Author Archives: thebloggess

Who should win the Game of Thrones? Good girls…that’s who.

Victor and I have been fighting about who should sit on the Iron Throne:

me:   I’ve decided that I’m rooting for Nymeria.

Victor:  Who?

me:  Arya’s direwolf.  Because first of all, she is a good girl and needs snuggles.  She attacks bad people and isn’t afraid to eat people when necessary.  Plus, everyone would bend the knee because you couldn’t stop yourself from bending down to give her head scritches.

Victor:  I’m still rooting for Daenerys.

me:  You can’t root for Daenerys,  She’s all crazy now.

Victor: Yeah, but I have a thing for crazy women.

me: Huh.  I don’t know if I should be offended or complimented.

Victor:  Both, I guess.

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And on an entirely different subject, it’s time for the Sunday wrap-up!

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by the Vikki Vi Fashion Blog, where Jen Anderson dishes out frank advice about living and dressing while plus size. Whether you’re gunning for a raise or trying to figure out what on earth “smart casual” means she’s got your back. They also sell clothes and you can use the promo code BLOGGESS for 20% off your first order.  I recommend starting here.


You don’t have to do it all.

Hey, I’m going to tell you something I wish someone had told me a long time ago. Your mental health is important.  That seems like it goes without saying but so often we push past the safe zone for all sorts of reasons.  If you’re on social media one of the biggest drains and mental health struggles you may have is the fact that you want to rail against all the injustices in the world and feel that you should because you have important stories to tell.  And you do.  And I want to hear them.

But not at the expense of your safety.

I struggle a lot with the fact that I have a great platform and a strong voice but I don’t always use it to say all the things I want to say because honestly I’m not always in a strong enough place mentally.  I fixate on terrible things and it gives me a skewed idea of the world and I have to have Victor shut off my internet until I can reset and realize that there is far more good than bad even when the bad gets all the press.

What I am saying is that it’s okay to not always share your story or bare your soul or open yourself up to pain.  You owe it to yourself to be safe, because if you aren’t safe then you can’t help anyone.

If you pick up the banner and do the hard work of making this world a better place then you are a hero and I commend you and I appreciate you and I am so damn grateful that you are there when I can’t be.  And sometimes I’ll pick up that banner when I am strong and you are not, and you can rest knowing that there are kind people fighting the good fight on your behalf even when you aren’t looking.

It takes strength to fight for others.  It also takes strength to protect yourself.  No matter where you are today, know that you are important and loved and we’re going to be okay.

I’ll promise you if you promise me.

Weird in every language

I don’t how many languages my books have been published in but I am always amazed at the strange and wonderful covers that show up in all the various countries.  Today I got to see the Russian cover for Let’s Pretend This Never Happen and it’s pretty fucking glorious:

Victor had questions about why Russia thinks a rabbit would sell better than a mouse and I have questions too but mainly those questions are about whether this rabbit is available for purchase and whether I should name him Rabbit Downey Jr or David Hasselhop.

The bookmobile

Remember when I announced that I’m opening Nowhere Bookshop and I said that if it does well then I want to buy a bookmobile so that I can take it to book deserts and pick up authors and adoptable cats and do readings in fields?  That was all inspired by my bookmobile that came to our tiny town twice a month.  Walking from my house to the bookmobile is literally the first memory I have and I can still smell the inside of it and feel the giant book bags we’d stuff as full as we could and remember the excitement that came when we’d see it in our neighborhood.  The way I assume that city kids feel when they hear the ice cream truck is how I felt with that bookmobile.

My sister and I have searched for our old bookmobile but it disappeared a long time ago.  The last trace we could find was when it was loaned to the school after their library burned down, but after that the library decided it wouldn’t be replaced.  That was over a decade ago.  Then the trail went cold.

The day I published the post about the Nowhere Bookshop and the bookmobile my parents were driving through town and my mom was like, “TURN AROUND, I JUST SAW A GHOST.”

And it was.

Y’all.  It was our bookmobile. 

Hello, old friend.

Have you ever felt simultaneously ecstatic and terrifically sad all at the same time?

You look like you’ve been through a lot. I guess we all have.

It’s in terrible shape.  It’s over 50 years old.  It’s gutted on the inside.  But I still wanted it even though I have no place to put it and no money to restore it and I need to be focused on starting the bookstore first.  But the heart wants what it wants and I wanted to save my first real friend.

