My fancy afternoon, darling.

Don’t get me wrong. I like fancy. And my pinkie involuntarily drifts North with the right teacup. But Harrods kinda freaks me out. Ironic since our entire trip evolved from a single, ho-hum text.

Me: Don’t you wish we were at Harrods right now? Drinking champagne and eavesdropping?

(I’d probably just mopped up cat puke, and sent this strategically, of course.)

My husband (for example) would rather scoop out his corneas with a grapefruit spoon than sit in Harrods doing anything let alone eavesdropping.

—But not my friend Tecla!

Her: Um . . . yes? When?

Careful what you wish for and all that.

Because there we were six month later on a sparkly escalator. Gliding through British opulence. Lost between floors. Darting between diamonds and runway couture looking for The Champagne Bar.

No easy feat, I assure you.

Harrods is like a casino. Glittery. Expensive. Designed for distraction. A chandeliered labyrinth of escalators and corridors and pretty staff trained to sell you a better life.

We eventually found The Champagne Barwrapped L-shaped around a small corner in Ladies Wear. I mean, it sounded good. But all that glass and white lacquer conjured A Clockwork Orange and I wanted something a little more . . . Absolutely Fabulous. And not to worry, sweetie darling.

‘Spoiled for choice’ is an understatement.

Harrods deals eateries like golden aces with world class chefs at every helm. The trouble was finding them.

We actually got hungry looking for a place to drink.


So we started withtabbouleh and lamb charred medium-rare at Mezzah Lounge overlooking Knightsbridge.


The rose tea was almost too pretty to drink.

And the tahini was so creamy I drank it too, because I’m ghetto like that.


Also delicious was the people watching. No bootie-digging, lice-scratching kids up in the Mezzah Lounge, ya’ll. Large families with well-behaved children dotted the place. Next to us, three young Arabs watched YouTube on someone’s new iPhone X, plucking fresh fruit from a gutted watermelon with toothpicks.

Exotic women in bright pink saris glided through clutching designer handbags while another two in black burkas sat still and silent with a bearded man on a very long phone call. A Richard Gere-y Frenchman beckoned our waiter with a pressed cotton Rolexed arm s’il vous plaît andI breathed it all in. My happy meter wiggling at MAX.

God, I love London.

Even the bathrooms sparked joy.

Not for the attendant providing make-up and perfume for après-dining touchups — nah.

All that white porcelain reminded me of Titanic. 


IMG_7152 2.JPG


I wanted to perch in one of them water closets and WRITE. But perfume makes me nauseous and Tecla was waiting. And anyway . . . champagne.

We headed downstairs past


and furs

and hankies

and bowler hats.

Everything fancy.


and pretty


and perfect


and — oh!

Your Majesty!



At last . . .

we passed through a magic portal on the ground floor where time and monetary discretion d i s a p p e a r.

Where greek gods lie naked in pools of crème fraîche, whispering naughty things.

J e n n i f e r . . . they beckoned, sleepy-eyed and sensuous.  C o m e.

(Foodies, hide your boners.)


How can I possibly convey the Harrods Food Hall except to say it’s a culinary WONDERLAND. An epicurean cornucopia where caviar dreams and champagne wishes do come true.


We floated on an icy sea of lobster, oysters, and crab past an open kitchen grilling Wagyu fillets and $40 hamburgers.

The Sirens purred, their wanton whispers curling around my conscience. You are special, Jennifer, and your cellulite is minimal. You deserve that burger with sautéed onions, oyster mushrooms, smoked applewood cheese, and lollo rosso lettuce served with the side of your choice. We don’t know what lollo rosso lettuce is either. But you deserve it, girl. Go on. Get the mac and cheese for your side.

Jenn.” Tecla pulled my arm and I snapped-to.

Ribeyes. Sushi. Charcuterie. Champagne. Internationals slid forks and chopsticks and fingers in their mouths. Licking. Swallowing. Their mid-day decadence the pictures of privilege. And there we were among them. Jet-lagged and lamb-bellied. Smiling like idiots. Drifting past sashimi. Caviar. Sake. Shrimp. Corks POP! ping


whoops, excuse me!


—and vintage merlot spilling into sparkling crystal.

I seriously considered eating again. But wood-fired sourdoughs and baguettes lured us to the next room where buttery pies and jelly-tiered cakes gave way to a wall of stinky cheese. (Down boy, DOWN.)  And we saw it together. The pick-your-pleasure pastries shingled in decadent display near an art deco coffee bar.

THERE,” we agreed, claiming two stools circling the copper behemoth.


Tecla ordered tea. But not just any tea.

The No.16 Ceylon Afternoon Special Blend with a Victoria Sponge, darling. I ordered coffee and pain au chocolat and we launched into my very favorite game.


Guy next to me,” Tecla whispered sideways. “What’s he do?”

I pretended to stare past him, stirring my latte.

Thin. Tall. Hitler-y haircut. Straight nose. Straight posture.

I licked buttery flakes off my lips, considering his brand new clothes.

Black on black. Every blonde hair in place. Guarding his mouth with a coffee cup. Swedish, I concluded. Maybe German.

Architect.” I whispered back.

And we went around the circle, writing people’s lives.

It’s a voyeur’s heaven and I could’ve stayed all day. But it was time for champagne! And what the hell time was it? Casino, I tell you! Did we want a crisp Italian vibe at Canti Prosecco Bar upstairs? Or vintage Paris at Ladurée ? Maybe neither?

Feeling all que sera sera, we wandered past fresh roses and the Salon De Parfums to a new set of elevators, letting button-pushing strangers determine our fate. And the best thing happened.

The doors opened.

Not to retail.

But to quiet Victorian elegance.

