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How I Really Feel the Day My Book Comes Out

Friends: “OKAY EVERYONE MAKE JAZZ HANDS!”

Friends: “OKAY EVERYONE MAKE JAZZ HANDS!”

If you would have asked me four years ago on this day where I saw myself today I think I would have told you I’d be happily kicking it with Rosa Parks and Gilda Radner “on the other side” munching on some fancy cheese dips and trading gossip about which dead celebs were hitting on us at the pearly gates of heaven.  

My head was pretty screwed up by that point and I was making all kinds of dark jokes.

I had also just started doing something to distract me from all the brain bleeding nonsense.

I had just started writing a book.

Exactly four years ago I was sitting on my parent’s couch plopping my busted fingers down on a fresh word document.

This sentence took me five minutes to write” were the very first words I wrote.

It actually took me longer than that because I could only use one hand.

Is it fate that this book would get published exactly four years later?

I don’t know about fate, okay. And *SPOILER ALERT* if I’m being completely honest with you that same sentence got cut from the final copy. But I’ll tell you this much, I never expected any of this to happen.

I never expected to be getting an email from a publisher on Sept 25, 2017 asking to publish my manuscript.

I wasn’t planning on delegating a cover design or hiring an attorney to negotiate contract terms.

I didn’t anticipate seeing actual ratings for my book posted online by people I’ve never met before.

And I definitely didn’t think a box of books could make me cry.

The truth is, I started writing a book because I thought I was dying. And I thought maybe I should start saying something important before I couldn’t say anything at all. Behind the LOLs and selfies of me at my keyboard typing away there was real, unfiltered fear.

This could be it. This could be the last thing you ever say.

Part of me was really upset that I wasn’t Anne Frank. That I wasn’t a pure and radiant soul documenting life-shattering thoughts on the page. I’m just some brain damaged chick sitting here watching Netflix waiting to die, I thought.

This was not a fun idea to entertain.

So I sat there on September 18, 2014 and began typing with my right hand. I got a few more sentences down, mostly about how I thought I was dying and that I thought it was really funny and weird to be writing a book in such a condition. I finished a page or two and then took a break to watch six straight episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

I think the next day might have been similar. Get up, take brain pills, eat food I can’t taste, write book, Netflix, nap, Netflix, nap, friend takes me on a walk, Netflix, bed.

I started writing a book because honestly what else was I doing?

When I thought about note-worthy dramas in movies and TV, the dying person always gets to go do something they’ve always wanted to do. They get to see a sunset in Italy or eat some exotic food or do something reckless and bad-ass on a rooftop or some shit.

Nope. Not me. I’m just gonna sit here and watch Barney tell us for the millionth time that it’s going to be legen….WAIT FOR IT…DARY.

What’s legendary about not showering for a whole week and finding Cheese Doodles in your hair?

I started writing a book because I was depressed and sad and thought I was dying and needed therapy.

Not what you expected? Yeah, I know. Me neither.

I guess it’s not our fault. I think society pushes the idea that authors are poised, literary robots who recite quotes from The Classics and spend hours in dimly lit cafes channeling their genius into every word, sentence, and paragraph.

Yeah, what a load of shit right there.

I mean maybe that’s the case for one or two of us. The few and far between; the privileged authors who have plenty of therapy and quiet space and money to create said genius works.

I hated writing in college. I was a History major so I had to write a lot of 20-page dissertations on feminism during WWII and all I could gather was that I was really bad at it.

“Write more academically.”

“Stop using puns.”

“Quit dropping the F-Bomb.”

 It never occurred to me then that it was the beginning of the end for me. And I’m not talking about the whole brain bleeding thing anymore, but that it was the beginning of what would become a never-ending need to write.

An itch that I would forever need to scratch.

I continued writing a book because it felt good. It felt good to release what I think was probably better suited for a therapist’s couch but came out on a page in the privacy of my computer screen instead.

