I am not too old for a blanky

On Live from the Poundstone Institute a few weeks ago, they talked about a 2010 survey that said 35% of adults in Britain sleep with a teddy bear or other comfort object. There was some giggling. All I thought was, only 35%? What’s wrong with people? 

The second-longest relationship in my nearly 40 years of life is with my baby blanky (the longest being with, of course, my mother). My Oma (grandma, my dad’s mom) made it for me before I was born. Here she is finishing it (she’s on the right):

 

I have slept with my blanky nearly every night of my life. The only nights I did not were when I was a child and my parents would pack it for me so I could go to my grandparents’ houses, and I’d pull it out of my packed bag to drag it around the house and then forget to grab it again. I still remember just sobbing when my grandma suggested I sleep with a towel in place of my absent blanky. Unacceptable.

My blanky went with me to college. My blanky traveled around England and Sweden with me. It was at the hospital with me when Callum was born. Every night, I sleep with it tucked under my head. When I’m sick, I still drag it around the house with me. I like to put it in the freezer and then hold it to my head when I have migraines. The ultimate show of my love for Callum is that I have allowed him to snuggle with it in bed at various points (though I always go back in and snag it once he’s sleeping). The dogs pretty much do whatever they want in this house, but I absolutely draw the line at Billy trying to nest in my blanky, which he will try to do the second he spies it.

In my teen years, Oma would say she fully expected me to drag that thing down the aisle if I got married. She passed away about a year ago, but right up until the end she noted, nearly every time I talked to her or saw her, that she would’ve made that blanket out of something stronger if she knew I’d still be sleeping with it as a grown adult.

 

My blanky is still in one piece. Matthew’s mom added  ribbon around the edges probably 15 years ago or more to help preserve it. Most of the little animal appliques have come off. I have them in a box. I am not a particularly sentimental person. I don’t put much emotional value on things. After my dad died, I only took one thing to remember him—a tiny metal figure of someone playing the trombone. But my blanky… my blanky is different. It kind of feels like that tissue paper-thin thing is the repository of my childhood, my family, my emotions, my everything. Whenever I hear stories of some parents taking away their kid’s blanky (or whatever other lovely they have), I think, YOU MONSTERS. Also, wtf? Who cares if your kid likes to sleep with a blanket?

This is what my beloved blanket looks like these days. I’d say it’s pretty well preserved for being almost 40.

Do you sleep with a blanket or special stuffy? I want to know. I need to know who the cool kids are. Tell me on Facebook or on Twitter

A deep dive into nonfiction books on addiction

A few weeks ago I hit a wall in the novel I’m writing. I needed a little distance. I like to think of that time as me sending it to camp—look, I love you, but you need to go away from me for me to like you again. Or maybe to some intensive therapy, where someone else could say, mm-hmm, things here are looking maybe promising, but have you considered trying this? In other words, I sent it to my agent. But I couldn’t just sit around not writing something, so I started a new novel, which is the one I’m currently giving my attention to. I know. That other novel came back from camp and I was like, oh, hey, I guess I’m glad to see you, but I’m kind of giving all of my attention to this novel now. Catch you in a few months! (It’s probably a good thing I only have one child, huh?)

Anyway.

This new thing has no real title, but I’m calling it Teenage Mutant Nightmare Friendships. It’s about disintegrating friendships, porcupines, meth, and a water park.

Yep.

While I’ve been writing this, I’ve been thinking a lot about these quotes/lyrics:

Just the old blood
Rising up through the wooden floor again
Just the old love
Asking for more again.
Minnesota, The Mountain Goats

 

“The past is never where you think you left it.”—Katherine Anne Porter

 

And I’ve been listening to this song a ton:

 

Anyway, here are some of the books I’ve been reading as research. I know a lot now about dopamine and addiction. I also desperately, desperately wish more people understood that addiction is a chronic disease and not a choice/behavior/moral failing. What a different world we would live in if people could understand that and if more people could get effective medical treatment for intervention and recovery. 