–Ironed white table clothes. A vaulted atrium ceiling and a tuxedoed gentleman making love to Beethoven. Pianissimo.



After a crisp flute of brut rosé and enough how may I assist you, madams I actually considered the $1100 Moschino My Little Pony Lunchbox Purse

(Just kidding —I’d never.)

And really, I’d had enough.

We passed two stunning women on our way out.

Magazine-perfect, I tell you. Deer-legged and precariously balanced in Christian Louboutins, struggling to fold a stroller. They barked at each other in raspy Italian, their movements comically limited by matching fur coats and long, curved nails clacking against metal. Next to them a regally dressed toddler –all buttons and brown curls — stood still. A silver pacifier in her rosebud mouth. Waiting.

I cannot articulate why.

But this summed it up entirely, why I was done.

I like fancy.

I really do.

But I prefer fireplaces and cracked teapots in dusty old pubs.

—and so does Tecla.

We ran home to change for our hot date with a Potter exhibit at the British Library.

Dear God — I unclasped my pearls and pulled out my wand.

Thank you for today.

Tecla yanked off her boots and busted out her Hufflepuff scarf. I adjusted my Ravenclaw collar and double-checked my glitter.

Thank you for everything, really. Especially kindred spirits.

“Ready?” she asked.


And rocking on the underground, I thought of the chauffeur outside Harrods, standing next to a Rolls Royce pulled haphazardly on the curb, its back window cluttered with bags. He looked every shade of OVER IT, and I wondered if he belonged to the stroller ladies.

Hi, I nodded, and he tipped his cap, silent.

But his weary eyes said plenty.

Accio beer.

. . . . . . .

Me too, mister.



How The Beatles Saved Me.

I once had a boy. 

Or should I say, he once had me.

.    .    .    .    .

Damn, girl. You really put yourself out there.

—-Someone said when I first started this blog.

It wasn’t a compliment. 

The idea was to document the ghost and spirit phenomena known my entire life. And I stared him, hurt. How would I make people understand if I didn’t share exactly what happened? Exactly how I felt?

I can’t just write: So, hey. I heard from God yesterday. It was super cool! He’s real and prayer works. Trust me! 


You need to know I heard Him with my head in the toilet on the bathroom floor. Then later, screaming at the ceiling for help. Because then (maybe) you understand why the angels came. 

Like now, for this entry, I could write:

I was dangerously sad once. But then some magic happened and I got saved.

But that conveys nothing.

Better to explain it was 1999, and I was circling the drain.  

That I craved cigarettes more than food. That I woke up hungover most days and weighed 113 pounds. That I lost the boy I loved AND my longtime best friend at the exact same time. — I did get straight As my last semester. But I also got arrested. And sometimes, despair twisted my stomach SO hard, I vomited. Not bulimia. Stress. 

See? Now you have a picture. 

That’s why I splash my guts on paper. 

So you understand what I mean when I say dangerously sad.

But don’t get me wrong. 

Mine wasn’t an Amy Winehouse situation. I never adopted hard drugs or slept in puke. And I never slept around. But my glass heart was absolutely shattered and I did everything possible to forget.

Including running away.


Things I had:

  1. a diploma
  2. a pack of cigarettes.
  3. a ticket to London
  4. a dear friend angel coming with me.

Things I didn’t have:

  1. a job.
  2. a place to live.
  3. a plan.
  4. a clue.

But the fates were kind.

We scored jobs AND a tiny flat in Hackney within days. Our flatmate was a nutty Turk who cooked breakfast — I’m talking eggs, bread, hot tea and some kinda meat — every single day. And truth be told, it was pretty freaking great. Waiting tables in Covent Garden was crazy fun and I made friends easily.


But demons live in England, too. 

They just have nicer accents.


And here’s the thing about grief.

Beer won’t drown it.  

And it doesn’t evaporate in smoke. 

No, pain delights in avoidance, gaining strength the longer it’s buried. 


And in the wee hours, mine was a scratching nocturnal rodent.




I flipped on my side.




Mine also had this *awesome* soundtrack.

Side A:

  1. You selfish bitch.
  2. They’re probably having sex right now.
  3. Drink some more.
  4. He never really loved you.


Side B:

  1. You fuck everything up.
  2. Your body is gross.
  3. They’re laughing at you.
  4. Cum laude for WHAT, WAITRESS.

My record flipped and started again.

God, please make it stop.






I threw off the covers and lit a cigarette, throwing my lighter on the coffee table, staring at the clock. Texas was 6 hours behind. What were they doing right now? What if I called? Who would pick up? What would I say?

Mystery tracks:

5. Please forgive me.

6. I can’t breathe I miss you so much. 

7. I need help.

I made tea and got ready for work, determined to have a good day. She looked like me, that girl in the mirror. Sort of. But nicotine dulled her bright green eyes and her lips were thin clouds of regret. What did I do to make them hate me?

8. No. Fuck them.

I glossed my lips and stepped into the living room where Ivan could see I’d had another bad night.

“You make yourself crazy,” he laughed, rolling papers across his pink tongue.

Ivan was a political refugee and thought my problems were hilarious

He passed me the joint.

“At least my country likes me.”  I took a long drag.

“Then why you live here?” 

“Because you make good breakfast.” I blew smoke his way, and he swatted me with his paper on my way out.

Whatever misery I suffered, at least I was in London and loved my commute. Train time was quiet time. 


And walking alongside Dickensian buildings under grey skies soothed me somehow. My favorite was a shuttered, war-time bakery with Hot Cross Buns 4p! faded in the cracked glass. 

So I worked and slept and smoked and drank and played my nasty record.

And that was my life. 

My friends were pink-cheeked internationals, well-acquainted with the glitter-faced party girl. 


But only a few knew the one who hid in pub corners, scribbling pain in a worn journal, crying if the wrong song came on.

