Category Archives: important stuff

Please talk to your children. *mild trigger warning*

Yesterday Hailey came home terrified because of a letter sent home to all the kids in her elementary school.  It was meant for the parents but of course the kids on the bus read it and talked about it and made it more so much scarier, as children do.  And it is scary.

According to what I’ve read, an unnamed elementary school in our district has been threatened with mass violence by anonymous emails from someone who identified themselves as a serial killer.  It’s most likely a hoax (as most of these things are) and the fact that the emailer claims that it will happen on Thursday might indicate that it’s a student wanting area schools to close so they can have a four-day-weekend.  (Fiesta Friday is a traditional school holiday in our area.)

Still, it’s unsettling.  A few weeks ago I had to pick up Hailey at school because she got sick right after a lock-down drill designed to show children how to hide and be silent in the event of a school attack.  In some schools they teach the children how to barricade doors and what they can throw at an attacker that might slow them down.  I’m glad that they have these drills, but I hate that it’s necessary to have them.

This week the FBI and the police department will continue the investigation.  The schools in Hailey’s district will look more closely at any safety issues and will shore up any weak areas of security and make the schools safer.  And hopefully this will all go away.  But this is why I’m writing about this:  Lots of times when schools get bomb threats or threats of violence it ends up being a student who will brag about it to their friends.  Please talk to your kids today.  Tell them how important it is to let you know if they hear something like this.  So many of us don’t think about asking our kids about this stuff because we just assume they’ll tell us, but so often kids laugh stuff like that off as a silly prank without realizing the trauma involved for everyone else.  There’s a tip line that you can call if you’ve heard anything about this recent threat.  (210) 225-TIPS.

As for me, I haven’t decided whether to keep Hailey home on Thursday.  I’ll see what develops, talk it over with her and make a decision then.

I wish I had a better way to end this.  I wish I didn’t have to write this.  I wish you didn’t have to read it.  I wish a lot of things.

UPDATED:  The police and FBI  haven’t been able to identify who sent the death threats so I talked to Hailey and she said she’d rather stay home on Thursday, which is a bit of a relief because I’d rather she was home too.  As one of my amazing readers pointed out, Thursday also happens to be Take Your Daughter To Work Day and so I’m going to spend the day showing her what it’s like being a real writer, but with less booze.  This means we’ll rewrite the same paragraph all morning, then eventually scream “I CAN’T DO THIS.  NO ONE CAN DO THIS.”  Then we’ll give up and watch Doctor Who and take pictures of the cats to distract us from a looming sense of failure.  Later we’ll wake up at 2am with the perfect idea of how to finish that chapter we’ve been struggling over and will feverishly write until it’s all out of our head and then we’ll fall asleep at our desk and wonder the next day why we’re always so exhausted.  And it will be awesome.  And terrible.  Just like work should be.

Accidentally doing good things.

You know how every year we do some sort of fundraiser for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa in hopes of getting my taxidermied boar head canonized by the Pope?  Well, I was just thinking that now that we have a new, slightly-less-creepy Pope, James Garfield might finally have a chance at sainthood.  But then I started looking at Hanukkah and turns out it ends day after tomorrow.  I yelled at several Jewish friends for not letting me know this earlier and they apologized, saying “Um…we’re busy with Hanukkah, bitch.  Maybe get a fucking calendar.”  And one of them said something in Yiddish that I think translates to “YOU SHOULD LAUGH WITH LIZARDS“, which is an actual real insult and makes me want to take Yiddish classes.

Regardless, if you’ve been here long enough you probably know all about (or were a part of) The Many Miracle(s) of James Garfield.  The first came in 2010 when we all accidentally came together to raise over $42k to help get presents for kids who would not have otherwise gotten any.  It was awesome, and the next year tons of people who were helped in the past asked if we could do it again because now they were back on their feet and wanted to pass on the gift they’d received, but I couldn’t do it because I was so exhausted from running it that I got really sick.  Sorry.  I’m too shitty to be successfully philanthropic.  So instead, in 2011 we decided to help Project Night Nighta program that donates over 25,000 free packages to homeless children (containing  a new security blanket, a book, a stuffed animal and a tote bag) every year.  With our help they were able to donate the 750 packages they needed to hit all of the kids on their December list.  And in 2012 we donated a shitload of oxen to India (which seems weird, but awesome) and helped Project Night Night hit their goal of getting packages to 1,427 children affected by Hurricanes.

