Whoda thunk this thing woulda kept going on?  Not me!

God bless,
Jenni (11-10-08)

"Carry On" ~ JABB 266- "Feels Like Home" ~ "Origins" ~

~ "The Scientist" ~ "Shifting Focus" ~ Thoughts on JABB 286/287- "In the House of the Lord" ~

~ Thoughts on JABB 289- "The Past, the Present, the Future" ~ Thoughts on JABB 293- "When You are Real" ~

~ "The Butterfly" ~ "The Best Birthday Ever" ~
Thoughts on JABB 313- "Safe" ~ "On This Side" ~

~ Thoughts on JABB 316- "To Be With You" ~

"Carry On"

Last night I watched the last "Tour of Duty" and while some parts were heartwarming, I was mostly left feeling sad.  So I  started writing the following to get it outta my system so I could sleep, not necessarily knowing if I'd finish it.  I was just going for making myself feel better right then.  And then I found out my sick grandfather has taken a turn for the worse.  So I kept going cause it was a good distraction.

This isn't how my original conception of the story went.  I had considered doing a full flashback to Andrew during the Vietnam War.  But I have no expertise in the area so that would have been difficult.  In addition, I couldn't really justify Andrew telling the women a horrific account of war.  At least not so suddenly.  If someone asked him, then maybe.  But not because of some random, accidental event like a box falling.  It's not like other times when Andrew's opened up to them: the emotions weren't fresh for him, the past assignment didn't in anyway reflect their current reality (as with his memories of the witch trials coinciding with their production of The Crucible), and telling them his experiences wasn't likely to prevent them from experiencing similar.  So Andrew remains pretty quiet here.

I also toyed with the idea of at least alluding to a character that some *might* interpret as Doc Hock to try and give that character some closure.  But, in the end, this was Andrew's story and Doc just didn't fit in this one.  Maybe some day.

As far as my sources, "Tour of Duty" was a huge influence.  Some of Andrew's dialogue in "The Homecoming, Part II" also inspired this although in that he was a hospital corpsman.  On a whim I'd done a LJA post that mentioned the Dyelanders organizing Andrew's closet for winter so that's how that came in.  And, finally, one day (while I was still living at my parents'  place) I was watching "ToD" and needed a break so went to organize my hall closet.  I opened the door and, honest to goodness, an ammo belt fell on me.  I have no idea why it was there among my skirts and hats.  My best guess is that my brother had it for a costume and shoved it in there during an emergency cleaning.  Who knows.  But that's where the falling objects idea came from.

"Carry On"

(Typed out 11-10-08)

JABB 266- "Feels Like Home"

It's been a long time, over a year apparently, since I put a commentary on these pages.  Of late I've mostly been using it just for stories.  But I think the recent stories have raised a lot of issues I'd like to say some things about.  So here's a start!

First, I think "Feels Like Home" is very much a companion piece to "We Trust to Thee."  I hope it addresses some of the more troubling issues raised in "We Trust."  While "We Trust" is, I think, my favorite story thus far I did deliberately leave some loose ends.  Questions and concerns were raised that were still (sometimes painfully) open when the story ended.  Here are the main ones for me:

1.  The Dyelanders' mortality- I think in "We Trust" there was an extent to which the women identified with and Andrew identified them with Dawn.  Her murder was troubling not just in its own right but because of this.  It presented a sort of worse case scenario on how their stories and relationships on this earth could end.  So with "Home" I wanted to present the best case scenario.  Obviously, I can't just be like "Poof!  They're all immortals now and no one will ever get sick or hurt!"  So I got to thinking about what I *could* do and that was presenting a longterm bond between a woman and an AOD who faced those inevitabilities and survived.

Sophia's story seems terribly tragic.  In the end, she can't even recognize Eli who was the love of her life.  That sure doesn't sound like a best case scenario.  But I think the important part was she made some sort of life for herself, incorporating Eli, for over 60 years.  At the end of that life, Eli was able to be there for her and bring her Home after a very full and productive life.  He has no regrets and says so.  I firmly believe she would agree.  And their bond will flourish in Heaven where the mortal/immortal divide is non-existent and likely even the human/angel divide seems not so important. 

2.  Andrew's stability and friendships- Andrew gets tremendously rattled in "We Trust" not just by Dawn's death but also Nadia's complete distancing of herself from him.  It's then the Dyelanders and Tess and Adam (and, of course, God) that help him get through that.  But I wanted to make it clear that while Andrew loves each of them very much and to some extent needs each of them, he's not destroyed when a friend falls away from him.  *If* LJA really had written that letter and this woulda been her farewell, I think once Andrew got over the shock and was finished with the documentary project, he would have grieved the loss of that friendship.  But I wanted it clear that he wouldn't have let it distract him from his other friendships.  Losing Nadia and/or LJA would be difficult but NOT insurmountable.  No one would ever take their places, yet Andrew would still love the friends he had and form new friendships with the optimism and love we all admire in him. 

3.  The Dyelanders' stability- The above being said... Andrew's not the only one with incredible stability.  In "We Trust" LJA has that conversation with Monica at the mall in which she says she has some concern about possibly falling away from Andrew.  She admits that humans are much more changeable than angels and she simply doesn't know what her future might bring.  That's part of the reason she, Yva, and Rose try to get Monica to talk more with Andrew.  While that's a legitimate concern, I wanted to present the possibility that maybe it will be a non-issue.  So I wanted to involve some scenes that demonstrated how unshakable the Dyelanders' attachment to Andrew is.  So... I had that scene with Rose and Yva visiting with Andrew in the tree house.  I wanted that to show both their friendship with him as well as their certainty that he's not going to lose them.  Then I had LJA go off on her cousin for him.  And, again, the Sophia and Eli story was to demonstrate that it *can* and at least once has worked out that an angel/human friendship did last a lifetime.

So those were the ways in which I hoped to soften some of the uncertainty in "We Trust."  I'm sure those doubts will resurface.  And maybe things won't end happily.  I can't say.  But I wanted to present a case in which they did work out.  There's hope!

Finally, it was in talking about this story that I realized how World War II-era focused some recent stories of mine have been.  Starting with "Dream" and then including "Make This Go On Forever" and "Carry On."  When I decided "Home" would be Sophia's and Eli's story (doing something with that had been in my mind for a while), I had it in my head almost immediately that they'd met during World War II.  I wasn't sure why but it just seemed set in stone.  Now I think I kind of know why.

In November my remaining grandfather passed away.  He was a Korean War veteran.  The grandpa I lost in 1998 was a World War II veteran.  I think, in some ways, in writing about Mick and JenniAnn's grandpa Connor in "Dream," the soldiers whose graves Andrew visited in "Forever," Andrew's experiences as recalled in "Carry On," and now Sophia, I've been saying good bye to that generation and beginning to make peace with the unanswered questions and lack of closure that comes with losing someone without a proper good bye.  It's one of those things that can't be avoided, even in fiction.  And it makes me very glad there's a Heaven.

I think that's it.  I did want to thank, again, the people who answered the interview questions.  The story just wouldn't have worked without them and I was really pleased with some of the back story that came from those.  So big thanks to Liz, Nicole, and Yvette for that!  I hope you enjoyed the finished product.

(Typed out 2-20-09 and 2-22-09)


So for a long time I've wondered about who Vincent's parents were on "Beauty and the Beast."  Finally, I decided to write a story about it since we obviously weren't gonna get answers from a long canceled TV show!  Now, I wanted to know who his parents were but that didn't mean I necessarily wanted to know the specifics of why he was as he was.  "Origins" is my attempt to give Vincent his parentage while keeping some mystery about him.  It also turned out to be really emotional to me... and 100 pages long.  If this interests you, I hope you enjoy it!  Usually I write more about a story here but I actually wrote two afterwords on the page below so I'm pretty well talked out!  Just know that this is very much different from my usual Dyeland stories.  The Dyelanders figure in but only as supporting characters, even Andrew's part is significantly smaller that usual.  I wanted this to be Vincent's, Cora's, and Lor's story. 


(Typed out 6-13-09)

"The Scientist"

I started this story before "Origins" but then got sucked into that and refused to leave.  Basically this is a story about: eating disorders, the bonds between the people of the Tunnels, how Andrew and Vincent became friends, how "The Scientist" by Coldplay became Andrew's and LJA's song, and how Andrew found out how LJA *really* felt about him.  And there's also some light stuff.  ;-) Due to the sensitive nature of some aspects of this story, I've password protected it. 

"The Scientist"

(Typed out 8-10-09)

"Shifting Focus"

So... I prematurely panicked when Hallmark took TBAA off their schedule.  I didn't realize it was only for the week before Halloween and that it would then return the first week of November.  In my panic, I wrote the following in which Andrew tries to creatively console LJA after she freaks out about the loss of TBAA.  Then it morphed into some sorta "resolve character issues before the mess that will be November" story.  Sorry if that sounds ominous but it is Halloween season!

"Shifting Focus"

(Typed out 10-11-09)

Thoughts on JABB 286/287- "In the House of the Lord"

I wanted to jot out some notes as I wrote this story.  However, the writing itself took every free moment I had to give.  True, I coulda foregone chores but I'm not sure piles of laundry and stacked dishes is quite worth it to me!  So it's now over 3 months later but oh well!  Due to the length of this story (the longest yet, beating out "Origins"), I doubt my ability to organize this into themes without forgetting stuff.  So I'm just jotting notes as I skim the story.  I'm going to try to stay more on top of these commentaries where they're necessary because with Dyeland growing more episodic, I'm gonna need them to remind me where I was going with ideas!  So here goes...

November 18th- First, we have the light-hearted scene between Andrew and three of the Dyelander ladies cut into by a fairly troubling Tunnel scene.  That juxtaposition was something I was really going for with this story.  I wanted  most scenes to seem very Dyeland/TBAA, I wanted others to seem like you were reading a
Beauty and the Beast fic, and for others I wanted a real Moonlight feel.  I don't know if I was just especially missing those shows or what.  I think so.  But I feel like I should come up with a profound reason for wanting just the right blend.  Like I thought it would symbolize the bonds shared by these characters, how each impacts the others in their particular ways.  Something like that.  But really I just missed my shows!

November 21st- This was the first scene I wrote, I think.  I can't remember if it was first and the Vincent/LJA fight scene second or the other way around.  I *think* this was first but am not 100% positive.  Typically I write the stories chronologically but those two scenes popped into my mind so complete and so powerfully that I had to write them out first.  Anyhow, so I like this cause for just a moment (when Catherine's tearing down the stairs with the plank) I felt like I was in
BatB.  And I just liked the irony of Catherine being panicked that someone's attacked LJA only to find her with the one person she feels most safe with and he's the one who's hurt. 

Speaking of Andrew being hurt... rereading this I did question the realistic-ness of him lunging at her and her then getting them seated on the floor.  I don't know how much Andrew would weigh.  But it's highly possible he's 80-90 pounds heavier than LJA.  So I don't know that it's incredibly likely she would have been able to do anything but crumple under his weight.  Yet that didn't happen.  So I did figure out some after the fact answers: 1.  Her adrenaline kicked in either from thinking she was at risk or realizing it was Andrew and panicking over seeing him like that or 2.  He did start to push her over but it really just bumped her into either the table or island so supported by that she was able to stay standing and keep enough of a hold on him to keep him from falling.  Yes, I will nit-pick even my own writing.

This was a hard scene to write cause while I think in her heart of hearts LJA knew Andrew wasn't invincible, she wanted to believe it.  But invincibility and bloodshed don't go together.  Then I think this is the first time Andrew has to outright tell her he's not.

It's just a small thing but I really loved Catherine in this scene for many reasons but mostly for this bit:
"When she pulled away she noticed JenniAnn was already removing items from the refrigerator and looked on the point of tears once more.  She knew she wasn't the one able to stop them from falling."  I think Catherine, in her quiet way, was among the first (even before Vincent) to concede that LJA had irrevocably fallen for Andrew.  And Catherine knows from personal experience that while that journey was going to be hard and full of sacrifice that it's the only one LJA can take without being miserable.  So I think she trusts Andrew with her more than even Vincent does.  Vincent knows what it is to feel like you're holding a woman back from a happy life and while he eventually accepted that Catherine's happy life could only exist with him as her partner in it, some tiny part of him probly still reminds him of her sacrifices and he might project those accusations onto Andrew sometimes.  Catherine only knows that trying to live a happy life apart from the person you love is spirit-deadening and if Andrew can keep her cousin's spirit alive then she's going to let him.

LJA kinda drives me bananas with her sandwich preparation.  And yet... that's so me.  I use organizational tasks and chores like some people use sedatives.  I actually don't see myself much in LJA in this story but boy do I ever there...

With this story, I wanted to really get inside Andrew's head and his internal conflicts.  One of the conflicts that popped up the most was his own need of affection and love v. his desire to protect the Dyelanders.  The theme emerges first in his trying to decide whether to hug JenniAnn in his tattered, dingy clothes or not.  He does.  Score one for affection.  Yay!