And one of them was Christopher.


We met two years prior when I moved to London for a work abroad program. Our initial meeting is a straight-up testament to fate, but I’ll tell that story another time. We kept in touch when I went home to graduate and were mutually happy upon my return. Trust for now our friendship was solid. He was easy, pleasant company, and I made him laugh.

“What are you doing this weekend?” he asked.


“Would you like to do something?”

“OK.” I fished around my cavernous purse, ciggie in mouth. We also had an uncanny ability to stretch a coffee date into 8 hours, which made me nervous.

You don’t want me, I warned when his gazes got a little long. Not like that.I’m difficult.

“Pick you up at noon?” He pulled a Zippo from his pocket, and I leaned in.

We were new then. So new we were barely a we. And overly cautious. Coffees, lunches, museums and safe stuff. Momma didn’t raise a ho.

“Fancy going to Liverpool?” he asked, when I opened the door that Saturday.


  . . . Liverpool?

“It’s only a few hours by train,” he said in the doorway. “Jenny?”


I stood there gobsmacked, as they say in Britain.

Liverpool was like Atlantis to a little Texan Beatle fan.

Mythical, magic, and far, far away.

But I was older now. 

Living in England.

Why had I never —


“Fancy it?”

I nodded dumbly, then there we were hours later,

clacking to the great English North.


Buildings, then suburbs sped into bright green fields, and I gazed past my reflection to my childhood. To the first time I saw A Hard Day’s NightMy soul like G when Paul McCartney came onscreen. 

No, seriously. The Beatles split my personal atom and you must accept that as fact before reading further.

Music and lyrics.

I pondered.

Books and words.

Oh God. And that short story I wrote for 6th grade English where Paul gets a flat tire and rings my doorbell needing to use the phone. Open the door and let ’em in  I wrote in my big ol’ 12-year-old handwriting, marveling my genius. But— “Isn’t he a bit old for you?” was all my teacher said. Clearly unfit to protect and serve young imaginations.

I smiled against the cold window, my brain quiet for the first time in weeks then looked around the train. 


Books and Beatles.

Music and Words.

My lifelong medicines shelved and neglected for so very long.

W H Y ?


Christopher sat opposite, reading the paper. Everything about him gentlemanly and quiet. But clearly a masochtic lunatic. Because I’m gonna hurt you, Christopher. Just like—-

Hush. He pressed warm tea in my hands. We’re here.

The doors slid open to whistles and squealing breaks and I froze on the steps, transported to my middle school bedroom. Wham! posters on the wall. The Babysitters Club dog-eared on my twin bed. And there I was on my belly. Watching Help!  Squirming with the *delightful*new nether-tinglies discovered during The Night Before scene.


” . . . excuse me, Miss.”

Hmm? What?

“Please step aside to allow people off the train.”


I moved and people rushed past. My old-me memories playing in 4-D, commanding my attention. I’d forgotten that in-tact, happy girl. She was precious and rare. An endangered species.  “Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound here,” I blurted like some automaton, remembering high school and early college. Happy on my bed alone. Candles and incense. Acoustic harmonies separating my guts into quarters, braiding me into minor folds.

Simon & Garfunkel.

Crosby, Stills, & Nash.

Fleetwood Mac and Billy Joel, who wrote Vienna for me, I swear.

That chick only needed books, music, pen and paper.


Where did she go?

I looked up and around like an awestruck toddler.


Disney fans probably feel the same their first time in the Magic Kingdom. But this was better because it felt like walking through an album cover

“Where d’you want to go first?”

The Cavern, my mouth formed and the movie reel melted, the dark thing in me stirring. The monster I housed, threatening.

“Jenny, you alright?”

No. I wasn’t alright at all.

For so long I harbored lies. Jagged-edged insecurites too awful to say out loud. So I swallowed them whole, choking on self-destruction when things threatened to improve. Like now.

We turned the corner onto Mathew Street, the birthplace of the Beatles, and I teetered on some precipice. My feelings unfolding. Packed too tight for too long.

Take these broken wings and learn to fly.


I dropped Christopher’s hand.

My purse.

My overnight bag.


And gravitated





more stairs

into the womb

of the

r i t i h   v s i on.

Oh god.

Were they actually playing —


The deeper I descended the louder it got.

Something in me rising, too.

My mouth opened.

I’d been sad for so long.


Invisible fingers reached down my throat, 

grabbing the hairy, 



black mass

that told me

bad things




s  l  o  w.

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.

I’d forgotten.

I’d forgotten!


Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, the band played as my feet hit the Cavern Floor. 

And in that moment

I remembered.

I remembered!










The soul God created.


And I wept.

Stood there like a damn fool and cried.

And cried.

And cuh-ried.


Lord, I cried.

I couldn’t help it.

It was either that or puke.

An angel rushed over with light-blue eye shadow and frosty pink lips. Giant hoops and a silver bob framed her weathered face and I imagine she’d spent every weekend down there since 1964.

“You alright, love?”

It sounded like yooawdight, loov?

No I wasn’t bloody alright. I just sampled every human emotion in 2 minutes plus I think I heard from God so maybe I was gonna die.

She ushered me to a chair and motioned the barman to pour me a drink.

Snot bubbled from my nostrils while she grabbed for napkins. “We understand,” she soothed, patting my arm. And I believed her. Liverpudlians saw my type everyday. Fans making pilgrimages, squealing when they reached The Cavern.

But the other thing — the part I couldn’t articulate —was the old, sparkly me running headlong into the broken me. Combusting upon impact in the most sacred place a Beatle fan can tread.

Tears gushed down my cheeks faster than she could mop them up.

“Who you here with, loov?”

Oh God Christopher! I left him on the street!  

