Thursday, December 29, 2011

Amanda Raeanne Heinsch - the formative years

So a bit about the aforementioned Heinsch family video Christmas present ..

There is a side of me that wants to burn the video. Burn it so that the world may never know what I was like in my 13th year. Burn it so that no one can see my ungraceful and awkward transition from childhood to young womanhood. Burn it so that humanity can be spared raw footage of my acne and wretched fashion sense.

You see, homeschooling allowed me to miss out on any public documentation of my beastly transformation. I have no school photos, no yearbooks, no school plays or choir performances recorded on videotapes. Nothing...except this.

Sure, there are a few family photographs, but those can easily be dismissed. I mean who doesn't look bad in a photo or two (or three or fourteen)? But when you have a living, breathing, moving representation of who you were in the midst of puberty, well there's just no forgiveness. The video camera doesn't lie.

So with no further adieu, here are 15 observations on my life from 1996 to 2002:

1) When I get to heaven, I need to thank God that cheeks thin out as one ages
3) Gah! So tall at such a young age!
4) Dear Mandi - why don't you wear shirts that fit? Sincerely, Stacy and Clinton
5) Ugh, my facial features are being eaten BY MY OWN FACE.
6) I had better softball form than I remember...still, the glasses that take up half my already-large face are unforgivable. My high socks are awesome, though.
7) Yep, there I am. Left field. Probably batting 8th. It wasn't that I totally sucked...I was just going through this funk with my swing...oh, and I was afraid of sliding and getting dirty.
8) And BIG SIGH OF RELIEF. We cut to high school graduation and I'm actually starting to pull it together. 9) I open my mouth WAY too much when I laugh.
10) Hey, my makeup was really nice on grad day! And my hair very acceptable. I think I'm very datable!
11) Ugh there's the girl who got the solo that I wanted. *crosses arms*
12) I graduated with high honors! I forgot about that...funny how everything you do in high school means nothing down the road.
13) And there I am walking down the graduation aisle with the tallest boy in class. I remember feeling weird about that...but it turns out it looked ok. And at least I got to walk with a boy, am I right??
14) My close HS friends are all in this!
15) And then we cut to Ryan's basketball game. Note to self: when filming future sporting events, do NOT tape the whole thing.

And there you have it. Adolescence in a nutshell...and the joy of growing into your own.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

28 years old, despite my best efforts

Well I did it. I outlived Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and most recently, Amy Winehouse. The 27 club is no longer a threat. Yay me!

It wasn't easy saying no to all those drugs and late-night partying. But I did...and I lived. Despite my very edgy and death-inviting lifestyle, of course. There were the times I operated a moving vehicle while suddenly being overcome by a blinding migraine. Times I didn't clear all of the snow and frost off of the car windows and decided to take it out for a spin anyway. The times I pet strange and possibly violent dogs. The time I used Craigslist to find and rent a house. The time I considered renting a particular house that ended up being on the very block of a double homicide/suicide just days later. The times I drank hormone-infused milk and ate non-organic potato chips. The time my friends Michaela, Beth and her husband Mark had dinner at a tavern nestled in the Rockies and spent the whole time laughing loudly and unashamedly at the drunk people. (We probably should have at least gotten beat up for that or something...isn't that how bars in mountainous regions work?).

Yep, I did all this and lived to blog about it. But I'd say the one thing that really threatened to give me permanent 27 club status, was the restrung right-handed guitar I played in high school.

I'm a leftie. Have been all my life. I'm also a music enthusiast. Have been for a good chunk of my life. Somewhere around my 14th year, I was gifted a right-handed Yamaha. We made it work by restringing it and the rest is history. It's what I used to learn all of my mad guitar skills.

Now despite how embarrassing it was to have this "wrong" guitar (I was clearly unaware of its cool factor), I took it out in public, performing in churches and at coffeehouses in the area. And it stayed with me for about four years, until my grandma gave me enough graduation money to buy a left-handed Ibanez.

For all of you struggling to find the point to all this, Cobain was known for his backwards-strung acoustic. Hendrix, for his backwards-strung Stratocaster. And they both died in their 27th year.

Me? I lived! I made it! And I'd like to believe that it was because I bought that Ibanez in the nick of time...
That, and I never became a drugged up rock star.

One of the two.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

why I could never run for president

In my line of work as a literary agent, I attend writers conferences throughout the year. At many of these conferences, they have these things called panels in which experts in the business sit up front facing the audience and answer questions.

Now I’ve participated in a number of these panels, and they always remind me of presidential debates. I’m not sure exactly why. We never really get into any tiffs up there on stage. There’s occasionally a disagreement or two among professionals but for the most part we respect opinions and try not to make each other sound dumb. So maybe it’s the lights? Or the microphones? Or the use of a moderator? Or the fact that there can be 100+ faces staring back at us, expecting us to say something brilliant and inspiring and insightful?