My dad did some snooping and found out that The San Angelo Museum of Fine Art owns it now.  (The same one I worked at in college, which just shows you how small our little part of Texas is.)  They considered my offer to take it off their hands but they want to rebuild it and use it the way it once was.  And I was disappointed, but honestly also relieved because it probably belongs there, with people who can love it and bring it back to its former glory.

And they said that if they don’t end up restoring it I will be first on their list to have it, and that’s really nice.  Either way, it’s found and it’s not being cannibalized for parts.  And no matter what, it’s going nowhere.

PS.  We still don’t know where Nowhere will end up but we have a good lead on a San Antonio location but it needs a lot of work so keep all your fingers crossed.

Tell me a story.

When I was little I asked my mom to tell me a story all the damn time and she always would.  Last Mother’s Day I asked her to tell me a story again.  Or more specifically, I asked her to tell me 52 stories because I bought her a subscription to StoryWorth.  Each week she got an email asking a question about her life and each week I got an email back with her answers.  And when she’s finished StoryWorth will wrap it all up in a lovely book we can keep forever.

I almost never do full sponsored posts but I make an exception for StoryWorth because I love the stories they’ve given to me about my family.  I’ve shared a lot of my dad’s StoryWorth stories but today I want to share a few things I’ve learned from my mom:

How did you decide to get married?

Back in the 70’s we had the Vietnam War and the Draft. Henry had one semester of college under his belt when his number was about to be called.  Henry joined so he could choose his “career”. You rarely saw an accountant on the front lines.

He was in Boot Camp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for about 6 weeks. We decided to marry as soon as he graduated.

While Henry was gone I sewed my wedding gown. I found the easiest pattern there was and jumped in. All went well until I realized the back and the sleeves were held together by tiny little buttons that looped around tiny little elastic loops. I almost put zippers in, but my Aunt Ollene talked me through it.

I wanted Henry to wear his dress blues, but his Mom asked if he would wear a suit. She didn’t want to be reminded that he was in the service during a war so it was easy to agree to her wish.

We were married at the Wall Brethren Church in Wall Texas. It was a sweet little church that Henry’s parents had attended forever. It had one round stained glass window of Jesus holding a lamb. The church has been rebuilt. It is much bigger, has more stained glass windows.  They still have the Jesus window.

 

What have been some of your life’s greatest surprises?

I became pregnant with Jennifer while taking the Pill. The best surprise ever.

I became pregnant with Lisa while using an I.U.D. Again, the best surprise ever.

Then I had my tubes tied so there would be no more best surprises ever.

 

Did you have a job while you were in high school?

In high school I became a Nurses Aid. I really loved it.

I went to work from 6:45 A.M. until 10:00 A.M, Then I caught a city bus to Central High and had classes until 3:00 P.M. On week-ends I worked full shifts on the Labor and Delivery floor at Shannon Hospital.

When I had free time I was allowed in the delivery room. It was amazing! Of course I was in the corner and could only watch in the reflection of the mirror. Fathers were allowed only if THEY asked, and I was told to NEVER suggest that they would want to be in the delivery room.

I cleaned blood, and puke, and poop. But I loved going to work.

 

How did you choose your children’s names?

Jennifer’s name should be Montana! Montana Melody Dusek. Practically from the time we knew we were pregnant that name was top of her father’s list. Don’t ask me where the idea came from. It was fully formed and waiting for a new baby.

All I know is that she so didn’t look like a Montana. The baby didn’t fit the name. She just seemed to be Jennifer.

Lisa was a different story. Henry was getting out of the service and had no job lined up. We had a small amount of savings to tide us over. Then,wham, pregnant! No house,no job,no insurance, and the chance that removing the I.U.D. would cause a miscarriage. Lots of drama.

We found a house and my mother-in-law helped Henry paint the interior. We put a room together for Jenny and nameless baby. And once again, there was a baby and her name was Lisa. Don’t ask me how. Maybe the Angel of names was sitting on our shoulders and whispered the perfect name for each of our girls. I just know that their names are them.

 

Who is the wisest person you’ve known? What have you learned from them?

I think I would nominate my PaPaw as one of the wisest people I have known.