I'm trying to remember how I got a hold of Psalm 27.  I've read the Psalms but certainly not to the point of memorization.  So how I happened up that... no clue.  I *think* it may have been a happy accident.  I'd recently purchased the Leap of Faith soundtrack and one of the tracks is entitled "Psalm 27."  So maybe I listened to that, looked up the Psalm, and knew it was a perfect fit?  I can't recall.  But I'm sure glad I found it!

Okay... it really gets me when Andrew determines that not only should LJA not walk for a bit with him when he leaves but shouldn't even so much as see him leave.  He knows her and her fears very well.  He knows she has this deep-seated fear of him disappearing.  And he knows that's a scene she would play over and over in her head.  So he simply won't allow it.  Likely he would have wanted every moment he could get with someone who loves him considering he's just been the victim of hate.  But Andrew engages in a lot of self-abnegation in this story in deference to what he thinks others need.

Enter Maggie.  In some ways, she was an expanded version of Dawn ("We Trust to Thee") to me.  We only learn about Dawn after she's already dead.  But Maggie is very much alive and we get to see her bond with Andrew as opposed to just hearing about it later.  And Andrew has already latched onto her as being very like a Dyelander.  And I love that she thinks for just a moment that Andrew's "some free love hippie."  Nothing could be further from the truth!  It's from her we learn that despite being very much in human form, Andrew isn't sleeping.

One of the things I like about the gathering of the Dyelanders in the Tunnels is that while they all band together to support Andrew, each does so in a way that works best for them.  While every so often they might drop everything to help him out, these are women with lives, responsibilities, and their own needs.  Yva has Willy and Sir Sven back in Dyeland.  Rose has to consider Aunt Josephine.  Lady Beth has her cooking hobby she needs to indulge to keep calm.  Only LJA is relatively unattached and that won't always be the case.  Andrew wouldn't want them chucking it all for him.  And I think by now they all know that.  Even when LJA does consider chucking everything, she's fully aware that it arises from her own need of him than from any demands he's making.

Oooh.  I forgot about this part:
"Wh-what's the longest you've ever known an assignment like this to last?" Rose questioned.
Adam bowed his head, his gray locks falling over his face and hiding it.  "Not counting deep cover assignments?"
JenniAnn shivered at the idea and sensed she wasn't the only one horrified by the thought.  "Not counting them."

That shiver has new significance after the Valentine's story!

Yva voices a line that's often popped into my head as I write these.  I think, were I a Dyelander, I would feel a lil ungrateful to God at times and then feel guilty about that.  All at once they are so touched and comforted by the knowledge that the AODs are with their brethren when they die... and eventually with them.  But that involves letting the AODs go.  They can't always be near by.  I imagine at times that makes the Dyelanders sad or even angry.   So I like Adam's response: the Father understands that conflict.

November 22nd- Ryan is attacked.  This makes the entire situation more serious for everyone.  It also becomes obvious to everyone that Andrew is weakening.  So much so that LJA and Rose "kidnap" him.  And for just a brief moment they're joking and smiling again.  That gives way to emotion.

I tried to do research both into attacks on the homeless and the experiences of the homeless in general.  More than anything physically, I thought about the psychological and emotional impacts.  That led me to write this:
"They don't show any regard for these people I've been living among.  They don't see us as having a history, meaningful lives.  Laja, when you started defending yourself... rightly... that was the only time during this assignment, other than last night when I was here, that anyone other than Maggie has spoken to me with any concept of my having ever belonged anywhere... of my having people who cared about me, 'ten years of memories,' an impact."

The idea that Andrew would be meaningless and an object of derision to anyone is painful and shocking to me.  Yet... it should really be shocking that anyone feels that way about any homeless person.  At some point, maybe they were someone's angel.

Andrew with his dog...  Nothing more to be said.

And then there's the teddy bear from Yva.  I've been keeping this mental list of all the stuff Andrew's accumulated.  And I wanted something to pop up here.  The teddy bear was an obvious, cuddly choice.  And it stands not just for Yva but for all of them.  It and the chair also point to the fact that Andrew was watched over.  I debated that.  Was it at all voyeuristic that the Dyelanders were popping in and out as he slept?  But Yva provided the answer:
"I guess we thought that if angels can sit at humans' bedsides when they're going through things... why wouldn't the reverse be alright?"

So I say it's alright!  And, have to say, I love Owen as "official shower time emergency buddy" who rhymes!

And the patch work clothes, lil bits of Dyeland memories sewn lovingly in...  Sometimes I wonder what Andrew did with them.  And was he wearing them when he was attacked?  I hope so.  I'd like to think that he had those lil remembrances near and touching him when his friends couldn't.

Reading Maggie's parting from Andrew at the Phoenix now is more heart-breaking than the writing of it.  When she fears not seeing him again, I automatically think of the fact that she's the one that will go away... not him.

Trivia: Here Yva's birthday becomes the first non-AOD birthday celebrated in a newsletter, I believe.  Andrew's note was jarring to write.  For a moment, happy, goofy Andrew comes back and to me it's almost ghost-like. 

The following scene is one that I hoped was
BatB-like.  Albeit a more Joe-centric version of the show.  I always liked Joe.  I felt bad for him not just cause he loved Catherine but also because he had to have felt let down by her secrecy.  He trusted her yet must have felt like that trust was never returned.  I wanted him to learn about Vincent so he could know she trusted him.  But more on that later.  Here I wanted to capture how passionate Joe is about his work.  He was often so light-hearted on the show but the things he must have seen...  The frustrations he felt...  Joe deserved an angel and Adam's a great one to have on your side!

In the next scene we see something we don't often: fearful Andrew.  But this proves as misguided a fear as Catherine's for LJA.  Andrew's would-be attackers are in fact just a friendly police officer and... Mick!  It's about time those P.I. skills got utilized!  I love how deftly Mick gets rid of Billings (feigning a coffee withdrawal when he can't even drink coffee) and then how blunt he is. 
"Andrew, you look like hell," just may be the bluntest sentence I've ever written!  But mostly I'm glad for Mick because he's finally getting a chance to prove that he's part of Dyeland.

The next scene is short but has some lil bits that were important to me.  First, it shifts to Mick's perspective.  That's when I wanted to really go into
Moonlight mode.  He closes his eyes, he sniffs the blood, he tries to solve the case.  For a brief moment, I had my show back!  It's also in this scene that we get the first hint that this is all personal for Joe.  I love that Adam refers to his fellow AOD as "our Andrew" to Mick.

November 23rd- The scene begins with news of Ryan's death.  It also provides a glimpse of how Catherine and Vincent are blending their lives with her new job.  I like that they're able to spend the night together when Catherine's working at the Phoenix. 

In the next scene, Andrew takes Ryan Home.  It's from his conversation with Andrew that we first learn about Crystal's attachment to the singing angel.  At the time I wrote it, I had no idea how I'd later incorporate that.  I actually Googled "New York angel statues" to try and pick a location featuring a singing angel statue that Andrew would later find Crystal at.  It was a later inspiration that turned Andrew himself into the singing angel.  I like that far better.  It occurs to me now that it balances out Maggie's death, in a way.  Maggie died trying to reunite with Andrew, Crystal may very well have survived only because she was trying to get back to where she first saw Andrew.

scene that follows is Josephine's first biggish one, I think.  The feedback I received mentioned the depiction of Aunt Josephine and I was grateful for those kind words.  However, I have a feeling of accepting praise for something I had no part of.  I have very little control of what characters will come through the most clearly and most interestingly at any given time.  I myself was surprised and delighted by how Aunt Josephine came across.  And I know I physically typed her scenes.  But they just sorta popped out.  Cosmic consciousness maybe?  ;-)  Really sometimes I feel the way I do when I'm jotting down a dream I had.  I can see the scene clearly, recall the lines, etc. but I don't have recollection of plotting it out.  So maybe I actually dream in Dyeland mode now.  Not sure if that's good or bad.  ;-)

In the next scene, I like how the Dyelanders are very particular in describing Andrew to Zeke.  And how they manage to explain their bonds to him to Maggie without either lying or revealing too much.  Good for them!

Andrew is sleeping in a box because the shelter makes him feel claustrophobic.  This really bugs me.  I think these stories would be a lot easier and less draining to write if I wasn't writing about someone I've crushed on for my entire adult life.  But then maybe they wouldn't be very good if I was just kinda blase about Andrew so I shouldn't complain about my angst.  Embrace the angst.  Embrace Andrew.  Commence wishing a real Andrew would show up...

Mick and Adam meet so the latter can have coffee and the former enjoy the smell.  Poor Mick.  Just a couple brief notes: for some reason I really like Adam referring to the Dyelanders as "the girls" and it gave me a chance to reveal Adam's feelings.  It would be very hard for him to see Andrew in such a state.  I imagine he feels rather like a big brother.

Happy Andrew's ghost returns via video footage.  These are the kinds of things that make a movie or show emotional for me.  Something where we just see a person get hit by tragedy after tragedy tends to wear me out and leave me feeling dulled.  It's when we get a glimpse of a smiling, laughing person and then juxtapose that with the same person weakened and upset that I get really sucked into their story.  Andrew playing with his friends on video just gives me an even greater sense of and respect for the distance they must all feel while he's on the streets.

I'm really glad I brought Owen into this story.  His irreverent humor is a really good balance to Rose's and JenniAnn's melancholy.  But I don't think he slips into caricature.  Owen, better than most, knows how Andrew feels.  But he remains optimistic and encouraging.  If I can't have an Andrew in my life, an Owen would be nice!

Enter Jerry.  I wonder if anyone made the connection to Joe?  His recalling seeing Andrew in Desert Storm was important to me.  I really loved the TBAA moments when someone realizes they had a brush with Andrew in the past. 

And we go back to Andrew: frigid and wet.  Yet his thoughts are filled only with the people he cares about.  He's angry at himself for not getting to Crystal and he's worried about Maggie learning about Ryan's death.  His only reason for seeking shelter for himself is because he promised "the girls."  Mentally, he seeks shelter in imagining his friends pulling together and doing what they can to enjoy their day.

Part One ends with a direct reference to the previous story: the underwhelming (I felt) "Be Thou My Vision."  That story didn't pan out like I wanted.  However, its final scenes were the spring board I needed for this story.  So we have JenniAnn being told that Shelby had a nightmare and is demanding to see Andrew.  Turns out the lil girl dreamed Andrew was trying to get back to them but couldn't.  JenniAnn consoles Shelby as best she can and sings her Andrew's lullaby ("Tender Shepherd" from Peter Pan) but doesn't soak in the solace herself.  Shelby's worries bring to mind Myrna's vision in that prior story:
"Every so often... I see something real.  Something that will happen... He looked unwell.  Unkept.  Hurt.  He called for his father but..." 

And with that Part One ends with Andrew somewhere in the city, away from his friends.  And a fear is building that he won't be left unscathed.  So that scene's pretty much one of the most chilling things I ever wrote for JABB!


November 24th- Part Two begins with an alarm going off at the Phoenix.  Maggie has run away.  I like how the Dyelanders and their friends all band together.  They work perfectly together, really.  Rose and Cira call the police, then Rose and Josephine call Adam and Mick, JenniAnn sees to the children, Catherine and Vincent go searching, etc.  The scene makes me nostalgic for the unrattled-ness of my childhood.  Shelby just thinks that Maggie's going to find Andrew and Jacob reassures his godmother.  Sometimes that sorta obliviousness would be really nice...

And in the next scene, Andrew finds a dying Maggie.  The two scenes of her death were heart-wrenching to write.  I did like that Andrew could hear Maggie, even though she couldn't speak.  I knew I wanted him with her for at least a few moments before she died.  One reason I really love the AOD idea is something I thought of while writing "Dark Night of the Soul."  They give people a last moment of love and beauty on Earth.  True, they find it more fully in Heaven.  But Earth is where we have lived, we have deep ties to it, and it's important to me to believe that no one dies without one last glimpse of something lovely on Earth.  So I wanted Maggie to have that.  Nothing will ever make the cruelty she experienced okay.  But after that, she spent her last moments in Andrew's arms, hearing him speak words of love.  I'd like to believe she had some happiness in that as she died.

Vincent is not going to have a very good day.  The first sign of that comes when he find Andrew cradling Maggie's body.  Vincent, himself an expert at self-recrimination, tries to convince Andrew that Maggie's death is not the result of a failure on his part.  But Andrew's not ready to hear it.  He blames himself very much.  I think it's very Andrew-like that he sends his friends his love but won't see them.  Andrew, unfortunately, does what Andrew often does when steeped in self-blame or grief... he goes off alone.  At points I wondered if I had Andrew acting too, well, anti-Andrew.  Would he really blame himself that much?  I think it depends on what part of Andrew is doing the driving for lack of a better phrase.  This Andrew is sleep-deprived, starving, dehydrated, and distraught.  He's not thinking straight because all of that prevents him from it.  So I'm gonna guess that Andrew's reasoning skills have taken a back seat to his emotions which are now fully in control.  Who among us hasn't felt unhinged and even down on ourselves when unwell or exhausted?  And the fact is...  Maggie did leave to find *him.*  A more reasonable Andrew might realize that it's not as if he asked that of her.  It was her will to run away.  He'd still feel badly about it but probly not beat himself up.  But reasonable Andrew had been eclipsed.

