Bad crack

This week we were in Hawaii for a few days and it was really nice although I’m still fighting this depression so I spent a lot of time just resting in my room, but one time I went to the ice machine and there was this British couple there who was adorable and I was like, “You guys having some good crack?” because I’ve been listening to a lot of UK podcasts lately and when they’re having fun they say ‘it’s all good crack’ but this couple was like, “Um…pardon?” and I said, “Is that not how you say it? Do you not pronounce it ‘crack’ where you’re from?” and they were like, “No, we know what crack is” but they said it in a way that clearly they did not know the crack I was referring to so I was like, “Not the bad crack, I mean. The good crack. The happy-time crack, you know?” and they were like, “Sure” but I’m pretty sure they were not sure and also now that I’m thinking about it they may have been Australian.

This is where I would tell you all about my vacation but I am too tired and spent my last bit of energy scheduling 3 weeks of having a nurse inject me with ketamine so I can hopefully psychedelic myself out of this deep depression and into at least a functional one. I was feeling bad that this post was so discordant on topics because my brain is broken but technically both paragraphs are about drugs and happiness so there is a theme.

PS. If I had all of your addresses I would have sent you these because nothing says “elegant souvenir” like being invited to suck on some dirty donkey balls.

I had questions, obviously, but when I googled “donkey balls” google was like:

And now I just have more questions. So I guess I did bring you a souvenir and it’s our shared sense of bewilderment over lumpy donkeys and their balls and that’s good crack. (Which would also be a good souvenir if you liked crack, I guess.)

Actually, speaking of flying drugs back from Hawaii, at the Honolulu airport you go through security and then you leave the building and go outside to catch a bus to take you to your gate and I was like, “What’s the point of security if I’m just going to go outside again?” and Victor was like, “The bus system only goes around the airport so it’s secure” and I was like, “Yeah, until I whistle for my pet falcon, and what’s attached to its leg? A nail clipper. Now I have a nail clipper on a plane. AND A FALCON. And maybe he also swallowed drugs and fireworks because he’s wild like that” and Victor was like, “Can you not talk about this while we’re in the airport?” and I was like, “If anything they should be thanking me for pointing out these loopholes” but no one thanked me at all.

We don’t speak the same language even when we’re speaking the same language

Victor and I have been married for over 20 years and still we find ourselves using phrases that the other person swears we’ve just made up even though we each insist that it is a well-known family idiom and that’s why I need to see if either of us are right. So here are the beginnings of several phrases we’ve each heard since we were little that the other says is insane. If you know the answers leave them in the comments and let me know if there are phrases you use that other people think you just made up.

“If you have to ask ___ ___ ___ ___.” (Usually said in an antique store.)

“I told that jack-ass exactly how the cow ___ ___ ___.”

“If it was a snake ___ ___ ___ ___ ___.”

“That poor girl looks rode hard ___ ___ ___ ___.”

“That dumbass is happy as a dead pig ___ ___ ___.”

“I’m sweating like a ___ ___ ___.”

“You’re not gonna keep me waiting ’til the cows ___ ___.”

“Oh, bull ___.” (This is what you’d say if you were in front of children rather than “bull shit”.)

“Close only counts in ___ ___ ___ ___ ___.”

“I should make my deadline, lord willing and ___ ___ ___ ___.”

What to read in March.

How the fuck is March already?

I have no idea. But I do know that March has some fantastic books you should check out and two of them are my book picks for the month.

First up is my pick for Nightmares from Nowhere, Lone Women by Victor LaValle. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype I’d been hearing but I devoured it in a single day because I could not put it down.  The perfect mix of fascinating historical fiction and true horror.  Like if Little House on the Prairie was haunted.  And Laura Ingalls had a dark secret.  And was orphaned.  And was black.  Actually, not like Little House in the Prairie at all, now that I’m thinking about it.  You know what?  Here’s a better description:

“Blue skies, empty land—and enough room to hide away a horrifying secret. Or is there? Discover a haunting new vision of the American West from the award-winning author of The Changeling.
Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk is opened, people around her start to disappear…”

And my pick for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club is a fantastically smart, funny and cozy memoir called Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller by Oliver Darkshire.

