I have been trying really hard lately to step out of my comfort zone and do “adventurous” things. My anxiety disorder is still ever-present but it’s been more manageable the last few months and my shrink says I need to take advantage of this while it lasts and do scary (but not too scary) things as part of my behavioral therapy. And that’s how I got into the terrifying position of doing a TEDx talk in a few months.
My talk will be very short and because it has to do with having mental illness maybe people won’t judge me so harshly if I carry a table to hide under onto the stage. Or maybe I’ll do it facing the back of the stage like Sia. Or maybe I’ll do it from the safe and warm inside of a t-rex costume. Hard to say.
Click here to get tickets.
And perhaps avoid the front row in case I start vomiting. Or at least bring a waterproof poncho.
Very exciting news on the Nowhere Bookshop front…
We have a general manager!
And she’s amazing.
Her name is Elizabeth Jordan and she’s been the CEO of BookPeople in Austin (one of my favorite bookstores of all time) for years but she wanted to be closer to her family in San Antonio and we’re in San Antonio so this works out perfectly. Especially because I am so overwhelmed and she is so amazing and I am melting with relief that she’s going Nowhere.
Elizabeth with her adorable kids
Also, I am constantly sending her texts of my ideas, like how we should have live chickens in the store (but with diapers, obvs) and she sends me back texts saying that she is not changing chicken diapers and reminding me of health codes and Victor is very happy that finally there is another grown-up involved who can talk me down off the ledge and also knows how to sell books and host amazing events.
I’m pretty sure this will be us very soon:
Except slightly less violent and also possibly drunk and maybe with chickens. (But probably not chickens unless I can bribe the health inspector which Elizabeth says I totally can’t do.)
Welcome to Nowhere, Elizabeth.
So yesterday I was listening to the latest My Favorite Murder podcast about Karl Tanzler, the crazy stalker guy who was so obsessed with this lady he stole her corpse and lived with it for years and tried to bring it back to life. In the podcast they talk about the fact that after he got out of jail he wrote about his story in an 1947 pulp fantasy magazine called Fantastic Adventures and then later Ben Harrison wrote a book about it called Undying Love.
AS I’M LISTENING TO THIS PODCAST I open a package from one of my friends. He and his husband are visiting Key West (where the corpse bride story took place) and they saw that I’d signed the lease on my bookshop so they went to an Indie bookshop (Key West Island Books) to find a gift for me, and the bookseller knew me and was like, “You should get her this.” And inside the package was a signed copy of Undying Love and the original 1947 copy of Fascinating Adventures.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure this is a sign that I need to dig up a corpse or something but that sounds like too much cardio so instead I’m going to take it as a sign that the bookstore is a good idea and that maybe today we should be sharing the podcasts we’re love because honestly I need some new ones to listen to.
Here are a few I’ve been enjoying lately :
Over My Dead Body
Running From Cops
Hell and Gone
Confronting OJ Simpson
Against the Rules
David Tennant Does a Podcast
Voyage to the Stars
Whatever Happened to Pizza at McDonalds?
This is Love / This is Criminal
To Live and Die in LA
Beyond Bizarre True Crime
Root of Evil
True Crime Island
Cabinet of Curiosities
Love and Radio
Mission to Zyxx
This American Life
Your turn. What should we all be listening to?
Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):
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So this weekend? I officially signed a lease for Nowhere Bookshop (and bar).
This is a picture of me in the space right before I started hyperventilating.
Technically I couldn’t do this without you so I think that means that you just signed a lease on a bookstore too so I am mentally high-fiving you on our ability to take risks while also begging you to tell me that it’s all going to be okay because JESUSCHRISTWEBOUGHTABOOKSHOP.
Sorry. Okay. Here are the details. The good news is that it’s in Alamo Heights, which is a cool part of San Antonio and it’s really big so that means we’ll have plenty of room for signings and author events and community meetings and book clubs and drag queen story hour and Beyonce. The bad news is that it needs a shit-ton of work. Like, new floors, and some walls have to come down and others up and we have to add a wheelchair ramp and some accessible bathrooms and a bar and it needs paint and furniture and a liquor license. And books, I guess. And customers.
I am totally overwhelmed but I have great people to help me (more on that soon) and it feels like people really care so fingers crossed I didn’t just make a terrible mistake. There were stories in the newspaper and the San Antonio Current and William Shatner sang to me, so it’s been a strange couple of days.
I suspect it’ll take until the end of the year before we open. I have ideas for fun things we can do before that but I need to plan a bit more on the details. I will totally be asking for help though so if you live close maybe a small horde of you can show up and we can all paint it together when it’s closer to being done. I want to do a mural outside but I haven’t really found an artist that matches the weird/dark esthetic I want so if all else fails I’ll draw something and project it on the walls and then we’ll just have a giant, community paint-by-number party until we get arrested for vandalism and public intoxication. If you’re good at painting tentacles please see me because there’s gonna be tentacles. And maybe ravens and cat heads. I’m still thinking.