This year we’re going to switch it up and give 1,427 oxen to small children.  Or maybe we’ll just do what we did last year again. Because homeless kids being trampled by oxen seems slightly less festive.

It’s crazy simple to donate.  An entire package for Project Night Night only costs $20.  Plus, you can donate packages as presents in the name of all the people that you don’t want to send real gifts too.  Or you can donate bees in the name of people you don’t like.  For real.  It’s probably the worst present ever.  “For Christmas I bought you a big bag of angry bees.  Happy holidays, asshole.”  Except the bees go to needy people who’ll actual use them for pollination and honey and stuff.  But you could probably put one live bee in the “I donated in your name” envelope if you wanted to.  Or just put poison on the card.  Whatever.  I’m not here to judge you.

Want to donate?  Of course you do.  Just click here and you can donate directly to Project Night Night or here to donate to Heifer.  I’m starting it off by donating a llama in your name.  Yes, you.  I also bought 20 Project Night Night bags in your name in case you can’t afford to donate this year.

PS.  Don’t sweat it if you can’t afford to donate this year.  You can always share the Project Night Night page online or with friends to help spread the word.  Every little bit counts.

PPS.  I’m ccing the Pope on this one.  I’m pretty sure he needs to know about this shit.

James Garfield cannot tell a lie. He's like George Washington, but with his original teeth.

Happy holidays, you guys.  Thank you for being awesome.  You are worth ALL the llamas.

PPPS.  I have a ton of James Garfield holiday cards in my desk.  I’ll pick a bunch of people to randomly send them to in the comments.  Just leave a comment letting me know something nice you’re doing for someone else, if you can.

PPPPS.  Just a small update:  The Project Night Night folks emailed to tell me they received over $12,700 in donations in just the first day this post was up and donations are still flowing in.  They wanted to say thank you and so do I.  I don’t say it enough…I so adore you people.  Thank you for letting me be part of this amazing community.

PPPPPS. Just got an email from the very surprised Heifer people, who said to say thanks and that “the spike in numbers from your website was really impressive to the tune of more than 1K visitors and over $4K worth of bees!”  BEST ANGRY BEE CHRISTMAS EVER!

Wow.

24 hours ago I published the hardest post I ever had to write.  I’m pretty open about my struggles with depression and anxiety disorder, but yesterday I finally decided I was ready to write about my issues with self-harm.  I can’t go into details because that’s a trigger for me (and for most people who self-injure) but I’m not sure what I expected.  I think I expected my hard-core friends and readers to say something supportive and then sort of back away slowly out of not knowing how to respond.  Instead, thousands of comments poured in.  All of them supportive, understanding, and so many relieved and hopeful that one day they could come out of the closet about their darkest secrets.  I was flooded with DM’s and emails from people who weren’t ready to come out but suffered from things I never would have imagined.  Many were from friends I’ve known for years, and I found myself wanting to say the very thing that I dreaded hearing myself.  “But you seem so normal.”  And the truth is that they are.  I once sarcastically said that “crazy is the new normal” but it’s not sarcasm anymore.  We’re all different.  Each unique.  But that uniqueness that sets us apart is also what brings us together.  Some people call it “the human condition.”  I call it “amazing.”

I can’t respond to all of the comments and emails and DM’s but I am reading them and I can’t tell you how completely unburdened I feel.  More importantly though, I want you to know what you’ve done for others.  I had a lot of emails telling me how much my post helped them.  I had many, many more telling me how the response to my post helped them.  So many people listened, frightened, in silence to see how the world would respond to something that so many think of as shameful or an aberration.  They waited for the condemnation or the silence but it never came.  Those comments you left changed lives.

Last night an email came in from a woman whose twin daughters had both committed suicide because of depression.  One had died only a few weeks ago and her mother made sure her obituary explained that depression had taken her child’s life, because she wanted people to know that it was okay to talk about it…because the more we admit these things the less we hide them away from the help we need.   Then I got an email from a girl who was contemplating suicide.  She said that after she saw the response to my post she decided that she wasn’t as alone or unfixable after all and she started the process of getting help.  You did that.  You saved someone with nothing more than the power of words.

