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.

I still haven’t found what you’re looking for and maybe that’s for the best.

This morning I looked at my blog analytic report showing the phrases people googled that brought them to my blog because I always find it intriguing and also a little terrifying and I thought you might enjoy it too because these were some of the top searches that led y’all here this year:


“GOAT READING A BOOK” (This seems weird at a distance but honestly, I think you’re in the right place and this is what you’re looking for.)

“IS YOUR GROIN THE WARMEST PART OF YOUR BODY” (It is when you’re peeing, probably.)

“COBRA VERSUS EAGLE” (Now I want to look this up too.)


“SINGLE LONG WHITE HAIR ON EYEBROW SUPERSTITION” (I wrote this literally 10 years ago and not a week goes by that someone doesn’t find themselves here. They should really cover this in high school health classes.)


“MATRIX NAVAL BUG FEMALE VERSION” (There’s a female version??)

“BETTY LOU AND THE HAMSTERS IN THE GOPHERS” (This sound sexual but I’m afraid to google it.)”

“HOW TO ANSWER WHY AREN’T YOU THE LOVE OF MY LIFE ALREADY?” (I don’t know how to help you.)

“CAN WOMAN BREASTFEED SHEEP” (What is happening here?)

“TIT TITTS MAMARIE” (We really need to teach more spelling in school.)

“VERGERNIA” (My last statement stands, your honor)

“WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T DIG UP ST JOSEPH?” (I left him buried in my front yard and I’m fine*)

*And by “fine” I mean, “I’m recovering from mono” but in my defense, I think I got it from my cat. Victor disagrees because I had mono 15 years ago and apparently it stays in your system forever but last night I was noticing that I’m having a really hard time doing anything other than just laying on the couch or the floor or the bed and every time I lay down all the cats lay down on me and we only get up to eat and go to the bathroom and I realized that mono has turned me into a housecat (minus pooping in a box) thus I probably got it from the cats. Not from kissing them though. Well maybe from kissing them. But not with tongue. Fuck. This is not going to help my weird google searches.

PS. Totes MaGoates is still a well-loved member of the family but he’s currently holding a flower instead of a book because Hunter S. Thomcat (seen below sucking up a sunbeam- probably has mono) is obsessed with eating paper for some reason and can’t be trusted around open books.

I’m complicated so this post has two titles: “SO EXCITED TO BE SICK” and also “What to read in February”

You know how I’ve been feeling like shit lately and I’ve been that sort of exhausted that is either “definitely dying” or “clinically depressed” and I can’t make myself get up and my brain is a brick and I lay down on the floor and think, “if only I could stop breathing for a little bit maybe that would be helpful” and not in a “I want to die” way but in a “just breathing is fucking exhausted and I would cry about how frustrating this is but I don’t have the energy to”? So I went to the doctor and was like, “Please tell me I’m very sick because if not it means I need to start doing TMS or ketamine treatments again even though I don’t have the strength to do either” and the doctor did some tests and was like, “Looks like your Epstein-Barr reactivated” and I was like, “I don’t even know her” and he was like, “Bitch, you got mono again” and I have never been more relieved to be diseased. And then he was like, “I mean, looks like you’re over the worst of it now, so if you still feel shitty in a few weeks it might also be depression” but I just ignored that part because it is such a relief to be like, “Oh, this is ‘normal person sick’ that ‘normal people’ understand and I don’t have to feel bad saying ‘I have to cancel that meeting because my brain is sad'”. But also? I SHOULD TOTALLY BE ABLE TO CANCEL MEETINGS BECAUSE MY BRAIN IS SAD. Why is it after so many years of knowing that mental illness is JUST as disabling (if not more so) than physical illness I still feel like one is more valid to the outside world? So now I’m mad at myself for not being more understanding of myself and this is exactly why my brain is an asshole even when it’s not soaking in depression. Get it together, me.

In vaguely related news, I am opening the discussion for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club several days late because I’m feeling human today and I am incredibly thankful to have an amazing community of people who totally understand and I am sending you all giant hugs (but no kisses with tongue, just in case my saliva is poison).

