This post originally appeared on my old Livejournal on October 5th, 2013. It’s about a woman who had a very direct impact on my life in my early twenties. She passed away in 2012, but she still remains a part of me and many others.
Anna-Lisa aka Just4ALE wrote several stories of her own, including Tunes with Tony Masen. They can be found at this link. I hope this part of her will always live on the internet.
Posted October 5, 2013
One year ago today, the fandom lost Just4ALE. For many, it’s been a year of mourning, tears, and wishing her Twitter account would update with one of her usual snarky tweets, but there’s also the strange joy of knowing she’s still out there watching over us. I KNOW she is. I can feel her sometimes and it motivates me to be a better person – to live my life to the fullest while I can.
Directly after her loss, it was too painful to talk much about her on Twitter, but I feel ready to now. It almost feels important that I do, so that her loss can be remembered. I don’t know if anyone will want to read it, but I wrote this letter about her after she died. It’s a long one, but, really, I could have gone on for several more pages because Just4ALE was such an extraordinary woman. She was an incredibly important and dear friend in my life. She was so generous and beautiful. She gave without ever asking anything in return.
If you’re interested, the letter is below:
My very first memories of Anna-Lisa demonstrate her kindheartedness. I had just graduated from college with a degree in videography and was job-searching. Since I didn’t have school to occupy my time anymore, I spent an absurd amount of it on the internet looking for work (in reality, I was tweeting like a maniac). During this time, I really had no direction. I kind of felt unworthy of any of the positions I was finding online. Recently graduated, limited experience – who was going to want to hire me?
One day I tweeted about needing a better resume. I’m not sure why I felt compelled to tweet that; it’s not like I expected a response or anything. But then suddenly there was this chick, Just4ALE, tweeting me back, offering me her resume-building expertise. I was hesitant to take her up on her offer – what did I know about this lady other than she’d read and liked my fanfiction and started following me on Twitter? But I wasn’t in a position where I could deny any help offered – I really needed a job.
So I took my resume, stripped it of any really personal details that could allow a potential stalker to discover my super secret real life identity (or so I thought) and sent it off to this Just4ALE gal.
One of the first responses from her was, “I liked your video with the prom dresses. Very cute!”
When I read that, I pretty much froze in my chair. HOW had she seen my prom dress commercial? The only place to see that was on my personal website, and I had taken that off my resume. WAS THIS WOMAN A STALKER?
Note: When you have a hyperlink in a Word document, replacing the text in the hyperlink with www.xxx.com does NOT change the original link location. That is the first of many lessons Anna-Lisa taught me during our friendship.
It turns out, Just4ALE wasn’t a stalker, but she was amazing at building resumes. She ended up re-doing not one, but two resumes for me in just a few days. And believe me, I’ve re-read those emails since then and I was little to no help. I’m actually embarrassed on behalf of my younger self that I was such a bumbling, incoherent, unhelpful mess during our first interactions. I’m surprised she ever bothered talking to me again.
But anyway, back to her resumes. These resumes were beautiful. The first time I looked at them, I felt as if I was reading about a highly talented, different person. Only everything she had said on the resumes was the absolute truth and it was about me! She had a knack for phrasing things much more eloquently and professionally then I could ever have imagined. What she said made me feel like a strong, qualified woman. To this day, I still go back and read my resumes if I need a confidence boost. She gave me resumes, and she gave me so much more than that. She gave me the tools and self-assurance to put myself out there on the professional market. And since then, I’ve tried to pay it forward to anyone else who needed help with their resumes. Anna-Lisa helped people she never even realized she helped.
She never asked for anything in return, but I really tried over the years to show how much I appreciated her. We ended up meeting in person and spending time together at Comic Con, and later she came out to visit me in Colorado. We went snowshoeing and visited the vampire town of Ward and watched North and South and had steak with my parents and so much more. Funny fact: I still didn’t know her real life name when she came out to visit me. It’s not that I didn’t have it in my emails, but I was so used to calling her Just4ALE or ALE, that I always forgot it. I tried really hard to cover up the fact that I couldn’t remember her real life name… I always wondered if she figured it out.
The second time she came out to Colorado was a few months before she found out about her cancer diagnosis. It’s still weird to think that while we were sitting across from each other at the Cheesecake Factory, all this stuff was going on inside her body.
The world has been robbed of an incredible life force. I’ve never met a woman so generous in my life – someone so willing to reach out and help a stranger (except, perhaps, 1Lavishone who is equally gracious – I can see why they were so close). Anna-Lisa was a fierce defender of her friends and an incredible writer. She worked hard and was so smart and talented. I really hope I grow into the kind of woman Anna-Lisa was.
Since Anna-Lisa passed away, I’ve really tried to live my life to fullest for her. The day she died I met a dude who just happened to be a fellow fanfiction writer (it was too much of a coincidence not to be Anna-Lisa from above, lol), got my first kiss (which I KNOW she was watching and laughing her butt off at in heaven – it was horrendous), got dumped (GREAT writing experience), started running and being more active physically, and, most importantly, I’ve tried to have a giving spirit.
Even if she’s not here physically anymore, I still feel her around all the time. Maybe it’s just my imagination. But whenever I look above my desk and see the picture of the two of us snowshoeing or stare up to the stars after I accomplish a particularly difficult jog with my dog, I swear I can feel her smiling down at me and saying, “Hey cutie.”
Love her, I always will. (That was my laughable attempt at a Yoda impression.)
*Picture at top: Just4ALE wanted to go snow-shoeing, so we went snow-shoeing, damn it! 😉
Update: August 26, 2020
It is 2:12 AM and I just finished re-reading Tunes with Tony Masen again and it struck me that so much of that story is about how life is too short. Just4ALE passed away like a year and a half after she finished writing it and, if I am remembering the timeline correctly, I don’t believe she knew she had cancer when she was writing it. The whole story is centered around embracing life while we have it. One of the very last sentences in the story is, “Life is too damn short.” It was a reminder I really needed, especially right now when it feels like everything is on hold because of the pandemic. If you have not read Tunes with Tony Masen, I really recommend it. It has lots of mystery, action, and a strong Bella. I feel like I was able to appreciate it on a totally different level this read-through than I have in the past, since I am not as obsessed with the whole “Can we get to the E/B of it all?!” (I was 100% that annoying reviewer a decade ago – sorry!) It has lots of E/B, but I also really appreciated the side relationships they had with the other characters. Now, I must go to bed because it has been a very long time since I stayed up reading fanfic and I have work in the morning.
Tunes with Tony Masen: https://m.fanfiction.net/s/5821478/1/Tunes-with-Tony-Masen
Also, leaving this here because ALE loved this dude. It’s the guy who does a music video called “Where the Hell is Matt” with him dancing all around the world.