Category Archives: FURIOUSLY HAPPY

Sometimes the only way out is through.

So, I got more medical bad news and it’s not the end of the world but it means lots more invasive tests and very soon I will write about it when I can find the humor in it (and there is humor in it) but today I just feel a little low and the best way for me to get out of that is to remind myself that my words matter so today for Mental Health Awareness Month and for Jenny Wants To Do Something Happy Day I’m giving away a couple dozen copies of Furiously Happy, or Let’s Pretend This Never Happened or YOU ARE HERE: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds.  Or any book you need to have stronger mental health, actually.  I was going to do the usual and just pick emails from the comments but there are always people who want to buy books for others as well so why don’t we do it like we do Booksgiving?  You make a brand-new wishlist with one book on it you really need and then post it here and I’ll fill as many as I can.  If you want to buy a book for a stranger you can just search the comments for open lists.  It is a lovely thing.

These are the steps you have to take to set up a wishlist for today:

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  1.  If you’re in a rough place and need a book to transport you somewhere else make A BRAND NEW wish list with nothing on it but the book you want.  (Exception: If you have a kid who needs a book you can totally add one for them too.)
  2. Here’s how you make a wish list:  Under “Accounts and Lists” on the right, top side of Amazon select “Create a list”.  Choose “Wish list” and name it something like “The book I really need right now” and choose “Public”.  Then click “Create list”.  Now add a book to your list by going to the book and clicking the “add to list” button on the bottom right of that page.  Make sure you assign it to the new wishlist.  Now here’s the most important thing that everyone forgets to do.  You have to assign a shipping address to that specific wish list or it won’t go to you.  EVERY new wishlist has to be assigned an address or you won’t get your stuff.  So click on your wish list and click on “public” and it’ll take you to “List settings”.  Click “view details” and where it says “shipping address” add yours.  (Your city and first name will be shown to others, but not your full address.)  Then save changes.  Now leave a comment with a link to your wish list.  Click here for my sample wish list so you’ll know what one looks like.  Yours should just have one book on it but I have about 20 books listed on mine so that you can use if for inspiration if you don’t know exactly what you want.  In your comment say which book you want in case someone specifically wants to buy you that book.  Also, if you’re not in America put that in the comment so we can match people better by location and not have crazy shipping fees.   Feel happy.
  3. Here’s how you buy a book for a stranger.  Click on their link.  Choose a book.  Select their name so it goes to their address.  If it doesn’t give you the option of picking their name it means they didn’t add a shipping address so delete what’s in your cart and go to the next person.  Send a story to someone in need.  Feel happy.
  4. If you have a book that really helped you get out of a bad place and want to suggest it in the comments that would be awesome.  No worries if you don’t have one.

The only rule is that this is just for books.  No gift cards or clothes or anything else because it gets out of hand really quickly.  Just a simple book to take you away from the world and help you find new ones.

And as always, thank you.  Thank you for supporting my words and listening and passing them on to others.

PS: Here are screen shots of what you should see while making a wishlist and add a shipping destination because it’s less complicated if you have pictures to walk you through:

Create a list under “Your lists”.

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Make it a wish list, name it and make it public.

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After you click “create list” click on the “public” button below:

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Click “view details” to add your shipping address to this wish list:

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Choose a shipping address and save changes.

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Now you’re ready to add something to your list.  Pick a book and choose the “add to list” button on bottom right side:

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If you have another wish list set as your default (like I always do) then you’ll need to click “move to another list.”

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Just click the list you’re going to share here.

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Now go to the wish list and copy the link and then paste it into the comments.  Done!  There might be an easier way of doing it but that’s how I do it.

PPS.  If you click on a wish list that says it’s empty that’s because the book has already been bought for them.  🙂  That is a very good thing.

PPPS.  I love you guys.  I’m going to rest for an hour or two but then I’ll be back to buy some books.

Want a book for the holidays?

This isn’t a real post.  It’s just a quick note to tell you that I’m going to meet the lovely people from BookPeople tomorrow in a parking lot to sign all of the books you might want personalized for Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus/Flying Spaghetti Monster week.  If you want one for yourself or for a gift make sure you call or order online by tomorrow morning so they bring enough.  Also, I will be happy to write “Knock knock mofo” or “Thank you for burying that body” or “I’ll always remember that night in Vegas” or “This is the best gift ever” or whatever else.  They have copies of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy.  Just click to order.

(To order a signed copy of a book, place the book in your cart and indicate “SIGNED COPY” and write the name of whoever you want it made out to in the comments.  They ship worldwide.)