During the night twitter exploded with #silverribbons tweets and I loved how many people made their own, or painted them on their own bodies to show support.  A lot of people asked me to offer them in my shop, but honestly you can make them for free if you have a nickel’s worth of silver ribbon and a safety pin.  If you do want to buy one though you can buy them here and here.  Any profits will go to donating new red dresses for The Traveling Red Dress Project (A project designed to celebrate women in their strongest and weakest moments).

immortal bird Tomorrow I’m off to New York to do something that terrifies me, but I somehow feel more confident now, and it’s so amazing that that could come out of such vulnerability.  Thank you.  Thank you for not crushing me when you could.  Thank you for making me stronger so that no one else can.  Thank you for saving me and for saving each other.

PS.  This post wants a picture so I’m borrowing one from the fantastic Brooke Shaden.  I don’t know what she meant it to symbolize but it’s how I feel right now.  Still broken.  Still stuck.  Still fighting.  But feeling almost weightless from having this secret lifted off my chest.  Thank you for helping me carry this.

PPS. I promise my next post will be back to sweetly-raunchy and unhinged, irreverent glory.

No one makes cards for this. But they should.

Conversation I just had with Victor:

Victor:  What the hell are you doing?

me:  I’m watching Scandinavian horror movies.

Victor:  I see that.  Don’t you have work to do?

me:  Um…this is awkward.  It’s National Mental Illness Week?  I’m guessing this means you forgot to get me a card.

Victor:  What the hell is wrong with you?

me:  Um…I have mental illness.  Remember?  And this is National Mental Illness Week, so I’m taking the week off since it’s a recognized holiday.   It’s like Rosh Hashana, but for crazy people.

Victor:   Mental Illness Week is no holiday.

me:  Well the other 51 weeks are no picnic either.  And that’s why you have to really force yourself to celebrate the one week when people give you gifts and cards for being kinda fucked-up.  Or, at least, they should.  But then everyone forgets, and that’s depressing, and then you have to watch Scandinavian horror films to distract yourself from the lack of “YOU ARE THE BEST KIND OF FUCKED UP” cards in your mailbox.

Victor:  Wow.  It’s like this holiday was made for you.

me:  IT IS MADE FOR ME.  THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT SO AWESOME.

Victor:  I was going to say “baffling.”

me:  It’s both.  Which is what makes it even more amazing.  Even the holiday is bipolar.

Victor:  I’m going to go hide in my office now.

me:  Don’t stay in there too long.  I got a pinata to hang from the ceiling fan.

Victor:  Is it filled with prozac?

me:  No.  Because that would be illegal.  Plus, we’d end up with drugs knocked under the couch and then all the cats would all from drug allergies and overdoses.  Also, you can’t really make those jokes.  Those are our jokes.  It’s in our charter.

Then Victor left.  Probably to buy me an apology cake.

PS.  Happy Mental Illness Awareness Week from me.  To celebrate, take the rest of the week off.  Also, you can take a free, online screening here.  I just did all of the tests and it told me I have depression and anxiety disorder.  Which I do.  It’s like a Magic 8 Ball that actually works.

PPS.  They don’t actually make cards that say “Happy Mental Illness Awareness Week!” but they should.  I just made one for my store, but you might not get it before the end of the week, so I’m putting it here if you want to print it out for free.  Because awareness is half the battle.  The other half of the battle is getting people to help you hang up pinatas for holidays that no one recognizes.

For Japan

This post isn’t really a funny one and I apologize for that but it needs to be said so just bear with me a minute, okay?

I love Japan.  I’m not much of a traveler so it’s the only far-off place I’ve ever been and it holds a special place in my heart.  If you’ve read here long enough you know about the time that a young girl named Chicako volunteered to show me around Japan for free.  She didn’t know me and had no idea I had a blog but the people of Japan have such a strong feeling of civic duty and politeness that they regularly sign up to escort strangers around their city so they can practice their English.  She took me to her favorite local dives and sat patiently while sweet make-up artists made me into a prostitute (long story).  I met so many amazing people in my time in Japan and was almost embarrassed by how generous and selfless they were to a total stranger.  That’s why the earthquake and tsunami that struck there this week really hit home for me…because so many people I love are struggling there now.  And chance are, if you read this blog regularly, they’re people you love too.