And with that we're back to the investigative team.  Joe is breaking down and I found that and Adam's words to him about the laws poignant.  But, for me, this is Mick's scene.  He reveals what I think are the three big truths about Andrew.  Essentially two years' of Mick's scrutiny gets hashed out in a paragraph.  It was interesting to me to take a moment to examine Andrew from his POV, not a Dyelanders'.  It's not steeped in glowing adoration but Mick's just thinking it like it is.  I think I needed to give those words to Mick because from another it might have seemed suspect.  Of course one of the Dyelanders is going to be in awe of Andrew's dedication and compassion.  They love him, at least one is in love with him.  Mick is not enchanted by or somehow pulled to Andrew.  He's a friend but that's it.  So I wanted this big statement about Andrew to come from a character no one would expect hyperbole or dewy-eyed praise from.

I'm not sure but I think the scene of Andrew running and being spotted by Lin may be the shortest scene I've ever written.

And now we come to the big Vincent and LJA scene...  This, as I said above, was either the first or more likely the second scene I wrote.  So it's strange that I considered cutting it for a time.  The story grew so long and I was looking for non-Andrew scenes to cut.  Thankfully, I suppressed that urge.  Like I told someone who gave feedback, to me this scene is a lot about Father.  It always bugged me that so many
BatB fans seemed angered by him.  True, he wasn't a perfect parent but who is?  Can they guarantee they could have raised Vincent better?  I doubt it.  So here we have Vincent morphing into Father.  At long last, he knows what it feels like to look into the eyes of a child he loves, see so plainly the love they feel for another, and know that left unchecked that love will destroy the child... and he may have to stand by helplessly. 

So Vincent growls.  Very, very seldom do I have him growl.  But this was a good time to do it!  Plus, it was another of those "Yes!  This is
BatB!" moments for me.  It may seem harsh but I think Vincent was desperate and worried.  Not only for Psyche/LJA but also for Andrew.  Only hours before Vincent had left one messed up AOD mourning a woman who loved him.  Now here's LJA planning to run around the same streets where Maggie lost her life, justifying it by declaring her love for Andrew.  How would Andrew react if she was killed?  Vincent knows.  It would wound Andrew deeply.  A whole lot more deeply than that cut she was fussing over days earlier.

And then there's Vincent's own love for her and the love others feel.  I sympathize with LJA here.  I think she's snapped.  But she's just downright hurtful towards Vincent.  Just as I think it must have pained Father to know Vincent would risk the life they shared for Catherine.  LJA is basically demoting everyone below  Andrew.  How can that not hurt?  And maybe Vincent could have even handled that if not for the fact that he's come to realize that LJA doesn't even fully understand who she's in love with. 

This was something that had begun to dawn on me about LJA for a while.  I don't doubt that she loves Andrew.  And I know she believes with all her heart that he loves her and all their friends.  But she's a child of a culture that has more or less deified romantic love.  So because she bears a form of romantic love for Andrew (what the particular form is doesn't get hashed out til two stories later), I think she very much believes she loves him more than he loves her.  No one has ever called her on the double-standard until this moment.  She's rendered speechless.  And I think part of that is simply having her soul laid bare by Vincent.  But I think another part of it is her starting to realize that if Andrew does love her and them as much as they love him... they now share the responsibility that previously they've attributed mostly to him.  But more on that in a commentary for a later story!

Finally, Father (who was the driving force between so much of this scene for me) actually enters.  He initially sees just a physical resemblance between Psyche and younger Vincent.  But then he expresses the emotional connection, too, and how those bygone days made him feel.  He comforts his son.  Thus, with a fatherly kiss, I was able to get closer on my "poor Father" issues.

Psalm 27 resurfaces, this time led by Owen with many of the Dyelanders and related gathered around.  I try to incorporate prayer whenever I can because I worry sometimes that I'll get so sucked into the drama between personalities that I won't give enough focus to the One who created them all.

November 25th- Vincent is seeing things.  When I wrote it, I did so in a way that I thought would make people think Vincent was externalizing his younger self who he felt he'd denied in denying LJA.  But the truth is... I kinda like to think it was his birth father, Lor, watching over him at such a difficult time.  But people can make whatever they want of it.  Either way, I think Vincent experiences it as his younger self disapproving.  Yes, Vincent's become a responsible father but his rash, passionate self still lives inside of him.  And I just can't let this pass without saying...  I don't have to deal with CBS' 1980s censors.  Ra ra ra!  Bring on the affectionate, loving Catherine and Vincent sharing a bed.  Believe me, it's a lot less offensive then watching two near strangers rolling around yet I'm pretty sure CBS gives us that...  Okay, moving on.

I don't want LJA to be perfect.  And I think sometimes people think I'm expressing my ideals in her.  And I do: *sometimes.*  My ideals are expressed at one point or another by all characters but not one is my complete ideal.  LJA's got some definite negative traits that I dislike strongly.  She's capable of selfishness as seen with Vincent.  And she's also capable of desertion.  So she actually contemplates fleeing Andrew... while sitting in a chapel of all places!  Again, I don't doubt she loves Andrew and is in love with him.  But I don't think that relationship will ever be a truly sound one until she stops needing him to justify her own existence.  God only knows when that'll happen!  Okay... and me.  I know, too.  :-)

Vincent enters and tenderly references Lor and Cora, both of whom I still wish I hadn't killed off but
BatB didn't really give me an option there.  Anyhow...  Vincent agrees to escort JenniAnn Above to see Andrew.  He's reminded of how much Catherine's company meant to him during difficult times and he knows that's not at all a strictly romantic impulse.  It would be as likely to be felt by non-romantic Andrew.  Good realization.

So Rose and JenniAnn meet with our troubled hero.  I really like how both women immediately set to the task of making Andrew more comfortable.  It's another example of the Dyelanders working together without any need of discussion.

The pinch test...  That actually is something I've heard of but I can't vouch for its accuracy.  Apparently, your skin will stay elevated after a pinch when you're dehydrated.  Anyhow, I'm still undecided about whether LJA planned to do that or whether it was a sort of passive-aggressive response to Andrew denying the promise he made them.  Hard to say.

And we find out what Andrew's cut off prayer was...  He regrets the apparent damage and strain he's bringing his loved ones.  He wishes they'd feel less for him.  But he doesn't pray that he'll feel less for them.  That, to me, is really sad.  Andrew would be willing to love as much but be loved less if it meant causing his friends less pain.  Thankfully, they're not about to consent to that arrangement!

LJA tells her story.  I'd wanted, for a long time, to have it be revealed that LJA's connection to Andrew dated back further than she'd let on.  I'd hinted at it through repeated references to her Cupid and Psyche book.  So I was glad to finally get that off my check list.  As for why I used it here, I think I wanted to explain why the girl had gone so overboard.  So imagine waiting for someone for 13 years.  You find them.  At last life seems complete.  And then this awful thing befalls them and you fear something even more awful will soon follow.  What if you lose them?  If you're a solid person, you grieve and struggle but then you begin to heal.  But what if you're not?  LJA has no idea how to be LJA without Andrew. 

Thankfully, Rose sure seems to be a lil more sure of herself so she's able to tell Andrew what he needs to hear.  I'm not sure what gave me this idea, probly assorted conversations with Nicole, but I had it in my head that Rose loves Andrew and hates when bad things befall him.  But, unlike LJA, she doesn't get sucked into those bad things... at least not as much.  So she's able to acknowledge and even agree with Andrew's concerns: yes, he's exposed them to some very troubling things in ways they otherwise wouldn't have been.  However, it's not like they were living in some dream world without knowledge of tragedy.  So rather than focus on the painful aspects of their bond, she assures him that his devotion and compassion override all that.  And they simply can't do without those qualities.  Andrew feels much more at peace when Rose finishes.

Poor Joe.  He's seen so much crap recently that his first impulse is to believe Andrew hurt LJA and that Adam's a maniac.  Once assured neither of those are true, he's still left with the belief that no one trusts him.  "Chandler Jr." has proved as untrusting as her cousin.  But Adam's gonna fix all that so he takes them to the Phoenix.  There Joe first must trust everyone else by sharing Jerry's story.  In doing so, he reveals his intent to resign.  The ripple effect is easy to imagine.  Would another district attorney be as committed?  So to persuade Joe that he is trusted and that resigning isn't necessary... he finally allowed to meet Vincent.  I didn't intend to have this happen until Joe retired.  I thought the conflict of interest would be too great (after all, Vincent has killed people).  But I just couldn't make all this stuff about trust ring true without Catherine, at last, revealing her husband.  It was fun pondering what Joe's initial reaction would be.  In the end I decided Joe referencing Vincent's "swell wife" was the most Joe-like.

In the next scene I explored more of Mick's vampire powers: super good hearing and running at inhuman speeds.  But I think all that was only secondary to a sense of dread: the attackers were nearing Andrew.

In the following brief scene, Andrew prays one of the most unselfish prayers. 
"If there's any way I can help to end this: use me."  And God answers...  Through out the story, I wasn't sure how close Andrew would come to the attackers themselves.  By the time I wrote that I knew.  It was definitely a case of the writer not wanting the character to say something but knowing that the character would...

The story flashes back to the Dyelanders who are now learning that the attackers are near Andrew.  Frantic praying begins.  And then it's back to Andrew.  This was probly one of the most time-consuming scenes for me.  I kept wandering off, running around.  It was very, very hard to write the lines for those boys.  Andrew's much more calm than his author was.  And less vengeful.  This story made me realize how often I need to choose between what I want to have happen versus what a story calls for.  Having someone dare to call *my* Andrew "Trash" or "Piece of..." is anathema to me, personally.  But I'm not naive enough to think someone this hateful wouldn't.  So I wrote it.  And then promptly wanted to delete it.  Actually, I think I did but then retyped it.  And then I had to write about what they did to him.

"Father, forgive them."  That was not an easy line to write/quote.  I'm Christian.  I know in what context those words were originally spoken.  The fact that Andrew said them with his eyes closed upsets me.  The parallel is there.  Yes, I knew Andrew couldn't die.  But I was troubled by how close to it he could come.  So...

Mick became my new favorite person for a moment.  I breathed a sigh of relief, the terrible ones were caught!  Andrew was saved!  And then Adam touches him and realizes he's bleeding.  And then for only the second time in JABB's history... Andrew loses consciousness. 

I felt like I should light a candle for real!  But I left that to Cira.  I kinda glossed over what was happening with the Dyelanders.  I wanted/needed to get back to Andrew.  But I can't imagine what that would be like.  Just milling around, waiting... and not knowing exactly what you're waiting for.  Not news of a death, certainly.  But they all felt fear of *something* happening to him.  I envy the Dyelanders often... but not here.

Joe and Adam in the waiting room.  Adam really gets me in this.  He's so knocked out by what's happened that he's apparently been staring at a women's magazine.  He follows Joe's command to drink, answers his questions.  But this is the most out of sorts I'd ever seen Adam when I visualized this.  I get carried away with the swooniness of some of the Dyelanders often.  It's not too often I really think a great deal about the friendship between the AODs.  As hard as it would be for the girls to lose some part of Andrew, what would it be like for someone who, for all we know, has known Andrew since his birth?  And then to have to relate the events to teary eyed friends?  Poor Adam.

I'm glad the nurse rescued them from further troubling thoughts.  And how about Joe?  Yay for sticking up for the family!

I debated how to write the scene when Andrew comes to.  I even debated what sort of condition he would be in.  At one point I did consider having him be blind temporarily.  I'm glad that plot only lasted a few moments.  The broken arm lacked the same pathos, of course, but I think it served the Christmas story much better.  And that cast made for a good intro into the scene.  As Andrew rouses, he hears his friends discussing what they're going to write.  It's goofy and very them and I needed that right then.  And I needed the sports team joke.  Happy Andrew is coming back, a ghost no more.  And the bear comes back, too.  :-)

Mick's final scene arrives.  After all he's done, I wanted him to have a moment alone with Andrew.  And the vampire utters what I think many of us suspect: Andrew wouldn't have stopped running himself ragged unless he'd been made to. 

"Just... be."  Honestly, sometimes even I'm left cringing about LJA's sappiness.  Actually, I kinda think if you blend LJA and Owen together, then you get me.  I can be sappy with the best of them but there's this other part of me that just wants to greet it all with bemused dismay and sarcasm.

Rose saying one of her favorite noises is Andrew laughing... I agree.

Andrew has a moment with Cira. 
"And it means so much to me to know an angel would come down here and live this life just to help us."  In a nutshell, I think that sums up why I loved TBAA so much and why this character and his like still have such a hold on my imagination.

November 26th-  My favorite moment in this opening scene is Adam dismissing Owen's concerns about turkey which is, of course, TLS.  Ha.

Andrew and Jerry meet... again.  I got such a powerful vision of this grizzled looking man staring up into Andrew's face and the pain just melting away.  I wish I could have expressed that better.

