PSA on Jenny Trout’s Catharsis

Two years ago, in August, I made the conscious decision to remove a toxic, manipulative individual from my life. This person and I had a decades long “friendship”. 

This relationship, of course, didn’t start out as the godawful, soul-crushing, gaslighting nightmare that it became. If it had, I would have run the fuck in the opposite direction. Even I, Brightside Barbie, doomed to look for the best in everyone, would have said, “Nope!” and kept on moving. 

A few weeks ago, Jenny Trout, one of my utterly amazing BFFs, stumbled across some shadyass Vaguebooking about me and snapped. The results of this were five blog posts that detailed years of emotional abuse at the hands of the individual I jettisoned from my life. Jen was pissed. And while she may not always stand up to defend herself, she’ll defend the fuck out of the people she loves and the ideals she believes in. I didn’t ask her to write those posts. She did it because she felt it was the right thing to do. Very much like what I’m doing here. 

If you’ve never dealt with an emotionally abusive manipulative person – or if you’re not the type to to get conned by them – that’s awesome. *high fives you*  

If you have, like so many of the people who’d commented on Jen’s posts, then you know how incredibly insidious and harmful these people can be. You know that the gaslighting techniques they employ can break you the fuck down until you begin to doubt everything around you—even your own thoughts. Hell, especially your own thoughts. I won’t go into all the gory details about how this works. That’s not the point of this post. There are tons of great resources out there if you find yourself in a relationship like this. This blog is a great place to start. But please be aware, those of you who’ve dealt with these sorts of relationships may find it triggering. 

But to illustrate just how damaging this behavior can be, I’d like to share something. About five or six months after I was no longer speaking to the person Jen wrote about, my husband, who’s known me since I was 15 fucking years old, looked at me and said, “There you are. I’ve been missing my girl, and I didn’t know how to find her.” That broke my goddamn heart. 

The reason I’m sharing this is because now that Jen has chosen to remove the five posts detailing the wild ride that was our life with this toxic person, there are readers out there who are upset. Some are upset because they didn’t get to read the last installment before they were all unpublished. Some were upset because they feel that Jen isn’t standing by her convictions by keeping the posts up. Some were upset because those posts that detailed this person’s behavior could have “real world consequences” for that person. 

I get that it’s frustrating to be really into something and find it entertaining and never be able to see the conclusion. But good news, it’s cached out there somewhere, folks. But I understand internet caches as well as I understand imaginary numbers and algebra, so…I’m not the person to help you out with that. 

To those who feel like Jen isn’t standing by her convictions, let me tell you what those posts accomplished for the two of us. And probably for Carol, too. Having those experiences laid out before the cold, unblinking eye of the internet did something amazing. It gave us both the courage to admit that this shit actually happened. This is the shit that shitty people do to others under the guise of friendship. It gave other people who’ve experienced similar shit solidarity recognition and understanding. It gave Jen and I those things, too. But when Jen unpublished those posts, it gave us both something more. It gave us the feeling of finally being fucking free. 

No matter what Jen and I have accomplished professionally, even after this person was no longer in our lives, those accomplishments were always tainted with the remnants of her voice in our heads and the echoes of her words in our ears. Trying to explain how detrimental that is in a way that someone who hasn’t been through this shit can understand would take months, and TBH, I’m not willing to to devote any more headspace to this person than she’s already had.

But, what I would love for you to understand is that really talking about these things, getting them all out of our heads, and then flushing them, finally felt like we were free of it all. That the garden of self-doubt that this person planted in our heads and carefully tended had finally gone fallow. I wish I could somehow translate our happiness sense of wellbeing to everyone to provide a glimpse of how amazingly beautiful and freeing that felt. For the first time, I was no longer worried about running into this person at the grocery store—a likely prospect since we live so close to one another. Just the realization that I wasn’t afraid of running into her in public was huge. That’s just one example of the power of releasing this. 

So for those of you who felt like Jenny wasn’t standing by her convictions, I realize there’s nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. But I hope you’ll consider that choosing to unpublish the posts wasn’t about convictions. It was about freedom from something that’s haunted both of us for years. Basically exorcising a demon—minus the priest and the holy water. 

And finally, for those concerned about the real world consequences those posts may have had, I have a question. Why are the real world consequences of income loss more important than the real world consequences of having one’s mental health maliciously chipped away for over a decade? I’m not sure how money is the most important thing here. Sometimes there are consequences for being a horrible person. Sometimes those consequences involve people no longer wanting to read your work. 

Additionally, some people may not have a problem if a homophobe profits by writing MM romances. Some people have a huge problem with it and would prefer to vote with their dollars.

Like most writers, the written word is my and Jen’s medium for figuring out our shit—both reading and writing. Sure, we talk a lot, too. But like many writers, I think we process better through reading and writing. I don’t know how Jen felt writing them, but I know that reading them felt like amazing therapy. 

One of the things I love and admire most about Jen is that what you see is literally what you get. There’s no public persona—there’s just Jen. And I will be forever grateful to her for standing up for me, and more than that, helping me stand up for myself.

All the concerts. Well, all the ones I’ve seen anyway.

On August 26th, Jenny Trout, her seven year old daughter, and I drove to Chicago (Well, Jen drove. I covered my eyes a lot and hoped fervently that we’d return home to tell the tale. And that’s nothing against Jen’s driving. That’s because more than three lanes on an expressway and Chicago traffic freak me the fuck out.) to see the Billy Joel concert at Wrigley Field.