PS. I don’t get anything extra out of doing this.  I just like to give everyone the chance to get a signed copy even if they can’t ever (or don’t want to) go to a signing.  Plus, it’s from an independent bookstore and that’s always a plus.

PPS.  Later tonight if I can get my shit together we’re going to start the James Garfield miracle.  More to come.

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Hey. Do you need something?

Okay.  Next week we’re doing the  7th Annual James Garfield Miracle.  Every year I think it will be the last and every year the people who were helped in the past ask me if it’s going on again because they’re now back on their feet and they want a chance to give back and this year is no exception, so technically I blame you.  But in a good way.  (In case you’re new, the James Garfield Miracle is when we get together and help give toys, blankets, and books to homeless children or to children whose parents are seriously struggling during the holidays.  It’s done anonymously in this community without any sponsors and it is a great joy to watch.)  If you want to help someone, or if you’re unable to buy a toy for your kid this holiday then watch this blog next week and I’ll set it up with all the instructions then.  It is awesome and exhausting and THIS IS NOT THAT.

Today’s post is just a small way to say thank you to everyone here who has been so amazing and supportive.  Because of the sponsors on the sidebars we’re able to keep this blog going without losing money.  Because of the people who buy things using my affiliate links I’m able to give back that money during the James Garfield Miracle.  Because you’ve been so incredibly supportive with my writing I now have two #1 NYT bestsellers and can spend my time creating ridiculous things that somehow help others.  That’s pretty amazing and I am so incredibly lucky.

As a small ‘thank you’ I decided that it would be nice to give back in some way so I pulled out a stack of my books that I usually drop off at Little Free Libraries and I’m going to give them away to the first people who say that they really need one.  Maybe you haven’t been able to afford one of them yet, or maybe you know someone who needs one, or maybe you’re in a bad place and you just need a reminder that someone cares…whatever.  Just leave a comment (with an email address!) telling me if you want Let’s Pretend This Never Happened in hard cover, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened on CD, Furiously Happy in hardcover, or Furiously Happy on CD.  If YOU ARE HERE was finished I’d give it away too but we have a couple more months before it’s done.  I’ll email you for your mailing address so make sure you check your email today.

Additionally, I know there are a lot of people during the holiday seasons who feel alone so I thought maybe I would set up an open thread on my Facebook page if any of you want to become friends or exchange info to send cards or to find someone struggling with similar things to have someone to talk to.  I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but what the hell.  Click here if you want to find friends in the community.

And now, comments are open.  Let me know if you are in need of a book and be sure to specify which book and which format because it’s first-asked, first served.

Things to give away today. Dorothy Barker not included.

Things to give away today. Dorothy Barker not included.

 

UPDATED: Holy crap, that went fast.  I gave away the 35 copies I had and I’m going to check the closets to see if I have any more.  I think I have a box of Let’s Pretend copies somewhere if I can find them.  I left comments on all the comments that I could fill and I’ve already been told that some people are contacting others to pass on their copy or buy one for others.  I love you people so hard.  If I find more books and email you but someone else has bought it for you since I’ve written this then just let me know and I’ll move on to the next person.  Thank you for being you.

PS. I’m not sure how safe it is to have your email address in a comment so I’ll probably go back and delete them in a day or two so they don’t get used for spam or something.  Also, if you want to buy someone a copy but don’t want to ask for their physical address you can just confirm that the email works and then send them an electronic gift card.  I trust everyone in this community but I’m just throwing it out there just in case.

PS. Thank you.

 

I’m barely moving and that’s just fine.

I’m working through this depression and finding more and more days where I’m  feeling human.  (WHOOOT!)  Today is one of those days and it’s an incredible change from the one I had yesterday when Hailey came down for breakfast and was like, “Why are you laying on the kitchen floor?” and it seems pathetic to say I was too tired to sit on a chair, so instead I was like, “I’m doing the mannequin challenge” and Hailey was all, “I don’t think that’s how that works” but I was like, “Agree to disagree.  I’M NAILING IT.”

Whenever I have days where my mind and body shut down I draw.  Last week  when I shared a drawing I was working on (and the furry person keeping me from completing it)  people asked how I’d made such perfect circles and the truth is that I use whatever I have on hand to trace the shapes I need.