So anyway, this past September I was on an agent panel at ACFW. Now this is the big gathering for Christian fiction with about 600+ in attendance, including new and published authors, big-time editors, publishing house marketing people and more. So I guess you could say of all the agent panels that I participate in over the course of the year, this is the big one. The one that’s most like a presidential debate.

Well this particular year, someone must have slipped something into my drink. Or perhaps a fellow agent paid off another agent to subliminally fill my mind with ridiculous and useless analogies. Because in the middle of the panel, in the middle of answering a question, I somehow found a way to fit the word “cannibal” into my response.

Moderator: What productivity level do you expect from your clients? Is there a number of books per year that you’re looking for from a client?

(Laughter away from the microphone as Agent Steve Laube says he looks for 12 books per year from each author).

Me (in all seriousness): Every client is different. Now if you take a hiatus... If you decide “I’m going to go visit the...uh...cannibal people” or whatever. We don’t like that.

(Tons of laughter. The sound recording fails to capture the many baffled looks I get from my colleagues).

Me: I was reaching! I was really reaching.


It’s pretty safe to say that never in the history of ACFW panels had the word “cannibal” been used without associating it with martyrdom. But I used it! And not only did I use it, but I acknowledged that I used it! And everyone laughed. And I’m pretty sure someone tweeted about it later.

So this is why I could never run for president. Because all of my good ideas will be buried by all of the crazy that comes out of my mouth.

And instead of being the candidate with the great plan for world peace or civil liberty or flat tax, I’d be The Cannibal Candidate (or better yet, Amanable the Cannibal) whose deep dark secrets include eating lots of meat (never free range), researching the Donner party in high school and being momentarily obsessed with PBS’s Northwest Passage specials in 2006/07 (in which cannibalism was an outcome).

Do I have your vote?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

what to do if...

Tad and I like to have game plans for tough situations. I think this all started after watching too many seasons of House. We’d see a fictionalized couple go through a horrific situation, and then we’d talk about it. Thanks to House, Tad knows whether to save my life or the baby’s (no, this is not hinting at anything) and we both know when to pull the plug.

But the other day, we were watching The Walking Dead, and I realized there was a topic that we’d yet to cover.



“If I turn into a zombie, I want you to just kill me.”




“I’m serious.”


“Don’t forget.”

Sigh. “Ok.”

Still not sure on what to do if he became a zombie. But I’m thinking he doesn’t want me pressing the issue.

Monday, December 19, 2011

family archiver

It’s official. I’m the Archiver of the family. You know, that person who insists on family photos and preserving stories and digitalizing film and uncovering deep, dark secrets. That’s me. I’m not as aggressive as most, and to be honest, scrapbooking has zero appeal, but still. I’m the one who cares about where I came from. And about keeping that history alive.

It all started last year, when I decided to give my parents and siblings DVD copies of our Family Video. The video was on some ancient c. 1982 VHS tape, and time and use had taken its toll. As our family continued to grow and spread out over the midwest (I have a sister and brother in Minneapolis, a brother in Detroit, and parents in the Chicagoland), I started to panic. Who would preserve the memories?! Who would protect them from being lost or damaged?!

The easy solution was “me!” and so for Christmas last year, I had our super old VHS transferred to DVD. And somewhere in the process I even let the scrapbooking bug bite me, and I got crafty with the cases. 

But archiving is a slippery slope.

Sometime mid-year, I began to think long and hard about my heritage. My dad’s side includes some German lineage, but the Scandinavian ties were always the strongest. My dad and Nana and aunts and uncles would talk about eating lutefisk and blood klub (or something of the sort), while we feasted on Swedish pancakes and pickled herring. They’d talk about my great-grandfather Karl Johnson (originally Johansson, according to, who came over from Sweden and married a Minnesota Swede named Hulda.

The more I thought, the more I wanted to learn. And so I found myself on, researching all I could late into the night for days on end until I came across a family tree that linked my family all the way back to 1744 Sweden.

1744! Just a few hundred more years, and I’d be able to prove that Thor was my next door neighbor or something like that.

And so it continues. I’m slowly taking on the role of photo-keeper and digitizer, document hoarder and memory saver. Eventually, I imagine I’ll grow a long, white beard and smoke a pipe while my children’s children’s children seek me out for answers to questions such as:

“Why am I so tight-lipped?”
“Where do I get my blue eyes?”
“Who do I look like most?”
“Why can I be so emotionless?”
“Where do I get my knack for building things?”
“Has our family always driven so fast?”

And so this is my future. The future of an Archiver. Maybe one day I’ll take a trip and visit that small Swedish settlement in which my ancestor was born in 1744. I suppose that’s one benefit to this task.