“Some years ago, Oliver Darkshire stepped into the hushed interior of Henry Sotheran Ltd on Sackville Street (est. 1761) to interview for their bookselling apprenticeship, a decision which has bedeviled him ever since.
For while Sotheran’s might be a treasure trove of literary delights, it sings a siren song to eccentrics. There are not only colleagues whose tastes in rare items range from the inspired to the mildly dangerous, but also zealous collectors seeking knowledge, curios, or simply someone with whom to hold a four hour conversation about books bound in human skin.
By turns unhinged and earnestly dog-eared, Once Upon a Tome is the rather colorful story of life in one of the country’s most ancient bookshops and a love letter to the benign, unruly world of antiquarian bookselling, where to be uncommon or strange is the best possible compliment.”

Need more than two books to get you through the month? I HAVE YOU. Some of my favorite new reads for March are:

The Angel Makers: Arsenic, a Midwife, and Modern History’s Most Astonishing Murder Ring by Patti McCracken   the true story of a 1920s midwife who may have been the century’s most prolific killer leading a murder ring of women responsible for the deaths of 160 men.   HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS STORY?

Weyward by Emilia Hart Three generations of women separated by centuries.  Witchcraft.  Secrets.  Dark suspense.  I think this one is going to get a lot of attention.

The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud – A western science fiction tale, like if True Grit and The Martian Chronicles had a baby.

Piñata by Leopoldo Gout –  A terrifying possession tale filled with Mexican and Aztec cultural elements.

The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts by Soraya Palmer  – Folktales and spirits animate this coming-of-age tale of two Jamaican-Trinidadian sisters in Brooklyn grappling with their mother’s illness, their father’s infidelity, and the truth of their family’s past.

Tombs by Junji Ito – If you love horror and you love manga you probably already know the bizarre, confounding and award-winning horror of Junji Ito.  This short story collection proves why he’s a master of body horror.

Chlorine by Jade Song  An unsettling novel about immigration, sapphic longing, and fierce, defiant becoming. Also, mermaids.

I’m going to open up discussion about Maame by Jessica George on the Fantastic Strangelings page but in case you don’t do facebook I’ll leave my thoughts in the comments.

And while we’re talking books…a giant thank you to the team at Nowhere and our amazing community (this means you!) for making us readers’ choice best bookshop in San Antonio and best place to Sip and Shop. HIGH FIVES TO EVERYONE.

Happy reading, y’all.

PS. Thank you for all of your sweet thoughts. I’m feeling better today. Trying to push myself without overdoing it.


This post won’t be funny or entertaining but it’s honest and sometimes that’s all I have. I’ve been in a depression for bit. I thought I was sick and maybe I am and it caused the depression or maybe I was depressed enough that it looked like illness, and the terrible thing about depression mixed with chronic illnesses is that it’s often really impossible to tell if you’re dying of some disease or if you want to die because of another. This is not a cry for help. I’m 100% safe, I promise. But I’m safe because I know my limitations and because I’m lucky enough to have support and resources so that as soon as I start to get really deep I can tell people and get help.

Yesterday I had a few flashes of dark thoughts and that’s when I knew I needed some help so I told Victor and I called to see if I could get in for a few weeks of ketamine treatments. They’ve helped me before but since it’s been 2 years since my last round of treatment it’s going to take three weeks before they can do an intake for me, which was upsetting yesterday but I’m feeling better today knowing that I’ve taken the right steps to get there eventually. There’s a relief in knowing there may be relief in the future, and somehow just knowing that has helped.

Here’s the weird thing that’s going to sound awful. A big reason why I think I felt so desperate is because in a week Victor has to go to Hawaii for a meeting and Hailey and I were going to come along for a few days and instead of feeling incredibly grateful and lucky I felt horribly guilty and panicked about the fact that I know I may not be able to appreciate how lucky I am. Does that make sense? Somehow, living with depression when people can’t really see you unshowered, or unable to focus more than an hour or two a day, or in bed while the world goes on without you can seem like you’re living with the pause button on…but physically seeing how much of the world should bring you joy when you feel exhausted and numb can be like seeing yourself in the mirror after a long illness…seeing just how bad you’ve let things get when even the greatest things leave you feeling a bit hollow and broken.