And there will be lots of ways to be a part of the bookstore even if you don’t live anywhere near Texas. You are part of this family whether you like it or not. (But I hope you like it.)
PS. I want to have food because you need food if you’re drinking but I don’t want cooked food so what do you usually crave when you’re reading a great book and drinking a glass of wine? Cookies? Scones? Pie? Popcorn? Those long licorice ropes that you can use as an edible straw?
One of my friends calls her vagina her snipper, and I love it because it’s cute but it also sounds vaguely threatening. Also, “vergernia” is nice because it’s fun to say. Try it. Say “vergernia”. It’s awesome.
This isn’t a real post. I just wanted wanted to share my vergernia. Not literally though.
Next month Hailey and Victor and I are going to Italy to visit an old friend. It is the first time we’ve ever been and will probably be the only time since we don’t travel much so we’re going to try to do Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Pompeii in less than a week. That sounds pretty undoable but technically we’re strange travelers and tend to go to bizarre sites rather than touristy places so maybe we can make it work.
I know literally nothing about Italy so is there anything we shouldn’t miss?
Bonus for creepy, weird, fun.
A few things I have on my list are seeing some of the incorruptible bodies of saints, crypts and catacombs, the Roman Cat Sanctuary where Ceasar was murdered, The Oak of Witches and the Bridge of Sighs. Where else should we go?
Random stranger: I love your dress.
me: Thank you!
*don’t say it*
*don’t say it*
*don’t say it*
IT HAS POCKETS!
This is me every damn day and if you’ve ever seen me at a reading you’ve probably watched me do this exact thing. Then I say that I got the dress at eShakti and other people in the audience say, “OMG I love them! POCKETS!” and then I say that they really should sponsor me. And then, YEARS later, they reached out and said, “We heard you love us. Want us to sponsor you?” and finally my long game has paid off. So keep reading because you need to know about them and also because they’re going to give away gift cards on this post. WHOOP. EVERYONE WINS.
Here’s what you need to know about eShakti if you’re new to it: It’s a website that gives you a ton of different designs that you can customize yourself. You can change the sleeves or the collar or the length. Almost every dress has pockets. POCKETS. I usually spend less than $60 per outfit and the clothes last forever. I literally have 50 eShakti dresses that I’ve collected over the last 10 years and they are all still in great shape.
Secret hints from me: The best thing for me about eShakti clothes (besides the pockets) is that you can search for clothes by material, which is great because anything that is crepe, georgette or chiffon will not wrinkle even if stuffed in a bag for a week, pet fur won’t stick to those materials, and they don’t have to be dry-cleaned. (The chambray dresses are also great, but they aren’t quite as wrinkle-free.) The sizing is very accurate but if you want to pay extra you can have it made specifically for your measurements. For comparison, I’m wearing a standard 14 in these pictures:
Dog not included.
Does this dress come with a cape? Yes. Capes are coming back. In this house, at least. (Also, I added cap sleeves to both of these dresses because I hate my arms.)
The only downside is that it takes a week or two to get your customized outfits but personally I sort of love that because I forget I ordered something and it’s like a surprise gift from me. And if your outfit doesn’t work it’s super easy to return. Just put the outfit in the box it came in and stick the postage sticker that came inside the box on it and drop it in the mail. Also, sometimes if you give feedback on your purchases they’ll send you gift cards or promos.
Today if you are a new customer you get 33% off your first order and if you put JENNIFERLAWSON in the referral/gift coupon space when you check out you’ll also get $15 off. And a bunch of you will be randomly selected to win gift cards for eShakti if you leave a comment below. (I’ll email you the codes directly if you win so no worries about me giving out your email to anyone else.)
So go check them out because I super love them.
I’ve literally never worn this dress anyplace other than my own house but it makes me feel fancy as fuck and cat fur and pop tart crumbs don’t stick to it. AND IT HAS POCKETS.
I swear next week I’ll write about non-funeral shit but I was wondering about something….
In the tiny town I’m from everyone in the funeral procession turns on their running lights from the funeral home to the cemetery and all the cops stops traffic to let the mourners run all the traffic lights and stop signs and everyone who sees you has to pull their car over on the shoulder of the road and sits quietly until everyone has passed, as if people in mourning were too dangerous to be trusted to drive near us. It’s a very sweet tradition ( and sort of cool because you’re mourning but you also get to run red lights and that’s a nice consolation prize) but since I’ve moved to bigger towns I never see people pull over for funerals.
Does this happen in your town?
