are you a mother fucker?

Music often moves me to tears, as do books, movies, memories, all of it. I am a sentimental bitch. I am (and I recognize this is not something to be entirely proud of) eternally reaching out toward’s Gatsby’s green light, coveting moments that did not exist, except in my own sentimentality. I have always been sensitive, always bearing the burden of emotions both micro and macro. It is something I have come to accept as my cross to bear – what is often perceived as weakness is actually a huge strength called empathy, and the desire to make a change. I truly believe the more we stand up, the less we can get knocked down. Little people can make a big difference, there is strength in numbers, and things can change.

Kesha’s strength in what has had to have been the hardest moments in her own life, moments that seemed like they would never end, moments of despair that no doubt have inspired in her a dark alleyway of thoughts – she has come through, still fighting, only harder. She has come through and turned darkness into the most beautiful light of color, a Rainbow.

Buffy Summers once said, “I may be dead, but I’m still pretty,” after rising back from the grave to  defeat those who called themselves the victors prematurely. Kesha is her own slayer, telling the world it ain’t over… and I am so proud.

the autobiography project

It might seem silly when I tell you to “write your autobiography.” You’re not famous, you don’t feel worthy, you don’t think anyone would care, or just plain simply, you don’t think you need to or even want to for yourself. But you should! One day your memories won’t be so sharp. They’re already starting to fade. As it is, we make up so much of our memories anyway. It’s better to get the ones you remember out now rather than keep them inside until they shape-shift, warp, and disappear.

I keep a diary, but I’m not always “good” at it. It’s not organized. It’s not about my day or even about significant life events. There are redundant entries and lists and notes about lectures or events on reading and writing. Just a place really for me to dump my thoughts. But a few years back, when I had some free time on my hands after college, I decided to write it all out, chronologically, by age/grade, starting with birth.  I want to remember my life, both the agony and the ecstasy.  What started out as a few bullet points per year now has all of my memories racing at me at once. i can barely write down the outline before the next bullet is hitting, and as i write each sentence from the bullet point, things get clearer and clearer, until i am facing the past and moving forward wth my future at the same time. handwriting it is making it more personal, and now it will be in my diary forever. I also now have the opportunity to see patterns, and learn from the past, as well as see the direction I am heading in the future.

I never want anyone to read my diaries. They showcase the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. They are all mine, but they are sacred to me, no matter how messy or muted my life is, I have a place to explore it, and I want to put it to good use. In addition, I freewrite, use journal prompts… etc. I spend hours exploring the internet looking at diaries and bullet journals and art journals and planners, and I will probably never share more than a page or two once every few years of mine. But that’s okay. I like my journal the way she is. Unpredictable, like me.

something i wrote a year ago today…

Being yourself is one of the most courageous ways to live. If you think it’s hard being yourself and there is no way you can do it, think about how much pressure you put on yourself every time you pretend to be something you’re not.

On the TVLand show Younger, Liza is a forty year old woman pretending to be twenty six so she can have her dream job, her dream boyfriend, and a “second chance” at life. Yet even though she now has the job, the man, and the life she dreamed of, she feels like a fraud. Not only does she have to lie every day to the outside world, but now she has friends and a lover she can only be so real with.

It is so hard to feel like a fraud. To feel like you are nothing, you’re ugly, you’re stupid, you’re just pretending to be something you’re not. For so many of us, myself included a lot of the time, looking in the mirror is a chore. Depression, anxiety, and Impostor Syndrome are real things. You don’t feel connected to yourself or the world around you. And even if you remember that the times you’ve been the happiest were the times you let go, accepted yourself, and lived harmoniously, you just can’t shake off the insecurities.

I think the first step is opening your eyes to realizing that everyone can be captured by these feelings and thoughts even if just for a moment. Even the most confident, gorgeous person in the world, someone who literally glows from within, can wake up and feel ugly sometimes. It’s so easy to throw yourself under the bus. It’s like when you see the same friend every day, and maybe their quirks become irksome – you inhabit your own body and mind 24/7 and you can irk yourself. But it’s important to remember:

No one else can ever be you. You are loved. You have something to offer this world. You can do this. You are beautiful, and smart, and kind, and most importantly, you are unique. A fingerprint that cannot be replicated.