On the trip we talked about how her daughter was going to have a great first concert story. I mean, how many seven-year-olds have seen Billy Joel, anyway? Scratch that. How many seven-year-olds even know who Billy Joel is?

Anyway, we also talked about previous concerts we’d been to and decided to do a blog post about them. Jen’s might be in chronological order, but mine won’t be because I’m terrible at remembering stuff. Particularly remembering stuff in order.

But here it goes.

Styx  It was the first concert I ever saw. I was a kid – not as young as Wednesday, but pretty young. I was supposed to go with my mom, but she was heavily pregnant and no heavily pregnant person wants to navigate downtown Detroit and the Joe Louis Arena. In retrospect, I completely understand. At the time, I had to go with my then stepfather. We didn’t really get along. This was no exception.

Adam Ant Oh, yes, friends. You read that right. I was a young teen and quite in love with Adam Ant. Yeah…I know. It was the 80s. What do you want? However, I discovered something far better than Adam Ant at that show. And that was the opening act.

INXS opened for Adam Ant, and I learned many important things that night. I learned that a young Michael Hutchence was insanely fucking hot (even with the awful mullet). I learned that INXS should have been the featured band. Most importantly? I learned about lust.

Sister Rosine went on about lust constantly at school. It was a never ending litany of who was going to hell and why. The answer was all non-Catholics and everyone who had lust in their hearts. It was a Catholic high school, so…you know…pretty much everyone. I’d been lectured on the dangers of lust every day for a couple of years at this point and I was lust blah blah eternal damnation blah blah blah.

Then I saw Michael Hutchence. I saw Michael Hutchence sing. I saw Michael Hutchence dance. I saw Michael Hutchence and had a goddamn epiphany in the middle of “Don’t Change.” And that epiphany, you might wonder? It was: “Oh! This is what Sister Rosine was on about. There was lust in my heart. There was lust in my mind. And friends, there was most certainly lust in my pants. If Sister Rosine was to be believed, I was on the fast track to hell. And I was absolutely fine with that.

Marillion You know that show that you end up at because you’re dating a guy who thinks neo-progressive rock is a great idea? This was that show. Hi/lowlight: You pop out to go to the bathroom at the beginning of a song and discover that a bunch of other people had the same idea. It takes 22 minutes to get through the line and wash your hands and you come back and the band is only then moving into the key change before the big finish of that song.

The Who I didn’t actually go to this show. However, I did get tickets for it for my fiance for a wedding gift–he took his best man because I had a paralyzing fear of the Silverdome where they were playing. I now regret this choice. It was back in the day when Ticketmaster had a physical location that you had to go to. And the Ticketmaster employees were grumpy. as. fuck. about opening at 6 am to sell  concert tickets to a bunch of people who’d been lined up all damn night.  I’m including it because my brother and I spent the night outside in line with a bunch of Dead Heads and bikers and there was some chick in line next to me who’d recently changed her name to Cheyenne. Though, she took great pains to tell me that she’d chosen to spell it a better way. “Shy-Anne”. Shy-Anne, if you’re still out there somewhere, you were a fab line mate and I enjoyed talking women’s studies with you. And Spider, the biker, who saved my place in line so I could find the bathroom I so desperately needed at five am because the three porta potties that were there had been barfed all over – there wasn’t a place to step let alone sit. Spider, sir, you were a true gentleman.

Jethro Tull – It was a husband’s choice show that I ended up enjoying far more than I thought I would. Ian Anderson literally never stops moving.

Tracy Chapman – Syd Vicious, one of my daycare girlies, and I used to listen to Tracey Chapman all the time. As a surprise, her mom got three tickets to a show Chapman did at my favorite venue – the State Theater in Kalamazoo. Seriously, look at this place! It’s small – it only holds about 1500 people. But the architecture is gorgeous and the acoustics are great.

The concert was fantastic, too, and Syd, her mom and I had a wonderful time. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how incredibly tiny TracyChapman is. She’s got this giant, gorgeous voice but she’s downright wee.But she puts on a damn good show.

Tori Amos – I’ve seen Tori 4 times – the Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele and From the Choir Girl Hotel tours. All of the shows were memorable.  LE because she played the State Theater and there were maybe 200 people there, so she had us all move down front and she sat on the edge of the stage and talked to everyone – it was like having a concert in someone’s living room. For UtP, I was ginormously pregnant with my first child, and I was also a raging hormonal bitch. This concert was where I met one of my very dearest friends. And even though she met me when I was at my literal worst, 22 years later, we’re closer than ever. And the FtCGH was where I very nearly met Jenny Trout. I went to that concert then the next day I went to a writing conference and I was talking about the concert and Jen’s grandma overheard me and said that her granddaughter had been at that concert and she wanted us to meet because she thought we’d be great friends. As it turns out, she was absolutely right.

Rufus Wainwright – He opened for Tori and while he was super entertaining, he was also really drunk. I spent most of his set wondering if there was a way to get him into rehab.

Dar Williams – I’ve seen Dar 3 times and I adore her. Her shows are fun and quirky and thoroughly enjoyable. The first time I saw her, I was pregnant with my second kid. During my second favorite holiday song, The Christians and the Pagans, I felt my son move for the first time. Coincidentally (?), that’s always been one of his favorite songs and it still is.

