Tag Archives: chaperones

speed bump? all you gotta do is jump!

last year i visited 292 of my then 325 facebook friends.   i went to thirteen countries, the four tips of the united states.  i visited a strip club in cincinnati because my facebook friend owned it.  i went hiking in the topanga mountains because a facebook friend persuaded me that the mountain lion warnings were just for show.  i had dinner in a home in calabassas that is in the same gated community that has within it a gated community that britney spears lives in!  i went fishing, golfing, to a casino, to dinner at everything from the chili’s in morgantown, pa to the pizza place in nome whose delivery team uses planes. i wore out the tires on my car and my patience with airlines and the transportation security administration.  two hundred and ninety two out of 325 is 90% and the remaining ten percent were dead, spambots, ignored my invitations, or declined my conditions.

in the albany, new york apartment i was told by a t.s.a. agent that she would put her hands on my ankles and feel me up until she “reached resistance”. like a good catholic girl, i put my knees together. in her own little braille, she was able to establish that i was wearing a tanga panty and that it had been several weeks since i had brazilianized myself.  everybody stopped to watch.  i was chagrined but i think anything a t.s.a. agent is going to do to you in their offer of a “private” room is going to be much worse.


my passport has a lot of stamps and looks like i’m either a terrorist, a drug mule, or  a war criminal who is confused about which countries have extradition policies.  most countries, i got off the plane, paid a customs official some money, got that magic stamp on the passport and went on my way.  the exception was india which required three weeks notice, a money order and an appointment at the consulate.

this coming week was set aside for brazil.  i had managed the visa application.  no problems.  but then my two chaperones had their visas denied.

captain reginald gholston was the 32d facebook friend i visited last year. he also chaperoned me on two facebook trips. i was planning to go to brazil with him and last year’s facebook friend #57 vince peters.  it’s important in meeting any new friends that you have safeguards:  for instance, take a trusted friend, meet in public, and NEVER agree to meet someone in their home or to invite them into yours.  out of the ten percent of facebook friends with whom i didn’t meet, two were gentlemen who would only meet me in my house or theirs.  so i didn’t. but i would have if i could have brought a chaperone.


a week before a scheduled trip, a brazilian visa speed bump.   reggie and vince can’t get visas.  i’ve got one.

my choices:  go it alone, reschedule, go to the next place on the agenda and come back to brazil another time, or cry.  i did the cry thing.

reggie is being deployed to afghanistan next month.  he has been deployed to iraq twice.  i feel like he’s a son–er, younger brother–to me.  i had hoped he would have fun in brazil.

in mexico city, reggie and i met my facebook friend #79 yoshi maeshiro whom i knew because he admires my grandfather fritz leiber, jr.’s science fiction novels. long after i was asleep at the hotel, reggie went out to a samba bar. it was a photo finish getting to the airport for an eight a.m. flight back to the states. reggie was smiling. i wanted him to smile after he had seen brazil!


after the nice, long cry, i remembered what one has to do when there’s a speed bump —

we strike west for los angeles and las vegas.  this is going to be like a combination of three musketeers, driving miss daisie and the hangover. except i don’t want to be the dude who loses a tooth!



obrigada brazil–i will reschedule and be there soon!


the facebook nation travel policy

facebook challenges the notion of a world of nations bound by geographical borders and nationally shared identities.  facebook nation will, by the end of the summer, have a citizenry of over 900 million.  which makes facebook’s census figures just shy of those of china or of the entire african continent.  facebook has a government insofar as SOMEBODY is making the rules.  i figure mark zuckerberg is king and his wife priscilla chan our queen. facebook national travel policy?  you can go anywhere as long as your passport is stamped “like”!

kate and william, by comparison are of a royal family that rules over the united kingdom, population 62 million, and it’s roughly twice the size of the state of new york. happy anniversary wills and kate!

facebook citizens can be separated by oceans or seated side by side at computers (or any reasonably intelligent phone).

i’ve been thinking about national boundaries in the past week.  in 2011, i began a journey that has hopscotched around the world and around my geographic country of america–all to meet my facebook friends, my fellow citizens of a country without borders.  before this journey, this resolution, i had never purchased a plane ticket for myself.  didn’t have a valid passport (only about one third of americans actually have one).  and i had never been out of the country before.  making a commitment to meet every one of my facebook friends in person has changed all that.