That, and it gives people with no hometown a sense of belonging.

Friday, December 16, 2011


For the longest time, the “hometown” field on my Facebook profile was blank. I had absolutely nothing to put in it. Because I am hometownless.

Growing up, we moved every 1.5 to 2 years. So much so that by the time I was in my sophomore year of high school, we were moving into what was at least our 11th residency.

Four of those residencies were in the Chicagoland area.
Three were within Peoria, Illinois (yes, mom, I’m counting the time we lived in a barn).
One was in Minnesota.
One was in Iowa.
The rest were in Illinois.

(Thank goodness my parents never followed through on their desire for us to travel the country in an RV, otherwise I’d have an even bigger conundrum).

So when I was first creating my Facebook profile sometime back in college and it came time to enter a hometown, I panicked. What should I put? Where was I from? I didn’t know, so I left it blank.

Living in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the past 9 years (yikes), this hasn’t really been an issue. People ask where I’m from and I just say Illinois. Their silly minds immediately think I’m from Chicago, which is fine by me. I mean I did spend the majority of my childhood in the suburbs and to be honest, I like them thinking that I’m a big city girl. But for the few who press me further, I end up blurting something like “Everywhere! I’m from the entire state of Illinois.”

And then I feel foolish.

So to remedy this problem, my mom encouraged me to just pick somewhere. Pick a town that I feel most connected of which I have the most memories, or one that I think of fondly...and have that be my hometown. So that’s what I did. I picked Des Plaines, Illinois and slapped it up on my Facebook page with pride. And no one called me out. No one questioned its validity. No one even noticed. Win-win if you ask me.

But then the other day Tad asked me the very morbid question of if I were to die, where should he bury me?

And I said Illinois (though I realize I should have said “wherever YOU want us to be buried, love of my life”).

And he said where in Illinois?

And I said I don’t know. Just somewhere by Chicago.
And he said like your grandma’s place or a place where you grew up or...?

And I thought and thought and threw out half-hearted suggestion after half-hearted suggestion before saying oh goodness, I don’t care. Just pick a place. Any place in Illinois and it’ll be fine.

And now instead of worrying about what my hometown is, I’m worrying about what my deathtown should be.

Not a good trade.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I'm About to Put Ed Hardy on My Arm

I went through a very long and angsty phase in which I wanted to be a rockstar.

Now, I know what you're thinking...who doesn't? But I'm a good singer who is also good with words and has a knack of putting those words to music that makes people smile and clap and ask for more. So this dream of mine, though near-difficult to achieve, was never totally off the mark.

But there's one component to the rockstar thing that I could never quite get right and it's the very thing that doomed my career before it even started: Image.

I'm what you call a late-bloomer. One of those freaks who actually benefits from age. And while I'd like to say that I always had a handle on who I was and how I wanted to express myself, I triple dog dare you to drag up some pictures from my college days. I guarantee they're filled with grandma sweaters, hoodies, band tees and studded belts that I would buckle on the that they didn't scratch my guitar.

So now I'm a bit more put-together. A bit more mature. And when I shop, I go to Express instead of Salvo and H&M in place of Goodwill.

But every now and then that deep-seated desire to be a rockstar will rear its ugly head and I'll find myself thinking about choppy haircuts and black nail polish and in times like those, I have a few items that I turn to:

A gray shirt with a black and red graphic print. When I wear this, I feel like Joan Jett.
Black boots that I wear outside of black skinny jeans. When I wear this, I feel edgy.
Eyeliner. When I wear this, I feel emo.

I tell you this, because the other night at Meijer, I bought a pack of 30 Ed Hardy temporary tattoos. My inner rockstar has been knocking at my door for awhile now. Demanding to come in. And he wants more from me than a Coheed & Cambria ringtone or a Kings of Leon/Florence + the Machine playlist.

My Dark Passenger wants a sleeve. A tattoo sleeve of 30, colorful depictions of skulls and flames and flowers.

And that's exactly what he'll get.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Solving the Problems of the Universe

ME: Why don't we just make water ourselves?
TAD: Like with Hydrogen and Oxygen?
ME: Yeah.
TAD: Well you have to make sure that they fit together correctly.
ME: Yeah, they'd have to look like little Mickey Mouses.
TAD *blink, blink*: Is that what you think of when you think of water molecules? Mickey Mouse?
ME: Yeah. That's like the only thing I remember from chemistry class.

Monday, October 24, 2011

15 Things I Learned at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

 The band.

So you know when someone young does something that's a little inspiring and hopeful and then they suddenly die a tragic, horrible death and then word of that thing that they did spreads like crazy until the whole world sees them as some iconic image of Love or Peace or Equality or whatever it was that they did that was so inspiring?

