doris.

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My grandmother dies in the middle of the night. My mother said her blood turned septic, and it was quick. Later I will google what that means.

2.

Dangerously low blood pressure, the result of a severe infection that has spread through the bloodstream.

3.

S goes out to buy muffins. I stay home and make coffee. We write a song using chords I can barely play. Except the chorus is easy, so I help.

4.

The chorus is this: D A Em G and it is a chord progression I have been playing for years. Since I first learned to play the guitar (poorly) this is the chord progression I play when I pick one up. This is the chord progression I dedicate to my grandmother, who spent the last years of her life in a nursing home, sometimes not knowing who we were.

5.

The last memory I have of my grandmother before the nursing home: I pick her up. She asks me to take her to Walgreens. She loves going to Walgreens. She has the beginnings of dementia coupled with a tendency to hoard and a confused sense of kleptomania.

6.

My grandmother has worn lipstick for years. She buys the kind that is green in the tube and then red when you put it on.

7.

That day, in Walgreens, she pushes a cart around the store. I watch her take a tube of lipstick from a shelf and put it into her purse.

8.

My favorite picture of my grandmother is her and my mother on my mother’s 21st birthday. My mother is sitting on my grandmother’s lap. My mother holds a phone up to her ear. They’re smiling at each other.

9.

In the car I ask her where the lipstick came from. She doesn’t know. And it’s the truth. She really doesn’t know.

10.

The thing about grandparents: they are always there. They are there when you are born. They are there for every birthday. They give you Hallmark greeting cards with twenty dollar bills crisp and new from the bank. Snickers bars chilled in the fridge. Altoid containers hidden in every drawer in the house. They are always always there, until they’re not.

the give & the take.

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It is so easy to explain happiness!

Here, I will show you.

I am so happy because my book came out on Tuesday. It was the most perfect day. We woke early and S rolled over and said something like, is there anyone in this bedroom that had a book come out today? and I pretended not to know and then he asked again and I still shrugged and it became a sleepy, half-dreamy game we played until I took my phone off the bedside table and saw so many messages, so many emails, so many kind people all emerging from every corner of my life to tell me I have done a good job. I have put something into the world. I have made a thing. I have seen it through to its creation.

Harder to explain:

The last thought I had on Monday night, the last thought before I let myself slip off into sleep, was: I have actually made it. I did not die before my book came out

Easy to explain:

The overwhelming, heart-pounding, palms-sweating, breath-failing sensation of walking into the first bookstore that carries my book. Seeing it on the shelf in its appropriate alphabetical order. The blue and pink and white of the cover. The gloss and the ghostly stare of the nameless girl on the cover. My whole heart soaring out of my chest, leaving my body to inhabit some space outside of my body, momentarily, floating up like a ballon until finally I catch it in my fingers and wrestle it back into my ribcage. Where it will be safe. Seeing my book on a shelf for the first time. Yes, it is everything I imagined it might be. I stand in the bookstore for fifteen minutes, pretending to be lost.

When I leave, I tell the security guard hi instead of bye. 

Harder to explain:

The suffocation that is almost simultaneous. The hallucination that every single book is a living, breathing creature that has recognized a weak, susceptible host. There are so many books in this bookstore! Thousands? Tens of thousands? I try and count them all but I lose track very quickly. I press my fingertips against their spines and mouth their titles to myself and absorb their colors into my skin. My stomach hurts.

Easy to explain:

The first text message from the first friend to finish my book. It comes at two in the morning her time, eleven at night my time. It says, simply: Loved it.

and I feel this weight lift off my shoulders and dissipate into the air around me. Suddenly it is so easy to breathe! Suddenly breathing is the easiest thing I have ever done. We are all born knowing how to do this! We are all born breathing!

Harder to explain:

I remember then that I was not born breathing. I was born blue, my mother tells me. The color of the hardcover of my book. A bright, brilliant blue.

Oh, my mother said.

Oh, this? The blue? She’ll be okay, the doctor said.

Yes I was okay. But it did not quite come naturally.

Easy to explain:

I have only listened to one album this week, over and over. And when I try to listen to anything else, my ears protest. Like I am maybe conditioning myself to associate good, positive things with this music. I hear the first chords and I remember—this week! Everything has happened! You are the luckiest!

Harder to explain:

My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are. 

Easy to explain:

One by one my friends all visit bookstores and get copies sent to them in the mail and send me pictures of my book on bookshelves and propped up on their countertops or held in their hands. People I haven’t talked to in years buy copies! Friends buy two, three, four and tell me all the people they’re going to give them to. Five star reviews! Tagged Facebook and Instagram posts! Strangers tweeting and Goodreadsing and sending me tentative emails about how strongly they identified with Molly. It is exactly and perfectly true I’m not even sure why I’m sending you this emailIt is three in the morning and I am not-so-quietly sobbing in my lap because this is exactly the book I needed at exactly the right moment telling me exactly what I needed to hear. 