Don’t let yourself get too down.

an invitation

INVITATION by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er. a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

I am a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer and a pretender. Because I am a writer. I was born a writer, I will die a writer. I am also a person who likes deadlines, and to-do lists, and unambiguity. So I have given myself a deadline for my first essay collection (I have eight possible essay collections, five retellings, eleven original novels, some short fiction, children’s stories, three spec scripts, and many ideas that have not fully formed yet planned…)which I will self-publish on kindle. And I will be attempting to chronicle my journey along the way while I finish my Master’s,  and finish the essay collection, and there will be more posting about the personal on this blog as well. My writerly journey is personal, but I am excited to share it with you. If you would like to tell me what you want to know more about, I will be happy to share with you. Please email with any suggestions, comments, questions, concerns.


Things that might come up –

Bookseller musings, Writer musings, reader musings, my coffee recipe, francophilia (both james franco and france), smoker musings, team jess musings, art musings, sexuality, yoga, portland…. and anything you suggest that i truly feel i can write about.



we are okay – nina lacour

we were miraculous
we were beach creatures
we had treasures in our pockets and each other on our skin

p 113 we are okay

Ever since I read The Disenchantments, I have loved Nina Lacour for her honest and vivid depictions of young girls in love, and in friendship. I love her so much that I cannot pick a favorite Nina book, because they are all unique and beautiful in their own way, even from each other. The first few pages of We Are Okay did not grip me, but once I got into the flow – I am glad I stuck around because We Are Okay is no exception to my previous statements.

I could not put this book down. As the story of Marin and her grandfather, (and Marin and Mabel) unfolded, I was heartbroken and hopeful all at once. The plot centers around Marin and Mabel as they reunite in Marin’s desolate dorm after the heart shattering death of her grandfather.

When Lacour writes about Mabel’s family, she brings them to life. They are not merely characters on a page, especially Ana, who was my favorite character. She is a mother and artist who Nina gives life to through vivid descriptions of art – Ana’s own black canvases with silk waves, tattered butterfly photographs, and Frieda Kahlo’s work described intermittently in high detail, perhaps this was my favorite…

If you have ever wanted to read Nina’s work, or if you have, but not all of it, then pick up a book today, get some chocolate and your favorite beverage, and curl up on the couch in your sweatpants. You’re about to begin an amazing night in.


The past week has been a blur, a fog, an endless night. But not a lovely starry night. A dark stain on the fabric of humanity. My heart is broken. But the show must go on. I vow to keep fighting, and keep fighting the only way I know how. I will continue to read. I have been reading more and more diversely, and vow to keep going in that direction. I will support writers of color, all genders, and races. I will read more women than men. I will give an ear to marginalized voices. I will write diversely, and educatedly, as well. I never have felt comfortable writing male characters. I will learn how to do that, but I will also hone my skills as a writer who writes about women. I will focus now more than ever on my dreams and goals because when us women individually achieve our goals, in the end we will all be closer to achieving our global goals. I will write even when it feels like no one is reading. I will submit my writing even when it doesn’t feel like the solicitation is for me. I will write in my journal and on my blog and in my virtual classroom. And I will wow the fuck out of myself and others, both longtime fans and those who have never met me. And I will champion you. My friend the filmmaker/yogi/barista. My friend who is looking forward to a career in social work. My friend who is going for her law degree. Women all around the world I don’t know, but who are doing extraordinary and great things.

I have been MIA from this blog because of work and school. But I cannot be MIA from my own life anymore. This blog is important to me because it gives me a voice. I will be posting more book reviews, as this is primarily a book blog. But I will also be posting essays, opinions, my voice. I will be using this as my platform to speak my mind. The middle of my journey towards getting my Masters degree has been rough. I have a lot of pressure on my shoulders from my job, my government, my family, my school, myself. I have been more about pleasing others, but it is time to please myself. So I have been putting school first, because I want to finish and walk away with my head held high and a new degree on my shoulders. I prioritized my job second because it gives me the means to eat food and pay rent, even when I hate the work and don’t have money left over to pay other necessary bills, let alone fun. I try to give enough time to my family and friends, to prove that I am “good,” a “good daughter,” a “good friend,” a “good sister,” a “good daughter-in-law.” But in prioritizing all of these things that make up a facet of myself, I left out my love of writing, and my love of French, and my love of independence.