I looked around wildly but there he was. Ordering a pint. Shaking his head and smiling at me the way one does at a dumb puppy, barking at himself in the mirror.

Hold your head up you silly girl.

I hugged that angel lady hard, apologized to the band for scaring them, and emerged from The Cavern spit-shined. My despair scooped clean. 


From the sanctity of adulthood I know health, happiness, and self-worth are my responsibility. 

But back then, it was a revelation.

Grace isn’t reserved for the holy. And God doesn’t always send miracles. Sometimes He sends people with an opportunity to get it right.

And if magic exists, it was in me that day. Next to my future husband. Surrounded by charismatic locals with the very best accents in the entire world.

God laid it out from the start, my bliss. What plugged me into Him.  

And if you’re reading this like:


We get it. You like the Beatles.

  . . . then I’ve failed here, and please go on about your business.

But there’s a reason art transcends. Why people sniff books and cry at the opera. Why we run our fingers over statues and pay so much for concert tickets. Because art reaches in our guts and makes us FEEL. That power is real.

And I heard the loving, male voice I hadn’t heard in so long. 

Follow your bliss and drop the self-torture, girl. 

No one’s listening to that record but you.


People say the Ganges has healing powers, but I dunno. I vote Mersey.  Because I was restored that day.  Just like that. My old-self uncurling in a fetal sort of way.

So what good is to write: I was dangerously sad once. But then some magic happened and I got saved.


Better to tell a full story.

And how I got by with a little help from my friends. 

John, Paul, George, Ringo.

And Christopher.


This bird had flown.




BOOK LAB: Back to High School.

I got in trouble in junior high for making a ‘slam book.’

The offending questions included: What’s your favorite tv show? and How many siblings do you have? and Who’s your celebrity crush?

My classmates passed it round and round until I had long lovely lists of people’s answers. And it made me very happy.

But then a teacher found it.

“I know these aren’t mean-spirited questions.” She held me after class, holding the folder front of me. “But these sorts of things aren’t allowed.”

“Why?” I dared, staring at my meticulously decorated folder. There was puffy paint on there and everything.

I wanted it back.

“Because someone’s feelings could get hurt.”


I felt the weight of unfairness then.

The crushing despair of CENSORSHIP.

How dare she. Those answers didn’t belong to HER.

They belonged to US.

I died a little when she put MY property in her top drawer and shuffled to my next class defeated. How was a list of t.v. shows gonna hurt anyone’s feelings?? —I still remember The Cosby Show was the most popular answer. — I just wanted everyone’s thoughts!

And I still want people’s thoughts.

See, adults do the same thing . But they call them quizzes and questionnaires. Hell. Nowadays, teachers pass similar questions to students as a ‘getting to know ya.’


I’m not bitter.

I just keep on keeping’ on.

But I never (ever) forget, Ms. Williamson6thgradesocialstudiesJohnstonJuniorHigh.

And with that, a new Book Lab was born. AND I made a new questionnaire, thank you very much.

Here’s a list of our favorite words:
















Are you offended? Anyone’s feelings hurt?

Didn’t think so. 

(I also must give Nedra props for knowing how to spell ‘onomatopoeia’.)

Anyway,  Book Lab isn’t always academic. I thought it’d be fun to revisit our teenage selves. Regress a little.

So a new assignment was born:

Pick a book that would’ve appealed to your 16-Year-Old Self.


Easy right?

We hit the Young Adult section at the library.



And this would be interesting.

After all, we were:

  1. An academic.
  2. A punk-rocker.
  3. An introvert.
  4. A cheerleader.
  5. A social activist.
  6. And a debutante.

(at least in high school).

For reals.

But before I go on, would you like another offensive list to read?

Here are our favorite cheeses:

  1. goat cheese
  2. manchego
  3. Farmer’s cheese
  4. goat cheese
  5. parmasean
  6. brie

(Chèvre for the win!)

On that note, we headed to Blue Dahlia, ordered wine and nibbles and revealed our picks!


Book Lab’s celebrity guest this round is Monica. Monica’s favorite colors are yellow and red, and says the closest thing to real magic is déjà vu.


Monica also has fun nails.



This is Nedra.

Nedra likes pink and green and would name her yacht “Boat Hair, Don’t Care.”


Nedra also has an impressive ability to pick books that inspire weiner jokes.



This is Petra.

Petra likes blue and purple and says Physics was the worst class she ever took.


Petra also grew up in Amsterdam, so her high school years were probably way funner than ours.



This is Anna.

Anna’s favorite colors are red and black and says she’d pick ‘Marisol’ if she had to choose another name for herself.


Anna’s favorite bands in high school were The Cure, Bauhaus, and Joy Division.



This is Emily.

Emily likes various shades of blue. She also likes to pet kitties and write poetry in her spare time.


She also wins the rare I-Look-Like-My-Book-Cover Award.


And then there’s me.


My favorite colors are orange and magenta and the worst class I ever took was 10th grade geometry because the teacher was a SADIST.


(Guess who was the cheerleader.)


It was time to give our books the Page 69 test.


For those of you not in the know, we always read snippets from page 69. If the passage is decent, then the rest of the book probably won’t suck.

(Only one of us was dubious after this exercise.)

In a few weeks, we’ll reconvene and discuss our picks.


But FIRST some more lists:


*You leave tonight for an all expenses paid week ANYWHERE. Where you going?*

  1. Iceland
  2. PARIS!!!
  3. Fiji
  4. Walt Disney World. I’d stay at the Grand Floridian with the Deluxe Dining Plan.
  5. Bombay
  6. Greece

*What’s the closest thing to real magic?*

  1. Answered prayer & instant karma
  2. Real time answered prayer & good poetry
  3. Finding true love
  4. Serendipity
  5. Déjà vu
  6. Going to the beach with a boyfriend

And lastly,

*Where’s the strangest place you’ve peed?*

  1. In a cup in the H-E-B parking lot
  2. In a friend’s backyard. It went down my leg and scarred me for life.
  3. In an olive grove in Spain.
  4. Any toilet in Venice. They’re all nasty.
  5. A hole in the ground in the south of France.
  6. Behind a London bus stop.


