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Bridezilla Letter a Favorite with ‘Ask Amy’ Georgetown Alumna

Amy Dickinson (C

Popular advice columnist Amy Dickinson established a career in journalism after graduating from Georgetown as an English major. Photo Courtesy of Amy Dickinson.

October 18, 2011 – A note from a “bridezilla” tops the list of letters sent to advice columnist Amy Dickinson (C’81).

“This letter was full of crazy punctuation !!!!!! and ALL CAPS,” writes Dickinson, author of the “Ask Amy” syndicated column. “This bridezilla was definitely out of control because she was certain that various family members would not do exactly as she had demanded they should do on her wedding day.”

Dickinson says she told the writer “if she didn’t simmer down, she would stomp over whole villages breathing her mighty tongues of fire and miss one the most important events of her life.”

The bride later told Dickinson that seeing her letter answered in the paper “completely changed her thinking…”

Life Changing

The road from small town girl to syndicated columnist and NPR commentator began at Georgetown.

An English major, Dickinson arrived in the fall of 1977 from the dairy farm she lived on in tiny Freeville, N.Y.

“I remember the first day I set foot on campus,” Dickinson says. “I knew my life would change, and it did.”

The future columnist said she was “thrust into a world of fellow students who were better educated and better traveled than I was, and I learned a lot about the world from the people I met on campus.”

“I had always loved literature,” says Dickinson, an English major and distant relative of poet Emily Dickinson.

Digging Deeper

At Georgetown, she took a class with the poet and English professor Roland Flint, who passed away from cancer in 2001.

“Professor Flint always seemed to see right through me,” she recalls. “He saw through my sad little tricks as a writer, and I remember being encouraged by him to dig deeper.”

One of her first jobs after graduation was as a lounge singer in a bar on M Street, which strangely enough led to her first job in journalism.

She found a job at NBC through regulars at the bar. Later, she became a booker at NPR, and then worked her way up to producing short pieces. She has since produced more than 200 commentaries for NPR’s All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. And she’s a regular on the public station’s show Wait Wait …Don’t Tell Me.

A Mighty Queen

The Georgetown graduate took over the advice role for the Chicago Tribune in 2003 after the death of longtime columnist Ann Landers. Her answers have a bit of a sharper edge to them.

“I feel like I’m pretty sarcastic, but I really do take these letters seriously,” Dickinson says. “I love a good study. I try to keep up with the basic trends of the social sciences.”

A single parent for many years, Dickinson also published a best-selling memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances, in 2009.

When asked what advice she’d give Georgetown graduates, she says, “Being occupied and working at any job beats not working. Live where you want to live and then put it together. That’s something I’ve always done, because if you’re happy with where you’re living, that’s huge.”

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