Fellowship and Sisterhood

When I think about movies that have made an impact on me, there are plenty that I have loved. I watch them over and over again whether I’m feeling blue or otherwise; I recommend them madly to friends. But when I think about the word “impact,” the choice is pretty obvious.

I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the theater when it came out and was so hyped, but it was the trailer for a soon-to-be-released film that would eclipse my Hogwarts fervor for years to come: The Fellowship of the Ring.

I’d never read Tolkien, though I’d seen the 1977 The Hobbit a number of times as a child and recalled being mostly creeped out, though also not unreasonably delighted. But 2001 was well before the time when one could count upon a slew of nerd-centric films over the course of the year, so I was naturally into anything that promised elves on the big screen.

And how it delivered.

To this day I still get a chill when I hear Galadriel’s voice over the pitch-black opening title, and not just because the movie itself was a wonder. Because of Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, I forged my first online identity and found friends in other cities and across the globe who are close to my heart even today.


Before social media, we were just social: we navigated impossible-to-follow AIM chats where everyone personalized their font and the color of their text, and we commented on every single blog entry on our platform of choice, Diaryland. We called ourselves the LOTR Sisters and we were online friends when online friends were still something parents didn’t necessarily know about. We were teenage girls from Ohio and Illinois and Texas and Louisiana and Arizona, we were from Malaysia and Singapore and Canada. We aspired to be a whole lot of things but mostly we just nerded out with each other, writing blogs and poorly photoshopping Tolkien-themed holiday cards. We tried to grow up without giving too much of our love of wonder away.

Today we are from even more places. We are engineers and librarians and photographers and actresses and writers and designers and creators and social workers and mothers and managers and educators. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to revel in the power of the internet to connect like-minded folks, and feel pretty lucky that I got to experience that from a relatively young age – before it was a relatively common thing. Every time one of these gals shares something about her life, whether it’s a new baby or a new book, I smile, remembering how we came to know each other and how likely we are, still, to rise to the defense of our favorite elf or hobbit.  

Dear Friend, Dear Dreamer

I'm not gonna lie, it's been a rough week. I've cried, a lot. I've raged, equally as much. But I have babies to raise and books to write and we all have work to do to build a world that's worthy of what we're putting into it, so I'm making a rope of words to climb out of this pit of despair. Beginning with delivering on my promise to write more letters. I walked with a sympathetic co-worker to the library today, and in addition to joining their friends program for folks who believe in and support their work, I picked up a handful of cards in the library gift shop to mail to gals I know who are also grieving.


Now, more than ever, tiny, active gestures of kindness and compassion seem to me the greatest gift we can give each other. Before we can mobilize, we need to heal. And after the deluge of political propaganda in my inbox and my mailbox, I know that I would welcome something real.

So even if you aren't receiving a letter from me - which you totally could, you know how to reach me - I have one for you.

Dear friend, dear dreamer, dear doer and maker and believer and reader,

I appreciate and recognize you. I may not really know you, may not always understand you, but I believe that you are moved as I am by what is in your heart and in your head. You have the capacity to love and to give and to grow, and I hope that you do. We may never hold hands, never really, and perhaps never on all of our ideas, either, but we share a space, a city, a state, a nation; we are small but our world is not. I trust you to remember this.

If you're not ready, I want to help you. And if you're not ready for help, I am good at waiting. There is a lot to do and I can't be still, not when there is risk, when there is opportunity, when there is work for open hands and willing ears. Because nothing is simple, least of all being really and truly heard.

But I hear you.

Or I will try to.

With hope and in love,


ETA: You should know I wrote this in the afternoon, and on my walk home to my car from work I was hit by a car. Is that as ridiculous to read as it was to write? Because it happened. I was crossing the street and the driver wasn't going terribly fast, but it definitely hurt and I called the police because I was giddy with shock.

The driver kept meeting my eyes, his own face ghost-pale, and saying how sorry he was, how sorry he was. I took his hand. I clapped him on the shoulder. I told him it's been a terrible week, and shit happens, and I was probably fine. I asked his name. I gave him mine. It was a desperate, ridiculous, gut-wringing human moment.

I'm fine, I really feel that I am.

And I just keep hoping that he's okay, too.

Because that's the kind of world I want to live in.

Because I believe it's possible to be concerned for yourself and for others.

Because I am just not going to let anything stop me.


I Don't Have a Sister, But if I Did

My Best FriendI'm running out of sentiments, or maybe you're too good for them. But I'll never run out of stories. We were too weird for the other weirdos, trading stickers, amateur music writing, even more amateur film making, taking long walks to libraries and the corner store to buy copies of Tiger Beat and Bop that we would crudely cannibalize for Hanson posters. We got each other on a deep and immediate level that didn't require asking Zandar for affirmation - we did anyway - and were quickly soaring to new heights on the unicorn of our choice. I feel relatively certain that we moved a time capsule from 1999 when we moved you into your new house just last week.