Seriously, you can't have a Thanksgiving without men watching football.  And some girls, too.  Even I, the sports non-fan, know that.  So I wrote it in even though I have zero appreciation for it.  I did like it though cause it was just Andrew being Andrew.  Boyish, excited, and into the game.  And then... the singing angel is revealed.  And I am left forever with an image of Andrew singing Neil Diamond songs. 

LJA got to touch Andrew's face.  Jealous.

Andrew and Adam go in search of Crystal.  I wasn't sure how long to drag the search out for.  I think I might have let it go on longer were I not so tired at this point.  Looking back, I think that's a good thing.  Poor Andrew had been through enough.  So after only one false hope, Crystal is there!  The simple conversation with Crystal, learning that she'd seen him with her parents when they died, and then her at last dispelling what guilt remained in Andrew... It was cathartic for me to write that bit.  And then she releases him, briefly, to Heaven. 

November 27th- Shades of Vincent in LJA again.  I really liked that theme in this story, I guess.  Now she's struggling with violence inside herself.  I think this is another case of LJA expressing something that bugged me about
BatB.  I truly don't think Vincent was any more violent than anyone.  He was simply better equipped to react in a violent way.  If LJA looked like Vincent... I can't guarantee that those boys would have made it to jail.

So beyond a subtle defense of Vincent, this scene brings up what is for me the central problem of Dyeland.  And in a way it's the biggest paradox, too.  Andrew and the other angels are the only true immortals in Dyeland.  Even the vampires just have very long lives but can still die.  And yet...  The angels are the most earth-bound.  LJA knows that in time all the humans and vampires in their family will be gone and in Heaven.  Assumedly, they will remain there forever.  Andrew and Co. will not.  They will return to Earth again and again.  And there will be no Rose with potato soup, no LJA sewing up patchwork clothing, no Yva with a teddy bear.  Andrew can't dispel such a concern.  He certainly tries.  And I do believe that he's renewed each time he goes Home.  And he brings that peace back to Earth with him.  But still... it doesn't change the fact that Andrew will never truly be at rest.  So they just have to trust in God and His love.

The root of LJA's Andrew-might-fade-away fear is revealed.  Andrew promises to never disappear on her.  Andrew is awesome. 

And the hair...  Of course, I thought about how he'd brush his hair after I decided on his arm being broken!  And those Dyelanders sure lucked out...  I was happy to have Andrew being playful and teasing again, too.  A buzz cut.  Right. 

So I played a lot with the idea of home in this story.  And LJA expresses the conclusion I came to: true home is people who love you and who you love.

December 3rd- Shelby trying to do Andrew's tie= adorable.  I love Andrew with kids... in case that's not abundantly clear.

The driver's license...  I debated this part, too.  In a way I think I was trying to explain why Andrew looks older at points in TBAA.  Obviously, that's because Mr. Dye, being mortal, aged.  But when I revisit the years 2000-2003 as LJA, that Andrew (the "real Andrew") looks older.  So I had to explain to myself why that would be.  And my conclusion was angels can seem to age, as people do, when they experience stress.  And Andrew certainly has.  And... I think at this point I was already toying with the "deep cover" idea.  So I wanted to give the Dyelanders, as represented by LJA and Rose, a chance to address what Andrew aging would mean to them.  They assure him that while they mourn what he experienced, he's beautiful to them no matter how he looks.  His personality, spirit, soul make him beautiful.  LJA will later need to remind him of that but in that moment... Andrew believes them.

Symbiont.  I really like this scene.  I needed a laugh.  And I think it really captures the good and bad of how LJA feels about Andrew.  Symbiotic relationships can be healthy... or not.  But, regardless, Andrew and Rose trying to pick JenniAnn's hair out of his sling is all good fun.

So Andrew testifies and I didn't want to show that.  I felt like I'd already taken people to dark enough places.  So he gets to play in the park with kids!  And meet Myrna and her grand-daughter.  As much as I was disappointed in the Halloween story, I did like Myrna.  I wanted to revisit her and give her closure.  And maybe grab some for Andrew, too.  Much, much delayed closure.

In these recent stories, I've done a lot of "voices from beyond the grave."  It reminds me, and I hope readers, that the humans are just as immortal as the angels.  They just have a change to get through first.  So it's Hope, long dead, that gives Andrew the words he needs.  I thought it was especially poignant that her letter is read by Andrew's current human friends.  It's almost like there's a divinely created cord through history binding these women together and to Andrew.  Hope expresses the pain Andrew felt as a homeless man.  But more importantly she tells him, as one who has experienced it, what it's like to face death with him at her side.  It's what she needed then and she holds out to him what he needs in that moment: peace.  And so, encouraged by his friends, Andrew at last goes Home.

December 6th- With the Epilogue, I just wanted to get Andrew
back to Dyeland.  And I knew they'd have a party for him!  Hugged, fed, and comforted; Andrew can sit in his own home, look around, and bask in the love of his friends.  It's almost Heaven.

(Typed out 2-28-10)

Thoughts on JABB 289- "The Past, the Present, the Future"

So the Christmas story picks up 2 weeks after the epilogue of "In the House."  I don't think it's as momentous of a story.  It wasn't supposed to be.  But I do want to say a few things... hopefully in a much shorter space than what I used above!

Lor returns!  I really loved that character.  I created him "from scratch" and it was hard for me to let him die.  So having him back for a moment, even just in a letter, was really good for me.  And it went nicely with the theme I had going in the prior story with Hope reaching out to Andrew via a letter.  I wanted Vincent to have one moment and some words with his father.  So I was happy to be able to give him that.  In one of those strange occurrences, after writing this I found a card from a deceased family member amidst some decorations I had never gone through before.  Surreal.

I had to keep two of my favorite Christmas traditions going: Andrew's letters to God start many of the scenes.  And LJA just has to make some sort of reference to George Bailey to Andrew.  I especially loved this one.  If all goes as planned, that collage she made him will resurface many years down the road...

New Dyeland maxim: Love means going dress-shopping with the crazy chick that's madly in love with you even if it is five days before Christmas and, as a male angel, you have absolutely zero interest in how a woman wears a dress.  Frankly, I just find Andrew adorable in every aspect as relates to JenniAnn's dress: his initially picking one out based on lyrics from The Sound of Music, him keeping her safe from the sales lady, and eventually finding her the perfect dress, miraculously in the right size. 

I love that Adam has a semi-permanent gig as Santa.  I guess that's becoming another tradition.  I just think that would be such a great thing for him.  You know those AODs must see some troubling stuff involving children so giving him that to count on once a year seems like a great idea to me.

LJA can be a very unstable character *but* I do think she gets it right by laying down the line between needing Andrew and wanting Andrew during the scene at Willy's factory.  Andrew needed to realize that his friends wanted them there.  Needing a hand with getting orders ready was beside the point.  They just love the guy!  And he realizes it... maybe more than they initially think he does.  But I'm jumping ahead.

If I ever have kids and they get sad about losing their belief in Santa, I reserve the right to repeat Andrew's lil speech to Mandy at the Phoenix.  I struggled about how to address the issue of a child who no longer believes.  But I ended up pretty happy with what I ended up with.  At a certain age, I don't think you can try to fool them.  So I love the idea of sharing with them about St. Nicholas and his immortal soul.

Yeah... kinda messed myself up with Lor's letter.  It made me both sad-teary and happy-teary.  Sad because here was a hope-filled young man, prime of his life, laying beside the love of his life, and only months later he'd be dead.  But I was also happy-teary.  I've watched Vincent struggle with his origins for years.  I firmly believed that if he could only know that he was created in love and that his parents wanted him and loved him, so much woulda been different for him.  It bothered me as I wrote "Origins" that no matter how I wrote it, Vincent could not meet his father.  So it took me a few months but I finally figured out a way to give them a father/son moment.  Maybe not the one I wanted but it was something.  So... happy Christmas, Vincent!  In another one of those odd twists, the day after I sent this I was given my deceased godmother's journals.  I found a passage she wrote about me when I was born.  It was like my only lil voice from beyond Christmas miracle.

It was important to me that Andrew get back to his cases in this story.  And I wanted to depict him as really happy about it.  Because as difficult and heart-wrenching as they can be, Andrew loves his job.  So I could really imagine his face lighting up at the idea of finally getting back to that.  That he tempers his excitement when his friends are a lil disappointed just shows how great he is!  And they're pretty awesome, too.  They coulda made that good bye really dramatic and weepy but they let him go joyfully.

Again, I really like Owen.  He kinda reminds me of Adam in how he uses humor to cheer JenniAnn when he sees her begin to falter over Andrew's absence.  Which brings me to... the sweater.  I just got to thinking one day about how hard it would be to have all these reminders of Andrew around Dyeland yet often not know where he was or when he'd return.  But then yesterday I was watching The Time Traveler's Wife again and, gotta say, the Dyelanders are pretty darn lucky compared to Claire in that! 

For some reason I really like the idea that Andrew can't play Hopscotch (per Eli).  Who knew?

I have to confess that originally I was going to end the scene of LJA discovering Andrew on her door step with her uttering "You're back."  But I decided that was too weird.  It kinda made it sound like maybe she'd happened upon the Second Coming.  So that got moved to the follow-up scene and I promptly followed it up with some gushiness to limit any apocalyptic overtones.

I really like how Rose reacts to Andrew-as-Jesus.  Hysterical laughter, then a hug, then a demand for explanation.  Sounds like the right order to me!  And I like how later on she's almost like a mini-Tess with Andrew.  She forces him to deal with LJA's parents and stick around.  Go her!

Now a few words about LJA's parents.  First, they aren't based off mine much.  They come from Nebraska, Allison works with children.  The similarities end there. 
They don't even sound like my parents when I read them.  And that's how I wanted it.  So even though they aren't my parents at all, I do feel the need to stick up for them a bit.  They seem harsh and even ungrateful towards Andrew.  True, he's caused their daughter some concern and, yes, made her cry.  But he's also never cheated on her, hit her, verbally abused her, or any of the terrible things that sometimes happen in relationships.  And it goes beyond just what he's NOT done.  He's really good to her.  More than I would be...  In fact, he's endured a lot for her and even from her.  But I think I'd have to be kidding myself if I didn't admit that, were I a parent, this would worry me.  What if LJA decides she wants kids?  What's he gonna do about that?  Diddly.  He can't.  And I could easily see them worrying about a power disparity.  They've not spent much time around LJA and Andrew together.  They might very well assume that since he's soooo much older, an angel, and she's so far gone on him; that he could easily call all the shots.  How would they know that LJA has no problem fighting with him?  That if they have a difference of opinion, she's as likely to come out the winner as he is?  Maybe even more likely (I haven't kept count).  So even while, as someone who very much appreciates Andrew, I'm bothered by their frostiness towards him, I do sympathize with them.  Plus, she is epileptic which Allison brings up.  Stress isn't good for that.  So they do make some good points...  Plus, if I were Allison and my own daughter cried out to "Mama" over her fears for Andrew, I'm not sure I wouldn't have wanted to drive them apart just so I never had to hear my child cry out like that again.

I actually had to ask Nicole if she thought Rose would blurt the phrase "Man up!" to Andrew.  It just popped into mind.  So I'm glad she gave me the okay cause I love that!  Plus, it makes Andrew laugh a lot.  And I like to keep Andrew laughing and smiling whenever possible!

Then it's back to JenniAnn and her parents.  I was really stuck on how to get them back to a happy, pro-Andrew place.  Then one morning I was watching
The Today Show and for some inexplicable reason, they started playing "What's the Buzz?" from JCS.  It solved my writer's block!  Robert and then LJA singing it brought them back to that happy, pro-Andrew place!  So, thank you, music selector person for The Today Show.  Also thanks to Tim Rice for giving LJA lyrics that made her mom see the light!

And the flash forward...  I wanted to write this very badly but wasn't sure if I should.  And I still wish I could have made more of it but I hardly know what my characters' will be up to in the future.  And I didn't want to ask Yvette or Nicole about theirs and ruin the surprise.  So I had to keep things pretty vague.  But I do love the idea of Mick and Beth being married with children and him very much human again.  And I was more moved than I thought I would be by Andrew seeing LJA's children... and her twisting her ring.  However she got the children, it's obvious she's still in love with him.

And now I can reveal the reason Andrew was quickly turning from Avi emerging from the tree and the opening door... the door through which his future self was going to walk.  As is revealed in the Valentine's story, Andrew had begun to consider aging at some point before Christmas.  So... he was hoping to see himself in order to know if he'd made the decision.  But God didn't let him see that.  Andrew needs to make that decision without future knowledge.  As for Avi... there's a reason he's not seen.  And that's all I'm gonna say about that.  :-)

Finally, I just loved the image of Andrew's misshaped snow angel surrounded by those of his friends.  Awww. 

Here's to the future!

(Typed out 2-28-10)

Thoughts on JABB 293- "When You are Real"

So I'm probly not gonna say a whole lot about the interview segments since many were written by other people.  At least the answers were.  But I made some big decisions with this story.  And I'm gonna have to deal with them in the future.  So I wanted to get down *why* I made the decisions I did so I can refer to this later.  And why I thought the characters would make certain decisions.  So I guess in a way this is a note to my future self with random comments thrown in.

