Betitted. It’s my new favorite word.

I was looking at swimsuits at the mall but I didn’t want to try them on because I already hate myself enough and I told the lady helping me that they should have more realistic mannequins so that I wouldn’t have to try stuff on to see that there’s no way my boobs are going to fit in those skimpy things and the lady agreed completely in theory but said that if the mannequins were more realistic people would try to have sex with them and I’m pretty sure that’s a big jump but she was like, “Even the headless, armless, completely flat mannequins are getting groped and undressed every time I turn my back so I can’t even imagine what would happen if they were fully betitted” and I was a little sad for humanity, but also “betitted” is my new favorite word even though spellcheck says it isn’t real.

This isn’t a real post but it’s a nice one

So today was my last day of TMS treatment.  40+ hours in the chair.  And I think?  I think maybe I’m in remission from my depression?  I’m afraid to say it out loud in case I jinx it all but I feel good and I’ve felt good for a few weeks, which is a long time for me to go without a depressive funk.  It’s probably not forever, but it’s something…and I’ll take it.

In the last month I’ve worked on my book.  I’ve left the house.  I’ve answered emails and phone calls.  Victor and Hailey usually travel without me because I’m not a traveler.  They’re going to Japan in a few weeks and Hailey asked if I’d come with them this time.  And I said yes.  I’ve already warned them that I’ll probably stay in the hotel and just read while they explore but even that is a big step and one I’m happy about it.  And scared about.

I’m feeling a lot of stuff right now…lucky, afraid, hopeful.  But it’s good to feel.  It’s a nice change from the exhaustive numbness of depression.  And I’m writing this down so that I remember that it’s worth fighting for the good days even if you know the bad days will probably come again.  You’re worth fighting for too.  I promise.

 

 

Name that bear

This weekend I made a new friend and live-tweeted it and it was glorious and terrifying:


So basically I thought I had a great bear name and then I saw all the other great bear names and now we need a new poll.  Also, the bear is gender neutral at the moment and I’m gonna need a line on a triple-XL kilt probably.

 

Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings

This week I posted about our decision to homeschool Hailey and honestly I expected some pushback but instead you guys were supportive and wonderful and came up with a million great suggestions and I was a little shocked at how many of you are currently homeschooling or were homeschooled yourself.  Thank you.  You are magic.

Last night Hailey and I were considering what the school mascot should be and we decided on Vin Weasel, a battered antique weasel we found at a resale shop who was originally crawling on a log but was pretty much made to ride or die (for knowledge).

And to answer the obvious question, yes,  I’m currently looking for a remote control motorcycle so Vin Weasel can speed through the house and around the neighborhood and scare the shit out of the squirrels but I’m a little concerned that our neighborhood owl (Owl Roker) will think he’s a snack so for now he’s just staying on the toy motorcycle that I push around the house and freak the cats out with.

Several of you asked if you could be accepted to Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings.  A giant group of misfits around the world continuing to learn and grow while they avoid the assholes and support each other?  YES PLEASE.

You are in.  You are all in.

And I’m so grateful for it.

PS.  Is there a school shirt?  Of course there is.

 

 

Hard decisions

Age 14 has been a hard year for Hailey and for us.  Brilliant and wonderful.  Terrifying and difficult.    She dealt with a set of struggles that are hers to tell so I won’t write about them here but I can tell you that she showed such courage facing something that has the power to destroy so many.  She discovered music as therapy and began writing songs.  She came out publicly and joined a group designed to help other LGBTQ kids.  She dealt with bullies and harassment.  She is still doing all of these things.  And she is good, for now.

This year we faced a lot of hard decisions and one of them I keep getting asked is, “Which school will Hailey be going to next year?”  The answer usually invokes strange responses because actually…she’s staying here.

Hailey is lucky to have a large support system of adults who want her to succeed and be happy and working together this year we’ve decided that homeschooling would be a really good option for her.  At least for a year.  Maybe for longer.  She’s very self-directed and gets all As in pre-AP classes and is bored most of the time so she should be able to soar through her coursework each week and use the extra time she’d be sitting in class to start a business or write an album or explore a museum.  She’ll be able to travel with us and see the world.  We’re doing the homeschooling through University of Texas because that way she has structure and when she’s ready she’ll be able to do dual-enrollment, take college classes and get college credit while she’s still in high school, which is something she’s so excited about.

I do worry about the social aspect.  She’ll still take music lessons and workshops and go to camps.  She’s going to volunteer at shelters.  We’re going to check out the community theater.  I’m looking for a homeschool group in San Antonio like the one my sister is in in California but most of them in Texas are religious and that’s not really us.

I worry that this is the wrong decision but then I look back at my high school experience and know that I would have done so much better with this option.  My sister’s kids are all homeschooled and they are amazing and kind and social and weird in the best possible way.  And I repeat to myself the best advice my mom gave me about being a parent.  It’s the same advice that I repeated in my head when I had to decide about going back to work or about breastfeeding or about public school or private school.  And that advice is:  Whatever decision you make will be the right one for your kid.  Because you know your kid better than anyone else.  And even if it’s the wrong decision (and there will be plenty) it’s just a part of their journey and a good opportunity to show them that you’re not perfect either.

Last night was Hailey’s last middle school choir.  They had a competition and she made it to the finals performing a song she wrote herself the night before.

And I watched her and cried a little and I felt torn.  What if this is the wrong choice?  And then she came off the stage and told me about the workshops that she’d be able to do next year and the album she wants to make and the musical she’s going to write now that she’ll finally have time and autonomy to choose her own path.

So yeah. I think she’s gonna be alright.

PS. This is all still really scary so if you have any advice to give me (as Headmistress of Lawson Academy for Gifted Strangelings) I’d love it.  Any advice that helped you through the teenage years is welcome but in particular if you know of great music or social groups for young teens in North San Antonio please let me know.

It takes a village to raise a kid and I’m so lucky that Hailey has so many internet aunties and uncles who have her back.  Thank you.

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.

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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.