Last year when I was on book tour someone gave me a ring with “NEVER GIVE UP” engraved on it to remind me that I’d helped save them, and to remind me that I was needed even when broken.  A few days later someone in line told me they were struggling and I handed her the ring that had comforted me.  And the world goes round and round.  And then I  had Victor buy a dozen more and send them to me on tour and every day I’d wear one and if I thought someone needed a reminder I’d give my ring to someone who was struggling or who was celebrating surviving but scared of the future.  I’m still wearing my last one.  And it’s what I used to make a lot of those circles.

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Fitting.

PS. I really am fantastic at the Mannequin Challenge.  I can literally do it in my sleep.  In fact, that’s where I do it best.

Up and down and up again.

If you’ve read here lately you know that I’m coming out of one of the longer depressions I’ve ever dealt with and although it’s still up and down I’m having more and more days when I’m myself again.   Those days are bright and warm, and coming back is like the first brilliant, life-saving breath after spending too much time underwater.  I’m writing this now to remind myself how wonderful it is to breathe and live and feel human, both because I need a reminder for next time depression lies to me and tells me it will never go away, and also because maybe you’re in the hole right now and need a reminder that it will get better.

It will.

And then maybe it will get bad again.  The ups and downs are always there for those of us with forever broken brains.  But that’s okay because you come back out.  The good is worth battling through the bad.  It’s so worth the meds and the therapy and the time and effort and the waiting.

There’s a park in my neighborhood that we go to sometimes.  There’s a playground at the edge of the park and the swings look out onto a cemetery, which I always thought was both strange and also a bittersweet type of poetry.  Small children laughing and playing as funerals pass.  Life beginning and ending and ending and beginning all at once in the same small space.

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Yesterday I stopped there and the playground was empty so I decided to swing, and I went so high I felt like I was flying.  And I flew, in between death and childhood, up and down and up again…in the place where I felt alive again.

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And it was beautiful.

All of it.

It was worth it.

Sometimes tattered and worn = loved

I use my books.  It drives Victor insane.  He’s the person who will scream “YOU MONSTER!” at a complete stranger if he hears the sound of a spine breaking, and most of his best comics are permanently sealed in hard plastic slabs, mostly to protect them from me probably.

I live on the other side of the extreme.  My books are all broken backs and finger smudges and dog-ears.  You can find the best parts of my most beloved books by just letting the book fall open naturally, because it will automatically open to the places it’s been read over and over.

One of my favorite things to do is buy old books from estate sales…those books that have been well-loved by people who have passed.  I flip through and look for the ones with creases and notes written in the edges and signs of a life well lived.  Victor doesn’t understand it, but reading those found books is like reading with  ghosts, ones who eagerly point out their favorite passages or share their thoughts or questions in the margins.

It sounds wrong, but you can tell that I really love a book if I damage it thoroughly.  I destroy it with my love. I shove it in pockets and carry it in purses and suitcases.  I drip bathwater on the edges and get pollen stuck in the pages.  I underline passages that remind me I’m not alone, and tuck receipts and slips of paper into places I need to reread.  It is my opinion that a treasured book should not be kept in a box or wrapper. It should be used.  And battered.  And loved…just as much as the owner is, as they carry that book through their life. As they drag it through the rough spots. And as it drags them through the rougher spots.  Whenever I finish writing a book I always hope to myself that this is the kind of book I hope I have written.

Recently someone asked me to autograph their copy of Furiously Happy and they were embarrassed to show me the shape it was in, but it made me so incredibly happy. I asked if I could take a picture of it, and I keep that picture with me to remind me that in some ways I’ve succeeded.

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Today is #NationalBookLoversDay and so I’d love it if you would share a few books you love so much that they’re like a part of you.

I’ll go first.  Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned.  Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.  Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

Your turn.

PS. My next book (You Are Here) is literally made to be written in, tacked to walls, shared and used.  Victor is shuddering already.  Leave a comment if you want one and I’ll randomly choose a few people to get free copies once they come out.

Shit. I am a terrible mother.

Last week my friend – Jeremy – who taxidermied Rory (the Furiously Happy raccoon) emailed to tell me that Rory turned 5 years old on Friday, but I’m terrible at keeping up with emails so I totally missed his birthday.  So to make up for it I gave him a vespa.  Or, rather, I stole one of Hailey’s doll’s vespas after I realized that all of her fake American Girl accessories are the perfect scale for a small dead raccoon.  (Honestly, they are really missing out on an untapped market.)

"Look, ma! No hands!" A clear violation of safety rules, but are you going to tell him that? IT'S HIS BIRTHDAY, YOU MONSTER.

“Look, ma! No hands!” It’s a clear violation of safety rules, but are you going to tell him that? IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY, YOU MONSTER.