Actually, first, before I show you the books, please observe how useful dachshunds can be. Look at them research for me!

Scenes from a California Vacation

We just returned from our vacation to California. We stayed in Windsor, with my cousin. Windsor is just outside of Santa Rosa and looks like a California version of Stars Hollow, the town in Gilmore Girls. We also ventured to Northern California for a weekend stay at a refurbished logger’s cabin in Elk Meadow. It was a fantastic time. Here are some pictures from our trip.

 

While we were in CA, the dogs were on vacation in lovely St. Peter, Minnesota. We’ll check in with them later.
Me packing: Hmm, what black t-shirts should I bring?
No MacGregor vacation is complete without stopping at a bookstore or two.
MacGregors also need candy stores.
Callum and I could live here. SO. MUCH. CANDY.
Honestly, same.
This basketball game is getting out of control.
I opened our bedroom window to see this dude just feet away.
Pretty okay view with my morning coffee.
Solitary elk.
55 elk enjoying their breakfast.
Guess what? More elk.
Callum contemplates the ocean.
The ocean. Good thing I captioned this one so you’d know.
Down at the beach in Trinidad.
Trinidad.
I am solidly an indoor person, but there just might be something to this whole outdoors business. Kind of pretty.
I resisted my juvenile urge to kick this over.
Fern Canyon. Cool to walk through, terrifying to drive to.
Apparently there is a Big Tree here in this forest of Redwoods. Go fig.
Some big trees, but not THE Big Tree.
Callum contemplates the trees.
Nice face, guy.
Oh, nature.
Let’s check in on the dogs. Here is Billy, looking quite refined.
Edward enjoys the sun.
These flowers are called Naked Ladies. We never got tired of saying, “See the Naked Ladies?”
Librarians on vacation visit libraries. Of course we do.
Librarians around the country are glad that dang eclipse is over with.
Children’s room at the library.
We hit up the Friends of the Library sale.
I laughed at this sign every time we passed it.
Such a specific house rule.
Again, a rather specific sign. Year of the Woman Accordion Festival.
BLERGH. GROSS. DUMB STORE IS DUMB.
Dachshund check: All is well.
Feels like home.
We never stopped marveling at how different CA looks from MN.
So cool.
Another bookstore, this one in Santa Rosa.

 

Okay, but can this animal relief area be for humans who desperately need some relief via doggy snuggles?

Recent reads

Summer’s waning, which means my time to power through as many books as humanly possible is waning, too. Soon school will start up for Callum and work will start up for me and I’ll be juggling those things with writing my novels and blogging and reviewing and and and. My consumption of books written for adults will taper off, which is fine, because YA holds way more appeal to me anyway (duh). So I’ll still be reading a ton and writing about those books at Teen Librarian Toolbox, but probably will have to give up my “fun” reading time. To see what else I read this summer, you can look here and here for recaps of 20 books.

I want to know what you’ve been reading, too. Tell me on Facebook or Twitter.

 

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

This collection of essays was FANTASTIC. I’m an easy cry when reading, but it’s much harder to make me laugh. I laughed and laughed while reading this book. Irby, who describes herself as “an old garbage bag full of blood, patiently waiting for death to rescue me,” finds existence and humanity exasperating, so you know I’m automatically like, tell me more! A sample of her hilarious writing, regarding her cat, whom she lovehates: “Free to an even marginally good home, but a terrible one is preferred. Black-and-white domestic shorthair, definitely part goblin, spayed (for the good of the species), fully vaccinated. Bites, hisses, growls when provoked, pretty malignant overall; won’t destroy your furniture or living space, but definitely is in regular communication with dark spirits.” God, I just did not want this book to end. Also, instead of dedicating her book to some important person in her life, she dedicated it to Klonopin. That page alone assured me that Irby is my kind of people. SO DAMN GOOD.

