Friend Files is a new feature I’ve added to Away With Words, this being just the ninth installment. I will be interviewing a friend of mine and showcasing why they are a friend to me and what I like about them, and also a mini-interview (five questions) that detail what they think of me. It’s a way to acknowledge my friends out there and what they’re up to and also introduce them to my larger group of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might be interested in reading.

Today, I will be talking about Rebecca McKenna. Before I get into what I think of her, here is my mini-interview with Rebecca (exchanged over Facebook) where she jotted down just a few thoughts:




Rebecca McKenna, Writer, Teacher, Knitter.




ME: Give me some details about your life.

REBECCA MCKENNA: I live in Washington County, Maine with my husband, Andy, and two kids (Farrow, 13, Leif, 11).  I work as an English teacher at Machias Memorial High School teaching juniors and seniors and some fine art electives.  I read and write, but I also knit and crochet.  I like puzzles and games, and I enjoy spending time with my chickens.  I garden (when I’m not shoveling snow).


ME: How exactly did we meet?

REBECCA MCKENNA: We were in the same class at Stonecoast.  Neither of us are much for talking, so it was a year before we spoke to each other to say more than, “hello”.  Even now, I would guess we’re two of the more quiet people in our group.


ME: What is one good memory you have involving me?

REBECCA MCKENNA: I liked it when Enza, Shane, Frank, and I brought you and Dorothy from Brunswick back to Portland and we got to see your tiny living space. It was so small that there was no place you could put your stuff except out in the open.  Everything you owned was laid bare.  It made you so vulnerable, but you brought us all inside anyway.  It was like you trusted us with your rawest, most primal secrets.  I loved you for that trust.


ME: Why exactly are we still friends?

REBECCA MCKENNA: Because we’re both too shy to find other friends.  And we like each other (or at least I like you…I hope you like me).  And because you’re a pretty awesome writer.  I like being around smart people and people who get my humor.  You get a check mark in both of those categories.


ME: Anything you want me to plug?

REBECCA MCKENNA: No plugs yet, thanks.  Well, I guess if you wanted, you could plug the map thing.  I like to work with writers (or anyone else who might need maps of places/worlds/etc., like maybe game creators) to create maps of their spaces.  I worked for a surveying company for nine years, and a big part of my work involved drafting.  I still do some for work on occasion.


First of all – before I get into why I think Rebecca is so cool, I am going to plug her really-awesome map drafting skills. A few months ago, a couple friends and I started up a big collaborative writing project. It is a creative sandbox for writers to play around in, set in a post-apocalyptic Vermont. Well, when we created the characters and the setting – we didn’t have too many visuals to go from aside from a couple of reference photos and some characters sketches. “Becky” as we call Rebecca sometimes, stepped in and offered her map-making abilities to come up with the town of Barning, Vermont, which we had created and was not a real town at all. Here is what she came up with in only a short amount of time:

The fictional town of Barning, Vermont - as interpreted by Rebecca McKenna.

The fictional town of Barning, Vermont – as interpreted by Rebecca McKenna.

Not only was she fast with this, but she kept asking our collaborative group questions and taking into account our feedback. If you need a map of a setting in your story or video game or what have you, I would highly recommend her services or advice. She’s spot-on.

Now, as far as my friendship history with Rebecca goes – she is right in the sense that I am usually withdrawn. If you only know me via Facebook or the blog, you may get a different idea as to my personality VS the real-life Joseph Carro. The real me is usually reserved, usually quiet, sometimes nervous. Until you get to know me.

The first time I remember meeting Rebecca officially, for more than a minute or two, was a year into the Stonecoast program – as she said above in her interview. There was an event going on, and she was walking with a group of her friends, probably back to their dorm or something. Well, she had had a beer or two (as I did) and as I was passing by, she introduced herself. I did the same, and we talked for a couple of minutes, both in a sort of socially-enhancing buzz mask. One of our friends (now a mutual friend) eventually dragged her away, but I remembered how easy the smiles came to her face and it stayed with me.

We became Facebook friends soon after that, and then off and on we would chat here and there about things during residency and online. The summer of 2014, July – when we both graduated – is when our friendship finally blossomed in full, at least to me. She had taken the initiative to set up a group house rental with several in our graduating class. I was invited to be a part of that group, since I was close friends with so many of them, and I naturally accepted. The first couple of days at the farmhouse we were renting were full of laughs, celebration, and long talks. I spoke with her about many things, and then when a deer burst from the woods and totaled my car during the residency, she and a couple others took it upon themselves to raise the funds to help me with a new car. I was blown away by her kindness.

That solidified what I had already known – Becky was a very stand-up person, and a very selfless one at that. Being from Washington County – she is used to hardships and because of that, she doesn’t judge anyone. She is ALWAYS quick to sit down and listen, actually listen, to what you have to say and then to offer candid advice that is usually very insightful and backed by a poignant experience. If not, she usually at least just lends an ear and offers her best guess or maybe directs you to someone who WOULD be able to help out. I’ve never experienced Rebecca’s teaching acumen but I can say that just as a person, she is a good teacher. If we could all learn to be as wonderful a person as she, the world would be a better place for it.

On top of her kindness, she also possesses an infallible sense of humor. As I pointed out about her during that summer I first remembered meeting her in full, she is quick to laugh. Humor is something I covet in life, and so naturally I look to surround myself with people who are able to shed their worries at least part of the time and quit being so serious. Becky can be serious with all the rest of us, but she can also smile and appreciate a good joke and not restrain herself or inhibit herself from showing her appreciation of comedy in all its forms. This is why I love having a friend such as Rebecca McKenna and how I know that we’ll be friends for years to come if I have anything to say about it.

And now, I leave you with some photos relevant to Rebecca:


Rebecca with a fellow Stonecoaster, Sophie Nelson.

Rebecca with a fellow Stonecoaster, Sophie Nelson. Photo by Enza Vescera.

This is me in the foreground with Rebecca behind me at our friend Shane's graduation from Stonecoast (he was a semester behind us).

This is me in the foreground with Rebecca behind me at our friend Shane’s graduation from Stonecoast (he was a semester behind us).

I've posted this one before, but this is the group we had during graduation residency at the farmhouse. Rebecca is in the back on the right.

I’ve posted this one before, but this is the group we had during graduation residency at the farmhouse. Rebecca is in the back on the right.

Rebecca enjoying a beer. Photo by Enza Vescera.

Rebecca enjoying a beer. Photo by Enza Vescera.

The ever-smiling Rebecca McKenna.

The ever-smiling Rebecca McKenna. Photo by Enza Vescera.