I’m not sure if it’s a curse or a blessing. Maybe both.

It’s now been over half of a year since we started our version of isolation. Ours is more strict than most because of all of my auto-immune issues so that means half a year with no going anywhere other than our house, our car, and Nowhere Bookshop once a week when no one else is there. We are very, very lucky that we have the ability to work and take classes from home and that we can have groceries delivered and that no one can see the bald-spots on the back of Victor’s head from where I continually slip up trying to learn to use clippers.

It’s not all bad. We three have been our only company with no breaks for 6 months and we still love each other slightly more than we want to strangle each other. Hailey learned to bake and joined an online D&D group and started writing and coding video games. Victor works too much and meets online with fellow japanese sword collectors to study and learn. We forget that Hailey is on a zoom class in the next room and laugh too loud as we yell inappropriate things at each other until Hailey comes out to make us behave. We make dumb jokes and search for shows to watch together and fight about the best way to load the dishwasher and wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s both, I think.

And as for me? I read.

I work too. Not as much as I should because my head is everywhere and my ADD meds give me anxiety and I still haven’t conquered this stir-crazy cabin fever. You’d think that I would. I am an introvert. I love being home. I’m equally anxious for and anxious about a time when there is a vaccine and we can return to normal. I wonder if this is curing my agoraphobia or exacerbating it. I wonder if my friends and family are doing as well as they say they are. I wonder if I am as well.

But I’m lucky. For many reasons but also because I have an escape. I spend hours every day outside, reading. It has to be outside. I can escape from the house and feel the sun and forget that everything is strange. I sit in the swing in the backyard or the rocking chair on the porch or I put Dorothy Barker on a leash and go walk her as I read.

This was dangerous at first. You can’t watch for unmasked joggers if your head is in a book so instead I slowly pace my driveway as I read and Dorothy Barker pulls me from one side of the lawn to the other.

This morning a women and her small children walked by and the boy excited said, “Look! It’s the reading girl!”

It took a second to realize he was talking about me. I’ve become a small landmark in this strange time. I wondered if he thinks I’ve been cursed to read forever….some strange witch’s spell that makes me forever trapped in this too-small world. It’s not a curse though. I look down into other worlds. I visit with friends who only exist in books. I travel and delight and cry. I get to not be me…or be a better me. So maybe it’s a curse. But it’s also a blessing.

I try to remind myself that this six months has been the same. Some curse. More blessing. It makes it easier.

I hope you find it the same.

This is not my fault

So I was working on turning an old broken tv into a display for the bookstore and I had a bunch of papertowels draped on the ground because I was decoupaging book pages on the sides (from a badly damaged paperback – don’t yell at me) and I kept dripping the glue on the floor and I was so busy I didn’t notice when Ferris Mewler laid down on the paper towels but as soon as I did I nudged him off so I wouldn’t drop glue on him but apparently there was already glue on the paper towel because when he got up he looked at me weird and then tore off across the house with the paper towels stuck to him because apparently the glue had dried to his butthole and so I was chasing him through the house trying to pull off the paper towels but he wouldn’t stop so I was just stomping on the paper towel butt veil he was dragging behind him and only managing to pull small sections off because it was a longish roll and also I think I was maybe scaring him by chasing him and stomping what I can only imagine he thought was some sort of inappropriate ghost with serious boundary issues and I finally got the paper towel off but Ferris was still all wild-eyed and tried to lick off the glue and I know it’s non-toxic but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy and he bit me when I tried to wash it off (although technically I was washing him with a wet paper towel and now that I think about it that probably just revisited the trauma) so I just got the electric beard clippers and held him upside down while I shaved off his butt hair and now he refuses to look at me and I’m pretty sure none of this shit happens with Martha Stewart.

But the tv is coming along.

Let’s give the boy a hand. (I’m so sorry.)

me: Dude. LOOK AT THIS.

Victor: What the fuck.

me: I was opening my mail and two totally different people sent me random stuff that made them think of me.

Victor: You’ve got weird readers.

me: I’VE GOT AMAZING READERS. But how weird is it that two random people sent two random gifts and they just so happen to fit together perfectly?

Victor: That’s not really the weirdest thing about this, but okay.

me: I’m gonna try it out on the cats.

Victor: Ew.

me: Not the handbook. The gloves.

Victor: Still confused.

me: They can wear them. Like tiny mad scientists with opposable thumbs!

Victor: Got it. Have fun bleeding to death.


hunter s tomcat wearing gloves like a badass
Once again, Victor is on the wrong side of history. Get this cat a lab coat, y’all. He’s got science to do.

