July 8, 2010

The Unlikely Bonfire

The world is such a wonderful, weird place. Ditto that, for the internet.  Without this old world, and the still-new internet, I would not have found myself at Ocean Beach two weeks ago, with someone I'd assumed I would never meet. 

The person I got to meet was sweet Jenn Mattern, of the blog Breed 'Em and Weep.  I've been reading Jenn for oh, around three years now, when I found her blog. I started reading her because at that time, she was writing a lot about the ghosts in her old house. Which I found both fun and creepy, and reading her late at night would sometimes give me the willies.  (I'm a big fan of the concept of ghosts and the paranormal from way, way back. Remember "In Search Of.." narrated by Leonard Nimoy? Like, almost the best. show. ever. Right up there with Emergency! And, as if right on genetic cue, the Monkey Girl is suddenly fascinated with ghosts and aliens and "weird stuff" too.) 

I digress. Anyway: I had just assumed I'd never meet Jenn, that she'd only ever exist for me as a voice out there in Blogland, because Jenn is from way back yonder over in Massachusets, and I'm way over here in Southern California.  Also, when Jenn writes about the places she imagines herself, it's clear that she fancies some cold, remote, windswept kind of life.  Iceland and Newfoundland? She's so there. 

However, thanks to the vagaries of life and the wonders of the internet, Jenn had the opportunity to spend her 40th birthday not in Iceland, as she'd long planned, but in a rather stunning turn of events, right down south in sunny, ever-pleasant San  Diego. Even more of stunner, she celebrated her actual birthday with a hot-air balloon tour right here in the wine country region of my own little 'burb. You can see her, here. Doesn't she look all happy and glowy? 

Suffice it to say, Jenn has had a bit of a rough time lately, lately being the last couple of years: divorce, dying pets, mental illness and mean commenters, to name just a few.  Much of her deepest and darkest emotions have been bravely and beautifully written about on her blog, and I admit that sometimes, during her most challenging, darkest days, I would click on her link and wince a little, afraid for her and her smart young girls, dreading some awful note from her mother, or some new twist of the knife dealt by the Fates.

So when Jenn sent out an open invitation for anyone in the San Diego area to join her at a celebratory Birthday Bonfire at Ocean Beach, I was quick to say: I'm so there!

And here we are:
How typical: West Coast in bright pink, East Coast in black.

There were s'mores, and contraband champagne drunk from the back of a car. There was much talk, talk, talking, and delight (on my part) to see Jenn in person, to see how lively and animated she is, and also, how very, very awed she was on this evening:  by the Pacific, by the concept of "the West," specifically SoCal, and  mostly so awed at the magical hands of fate, and our own industrious, creative hands out here on the interwebs, that made the whole night happen at all.  

Thank you, interwebs! And thanks to my friend Becky who was quick to agree to accompany me on an evening bonfire meet-up with a whole passle of strangers. Thanks to Jenn, and Ed, and all the other bloggers and friends who were gathered 'round the fire on that evening. 
I'm heading out myself for a while here. Back later in the month, with tales of summer adventures to share. 


  1. Oh! You are an angel. This is so lovely, this post. Takes me right back to that night. Thank you, sweet K. It was glorious to spend that evening with you and ZenMaster B. Wish SO much we were neighbors, all the time. LOVE!

    P.S. The black-East Coast / pink-West Coast pic is PRICELESS.

  2. Thank you again, Jenn. I don't remember if you had a camera that night, but if you want bigger versions of the bonfire shots, let me know & I'll forward them on.

  3. Kelly, it's so nice to know that Jenn had some great people to celebrate her birthday with. Thanks for sharing the photos--Jenn is an amazing lady and it's so nice to see her reclaiming her life!

  4. Just tell them my butt doesn't really stick out like that. A BAD FOLD. A BAD LUMP IN THE FLEECE. WARDROBE MALFUNCTION.

    "It's nice to see Jenn reclaiming her butt like that."

  5. *this* is awesome. so sad i couldn't make it, but so overjoyed to see some pics/read some words. hooray jenn! hooray birthdays!

  6. Oh Kelly, this is a perfect tribute to a perfect night. I'm so "stoked" (J will dig that) to have met such wonderful folks as you and "Zenmaster B" and the other bloggers I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. It was absolutely my pleasure to have a part in this wonderful event of worlds colliding for J's fabulous birthday. Thank you for your beautiful words...and don't be a stranger, neighbor. ;)


  7. I got to meet Jenn, too, on our coast, the east coast, Cape Cod, to be exact. We actually got together twice. Once before we knew each other, other than through blogging, and once afterwards. I look forward to many more times. Jenn is a special person. as well as a gifted writer. You really captured that in this post. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  8. I just saw your blog & lo & behold...that's my neighborhood!! I just live up the street from that OB spot!!!!

  9. Thanks, Kelly, for inviting me. It was wonderful, as always, to see you (how formal that sounds! Bleah!). And with my spiffy, new nickname I can tell my sisters to stop calling me "Booba," and start calling me "ZenMaster B."


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