Well I realized that I was setting myself up to die one of those tragic, horrific deaths and become the poster child for Following Your Dreams or Quitting Your Job or who knows what.

So let's talk about something else, shall we? Because I have no intention of dying, thank you very much (although the idea of becoming an icon is tempting).

This past weekend, Tad and I drove to Ohio to see our friends, Zach and Stephanie. And for funsies, we visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Stephanie is a serious AC/DC fan (which we all find hilarious).
Tad loves Metallica (which I find hilarious).
Zach likes pretty much anything (although he has a huge weakness for ska).
And I...I'm one of those people who likes to think that I know a lot about old bands and artists, when in reality my knowledge doesn't go much past Wikipedia and the backs of my Ladies from the 80s Barbie Doll boxes.

So here are 15 things I learned at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

1. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can be summarized by two performers and one movement: Elvis, The Beatles and punk rock
2. If you're in a punk rock band in the 70s or 80s, it's preferable that you hate God, hate the government, feel misunderstood, and choose a really cliche stage name. If you do all of these things, you will get a massive display at the R&R HoF and a video in which you're promoting anarchy and a limited use of the English language.
3. If I was in a punk rock band, my stage name would be Cat Call.
4. Jimi Hendrix had a lot of stage outfits.
5. Kurt Cobain really did die. I saw his birth certificate. Take that conspiracists! (Whether Courtney Love killed him or not is still up for debate).
6. Mick Jagger is a small, small man.
7. Apparently, rock and roll ceased to exist after the 1980s. At least that's what the Hall of Fame's lack of any bands from the 90s tells me (Nirvana aside).
8. Since when are Simon and Garfunkel considered Rock and Roll? And if they made it, where's Peter, Paul and Mary?
9. Lady Gaga's meat dress really was made out of meat.
10. It's cool to play a right handed guitar backwards when you're left handed. Wished I would have known this. I wouldn't have been so embarrassed while playing my right-handed Yamaha.
11. It's a good thing I had a hair appointment the week BEFORE visiting the R&R HoF. Because if it was scheduled after, I'm pretty sure I'd come out of there with a Debbie Harry hairstyle.
12. Faith Hill does not belong in the Women Who Rock exhibit. (What's she doing there?!)
13. I saw enough sequined tops and outfits that from now on when people give me a hard time about mine, I'll just say "All the rock stars are doing it." (You think I'm joking about having sequined clothing? Think again.)
14. If you die young, you have a better chance of getting a really good display in the R&R HoF.
15. The items from female artists are 99% of the time way more awesome and well-kept than the items of male artists. So, if you're thinking of making a trip to the R&R HoF, go now and catch the Women Who Rock exhibit while you can.

And now it's time to play Rock Band until my arms fall off.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Amanda Luedeke is Back From the Dead - post 2

Note: If you missed post 1, here it is.

Sometime in April, (or was it May?), I scaled back on the hours I put into my day job. I'd reached a point where I'd hit a wall when it came to growing the agenting job. My day job just took too much out of my day. So, after a bit of angst and frustration and worry and tears and fretting, I talked to my day job people.

And the result was Wednesdays off.

Sure, it affected my pay. And later I found out that I would miss out on bonuses and get fewer vacation days (yeah, the vacation days I used to work at conferences), but it was what I needed to do to keep moving forward. Because like with anything in life, the things that mean the most, rarely come easy.

So there I was...with suddenly all kinds of time. Or at least it felt that way. I remember telling my agenting boss, Chip, that it felt as though I could breathe. Like a load was lifted. And for the first time in quite awhile I was able to sleep at night without a zillion things running through my head...things that I'd forgotten to do, conversations I'd failed to follow up on, deadlines that has snuck up on me in the dead of stillness (don't you hate when that happens?).

All of that stopped. My mind cleared. And I felt in control.

So what did I do? I decided to write a novel.

It's funny how when you're comfortably busy and not that over-extended and only a tad behind things that you can't bear the thought of adding something else to your list. But when you're super busy and freaking out and overworked, those are the times that you're most productive. They're the times that the addition of 9 free hours to your day suddenly translates into enough time to crank out a novel.

And so that's what I did. I cranked it out. I'd never written a complete novel before. I'd always started and then stopped, moving on to a better idea or convincing myself that the current one was bad. I had no discipline. No internal motivation.

But to be frank, now that I was working with authors, I was feeling to be a bit of a fake. No, writing a novel is not a prerequisite to being an agent. But it helps.

I needed to be able to sympathize with my authors. To be able to understand what they're going through when they're doubting their middles or frustrated at the fact that their protagonists are always crying (this happens). I need to say "hey, I've been there, and here's what you need to do..."