 

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Why do grown-up books have to be so long? After nearly twenty years of almost exclusively reading YA, I find myself irritated if it takes me more than two days to read something. Doesn’t this book know I have a TBR list that demands attention? That said, though very long, I’m glad I picked this book up. It’s rare to find anything that feels truly fresh and unique and this look at two women who work in animation and together strive for success, search for identity, and work through their pasts really felt like a new story. It spans their time together at college through the professional success they eventually achieve, sending them to New York and also back to their hometowns, where they mine the past for their current projects. A smart look at friendship and art.

 

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Valenti asks, “Who would I be if I lived in a world that didn’t hate women?” Good question. Valenti’s memoir is built around the unifying theme of sexism and being objectified. She doesn’t just look at specific incidents or examples but looks at how, systemically, sexism has affected her entire life, how it has shaped her, and how she has learned to stand up against it. She documents her experiences and uses feminism to critique those experiences, her reactions, and her choices. Though less interesting to me than her other books have been, this quick and at times infuriating read held my attention but didn’t feel particularly illuminating or thoughtful.

 

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

Pretty much every summer, I can count on getting to read a new book by Jane Green. If you’re not familiar with her, there’s a huge backlist to check out. This new one is about a dying mother and her hope to bring her mostly estranged girls back home together to get over their dysfunctional pasts and move forward together. It’s not as much of a bummer as that summary makes it seem. This one was slow to start—the first many chapters jump from year to year, giving us snapshots of the family, and that really didn’t work for me. It was too slow and I couldn’t really care. But about 1/3 of the way in, the story really takes off, with the last 1/3 or so finally totally capturing my attention. Not my favorite by her, but another solid summer read.

 

Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld and illustrated by Joe Sumner

This short and spare graphic memoir packs a punch. Dark—both metaphorically and quite literally, as many pages feature large swathes of black—and poetic, the story follows young Evie from her family’s summer home in Australia to their usual home in England. Through it all, Evie is consumed with thoughts of sharks, assuming they are always lurking around (not just in the water) and waiting for her. Her anxiety is endless, causing her to envision the worst-case scenarios of the harm sharks can cause. She grows obsessed with the story of a shark attack survivor and continues her interest in sharks even when they disturb her, eventually using stories about them to help distract her bullied and beaten brother. The story jumps ahead to her adulthood and takes a more obvious look at the “ebb and flow of life… and death.” Haunting and weird—two of my favorite things.

 

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

This graphic memoir was PHENOMENAL. Truly. It’s a stunningly profound look at grief, ruins, impermanence, loss, and meaning. It jumps around from Radtke’s childhood to her college and grad school years to later parts of her adulthood. During college, she begins to grow fascinated with abandoned towns and the ruins of civilizations. She begins traveling the world looking at these sites, searching for some kind of meaning or solace as she mediates on how easily things are lost or left behind. The art is amazing and the writing is equally masterful. The story goes to many unexpected places and Radtke manages to weave all of the pieces together into a powerful and breathtaking examination of loss. Just beautiful.

 

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui

Yes, I’m on an illustrated memoir kick. And they’ve all be so good. At 329 pages, I kept thinking about how long it must’ve taken to write and illustrate this book. Thi Bui tells the story of her mother and father’s young lives, the events that shaped (and haunt) them, and her family’s eventual escape from Vietnam in the 1970s to the United States. She bookends her story with moments from her own son’s birth, reflecting on what it means to be a parent and a child, the damage we do to each other (and have done to us), and the power of family. This incredibly detailed story about identity and home was riveting and emotional.

 

Meaty by Samantha Irby

This is Irby’s first book of essays, though I tracked it down after reading We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, her second book. She is now one of my new favorite essayists. I laughed and laughed at Meaty (and the fact that she generally refers to her body as her “meaty pre-corpse”) and then also cried my eyes out while reading her essay on what it was like caring for her mother, who had MS and other health issues, while Irby was just a child. If you like swearing, hilarity, and virtuosic levels of snark, these books are for you.