He’s been on my mind all week.  When I visited my Mom on Thursday he was in all her memories. With her dementia memories are her greatest comfort.

She talked about helping him in the fields, Working in the barn with him. Taking walks around the fence line to check for weak spots. She was his shadow.

As a child he told me to mind my manners, be quiet because kids were meant to be seen and not heard, and to only take small portions of dinner so there would be enough for everyone (seconds were encouraged ). Then he would look over at the razor strop he kept on the back wall. All he had to do was LOOK and you knew to behave.

He told me to brush my teeth everyday, and not eat a lot of sweets. Then he would pop his false teeth out half-way, suck them back and smile. Freaked me right out.

He kept pigeons in the back -back -back of their property. When he found my cousin and me chasing them from one end to the other he pulled a big snake skin out of an egg box. Then he told us how snakes shed their skin because they are growing larger, and why don’t we try to find that snake to see just how big he was now. We never went back into the pigeon shed.

He never raised a hand to us, and never raised his voice. He treated us as equals and expected us to behave, and we did.

I miss him.

 

Wha’s something you learned from your mom?

From my Mom I learned to love baking. She baked great cakes.

I learned to keep a clean house.

I learned that if your husband is a cheating scum-bag you walk out the door with your head held high, move to where your family is and get a job to support you and your kids.

 

Who are the best cooks in your family?

My Mamaw (my mom’s mom) made the BEST peach cobbler. It was flavorful, and the crust was flakey and sweet and delicious. She made this cobbler for 60 years and never told anyone the recipe. She wouldn’t even let anyone in her kitchen when she was making it. I assume she wanted to be the only one who brought it to family dinners.

I did learn a lesson from this. Always share your recipes, and teach anyone wanting to learn how you made a dish.

If I live long enough I will have to stop cooking. Eventually Mamaw began using salt instead of sugar, and would leave meals on the table for hours and hours. We never figured out how she kept from giving Papaw botulism.  My mother quit cooking when she entered the early stages of dementia.  Personally, I will enjoy cooking and eating every meal I have left in me.

****

So now you know a little more about my family.  And I do too.

StoryWorth is a great gift for your parents or grandparents because in the end it’s a gift for you.  And for Mother’s Day StoryWorth is offering a year of weekly stories bound in a keepsake book for $79 if you order by May 12th.  (It’s also great for spouses and even for yourself if you want some writing prompts to start your memoirs.)  I cannot recommend it enough.  Click here to check it out.  

“Never read the comments” is a good rule for everywhere that isn’t this community.

Almost every day Amazon sends me terrible recommendations so I share them on twitter and then people send me their terrible recommendations and Amazon is like, “Well if you liked that you’ll love this fucked up thing” and it just keeps getting more and more brilliant/horrifying.  It’s always fun to look at but if you aren’t reading the comments you are missing the best parts.  Case in point, last night’s recommendation:



Never change, y’all.

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And on an entirely different subject, it’s time for the Sunday wrap-up!

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by StoryWorth. Mother’s Day is next Sunday, and a StoryWorth book is a fab present. Once a week for a year, she’ll receive an email with a question about her life – asking her to describe her favorite childhood memory, or how she picked your name. All she has to do is reply with an answer, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. At the end of the year, her stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish.  I’ve bought this for both my parents and I cannot recommend it enough.  Check it out here.

Getting closer to Nowhere…

So!

Today was my 30th TMS treatment and it’s been hard.  We tried some new spots on my brain for treatment and it didn’t work.  So last week we went back to what helped last year.  And today?  I feel good.  Even though the weather is nasty and I’m tired and overwhelmed and scared.  I feel the normal sorts of emotions a normal sort of person would feel after coming out of a depressive period.  And it’s amazing.

I’ve felt good for almost a week now.  Today I have energy.  Instead of staring at my blog and thinking that nothing I write is important enough to share I find myself wanting to talk to you.  I’m responding to texts and emails.  I’m leaving the house.

I hope this time I can go into full remission, but if I don’t I will remind myself of these good days…and that life is so worthwhile, even when you have to wade through the terrible moments your brain throws at you.  And that’s a very good thing.