Harder to explain:

The feeling, out of nowhere, of whathaveidone and whatamidoing and whatamisupposedtodnow.

Easy to explain:

I have never taken anything for granted! I have worked so very, very hard at this for so very, very long. I can feel good about the things I have done because of how hard and long I have reached for them!

Harder to explain:

Midnight, one in the morning, two in the morning: but have I really done enough? Couldn’t it always be more? Couldn’t it always be greater?

Easy to explain:

The literal swelling of a human heart. The literal explosion of gratitude. The literal happiest moment in your life.

Harder to explain:

Followed by, perhaps, a moment of incredible, vision-clouding loneliness. But why? From where? Because of what? It is impossible to say. There is no reason for it. You are the silliness, weirdest, most unusual human.

Easy to explain:

Or, okay, you are not so bad. You have ups and downs just like everyone else. You grab on when you can grab on and you let go, sometimes, too soon.

The middle ground/ the diagnosis:

You feel overwhelmed by happiness so much that maybe you are always looking for its opposite. Maybe without this balance you feel too unstable, too unsteady, too easily undone. But maybe what you really desire is to be so wholly happy that it thrums through your veins like something more and thicker than blood. Or maybe what you really desire is to be enshrouded so fully in a shadow that no one else can see you. Or no. Maybe what you really desire is that exact center point. But you keep oscillating back and forth and back and forth and holy fuck, it is hard to get it exactly right.

No but okay, you are fine! What a great week! Calm down.

The devil is in the fluctuations. I could say—and it is true—I have never been happier.

But this might also mean, simultaneously, something else.

*

The disclaimer: 

This post is a very honest account of what it is like for me, a person living with depression (and without medication), to experience an enormous, beautiful, ONLY POSITIVE thing. I wrote about it in this way because I want to be able to write more openly and honestly about depression, if only to finally normalize and de-stigmatize something so often misunderstood. I hope  it serves its purpose. 

My previous post about being diagnosed with depression can be found here

film photographs taken in New York with a  Minolta X-700.

the first chapter.

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My first novel came out on Tuesday.

The past two days have been amazing & ridiculous.

I cannot yet put them into words.

So here is the first chapter of the book. I hope you would consider supporting my art & work & buying a copy, if the following excerpt interests you. You can also find & purchase it here & here.

All my love & gratitude.

*

THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE/ one.

There are long stretches where I don’t remember anything.

I wake up in my car.

I’m driving, but I don’t know where I’m driving to and I don’t know where I’m driving from.

But it’s my car. And my things are in it.

I just don’t know how I got here.

Continue reading

the day before.

 

 

This week arrived out of nowhere. This week! I’ve been waiting for this week for two years, for my entire life. I’ve been imagining the way it will go. I’m imagining the ways in which it will be important. I’ve been quiet about it. I’ve been letting it come to me; I haven’t gone out to seek it. And now it’s here, THE DAY BEFORE, and tomorrow it will be THE DAY and the next day will be THE DAY AFTER.

My first book, THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE, comes out tomorrow. I am eternally, stupidly, ridiculously grateful to every single person who has helped me along in this journey. And what a journey! What a week.

Please, if you have followed me and responded to my words, it would mean so much to me if you would order a copy of my book (and leave a review!) and help support what I have worked so hard for, always.

You have my immense gratitude.

The novel can be purchased here & here & here &, I’m sure, many other places.

guest post- how to become a successful author.

5129170873_78d6fca4f4_zI stopped by Addicted Readers to talk a little bit about my writing routine, and how I know when it’s the right time to break it.

Write every day. Write for fifteen minutes or a half an hour or as long as you want. Set up a routine and follow through with this routine, because it’s the routine that will carry you through the dry spells and deliver you on the other side of inspirationlessness. It’s the routine that will teach your fingers how to make words even when your brain is really, truly checked out. It’s the routine that will make all the difference.

at rodeo beach.

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I get sick on the way to San Francisco.

I eat a boring dinner: bland risotto and heirloom tomatoes. My mother has steak. We share a half bottle of wine.

That night we try to watch a movie but the stomach pain has already started.

I think I’m gong to be sick, I say.

You’re fine, she says. You just need some sleep.

That morning saw us in the car, driving six hours from Disneyland to Carmel. We stopped for lunch at Pea Soup Andersons. We each had pea soup. I got mine in a bread bowl.

Before that, two days in Disneyland. I just quit my job and we celebrated by wearing mouse ears and ordering very expensive glasses of Caymus.

You have to write a lot now, my mother kept saying.

Right, but there are other things, I said.