You can’t always tell, but a lot of our regular commenters are in Japan.  They read.  They laugh.  They interact with you and me.  I usually have several hundred Japanese readers stop by on average.  In the past two days there’ve been only 40.  I hope to God that they’re all alive and well and are busy helping others and I wish I was there to help.  But I can’t be.  The only thing I can do is to donate to the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders and to encourage you to do the same.

They aren’t strangers.  They’re us.

PS. One of the easiest ways to donate is to text the word REDCROSS to 90999, and your $10 donation will just show up on your phone bill.  It’s crazy-easy and after you do it you’ll feel technologically savvy and philanthropic.

PPS.  We go back to the funny, fluffy stuff tomorrow.  Promise.

PPPS.  I’m including an old video of me eating Japanese boobie pudding as a small “thank you” for donating.  It’s really long because it was before I knew how to edit properly.  You totally have my permission to skip it because I realize my Minnie-Mouse voice clashes with my online persona.  Also, yes, my books are organized by color because that’s what normal people do.  Stop judging me.

UPDATED: My heart grew three sizes and now I have an enlarged heart. WORTH IT.

The past few days have been a whirlwind and I’m exhausted  and have given myself hives so please forgive the typos.

A few days ago I put up a post offering $30 gift cards to the first twenty people who didn’t know how they were going to give their kids Christmas gifts this year.  They went frighteningly quickly.  When I got to the twentieth person I saw that there were still a few more people who needed help and my heart sunk.  Then a few comments in one person said “I’ll take care of the 21st person”.  Then another person offered a card for the 22nd.  Then another.  Then it avalanched.

In the past few days that post has gotten over 500 comments and so many heart-breaking requests were from people who need a small hand-up to buy food for Christmas dinner or from people who are planning on telling their children that there is no Santa because otherwise they wouldn’t understand why he didn’t come.  You can’t read the comments and not ache a little because so many of us have either been there or see how easy it would be to be in their position one day.  But here’s the amazing thing…every time someone would leave a comment asking for help someone else would leave a comment asking to help.  And that’s why as of Friday morning, every single person who asked for help here is matched up with at least one person who will be sending them a gift card.  In fact, so many people offered to help that we were able to give out multiple gift cards to people who had a greater need.  And when things seemed dicey and I was about to call for an end to comments a wonderful man emailed me and told me that he’s so enjoyed the community on this blog that he wanted to donate $1000, no questions asked.  So, ten people who were really struggling woke up this morning to $100 in their paypal accounts.  Another reader offered $250 to a family in desperate need.  A doll-clothes store owner sent sent seven beautiful Madame Alexander/American Girl dolls to wait under the tree for seven little girls who truly needed a single happy surprise in their lives right now.  People getting the gift cards are vowing to pay the gift forward next year.  Emails are flooding in from people in shock, in tears and so grateful.  And the funny thing is that half of those crying, grateful people are the ones who are donating.  They’re so happy to have finally felt something warm and true that they’re feeling a Christmas spirit for the first time since they were children.

I know exactly what they mean.

Thank you.  Thank you for donating and thank you for sharing your story.  Thank you for asking for help so that others can feel like miracle workers.  Thank you for kind words and thoughts and for being you.  Thank you.

I’m going out of town for the weekend to pick up my mom and bring her here for Christmas but if you’ve asked for help and haven’t received it by Monday then just leave me a comment next week and I’ll see if I can find another donor to help you.  And if you still want to help leave a comment too.  There are still people trickling in and we may need some angels to swoop in on Monday in case any of the matches flake out.

PS.  I just want to point out that my traffic the last two days has been exactly the same as usual.  What that means to me is that the people donating and the people receiving are all part of the usual community of people who regularly read and comment here.  That.  Is.  Amazing. And I’m so proud to be part of this community.  You guys are the best minions ever.

UPDATE: So many people have gone on their own blogs to offer up their own gift cards to people in need and it’s amazing.  Thank you!  One of those people is the amazing Maureen Johnson who helped a ton of people herself but still has twenty more people in dire need.  If you still want to donate I have their addresses and I can set you up to perform a small Christmas miracle.  Just leave a comment.  I’ll be here for the next two hours at least if you can donate.