Ani Difranco – I’ve seen Ani 5 times. Most of those times were with Roxanne, the friend I met during the Tori concert and once was with Jenny and my sister Cait. When I’m in the mood for angry chick music, Ani’s my go-to. She puts on a fabulous show. I do have some serious fucking questions about her opening acts though. I want to have a sit down with her and find out what her criteria is for choosing them, because holy hell, they have been, without exception, the literal fucking worst. Roxanne and I have it narrowed down to one of two choices. Either A.) She wants to make sure she looks amazing in comparison to the openers. Or B.) She feels sorry for them and she’s hoping that on the road, someone out there somewhere will love them enough that they’ll become a real band. I mean, for fuck’s sake, Drum and Tuba was one of her opening acts.

Drum and Tuba – Let me set the stage for you. There is a drum. There is a tuba. There are two gentlemen. One plays the drum. The other plays the tuba. For over a half hour. Maybe even 45 minutes. It’s fucking hard to be sure when your ears are bleeding and you’re praying for an end to your suffering.

Stevie Nicks – We’re not people who win things. Like ever. But somehow, my husband magically won tickets to a Stevie Nicks concert. She was just as delightfully Stevieish as she could be. Scarves. Shawls. Skirts, Tambourines. Spinning. Heels to high to wear safely. 10/10: Would see again.

Catie Curtis – My sister, Cait, took me to this show. It was just a nice little folk concert on the Lake Michigan shore. And I like a lot of Catie’s songs, so that was great. And hanging with Cait is always fun.

Brandi Carlile – Speaking of hanging with Cait, my sister took me to this concert, too. Awesome outdoor concert with lots of singing along and Cait getting the numbers of lots of girls. Literally happens wherever we go. They are moths. She’s the porchlight.

Tony Bennett – Now, I fully admit, this wasn’t a concert on my radar. But Jen really wanted to go and so did her IDK BFF Jill – but neither of them drove at the time. So, I drove and we all went, and it was A.) a really great show. B.) an awesome fun time with Jen and Jill. C.) absolutely fascinating to watch these drunkass 60 year old women hooting and hollering at the stage and threatening to strip. 10/10 would totally do again.

Sarah McLaughlin, Suzanne Vega, and god help me, Miranda Lambert. When my Syd Vicious graduated high school, she wanted to go to Lilith Faire. And she wanted me and Cait to go with her and her mom. I’d never been, so I thought, sure – let’s do it. There were some extra tickets, so Syd’s mom told me to invite someone. So I invited Jen. I believe her response was, “Christ, no! Why the hell would I do that to myself?!” or something to that effect. There were a ton of acts there. But it was hot and beastly humid and you couldn’t bring water into the park and they were charging $9 a bottle for 16.9 oz. I don’t even want to admit how many bottles I bought. But I was dying. And mostly those smaller acts were all on the face of the sun, so we avoided them.

Suzanne Vega was good. So was Sarah McLaughlin. But JM&J, Miranda Lambert sounded like someone was trying to teach a really angry cat to sing. I mean, okay, I admit country music really isn’t my thing. But this was a whole ‘nother level of painful. You might wonder why we didn’t wander away to anywhere else during her set. Well, I’ll tell you. There was shade. There was shade and we were trying to keep from dying. The price of life? Miranda Fucking Lambert live with zero autotuning. Never again the Miranda Lambert times.

Fleetwood Mac – While Stevie Nicks was great and also free, I’ve always wanted to see Fleetwood Mac. I finally got my chance a couple of summers ago when my mom, Cait, of Cait’s BFF, Laura, and I drove down to Detroit. We ate supper in Greektown in my favorite dive restaurant that looks no different than it did when we lived near there when I was a preteen. And while we were trying to find our way to the Joe Louis Arena we drove by Mariner’s Church aka the Sailor’s Maritime Cathedral which meant we all simultaneously broke into song and sang that verse from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (There’s a reason Cait and Laura are BFFs.) Laura belongs in our tribe. But anyway, the show was absolutely amazing. I was surprised by the really diverse age range of the crowd. There were as many teenagers there as there were people my mom’s age. Sadly, I also discovered that my vertigo in places like that is worse than ever. I was probably right to skip The Who at the Silverdome.

Counting Crows – Counting Crows gets a bad rap, particularly from Jenny Trout. But I don’t care, I love them anyway, and I always will. So there.  However, when they were doing lots of touring in the 90s, we were broke as fuck and there was no Counting Crows for me. However, the same summer I saw Fleetwood Mac, I also got to see Counting Crows with Kayleigh Jones, because Kayleigh, unlike Jen, knows what’s up.

It was such a great show. The new stuff was surprisingly just as good as the old. Even the admittedly bizarre mash up of Round Here and Oh, My Darling Clementine worked. I’m not exactly sure how Adam Duritz’s brain works, but I find it fascinating. And I still think he’s brilliant fucking lyricist.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Toad opened for Counting Crows and they were fab. They also had new songs to go with the old and they were great, too. But I’m pretty sure the lead singer is a vampire. I don’t think he’s aged at all. And I had a really great time with Kayleigh at the show.

Walk Off the Earth – My sister introduced me to WOTE in hopes of getting me off a Mumford and Sons kick because she loathes them. I still love Mumford and Sons, however, thanks to Cait, I love Walk Off the Earth, too! They’re innovative, fun, they write catchy as fuck music, and I absolutely adore them. My daughter and I went to see them a couple winters ago. We had to sit through three fucking AWFUL opening acts (I can only assume they’re following the Ani Difranco school of thought when it comes to choosing their openers.) However, the concert was so great that it erased almost all the memories of the openers from my mind. I remember being annoyed, but I can’t remember by whom. If you get a chance to see them, definitely do!