I start throwing up at one in the morning. The drive to San Francisco the next morning is miserable. I keep a paper bag by my feet. Every half an hour, my mother tries to get me to take a sip of water.

That night I eat half a bowl of garlic noodles and fall asleep at eight o’ clock. When my mother gets back to the hotel, hours later, I sit straight up in bed.

I feel only slightly better the next morning. Only slightly better the morning after that.

On Sunday we spend the day at the beach. The sand is black and very hot. We hike up to bunker ruins and then back down again. We eat dinner that night in a Thai restaurant. They make us take our shoes off.

My mother leaves on Tuesday morning. The line at the airport is long but she skips it all. Her wrist is wrapped in an ace bandage and they take pity on her.

Driving to S’s apartment afterward. So early. The highways are still empty. The sun is barely up.

It is three weeks until my book comes out and I am just now beginning to think everything is real.

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photographs taken in Sausalito, California at Rodeo Beach. 

a thank you, a giveaway.

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Today marks one month exactly until the release of my first book, THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE.

It feels impossible that in just a month, anyone in the world will be able to get their hands on something I made up and wrote down.

THANK YOU ALL for your continued support. I feel so honored to have such a positive community to share this with.

One of my favorite lines of the book—You deserve to remember—has been turned into a beautiful piece of art by my friend and insanely talented graphic designer, Megan of 200lemons.

The rosemary in the picture stands for remembrance.

This image will be printed on a tee shirt for the giveaway. Also offered will be one signed hardcover copy of the book. The giveaway will run until July 7th.

For full details on the giveaway, and to enter, click here.

skin & bones.





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I learned recently that a girl I used to know had died. I found her obituary online and it hinted at suicide. All the Facebook messages—it was her birthday the other week— said things like

always my love

you are so missed

you were taken too early

But what they should have said, maybe, was that she wasn’t taken. She left.

*

I visited her once in the hospital. She told me she had appendicitis but when I got there her roommate was as skinny as she was. All bones and bulging veins.

“They’re worried about my weight,” she told me.

The nurse came in and said that visiting hours were over.

She held two bottles of Ensure, glistening wet with condensation.

*

She would only eat with plastic cutlery. She worked at a flower shop on the edge of Harvard Square. She sold tulips to Jennifer Garner. We met in a toy store. We worked together there. She never ate lunch.

*

The last time she posted to Facebook was four years ago, in January. There is a photograph of her with another girl, a scarf covering most of her features except one eye and a tuft of maybe blonde hair.

The caption says

while the poison sets in

and the picture was posted the day before she died.

You can’t help but wonder

if she meant it literally.

Actual poison. Real poison.

The photograph was taken in Half Moon Bay.

She was just as skinny

as I remember.

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photographs taken in the bluebell fields in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 

easton.

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Getting on a plane and landing in any part of the East Coast feels like a returning. There is a silence on the coastline I haven’t been able to find in any of the places I’ve visited or any of the places I’ve lived. Even in New York City, where it is always loud and smoky and busy, there is a silence. It’s a little harder to find, but it’s more rewarding when you stumble upon it. It is at once more fulfilling and fleeting.

We spent three nights in Brooklyn before heading south to Maryland. I’ve only been there once before but still the roads seemed familiar to me. When we reached that last long stretch of trees, S said to look for deer and then, in the same breath, he found one and pointed it out to me.

Do you see it? he asked.

I see it, I said.

Memorial Day weekend was hotter than last year. We caked sunblock on our bodies and sprayed bugspray behind our ears but still the No-See-Ums ate us alive, even when we surrounded ourselves with torches and pointed all the bright lights toward the corners of the tent.

One night we sat around two round tables, drinking beer that had been left in the sun all day.

Oh, hey, S said. Look at this!

The tiniest green frog had landed in his lap. It stood staring up at him with big, black eyes. We had no idea how he’d made it so far off the ground.

My reflexes were slow. I couldn’t get a picture.

The next day we went out on the Miles River, piling into a boat too small for us, making it drive faster than it was probably meant to go.

Halfway through the day I was done with interactions. I wanted to be by myself. I spent the afternoon on a hammock finishing How Should A Person Be? and starting Doll Bones in the same breath. I like when the books bleed into each other. I like when the words get jumbled up.

The next day we returned to California. S slept through half the plane ride. The turbulence never really stopped. Five hours of rocking back and forth.

We touched down in LA before three o’clock. I was ready for bed by six. I fell asleep by nine.

I had a dream I can’t really remember. A woman with dark, curly hair. A monster.

I woke up in the middle of the night to someone whispering in my ear. They said Katie, even though no one really calls me that. I shook S awake and made him talk to me until I felt OK enough to go to sleep again.

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photographs taken in Easton, Maryland. 

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