Last week was hard. But also beautiful. And terrible. And lovely.
I sat in a room filled with family as we all shared stories about my wonderful grandfather. We laughed as much as we cried and the nurses looked the other way when we smuggled in my grandfathers dog – Buster – for a final snuggle before he passed. It was a hard thing to witness, but beyond the sadness of his last moments I witnessed the greatest people I’ve ever loved gathering to be there for the kindest man I’ve ever known and it made me realize how lucky we are to have someone who is so hard to say goodbye to.
“This is what it’s supposed to be like,” I told Victor. “A celebration. Kindness. Understanding. Laughter. Compassion. This is how you know you made a difference. This is what we all should hope for in the end.”
I learned stories about my grandfather I’d never heard before. About being raised by bootleggers during prohibition and inventing imaginary cows and working on planes in the military. He was the most religious man I’ve ever met but his brand of religion was in kindness and love. He was a quiet man but he wasn’t afraid to speak out when the church made what he thought were recent missteps. Hailey came out as gay at the same time his church decided to not conduct gay marriage and although I never knew it he let his disappointment in their decision be known. I know that he’d have felt the same way whether Hailey was gay or not, but it was so lovely to know that he was fighting for her and for others like her in his own quiet way. I wonder how often others are fighting for us behind the scenes. They say that you never know what battles others are fighting at the moment but I often forget that we never know how many good and wonderful people quietly move the world forward in such important and positive ways. Those people don’t make the news. But they make the world.
If you read my post before this one you read about the silver moth and how I saw it as a sign that we’d all gather together to be with my grandfather as he flew away home. On the night that he passed the moon was so enormous in the sky that I pulled my mom and sister outside and we stared at it in silence. August’s full moon is sometimes called The Flying Up Moon, because it’s when birds fledge and fly away. It felt like a sign. But things often do when you are reaching for meaning in sadness.
Then at the burial my grandfather’s dear friend told a parable about belief in the afterlife even when you doubt and it seemed fitting. And then everyone gathered together at the grave sang a song I had not been expecting. I’ll Fly Away.
I am a girl who believes in signs.
My grandfather was such a force for good that he leaves a hole in the world. I hope to fill it. With compassion and love and forgiveness and generosity and most importantly joy. Instead of flowers he asked that people support Planned Parenthood or Bread for the World or – most importantly – to go out and commit a simple act of kindness for a friend or loved one or a stranger.
Be kind to one another. It makes a difference.
A day ago I was in the pool when this happened:
And then this happened:
And then this happened:
Now I am a girl who believes in signs and I assumed the first sign was that I now had a new pet. I was going to name her Mothra but then someone on twitter was like, “Kate Moth” and that was pretty great and then someone on instagram was like, “WING CROSBY” and there’s no way we’re getting better than fucking WING CROSBY but then Wing flew away to a rose bush so it was moot.
The second sign, however, was a bit more concerning. According to the (never wrong) internet, the moth represents faith. They are nocturnal creatures that belong to the dark, but they are driven toward the light for some reason. And I can very much relate to this so I nodded and starting planning my moth tattoo. Then I read that this specific moth (the sphinx moth) is sometimes considered an omen of death. And that seemed not so great so I decided to ignore that part. And then today my mom called to tell me that my grandfather has taken a bad turn and that it might not be long now.
So now my parents are on the way to my house and my sister is flying in at midnight. And tomorrow we’ll all drive together to Austin to be with my wonderful grandfather. I don’t think we’ll be able to actually say goodbye. I don’t believe he’ll regain consciousness. But we say that we love each other every time because you don’t know when will be the last time so I know he knows he’s loved.
My grandfather is a truly wonderful man. He’s the most religious person I’ve ever met, but also the least likely to press his beliefs on you or judge you. He’s the quiet man making furniture for family in his workshop. He’s the man wearing the “LITERALLY ANYONE ELSE 2020” shirt who is quietly giggling at the grumpy looks he may get from others in the retirement home. He’s the guy who takes you out for ice cream every time and tells you the same stories over and over but with such love that you want to hear them. He’s the man who sneaks too much food to the dog and whispers to the dog not to tell anyone. The man who would never curse but will laugh at your dumb profanity-laced blog and love you unconditionally. He is a light. He’s the kind of person who makes you want to be the person he thinks you are.
He’s been struggling for a long time, in rehab after a terrible fall that he never quite recovered from. He’s been on a vent and I know he’s had a really hard time of it. So even though I’m sad I know that there will be relief for him in letting go. And if there is a heaven I have no doubt at all he will end up there. He makes me believe in heaven, and that is something. So for now my family will gather will around until we have answers, and we will be there for him and for each other as we wait for the moment when my grandfather will fly away home and when – together – we will move through the darkness and look again for the light.