Billy Joel – Which brings us back to where this post started. I’ve loved Billy Joel since high school, but again. I’ve never been able to see him. That changed in August. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about seeing a concert at a baseball stadium. It seemed like it would be too big and crowded to really feel any connection to the music. It was big and it was definitely crowded, but there was an amazing sense of community there.

Despite my decidedly Catholic upbringing, I’m not religious. Pretty much the only thing I miss about church is singing with a group. I just really enjoy that. There’s a sense of connection that you don’t experience with too many other things. Because nearly everyone in the crowd knew all the words, everyone was singing. I was worried that it might detract from the concert experience. Not even a little. Honestly, I think it made it more fun. And it made it feel a lot like singing with a choir.

And holy shit, can that guy perform. He’s funny, charming, and he honest to god sounds just like he sounds in recordings.I would go see him again and again. But the best part of all was hanging with Jen and her daughter and the look on her daughter’s face when the show started–that was just magical.

Here’s Jen’s concert list. Who have you seen? What were some of your faves?

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

This summer has been crazy-busy. Like usual. I’m not sure how that happens, but as much as I’m longing for a break from the school year chaos and I think that summer will be full of relaxation and lazy days, it never really is. I’m not sure how that happens, but I usually hit the ground running and I don’t really stop.

There was our amazing Writers Retreat that I already blogged about.

The month after we home from that, we went back to the UP for our annual family vacation. We go with my dad, stepmom, one of my brothers and his fam, my two stepbrothers and their fams, and it’s a great time.

The lake we stay at is really peaceful and great for fishing. Not that I do that now that I’m not forced to. (Childhood vacations involves mandatory fishing for five hours a night.) But I love hanging out by the water and watching the sun rise and set. I also like a nice adult apple juice in my floaty chair in the lake (slathered with ALL the SPF Vampire in the world) while I visit with my SIL. I also (kind of ) learned to kayak. I’m terrible at it, but it’s fun, and I’ll do it again next year.

There was also much discussion of Broadway musicals. One of my nieces is utterly addicted, and it’s pretty much the most adorable thing in the history of ever. Needless to say, there was much singing of Hamilton by me and said niece and my nephew.


Look how cute the cabins are and how peaceful the lake is!


No filters – just a Upper Peninsula sunset progression our second night there.


These ducks were my writing buddies. I just happened to catch a great shot of them landing.


Our last night there. sigh

We went swimming in Lake Superior, which while chilly, wasn’t horrifyingly cold, but we were on the southern shore which is always warmer, and that was a blast. Lake Superior is my ultimate happy place. I love it up there.


Lake Superior at Grand Marais

A week or so after we got back from the UP, I went to the airport and picked up my girl, Jess Jarman, and we had a glorious ten day visit. We hung with Jenny Trout and went out to supper with Jen, Jessica De La Rosa, and Kayleigh Jones. We also went to see one of my brothers compete in a local Highland Games competition. And we died in the godawful heat and humidity. But here’s my sweet boy doing his beast thing.




Jess and I wrote at the super hipster coffee shop.


We got new tattoos – here’s mine!


Write day and night like you’re running out of time. 

We had date night at The Melting Pot – we decided we’re doing all cheese next time.



In other summer fun news, I won an award! Well, technically, my book did! The Professor’s Student tied for first place with Lauren Gallagher’s  book, Kneel, Mr. President in the Passionate Plume contest!


Check out the gorgeous charm Passionate Ink sent the winners! It’ll look so pretty on my bracelet.


Write day and night like you’re running out of time. 

Let’s see…in other news, I finally figured out how to knit cables. They ended up being not nearly as difficult as I was afraid they were. I may get this sweater finished, yet.


I finally got to see Billy Joel in concert! And better still? I got to go with Jenny Trout and her daughter, and it was fucking magical! I’d go see him again in a heartbeat.


And last, but not least, I officiated at an amazing beach wedding on the shore of Lake Michigan. At some point, I may blog more about it. It ended up being an incredibly profound experience because of the people involved.


Those are pretty much the highlights of the last few months. It’s been a great summer.

Nostalgic Notes: Movies


It’s time for another Nostalgic Notes post, and this time it’s movies. There are a ton of movies that I have massive nostalgia for. And nearly everyone of these is quoted regularly around our house.

Labyrinth (1986) Original

Unless you’re new here, you had to know this one would be at the top of the list. Yes, I know there are aspects of it that are a bit creepy. But I still love it – problematic themes and all. Incidentally, I hadn’t known Jenny Trout for very long when we both quoted the same dialogue in this movie in response to something someone else had said. I knew then that we were going to be awesome friends. I was right.


Speaking of problematic themes, there are definitely some in here (discovered during later rewatches) but I have happy memories all around this one. See also:

Adventures in Babysitting

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this movie. But, I can tell you that I haven’t seen it near as many times as my sister has. It was one of her very favorites. And the Elizabeth Shue singing the Babysitting Blues is one of my favorite things, ever.

The Princess Bride

I was about to type, ‘who doesn’t love this movie?’. Then I remembered my dear friend Roxanne. She doesn’t love this movie. She also loathes musicals. And thinks Labyrinth would be better without the songs. (!!!!) But I love her anyway.  I first saw this, when Alex Kourvo came home from college, showed up on my doorstep and kidnapped me to take me to the movies. It was one of the best dates I’ve ever had.

Alex and I saw a lot of movies together. And often repeatedly. Like these gems.


I will never not love these movies. Never.