UPDATE AGAIN: A lot of you have asked if you could just paypal me money to give to the people in need.  You totally can but I’ll have to pay taxes on that money since it goes into my account so it’s not as ideal as you getting matched with someone and sending them the card directly, but if you’d rather just give money you can paypal me at jenny@thebloggess.com.  Don’t spam me or I will stab you.

SATURDAY UPDATE: As of right now (noon Saturday) I have emailed hundreds of donors and over 500 gift cards are scheduled to go out to people who need help.  If everything goes as planned (Please, God, let it go as planned) everyone who has asked for help as of this moment will get at least one gift card and many will get several.  Some got cash for medicine.  Some got money so they could keep the electricity on and buy food for Christmas dinner.  Some only asked for help in buying presents for their brothers or sisters so their moms wouldn’t be so worried.  Some received help and then got more help than they needed and decided to turn around and become a donor themselves.  I wish I could tell you what this has meant to me but there aren’t words for it.  The emails and comments coming in from people who got a Christmas miracle are incredible but the ones from people so thankful to be able to help are even more moving.  Right now we still have a few more donors available and another 20 are standing by in case someone who asked for a donation hasn’t heard anything from their donor by Monday.

That’s one hell of a Christmas miracle, y’all.

This calls for a theme song.

Thank you for making me believe again.

UPDATE (10am Sunday morning): As of this minute (barring any mistakes) we’ve matched everyone who asked for help with at least one donor and we still have a few donors on standby for emergencies. So far over 600 gift cards have gone out to provide a Christmas miracle for strangers in need. If you wanted to help but haven’t heard from me please leave another comment. I’m sure by Monday we’ll need more to fill in any gaps. Now if you’ll excuse me, my hands are about to fall off.

UPDATE (2pm Sunday): With no marketing, no push, and no fanfare, somehow hundreds of willing donors have  come forward to send 650 gift cards to people in need.  Many people who wanted to contribute a $30 card came back and told me that instead they gave $50 or $100 or $200.  As of right now over $22,000 has been sent out in small electronic chunks all over the world to make Christmas a small bit brighter for a complete stranger.  People have contributed in (and have been helped in) America, Canada, England, Germany, Australia, Asia…and they continue to help.  Every time we get down to our last donor someone else steps forward.  I wish I could share all the emails from people who felt that this gave them the hope to get through the next year and the strength to keep looking for a job or a place to work because they now had faith that people cared.  There were even some who admitted later that they were considering suicide until this gave them hope.  Some of those people considering suicide?  Were the donors.  Some felt isolated and depressed in the holiday season and being able to have someone somewhere count on them made them feel connected and less alone.  I know just how they feel.

Thank you for letting me be a part of this.

UPDATE: (A few minutes from Monday morning): Wow. Just…wow. In less than an hour it will be Monday morning and so far pretty much everyone who asked for help is going to matched with at least one donor. I still have another hundred emails to mail out before I can go to sleep but it looks like well over 800 gift cards will be sent out if everything goes through as planned. I’ve been running on adrenaline and caffeine for the past 4 days but I can tell I’m about to crash so I’m going to call this as of right now and say that this has been the most successful, unplanned, disorganized celebration of awesomeness that I’ve ever accidentally been in charge of.

If you still want to help then please leave a comment because we’re about nine donors short right now.   I wish I could do more and I’m sorry that I can’t but I’m so incredibly proud of the fact that we were able to help hundreds and hundreds of people (both givers and receivers) make Christmas magical. If you were matched with someone as of comment 1033 and you don’t get a response from your donor by 11am Monday morning then leave me a comment. We have a few donors on stand-by to help people who may have fallen through the cracks. With any luck by noon tomorrow we’ll be done and I can finally sleep and shower and actually maintain eye contact with my family for more than five minutes at a time.

Thank you. To the donors and to the recipients and to the people who came to cheer on both. Thank you.

You’ve made all the difference.

Final update:

Done.  It’s Monday night and over 900 gift cards were sent out to people needing help.  I’m sure we didn’t get everyone but hundreds and hundreds of people were helped.  Some got enough to buy their children new books.  Some got money to put food on the table on Christmas.  One 9th grader asked if anyone had a used laptop for her disabled mother before coming back and asking to delete the comment since so many other people needed help.  That young girl will be surprising her mother with an ipad from one of our amazing, regular readers.  One woman emailed to say that because of the support she got they were able to save their house from foreclosure.  I wish it could go on forever but I have to stop before I get sick.  If you don’t get an email from me matching you with a donor by midnight, please donate to your local food bank.  There are still so many people who need help this year just putting food on the table.