Happy independent bookstore day!

I was hoping that my first Independent Bookstore Day as an actual Independent Bookstore owner would be filled with tons of happy readers and me tiptoeing through Nowhere Bookshop, handing out stickers and recommending books and pouring drinks at the bar while Hailey does story time in the kids section while dressed in full Nimona regalia.

Instead today I’m home creating a display for the bookshop. We are open, but we’ve still never opened our doors. Our amazing book sellers still stock the shelves and answer the phones and recommend books and run outside in their masks to leave lovely bags of books on outdoor tables as curbside customers pull up. We ship books all over and make zoom meetings with authors and pick new and amazing books for the book club and then once a week we meet on zoom ourselves to celebrate the victories and talk about books and keep positive and excited.

We are so very lucky and grateful in that your support is keeping us running in spite of the pandemic. A lot of local bookstores are struggling. Some won’t come out of this and the book deserts may widen. So if you can today, find your local indie book shop and give them a little love. And if you can’t right now, that’s okay too. Maybe drop them a line telling them you care or send them an email thanking them for a book they recommended that you love. It makes a difference.

You can visit IndieBookstoreDay for lots of cool virtual events today, and if you’re looking for new book suggestions allow me be your virtual bookseller and recommend a few of my favorites.

Happy Independent Bookstore Day from everyone here at Nowhere…no matter how strange it may look this year.

Mural by Jennifer Khoshbin and Nanako Pastol

Hello, strangelings!

If you’re a member of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club (click here to join up if you aren’t) then you’ve already received this month’s book, Crossings by Alex Landragin and you should check your email because I’m doing a zoom with Alex next week and you’re invited. (And if you’re an honorary member or can’t make it we’ll post the video on the Nowhere youtube channel afterward.)

I’m opening up comments for discussion in case you prefer not to use the Fantastic Strangelings Facebook page but – as always – remember that there are no deadlines or rules so if you want to just lurk or come back in the future if you haven’t read it yet that is totally okay. The discussion posts stay open so you can pop in anytime you please.

AND…today I’m announcing September’s book, The Bone Shard Daughter, by Andrea Stewart.

A quick summary:

Introducing a major new voice in epic fantasy: in an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor, will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne.

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

Y’all, I read this whole book in one day and it is so good. I fell so in love with one character that I threatened to burn the whole house down if anything happened to them. (Victor was concerned but no more than normal, really.) It is the first book in a trilogy, and usually I don’t read those until the whole series is out because I’m too impatient for delayed gratification but this book totally stands alone with a very satisfying end.

And I alway offer a bonus book suggestion each month for those of you who need much more than one book a month so for September let me recommend Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh (of Hyperbole and a Half). She’s back! I laughed and cried. (Small content warning: if you have suicidal ideation – me too, friend – then just make sure you’re in a good place when you read it.)

Happy reading!

PS. As alway, thank you for supporting Nowhere Bookshop. You are literally keeping us in business and we are so grateful. We still don’t have our doors open the public because we want to keep you and our team safe but we do have curbside pick-up and we ship all over.

I’m having a long-distance love affair with someone in your house.

This morning I woke up with a tiny depression hangover so I tweeted that I was feeling a little out-of-sorts and to please send pictures of your pets and within minutes I was staring at thousands of sweet furry and feathered and scaly faces and then twitter was like, “You’re receiving a lot of notifications. Would you like to add a filter to limit responses?” and I was like, “STOP INTERFERING, TWITTER. I NEED THESE FACES” and then I looked at every single one and imagined scritching their foreheads and rubbing their bellies and whispering, “Who is a good one? It’s you. It’s so you” and then I thought that it’s sort of amazing that even when I’m feeling lonely or sad I’m still not alone and how wonderful it is that you’re okay with me having a long-distance love affair with your pets.

That was a very long run-on sentence but I can’t help it and if you need a pick-me-up I suggest going to see all the amazing responses to my tweet because it will make you smile in spite of yourself.

Also, I drew you something.

(Click to embiggen)

Technically this is just a small part of a much bigger piece that’s in You Are Here but it’s always nice to break the complicated ones up and experiment with different colors so feel free to print and color or use it as a fire-starter as needed. (My drawings always have words in them but this section doesn’t have text. The whole thing was a large collection of things I dreamed of over a week so the text is “This is the part where I write something clever, but my head is broken…so instead I drew you my dreams.”)

Thank you for being there for me. You keep me sane. Or at least close enough.

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