 

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, Thi Bui (Illustrator)

This picture book, good for ages 5-9 (and, of course, beyond 9), is lovely. Thi Bui wrote that graphic memoir I wrote about just up above here, and it was a real joy to see her art in a larger and more colorful format. The story, about a young Vietnamese boy and his father’s pre-dawn fishing expedition in Minneapolis, is about so much more than just fishing. His father takes him fishing for food, not sport, before going to work his second job. There are references to his parents’ homeland, the war, and family, as well as scenes of the young boy’s life at home—helping his mother, watching both parents leave for work, sharing a meal together once they are home. There is so much love and warmth and beauty in this quiet and important picture book.

 

According to a Source: A Novel by Abby Stern

This may be the fastest I have ever decided to bail on a book. I stopped reading on page three. I know. Usually I can give something more of a chance before deciding to nope on out. Or I can overlook things that seem irritating/unbelievable and keep going. Here is why I quit: on page 2, the main character explains that her full name is Isabella Warren, which is on her credit card. She has a regular table at the Chateau Marmont, where she hands this card over all the time. She goes by Bella Warren publicly, so this is the name she uses to reserve her table there (etc). Stick with me. She works for a gossip magazine, working “undercover” so she can get all the dirt, and the name she goes by for this job, and the name that appears as her byline, is Ella Warren. She lives in fear of someone figuring this out. This. Her super-awesome undercover name. That is one letter off from her real name. This name that is not exactly a leap from her full name of Isabella. I’m Bella Warren! I’ll go by Ella Warren! No one will ever guess!  Yeah. I got so hung up on how incredibly stupid that was, I just rage quit.

Dachshunds being cute

It’s about time to just look at a whole bunch of pictures of my dachshunds again, isn’t it? Billy has been desperately sick for nearly two months, but he remains desperately cute. Edward is jealous of the attention I’ve been heaping on Billy and, for the first time in his 13.5 years, spent two days completely ignoring me—like, sitting under the bed and staring at the wall. These doxies.

Of course this picture is from our honeymoon

You’re probably like, dude, what is UP with this weird picture of dolls? Well, our anniversary is later this week. We didn’t have a wedding (because the Wedding Industrial Complex is gross). We signed a piece of paper in Boston—no witnesses, no pictures (so did it really happen?). If there were pictures, I’m sure you’d see I was likely wearing shorts, a black tshirt, and Converse, my life uniform. We then spent a lovely week in Provincetown, on Cape Cod. We did all of the traditional activities newlyweds do on a honeymoon—bought my engagement ring (yep), consumed lots of vegan goods from Tofu-a-Go-Go, mingled with drag queens, and went to an Ani DiFranco concert. As one does. So back to that picture. We found this little scene outside of the B&B we stayed at. It was unexpected, weird, and delightful—that’s not the worst summary of our relationship, really. I’m not much for mushy and self-congratulatory public declarations, but I will say that the best thing I ever did was somehow trick Matthew into marrying me 15 years ago. I highly recommend falling in love in a bookstore. 

We looked up what the traditional and modern gifts are for 15 years, just for kicks. We don’t give each other cards or anything, but it’s always entertaining to see what the gifts are supposed to be. The traditional gift is crystal and the modern gift is a watch. We figure if we watch The Dark Crystal, we’re pretty much embracing the spirit of the gifts, right?

Maybe I’ll even put on my wedding “dress” for the day. I think investing whatever I would’ve spent on a dumb dress in my lifelong obsession with black t-shirts was a much better use of our money. Nothing says “I dressed up special for our anniversary” quite like a t-shirt of children summoning a demon or She-Ra reminding us to resist.

Every anniversary, I also like to reflect on how much I do NOT regret not having a wedding. For some reason, people think they can tell you what things you will probably regret in life. For me, these have been things such as refusing to go to prom, refusing to have a wedding, getting tattoos, and only having one child, among other things. Aren’t people grand?

Anyway.

15 years of delightful weirdness. No regrets. 