So in the first scenes we have the return of Allison Chandler.  I knew I wanted her to reappear but wasn't really sure in what manner.  At one point, I even considered having her waffle back to being anti-Andrew but eh.  Why undo what I did for the Christmas story?  So instead I have this goofy plumbing scenario.  Cause by the end of the story there's plenty of potential for drama and conflict without parental interference being an issue.  In real life, this involved a lot of me running around my house looking at the water apparatuses.  So that was fun.  Anyhow, here I'm reminded of how unlike my actual mother Allison is.  My mom would be far less helpless.  But I needed to get Andrew and LJA back to Nebraska for the graveside scene.

I knew I wanted to bring Eli back.  After he was so central to the last Valentine's story, it seemed wrong to exclude him.  Although... that does remind me that in my earliest brainstorming sessions, I saw his role as entirely different.  I had this idea of opening the story with this little girl walking home.  Some bigger boys approach her and start to taunt her.  She's terrified.  An elderly black man approaches and tells the boys to scram then walks the little girl home, chatting kindly with her as he does.  When they reach her house, she asks him his name and he answers "Eli."  Cut to Lady JenniAnn bolting awake in Willowveil Castle the morning before she and Andrew are set to begin their interviews.  She tries to make sense of the dream... really a recovered memory.  So part of the story was going to be her trying to figure Eli out and wondering what the implication is for Andrew.  I thought the idea was interesting but that it was too leading.  I didn't want people to think from page one on that Andrew might decide to age.  Plus, it woulda sorta taken away from the specialness of Andrew's decision and begged the question as to why this non-suspiciously aging Eli didn't have a bigger part in LJA's life as she grew up.  So I'm glad I opted against it.  I also think beginning the story with Andrew's POV as opposed to LJA's was important.  Anyhow... the graveside scene was actually the first scene to pop into my head.  And, unlike the Eli one described above, I kept it and in a fairly unaltered form. 

The Cheerios!  I don't really know how I latched onto that for Tess' segment.  I guess I just wanted to show her being motherly towards Andrew.  And Cheerios are good... as is trail mix which she later adopts as her preferred fatten-Andrew-up treat.

LJA often isn't a lot like me.  I'm way more reserved.  But some of her dialogue in this story is very much my own philosophy.  I notice it first in the scene between her and Andrew prior to their arrival at Mick's.  I'm sad to say that sometimes, because I don't want a romantic relationship myself, people have accused me of thinking celibacy or asexuality or being single or whatever is superior.  I do NOT rank life styles.  Romance is important to me for the reasons LJA states and more: it makes me feel safe, it gives me hope, it makes life seem more stable, etc..  But, no, I don't feel the need to experience it at this juncture.  Sometimes I do feel bad that the lack of a romantic relationship may limit how well I understand others' romantic woes.  And I really do want to throttle people who believe everyone needs to be in a romantic relationship.  But neither is the same as thinking singlehood is better than marriage. 

I'd really love to play the Dyeland version of "Spin the Bottle"!  It'd be so much fun with a big group of friends!

I totally have LJA's Gustav Klimt dress and love it.  That's so not important but... I do love that dress.  And wore it while writing parts of this.  :-)  Sigh...  But Andrew really gets me in that scene beneath the willow tree.  He's so cute even as he's trying to get past something very troubling he experienced.

And, thanks to this story, we now know that in Dyelandverse Catherine and Vincent consummated their relationship 5 years after they met.  So around April 1989.  When I wrote that I didn't realize that it was only months before Catherine miscarried.  I wish I'd planned that differently cause that makes me sad to think it happened so soon after Vincent finally let himself experience that.  Shoulda thought more.  But, really, no time's a good time for tragedy.

Andrew with kids...  I love him. 

So during the scene of Andrew and JenniAnn in the tree is when I really start pointing to what Andrew's gonna do.  Andrew might have even wanted to tell LJA what he was planning in this scene.  When she tries to assure him that his absence in parts of their lives is necessary and relates it to Mick, he tells her it doesn't have to be that way and she assumes he's speaking about a cure for Mick.  Except, in my mind, he wasn't.  But because she doesn't go for the bait and keeps talking about Mick, he lets the opportunity pass.  It was important to me that at no point did any Dyelander seem to want Andrew to age.  It had to be a decision he made for himself, without their input.

Before I really get into character motivations, I guess I should share what mine were.  On occasion I'll think along the lines of "What if Dyeland were a TV show..."  I've concluded it'd have a massive budget!  In one of those meandering day dreams, I began to think like this: "Ya know, TBAA got away with the actors aging because they all were.  And it was only 9 years.  But how could Dyeland be filmed with some human characters and some angel characters?  It'd be pretty stupid to have the Dyelanders lamenting growing old unlike the angels when it might be very possible the angel actors would age more quickly.  I bet eventually they'd have Andrew go deep cover..."  So it started out with me goofing around and making a decision based on the reality of actors aging.  But the more I thought about my hypothetical solution, the more interesting it seemed.  I've considered it for about 3 or 4 years now and finally decided to go for it.

My character-based thought process on this was that for a long time Andrew's felt badly about his limited involvement in their lives.  I think, perhaps, it's exacerbated in LJA's case and in the cases of anyone who feels as she does for him (I don't honestly know if other Dyelanders are in love with him).  Andrew can't help but think that, in her heart, he's filling the role usually reserved for a boyfriend or husband.  And he can't fill it very well (in his opinion).  Beyond the obvious romantic and sexual aspects, his immortality keeps him from supporting her fully during crises outside their Sibling Cities.  Later, he brings up her grandpa's funeral.  It seems LJA's intention is to only ask Andrew to publicly support her at the absolute, most difficult times.  Because once he's been seen with her, the clock starts ticking on how long they can be seen together before his non-aging draws the curiosity of her extended family.  I imagine that Andrew's had a mental checklist going of all the times he wasn't able to support his friends for that reason. 

So that's how Andrew viewed things from the perspective of what his friends need from him.  But what about himself?  He has his own need of affection and support and he appreciates how fully they can satisfy it.  I think two recent events in his life really brought that home.  The Dyelanders' reactions to his time on the streets really changed Andrew.  He'd always appreciated how they supported him through difficult times.  But I think then, when he was being treated like the lowest of the low by some, knowing they were there for him, knowing they loved him, knowing they'd leave their own comfort zones to be with him as best they could, etc. was a watershed moment for him.  It bound him to them more tightly and after that the idea of being hidden away and kept apart when they most needed him became unbearable.  In the past he may have casually thought "I could be like Kelly..." but probly dismissed it.  However, after that the idea became even more appealing and he began to fervently hope that when the time came the Father would allow it. 

And then he had that vision at Christmas.  He saw his friends aged and at least one had children.  I think any doubts Andrew had about asking the Father to allow his human form to age ended there.  It became a matter not only of being a bit player in his friends' public lives but now he had to consider a whole other generation.  He's going to be an uncle!  And LJA's ring twist made it abundantly clear that however she managed to have children, she's still in love with him.  And Yva and Rose are also anxiously awaiting his arrival in that vision.  Seeing the future just made Andrew even more eager to embrace it fully, even in an altered form.  But he knew that his friends would likely take too much responsibility for his decision.  So he kept quiet and intended to keep quiet until the decision was final.  But he wasn't counting on Mick.

All that being said, I doubted Andrew would take the decision lightly.  He would have some concerns beyond the misplaced responsibility issue.  So that pops up briefly in the interview with Yva and Sir Sven when LJA mentions the "old and ragged" Skin Horse.  Andrew knows (even if he can't feel it) the value of physical attraction.  God only knows how many broken relationships he's seen because one or both parties never developed the depth of feeling that goes beyond the physical.  So he might very well have a concern that LJA and like-minded Dyelanders might not be so attached to an older version of himself.  So that needed to be dealt with and I did... later.

So I like the boat scene following the interview with Sir Sven and Yva.  Partly because I think it makes the interviews have more of a point if someone's discussing them later on and it's not just done and over with.  Beyond the later viewing, Andrew and LJA do actually take stuff away from those and care about what's said.  Plus, it was a chance to speak to what's largely unsaid in previous stories.  Andrew often does seem to have a better grasp on how to be a human than LJA does.  I like irony.  And to me it's ironic that you have this human who's pretty aery and kind of physically inhibited at points.  Meanwhile, Andrew's often depicted as more earthy and more consistently prone to show affection via touch.  (This would be a lot of fun to show via clothing but, alas, this isn't a TV show.)  The gap is starting to close and I think his guidance and example is probly a lot of the reason for that.  And that could feed into Andrew's decision, too.  In some ways, LJA is a very immature 27 (the Tunnels aren't exactly modern which is their charm yet can make a person a lil behind the times) and no doubt will still be at 30, 35, etc.  Andrew tries to assure her that she'll understand humanity better as time goes by but upon later reflection he does seem to at least partly acknowledge that he may be her key to that.  So pulling a disappearing act from her public life would not be a good thing.  And, again, it's not solely for LJA's sake.  I assume that similar or parallel situations are happening with all the Dyelanders.

With all this about Andrew's impact, I don't want to lose sight of the friendships among the Dyelanders.  So I am glad that (by pure chance) I followed the boat scene with LJA, Rose, and Yva talking about concerns for Mick and Beth and the feelings that's left them with.  Cause sometimes a girl needs her female friends!

Another boat scene.  It was fun in this story to play with settings I don't usually (boats, the van, a tree, etc.)  But I think the part of the scene before Willy's interview that most appealed to me is simply LJA chatting away and Andrew getting that distant look.  My biggest complaint about this story is that because Andrew's decision was supposed to be a surprise, I couldn't explain what was going on in his head.  But I thought a lot about it!  So here he's slightly troubled by the idea of LJA aging and getting a lil mentally confused (probly not a terribly tasteful joke for her to make in light of Sophia and Eli) but I think her words more shook him because she seemed to be counting on his still being handsome and "young."  Andrew's not a big fan of disappointing people (massive understatement).  I think his reply that everything would be fine was as much to console himself as her.

Now to the Andrew and Eli in LJA's office scene.  First, I thought Andrew's aborted chai plot was actually kinda significant.  As I wrote it, I wondered how often he does consider taking a bit of control, knowing he could, because of his own concerns for his friends.  Andrew sees so much and you have to wonder how often the Dyelanders' actions unwittingly play on some of his concerns.  Like every so often there'll be a Dyelander lady doing something that's maybe not the safest idea in the world (walking around at night, sneaking around a jail once, etc.)  I wonder how often Andrew's wanted to say "Don't do that!  Don't you know what could happen to you???"  And I'm sure he would if it was a completely stupid idea.  But that he doesn't speak up during other, more regular risks speaks a lot to his respect for both God granted free will and for his friends.  Andrew could easily become very controlling in some of these characters' lives but he completely shuns such possibilities even when they occur to him.

Eli stating the obvious!  Andrew fails to realize sometimes how devoted his friends are and how attuned to his emotions they are.  He thinks Eli must have mentioned something but really the Dyelanders just notice (maybe too much?) when he's confused or concerned.  Andrew, they love you!  And you have a very expressive face.  Just accept it!  :-)  Actually, I think he does accept it.  Maybe just doesn't fully get it.

I want baby turkeys... 

And the Tunnel scene regarding Shelby's valentine...  I think this is a big moment for Andrew.  I think he loves the Tunnel kids a lot and his bond to Shelby is particularly important to him.  I think in realizing he has this kid that wants her in his life, it's the point of no return for Andrew.  If he had any lingering doubts about eventually aging (which he doesn't seem to but supposing he did), I think they disappear here.  Meanwhile, that thought doesn't even occur to LJA who is only concerned that Andrew feels too responsible for them all.  And he does.  But what she fails to realize is how much he wants that responsibility. 

A brief note on Andrew's accent: I was asked if I made up the "nev-ah" thing or heard it on TBAA and... I dunno.  I kinda wanna say he said it in "Beautiful Dreamer" but haven't gotten the chance to review that.  So I may have made it up.  At this point I'm getting a bit confused between TBAA, Dyeland, and stuff I dreamed.  Yikes. 

Now I'm at the part where LJA goes to Mick's apartment with the annulment papers.  She finds out about Andrew going "deep cover."  And I do want to say that's a bit of a misnomer.  On TBAA, that implied taking on human form for years because of an assignment.  So, strictly speaking, Andrew would not be deep cover since his friends aren't his assignments.  But I think they all adopted that terminology from the show and use it only for lack of a better one.  Because what Andrew does is so rare, apparently it's not been named.  Anyhow, I think Mick unfortunately breaks this to LJA in the absolute worst way possible.  Callously informing her she "turned him" played on her deepest fear: somehow wounding or branding Andrew so deeply that something irreversible or at least long-lasting happens.  So I think she does have a bit of a nervous break down or panic attack or something... hence disappearing for a night and apparently wandering the mountains.