I’m lucky that I have the kind of life where I even get to travel and that I have the kind of family who understands and who were okay with changing our agenda from a “LET’S DO ALL THE THINGS” to “Why don’t we just stay a few days instead of a week and just do one planned thing a day and then you can hide in the hotel or sit on the beach and rest the rest of the day?” without judgement. I’m lucky that I can even afford the treatment I’m getting because of course it isn’t covered by insurance because why would it be? I’m lucky that when I do speaking gigs they’re okay with me coming in the day before and hiding in my room because I don’t have the ability to travel and speak on the same day because I know my limits and they are embarrassingly small and I’m lucky to live in a world with people who understand because there are so many of us out there. (THANK YOU, IOWA. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.)

So I’ve followed the steps of my plan. I told my family that I’m struggling a little. I made a plan for treatment. I’ve set limits so that I can be my best self the few hours a day I have energy and I’m giving myself down-time as needed. I’m taking small walks and vitamins and medications. I told my family that I need a little help because when I get bad I sometimes get compulsive in my thoughts and my brain craves the darkness and that has meant a complete obsession with the Alex Murdaugh case (including 6 podcasts and the trial running live in the background for weeks) and yesterday I told them that I wasn’t going to listen anymore AND THEN OF COURSE IMMEDIATELY EVERYTHING HAPPENED and Hailey was on their phone and was like, “Don’t look it up but they found him guilty” and I high-fived them but fought off the impulse to immediately open up everything and refollow all of the podcasts to listen to all of them in succession and that’s a big deal.

So now I’m purposely trying to listen to funny, happy, or just slightly less death-focused podcasts and so I need your help because I am very good at finding all the dark and creepy ones I can usually listen to without repercussions but just to be safe I’m trying to bring more sunshine into my life…do you have any suggestions? A podcast that makes you happy? A comfort show to binge?

PS. I’m just about to publish this and then move on to the million other things I need to do but Hunter S. Thomcat just came and sat on my to-do list which was on top of another to-do list I wrote when I couldn’t find the first one which is next to a to-do journal that I bought because it looked more organized and I thought it would save me but strangely hasn’t at all because turns out “the wrong stationary” is not my problem, but it’s sort of nice that he’s perched on everything like a dragon guarding his hoard and I’m taking it as a sign that maybe I can go lay down for a little bit because you should never confront dragons if you can help it.

PPS. I know I’m not alone. In a way I wish I was because this sucks when you’re in it and I’m sorry anyone has to go through this. But it’s also comforting to know that it’s not just me and that I’ll get through this just like you will. Just keep breathing, friend. Beware of dragons. Fight for yourself. Ask for help. Know that you’ll be okay and that the lies depression tells are just that…lies.

I super love you.

I can’t handle this kind of pressure.

My friend Maile gave me one of those mini build-your-own-bonsai-tree kits for my birthday and it actually sprouted and is still alive, but when I was bragging about Leafer Sutherland and how proud I was of growing my son, the tree, someone was like, “Actually, looks like you’ve grown six of them and you need to transplant each of them into their own pot because otherwise they’ll strangle each other.”


So now I accidentally have 6 children who are going to murder each other? Now I’m responsible for a half dozen violent indoor trees when I can’t manage to keep a single plant alive other than a forgotten potato that rolled into a corner of the pantry that I didn’t notice until months later when it was growing into a tree itself?

This is too much pressure. I didn’t even have a pot for the first tree so I just used a soup bowl and I don’t have 6 soup bowls. Am I a bad parent if I just let them battle it out and possibly kill each other? Or make them fight to the death and the last one standing is the final boss that is probably immortal and is the only thing I should be trusted with? And then I only have to raise one psychotic serial killer and don’t have to buy anymore soup bowls and I’m not sure if this sounds like good parenting or terrible parenting.

In my defense, I did throw the potato tree out into the backyard to give it a chance to thrive and it died almost immediately, so technically it seems like neglect is the best way to raise trees in my limited experience.

Wait. Victor just pointed out that potatoes aren’t trees and I guess I knew that since I’ve never heard of potato-picking season but I think this really just proves I’m bad at all living things and I need someone to come take my murderous children away while they’re still thriving in their soup bowl. And that is a sentence I never thought I’d write.

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