So I started writing. And that writing bug that I'd always wished would bite me, took such a chunk out of my usually-resistant self that I started writing and I never stopped. I'd crank out thousands of words in a night. THOUSANDS OF WORDS. I'd do 10 or 15000 in 7 days. Sometimes in 5 days. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

And I worked and I worked and I worked.
And soon, in order to write, I had to give things up. I started saying no when Tad asked me if I wanted to hang out with him and our neighbor friends. I said no when he asked if I wanted to watch tv. I said no to movies. No to game nights. No, no, no, over and over and over. I could even hear them having fun sometimes...just down the hall and in the other apartment. And still, I said no.

And in five months, I had a book. 75,000 words. 140 pages. Single spaced. Block paragraphs.

I would never have been able to do that if I hadn't already been stretched thin. Already pushing my limits. And I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it if I'd said "yes" to all those offers of fun and good times. Because at some point, you have to determine what's really important and then you go for it. And for a time, it's going to suck.

But in the end, you have the first draft of your first novel, and it feels a whole lot better than watching 100 movies and playing a zillion rounds of Uno.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Amanda Luedeke is Back From the Dead - post 1

Note: I'm going to do a series of posts to kind of wrap up the past few years. A new chapter has begun in my life, and I just feel as though I need to take a minute and reflect on everything that has happened...things that I either couldn't or didn't feel comfortable talking about here, I can now share freely. So I apologize in advance if the posts feel a bit preachy or judgy. I just need to be able to take some time and sort through my thoughts. To catalog where I am at this moment in life. And I also need to catch everyone up. Because the good thing with all of this (one of the many good things) is that Swedish Pankakes is back!

It's been awhile.

Of course the obvious reason for my absence would be lack of interest. I mean how many people at any given time start a blog and then lose interest? Probably nearly everyone. But for me, it wasn't a lack of interest or a lack of content.

It was a lack of time.

Ugh, I hate myself for pulling the time card. Aren't we ALL too busy? Don't we ALL make choices each and every day in terms of how our time will be spent? And don't we all make time for what's really important?

So maybe instead of saying I didn't have the time, I should say that some things were going on that made this blog less of a priority. Way less of a priority.

Last summer, I became a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Now this was one of the biggest blessings of my life, because I've seen the business...I know how rare it is that someone gets such an opportunity while they're still in their 20s. And I also know how even more rare it is that this should happen to someone who came from outside the publishing world. Someone who happened to be in the right place (for me, it was a Barnes & Noble) at the right time (during an author signing) and make the right impression (still not entirely sure how this part happened).

And so it started. After a year or so working as an assistant, I became an agent. The only problem, was that publishing money is slow money. You can work on a project for a year before you see so much as a dime in return. So, because Tad was unemployed, I had to keep my day job.

For the past year, my life looked something like this:

Work the day job: 8 - 5:30 pm
Go for a run/workout: 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Make and eat dinner: 7 - 8:00 pm
Work as an agent: 8pm - ???

Weekends involved a good dose of work.
Holidays, too.
Vacation time went to attending conferences.
And as for personal time?

As the summer of 2011 approached, things with agenting got more demanding. I had 5 clients. And then I had 10. 15. 20. I rearranged things with my day job to allow myself Wednesdays off and still that wasn't enough. I quit working out, dropped out of all my church commitments, abandoned this blog, and stopped hanging out with friends.

Was it fun? No.
Was it easy? Nope.
Was it worth it? ...

The world is full of people who say they want to do or be something. Of people who have dreams that they're waiting to realize. Goals that they're sitting on. Hopes and visions that they keep locked up in their head, waiting for someone else to do the dirty work or make that job offer or start up that business or finish that novel for them.

But the world is also full of people who take their dreams and goals and ambitions and do something with them. Self-starters, they're called. Entrepreneurs. Visionaries. And in some cases, workaholics.

This whole process has moved me from the first category, to the second. I was a thinker...a dreamer, and now I'm a doer. An achiever. I have a deeper understanding of what I'm capable of and the role that I play in this life that God has given.

And at this moment, the sky is the limit.

Friday was my last day working the day job. And tomorrow is my first day as a full time agent.

So was it worth it? You tell me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dear Adele

Dear Adele,

I love your music. And your raspy voice. And your cat eye makeup and fake eyelashes. I wish I had cat eye makeup and fake lashes. Then people would look at me and say things like, "my, she is exotic!"

But alas, this does not happen. And even if I were to have cat eye makeup and false lashes, people would probably say, "what's she doing in Indiana?"