The first Terminator movie will always be my favorite Terminator movie – even if it did inspire a real and terrifying phobia of AI and Skynet. And who the fuck doesn’t adore Kiefer Sutherland as a vampire?!

My deep and abiding love for Winona Ryder began here. And Beetlejuice is one of those movies that gets quoted constantly around here. Particularly, “If you don’t let me gut out this house and make it my own, I will go insane, and I will take you with me!” And “My life is one big, dark room.”


This, along with The Grinch, is our annual, must-watch Christmas movie. Usually while we’re making Christmas cookies. It’s also quoted year-long. Hans Gruber is hands down my favorite villain of all time. I. Love. Him.


Okay, now, I know there are some people who say that Tim Curry phoned in his performance in this movie, but I don’t care. Tim Curry is precious. As are all of the Muppets. The songs are pure gold. And hilarious. And were the soundtrack of my life when my kids were wee.

Speaking of kids, I loved these two when I was little and so did both of my kids. Both still get quoted on the regular around here. Particularly, “Oh, bother.” and “I will bite you, Chuchundra.”


I fucking love The Animaniacs, and Spooky Stuff is my very favorite compilation video. Not that I can watch it anymore, or you know, any video. I wish they’d make a DVD of this one. It’s brilliant and we quote it all the time.

Last, but certainly not least, are these. My brothers and I often quote Highlander – in fact, one of them just texted me a Highlander quote the other day in response to something I’d said.

And whenever I pick up someone’s baby, I almost always say, “I stole the baby!” And when someone responds with “Stupid Daikini!” or something along those lines, I’m always delighted.

Okay, that’s it from me, this week. And holy crap, apparently, there are a lot of movies I feel nostalgic about!  How about you? What movies do you get the nostalgic feels for?

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ nostalgic picks.







Writers Retreat Wrapup


My stress levels, so far this year, have been a bit on the high side, so I really, really needed this year’s writing retreat. Honestly, I think we’ve all been in super high stress mode. We all needed this break.

I didn’t get as much written as I would have liked, but I did get some written on my current story (and I’ve been writing ever since I got back) and planning progress was made on two super seekrit projects.

But more importantly than any of those things, I feel recharged and able to tackle the rest of the year. Many of the stressors in my life are still in play, but I feel better able to deal with them now that I’ve had a bit of a break.

So, I usually drive the first leg of the trip, and this is what was waiting for me when I opened the door to Jen’s car.


Yep. It’s Samantha. You may remember Jen’s heartwarming story of how she got Samantha. And you may also remember what we did to Samantha. Well, technically, Samantha got into all this trouble on her own because she’s made of evil. We just documented it. 

But anyway, I opened up the driver’s side door, and there was Samantha. Waiting to cause trouble.

The drive was fun – but how can you not have fun when you’re in a car with Jenny Trout, Kayleigh Jones, and Kellie St. James? We sang along to a Disney songs, 80s songs and  the entire Hamilton musical from beginning to end.

In Munising, (a quaint little town on the southern coast of Lake Superior that features several Lake Superior boat tours, my favorite pottery shop, and a Bigfoot statue that’s chained up so he can’t escape) we stopped at Wagner Falls.


Which was, as you can see, really pretty. And we also spotted a faery tree on the way out of the woods.


Near Christmas, (another tiny little Lake Superior coast town) Jen took us through Murder Woods (not its actual name but it looks like a great place to hide multiple bodies) to get to one of the most insanely gorgeous spots I’ve ever seen. And Michigan’s U.P. is full of insanely gorgeous spots.

Murder Woods was a barely a road. I mean, it was probably an old logging road in the early 1800s. And it’s so rutted and narrow that only one car can get through at a time going about 7 mph. If that. But…it was totally worth it! Look at this place!






Look at this gorgeousness! Despite the jolting trek through Murder Woods, it was completely and utterly worth it.

This was our view once we finally got to the house where we stay every year.


We were all so happy to see Norris and Jess. It had been two years since we’d seen Norris and nine and a half months since we’d seen Jess. And we all ended up with sore cheeks and stomachs from all the hysterical laughter.

See that monkey creeping over the top of the laptop? That’s Bobo. He was stalking me all week. I finally had to get a restraining order against him.


This was the night of the full moon.


A little sunset/cloudporn.


No trip to Calumet would be complete without a trip to our favorite yarn store, Camelot Dyeworks. And I, of course, got new yarn, and I’ve vowed to actually learn to make socks. In fact, I started them three fucking times on the way home. But I will persevere!


Oh…and while we were out to lunch one day, Samantha had a bit of a mishap involving the oven. It seems that Gee (the little rainbow guy) was just about done with Samantha’s shit.


And here’s our group shot from our last night there when we went out to supper. (From left to right: Kellie St. James, Jenny Trout (please note the jackalope on her shirt – Jess Jarman’s 3 year old niece named it “Satan”), Kayleigh Jones, Jess Jarman, me and Kris Norris is in the front.)


The week went by too fast – as usual. And I can’t wait to go up there, again.

Only 346 Days: 19 Hours: 27 Minutes: 13 Seconds.


We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog Post

So…yeah…about this week’s blog post…it’s not happening. I’m currently 521 miles from home on our annual writing retreat with Jessica Jarman, Jenny Trout, Kris Norris, Kayleigh Jones, and Kellie St. James. We’ve run away to the land of no internet connection and sketchy to no cell phone service.

However, we’ll be getting a lot of writing done and enjoying Lake Superior, one of my favorite places on the planet, eating Monk Muffins, and laughing our asses off. I promise to post an update when I get back!