Further adventures in reading

Here are some of the grown-up books I’ve read in the past few weeks. If you want to know what YA I’ve been reading, head on over to Teen Librarian Toolbox to keep up with what I’m loving. Or find me on Twitter, where sometimes I stop tweeting pictures of my dogs or talking about what sugary product I am currently ingesting/wanting to ingest and tweet about books. This link will take you to other recent grown-up books I’ve read. I’ve read more adult stuff than usual lately. I’m deep into the novel I’m writing and have told myself (and my agent) that this draft will be done by the end of summer, which has become a further necessity because I start my new job, in an elementary library, when summer ends, too.  I find that when I’m writing a lot, it’s harder for me to read YA. Too much distraction both as a reader and a writer.

I want to know what you’ve been reading, too. Tell me on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe someday I’ll tell you why comments are disabled here.

 

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris

As I told Matthew, the idea of reading 1000 pages of most writers’ diaries does not appeal to me, but when it comes to Sedaris, it’s an obvious YES. Theft by Finding is the first of two volumes of his diaries. Given that all of his books are personal essays, you wouldn’t necessarily think his actual diaries would be so fascinating, but they were. His early life was far more drug-filled and randomly employed than I had understood it to be. I got a lot of good laughs reading his book (no surprise). My favorite part is him talking about learning French and trying to tell the teacher that it’s like the pot calling the kettle black, only he says, “That is like a pan saying to a dark pan, ‘You are a pan.'” We have repeated that line about one billion times already. A few years back we saw Sedaris read, and I’ve listened to all of his books on audio. I love his unique voice. Hoping the diaries come out on audio, too. A great read for Sedaris superfans.

 

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Abandoned it 50 pages in. I’ve read all of Sullivan’s books and really enjoyed them, but this one wasn’t grabbing me. I may give it another try after summer. Summer is when I read the bulk of my grown-up books and I just want to burn through titles quickly. I’ve put it back in my library queue to attempt again this fall.

 

 

Complicated Fun: The Birth of Minneapolis Punk and Indie Rock, 1974-1984 — An Oral History by Cyn Collins

I devoured this book. This is an indispensable collection of stories about the early years of Minneapolis punk. Punk was my entire life when I was a teenager. My life revolved around going to shows and scouring record stores for whatever bands I grew to love thanks to my weekly master classes in punk, the brilliant radio program Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (on KMSU). I would sit next to my stereo when that was on, recording each show so I could listen to it again and write down what bands I wanted to check out. All these years later, I still love the music, especially the great, early bands that came out of the years this book covers. The end of the book makes it sound like maybe there’s a second volume, of the years 1984 and on, in the works. I desperately hope so.

 

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder

The whole book could be summed up by this passage, near the end:

“Love disappoints. It can’t help itself. That’s why… I don’t know, that’s why Ingrid Bergman gets on the plane and leaves Casablanca, or Maude takes all those sleeping pills at the end of Harold and Maude. But what are we supposed to do? Stop trying? Preemptively say fuck it because we know everything invariably ends? That’s bullshit. You hear me? Bullshit. Love may disappoint, but that doesn’t absolve us from the duty of loving. Of trying to love.”

I always like a good story about other families’ messes. This was a quick and relatively absorbing read (though I cop to having skimmed slow parts) about various kinds of love and the many ways we are disappointed, broken, and repaired by love.

 

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

If you haven’t read Roxane Gay’s writing (especially the brilliant Bad Feminist), you need to fix that. She is a masterful writer. This memoir was just as smart and incisive as I figured it would be, but it was also absolutely heartbreaking. Here, she is raw. She pours it all out on the page, leaving nothing out, no matter how complicated or hard to accept. She says this book was the hardest thing she has ever written. At 12, Gay was gang raped. She didn’t tell anyone (for a very, very long time). The horrific crime changed her (of course it did). She detached from people, turning to food for comfort, turning her body into a fortress. She writes, “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.” A powerful look at violence, trauma, and healing.