Some small miracles happened here in the past five days and I don’t know exactly how I fell into being involved but I’m so glad I did.  It may be the lack of sleep but I’m finding it hard really understand what happened here and why it feels like such an important thing to have been a part of.  It was just a series of small gifts sent one by one to perfect strangers in need.  It doesn’t change the world.

Or maybe it does.

Thank you for changing mine.

PS.  Final tallies: Over 900 gift cards were sent out by 689 people who were so thrilled to help.  450 people who needed small Christmas miracles received donations for medicine, food, or presents under the tree for their children.  No large corporations got involved.  No one only offered to donate if they got something out of it themselves.  With no sponsorships, no ulterior motives and with only a simple need to reach out and help a perfect stranger, 689 everyday, normal people (Jewish, Christians, Atheists, Muslims and more) sent out over $40,000 worth of donations to make sure Christmas came.

You did this.

Thank you from me, Victor, Hailey, Anderson Cooper and James Garfield

UPDATE: Wow.  That went heartbreakingly fast.  But there are other people out there who have so sweetly offered up gift cards that they don’t need or who’ve sent emails about wanting to help so keep leaving comments and I’ll do my best to match up donators with those of you needing help.  I’m sure we won’t be able to help everyone and I’m sorry for that but every little bit counts.  Also, consider contacting Toys for Tots if you need presents.  It’s easy (aside from the line you have to wait in) to get new presents for your kids that way and there’s no one there judging you.  And I hope that everyone reads the comments and it spurs you on to donating, even if it’s only a few dollars or to just remember how lucky we are.  The world is both darker and brighter than we think.

**********************

I’m about to ruin your image of me but it’s for a good cause.

In my family we have one Christmas tradition that we never, ever skip.  Every year at Christmas Victor and Hailey and I go out and buy my parents the best Christmas present that they never actually get.  This year we’re gearing up for the same thing (and I totally recommend it to anyone who has some extra cash to share) but we’re also doing something different.

This year was hard for so a lot people and so many people I know are struggling.  They’re looking for work or for places to live and suddenly the things that you take for granted, like buying Christmas presents for your kids, become a luxury you can’t afford.  I’ve had my years of struggling and borrowing and getting the water shut off because you couldn’t afford to pay it but this year we’ve been really lucky.  We aren’t rich but we’re blessed and so much of that is because of you.  Whether you left a kind comment or nice email or supported me by buying ridiculous James Garfield holiday cards you made a difference to me.  And that’s why we’re taking all the money you gave me for James Garfield cards and we’re giving it back.

If you’re struggling for money right now and don’t know how you’ll give your kids presents then leave me a comment.  You don’t have to use your real name or leave a url or prove anything.  Just leave me a comment and your email address (always hidden and never used) and I’ll email a $30 Amazon gift card to the first twenty people who leave a comment explaining why it would make a difference in their lives right now.

Thank you to everyone who made a difference to me.

PS.  My guess is that with so many people out of work right now these will go fast so if you’re in a place where you’re lucky enough to have money to share then please donate to Toys for Tots.  Or if you’d like to help by doing your own gift card giveaway (even giving one can make a huge difference and you can do it all online) on your blog then just leave a comment with your url below and we can keep this going until we help as many people as we can.

PPS.  I’m so grateful I’m able to do this and I wouldn’t have had the money to do this without you.  Thank you. You make the world go ’round.

PPPS.  I promise to be less sappy tomorrow.

The Traveling Red Dress

My friend (Sunny) is an artist.  She writes and paints and makes beautiful, whimsical dresses out of found objects and magic.  One of my favorite dresses of hers is the red poppy dress and I wanted it the first time I saw it but I knew I’d never get it.  For one thing, it’s not sensible.  It’s impractical.  It’s bright red and vibrant and shocking and “inappropriate for a woman my age”.  And I have no shoes to go with it.  And I have no place to wear it.

And I want it.