But for now, this is my current view.


Wordless Wednesday: Funny

Okay, so as usual, I’m not following the rules. If you’ve been here for any length of time, you are unsurprised, I’m sure.

This is a collection of images that I find funny. With a little explanation.


Jenny Trout outside the bar in the small town of Gay, MI which is near where we hold our writers retreat every year. One of these days, I’m going to get this image put on one of those votive candles…

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This is my sister Cait from our visit to the Garden of Tasteless Statuary…running from a creepy donkey.

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This is one of my former daycare kiddos on her first day at my house. I was making her lunch while she helped herself to the toilet. I figured I should take a picture because her first day might very well be her last day, and I needed to prove this actually happened. And, if her mom was cool enough to keep sending her to my house after this, I figured we’d both want this memory. Happily, her mom thought it was as hilarious as I did, and this pic made Jessie’s graduation board.


Quite possibly my favorite photoshop job. This is getting framed and hung in my bathroom.


Just in case you can’t read the text from this wedding reception card from my friend Jill’s wedding, it says: Beverages and Hors d’ourves at five o’clock pm. Dinner and awkward but enthusiastic dancing to follow. 


My son, Corwin, sleeping in his dresser, as he did almost every night for about a year and a half. I’d put him to bed, and he’d pull most of the clothes and bedding out of his dresser, climb in to go to sleep.


And here’s Corwin performing The Interspecies Ballet  with Loki. I swear this kid is The Cat Whisperer. He can do this with all four of the cats. If the rest of us try, we get our faces eaten.


Loki. Helping me write.


The note my daughter left me after reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.


The picture of smallpox that Jenny Trout’s daughter drew for me last year. Still not sure if it was meant to be a history lesson or a threat. Given our tumultuous past, it could be either.


Willow derping it up.


One of my online security questions is “What city do you want to visit?” My answer was, of course, Camelot. However, this wasn’t what I had in mind. I texted this photo to Jess Jarman with the message, “Not as advertised.”


This is the envelope from a Mother’s Day card that Corwin made for me when he was in the second grade. I died laughing when I saw it. I adore the whole serial killer/hostage taker vibe. Please note: My name has been upgraded from Chris to Christ.


We were at the orthodontist’s office one afternoon, and I looked up and saw this and couldn’t stop laughing. The other moms in the waiting room and the receptionists weren’t nearly as amused as I was.


These cat puns have been hanging on my fridge for ages. Because they’re clever and hilarious. There’s a reason we call Corwin “The Pun-isher”.




Morrighan (only a few months old in this pic) had fallen asleep like that and it cracked me up.


This is Herne, one of our former kitties, who died a few years ago. When he’d had enough of everyone’s shit, he’d fall asleep like this.

Be sure to check out what the other bloggers find funny by clicking their names.





Rome S02E10: De Patre Vostro (About Your Father) or The One Where Only One Person in this Entire Show Gets a Happy(ish) Ending


We just watched the last episode of the series. I wish the show could have gone for the entire five seasons as planned.

Okay, so this episode begins after the battle between Antony and Octavian. Antony has been beaten for the first time in his life. And he reflects that defeat isn’t quite as awful as he’d expected. He and Cleopatra hole up in the palace at Alexandria and it’s all opium and orgies all the time – at least until Octavian sends a messenger to tell Antony to surrender. There’s also a super secret message for Vorenus that he’ll be welcomed back to Rome if he leaves the palace gates unlocked for Octavian’s forces. Vorenus, loyal to a fault, takes a pass on the offer.


Antony challenges Octavian to single combat, but Octavian declines. He does, however,  send a super secret message to Cleopatra telling her that if she gives up Antony, she’ll retain her crown and her children will live. She pretends to commit suicide and Antony buys it. Grief-stricken, decides to commit suicide, too, and tells Vorenus to tell the people that he “died Roman”. He has Vorenus help him off himself and Vorenus cleans off all his makeup and henna, puts him back in his Roman armor, and props him up on the throne.


Cleopatra shows herself once she’s sure Antony is dead and weeps over him. She and Vorenus have it out – at least, a little bit, and he convinces her that Octavian might let her and her and Antony’s children live (to be paraded around the streets of Rome), but he’ll never let Caesarian live. I think Vorenus’ main motivation here is to save him because he’s Pullo’s son. She allows Vorenus to smuggle the boy out of the palace as Octavian and crew comes in to chat with her about the terms.


These two are like venomous scorpions, verbally circling one another looking for the best place to strike while lying their pants off and saying everything the other one wants to hear. Octavian sends Pullo after Vorenus and also charges him with killing Caesarian.



After Octavian leaves, Cleopatra knows that Vorenus was right and that suicide is pretty much her only option. She opts for the snake bite in the boob method and waits to die in the throne next to Antony.  Aboutfatherpro

She gets to have the last word with Octavian. When he busts in, she says, “You have a rotten soul.” Which is pretty fucking harsh coming from Cleopatra. I also enjoyed how none of his friends defended him.

Octavian takes her and Antony’s children back to Rome and eventually dumps them off on Octavia who is super done with her brother’s bullshit. Octavian really seemed to enjoy telling Atia that Antony was dead. Like, I’m pretty sure he got off on it.

Pullo eventually finds Vorenus and Caesarian (who’s going by Anais, now) in the desert and they catch up. ep1018

The next day, as they’re making their way through the desert, they’re stopped by one of Octavian’s patrols and they’re just about to make it through, but the kid gives them away. And there’s a fight. They kill all of Octavian’s men, but Vorenus is mortally wounded. And it’s horrible. He tells Pullo he wants to go home.