And now I’ll leave YOU with the question that stumped all of us.

If YOU were transported 400 years into the past with NO clothes or objects, how would you prove you were from the future? Hmm?

Let me know.

Keepin’ it classy until next time,















Green Dot Mystery: What REALLY happened at the Myrtles.

Is Myrtles Plantation really haunted?

I found THIS in a library book a few days before we left.


By we I mean me and Emily. Friend, fellow writer, and the only other chick I know with a selection of kaftans.


I find stuff in books all the time. And though June 23rd was already behind us, I felt it was some kind of message. I showed it to Emily who lived in New Orleans and knows about this stuff.

“June 23rd is St. John’s Eve,” she explained.  “It’s the Voodoo High Holy Day.”

I also learned (according to voodoo practitioners) the spirit world comes closest to the living on St. John’s Eve.

So Emily and I drove to Louisiana with high hopes and fun outfits. Real-life hauntings are fairly rare, but the Myrtles is generally agreed (among paranormal professionals) to be legitimately haunted.

Are we the kind of dorks that prance around plantations in kaftans?

YES.  Yes, we are.

IMG_2562We chose the Fannie Williams ( A.K.A Doll) Room because it looked the creepiest online. I mean, who doesn’t want to sleep next to a frozen porcelain child?


I expected to be blasted with feelings upon entering the property, but that wasn’t the case. I will say the grounds and surrounding wooded area felt charged in that static-y way prevalent in ‘haunted’ places. But if I feel that in open air, it probably has more to do with the land than the house.


If a house is built ON that land, then certain rooms will be susceptible to that same crackly energy, spatially consistent with whatever’s happening outside. Does that make sense?


We wanted to explore the property before it got too dark. I don’t know what Emily felt on that initial walk (we separated for objectivity) but I couldn’t block out the past.  It must be the same at Auschwitz or Ground Zero or any other place where history hides its face in shame. And it has nothing to do with ‘ghosts.’

I can’t walk on an old plantation and not think of slaves. Especially the children. And it made me feel gross and consumer-y seeing their old quarters spit-shined into little cabins. Porches lined with rocking chairs overlooking a pond full of screaming frogs.


But was it HAUNTED?

I did some research before we left.

Whereas the Myrtles sustains its reputation on a VERY compelling photo of “Chloe” and her illicit relationship with owner Clarke Woodruff, there’s no actual record of Chloe having existed. —At least no written proof.

The story goes that Clarke Woodruff forced young slave Chloe to be his concubine; and that one day he caught her eavesdropping, so he cut off her ear. Chloe took revenge by mixing deadly oleander into a birthday cake, killing Mrs. Woodruff and her children and BOOM! the place is haunted.

But here’s the deal.

Sara Woodruff (fact) and her adult children (fact) died of yellow fever in 1823 and 1824. So the “Chloe” story, whereas super fun to tell around a campfire and on tours at 15 bucks a pop —-is false.


So who is this ghost in the famous photo?


Is it really a ghost?

I believe it is.

And what about this pic?


If these photos are legit —and I think they are— then something’s wandering this property.

But what? Who? 

Emily and I walked beneath mossy oaks, quiet and thoughtful because old trees have seen a lot and deserve respect. But also because that feeling I described earlier. Like the house and grounds are living, breathing entities and you wanna tread lightly so as not to disturb.


So we took photos. Slapped mosquitos.

Emily collected moss.

I found a penny and put it in my pocket.

And then it got dark.

So now about the room.


Pretty, right?

Apart from a mutual feeling we needed to keep it tidy, there were no overt signs of spirit. Still, we took showers, prayed, and meditated to get our minds right, then headed to the patio for our own private happy hour.


And let me tell you.

Sitting under a bright moon with a dear friend drinking bubbly on sacred ground is a special feeling indeed.


Isn’t it lovely?

I felt super-privileged holding a room key while drive-by ghost hunters milled around whispering, their camera flashes perforating the night. Particularly busy was the corridor where ‘Chloe’ was captured.


Between the crowds and prosecco, I couldn’t tap into the house.

So we talked.

We talked about books, ghosts, angels, poetry, history, travel, intuition, Louisiana heat, and wondered how our night would go. Finally it was just us, the moon, and a thousand frogs challenging the cicadas to we got spirit, yes we do!

Emily stared at the house.

“I want to go on the porch,” she said, emptying her wine.

The porch was an extremely long wooden wrap-around, and dark as hell.

“Let’s go.” I drained mine, too.

We grabbed our cameras and ducked under the chains separating the porch from the public.


We walked up and down.

Back and forth.



Trying to feel.

Then Emily called me over.

“I feel nothing until I walk by this window,” she said. “This one feels different.”

I met her at the tall window.


It was one of those concentrated energy spots. Nothing major. But she was right. We put our hands on thick glass, smeared with condensation — and both felt a low-level vibration. Maybe like a refrigerator humming but way less than that. And as we stood there acknowledging, I’ll admit the feeling deepened.

We peered inside.

Dark furniture outlined a pretty room. If it were a movie, it’d been the perfect time for a face to appear and scare the crap out of us.

“Let’s take pictures,” I said, backing away.

I own no fancy ghost-detector equipment. Just intuition, pen and paper.

(and iPhone).

Please find the two greendots in the following photos.


These anomalies are definitely worth a closer look.