I began saying whatever I wanted and whatever I felt. I typed with that one hand every chance I got (when I wasn’t watching Netflix, that is).

All of my emotions and dark contemplation’s about death and heartbreak just kind of oozed out of me. Kind of like the blood in my brain. I couldn’t control it. I wrote about a guy possibly dying next to me in the ICU, finding a catheter in my you-know-where, and temporarily having the vision of somebody on some seriously dope LSD.

And also like my brain I really needed to clean it up.

By the time I healed up and got back into the classroom I’d written about half of a manuscript. Approximately 40,000 words of utter nonsense about being really scared that my last meal was about to be a frozen burrito.

The fear continued to sit on my chest throughout student teaching, where I learned just how hard teaching would become for me with my newly patched-up brain.

Grading and lesson planning replaced book writing for a while. I could use my left hand again, but it was busy typing out emails to parents about So-And-So smacking another kid with a ruler in 4th period.

I took a two-week long nap after my first school year and then dusted off my word document and began again. This sentence is going to take me five years to publish at this rate, I thought as I reviewed the utter shitshow-condition of my manuscript.

And you know what, it pretty much did.

I spent the next three years rewriting and rereading my trauma.

And honestly, it was really fucking painful.

Just picture the worst moments of your life and analyzing them from every emotional angle for four whole years. Sounds fun right?! Wrong.

But like I said. I couldn’t go back. My body was extracting toxins into paper and I was just a slave to it after a certain point. Grade papers, teach, grade, nap, write, grade, nap, write, teach, eat a cube of cheese to keep from passing out.

It was the new normal.

And I need you to know that it was not glamorous.

Today and probably in the foreseeable future, you’re going to see a lot of pictures of me and other people holding my beautiful book, beaming with joy.

And that joy is real.

It’s the realest thing I’ve ever felt. So when I tell you that I cried in my rental car last night when this song came on the radio you kind of get where I’m coming from.

It’s very fun having people surround you with something you created. I imagine it’s how new moms must feel when everybody circles around and coo’s at you and your beautiful baby.

But it’s also scary. It’s scary that this thing I created out of fear of dying is now alive and well and in the hands of any Joe Blow who happens to see it on a bookshelf.

It’s terrifying that my alternative to therapy is now in the hands of my mother, my father, and probably a few curious guys I dated long ago before any of this existed.

How am I really feeling the day my first book comes out?

A lot of things.

Pride. Excitement. Fear. Uncertainty. Shock. Probably a couple of emotions that won’t be discovered by scientists until 2025.

I don’t know if these emotions will ever wear off. Not fully anyway. It’s a very strange experience when your conversations shift from “how are you doing in New York?” to “Wow, that thing you said on page 17 nearly made me piss my pants.”

My Auntie said she cried at a chapter that I didn’t even know could make someone cry.

It occurs to me now that I was pretty stealthy about the whole being terrified of dying thing. To the point that even the people closest to me are coming to me now with some very big emotional reactions to my I-really-should-have-been-in-therapy memoir.

To my credit, I was in therapy. Just of a different kind. Learning how to walk again seemed a bit more of a priority than my bottled up emotions at the time.

But here I am, sitting on my parents couch yet again letting some of those emotions leak out onto the page. It’s not perfect. It’s sometimes scattered and messy and painful. But it’s a necessary thing I do now because, again, I really should be in therapy.

Don’t worry about me though, really.

I’ve got great friends. My family is rock solid. I live in the coolest city in the world.

As the cover of my book would say, I’ll be OK.

I’ll be better than OK, actually, I’ll be fucking fantastic.

Feel free to congratulate me, pat me on the back, and take selfies with my book.

I hope you buy it, read it, and enjoy it.

I hope you laugh and I also hope you have a box of tissues at the ready.

I hope that some brain-injured chick out there on her parent’s couch finds it, reads it, and feels a little less alone.