And then it's all "poor Andrew" for the next couple scenes as far as I'm concerned!  First, as devastated as LJA was, I'm not sure it really compares to what Andrew must have felt in the brief amount of time he thought she might have gotten turned.  That would be horrible.  And whereas he used "never" to comfort LJA, she pretty much flings it at him in what I have to think is the single most hurtful thing she's ever done to him.  It's a pretty big deal to tell an immortal you'll never forgive him... especially when the alleged unforgivable act is done for you and your friends and for himself who you claim to love.

And now a side note on a lil tic I introduced a few stories ago.  Again, I like irony.  The times LJA gets the closest to Andrew physically are often when she's trying to hide from him emotionally.  This is at least the third or fourth time she's buried her face in either his chest or shoulder to hide her eyes and expressions.  Andrew doesn't miss a beat, though. 

Some of these scenes can be very hard to write when I myself am attached to Andrew.  At times, I've wanted him to fight more with the Dyelanders.  I want him to stand up for himself and tell them when they're being hypocrites or pushing him or something!  They're hurting *my* Andrew!  So here I sooo wanted him to just snap and say something like "Let me get this straight: years ago you started having black outs but you kept that to yourself for weeks and didn't so much as mention them to me until you actually had a diagnosis of a type of seizure???  And you dare to get mad at me for not prematurely telling you about wanting to age?  How is that fair?  And how is it fair that you're gnashing your teeth over my wanting to age... my giving up eternal youth... when you've given up sex, marriage, children, etc. for me?  Do you think you have the monopoly on sacrifice?  You say you love me but you don't even understand me!  If you haven't gotten by now that I love you, too, then I have clearly wasted my time."  But, of course, Andrew wouldn't snap like that.  Cause he's too compassionate and gentlemanly and would rather be struck than strike at someone.  So all I can do is say all that for him here.  :-)  He does gently remind LJA of her own sacrifices and try to draw a parallel but there's nothing cruel or cutting in how he does it.

Now LJA's scene with Eli.  I love that Bible verse.  When I first realized that it was spoken by a woman to her MIL... I was struck.  I think those marriage vows are so beautiful but without any inclination to marry, I never felt like they were really my own or words I could use to express love I feel.  But they are!  Those words apply just as well to families and deep friendships as they do to lovers.  I think Eli does a good job of listing off Andrew's reasons for aging.  Even LJA, with all her worrying and advance planning, never really thought about the kid issue.  The fact that Andrew has I think showcases that despite her declarations and occasional wild displays of love, Andrew's really the one most invested in these relationships and most apt to plan for their survival.

Confession: Upon being told Andrew was just on the other side of the door, I'd originally written LJA as saying simply "I want him."  Obviously, that could be misconstrued and so it morphed into "I want to see him."  Much better!

One day I was just minding my own business and suddenly had this vision of LJA being in a rather sulky mood.  Out of no where, Andrew starts singing Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" really badly and really goofily.  Cheers her right up and makes her laugh!  So I knew that and the trash can drum were the perfect way to resolve their separation.  Yay for random visions!

I liked that God basically arranged the last two interviews.  At points in this story, I really wanted to mimic some of TBAA's miracles.  And I kept remember the glowing letter in "The Word."  So I wanted these heavenly pieces of paper with a message from God.  And the message basically boiled down to: talk about this.  I would imagine real, honest, loving communication would be important to a deity called The Word.

So I couldn't have Andrew go off on JenniAnn for being a hypocrite.  But I wanted to give him something.  I wanted to take at least one concern away from him.  So... enter the birds.  With that metaphor, LJA basically tells Andrew that she's asexual.  This entire time, even when he came to accept her love, I think a part of Andrew still felt like he was holding her back from an important part of human life.  And I can't say that's not understandable.  LJA is a romantic soul.  Many people assume that sexual desires and romantic ones are one and the same.  I actually did for quite some time prior to doing some research.  So it would be very easy for Andrew to get the impression that without him LJA could be very happily settled down with a wonderful, loving husband and 2.5 kids.  But it's actually completely flipped.  With out him, she'd have done one of two things.  She may have entered into relationships (because she's big into pleasing people and wanting to relate to them and most people are sexually oriented and want relationships) and been unfulfilled and thus drifted from one to another which would be morally problematic for her.  If she didn't choose that route, she'd be romantically repressed because she'd quickly realize that one can't behave romantically towards a man and expect it not to move into a sexual relationship so she'd keep her romantic side fully concealed for fear of seeming a tease or ice queen.  So, really, their relationship is the only type that would work for her.  She can swoon over him and dance with him and cling to him, etc. and he's never going to start thinking about marriage, sex, and babies.  Andrew's content with what she's willing to express.  Andrew isn't holding her back at all, he's saving her.  And now he finally know this.

Now they're talking about LJA's Grandpa's funeral.  How this sorta scenario never much occurred to me prior to now is beyond me!  But it makes so much sense!  The Dyelanders would have to be very selective in how they involved Andrew in their non-Dyeland lives.  He really would be something of a lurker.  And that role does NOT suit Andrew.  And he absolutely was not going to let it progress to another generation.

The part about the lil boy Andrew took Home...  When I was writing the end of this story, various events conspired to make me think about the children I used to work with.  Many of them had experienced abuse and neglect.  Sadly, one of them died because of it.  The idea of someone like Andrew being with her comforted me.  At the same time, I've wondered how that scenario would impact an AOD.  Imagine loving children, being unable to have your own, and then having to watch as someone who was granted such a blessing hits and kills that child?  It's enough to drive a lesser person to just give up.  But Andrew is dedicated and compassionate and won't.  He just copes.  And apparently one of the ways he copes these days is being around the Tunnel children and thinking about one day being the adoptive uncle to his friends' children.  Again, I had to temper my own language to make it more "Andrew-like."  In my mind, LJA and Co. have made Andrew accustomed to a particular lifestyle.  They have given him these dreams and experiences and, by golly, they better support him in whatever he feels he needs to do to keep a hold of that.  So LJA and Co. do need to suck it up and cope with whatever issues they may have with his aging.  They owe him that support, in my mind.  But, of course, Andrew doesn't frame it that way.  Instead he simply says he can't lose that life.  He's nicer than me.  :-)  And I do think this has all put him in a very complicated position.  He knows the Dyelanders count on his openness.  But I think they should be lenient in this case.  It would be all too easy for people to develop complexes about "If I do this will it make Andrew age before he's ready???"  So he did the absolute best he could to prevent that... Mick just blew his cover.

I love Andrew's litany of reasons he's willing to age.  He just always struck me as someone who was truly touched by any little thing anyone ever did for him or the smallest compliment they gave him.  Sad to say, at times watching TBAA I couldn't shake the feeling that Andrew was a bit starved for those things.  Now he has them in abundance so, yeah, I can see him making that choice.

It was only in reading this later that I noticed how the end of Andrew's and LJA's scene kind of parallels the following one with Mick and Beth.  I guess that's appropriate.  I introduced the ML characters because I thought they were a good parallel to Andrew and the Dyelanders with the immortal/mortal angst.  But now that parallel is broken so I guess I decided to let it go with a bang.  Both men use music to break through, vows are exchanged, plenty of hand holding, Beth gets a ring as a symbol of Mick's eternal love, Andrew gets a miniature skin horse as a symbol of LJA's.  So I guess I was unconsciously furthering the Ruth 1 theme, too.  Words and actions that are part of our engagement and marriage rituals can also be applied to other relationships in touching ways.  Whatever type, love is simply love and comes from God so resemblance across types is natural.

So I briefly wondered how Andrew would feel about altering the way he looks.  I mean he does seem happy when he receives compliments in TBAA.  And he was definitely aware he was attractive ("Smokescreen").  So how would he feel about those features altering?  And I do think, when the time comes, he might be wistful about his changing looks.  But I decided that mostly his worries in regards to physical changes would hinge on the possible social and emotional changes with his friends (as with the Skin Horse deal described above).  The Dyelanders do compliment him an awful lot on his looks.  And LJA had just gotten done telling him that her attraction to him basically ties her into an aspect of humanity.  And then there was her and Rose's alarm at his stress-induced aging in November.  Andrew, already not in the most self-esteem friendly place then, might have easily interpreted some of that as disappointment and regretted that he wasn't his handsomest at the time.  And in that same time period, they were all very much into his hair to the point of actually grooming it themselves.  I think some worry on his part would be natural and understandable without it being at all about vanity.  But LJA does her best to kill that worry right then and there and I believe that the other Dyelanders would follow suit.  They love him for who he truly is, not how he looks.

And the story ends with a rousing song!  :-)  I would have liked to have gone on to tell how the other Dyelanders' reacted to Andrew's decision but those weren't stories I could tell.  I don't know how they'll react.  But I think this line from Eli says it best: "No matter what happens, remember who the Head of this family is.  He'll get us all through."

(Typed out... forgot to date this.  I think it was sometime in early March?)

"The Butterfly"

So... I'm a cradle Catholic which basically means I've never not been Catholic.  At least not at any point that I remember.  Granted, my family was never very strict.  We went to Mass when we could but not every Sunday.  We've never agreed with all the official teaching.  But Catholicism is important to me.  I was educated largely by Catholics, grew up in a largely Catholic neighborhood, etc.  So when the sexual abuse scandal came to light years ago, I was angry.  But I was also quite young and naive and didn't think much about it.  But when the accusations began surfacing again this past month... I was no longer very young or naive.  For the first time, I considered not being Catholic.  It had *nothing* to do with a change in my faith.  My feelings about God and for God are strong still.   But I reached the breaking point with the Church and the following is what I wrote to cope with it.  It's what you get when you throw Catholic angst, TBAA, Dyeland, and the film and books titled Joshua in the blender that is my mind.

Due to its sensitive nature, I'm password protecting it for members only.

(Typed out 4-5-10)

"The Best Birthday Ever"

Usually I write JABB stories more or less chronologically.  I have general ideas about where the characters will be in, say, 2020.  However, I don't want to write so far in advance in case real life situations necessitate a change.  However, the images for this Mick-centric story came so strongly that I had to write this now.  So I did!

(Typed out 9-10-10)

Thoughts on JABB 313- "Safe"

Since this story involved a lot of me trying to cope with some shattering events from 2010, I didn't want to get too far into 2011 without doing this.  Sometimes it just helps for me to ramble here before I can fully move on from a story.  And "Safe" was one that especially impacted me and thus needs a proper good bye.  So here goes...

Andrew has a nightmare.  The story originally started with Andrew in his temporary abode but I really wanted to set the mood right off.  And a nightmare seemed to do it.  Pretty chilling.  And it kinda shows how, in a way, Andrew has changed.  The Andrew of TBAA never slept let alone dreamed... and certainly never had a nightmare.  But the Andrew of TBAA also hadn't taken a group of humans under his wings.  That alters a person in the way that becoming a parent gives birth to all new worries and concerns.  In typical Andrew fashion, Andrew interprets the dream as a "friends in peril... I must save and comfort them!" dream.  However, LJA gets it right when she realizes that he's really the one in peril. 

So then he wakes up and, thanks to God, calls LJA.  I don't have much to say about that conversation except I really like how they kinda tease each other even as they have this serious conversation.  In the wake of the events of "When You are Real," I just think that things would have to be easier between them.  LJA wouldn't be worried about eventually having to let him go and he wouldn't be as worried about the fact that he's holding her back from some great romance.  (At this point I think his only concern as far as that is the whole her not being able to have kids thing but I think he understands she shouldn't be married.)  So they can be cheerier cause it's all more stable.

I did worry that maybe Andrew really was too old to be making late night phone calls brought on by nightmares.  However... as I write LJA I know she's often told him to call whenever.  And so, really, he was only doing what she'd asked and he legitimately did want to know if everyone was all right.

A flashback nightmare.  It's long bugged me that I never actually wrote a story about what brought on Andrew's "breakdown."  It's just been alluded to a lot.  I didn't have time for a full story now but this flashback hits the major plot points.  Also, I was psyched to be able to finally use those Arnold poems which have long reminded me of Andrew and the Dyelanders and "Excuse" screams Andrew and LJA. 

To some extent, the entire Andrew and LJA story has just been my attempt to reclaim a less-sexualized view of romance (via LJA), passion (via them both... the word, of course, does not always imply sexual desire which is just one of many definitions offered up by Merriam Webster), and behavior between members of the opposite gender.  I love that in older movies the directors and actors often depicted passion and intense emotion without any need to show the two people tearing their clothes off.  Think of the post-telephone call scene between Mary and George in
It's a Wonderful Life.   It's phenomenal.  Obviously, I can't create anything nearly that impressive.  But it's kinda the feeling I was going for when LJA starts crying, sinks against Andrew, he holds her, and then she pulls away.  There just aren't that many scenes in movies or TV shows today wherein you can see something like that and not have to shoo any children out of the TV room.

All that being said, I'm not anti-sex at all.  But those stories are being told.  Even by me (though not explicitly, natch).  Of my Dyeland characters, half are sexually active.  But some balance would be good.  Also... it's kinda my way of combating the shippers.  You can write emotionally intense plots without murdering Andrew's good character and moral being, thank you very much.  He said he's not romantically inclined... depict him otherwise and claim it's still TBAA and you've made him a liar or worse.

