wintery mix


It started snowing at 2:30 with the promise of the kind of accumulation that makes people here start grumbling about the blizzard of ’78, and the only thing to do was knock off work early and go for tacos.

I am trying. The older I get the more winter tests both my patience and my optimist’s nature, on top of which the universe dropped a steaming turd of disappointment in my lap last weekend that was kind of alarming in the scope of both its insult and injury. But I’m making chicken and rice in the crockpot, there’s a new shower curtain in my bathroom (an idea I blatantly stole from Erin and I was surprised by how much it cheered me up), and I’m skipping my school reading today in favor of the Rookie Yearbook. Like 4 winters ago I was really fannish about something that made it necessary to listen to Michael Bolton pandora all the time, a cold-weather habit which has stuck, if only because trudging through snowdrifts is made marginally more enjoyable to me with a greatest-hits soundtrack from the year 1992.

It’s not as bad out there as they said it was going to be, really. It’s not so bad in here, either.

Five Good Things

1. Nina LaCour’s dreamy, magical, sexy, fun EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU. I don’t know if I was just coming off a reading drought or WHAT, but you guys. I am obsessed with this book. I want to email the author and be like OKAY BUT WHAT HAPPENS AFTER IT ENDS THOUGH, TELL MORE STORIES ABOUT THAT. I want fanfiction of this book. I’ve recced it to like six different people this week already, and now I am reccing it to you. So get on that. It’s great.

2. This collection of healthy-eating infographics, which is extremely useful in an annoying way.

3. I saw Sam Smith at BU last weekend and he was freaking transcendent, I don’t even care. Haters gonna hate. I love you Sam Smith, you soulful little potato-looking Brit you. I wish you and Adele would do a duet of “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” I would be all over that like a tent. Also, just in case anyone has not heard it and wept: Fast Car. 

4. The Make Your Own K-Cup Keurig accessory, a game-changer for those of us who read that terrifying article about everyone dying in an avalanche of K-Cup garbage and also like their coffee so thick a spoon can stand up in it.

5. Bomb Girls, which is streaming on Netflix and which I think might deserve a blog post all its own, that is how much I am loving it. Girls who are friends and take care of each other WHILE FIGHTING THE AXIS POWERS, also there are great clothes and a ton of kissing. Tell your friends, tell your mom, tell your friends’ moms.

OH AND ALSO, it’s time for giveaway winners! Hey @toriszekeres, you’re the proud new owner of a 99 DAYS/HTL prize pack! @theneonrunaway, @jaimearkin, and @SungaStacie, there are signed postcards coming your way! Email or DM me your addresses, all of you, and thanks so much to all of you who entered. You guys are the best.

oh hey, it’s giveaway time


Today I am super psyched to bring you another giveaway, this one even radder than the last because while the winner WILL INDEED get a signed ARC of 99 DAYS, he or she will also get a bonus copy of HOW TO LOVE and a super-secret gift that’s related to my third book in a way I can’t tell you about yet. Basically though: YOU WANT TO ENTER THIS CONTEST, IT’LL BE GREAT.

But wait! There’s more! 3 OTHER WINNERS will get signed 99 DAYS postcards along with a little 99 DAYS-themed treat. Whaaaaaaaat.

Rules are the same as last time, meaning this giveaway is sadly only open to residents of the continental US. To enter: follow me on this blog/twitter/tumblr/instagram and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so (each follow counts as a separate entry). BUT! If you’ve already followed me in all those various internet places, go ahead and tweet one thing making you happy today with the hashtag #99DAYSGIVEAWAY. You can tweet as many times as you want for more entries, because thaaaat is how I roll. Enter until midnight on Thursday 1/22, and I’ll announce a winner in Friday’s 5 Good Things post.

Get it? Got it. Good.

five good things 2: the return of five good things

For those of you who are newer to this space (so like everybody except my mom probably): five good things was a Friday tradition on this blog back in the very beginning, and before that it was a whenever-you-feel-like-you-need-it tradition in my college dorm room. I am so happy to be bringing it back.

1. The heat in the apartment is broken and it is effing frigid which is not strictly, in itself, a good thing, but until the plumber makes his (or her) much-anticipated appearance I am dragging my blanket and hot water bottle from room to room, making sausage and kale soup and drinking coffee by the gallon just to have something to warm to wrap my hands around. It’s teaching me a lesson, I think. I am not yet sure what this lesson might be.

2. Everything about Selma, which is gorgeous and gutting, and everything about this brilliant episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour where they talk all about it.

3. My dear friend Christa’s Bleed Like Me has entered its so-well-deserved second printing. She calls it YA Sid and Nancy. I call it just leave me here on the floor.

4. Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk, which Megan made for book club in like 2009 in a move so fancy and sophisticated I thought she was a wizard. Am going to attempt it on my own this weekend, now that I finally have a pot big enough to fit a whole bird like an adult.

5. Speaking of this weekend, my friend Marissa and her unborn child what even are making their way to me at this very moment. I’m going to feed them barbecue at Rosebud Diner and take them to the fancy mall and give them lots of hugs like God intended, and I cannot wait.

And a bonus, so-glad-to-see-you-again number six: this is pretty cool.

See you Tuesday. It’s giveaway time.

like four times this weekend alone

Over beers at a dive bar on Massachusetts Avenue on the coldest day of the year my advisor tells me I’m not the kind of person he could ever picture crying and I think to myself, wow, self, you have gotten through graduate school without anyone knowing you at all, just like you wanted, and I feel about one inch tall.

It’s my last semester. I struggled. I settled in exactly noplace and it was my own fault, my first year at Emerson all over again, that nasty part of me that refuses to engage or just doesn’t know how to, who’s sure the thing she said is the wrong thing, who can’t come to your party because she needs to be in bed by 10pm. That part of me can’t countenance loud noise or slimy cafeteria sandwiches, that part of me wrote How To Love and every other sentence I’ve ever strung that was worth half a damn, that part has her head tilted back on the sofa cushions thinking maybe I did this totally wrong after all, who can say.

Who can say?

I’m not someone who thinks it’s worthwhile to be vulnerable everywhere. I am easy to chat with but not easy to learn. I can see from the outside how that looks the same as snobbishness. I have always taken more than my fair share of work to get to know.

It’s occurring to me, slow and a little sadly, that I may regret not working harder myself.

For the last year and a half my standard answer when people have asked me about this program is that you get out of it exactly what you funnel in, and the truth is if I had it to do all over again, I think I might give a little more. Not in terms of nouns and verbs and characterization but in being present in the nowness of it, of committing with both hands and feet. I’ll earn the paper regardless, I’ll get the letters after my name, but six months out from graduation I can’t help but think it might have helped to do a little more actual living before I slammed it all down on the page.

still i am learning

I like to entertain this extended fantasy where I go back and teach a life skills and leadership class at my old high school. I imagine myself moving desks into a circle, dimming the overhead lights, setting up a vanilla Wallflower haven safe from the rest of the world. This is how you make a decent spaghetti sauce for $5. This is how you register to vote. This is why you should open a savings account even if you’re babysitting for nine bucks an hour, and even if your savings account is a peanut butter jar under your bed.

I’d make them bring in newspaper articles for current events discussion. I’d have them all share their favorite songs. My outfits would be impeccable every school day, because frankly that is what would have gotten my respect and admiration when I was fifteen, and while I am not so old and doddering now that I imagine it would be anything like that easy to earn these girls’ attention, this is my daydream and anyway anyone who thinks good shoes don’t help virtually any cause is kidding themselves.

I’d have them write letters to female politicians. I’d assign them Brown Girl Dreaming and A Nun on a Bus. This is what you do if your boyfriend wants to have sex and you don’t want to. This is what you do if your boyfriend wants to have sex and you do too. This is what you do if you don’t want a boyfriend at all but you can’t stop looking at the girl in front of you and one row over, the dark waterfall of her hair.

The final project for Life + Leadership with Katie Cotugno would be to get up in front of the class and teach something—anything—that the other girls might not already know how to do. This is how you say I love you in Cantonese. This is how you make a fishtail braid. This is how you slay a dragon, train for a marathon, negotiate a corporate merger.

This is how you become the kind of person you think you might like to be.

My resolutions for 2015 are almost laughably simple: make my coffee on the weekdays instead of buying it on the way to the red line. Stop wasting so much food. But my goals are perpetual and enormous and exciting: to be the kind of person I wanted to teach me when I was in high school. To be the kind of person who could possibly teach other girls how.

teach my feet to fly

In New York for the week and in the subway at 42nd street were three men with violins playing a version of Pachelbel’s canon so hugely, surprisingly wrenching I started crying right there on the platform like someone had punched me. A song for the corniest diamond commercials, and yet. Everything so close to the surface.

I wanted to stop, to listen and say thank you and give them every dollar in my wallet, but the crowd pushed me on down the corridor and that’s how it goes sometimes, looking back behind you at the beautiful thing. A guy on the train slid right over for me, made room.

Merry Christmas, angels. I’m taking next week off but will be back in 2015 with more stories, a giveaway, and good news to tell.