I’ve also learned how to set the stove on fire. True story.

A quarter of a year in and we’re still hiding from the plague in our house and that has meant that I’ve had to learn a number of new skills, including dog grooming, vacuum repair, amateur plumbing, how to turn on a stove and (on two occasions) light firefighting inside the kitchen.

Victor asked me to cut his hair but I don’t anything about hair cutting so I got an electric trimmer and practiced on the dog and I’m pretty sure the terrible job I did on Dorothy Barker should have been a good warning but Victor was desperate so we sat on the porch as I buzzed off inches of hair and I was very grateful that he has super bushy hair because it’s a bit more forgiving but then the wind picked up the clumps of his hair on the ground and out of the corner of my eye it looked exactly like a giant horde of spiders was skittering toward me and I may have screamed and dropped the clippers directly onto Victor’s head and he sort of glared at me but in my defense he is the reason I’m going grey so it’s only fair that I’m the reason he’s temporarily balding on just one side of his head.

And how is your quarantine going?

This is exactly why I wanted a bookstore.

I just realized that this week will mark 3 months that I’ve been in isolation. A quarter of a year locked in a sort of pause. I’ve left my yard four times in these months, because I’m immunocompromised and I’m afraid of getting sicker. I work at home and write and try to help with the bookstore, but at a distance, or I sneak up there late at night to do small things when I can. Mainly though it’s been our amazing team (Elizabeth, Vicky and Matt) working in shifts to put together furniture and start stocking the shelves and mailing out books and setting up zooms and doing amazing work so that one day when it’s safe we can open our doors for you.

There’s still a lot to be done and so many more books to stock and words to paint on walls and displays to make and tables to assemble and community spaces to create, but this weekend I snuck up to the store and – if you look at it with just the right kind of eyes – it looked like an actual fucking bookshop.

MOTHERFUCKING BOOKS, Y’ALL.

I went through the stacks and saw so many books I already love and so many more I want to read and I may have yelled, “I’M SHOPLIFTING ALL OF THESE” and then Victor glowered at me a little because apparently that’s not how “good business” works.

But as I walked through the store I could imagine what it will be like when it’s fully stocked. When we add murals and signs and possibly some light taxidermy in lovely outfits and a 4 foot pig who we’ve agreed can hang out in the back hall by the bathrooms because not everyone loves him like I do.

“I want to paint little phrases all over the store,” I tell Victor. “Like, over the exit it should say something like, “IT CAN BE DANGEROUS OUT THERE. ARM YOURSELF WITH A GOOD BOOK.”

He tells me that I just want permission to vandalize stuff and that’s partially true but it’s more than that. I hope when Nowhere opens it feels magical to everyone who enters…a true sort of sanctuary that only ever existed to me in bookstores and libraries.

I watch people pass by the store and look inside. They stare at the sign we put up telling them that we aren’t open yet but will be one day soon when it’s safer for everyone. It feels sad. And so I made a new sign…

Don’t strain your eyes. Keep scrolling.

After I posted the new sign I sat in my car and watched people pass by the store. Most didn’t notice the sign and that’s fine. But one man did, and he smiled and then read the sign to the two young children he had with him. And their eyes widened and they cupped their hands around their eyes to look inside. They pointed at shadows and searched for signs of the basilisk. One of them tried to open the door, as her dad laughed. Kids are impossibly brave. Their imaginations are full. For them, magic is always present…adventure is possible….monsters are real, but they can be changed or tamed or vanquished.

And they’re right. We just need to be reminded once in awhile.

It’s okay to be a little lost

I’ve been sharing a drawing every week of the plague (except I think I lost a week to depression. Sorry) and it’s time for a new one.

drawing with "It's okay.  As long as we're lost together" written on it.
Click to embiggen

As always, you can print it, color it, burn it, whatever you like.

The world is a scary place. Every day it seems so a little more.

People are angry, and rightly so. And some scream and some fight and some whisper and cry…and all, I suspect, feel a little lost sometimes.

It’s such a human thing that brings us all together, as much as we may hate to admit it. So whether you are feeling lost in the world or your life or your own head, know that we are with you. Know that there are kind people fighting to make the world a better place and that you will find your place in it. Again and again.

I promise.

PS. I shared this on social media this week but just in case you don’t follow me on insta or twitter and need a reminder:

I see you

If you look hard enough you can see when I go missing. I hole up inside my head and I drop off of the internet and I don’t return calls or emails. I tend to disappear from myself at the same time. I put on a smile the same way that I put on a mask when I leave the house…because I’m contagious in a way. If I spend enough time around you you’ll feel it. Empathetic people or people with their own demons are most vulnerable.

Sometimes I wonder if this thing in my head is like a virus. Maybe I pick it up from the wind when the world is on fire. Sometimes, when it’s very bad I worry that I’m making the world worse with my broken mind. I know it’s not true, rationally, but rational doesn’t really translate in my head when things get sideways.