 

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

I like eavesdropping on people. I like observing people. I think those things are part of why I like reading so much, too—I like seeing into people’s lives. I had this book with me at Callum’s therapy appointment. His doctor always asks what I’m reading. I told her this one was about a marriage, and while it’s of course about more than just that, it’s pretty accurate to just say, “This book is about a marriage.” Graham and Audra have been together a number of years. They’re very different people, and Audra is very different from Elspeth, Graham’s first wife. When the three start getting together as friends, Graham reflects on how one person could love two such different people. Watching the trials and joys of someone else’s marriage unfold could be rather dull, but Heiny is a great writer and I was left wanting to know more.

 

The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales 

Once upon a time in the early 90s, there was this great hardcore band, made up of women, called Spitboy. If I needed to put on something really loud and angry and feminist and screamy, I put on Spitboy. This was an interesting, quick read filled with lots of black and white pictures of the band and their shows as well as flyers from shows. A great blast from the past to read this memoir about punk, race, class, and gender.

 

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids
by Jen Kirkman

I enjoy the heck out of comedian Jen Kirkman. This memoir revolves around her choice to not have children. I laughed out loud repeatedly while reading this. I also read most of this while sitting by an extremely busy public pool, where my own child would disappear into the water for vast hours at a time, making me look like some kind of weird lady who comes alone to a childrific place to pointedly read a book about being happily childless. I have Kirkman’s other book in my TBR pile and am trying to save it for our trip to CA (I don’t mind planes as long as I have my head buried in a good book) , but suspect I’ll read it sooner.

Also, for research for my work in progress, I read these books, all of which are probably rather self-explanatory: 

On hair dye, piercings, and tattoos: a lifetime of creating my self

“With my tattoos, I get to say, these are my choices I make for my body, with full-throated consent. This is how I mark myself. This is how I take my body back.” –Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

I was 14 when I first dyed my hair. It was 1991 (a very long time ago, dear lord). Brightly dyed hair was not as ubiquitous as it is now, certainly not in my tiny rural town in southern Minnesota. I started out with burgundy, from a box, then quickly moved on to every shade imaginable of Manic Panic (though always favored purple). My hair is, right now, at 39, dyed. It’s the kind of red that makes people ask if it’s my real color, as though any person on earth could grow a red this cherry red out of their own head. I wish. 

I was 16 when I got my first piercing in a place other than my ears. I had, by the end of high school, 14 earrings in my ears. I still have 8. At 16, I got my eyebrow pierced. It was 1994. My mother (who happily poked around record stores and thrift stores with me, who dyed my hair repeatedly for me) let me make an appointment for some dude (some dude!) to pierce my eyebrow in his basement apartment in Uptown Minneapolis. I sat in a wheelchair when he did it. My mother sat outside on the front steps. Again, there were not a lot of kids walking around yet with piercings in my small town. I eventually got my lip pierced too, right after high school.

The tattoos started when I was 19. Thanksgiving break of first year of college, 1996. My first tattoo was of a female symbol with a fist in the middle. I now have 6 tattoos and am always wanting more. My most recent one was this beauty to our left, done this past winter by my lifelong friend Sara Witty of Dr. Witty’s Ink Emporium. If you don’t know what my tattoo means, please go read Bitch Planet.

Here is the thing: I am a feminist. I was a teenage feminist. I had lots of deep thoughts about how we (society) view, gaze upon, inspect, judge, and control women’s bodies. There is always a conversation, even (especially) if unspoken, about women’s bodies. So let the conversation be where I lead it, I thought—my hair, my piercings, my adornments, my clothes–things that felt like very intentional giant middle fingers to the world. I wanted my message to be clear: This is my body and it is mine and I do with it what I want and I do to it what I want. My dad hated my hair… and my piercings and my clothes and and and. He never understood why, if I found society so abhorrent, I would intentionally do these things to bring attention to myself, to make people look at me, to invite judgement. Because this is my body and it is mine and I do with it what I want and I do to it what I want, I tried to say in ways that would make sense to someone like him. Because I just didn’t care what people thought; because I so desperately cared what people thought. I wanted control. I wanted to present my most authentic self, a surly, weird, creative girl who knew I was being viewed anyway, and wanted to control part of the viewing.