What’s interesting is:

  1. They move in tandem along the porch. Sometimes close, then further apart. But together.
  2. Look at their shape. In the last photo (if you zoom) they almost look like shoes.
  3. There are tiny tracers behind them in each photo.
  4. They’re green.

Is it reflection from a porch light?

Don’t think so.

There are dim lights all along the porch. Plus, reflections don’t move.

Is it green light reflecting from the hanging fern?

(Probably not.)

Is it light catching the bugs?

Mmm . . . maybe?

But I don’t think so.

Please see the ‘orb’ in the left side of this photo.


That’s a bug.

So is this evidence of a ‘ghost’?

I’m sticking with MAYBE and I want to go back.

Anyway, it was time for bed.

I’m happy to report no dolls moved while we were sleeping. The only disturbance was our drunk-ass foyer neighbors coming in late.

The next morning we took the house tour, where a VERY impressive guide took us room to room, relaying house history and a whole lotta lore.

Here, she emulated Chloe eavesdropping on her master.


And I gotta tell you. I started to feel a little bad for the late Clarke Woodruff. Like, obviously I didn’t know the guy. And maybe he did have his way with a slave.

But maybe he didn’t.

Yet this is his legacy. A child-raping, ear-lobbing philanderer.

I found myself wondering what really happened in those bedrooms. Staring at flaking wallpaper and imported chandeliers, I could almost imagine.

And imagine I did.

Knowing Chloe’s story was mostly made-up, I started adding my own details.

We weren’t allowed to take photos in the main house. But finally we got to the hot spot, the room we peered into last night. And our guide confirmed something:

“Every psychic, every medium who’s ever come to Myrtles says this is the spiritual center of the house.” She opened doors to Mrs. Woodruff’s pretty antique parlor.

We oohed and ahhed at the paintings.  The sewing box. The little writing desk. The petit-point settees.

“ . . . a vortex, if you will.”

(I won’t.)

I hate the word vortex.

But it affirmed our feeling that something was UP with that room.

In summary, I think it’s kind of shitty that Mr. Clarke Woodruff goes down in history as a slave-rapist. I mean, what if he was a super nice guy? What if his wife was the asshole?

Coupled with that note I found at the library, a little voodoo history, and our own Myrtles experience, my story was born.

I finished my first draft of Rosie & June a few weeks later, and insecurity crept in while editing, like maybe I took it a little far and shouldn’t publish. But minutes later (literally), a friend texted me from Half-Price books, where she found a signed copy of MINDER.


With that little sign, I published.

I hope you enjoyed Rosie & June Get a Room.

If anyone has theories about the green dots, I’d love to hear them.

As for the Myrtles, I wanna go back and stay in a different room. (You in, Emily?)

Thank you as always for reading.



RARE Beatles Interview! Houston, 1965.

This rare transcript is from the Beatles’ 1965 press conference in Houston, Texas.

San Antonio’s KONO aired the interview, then mailed copies to anyone requesting a transcript.

10-year-old Patty took them up on their offer.

52 YEARS LATER, Patty found the transcript while Spring Cleaning and sent me a surprise copy!



Without further ado I share it with you verbatim . . . minus their spelling mistakes.

(Sherridan? Really? )




How did you feel when you were trapped in the plane last night? **

Ringo: Terrified.

What are your plans for after the tour?

John: If we’re still alive, we’d like to rest.

No offense meant here: After your popularity runs out, what are you going to do?

John: Don’t know really. Haven’t really thought about it.

Do you think it’ll ever end?

John: I don’t know . . . All good things come to an end.


A lot of people say the Rolling Stones and other groups have gotten more popular than you. Does this worry you?

George: No.

I understand that Lightnin’ Hopkins is a great idol of Ringo’s. Do you think you’ll see him while you are here?

Ringo: I do like him very much. But I don’t think I’ll get a chance to see him.

We have a television show here in Houston where we read the comic strips. Isn’t there a Beatle comic strip that is coming out?

Paul: If there is a Beatle comic strip, we don’t know anything about it.

Do you think you’re going to make another movie in the fall?

John: I think the next movie we are going to make will be in the Springtime.

Paul: It will be in Spain.

George: It is called ‘A Talent for Loving.’

Ringo: But we’ll probably change that.

Which country do you think has the most Beatle fans?

Paul: America.

This is to Ringo: I heard last night when you walked out of the plane and looked at all the fans, you were terrified . . . Were you really?

Ringo: You can bet I was terrified.

Paul, it’s been reported that you are going to marry Jane Asher . . .

Paul: It’s been reported, but I never said it . . . so what do you do . . . I don’t know about it.

Are you?

Paul: The newspapers seem to know, but I don’t know.

Did you watch the space shot preparations this morning?

George: No.

What do you think of the press conference?

John, Paul, George, and Ringo LAUGH.

It has been reported that in Playboy magazine that one of you said ‘All Americans are fascists.’ Quote unquote.

John: It sounds like something that was shoved into my mouth (laughs). I really don’t mean what that report had in it.

Oh, then you don’t think they are?

John: No.

Are the Beatles going to Mexico in the next year?

George: No, not planned. But we don’t know.

This is for Ringo: Have you picked out a name for your baby yet?

Ringo: No, I haven’t.

Why does Paul keep biting his fingernails?

Paul: (laughs) I’m not biting my fingernails. I’m just chewing a bit.

Someone asked George if he had any brothers or sisters. George said had two brothers, and John said he had no sisters to speak of . . . Is this a direct slap at Mrs. Caldwell?

George: Yeah.

I read in a column in the Houston paper that Ringo had said, ‘Women should be obscene, not heard.’  . . . is that true?

Ringo: No.

How do you fellas like England?

Paul: It’s just like home to us.