I miss Logan...  I always really liked him.  You can have all the vampire fun with him without the angst.  I'm glad I thought to include him here and I can totally see him going into hero worship of Andrew.  So it was cool to have him be able to help his role model.

One of the first things I decided about this story was that I wanted it to be like "We Trust" but with one big exception: God was not going to ask the Dyelanders to accompany Andrew.  The idea had to come from them.  With His blessing, yes, but from their own hearts and minds.  So I really like the scene of the Dyeland women at the Cafe where each and every one decides they want to help Andrew.  Cause it's pretty humbling and encouraging to know that people want to be there for you as opposed to being there for you out of a sense of duty or religious/spiritual obligation.  Andrew deserves to know that feeling.

Andrew's arrival back at his house where he's surprised to find Eli and LJA was actually the first scene I wrote.  Beyond that, nearly everything was written chronologically.  One thing I really liked about that scene is that, for once, LJA's depicted as believing that her love for Andrew is most definitely NOT the central relationship in her life.  It's her and God, as it should be.  She would, if she had to, be obedient to God even if it hurt Andrew.  That being said, I'm sure she hopes it never, ever comes to that.  Andrew, of course, quickly sees that he was wrong to think he knew better than God what she should do.

On a lighter note, I had fun writing Andrew temporarily breaking from his serious concern for LJA's safety to be all gentlemanly and big brotherly and ponder how to go about living with her without creating fodder for gossip.  Cause he knows she goes to pieces over stuff like that.  Of course, he doesn't end up needing to do anything about it.  But it was just amusing to think of Andrew thinking "Okay... there's a girl in my house and she's not leaving and... what the heck am I supposed to do!?!"

In that scene, I also like the part where Andrew is envying LJA's certainty.  Because I think that's an important point to make.  I think LJA's position is enviable.  She loves Andrew and just sees that as reason enough to be with him and support him.  It's easy for her to put herself on the line.  But Andrew's infinitely more mature.  Andrew's seen so much more.  He may very much want to have her and the others near but it's difficult for him to put their lives on the line.  It goes against ever fiber of his being, really.  Andrew isn't used to putting himself first or thinking that anyone else does.  He's much more torn between options and dueling desires.

Here's my one big regret and this is mostly why I'm writing this now.  Hopefully, some day in the future, I can come back and read this and know why I made certain decisions.  But mostly I hope I read this part and complete something I should have and missed.  So here goes: I wish at some point I would have had a part where the idea of something bad happening to a Dyelander was discussed in a more hopeful way.  In this story, everyone just seems to think "What if one of us was murdered?"  But the fact is people survive terrible things all the time.  It would have been nice to have had a discussion in which someone said to Andrew something like "I know it would tear you up to see one of us harmed.  But I just have to know... if we survived it... would you feel any differently about us?  Would you... would you be able to be there for us or would you just... just beat yourself up and stay away?"   Then Andrew could have assured them that, no matter what, he would always love them and certainly never blame them or think less of them.  And that he would do anything and everything he could for them.  So... something to put on the ol' to-do list.  ETA: Okay... I must have been really tired when I wrote the Andrew and LJA dancing scene cause I forgot part of it that pretty well accomplishes the above.  Here's an excerpt from it: "
Laja," he [Andrew] began, "if something... if something had happened to you that made it difficult for you to trust me, but I knew you wanted what we have now... the dancing and the hugs and all of that... I would have been patient.  And I would have taken my cues from you.  Because I still would have loved you.  And I still would have wanted you in my life."  So never mind...  No need to put that on my to-do list.  Good job sleep-deprived me, getting things done.

The laundry argument makes me happy.  Andrew is an archaic gentleman with a devilish sense of humor.  Waggish.  I should use that word more for him in those moods.  His unmade bed amuses me, too.

Another thing that I don't really wish I had done but I wish there had been a way to do is to not have had this be about rape-by-stranger.  Because, in reality, the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.  However, plot-wise, that wouldn't work with this story.  Assumedly, were that the case, after the first victim the ID of the attacker should have been known.  Also, like I said in the intro, the story idea came to mind when my city was freaked out because we had not one but two serial rapists running around.  So while that scenario is not the most common one, it does happen.  So I think it's okay I went that route with this story.  But I think the acquaintance stat is important to remember.

I've watched a lot of
SVU in my day but the scenes that have Andrew and/or Jonah hearing the rape survivors' testimony were really hard to write.  Molly's was difficult but Erica's even more so.  I hope I did them justice.  That was a HUGE difference for me between this and "We Trust."  Dawn wasn't around to speak about what she suffered.  That made it a lot easier to write than this one.

Now that there is a Beth (Turner), I wonder if we could drop having the Dyelanders use simply "Beth" in place of "Lady Beth" when non-Dyelanders are around?  I mean, really, Lady Beth isn't that odd of a name to have.  Especially not these days.  Cause it's kinda confusing having 2 Beths.

Another thing I'd like to explore more in a later story are the parallels between Andrew and Vincent.  If this story hadn't already been so long, I would have liked to have had more scenes with the two of them.  While I like that Vincent confides to Yva about how seeing Andrew struggle has made him regret all the time he resented his unique abilities to protect others, it would have been nice to have the two men talk about that.  I also think it would have been good to have them simply talk about their feelings, as men, when they hear about other men terrorizing women.  But that latter bit seemed so far beyond my experience that I didn't trust myself to write it.

This exchange between LJA and Vincent right before Jonah calls about Erica ended up being so strangely prescient.  I had begun to write this story a while before the sudden and tragic death of someone I worked with.  After she passed and I got back to this, I read these words I'd written only days before:
"Drawing away to try to circumvent the pain may seem like a fine idea but you will never know what miracles you might also foil.  But I know that you would hurt Andrew very much.  Be with him for as long as you can and then... then you must do what, eventually, we all must: move on and trust those you leave behind to God."  This young woman who died was newly married and I was just so heartbroken to think of her new husband.  But reading those words came to mean a lot.  Because they helped me move from a place of "Why did God let him fall in love only to take her away?" to "He had months of bliss and love and those memories will comfort him."  So this story really did help me.

When Tess responds to LJA's angry question about why God is giving Andrew such difficult assignments, I think that may be the first hint in these that Dyeland is a sort of long-term assignment for Andrew.  I haven't quite sussed out the details.  But I think his involvement with the people there is part of God's plan for his advancement as an angel.

It took me an insanely long time to settle on "nearly 200 pound man" as a descriptor for Andrew when LJA's trying to put Erica at ease with the tale of Lulu and Andrew.  I have no sense of weight.  I almost wrote that he was nearly 300 pounds after some guy told me he weighed nearly that.  And that guy looked to have Andrew's build.  I now suspect said guy was pulling my leg or else had metal bones cause otherwise that would mean he and Andrew were severely obese.  (So sayeth the BMI calculator which I wound up having to use.)  I should not take people literally...  Even at "nearly 200," that's probly a bit of an over-statement but since LJA said it, I think it makes sense.  She probly doesn't have a clue and thinks Andrew is really strong and manly so probly reflects that when she guesses at his weight. 
As I said, most of this was written chronologically but the scene between Andrew and Tess after he hears Erica's statement was one of the last additions.  I felt the story needed an Andrew and Tess moment.  Or maybe I just needed it.  At that point Andrew had wanted to retch, ached, etc.  He needed to be held for a while. 

Now I'm at the part where the women are talking about Andrew's sports jacket and boots.  Just want to say... I much prefer writing them bouncing teasing statements off each other as opposed to the emotionally raw conversations from "Where You Go."  Although those are sometimes necessary, of course.  Just less fun.

One thing I liked about TBAA is it promoted the idea of an all-powerful God but didn't state that everything that happens is God's will.  That's something that I find myself disagreeing with some other Christians about.  I believe God is all-powerful.  But He showed His power and His love by giving us free will.  At that point, I believe things began to happen that were allowed by Him, yes, but not willed by Him.  When the young woman I knew died and when another was brutally assaulted, people would say "If it's God's will, she'll pull through..." or "We don't understand God's plan but somehow this is part of it."  I'm sorry but I just can't believe that.  I can't imagine that rape is ever God's will.  I can't imagine it's God's will that a beautiful life be snuffed out due to someone else's carelessness and callous disregard for the well-being of others.  I believe with all my heart that He can take those things and use them for good.  But until I hear it from Him, I will never believe that those things were willed by Him.  So when Jonah is pondering these sorts of questions, I had Andrew say this to him:
"But I do believe He gave people free will and when they misuse it...  God weeps and He holds those who are hurt close to Him.  And His still, small voice assures them that He can turn even tragedy into something beautiful."  That's what I believe and that's what I took from Monica, Andrew, and Tess every week.

I also shared another of Jonah's concerns about a good person suddenly snapping and deeply hurting people.  I wish I could push that fear aside as easily as Andrew does.  I'm just not sure...  You hear about serial killers and rapists who have neighbors that show up on the news saying stuff like "He was friendly.  A family man.  I would never have guessed..."  And that was exactly the case with one of the serial rapists here.  So was the man living a lie and always had this violent temperament?  Or is it possible to snap so entirely?

I also wish I'd had more time for scenes just with the 4 AODs.  Maybe some day I'll write a story simply about them having a lil meeting or something.

The entire Taryn thing was my way of confronting something that can be so difficult for me to accept.  I read stories of people who say they were rescued by angels and I find them so uplifting.  And yet... eventually I wonder about those who aren't rescued.  That's something I don't have any nice statement about.  It's unsolved for me.  But it helped simply to acknowledge it.  And, for the record, I really don't know whether Taryn was rescued by a branch-dropping angel or if it was simply luck.  But the former could be true and the resulting questions rankle a bit.

If I seem a bit annoyed in writing about the two news reporters, there's a reason.  It's not that I don't respect the profession.  But my workplace had just had a rather difficult experience with a reporter.  In the past, I'd also gotten into a bit of a verbal tiff with one so...  I'm a lil jaded.

It's pretty difficult to write a scene in which someone you've crushed on since you were 14 is basically verbally torn to bits.  And yet I can't be angry at Erica.  It's not just that I created her and thus feel tenderly about her.  I regularly get angry at my characters.  But the truth is... I once thought as she did.  It was a previous time, when I was in college, and something bad had happened and for whatever reason I redirected the anger onto Andrew.  So her words there... they weren't too far from my own at the time.  I'd like to think that I would never have spoken so harshly to a real angel like Andrew... but I just don't know.  Pain does terrible things to people.  Now with some distance, though, I wish I could hug him...  And her.

The part where Andrew rests his hand on the frame of the door where LJA, Rose, and Lady Beth are with the dogs reminds me of the part in
The Time Traveller's Wife where you see the imprint of Henry's hand on the window while his older self is inside dying.  Nice parallel there... eek.

I don't even want to admit how many wives I know who sound like LJA when she freaks out about Andrew's mess.  It's disheartening.  Speaking of that scene, I kinda think Logan's latched onto Andrew and LJA as parental fill-ins.  Which is ironic since Logan's quite likely older than her.  But it makes sense.  He was obviously young when he was turned.  So he may still need a parent or two.  And their relationship probly appeals to him as he's not very adept with romance and the sort of person you can imagine reading a lot about King Arthur and courtly/chaste love.  So it probly was pretty freaky for him to see them fighting.

I think I may have created that entire sequence around this line:
"Worry doesn't necessarily mean you lack the faith in God.  I know that.  Sometimes it just means you've seen so much of how people can misuse His gift of free will."  Because it bugged me to no end when the angels, Andrew especially, automatically equated worry with lack of faith.  You can trust God immensely and still know that bad things happen.  So I wanted Andrew to hear that.  Okay, maybe my real point with that scene was just to bring up how adorably sad Andrew's fortress of clothes and sports equipment was. 

And no story would be complete without my traditional "Andrew is not sleeping with anyone" statement.  Yep.  I had Jonah question Andrew about his love life just so I could get a lil anti-shipper jab in.  I have a feeling professional writers don't do that sorta thing so yay for not being a professional.  But in that scene I also like to think that Andrew's "I'm never alone" not only means that God is with him but also that he trusts that no matter what happens in their lives, his friends will keep a place in their lives for him. 

Now onto the intense discussion in the living room.  For the record, I don't think Andrew would ever disobey the Father and go to the Netherworld.  Especially not with the Dyelanders dependent on him to varying degrees.  However... I am a little concerned that this stems only from his love for God and not any love for himself.  I think if there was some way that he could get sent to the Netherworld without disobeying God but if it meant saving an assignment... he might do it.  So I thought it was good to have his friends speak up and say in their own ways "Absolutely not!"  Because he doesn't deserve that at all.  All that being said, I think there's a lot of truth in what he says about it being hard to see past a moment of pain.  Even the strongest people sometimes do the things they never thought they would when brought so low.  Still... I've no intention of doing an "Andrew in the Netherworld" story.