Regardless, Rory and Rory II had a blast.

The spectators were perplexed.

The spectators were perplexed.

And so did the cats because for once they weren’t the ones giving Rory a ride.

I'm not sure what's happening here but it made me laugh so I'm including it.

I’m not sure what’s happening here but it made me laugh so I’m including it.

And then Victor was like, “WHY IS IT SO LOUD IN HERE?  DON’T YOU HAVE WORK TO DO?” and I was all, “YOU CAN’T JUDGE ME.  IT WAS YOUR SON’S BIRTHDAY AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER” and he just stared at me in confusion and I was like “THE CAT’S IN THE CRADLE, VICTOR” and he shook his head and locked the door to his office, and then I thought I should maybe clarify that I was referring to the Harry Chapin song and not to me actually putting one of our cats in a cradle.  But then that seemed ridiculous because we don’t even have a cradle.  We barely had a vespa for a dead raccoon’s birthday.

Honestly, we are terrible parents.

PS. I really need to get a tiny saddle made:

I really need to get a tiny saddle made.

Cat balancing is the new planking.

PPS. I haven’t updated my shop in months.  Until now.

I have a big announcement to make and I’m not sure how to say it but it’s all your fault. Sort of.

So.  I’ve dropped a few hints about a project I’ve been working on but I haven’t really written about it because I lost my words.  But they’re coming back and so now I’m going to try to explain it and hopefully you’ll understand why it’s important to me.

When I was on book tour last year I would sometimes share the drawings I’d make when I was locked up in my hotel each night.  I’ve always drawn.  It’s my meditation when my anxiety disorder gets out of control.  It gives my hands something to do so they don’t destroy me.  When I was young I kept a journal filled with patterns I’d perfected…ones I’d learned from others or created myself that kept my mind free…and I’d spend hours filling pages up with doodles and pictures and words and ideas and the patterns I’d found on old walls or garish carpets or bathroom stalls.  Whenever things got hard I would go back to these patterns, finding comfort in the intricate but uniform lines that would fill the page – a way of bringing order to the chaos if just for a few minutes.

"Just because

When I lived in Houston a woman moved next door to us.  She’d just moved from India and she’d often invite Hailey and I over for tea and paint mehndi designs on our hands or feet while we visited.  She had journals like mine – but different, filled with hand-drawn patterns in beautiful styles, and she explained that when she was young it was common for girl friends to share designs with each other.  She’d draw a pattern or design that she’d perfected in their book and they’d do the same in hers and in the end she’d have hundreds of ideas to use when making her henna artworks.  She tried to teach me a few but I never quite perfected them.  I shared some with her out of my books, and we experimented with them and made them more beautiful and elaborate.

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In the last few years I’ve found other people who collect patterns.  They do mandalas or tangles or textural collages.  They trade them with others to inspire and the patterns become more fantastic as each person puts their hand to them.  They -like me – take pictures of forgotten patterns on abandoned buildings, and crumbling tombstones, and resurrect them.  They see the motifs in nature – the movement of trees or the way that ivy grows and they embellish those designs.  You learn to see things in a different perspective…the patterns that make up a life, or the world, or the universe.

Click to embiggen.

Nine months ago I was on book tour.  My anxiety keeps me locked in hotel rooms when I’m not doing a reading so I often spent that time drawing, using stolen hotel pens and pilfered sharpies.  I used motel room cups and pill bottles as stencils to create overlapping circles and I’d fill the circles with patterns and with words that I needed to hear myself.  I shared a few on instagram and was shocked at how many people responded.  They’d print them out to color or frame.  They’d bring them to signings so I’d autograph them.  They’d tattoo them on their bodies.  They’d give them to friends who were struggling and needed to be reminded they weren’t alone.

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These drawings were far from perfect.  They were wrinkled and muddied and I never had the right tools or pens but still people seemed to love them.  And suddenly instead of being embarrassed about them I was happy to share them, and I had the encouragement to share the drawings that usually only lived in my head or secret sketchbooks.  I saw them shared online, brilliantly tinted by people who used coloring the same way I used sketching…as an escape, a meditation, and a way to quiet a sometimes dangerous brain.  I saw people interpret them in lovely ways I hadn’t even meant, or add their own sketches to the drawings, or hang them up in cubicles or in frames.  I got a giant unexpected package from a classroom of 4th graders who used one of my images as an inspiration to create dozens of amazing stories they invented themselves.