for most countries, a visa–a permission to enter the country–is either a fee one pays at the airport or just a wave hello from an official after you stand in line for a while.  other countries are a bit more stringent.  i sweated through several weeks waiting for my visa to india.  and it cost a lot of money.  this week i’m sweating through waiting on three visas to brazil. brazil is feeling a bit bruised because american policy about allowing brazilians into america has become more of a hassle since 9/11.  wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all belonged to the nation of facebook where there are no boundaries?

for the most part, i try to have a chaperone when i am traveling to see a facebook friend i’ve never met before. reggie has twice been my chaperone. without him, i’m sure i’d still be in mexico city at the plaza revolucion eating ice cream and chatting with my facebook friend yoshi maeshiro whom i met on facebook because he is a fan of my grandfather who wrote science fiction novels.


reggie is my chaperone for brazil, as is one other facebook friend vincent peters.  reggie is about to be deployed to afghanistan.  he cannot personally visit a brazilian consulate without going offbase.  so vince is pleading his cause at the brazilian consulate in washington.  meanwhile, i have gotten my shots and filled out my paperwork.  it’s very unnerving to hand over one’s passport to a representative of another country and have them say “we’ll get back to you on this.”  i do what i do because i believe strongly that if we are only interacting on the internet we are not fully engaged.  we are only friends if we can cement that friendship with reality.  we leave for brazil next week.  between now and then i need to learn the words i learn for every country i visit:  hello, goodbye, thank you and friendship!



facebook beijos!


the buyers of my home haven’t received their mortgage approval. therefore, we can’t close on the house. but they had closed on the sale of their condo. they had no place to live unless i agreed to let them move into the house and rent from me until they are approved. they have a really cute baby and two dachshunds. if i find out they rented the trio in order to persuade me i will be quite miffed.

instead of aiming east or south, i returned to winnetka to sign some papers related to the house and to visit the brazilian consulate.  they have my passport.  they have my visa application.  they also have a jacket i was wearing when i visited the first time and i forgot to take it with me because it’s a hundred degrees outside and the midwest thinks it’s a tropical paradise.

i leave for brazil on the eleventh of july and will have two chaperones.  it’s important to set up safeguards when you’re meeting an online friend for the first time.  i never meet a new friend in their home.  i never invite a new friend to mine — well, i guess the car is sort of different!  and i often bring a chaperone. 

the two chaperones are vincent peters and reggie gholston.  vince and reggie were classmates at west point.  vince is now a government contractor.  reggie is in active service and is being deployed later this summer to afghanistan.  he has served twice in iraq.  watch out brazil–these two are quite handsome!

and as my facebook friends from brazil say, beijos!  (kisses!)

the facebook friendship danger

“aren’t you scared of meeting your facebook friends?”

i have heard that question so often that i sometimes don’t give it the attention it deserves.  certainly, meeting a facebook friend whom you’ve known for years poses few dangers.  meeting a facebook friend who is a relative even fewer (except for possible crying jags).   the gal you sang in the church choir with but moved to st. louis?  please!  but what about facebook friends you’ve never actually physically met?

kathryn barnes went to wales to meet some new facebook friends and she was last seen at swansea's high street train station on january 4. while all her contact information has been stripped from her account, facebook of course would still have it. her mother is frantic. if i were her mother, i'd be frantic too!


the short answer to the question of whether i’m afraid is no.  the reason is that every time i meet a new facebook friend, i bring a chaperone.  during the past year, i have never taken a trip without someone there.  preferably someone who knows how to drive at night (i’m not great at it) and can carry my bags if necessary.  having the initials joseph leiber presser certainly helps as well–and my son is a wonderful chaperone and once shooed off a facebook gentleman friend who entirely misinterpreted the nature of my new years resolution.  it was “arlynn meets all of her facebook friends” not “arlynn does all of her facebook friends”. . . the chaperone who took me to mexico city was a captain in the u.s. army, twenty six years old, nothing romantic going on but he was determined i would make it there and back.  the first thing he did when we got there is something i think all american travelers should consider–he walked me from the hotel to the american embassy, making me memorize the landmarks along the way and everywhere we went in mexico city, he referenced where we were in relation to the embassy.  it seemed paranoid but really, he knew that if we ever got separated or if something disastrous happened, i was heading straight to the embassy and asking for a cheeseburger and an american flag thermal fleece blanket!

having a chaperone usually doesn’t cause a problem.  we all understand the world is a place that contains a few crazies.  sometimes i think my facebook friends have come to like my chaperones.

blaise pascal was a mathematician and philosopher. he'd probably wager that having a chaperone is unnecessary but that the horrors of the damage created by the one time i would need a chaperone are so great that i was wise to just use one every time. he had some stuff about atheism, God and hell along the same lines.