I would also like to say that you inspire me. You're so young and accomplished. And you're proud of this! Instead of apologizing for your youth, you shout it from the rooftops. For example (I'm not quite sure why I'm providing you with this example, considering you're well aware ...), you title your albums after whatever age you happen to be while envisioning/writing/working on them. Your first album, 19, released when you were the very same age. And your second album, 21, released this past February. No doubt a nod to the truth that much of its conception happened in your twenty-first year.

But I worry, dear Adele, that you have not seen the big picture.

Because thirty years from now, do you really want to have an album titled 53?

Or perhaps I'm seeing this all wrong. Perhaps you'll be just as content with who you are even when your hair is less glossy, your skin less smooth and a simple smile produces wrinkles that mar your wonderful cat eyes.
If only we could all find such self-acceptance.

Best wishes,
Amanda Luedeke

P.s. If you would like to do a book, I just so happen to be in the market for a famous singer/songwriter.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Enough about my ailments. And freakishness. And mutations. I could totally keep going and share about how my eye has a dry spot in it now. Right smack dab in the middle of the cornea. So saith the eye guy. Or I could discuss my growing astigmatism. Or the fact that I have to use Sensodyne. Or the reality that my ears aren’t perfectly parallel.

But I’ll spare you. Because I care. And because I’d like to have some friends as I go through this change into nerd-hood. Hah, that’s a thought! Instead of aging at a normal rate, I’m staying perpetually young as I slowly morph into the form of a complete and unsightly nerd.


So instead, let’s talk about tea!

My tea obsession started a month or so ago whilst on a business trip. We all went shopping together (as most do when they’re out of the office and have time to burn), and happened upon this enchanting store called Teavana.

And we’ve been in a figurative Teavana ever since.

They have the craziest teas and all you do is stand there as they waft the scents in your direction. Then, you buy it by the ounce. The ounce! And before you know it, you’re walking out of there with $40 worth of dried leaves.

Which is totally worth it, because it’s supposed to curb appetite and boost health and assist in the growth of wings so that you can fly.

But very soon after purchasing, you become absolutely paranoid of oversteeping or doing something that will prevent the leaves from going through their agony. (Yes, this is real). You freak out and overthink things and measure and test the water on your wrist and the whole nine yards … until you do the math and realize each cup is like .50.

So then begins the phase of steeping and resteeping and re-resteeping the leaves.
And in the back of your mind you think about spreading the grounds out on the sidewalk so they can dry and be reused.

And you tell yourself you’re done. That you’re just going to go back to Celestial Seasonings. But then your coworkers announce they’re putting in another order and you cannot help yourself. You order more. Different flavors. Flavors that you probably won’t even like.

But you don’t pay for it. Because you haven’t yet paid for your previous order.

And suddenly you understand what crack addicts go through.

Can I get an amen?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


So you've heard all about my teeth woes. But what if I told you that I also have freakish eyes?

Every time I go to a new eye doctor (which is every year, because I just like to keep life interesting like that), they do their little 1 or 2, 3 or 4 thing and then they start talking about wanting to take pictures of my eyes.

Which for two seconds makes me feel kind of awesome, because the only logical explanation is that my eyes are super attractive or something like that.

But then I remember that these are doctors we're talking about, and doctors are only phased by one thing.Weirdness. Freakishness. Abnormalityishness.

Apparently, I am at a .6 on the glaucoma alert scale. The scale runs from like .5 to 1.5 or something like that, and because I'm .1 over the lowest mark, I must BE ON THE ALERT FOR GLAUCOMA.

But who cares, right? People get glaucoma all the time. Well here's where it gets interesting  ...

I'm a freak to these doctors, because they think that I might have been born with eyes that make it look like I have glaucoma when in fact it's just the way I am. They think this, because of how symmetrical the freakish parts of my eyes are. They also think this because of my age.

So long story short, I always have to get these pictures taken of my eyes so that they can gaze at my freakishness. And so that we can catch glaucoma early ... just in case it happens to show up.

At which point the eye nurse/glaucoma expert looked at me and said:

"It's just a preventative measure, really," she said. "It's like cancerous cells. You keep an eye on them to make sure they don't turn into cancer. And, well, this is just like that."

Yes. Glaucoma is just like cancer. Thank you for turning this freak into a paranoid one.

And we all know paranoid freaks are the worst.

Monday, April 25, 2011

nubbin' : living a life with nubs

Imagine how much you enjoy and/or tolerate talking to me.

Now imagine how much worse that experience could be if I had little nubs for teeth.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the fate we all may face if my teeth do not start cooperating.

Almost a year ago, I had some cavities filled. Shortly after, I realized that one of the teeth that had been worked on hurt every time I bit down. I went back to the dentist, and he said that it wasn’t anything alarming. My bite just needed to be adjusted.

No prob, right? Wrong.

I’ve been back THREE times in the past year TO GET MY TOOTH FILED. Yes, filed like a fingernail.