I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies.  I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be.  And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”.  Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better.  Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it.

And I am worth it.

And last week…?

…I got my red dress.

I didn’t have shoes, or a party to wear it to, or even a valid excuse to own it, but I had the dress.

And it was everything I thought it would be.

But here’s the thing…you are worth it too.  Which is why this week the red dress will begin a journey, traveling from city to city so that other people can wear it and love it and feel as special and vivid and dynamic as they already are.  Because sometimes we all need a little red dress to remind us of that.  So today, think about what it is you need and were too embarrassed to ask for.  And then go fucking do it. Wear a ball gown to the grocery store.  Invite the neighbors to have a picnic on the front lawn.  Get that novel out of your sock drawer and publish it yourself.  Stand on a bus stop bench and belt out a song for the waiting strangers.  Find a playground swing and remember how it felt to fly.  Find your red dress. And wear the hell out of it.

The Devil-and-the-Details:  This dress was custom-made by Sunny Haralson of Rubypearl and was specially made for this project.  Photographs taken by the amazing Karen Walrond, a woman who knows me so well that she’s become unfazed when asked to meet me in a graveyard with her camera and bail money.  (She *did* hesitate briefly when I mentioned that I’d be in my pajamas and that I’d have to get naked in the graveyard because I can’t actually put on the dress without someone cinching me up but then she just sighed and nodded and reminded herself to renew her license to practice law.)  Click here for her whole set.  Also, I’m bringing the traveling red dress to Blogher in August so if you’re going to be there and you want to get photographed in it then just come find me.  It’s totally worth it.  And so are you.

Comment of the day (although you should really read all of them because you people are fucking amazing): I can only hope like the “Traveling Pants”, the “Traveling Red Dress” is magic enough to make it fit my size 18 self by mere magic.  Honestly, being able to see it.. to touch it and be near it will be enough to prove I will be living my own Red Dress moment. I’m going to Blogher! I’m going to fly (!!!) to New York in 70 days and I’m completely and utterly terrified. But I’m doing it anyway dammit! This is a nerve-racking trip for most people, but for me? It’s so much more than that. For me, this trip will be a catalyst to take my life back from the ruthless clutches of agoraphobia. Sort of extreme exposure therapy. Today I can’t drive to the next town on my own, I can’t be alone at home, I can’t even take my daughter to the beach. I’m so much better than the housebound puddle I was 10 years ago, but I’m stuck. I’m so tired of CAN’T. In 70 days though (god help me), I CAN and I WILL.

That red dress? Home plate. The finish line. And also new beginning.

Thank you. ~ Karen

Updated:  The red dress has traveled to so many women celebrating miracles and overcoming struggles but this is a favorite. 

Also wonderful?

It’s a good kind of weird.

Wear the hell out of it.

Fighting cancer with friends. No mirrors necessary.

Jami, celebrating an amazing, personal transformation.

A summary.

There are tons of other stories…women bringing the red dress to retirement homes or to dying friends or just wearing it to celebrate life. It’s a good thing. Vivid, wonderful and amazing. Just like the women inside.

UPDATED 2012: The red dress is now years old and is a bit tattered but it’s still filled with magic and is currently on the road visiting people who need some magic in their lives. Ideally, we would have 15 red ball-gowns in various sizes all traversing the globe at the same time but I just can’t afford it. If your company is interested in donating red ball gowns, just drop me an email at advertising (at) thebloggess.com.

Suicide is never the answer. Even to word problems.

Today is Sunday which means that it’s time to do a wrap-up of everything I did this week but I’m going to put that off because today  I got an email from a friend of mine in the hospital.  His name is Jon and if you read the comments then you kind of know him.  He’s funny, and smart and a hysterical man who sends nude Christmas cards of himself to his grandmother (who only complained because they’re both Jewish).  He’s one of us and a few days ago he tried to kill himself.  Why?  Because he’d fallen down a black hole.  He emailed me because he knew I “can understand how it gets when we suddenly become overwhelmed by the hostility and inhumanity of the world“.  And I can.  I wish I didn’t.  But as I emailed Jon back I thought about how lucky I am that I’m able to email him and yell at him for doing something so stupid.  The world would be a colder place without him.  If you’re considering suicide, know that your loss will be one that leaves a hole in the lives of so many people, including mine.  You are important.  You are special.  You are not replaceable.