i have had facebook friends who are within such a geographical distance that i have made exceptions.  for those facebook friends, the rule has to be public place.  must meet in a public place.  and in those circumstances, i always let someone know where i was going and with whom and for how long.

caribou coffee is the second largest retail distributor of coffee in america (guess the first and you'll win a prize). coffee shops were created for the purpose of meeting people. use them!


there were a few facebook friends from the previous year who insisted on the absolute forbidden:  meeting alone at one or the other’s house.  these friends are part of that ten percent i never saw.  they wouldn’t back down on those “i’ll bring a bottle of something special over to your house tonight” terms.  one gentleman friend whom i have never met was driving to my house because i had made that exception . . . but i had not one but two chaperones with me. . . i explained my two friends would join us.  and i later got a text saying my facebook friend’s cousin had been jailed for speeding and my friend was called away.  how inexplicable but average.

i’m sure that kathryn barnes is all right.  her facebook friends have been cooperating with police.  she might just have had a tiff with her mother and wanted some time off.  she might have wanted to create an entirely new life for herself.  she might not even know that anybody is worried about her.  or there may be something totally off.  totally wrong.  totally nancy grace.  oddly, facebook now reports that all of its users are now within four degrees of separation from each other.  which means if you have a facebook account, you know someone who knows someone who is kathryn’s friend.   which makes me wonder if there was a facebook friend she had recently added, someone who isn’t part of the storyline.  this puzzle could be solved.

kevin bacon has been in so many diverse movies that a game was devised called "six degrees of separation" in which kevin could be linked to any hollywood star through his movie roles. facebook allows you to be kevin bacon but even more closely connected.

so am i afraid to meet facebook friends?  well, not on a physical danger level.  i’m more just anxious.  that’s part of who i am.  one day i will learn to own the entire anxiety piece of me.  in the meantime, i have had a wonderful year of meeting facebook friends and this year’s new years resolution is to meet twelve facebook friends who want me to make a difference for them.  i have two lined up for late january early february.  i have a friend in  st. louis who is going to get out of the “safe” zone for a cardinals game.  i have to take what i was given last year–which was a lot of time, friendship, frequent flyer miles, homemade dinners, a garmin gps system, a william clark doll to remind me that i’m an explorer, a portrait, a courage bracelet,  and a whole lot of chaperoning. . . and i have to give that back to others.  without any fear.


p.s. if you have any information on kathryn, please call the swansea police at 0110 01792 654 844 she’s a beautiful gal and she needs to be known to be safe.


the f2fb shakedown and the second death of my fiance

i have often been asked if i understand that it’s a little dangerous to be doing my new years resolution.  meeting friends, yes, but sometimes i am meeting friends whom i have never actually met before.  i often employ a chaperone, for instance, captain reggie gholston has accompanied me on two different trips and i don’t think i could have survived mexico city without him.  when i go around the world, beginning in october, i will have two chaperones–dennis sears and my son joseph presser.  closer to home, i use murphy quite a bit.  murphy drives me to a public location and we agree upon a return time.  he will call a half hour before the return time.  if  i don’t answer, he knows to show up and find me.  he also knows exactly who i am meeting.  i want to protect myself physically.

yesterday, i was made aware of a second danger with this project.  i made contact with a facebook friend i haven’t seen in over a quarter century.  i indicated i would be traveling to her country and she said i was to bring her a present:  a mac computer. she has recently moved from america to a remote area of a third world country and is working as a teacher at a university.  her mac broke and the university’s computers are sometimes slow.  i worry both about the cost and about transporting it.  i asked murphy about what i should do.

and now i ask you:


in other f2fb news, i have made no secret of my engagement to f2fb friend #60 captain william clark.

william clark is an american explorer who died in 1838. he is best known for the exploration of the expedition of 1803-1806 of the louisiana purchase


lanny jones, a f2fb friend 59, has written a day by day account of clark’s adventures on a facebook profile for clark.  i have made friends with mr. clark, who is exceedingly popular (900 or so friends) and have also become engaged to him. . .

this is a william clark doll that i take everywhere with me! it was a gift from facebook fiance mr. clark


facebook has deactivated mr. clark’s account–a second death–because lanny is unable to provide a real first and last name.  impersonating someone on facebook is strictly prohibited.  this is sad news because i have several friends who aren’t exactly of the material world. . . . . and also sad because if my fiance is deactivated to whom do i return the engagement ring?