Tess' story about Andrew "when he was new" gets me. 
Although I still wonder if it's weird that LJA swooned after that story given Andrew could have been 5 at the time for all we knew.  I'll just say he was 32.  :-)  Monica's willingness to learn from the Dyelanders also hits me.  I'm finally getting characters to where I want them!

One part that kinda spilled out is when Tess is telling Monica, Rose, and JenniAnn about how Andrew's love for them and theirs for him made cruelty and neglect even harder for him to fathom.  I would imagine that would be true.  Or should be.  I've never understood child abusers, thank God.  But they become less fathomable after having cared for a child, having them look to me for help, getting a tiny, lil hug, them wrapping their tiny fingers around one of mine, etc.  So I think it's really believable that playing a fatherly/brotherly role for Monica and Rose would make those who hurt children even more foreign and shocking to Andrew.  And with LJA he now knows what it feels like to have a woman put her life and heart in his hands.  So the idea that someone would take a gift like that and throw it away and abuse the giver... yeah, I believe that Andrew would find it even more horrible and unfathomable now.

Andrew has a gun.  That was actually one of my first considerations with this story.  I know Andrew doesn't like the idea of guns in the home ("The Trigger").  So I kinda thought maybe he could leave it at the station.  But that was stupid considering how many times he went from home to a crime scene or the hospital.  So he had to have the gun in the house.  It only comes up once in the story but I could totally imagine each of the Dyelanders acting as LJA did.  Just politely pretending they didn't see him with it.

Speaking of that scene, while I was writing this story we had a discussion on the YG about Andrew dancing to that awful song in "Rock N Roll Dad."  So I wanted to kinda address that quirk of his.  Thus, we have him trying to get JenniAnn to dance with him to the very romantic "Moondance."  I can totally see it happening the way Andrew is...  :-)  Plus, I wanted a light moment before my rant-via-LJA.

At certain points this story was so troubling to write that I kinda developed this black humor.  I started dubbing certain scenes with goofy names even if they were really serious.  So here we have "Two Virgins Talk About Sex" wherein Andrew and JenniAnn talk about sex, seduction, and the messed up culture.  Because the things they talk about there really, really bug me.  Those magazines and such do send terrible messages.  The sad truth was, if Andrew was real and it wasn't widely known he was an angel, I would totally have family members and others trying to talk me into dressing to please him.  I know because it happened with a far lesser guy!  Heck, it happens with hypothetical guys!  I mean, really, sometimes we women are our own worst enemies.  Don't believe me?  Spend some time in a high school lunch room.  Unless things have cleaned up majorly since I graduated... you'll have your proof.

I can go entire stories without really seeing myself in LJA.  But that entire scene... the dialogue's all me.  Maybe not the physicality of it.  But the words are.  When those women were being harmed here, I sometimes found myself not simply horrified by the actual act but the emotional fall-out.  The trust and intimacy issues, the potential loss of something precious and desired.  So when LJA talks about her fears for Erica's future, those were my real ones.  I envy LJA.  I don't think she feels the anger and grief of any of this any less.  But it'd be nice to hash it out while dancing with someone who knows only love.

Ironic moment: LJA is going off about sexism when she recalls a time when Adam was in
The Taming of the Shrew.  Yep...  I don't think I even realized that at the time.  That play's all about changing yourself for a man.  Eeek.

I like the brief Andrew and Vincent scene in the basement.  I think it's good that Vincent helped Andrew to see that he does protect his friends in important ways.  Still, I wish I'd had more time to expand on that.  Some day...

Andrew's poor hands don't fair well in my stories...

As much as I want to make Monica more involved, I have a really difficult time writing for her.  I just never feel like I get her voice right.  So if anyone reads this and has tips... send em my way!

It was important to me that Andrew eventually address Jonah's lack of belief in God in a compassionate way as he does while Jonah is fighting for his life.  This is why I can't believe agnostics and atheists go to Hell just by virtue of being that.  (Not that I ever believed that but this is why I strongly do NOT believe it.)  You never know what our fellow humans have done to destroy the seed of faith in someone.  What Jonah and his mother suffered at the hands of her church would rock the beliefs of most anyone.  I believe with all my heart that a loving God takes that into account.

I wrote in my thoughts on "House" that it contained the shortest scene in a Dyeland story (when Lin sees Andrew).  But I'm pretty sure that honor now goes to this story which has three super quick scenes at the end of the Oct. 29th part.

The nice part of giving Andrew two assignments in this is I could have the best of both worlds.  With Jonah, there's a sorta goofy, giddy reaction to Andrew's revelation.  With Erica, it's much more serious and emotional.  I like both modes so it would have been difficult to have only been able to use one.

Thomas giving his dad Andrew's badge makes me tear up.

Sometimes I actually feel like Claire in
The Time Traveller's Wife.  There are now multiple versions of Andrew in Dyeland and I love them all...  Pretty sure older, slightly graying Andrew would be crazy attractive.  And I want to hear the story Erica did!

Also get choked up at Erica singing Andrew's lullaby to his namesake.  And then Andrew visiting him...  It felt good to end the story on a nice, innocent, cuddly note after all the places I'd gone with it.

(Typed  out 1-3-11)

"On This Side"

John Dye, by bringing Andrew to life, helped me so much during the difficult, heart-breaking times in my life.  He'd helped me grieve after the deaths of several loved ones.  I felt lost and deeply confused after his own death.  I didn't know how to grieve him.  And then I realized that I still needed the angel he brought to life to help me.  So I wrote this about how Andrew helped the Dyelanders grieve and begin to heal after the loss of the man whose work and life meant so much to them all.  It's password protected for members' only because while it's about our fictional counterparts, some of their words and feelings are totally our own and so I don't feel comfortable exposing those first few vulnerable days to the world.  But I've found comfort in rereading this so wanted to put it somewhere JABBers could find it.

(Typed out 2-1-11)

Thoughts on JABB 316- "To Be With You"

Hey, so I... like so many of us... have been all over the place emotionally this past month.  Tonight I find myself feeling like I've taken a big step back.  I'm not sure why.  The weather, which was sposed to be nice, turned out to be warmer but incredibly gloomy.  So maybe that's the problem.  Or maybe it's the fact that my work place has dubbed this Heart Health Awareness week so every morning I get a cheery lil email warning me about how many folks die of heart attacks.  It's a lil hard to heal when it feels like someone keeps tearing the scab off.  What this all amounts to is me spending the last hour of work trying not to cry. 

So I don't know if this is a good idea or an absolutely terrible one but I'm adding JABB 316 to this and the Encyclopedia tonight.  Or at least I'm starting it.  I may need to wait til the weekend to finish.  We'll see.  Here goes...

I just want to say that I'd like to thank God or the angel of inspiration or whomever the heck puts ideas in people's heads.  Because I am so grateful that something compelled me to resolve the Monica and Andrew broken friendship debacle when I did.  Because right now I need a happy Andrew.  And that's what I have.  It's pretty spectacular when you consider I'm an angst queen so would have been prone to drag that "Monica is ignoring Andrew" plot out for a good, long time.  But over the summer I just felt like I shouldn't do that, that they needed to be good friends again.  And they are.  So no mopey Andrew.  Andrew entered January feeling very strong and optimistic and loved. 

Awww.  Andrew-in-the-Box.  That started as some random joke between Nicole and me.  I can't even remember the origins.  Just some comment was made about Andrew jumping out of a box or something.  I love that scene.  Goofy, rakish Andrew makes me happy.  And I also like that LJA and Rose have no sense of propriety with Andrew.  They tease him without mercy.

I seem to write a lot of group hugs of late...  Yay, group hugs! 

"A gentleman never puts a lady in a box."  ::giggle::  I should start making a list of "Things You Never Thought Andrew Would Say."

And then there are the quotes that kind of cut now.  From LJA to Andrew:
"You're immortal, yes, but invincible... no."   I remembered that one.  I'm worried I'll run into something I forgot.

I love Adam.  I've kinda been relying on him a lot to shake me out of the doldrums when writing.  A lil of him can really bring a scene back from complete melancholy.  Of course, here he's just fun what with scoring Andrew's dismount and all.  Also, I like that we've kept his Santa gig going.

"My barren tundra is your barren tundra."  :-)  Another for the list.  That's future Andrew to future C.J.  And, yes, for the record I'm saying these are pretty much actual visions of the future these people are having, but with slight tweaks.

The scene of Henry glimpsing Andrew and Co. hanging the ornaments representing their dearly departed gets me.  Cause I realize that next time they'll be hanging another one...  Christmas can be so hard.  One of my own trees is filled with TBAA ornaments and ornaments related to JABB and I know putting that up will be difficult.  And then I think about Mr. Dye's family and how different and sad Christmas 2011 will be for them.  Sometimes this all still seems like a nightmare.

"Thank God he lives and lives forever."  That's LJA quoting "Yes, Virginia..." about Andrew.  In a way, that quote hurts now.  But in another way, it helps.  Because I am so thankful to God that Mr. Dye lived.  And I am grateful that he now lives forever in Heaven... even if that's pretty hard for the rest of us right now.  I thought of that quote the day I found out, January 11th.

And I feel like I need to say a few words about Andrew aging.  It was a plot line I decided on a long time ago, long before I brought it up.  It just seemed like the only thing that made sense.  I mean if he was going to have these human friends well into the future... how were they going to explain his unchanging appearance to outsiders?  Plus, it seemed like the sort of caring, unselfish thing Andrew would do.  But I had another reason.  I know this will likely sound crazy but in my heart I was sending some sort of message out into the universe to Mr. Dye.  I just wanted him to know that even if he didn't resurface til he was, say, 66 and had gray hair or no hair, we'd still be watching and enjoying his work!  Now, of course, that message is pointless.  There will be no future movies or TV shows.  I'm tempted to just forget the whole trajectory but I know I can't.  Andrew has made this promise and he wouldn't go back on it.  And I really can't imagine JD being thrilled with me turning a character he so lovingly created into a liar.  So... Andrew will age.  It will be painful to write and maybe to read.  Because I think that Andrew will always remind us of what might have been.  But I think that's a less painful way to go than having this beloved character betray his friends. 

And that's where I'm going to have to leave this for tonight, Feb. 16th.

Okay, so now it's the 19th.  It's Saturday which automatically makes things better!  So here we go starting with the scenes post-LJA's vision.

I really like the idea of Vincent and Catherine being LJA's kids' second set of grandparents.  I suppose cause sometimes I'm sad that I didn't give them more descendants.  There are elements of Dyeland that I plotted out carefully and others that were thrown together.  Sadly, Vincent's and Catherine's storylines were largely thrown together.  Ah well.  Jacob's a good boy.  And I like the idea of him becoming an artist.  And the Wellses would be perfect parents to foster but not exploit such talent.

And beautiful Andrew with the video camera...  We've just been talking on the YG about how happy Andrew seemed when he was behind a camera.  Lovely, lovely angel.  I think this vision of Vincent's may have been one of the last ones I wrote.  And I think I almost didn't do it cause I was so tired and stressed.  But now I'm really glad I did.  Andrew says this to Jacob and now it hits me as being about JD:
"[A]rtists... well, they can be a lot like angels.  Bringing much-needed messages and inspiration."  That he definitely did.

In Rose's vision, Andrew is 47 and Rose refuses to accept that as being old...  Sometimes I still just really can't believe that JD will never be old. 

"I don't know what Christmas Future will bring," the angel of death added.  "But I know they're all in God's hands."  That's much better.

So when it came to writing Andrew's vision of his ideal future, I was at a loss.  For me, the biggest element of his future is that he'll begin to age.  But there wasn't anything particularly new in that.  I have some other ideas but am not ready to reveal them.  So I wound up making Andrew's vision an accumulation of all of his friends'.  Because I can imagine that Andrew has, at various times, had the hopes and dreams talk with each of them.  And since he's such a good, loving friend; their hopes and dreams would become his own.  And I can imagine Andrew focusing more on them than himself. 

When the effects of his decision to age alongside his human friends had first become apparent, Andrew had joked to her that one day it would seem silly for her to call him, as his boyish looks faded, "Angel Boy."  Tess had adamantly shook her head, pulled him into one of those immense hugs he so loved, and assured him "You'll always be my Angel Boy, Andrew."  And he knew it was true.

That makes me cry now.

One thing that strikes me about this whole story is how, in some ways, it seems so final.  It's not, of course.  I've written stories since.  But there's definitely a sense of closure to it.  And a sense that, no matter what happens, you eventually come to a good place.  I firmly believe God sometimes nudges us to do things that, later on, we will need to have done.  I feel like this story is an example of that.  While there are parts that make me sad, mostly I am glad I wrote it.  Because it's a story of how Andrew touched so many lives and, by extension, how many lives Mr. Dye touched.

LJA's appropriation of the Dickens quote is a classic example of me doing my secret messaging...  I hope he has the message now.

And so the story ends with the "ragtag family" together.  And surrounded by love.  May is always be so.

Author's Cut Part 1
Author's Cut Part 2
Author's Cut Part 3
Author's Cut Part 4
Author's Cut Part 6
 Author's Cut Part 7
"The Carpenter's Stories"

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(Photo Credits: The photograph used on this page is from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  It is not being used to seek profit.)