddity, there was a literal shipwreck at our local beach this week.

It seemed appropriate to share some of the shots I got of an actual shipwreck on such a wreck of a week. And since I shared some pix with you last Friday, I’m thinking of making Friday Photos a regular series. Or should I call them Friday Fotos?*

When I got to the beach to take pictures, I immediately thought. “Well, my week definitely wasn’t as bad as the guy who owns that boat.”




Crane Eats Boat


Wave and Catapiller

This shrimping boat, Day Island, ran ashore during the crazy tides recently. The news isn’t reporting how or why, just that it does happen around here. We also know that the man who owns the boat didn’t have insurance or money to salvage the boat. He abandoned it, so it sat an extra day or two until the Coast Guard got a crew together to dismantle it on shore.

There is a lot of grumbling in the neighborhood about the debris washing up on the beach for a few miles in either direction and polluting the ecosystem.I feel for the guy, his lively hood is gone. I mean, yeah, he should have had the legally required insurance, which would have made this easier on him and everybody in the neighborhood, but still, this sucks.

And now, I’m going to have a well-earned frosty beverage and enjoy a 3 day weekend of creativity, football watching and banana bread baking.

* I totally shouldn’t
Raw shots from Canon EOS Rebel XT using a Tamron 18-200 lens
All photos credit: Amy Robinson