And more than anything, I hope that I continue to chase this dream no matter what happens.

Now go out there* and get your copy!

Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn't make a killing
Didn't have a dime but I always had a vision
Always had high, high hopes
Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn't know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes

*Check out major bookstores first! If they don’t carry it, feel free to ask them to order or visit Amazon or my site over at Animal Media Group here!

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How I Moved To New York With a Plan and Found Magic Instead

If you squint real hard you can see my best-laid plans going to shit but finding better things instead. 

If you squint real hard you can see my best-laid plans going to shit but finding better things instead. 

It’s a Tuesday night at 9 PM and I’m transcending.

I’m holding a beer standing in the back room of a bar I’ve never heard of. Big winter jacket and heavy backpack still on and weighing me down.

But right now I am light as a feather.

Because a stranger is standing on a tiny stage before me surrounded by twinkly lights playing what I can only comprehend as pure magic. He’s playing wine glasses filled with water and singing a song he wrote at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis.

It occurs to me that there are only about 15 other people in this tiny room experiencing this right now with me. I wonder if they too understand. I wonder if they know just how privileged we are to be in this room surrounded by this sound. 

My heart is so full I think I might burst into a pile of confetti on the floor.

It was a Thursday night and I saw my first improv show since moving to New York. The lights came up on the stage and I remembered the first time I fell in love with comedy; sitting on the floor in front of the TV with my sister well past our bedtimes watching reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway? until we both fell asleep.

It’s a Monday night and I’m coming home from my day job as a nanny. I saunter through the downtown streets of DUMBO, Brooklyn and have to stop myself because the light is hitting the city across the river in such a breathtaking way that I take the long way to the subway.

The really long way.

In fact, I forgo several stops and almost walk myself all the way home.

It was another Thursday night when I followed a crowd of improvisers I didn’t know to a bar I’d never heard of and had the most important conversation of my life.

A conversation not unlike any other introductory walkthrough about who I was and why I was there in New York City.

“I’m a writer,” I announced a little unsure. “I mean my book isn’t published yet or anything, but I’m working on it.”

I guess I hadn’t realized that the words “my” and “book” might generate some interest to a complete stranger.

And some follow-up questions.

As fate, or coincidence, or even magic would have it, this particular stranger (Hey Aaron! You’re THE MAN) knew a publisher who just months later would take a chance on me and my little book, changing life as I knew it forever.

I used to be afraid of magical moments such as these.

I would watch moments of pure joy and wonder come into my life and brush them off as mere happenstance; anomalies in my overall “predictable” life.

Like that time I sat on a rooftop drinking wine in Toledo, Spain with my best friend staring up at a billion stars and a 3,000-year old cathedral thinkin' "dayum, life is good."

Oh, you know, just sitting on a roof with the most amazing view fine how are you.

Oh, you know, just sitting on a roof with the most amazing view fine how are you.

Or when my best friend and I single-handedly curated two amazing art shows in Denver with 13 artists in a gallery that we couldn't really afford with an audience of 300 people and we felt all fancy and shit. 

Here I am using fake confidence to tell an artist that I've kind of screwed something up in his exhibit. He's taking the news really well.

Here I am using fake confidence to tell an artist that I've kind of screwed something up in his exhibit. He's taking the news really well.

Or that time I went to New York City for the first time a few years ago to take an improv class just weeks before starting my short-lived career as a high school teacher.

It was there that I’d get my first real taste of the magic.

This isn’t real life,” I’d spit back to the universe as I performed on one of the most notable improv stages in the world at the end of the week-long intensive.

“I can’t actually do comedy in New York. That’s not a life I get to live. That’s just ridiculous.”

For whatever reason -fear, doubt, perceived adult responsibility- I didn’t believe in magic back then.

The idea that I could find and even create wonder in my day-to-day life terrified me. Magical moments were spontaneous, and my meticulous and planning-obsessed brain didn’t like spontaneous.