I tend to dye my hair, or get a tattoo, or do something else drastic (chop off all my hair etc) when I feel a disconnect from myself—a stress that splinters me, a sadness that cleaves me in two (this horrific brain that makes me feel terrible and this body that houses the rest of me, whatever “me” is), an uncertainty of who I am or how I move forward. I take back my self with these changes, every change somehow making me more myself than before. There is so little we actually control. I live inside of a body where my brain controls my ups and downs, my levels of misery and anxiety. I can’t do much to control that. But I can wrestle back a little bit of that control every time I make myself more my self. I know this makes no sense to most people, but I also know lots of my friends operate this same way, have these same impulses, do not feel like themselves unless they are making these same changes. These changes are me. I grow older, but I cling to the things that helped define me when I was younger. Things done as angry responses, as middle fingers, as potential phases became the constants that make up me. And as I watch my son do the same things, I think, yesssss. I think, I’m sure I’m doing a ton of parenting wrong, but I am right in telling you the message that this is your body and it is yours and you do with it what you want and you do to it what you want. 

Now, back to daydreaming about my next tattoo.

Literally just all about Glam Doll Donuts

If you know me at all, you know I love sugar. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I don’t really have any other vices. I don’t drink, don’t smoke (what do you do?). I drink massive amounts of coffee, but that’s not so much a vice as an essential fuel to be able to person correctly. I took a page out of my friend Renee’s book recently and did this 22 day vegan diet thingy. It wasn’t too hard—I’ve been a vegetarian since age 14 and a vegan for many of my younger years. But this cleanse thingy required cutting out most sugars and bread, which made me into the worst version of myself. I like sugar. A lot. Probably 13% of everything I tweet is about baked goods, usually specifically donuts.

This past weekend we spent a day that I like to think of as Peak MacGregor. That meant that we hit up Glam Doll DonutsMagers & Quinn BooksellersComic Book College, and Sencha. Thank goodness all three of us are obsessed with the same things.

So, because so much of the world is a trash fire of terribleness, let’s just look at donuts together, okay? Mmmm… donuts. If you’re in Minneapolis, go check out Glam Doll!

 

In which I yell about mental health

(I shouted about this on Facebook recently, but I like shouting, so here I am doing it here.)

What a terribly irresponsible and dangerous headline. Antidepressants can save lives. I have been medicated for 21 years and while things like exercise (or any of the other million things we are told “may” help alleviate some of our symptoms) may help, it is not a medication. This headline and article shames those with mental illness–like if only we would work harder/try the RIGHT thing, we could get better without needing the “crutch” of that nasty medication–and stigmatizes mental health. I am not ashamed of my mental illnesses. I am not ashamed to be medicated. I am not weak for listening to my doctors and having a small pharmacy’s worth of medication in me every day. Going off medication, apparently without consulting a doctor, does not make you a “superhero.” Every day that I choose to take my medication, every day that I take care of myself, every time I go to therapy, or adjust my medications, or climb back up out of the horrible pit that is living with major depression and anxiety disorder, THAT is when I feel like a superhero. THAT is what will save me.

(You can go read the People article here if you want to. Whatever.)

Shall I point you to some other places I yell (or, sometimes, write in a more measured and academic way) about mental health? Okay, here you go:

My mental illness will not be cured by platitudes

Twin Cities Teen Lit Con 2017: Mental Health in YA Literature Presentation

NerdCon: Stories 2016

Mental Health Representation in Young Adult Literature webinar

The #MHYALit Discussion Hub – Mental Health in Young Adult Literature

#MHYALit: Anxiety Disorder, My Son, and Me

Sunday Reflections: Mental health medications are not your enemy

#MHYALit: Talking about mental health-related books and issues with teens

#MHYALit Sunday Reflections: The hard work of getting help and getting better