And if you missed it, this month’s Fantastic Strangeling Book Club pick is:

It’s MAAME by Jessica George and I think Celeste Ng put it best when she called it “ “An utterly charming and deeply moving portrait of the joys––and the guilt––of trying to find your own way in life.”

It’s a coming-of-age story dealing with familial duty, racism, grief and finding yourself.  Want more details?  Of course you do.

“Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi but in my case, it means woman.”

It’s fair to say that Maddie’s life in London is far from rewarding. With a mother who spends most of her time in Ghana (yet still somehow manages to be overbearing), Maddie is the primary caretaker for her father, who has advanced stage Parkinson’s. At work, her boss is a nightmare and Maddie is tired of always being the only Black person in every meeting.

When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie leaps at the chance to get out of the family home and finally start living. A self-acknowledged late bloomer, she’s ready to experience some important “firsts”: She finds a flat share, says yes to after-work drinks, pushes for more recognition in her career, and throws herself into the bewildering world of internet dating. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils––and rewards––of putting her heart on the line.

Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Maame deals with the themes of our time with humor and poignancy: from familial duty and racism, to female pleasure, the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most important, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.

I think you’re going to love it.

Need more than one book to get you through the month.  SAME, MATE.  But luckily I read several new February books that I think you might really love:

The Spite House by Johnny Compton – This is my first pick for the Nightmares from Nowhere Book Club because I really loved it.  A terrifying gothic thriller about grief and death and the depths of a father’s love.  Also, possessions.  Gotta love a good possession.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones – Did you read My Heart is a Chainsaw?  Because I did and it was brilliant.  This book is the next in the trilogy.

Skull Water by Heinz Insu Fenkl – A haunting inter-generational novel set in South Korea in the 50s and 70s that is so bizarre but in a fascinating way.

Love Everlasting, vol. 1 by Tom King – A graphic novel that looks like a romance but reads like a horror.  I’m ready for volume 2.

Immortality: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz – The follow-up to Anatomy: A Love Story, which is a surprisingly romantic tale about grave-robbing.

Chrome Valley by Mahogany L. Browne – Complex and powerful poetry       

Microjoys by Cyndie Spiegel – Essays and prompts to help you find hope when life is not okay.

I’m opening up the discussion for Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries on the FS facebook page but if you don’t do facebook I’ll leave my thoughts in the comments.

Happy reading!  ~ Jenny

An open letter to Maria Menounos and 23,000 other people I’m hiding from

If you’ve been reading here you already know that my anxiety disorder is a total dick and if yours is too then you probably also know the pain of being unable to return phone calls, emails or make plans to do things that normal people would jump at, but in case this is not you, here is a peek behind the door.

When my book Broken (in the best possible way) came out I had so many great opportunities to publicize it but my anxiety made me say no to a ton of them because I was in a dark place at the time and unfortunately you don’t get to plan your mental illness. One of those was Maria Menounos asking if I wanted to come talk to her on her podcast and I was so excited and also never responded to her at all until today when I felt almost human and not terrified of email. I have no idea if her email address even still works so I am sharing my response here so that she can see that I am very sorry and also so that you can see that if I have not responded to your emails you are not alone and are probably just too intimidating and should feel very good about yourself in comparison to me, a person who can’t do life right.

Also, if you are currently sitting on a mound of texts and emails you haven’t replied to, feel free to send this post as a message that you really do want to respond but just can’t because brains are awful.