So here is what’s happening with me:

Ten years ago today I quit my job in HR to give myself a year to try to finish my first book.  It feels like yesterday.  It feels like a million years ago.  Both of these are true.  I still feel like the weird girl from HR pretending to be an author.  I still look at other writers who have accomplished so much more in the last decade.  But I’m proud of the three books I finished, and the two more I’m writing now.  I am slow, but that’s okay.  Thank you for making that okay, and for not giving up on me even when I’m not in the spotlight.

My friend Laura (of Beyonce chicken and dog grave-robbing fame) and I the day we both left our jobs. We haven’t aged a bit. *cough*

In other news, Nowhere Bookshop has a logo!

The one that you guys picked had some issues but it worked out because we ended up with something similar but even better…

And if you liked the other logo design options you’re in luck because I bought a bunch of them so you’ll probably see your favorite on t-shirt and bag designs in the future.

If you want to follow me Nowhere (I can’t tell if that sounds awesome or terrible) you can keep up with the latest on instagram, on twitter, and Facebook.

More to come soon…

PS.  Can’t wait for a t-shirt?  Click here.

I bet people are sad about the lack of squirrel swag though.

This weekend I brought Hailey with me to the Mom 2.0 Summit in Austin and it was sort of awesome because I had someone to hide in my hotel room with but I also had someone who made me actually get out of my hotel room when she got bored.  I was able to see so many people I love and although I probably only spent six hours outside of the room it felt like a big step for me.

On Friday I had to present an award at the Iris Awards and I’d wanted to get my hair done but I was too exhausted so instead I comforted myself with the fact that I did at least have a nice new dress and that was really reassuring until I was putting it on and felt a lump on my thigh.

Because the security tag was still on it.  *sigh*

“RELEASES INK AND MAY CAUSE INJURY”

And it was a little mortifying but honestly?  Pretty on brand for me.

But it was okay because the ruffles hid it and no one would have known had I not immediately told everyone on twitter and also showed it to every single person I saw in real life.  (Bonus: It acted as a built-in fidget spinner and if I got caught in an awkward conversation I could always squirt ink and run away like a terrible octopus.)

Also Hailey twisted her ankle in her heels so she decided to wear combat boots but honestly I think it works and at least we match in our weirdness.

Then at the actual awards show I had to present Most Entertaining Blog of the Year and if you click here and forward to the 41 minute mark you can see me fuck it up completely.  Like to the point that the host (Adam Rippon) came on seconds later and said, “What…is happening?”  And that was a fair question, but also I think the whole thing was probably pretty entertaining if you weren’t actually on the stage so I think it’s probably fine.

Or I won’t ever be asked to give out an award again.

Either way works really.

Going Nowhere (but in a good way for once)

More bookshop news!

So.  I’ve been poring over the names I’ve given to all of the imaginary bookshops that I’ve opened my head since I was little, trying to decide which one is right for our real-life store and I keep coming back to one.

Growing up I spent more time in the land of books than I did in real life.  I lived in those neverlands that you can only visit in stories.  The places you grew up in that never actually existed.  The ones you got lost in and the ones you found yourself in.  Those strange countries that real and important, in spite of the fact that they exist nowhere at all but inside you.  And that’s where I got the name:

Nowhere Bookshop

And it works on a variety of levels because whenever I spend hours at a bookshop and Victor is like, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL DAY?” I always say, “Nowhere” and now I’ll actually be telling the truth.  Sort of.

We’ve seen a few locations that we like (more on that later) but now I need help on deciding what the logo should be.  Because you have helped to create this store in giving me such amazing ideas for the perfect store it seems only fitting that you should help decide the logo.  I’ve narrowed it down to these five designs but I can’t decide which one is best so I’m asking for your help:

CLICK HERE FOR THE POLL

Can you go in and rate each one?  Just click on the images to see each logo and then give each a rating from 1-5 stars (5 being best) and then click “submit”.  There’s a space that asks for your name and email but it’s not necessary so just leave that blank.  (The logos are still workable so you can leave comments on the design if you think it needs a change or should be a different color, etc.)

Thank you for being here.  And for being Nowhere.

The search for a bookstore, strike 2

So we’re still looking for a location in San Antonio to open our bookstore/bar.  First strike was Holy Haunted Hot Dog Magic Church Bookstore.

Last week I checked out The Spire:

It was gorgeous and accessible but there were issues with parking and it was a bit out of my budget to be comfortable so, strike two.

Looking at more places this week.  Wish me luck.