And each time I go, I swear I come out of there with what can only be described as a phantom tooth -- a tooth that I imagine is larger than it really is (because it has in fact been whittled down). Three times this has happened. Which means THRICE my tooth has shrunken in size. And this time was the worst of them all ... I swear I'm beginning to feel an opening where my teeth aren't even pressing together anymore. The nub is on its way.

Needless to say, I am so ready for this madness to end ... for all of our sakes. 

Because I'm pretty sure we'd all prefer that I NOT look like Gollum in the near future. 

P.S. If this post title results in a ton of search engine hits I'm going to laugh so very hard it just may re-set my bite.

P.P.S.S. Points to the person who can come up with the best vampire joke!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

hot shots

Tad and I are watching season 1 of this reality show called Top Shot. It's where some of the nation's best marksmen compete to be the best shot in the west.

Well this one particular episode was about trick shooting. They had to shoot a bottle behind them by placing the gun on their shoulder and using a mirror. They also had to throw a cabbage in the air (not too high, mind you) and shoot it before it hit the ground.

After watching this, I had one thought, "Big freaking deal."

To prove my point, I had Tad pull out his Nerf guns and we rigged up a few household items to see whether we had what it takes. And let me tell you, we are awesome. So awesome, that we should go on tour and Pop Tarts should sponsor us.

Here's the recap:

Amanda started out with the cabbage toss (which soon became the pop tarts box toss). Please ignore the mess in the background, because that's just not important. What you SHOULD notice, is the pop tart box, floating in the air, waiting to be shot dead.

And will Amanda shoot it? Well, the picture tells us that she didn't make it THIS time, but by the fifth try, Amanda was consistently hitting the Pop Tart box.

Notice the dart in mid-air! And what concentration Amanda brings to the sport!! AND THAT STANCE! Mo Vaughn would be so jealous.

To achieve the behind-the-back shot, Tad rigged up a stand of boxes (probably boxes from the hallway that you saw in the previous picture). Then, the unfortunate Pop Tarts box was placed on top. Using a L'oreal compact, Tad was able to successfully spot the box and blow it off its stand. Amanda achieved this as well.

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Tad and Amanda Show Big Shots that Their Shots Aren't As Big as They May Think. Join us next time when they walk on burning coals!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, basketball was always a very happy thing. Michael Jordan was in his prime (when was he NOT in his prime?). And I watched with my family as our Bulls secured two three-peats and the best record ever in NBA history. 72-10. I even have the t-shirt to prove it.

I don't remember ever feeling scared or anxious or worrisome. It wasn't a matter of whether they would win ... it was just a matter of when. They never let us down. Ever. Well, except when they would retire and then un-retire ... but even that was as though they were undoing whatever they had previously done to lose our trust.

It was an epic time of victory and awesomeness.

But since moving to Indiana, I realize that not everyone feels the same way.

Here, I introduce you to a disgruntled Pacers fan.

His name is Josh. I've featured him here before.

You see, Josh is sad, because his whole life he rooted for the Pacers. And every time they had a shot at the championship, those darned Bulls knocked them out of the running.

Needless to say, Josh is a bit bitter. But he's not the only one. I have another friend ... a Cavs fan, who also shares in the hatred. Apparently, it's a serious problem for NBA fans across the nation.

When I first heard of this Bull-hatred, I really couldn't believe it. I seriously had gone through my entire life, assuming that everyone was in love with the Bulls. I mean, who could hate them?! But of course that wasn't the case. Many people hated them and were wishing them to die, while I was praying that not only would they rule the world, but that Michael Jordan would actually grow wings and fly.

Bottom line ... While my childhood memories were full of wins and beat-downs and great moments, theirs were full of losses and beatings and embarrassing moments.

It's not fair. It's not right. But that's the way it is.

And that's why we're here, 15 years later. 2011 NBA Playoffs. And the Bulls and Pacers are at it again.

Apr 16 @ BullsQ1Q2Q3Q4




Sorry, Josh. Looks like some dreams just aren't meant to come true.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

lady of the night

My parents used to tell me that I'd become a morning person once I grew up. That one day, a love for the damp, coldness that is the world right after sunrise would hit me like cupid's arrow and I'd never go back to my late-night ways.

Well, it's 12:05am, and I'm sitting in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, wide awake.

You'd think after years of battling the night owl disease, I'd have a strategy of sorts. But I don't. Not really, anyway. I mean there's the obvious reading strategy. And the tv strategy. And the lay perfectly still and relax one body part at a time strategy. But their success rates are sketchy at best, and I'm in no mood to try the sampler platter of drug-free narcotics.

So, in the meantime, I've put together my thoughts on how the world would look if night-lovers ruled over the morning peeps.