In fact, my brain fucking hated spontaneous.

It was hard enough trying to conquer the grocery store without sucker-punching someone back then, much less try to organize my life in a way that allowed for disorderly magical shit.

I returned from my week-long improv adventure in New York a bit shook up, traumatized even. For I’d seen a taste of something I didn’t think was possible or realistic for me.

“I had a lot of fun,” I told my mother (true). “But I don’t think I could ever live there.” (False).

To this day my mother recounts this very conversation as evidence enough for me to come home right this very minute you hear me. And at that time I truly didn’t think I could live in a place as magical as New York.

The night before I packed my two suitcases and took a one-way to the Holy Land, I had an epic meltdown in my parent’s kitchen while finishing a bowl of mac and cheese. 

“I’m so fucking scared,” I said, discarding my cheesy carbs and looking up from my detailed and color-coded check-list titled “New York Attack Plan.” Items included hilarious things like “Week 1- Get a job” and “Week 2- Sign a lease.

“What are you scared of?” My dad said from the sink as he scrubbed a pot.

“Dad,” I gulped. “I’m scared I’m going to fail-” The word “fail” was promptly interrupted by a cascading waterfall of ugly tears.

Oh, sweetie,” he said softly and rushed to my side. “You are not going to fail.” My tears were globbing down my pink face now and making a mess of my lovely (and supremely unrealistic) to-do list.

“First of all, you’re too stubborn to fail. You get that from me,” he chuckled. “And second, as bad as I want you to stay, I know in my heart that you’re going to get out there and do something amazing.”

My scared tears quickly turned into “why is my dad so adorable” tears and it took a bag of chocolate chips and half a box of tissues to get me down off the ugly crying ledge.

There would be a lot more ugly crying once I arrived in New York City.

There would be job rejection after job rejection. My dad would get some cancer* and I’d have over $1,000 stolen from me by a student loan scam. I’d have a heartbreak and I’d spend a lot of time on subways contemplating the meaning of life but also just staring out into no-mans-land and missing my stops.

The fear of an unknown place with a billion people zooming around my head sometimes made me question if I was going to figure my shit out without completely draining my savings account or if I was going to have to stick my thumb out and bum my way back to Colorado like a total failure.

But hey, guess what.

That didn’t happen. Because I’m still here.

Dad was right.

I’m sitting in a kid’s play studio watching the boys I nanny parkour off of gym equipment and kick soccer balls with ridiculous accuracy at my head. I’m submitting 400-word pieces to clients like banks and plumbing companies and podcasts for $15 a piece. I’m managing a 20-person co-living space that I tell everyone is a commune. I fill my days with performing plays about talking Brocolli to 4-year-olds and fill my nights with telling jokes to drunk strangers about performing plays about talking Brocolli to 4-year-olds.

And maybe this is all a little magical too.

I propelled myself into a magical life by letting magic exist in the first place. It hasn’t been easy or anything like my carefully-crafted “Attack Plan” would have predicted.

But I’m staring out of the boy’s bedroom now, tucking them in** and telling them they can’t have another popsicle. And out of the window, I can see it. The most magical of all New York structures.

The Empire Fucking State Building.

Up close and personal with Mr. Empire in 2015 probably about to get hit by a taxi while taking this. 

Up close and personal with Mr. Empire in 2015 probably about to get hit by a taxi while taking this. 

If that’s not magic I don’t know what is.

 

*I am happy to report that Dad is now cancer-free and as awesome as ever.

**This has been the most arduous, horrendous, and emotionally traumatizing of bedtimes for these lil ’ monsters including the 2-year old chucking a baseball directly at my eyeball during storytime, lots of tears (from them and possibly me), and a kitchen tantrum/Mexican standoff involving a popsicle stick and a ham and cheese bagel. I’m just lucky to be alive right now let me tell you.

P.S. If you want to make this fun for me, comment below with your #magicmoments! 

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