My path has changed many times, but whenever I get back on track I always have the same thoughts in mind. It is no mistake that the best grade I got in one of my classes this semester was on an essay on Music and Literature informing each other. This is something I love to write about, and will write about here on this blog. It is no mistake that a story that has been floating around in my head but was never good enough to sit down and write is finally coming together, with France as the glue, after I recently vowed to myself to get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate so that I could teach English in France.

We all have a core, and while many things about us change and grow over time, our core is always our essence, always guiding us. Listen to your core and let it guide you.

Thank you for reading.

Fifth Grade Teacher Sparks Imagination to Last a Lifetime

“I got these rocks from the beach over the summer. I want you to each come up and take the rock that calls to you. Then, we will decorate them.” I looked around Mrs. Wirth’s fifth grade classroom. An easel stood in front of the blackboard. There was a large pad of white paper, which hung on the easel, and on the paper there was a drawing of a crescent moon with a Shel Silverstein quote written neatly and deliberately next to it. A clothesline hung from wall to wall. The bucket of rocks was in front of the room, on the floor, waiting for us to make our choices.

When it’s my turn, I go up to the front of the classroom and pick through the bucket. I come up with an oval shaped rock, glittering silver and black, and take it back to my desk.

“Decorate them however you like for the next twenty minutes, and then we’ll talk.”

I write my name, ‘e r i n,’ on the rock, my markers cut up from the grainy surface. I draw a rainbow around my name, and I place it on my desk, awaiting further instruction.

“These will be our paperweights.”

“Let’s all decide on a career. Pick any career you’d like to have, and that will be a major focus for you this year.” I knew right away what I wanted, staring at my Lisa Frank folder with smiling dolphins looking back at me. A marine biologist. Every morning we had to write in our career journals, a special project that would take the whole year. I took my new vocation very seriously, diligently writing each morning about my life as a marine biologist, studying dolphins and turtles, handing in my reports on time, always.

That year we made travel brochures. I chose the Belize and focused on the wildlife.

We read poetry by Silverstein, and wrote our own. Mrs. Wirth read us chapters from House on Mango Street, and assigned us to write memoirs in class.

I didn’t sleep much that year. I was up late with poems and ideas swirling around in my head. One night, a persistent poem would not stop replaying in my mind until I wrote it down, sneaking in the darkness of my bedroom so my mother would not hear me and know I was awake.

When will my dreams,

Come up from the depth of their valley,

And soar into reality,

To penetrate into the truth?

When I went to school the next day, I showed it to Mrs. Wirth. “This is beautiful! I’m going to hang it up on the wall with our Founding Fathers projects. Is that okay?”

I affirmed.

Later that week was Parent’s day.

“Did you see the poem I wrote, mom?”

“You wrote that? I thought it was a quote from a book you read.”

Mrs. Wirth nurtured my writing. When I wrote a short story for an assignment, she worked with me on structure and hooking the audience. “What if we started the story in the middle of the action?” Whether I was interested in writing mystery, adventure, or about my “career” as a marine biologist, Mrs. Wirth and her hand drawn Shel Silverstein posters were cheering me on.

Before and after Mrs. Wirth, I was blessed with great, kind teachers. But without a doubt, I would not be the reader and writer I am today without her. Without her feeding my mind with poetry, memoir, writing tips, and the freedom to be who I wanted to be –whether a marine biologist or a writer, I would have given up two years later when my English teacher was failing me. I would have given up on college when I had a disastrous first semester.

Mrs. Wirth gave me the confidence to succeed. Years later, I was with a friend, and mentioned my class. “I had Mrs. Wirth too, the year after you! She became the principal of the high school, you know.” I didn’t . I had moved during the summer after her class, to a new district, my career notebook, Belize flyer, and other work lost in the shuffle of a move and parents who were loving, but not sentimental about school assignments, or their kids’ aspirations.

Thank you, Mrs. Wirth. You live up to your name.