Dear Maria Menounos and friends, 

You know how sometimes you get an email that looks like it would be really fun but it also seems lightly terrifying and overwhelming and you’re too intimidated to deal with it so you mark it as unread on your email so that you can come back to it as soon as you are less crazy, but turns out that less crazy version of you doesn’t actually exist and so you keep doing that over and over, continually reading and marking the email as unread every few months, forever hoping that future you will be able to handle this seemingly normal interaction and suddenly it’s a year later and you’re like, “Jesus, I really should respond to this so they realize that my anxiety disorder is the real asshole here and that I don’t think I’m too good for Maria Menounos”.   And I did write that email but then I got really worried about sending it so it stayed in my drafts and I kept coming back to it every few months but could never find the right way to say, “Hi, anxiety is a fucking prison that I can’t escape” and now it has literally been ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE WEEKS since you emailed me and my therapist is like, “Maybe you just send the email?”  So that’s what I’m doing.  I am sending an email 25 months late.  I have a problem, Maria.  It’s not you. It’s me. But since you were asking me to come on to discuss my new (at the time) book about being broken mentally I have to feel like you probably knew what you were getting into and that if nothing else, this has just proven that I am the very best person to talk about anxiety, if only my anxiety would allow it.  I apologize for my brain.



Spoiler: I probably didn’t inhale a bunch of arsenic yesterday and even if I did that’s probably not why I was in the hospital an hour later.

So yesterday I decided to do a game of “What is this and am I dying?” on instagram:

(if you can’t see it here just click on “view on instagram”.)

As always, the comments did not disappoint and I love all of you. Particularly the people who pointed out that it could be old cocaine or poison but it was possibly the ashes of a dead person and so I probably just snorted someone’s great aunt and then wondered if that technically makes me a cannibal.

Then I found some tiny marks on all of the pieces and shared how I was feeling:

And then, upsettingly soon after:

Here’s all the stuff I didn’t share because I was too blind and nauseous to give details. So, I don’t think it was cyanide related because the day before I’d felt like I was going to pass out for a minute and lost vision, and then yesterday (before I may have snorted a dead person) I had another episode where there was a disco ball in the corner of my vision but it passed after I had an apple pie at Whataburger so I was like, “Best medicine ever” but then after I inhaled possible anthrax I had another episode and it was much longer and basically was like a staticky electrical storm in my left eye that started moving into my right and eventually I had to tell Victor that I was blind and he was like, “YOU’RE BLIND?” and I was like, “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure it’s an ocular migraine, because I had one about 7 years ago and this felt a little similar but just stronger.” But then Victor was like, “This has happened three times already and we should go to ER” and I was like, “But no, let’s not because then I have to tell them that I may have accidentally snorted old cocaine or dead people” and then he immediately called our doctor because he doesn’t follow me on instagram and thought I must be having a stroke. I explained it to him and our doctor and they were both like, “Go to the hospital. YOU’RE BLIND.”

So I did and after so many tests and xrays and a CT scan that made me yell “I’M PEEING MYSELF” in the middle of it (because the contrast makes you think you’re peeing yourself and this is a normal thing, I guess). I did not pee myself but it was nice to have said something even more mortifying than “I may have inhaled poison or human remains” to a medical professional that day and I’d like to think that the first confession may have at least led to a group of excited doctors throwing out ideas and House MD yelling, “IT’S NOT LUPUS. IT’S NEVER LUPUS.”

Anyway, turns out it was lupus. Wait, no, I mean it was an ocular migraine. Or the beginnings of MS, apparently. I’m leaning toward the first because you don’t really have to do much for ocular migraines and I am too lazy to accept any more diseases in my body. So I’m home and (knock on wood) maybe this has passed.

But the good news is that several people identified what the miniature was! It’s a miniature18th century whale oil snotneus lamp. It’s called a snotneus lamp because the spout drips like a snotty nose (which is why the half-spout is there to catch the whale oil). So now we’ve learned something.

Actually, we learned two things because when my vision started to come back I saw this big sign on my hospital room wall that said “LLAMA!” and I was like, “Hey I can read that! Llama! …..Fuck, maybe I am having a stroke.” But turns out that was the Spanish version of the sign telling patients to call a nurse instead of getting up and I guess “LLAMA!” is Spanish for “CALL!”

Never say this blog isn’t educational.

PS. I just looked it up and the internet says “llama” is also Spanish for “camel/on fire”. One or the other, probably. Not both, one would hope for the camel.

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