They finally make it back to Rome and at first, and somehow Vorenus has survived the journey across the sea. His children refuse to see him, at first, but finally, Vorena the Elder goes to his bedside. I’m not sure if it’s because she forgives him or if she feels bad for a dying man.


Meanwhile, preparations for Octavian’s Triumph are in full fucking swing. Octavia tries to cajole Atia into attending, but she’s having none of it. Livia is immediately a bitch about it, and just as Octavia is trying to smooth things over, Atia sweeps out and prepares to greet the crowd gathered for the triumph. Livia corrects her and says that as Octavian’s wife, she should go first.

Atia looks at her and says, (as only Atia can), “I know who you are. I can see you. You’re swearing now that someday you will destroy me. Remember: far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go and look for them now.”


She turns and walks out in front of Livia as Octavian comes driving a chariot pulled by in white horses. Part of the procession includes Cleopatra and Antony’s bodies paraded through the streets while the people cheer.

Octavia and Agrippa exchanged a look during the Triumph, but I’m choosing to believe that Octavia won’t waste her time with him any more. You don’t get over someone just choosing your brother over you.


After the Triumph, Pullo goes to see Octavian to tell him that he killed Caesarian. He says that he’d taken the boy’s head as a trophy, but it went bad on the voyage back and he threw it overboard. He also tells Octavian that Vorenus didn’t survive his injuries. (However, I think he was entirely too cheerful about losing his only friend. I think that Vorenus did survive and Pullo was just protecting him.

After he leaves Octavian, Caesarian/Anais catches up with him and asks if Octavian believed everything. Then he begins ranting about how he’s going to destroy Octavian and avenge his father, etc. when Pullo says, “Listen…about your father…”

Perfect last line for the episode and the series. And as Jen promised me, only one person it this damn show gets a happy ending.


And now, the questions.

My favorite part of the episode:

I really loved the last little bit when Pullo says, “About your father…” to Caesarian. I also adored Atia taking down Livia.

My least favorite part of the episode: 

Hmmmm…  pretty much any time Octavian and Livia opened their mouths.

Favorite costume:

I really love both of these dresses. Not crazy about that big old poof on top of Octavia’s head, though.

Team Atia or Team Servilia, and why:

Servillia’s curse is still in play, but watching Atia taking down Livia was a highpoint for me.

Favorite watch-a-long tweet (obviously used with permission):

This week’s best tweet has to go to Jen.

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Guess Jess’s head canon:

Jess, I’m sure, was charmed by Pullo and Vorenus catching up around the fire. And I’m thinking that she, even more than me, is choosing to believe that Vorenus miraculously survived his wound and they’re going to live happily ever after, raising their children together.

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What made Jenny super happy?

Oh, you know, Atia being Atia.       

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Jess’ take on De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)

Jen’s take on De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)


Rome S02E09: Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus (No God Can Stop a Hungry Man) or The One Where Antony Looks Like a Washed Up Adam Ant


So, Marc Antony has settled in with Cleopatra, they’ve had a couple of kids together, he’s developed an impressive opium habit (as has Posca), he’s taken to wearing a lot of kohl, henna, and silks, and he’s busy impressing…intimidating…impressidating dignitaries from Rome by having a slave dress up in a deer skin and pretending to be a deer so he and Cleopatra can shoot at him. And Vorenus is clearly hating his time in Egypt, but since he’s loyal to a fault, he stays with Antony.




The Romans are there to negotiate for more grain because the people are starving. A&C agree to send it for triple the rate and some land, but I can’t remember which one. The negotiators agree. And then Antony says he wants Spain, too, in hopes of getting Octavian to declare war. The Roman’s can’t agree to that, so they leave empty handed.

Cleopatra’s oldest son, Caesarian, demands that Vorenus tell him about his father. And Vorenus complies, but it’s very clear that he’s telling the boy about Pullo (Caesarian’s actual father) as opposed to Caesar.



Pullo and Gaia are the picture of domestic bliss, well, as much domestic bliss as occurs in the Aventide, anyway. Particularly when you keep Memio in a cage in the dining room. (The guy who robbed the gold from the last episode.) Pullo has to calm the near-rioting, starving inhabitants and tells them they’ll get fed again tomorrow. He goes to Octavian for help, but Octavian doesn’t have food to spare, either.


He comes up with a plan to send Atia and Octavia to Antony in Egypt. He figures if Antony turns them away, Octavian can declare war with the full support of the Roman people (they’re very loyal to Antony, but that will change if Antony is seen to turn his back on Rome). Cleopatra wants to humiliate Atia, or, better yet, have her killed, but Antony refuses. He and Cleopatra end up having some pretty violent love/hate sex while Atia and Octavia wait outside the palace wilting in the hot sun. However, Jocasta comes out to see them, until Posca hurries her away.



Antony has Vorenus send Atia and Octavia back to Rome without seeing them and Jocasta and Posca decide to defect back to Rome and join them on their ship. Posca sneaks out Antony and Cleopatra’s last will and testament because proves treason against the Roman empire.



Octavian asks that Pullo come with him to fight Antony and asks him if it’ll be a problem since Vorenus is still loyal to Antony. Pullo says it won’t be. Octavian also drops the bomb that Caesarian (Pullo’s biological son) has to die, too.  Octavian has some very rough sex with his wife, Livia, but instead of slapping her around as we were led to expect, she’s the aggressor slapping and choking him. But he definitely seems to be enjoying it.