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Several months ago I feel into a pretty heavy depression and it’s one I’m still crawling out of.  I’m finally having more good days than bad, but one of the repercussions of this depression was that it made it almost impossible to write.  Or, I should say, it made it almost impossible to write long-form chapters.  I still wrote…but strange things that gave me strength to move forward in the dark.  Some funny, some silly, some irreverent, some dark and painfully honest.  But for some reason my head wanted a picture for each one.

I can’t quite explain it.  Maybe it’s part of my mental illness.  Maybe it was involuntary art therapy.  All I know is that I couldn’t work on the book I was supposed to be working on because this…thing got in the way.  These drawings.  These images and thoughts and patterns and words.  And once they were down on paper I could turn the page and feel free of the thought.  As if I’d archived the emotion I was stuck in and could now move forward and see the next one waiting to be acknowledged and recognized.

I felt like a failure for falling behind on life and missing deadlines, but I have no doubt that these drawing saved me.  They gave me a reason, and a creative outlet, and a way to count out the long seconds of the days with each stroke of the pen.  They were all drawn by hand, slowly and meticulously, and as I worked on them I thought of the words in my head.  Each drawing had stories written into them.  Each contained a sentence or paragraph or a page of strange thoughts that went along with it.  As they become more elaborate I shared them with my shrink and my agent and my editor and suddenly a book emerged.  It was a book that seems like it wrote itself.  Not easily.  It struggled its way out of me as if it had control more than I did at times.  Which was good, because I had very little control at the time and that can be a problem when you struggle with impulse control issues and self-harm problems.  The book found itself.  Half of it images.  Half of it words.  Some funny and irreverent and profane, and some dark and confused, and some to remind me to keep breathing and that depression lies.

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So I made a coloring book.

Sort of.

It’s a coloring book if you like to color.  It’s a journal if you like to write in books that make you question what’s going on.  It’s a set of posters that make you feel less alone.  It’s a collection of one-page stories or important sentences or pictures to tape on bathroom mirrors for strangers to see, or to hand to friends.  It’s a companion piece to Furiously Happy but it also stands alone.  It’s what saved me this year and I owe you for supporting and encouraging me whenever I hesitantly shared my work.  It turned into something much bigger than I ever imagined and hope that you like it.  I hope you like it so much you buy a dozen copies so you can color it or frame it or give it away.  If you don’t, that’s okay.  But I had to get it out of my head so I could move on.

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It probably won’t be in stores for a while because it takes time to publish books, but I should have a cover and title and all that jazz for you in the next week if things go smoothly.   In the meantime I’ll be sharing the occasional extra drawing that isn’t in the book here (most of what’s in the book is new and unpublished) and you can print it or share it or color it or post it up in your home or burn it in a fire to scare off monsters.  It’s up to you.

After all, you helped create it.

And I can’t thank you enough for that.

If you don’t have the ebook of FURIOUSLY HAPPY you need to read this right now.

Hey!

So FURIOUSLY HAPPY got selected to be promoted on the ebook edition so today only you can get it for $2.99.  That’s less than the cost of a greeting card or a good burrito.  Plus, if you already have it in hardback you can put it in your reader so you can read it in the dark or have a copy you don’t have to worry about dog-earing.  Or you could buy one for someone you love. Or you could ignore this and say “I ONLY BUY FULL PRICE BECAUSE I WANT THE AUTHOR TO GET MORE MONEY” and that’s very nice but I’d rather more people read it than give me money so I’m cool with it if it means more people get to laugh or feel less alone.

Today only you can get the ebook for under three bucks from most places that offer ebooks.  Here are a few:

Amazon

NOOK

iBooks

Kobo 

I want to give out a few but I don’t know exactly how to so let’s do this so let’s try this.  If you  need a copy of Furiously Happy and can’t afford one then leave me a comment with the email you use and the type of e-reader you use and I’ll gift it to the first twenty people who ask.

Love you like a rabid raccoon.

rory furiouslyhappy

Dear stranger who made my whole day:

Dear anonymous stranger in the car ahead of me who paid for my breakfast:

You made my whole morning brighter and you inspired me to pay for the next person behind me.  Which actually made me feel even better, which is the nicest thing ever but it’s also sort of weird because the gift you gave me is basically you giving me a reason to give a gift to someone else.  Now my head hurts from the circularness, but it’s totally worth it.

When I got home I got a small, unexpected box of audio books from my publisher to celebrate winning an Audie award so I’m giving them out randomly to people who want them.  Want one?  Just leave a comment telling me if you want Furiously Happy or Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

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PS. I love you.