My favorite teenage memories involve sitting opposite each other on your waterbed, sloshing and wobbling but still managing to balance a pen and a spiral bound notebook. We wrote stories almost exclusively about each other. We were witches. We were fairies. We were vampires and time travelers and space pioneers. The boys we liked certainly found themselves fictionalized, but they were inconstant, unreal, a fantasy. The true heart of what I spent years of my early writing working out was how to follow my imagination in the company of a kindred spirit, both on and off the page.

LYLACHere is a thing that I remember: going with you to your high school freshman orientation, insisting on speaking in what I am sure was an insulting British cockney the entire time. I remember the look on the face of a boy who'd read one of your stories, you know the one, when he realized that it was me who was your best friend in the story, your best friend in real life. The glee when we raced away from him in the hallway, how light our steps felt and how certain we were about everything. If I didn't take your hand then I am taking it now, holding tight and forging ahead throughout all of the years of our big and little revelries.

When I think about my girls growing up and what I really want for them, I want them to be the oddball, the ugly duck, the girl with the temper and the hair and the too-pink shoes. Because if you don't stand up and stand out, if you make it too easy for the world to get and forget you, how will you ever find the person who remakes the world with you?

Happy Birthday, Kelsi. I love you, ever and forever.

Roll the Dice to See if I'm Getting Drunk

Our ship, the Wormwood. Don't ask me why the sea monster breathes fire, it just does. Unlike most of the live action roleplayers that I know, I didn't get my start in sword and sorcery playing tabletop. I launched right into the ultimate nerdom of LARP, beginning in 2004 in a NERO chapter that has since launched their own pretty killer gaming system. Beyond taking a few years away from the game to incubate and birth my own little weirdos, I am still donning the costume and hefting a fistful of spell packets with local friends. I've been LARPing for twelve years - but only this year am I finally DMing my own tabletop game.

Despite my experiences writing and running plot at a variety of scout camps over the years, and playing in a few tabletop games, I've been as anxious as I am amped about running my own.

But because I've been obsessing about the idea since reading this article on all girls D&D group this time last year, I just couldn't let it go. I knew this was exactly what I wanted. My experiences with mixed groups of players have been phenomenal ones, but I've definitely held back. Many of the things that I enjoy have been traditionally male-dominated, and while that's for sure changing, the stigma is still there - the expectations, the jokes, the out-of-nowhere feeling of being an outsider stealing over me when I least expect it.


The video above has always made me snort with laughter, and now I'd like to make a tasteless comment about getting drunk in a tavern, trolling for dudes, without the awkwardness of there being dudes in the room. Or, alternately, being the only girl in the room when a comment like this is made by a dude. I wanted roleplay, debauchery, thieves and warriors and lovers without the baggage of being a girl - it's complicated, but it's a real wish and I'm definitely selfish enough to be motivated to make it happen.

So, with help, I acquired the manuals. The pawns. Drew the maps. Created YouTube playlists for ambiance. Spent too much time thinking about how each NPC would speak only to eventually really butcher their accents.

After our first two sessions, and anticipating a third this coming weekend, I don't think I could have chosen a finer group of ladies to adventure with. We've had whippings for insubordination, woefully inaccurate pig slaughtering, stories of theatrical gore, secret hook ups, sly bids for power, and moans of mismanagement among pirates. There's not a single gal at the table who hasn't delighted me with her imagination and her wit. While I'm still getting my sea legs rolling the big dice, they are on it.

It's pretty much everything I could've hoped for.

To Bethany, on her Birthday

PieCertain days feel special. On Saturday we drove a little more than an hour to Lexington, Kentucky to visit a dear friend. After arriving at what I thought would be a splash park that actually turned out to be a pool and waiting twenty minutes in the snack bar watching my children pick at a grilled cheese sandwich while said friend returned home for towels and sunscreen and a borrowed suit, we waded into shallow water and comfortable conversation. We bobbed small people on hips and knees and water-slick backs. There was much tickling of little tummies and talks of recipes, families, and the things that have changed since we'd last seen each other.

She moved to Lexington more than a year ago to be with her fiance, and has since married and baked, I am sure, several dozen delicious pies. She has read books we haven't had a chance to talk about. Weeded her garden and watched it grow. Played records and danced in bare feet on rugs and hardwood and summer-starched grass.

It was a special day because it was a familiar day, a falling into the feelings of years past when we shared a city and the close companionship a short drive allowed.

I do not see you as often as I would like, Bethany, Betsy, Bets, she who taught me the art of piles, and I certainly do not call or text as often as I should, but I do admire and love you so. I imagine your cozy domestic round and you in it, eyes both sharp and soft behind vintage frames, and I am happy, even if I must be so from so far away.

Happy Birthday, friend. I hope the coming year is as spectacularly lovely as you are.