I am very lucky. I have such amazing support and fantastic tools and medicine and doctors and a community of people behind me. And still I struggle. So perhaps today you don’t have all of that behind you. Or maybe you do but you’re still struggling…with the things in your head or the things that are real and terrifying. Wherever you are, right now, I want you to know how needed you are. I want you to know that you are important and loved and that even if you feel alone, know that you are not. You make so much more of a difference than you know…just by being alive. Just by being here.

If you can, text a few people today to let them know that you care. I don’t know why but it helps. It helps them and it feels like a tiny lifeline even if they don’t respond. It reminds you that you love. It reminds you of the good things that tether you to reality rather than the lies your brain may tell you. It reminds you that people are worth fighting for…and that one of those people is you.

If you are reading this, I love you.

**********

And now, the weekly wrap-up.

Except…well, not exactly because honestly I’m a bit too tired to round up all the links of stuff that happened this week and I’m giving myself permission to skip all of that because I know you’ll understand. And this post is sponsored but I’m donating the proceeds to the San Antonio Food Bank because they really need help right now.

This week’s wrap-up is sponsored by Wild Yonder Botanicals (1% for the Planet Member) have brought back monthly delivery of their gem and honey infused minerals bath salts! They can be used for a relaxing bath or as a body scrub! They are made with pure essential oils, resins and herbs and are infused with biodynamic organic honey they pick up locally from the longest running biodynamic farm in the country. You can also choose to have face scrubs delivered too 🙂 Starting at just $7.99 a month with tons of love and shipping included. You should check them out here.

Book club time. Grab some booze. Or a cat. Or both. YOUR CHOICE.

YOU GUYS.

Okay, first off, today we’re opening up the discussion for this month’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club selection, Catherine House.

Someone remind me to make Dorothy Barker bookmarks one day when I have more energy and design skills.

Have you started it yet? Have you finished it yet? No pressure because there are no rules for this book club but if you have drop down into the comments or go to the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club Facebook page to discuss. I actually really liked it the first time I read it and LOVED it the second time because I was able to pick up all the nuances I missed the first time around. (I always have to read our selections twice because my memory is so terrible I forget the plot within a month. This is a blessing and a curse but at least I can read the same book over and over and never get bored with it.)

AND! Here’s something I’m so excited about. Next month’s book. You guys.

Dorothy Barker is not shown because I only have the digital advance copy of this book. Sorry.

Okay, first of all, it is so deliciously dark and twisted and I was really afraid that the publisher wouldn’t be able to get us enough books but they were so excited about being chosen as June’s book that they printed up a batch specifically for us and printed inside every book they included this lovely page:

How fucking cool is that? Answer: Very cool.

A tiny taste of They Did Bad Things:

And Then There Were None meets The Last Time I Lied in this dark and twisty psychological thriller.

In 1995, six university students moved into the house at 215 Caldwell Street. Months later, one of them was found dead on the sofa the morning after their end-of-year party. His death was ruled an accident by the police. The remaining five all knew it wasn’t, and though they went on with their lives, the truth of what happened to their sixth housemate couldn’t stay buried forever.

Twenty years later, all five of them arrive—lured separately under various pretenses—at Wolfheather House, a crumbling, secluded mansion on the Scottish isle of Doon. Trapped inside with no way out and no signal to the outside world, the now forty-somethings fight each other—and the unknown mastermind behind their gathering—as they confront the role they played in their housemate’s death. They are given one choice: confess to their crimes or die. 

They Did Bad Things is a deviously clever psychological thriller about the banality of evil and the human capacity for committing horror.

Personally I find the mystery genre a little hit or miss but this one really did it for me. I think you’ll like it.

Happy reading!

I think we could all use a little good news.

This week has been really hard in our house but I’m ending it (the week, I mean) on a very positive note because of you.

I made these ridiculous Furiously Happy raccoon masks as a joke and I said if anyone bought any I’d donate the profits but so many of you have ordered them that as of this morning I’ve been able to give $1,000 to the San Antonio Food Bank (who have really been struggling and can use the help) and all of that is down to you guys.

me wearing a mask with a raccoon face
Honestly, it’s sort of terrifying.

I love y’all so much it hurts a little. But in a good way.

********

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 M. E. Evans, who wrong a hilarious book you should read. It’s called Naked (in Italy): A Memoir About the Pitfals of La Dolce Vita. Imagine a story about two dysfunctional families and forbidden love. Sort of like Romeo and Juliet if Juliet spent her days at an overpriced art school painting porn star vaginas and Romeo’s mom was obsessed with ironing underwear. Also instead of suicide there’s a poodle. And agoraphobia. You should check it out. And you can get the eBook of Naked (in Italy): A Memoir About the Pitfalls of La Dolce Vita for just $2.99 for a limited time.