And it sounds like a great place.

Work hours would run from:
8pm to 5am
People would generally sleep from:
11am to 6:30pm

1. All work would be done in the darktime hours, leaving small pieces of daytime hours for fun and play. 
2. No one would ever get sunburn. Except for the crazy day birds who would insist on staying out at all hours of the day.
3. You could wear evening makeup to work without feeling too dressed up.
4. No one would ever pressure you to be happy right after you woke up, because the world would be ruled by generally sluggish people such as yourself. More importantly, roommates wouldn't sing at you after you rolled out of bed.
5. You would also never ever have meetings first thing in the evening (which would be your morning). Furthermore, no one would talk to you until after you've had a few hours to acclimate.
6. The hottest part of the day would take place while you're asleep!!!

Well, that's about all I can come up with. It's 12:26 and I'm a bit more tired. I'm having trouble forming cohereent thoughts, which is a good sign.

Guess I'll go read for a bit. Read and hope for the day when I'll be chipper in the morning and sluggish at night and all grown up.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grapefruit Confessions

You’re sitting at your desk, eating a perfectly delicious red grapefruit. You don’t normally eat grapefruit. Especially not at work. But 2011 is the year you’ll finally get fit and stay fit, and so all your snacks of CheezIts and chocolate are replaced by apples and green peppers. And grapefruit.

You’ve sliced it in half and set the halves before you. Carefully-placed slits free each fruit section from the rind. Generously-sprinkled Splenda sweetens their tartness. And yet, you laugh to yourself as the red fruit puckers your lips and squints your eyes.

First one half, then other. Piece by piece, you polish it off, knowing full well that co-workers may find you strange for choosing such an odd snack. They eye you from across the open room or walk past your desk, and you can almost hear their inner dialog about you and your grapefruit.

Or maybe, you’re just being paranoid.

Once empty of their ruby fruit, the grapefruit halves sit before you, full of juice. Wonderful, tangy, healthy juice that would be drunk within the minute if you were in the privacy of your own home.

But you aren’t home. You’re at work, in a room with no barriers or blockades or cubicles. And your coworkers might see you.

What do you do? Do you drink the juice or throw it away?

Do you remain true to your quirky self or do you follow social convention?

After a moment of deliberation and a glance over your shoulder, you drink. And it tastes lovely. Once you’ve wiped your mouth, you sit back and think about how excited you are that you have another grapefruit for tomorrow.

And how lucky your coworkers are that you had the office sense to squeeze the juice into a cup instead of sucking it straight out of the fruit’s shell like some kind of crazy person.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Est. 1983

I really hate including my graduation year in my literary agent bio.

I mean I really really hate it.

It makes me sound as though my college degree is one of my top credentials. As though I'm one of those "Class of '06, baby!" losers who wants every single person to know exactly where I studied and who I graduated with.

And I didn't even go to Princeton or Harvard or Yale. I went to a tiny school in Indiana.
Doesn't really scream prestigious academia, does it.

The truth of the matter is just the other day, someone asked me if I was still in school ... a question I get far too often. And everytime, I just want to scream "No, I'm not still in school. In fact, THERE ARE PEOPLE MY EXACT AGE RUNNING BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESSES AND LEADING NFL TEAMS THROUGH THE PLAYOFFS."

Do you think anyone would ask Jay Cutler or Aaron Rodgers to have their dad contact the service station if their car broke down? Of course not! In fact, they probably don't even get carded at restricted movies or have to tell their insurance guy that they don't qualify for the "good student program". And they're 1983 babies just like me.

So with a heavy sigh, I'll send my bio off to the conference organizers, my 2006 grad date in big, bold letters.

And maybe while I'm there, I'll walk around with a Jimmy John's Est. 1983 t-shirt. Sure, I'll still be one of the young-uns. I'm ok with that. I'm just trying to avoid people asking if I'm agenting as part of an internship (true story).

Any other ideas? BTW, mom jeans, lipstick and a darker hair color are out of the question.

Sidenote: I realize the Jay Cutler/Aaron Rodgers reference was random ... but I'm SO excited for Sunday's game that I couldn't resist. Go Bears!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

of dreams and english things

I had a friend in college named Jason.

We had plans to visit England and do a bunch of literature-inspired things.

We were going to run in the moors, while I shouted “Heathcliff!” and he shouted “Catherine!”

We were going to search out 221B Baker Street.

We were going to visit Wessex and milk cows.

We were going to smoke pipes at The Eagle and Child pub.

We were going to do so many more things that now I cannot seem to remember.

That’s what happens when you don’t follow through with your dreams and plans and goals. You end up with a bunch of blank space where there should be exciting, inspiring memories.

10 points to the person who can tell me the literary significance/reference behind each of these without using the links.