What do the Beatles think of Texas?

Paul: We’ve only been to Dallas and here and we nearly got killed both times. **

Do you think you’ll ever get to San Antonio?

John: Well, not on this tour. Some of the other guys have told us about the Alamo.

What are you going to do on your days off the 23rd and 27th?

George: I’m not telling you!

Paul: Wouldn’t be a day off then.

What do you plan to do after this tour?

Ringo: We’ll go back to England and holiday.

George, would you take your hand off the mike? It’s causing a hum.

George: I kinda like hum.


Right outside the hotel now, George,  there are several thousand loyal, excited fans who would tear you apart if they got ahold of you. How does this make you feel, now that you’ve gone through several years like that?

George: Well we’re organized, you know. I mean we have organized security forces. Nobody sees us leave the hotel. So how could we get killed?

Are Scotch and Cokes really your favorite drinks?

John: Ringo drinks Bourbon.

Ringo, is photography your hobby?

Ringo: No, not anymore.

Why did you drop it?

Ringo: I was sick of taking photos in a room.


What do you think would be the perfect tour?

Paul: Well, one where we have good audiences and it is well organized.

On the Help! album, the British version, you’ve got a couple of tracks. One was strings and the other a country take-off . . . Are you going to do more things with strings or stay with sound as it is or what?

Paul: We only did the strings because . . . um, it was good for a change.

It’s beautiful! Really groovy, man.

Paul: Oh! Well, thank you very much!

What do you think of Elvis Presley?

George: I didn’t like this earlier records. I’ve liked him better these last few years . . . but he’s still, you know . . . it still doesn’t do much for me.

Paul, what do you think about the concert being scheduled the same day as the space shot?

Paul: Well, I hadn’t heard about the space shot.

With concerts causing all the headaches they do, have to sneak through towns and all that . . . why don’t you just ditch them and make your money off of movies?

John: Because we like it. We like doing concerts.



Paul, what is your favorite record?

Paul: I don’t know, really. There are so many good ones. The records I like are done by American groups.

What do you think of the American policy in Vietnam?

John: I’d rather not think about it.

What do you think about the rising popularity of Folk Music? Like Sonny and Cher and Bobby Dylan?

Ringo: Sonny and Cher is not Folk. But still we all like Folk Music. Especially the kind like The Byrds and Sonny and Cher.

Before too long it looks like you, George, are going to be the only single one in the group. Are you going to make it unanimous?

Paul: Wait a minute . . .

George: The papers keep saying Paul is getting married. But he knows nothing about it.


Paul, are you getting married?

Paul: No.

Paul, did you like making Help! or A Hard Day’s Night best?

Paul: We enjoyed making them both. But I think we had a better time on Help!

Did you ever get tired of being Beatles?

John: We’d be dead if we did.

How did the critics in England rate your movie Help! ?

John: They gave it pretty good reviews.

What do you think of American teenagers trying to be more British than American?

George: I kind of like it, really. When we first came over here, we thought American girls dressed rather poorly. But now they seem to look neater.


Does Ringo want his wife to have a boy or a girl?

Ringo: I don’t know. I don’t mind as long as it is one or the other.

Do John and Ringo have their wives with them on tour?

John: No.

Paul, do you like champagne?

Paul: No, I don’t like it at all.


Is it true that you don’t consider yourselves musicians?

John: Yes, because none of us read music, you know. We are entertainers. Not musicians.

Do you think that you should be able to read music?

John: Yes, it would be very good for a young group starting out.

Paul, what did you have for breakfast?

Paul: I had half a grapefruit, some Shredded Wheat, and tea.

What characteristics do you admire most in young girls?

George: Beatlemania.

Do you approve of middle-aged Beatle-maniacs?

John: Yes, they are very nice.

Moderator: This will be the last question.

Will this be your last tour in America?

John: No. We haven’t scheduled another but there’s no reason for this to be our last tour.

Are you enjoying this tour so far?

John, Paul, George, and Ringo: Oh yes. Yes. Very much.


The Beatles performing at the Sam Houston Coliseum, August 19, 1965:



Tickets were $5.oo.

The Beatles were paid $85,000 for 2 performances.


** Over 2000 fans mobbed Houston’s Hobby Airport after a local station broadcast the Beatles’ flight arrival time. Teenagers swarmed the tarmac. Some even managed to climb onto the plane and mobile stairway to bang on doors and windows, preventing their safe exit. Officials had to extricate the Beatles and their managers atop a service truck used for unloading luggage. This was a year after a similar incident at the Dallas airport. 





Thank you SO MUCH Patty for sending me this awesome piece of Beatle history!

I do know my grandmother took my 13-year-old Dad to this concert. Granny told me her ears rang for 3 days!  Anyone else reading attend this concert or remember hearing this interview? I’d love to hear from you!

With Love From Me To You,



Beryl’s Chicken Diary: Remembering Momma.

That lady ate your mother.

I closed my eyes.

Missus Jenkins has no tact.

I made the mistake of telling her about the last day me and Babs saw Momma. Which honestly, I try not to think about. It still hurts remembering that itchy-nosed lady and all her questions about gluten and additives.

“You don’t give them hormones, do you?”

She coughed in her elbow.

When the farmer said no, she reached down and grabbed Momma.

Just like that.

Why? Was she fat?

Me and Babs looked at each other.

Forcing Momma’s soft, warm, feathery body on our memory was more than we wanted to think about.

Let’s talk about something else, suggested Babs, who always says the right thing.

So they did.

They discussed yesterday’s maggots on last week’s banana peels and the overweight chihuahua next door.

–until it was time for sleep.

But I couldn’t sleep.

Not with Momma all warm on my mind.

Don’t be sad, Babs whispered, feeling me always.

So I thought about Christopher and the profound impact of human choice.