Back at Pullo’s, Memio has escaped the cage, he knocks out Pullo, and Gaia comes to his rescue, but Memio mortally wounds her before he’s killed. On her deathbed, Gaia confesses that she poisoned Eriene and killed her and the baby. Pullo chokes her to death and dumps her lifeless body in a pond.



And now, the questions.

My favorite part of the episode:

I really liked Vorenus very sweetly telling Caesarian about his actual father. And I also enjoyed that he passed along Octavia’s message to Antony about being a coward.


My least favorite part of the episode: 

Pretty much the whole Gaia storyline.

Favorite costume:

There were a ton of great costumes in this episode. I also really liked Octavia’s even though I’m not a pink person. And also Jocasta’s. It was cute and and looked comfy. But this color combo is so stunning.


Team Atia or Team Servilia, and why:

Since Servillia is still dead, I guess Atia. But Servilla’s curse is still picking up speed.

Favorite watch-a-long tweet (obviously used with permission):

This week’s best tweet has to go to Lauren Billingsley (@Noisy_ninja)

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Guess Jess’s head canon:

Well, Vorenus and Pullo had no scenes together this week, but I firmly believe that in her head they’re longing for each other.

What made Jenny super happy?

The fact that Octavian and Livia’s super slappy sexy times was in a red room ala the red room of pain in Fifty Shades of Awful Grey.       

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Jess’ take on Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus (No God Can Stop a Hungry Man).

Jen’s take on Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus (No God Can Stop a Hungry Man).

Rome S02E08: A Necessary Fiction or The One Where The Julii are the Very Model of a Wildly Dysfunctional Family


I can’t even with this show, you guys.

Octavian has put out the call to his flunkies to find him a wife. I think there were the usual provisos: noble family, attractive, and my personal favorite, proven fertility. The chick his boy found for him meets all these criteria. Too bad she’s all kinds of married. But, as her mother assures Octavian, her daughter is quite willing to divorce her husband to marry the leader of the Roman empire. Octavian tells Livia (his new wife) that he’ll probably beat her – not because she’s done anything wrong, but because he gets off on it. She seems fairly unfazed by that announcement.


Octavian’s weasally friend plots with Posca to steal the gold Herod is sending to Rome. Vorenus has been put in charge of providing safety for a shipment of gold coming. He puts Pullo in charge, but Gaia’s evil plan worked. She gave Eriene the Willow tea laced with the abortifacient and Eriene went into labor and delivered her son far too early for him to have survived. And while Pullo doesn’t want to believe his wife is dying, Eriene knows she’s bleeding out and makes him promise to bury her rather than burn her body.


Pullo is devastated and Vorenus sends his third man and crew to protect the gold. They are, predictably, robbed and only two guys are left alive. The weasally guy thinks that Posca and Antony have betrayed him, so he retaliates by telling Octavian that Antony is still banging Atia (Octavian’s mother) and Octavia is having all the sex with Octavian’s buddy, Agrippa, instead of with her husband, Antony.

Meanwhile, Vorenus is trying to track down the missing gold. He’s pretty damn sure he knows who took it. (His rival whose name starts with an “M” – the one who’s having his thug seduce Vorena the Elder. And “M” pretty much alludes to his guilt, too. But Vorenus has no proof. Until he figures out that Vorena the Elder sold him out, and he nearly chokes her to death in front of his other two children. (Not winning Father of the Year, here, Vorenus.

Octavian is piiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssseed about all the fucking around. And, after surprising them with his wife, has a family smackdown where he berates his sister, mother, and Antony. He has Octavia and Atia locked up in their home and sends Antony off to Egypt. Antony goes to Atia and swears that he’ll send for her as soon as he’s able. And Agrippa sneaks into the villa to break it off with Octavia. In the end his loyalty to Octavian is more important than his relationship with Octavia. She reveals that she’s pregnant and doesn’t know if it’s his child or Antony’s but says that they both suck.

Vorenus, ever the soldier, decides to go off to Egypt with Antony and basically hugs Pullo goodbye, leaving him in charge of the Aventine and the kids. Pullo and “M” agree to have a parley about the missing gold and whatnot, and at the last minute, Pullo attacks and bites out this dude’s fucking tongue. Then he kills him and Pullo’s men attack “M”‘s men.

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Antony arrives in Egypt, takes one look at Cleopatra and immediately forgets about sending for Atia.



And now, the questions.

My favorite part of the episode:

I really love that Atia snuck Agrippa in for Octavia. And I think she did it to be kind. It didn’t turn out great for Octavia. And I love her parting shot at Agrippa.

Octavia:  Oh, by the way, I’m having a baby.

Agrippa: Who is the father?

Octavia: Who knows? Neither man is worth a brass obol, So what matter?

My least favorite part of the episode: 

OhMyGod. Eriene dying. I ugly cried.  Also, Vorenus choking Vorena the Elder.

Favorite costume:

I’m going to give it to Cleopatra this week. Mostly because I’m jealous that I will never be able to wear a dress like this. Never.


Team Atia or Team Servilia, and why:

Welp, Atia is the only one left. And TBH, I kinda feel a little bad for Atia.

Favorite watch-a-long tweet (obviously used with permission):

So many good ones this week.

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Guess Jess’s head canon:

I think she was really moved by Vorenus worrying about Pullo and of course their goodbye.


What made Jenny super happy?

This is a tough one this week. I’m going to go with this:

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Jess’ take on A Necessary Fiction.

Jen’s take on A Necessary Fiction.