Jon said he’d be reading the blog if he could bribe his nurse to access the internet again and so I’m leaving a copy of my email to him here because I want him to see it, and I want you to see it too because it’s important:

Oh Jon, You made me cry. I do understand. Completely. And if I was there I would hug you and then slap you. Because suicide isn’t an option. If I don’t get to do it then no one does. Those are the rules. And also, when people commit suicide I get suicidal so next time you even think of it you need to remember that I have a whole host of drugs here that I shouldn’t even be allowed to be by. I’m dangerous so I need you to be sane. No pressure.

You bring light and laughter into the universe and there is far too little of that here to begin with. Remember that picture you sent me of you as a naked reindeer wearing only a single Christmas sock? I still have it. I don’t keep all my emails. Only the funny ones. You are special and I’m not just saying that.

This too shall pass. I promise. And if you try to commit suicide again I will cut you. Unless you tried by cutting your wrists. Then I’ll just punch you and yell a bit while I wrap your favorite shirt around your wrists. There. You just ruined your favorite shirt with your blood, Jon. This is why suicide sucks. We all lose. We lose our favorite shirts.

Love,

me

PS. This is the worst letter ever but I know you’ll understand it. And this is exactly the reason why you must get better and carry on. There are far too few people in the world that I can send sarcastic emails to while they recover from a suicide attempt in a psych ward.

Don’t let me down, Jon. The world needs you.

That goes for the rest of you people as well. There aren’t enough misfits in the world. Let’s stick together out there. After all, we’re all we have.

Comment of the day: The Black Hole engulfs many. I spent 3 hours one afternoon when I was 53 years old, trying to figure out how to commit suicide without my children knowing it was suicide. The younger one was still in high school. What saved me? Anger. To be hoodwinked by the liar that is major depression does not make you a lesser person. It can happen to almost anyone in the right circumstances. Get mad enough to blow up the world, and then get silly, and then get joyful. You have the right. Love to all who have been down this road and who know others who have been down it. There IS a way out. ~ Beth

Men don’t understand science.

This was supposed to be a post about how awesome towels are but then my cat Rolly fucked it all up.  I was going to share my discovery about how if you wrap your hair up in a tight towel-turban when you’re upside down after a shower it pulls your face-skin back so it’s all taut and you look like you just had a mini-face-lift which is cool because you can combat the I-feel-vulnerable-because don’t-have-any-make-up-on problem with the but-I-do-have-a-youthful-fake-face-lift thing, but then when I was setting up my camera my cat jumped on my head.  And technically she does that almost every morning but this particular morning I was trying to document my towel discovery and it was fucking up the whole look, but then I noticed that the weight of the cat body actually pulled the towel further back and made the face-lift thing even more dramatic.  Which was kind of great except that she’s so fat that she sqwooshed my neck so I looked even less swan-like than usual but then I thought maybe it was an okay trade-off because her height gave me the illusion of being taller (which is slimming) so then I was totally conflicted and so I went and asked Victor, “Be honest…does does this cat make me look fatter…or younger?” and he just kind of stared at me and I’m all “Seriously, this is not a trick question.  This is for science.”  And then he was all “You know, you’re the reason why that damn cat jumps on everyone’s head.  If you’d stop letting her ride around like that we’d have a lot less people complaining that our cat attacked their head” and then I was all “I’m not even going to talk to you while you’re being ridiculous” and I walked away because Victor’s mother doesn’t count as “everyone” and besides, the cat was probably just trying to make her look younger.  Or fatter.  Hard to tell with cats.

PS.   This is exactly why I keep a tripod set up in my bathroom.  And also, it makes people take faster showers because they never know if the camera is going to go off.  So I’m saving water and inventing beauty tips.  And also I’m making cats more useful.  You’re welcome, America.

I showed this picture to Victor and he was all "Is that my toothbrush?!" like *that's* the pertinent issue. Victor needs to get his priorities straightened out. And also have no idea if that's his toothbrush. I'm way to busy doing science to pay attention to trivial shit like that.

Comment of the day: Clearly, to activate the scientific part of your brain you need a cat to sit on it. That’s why Einstein’s hair was so fucked up.  He didn’t want people to see the cat.  He wanted all the credit. ~ a