We moved to a feed store after they took Momma.

And it was awful.

There’s no easy transition from domestic freedom to cages and fluorescent lights.

Rabbits, kittens, pigs, turtles, parakeets, ferrets, chickens, mice . . .

The place was brimming with orphans, crying for love and sunshine.

Me and Babs spent weeks in that cage, tripling in size while animals came and went.

Our insides were prime for laying, increasing our chances for adoption. So every day was roulette.

I remember feeling really low that morning — resigning myself to a crock pot when I saw him by the soy-free layer food. Discussing eggs with Jennifer. Light bouncing off his head and paint all over his jeans.

Feed Store Man led them over and Jennifer stuck her pale face right up to the grate.

Don’t look at her! I warned, scooting to the back of the dirty cage we shared with an aging rooster and bossy Araucana whose name escapes me now. Momma was long gone but I remember what she said.

Never make eye contact with a human unless you wanna be picked for something.

But Babs had a bright red comb, and everyone knows red catches human eyeballs the fastest.

“That one looks good,” Jennifer said, pointing to my sister.

Oh please God, no.

The man opened the latch, reached in and grabbed Babs who burst into flappy squawks. Really she was screaming my name.

He handed her to Jennifer.

The door slammed and I rushed to the front.

Please don’t take my sister, I pleaded with my eyeballs, sticking my beak through the grate.

Babs looked at me, her pumpkin eyes woeful.

I sank to the floor.

Then Jennifer paused.

“Let’s get two,” she said, suddenly.

I stood back up.

Curcurcurcur, I managed, wishing my comb was bigger. Brighter.

Christopher peered inside.

So I locked eyes with him.

I had to stand sideways to do it but I locked eyes with him hard, sending all my feelings.

Please pick me.

I puffed out my wings a little bit.

My tiny heart pounded.

And that one.”

Feed Store Man opened the latch and grabbed the Araucana, who — of course — would give them pretty blue eggs instead of brown.

I knew it.

Humans and their ridiculous emphasis on color.

I sank back down again.

“Not that one. The other one.”

He pointed to me.

I tried to stand up.

But —

You know

that funny


when your

belly melts

into warm


so fast

your top half

feels empty?

And maybe you might fall over?

Feed store Man scooped me up and handed me to Christopher.

Babs was so relieved she pooped right there, a creamy white dollop landing beside Jennifer’s unpainted toe.

And then what happened? Jenkins asked.

Then we came here, I said. And scoot over. We have this whole roost and poor Wanda’s squished against the wall.

I wonder what we taste like, Jenkins said, scooting over.


No tact.

G’night, Jenkins. I closed my eyes, snuggling into my sister.  G’night, Wanda, I added. But she was already asleep.

That night I dreamt we were babies again.

Colored like buttered popcorn.

Scrambling over wood chips seeing who could cheep the loudest.

With Momma, watching from the corner.


I miss you, Momma.

love, Beryl




If you’re new, hi. My name’s Beryl. My story began last summer after a raccoon attack left me for dead. I wrote down what happened and hijack Jennifer’s blog sometimes to write some more, that’s all.

BOOK LAB: Depressed. Addicted. Suicidal.

At 20, she overdosed on sleeping pills in her mother’s cellar.

At 29, she drove her car into a river.

At 30, Sylvia Plath finally killed herself by sticking her head in an oven.

Think about that a second.


One night, she placed wet towels under the doors to keep her babies safe, turned on the gas, crawled in her oven, and died.





Umm . . . hold up, Jennifer.

What’s up with this sad crap.

More chicken stories, please.

Hang tight, dear reader.

This is BOOK LAB. Not Oprah’s Book Club.

We conduct reading experiments and write about them.

But also, don’t you think mental illness needs more attention?

Why do we only talk about it behind closed doors at 100 bucks an hour?

Shall we make a long list of people gone too soon?




Plath wasn’t an addict.

But people often use drugs and alcohol to quiet their screaming minds –thus ensues addiction, which — let’s face it– has a 50% chance of ending well.

Every person reading knows someone with crippling anxiety, mood or panic disorders. Someone addicted, depressed or bi-polar. Someone who committed suicide.

They say suicide is a coward’s way out.

I dunno. Selfish, maybe. But not cowardly.

I think it takes a lot of freaking courage to stick your head in an oven with two beautiful, babies sleeping upstairs.

Am I being flippant? God, no.

Depression and addiction run in my family.

I am privy to their quiet destruction and live in reverent fear of my own DNA. I am also a writer and extremely empathetic to the curses therein. But this isn’t about me. It’s about acknowledging this thing no one talks about AND paying respect to some authors who famously suffered and busted out some awesomeness anyway.

So I made it our assignment.

Read a book whose author was mentally ill, addicted, or committed suicide.

Was their real-life suffering evident in the writing, thinly disguised as fiction?

That’s what I wanted to find out.

Out of respect for these authors, I hope you’ll read on.black_line.gif


I chose The Bell Jar for no other reason except that Plath appears on every ‘famous suicide’ list, and this is her great novel.


Was Plath’s depression evident in her work?



The Bell Jar was blatantly autobiographical. So much, it was published under a pseudonym in England only. Her family –namely her mother — fought its American publication and The Bell Jar didn’t hit American bookshelves until 9 years after her death.

The book– basically about a talented, young writer slipping into insanity– blew me away. I was worried it would be depressing. But mostly I found it REAL and strangely refreshing? By page 3, I knew I was going to love it. There were SO many delicious little neurotic passages, I had trouble picking just one to share at Book Lab.

Here the main character, Esther, describes an unsuccessful suicide attempt:

That morning, I had tried to hang myself. I had taken the silk cord of my mother’s yellow bathrobe as soon as she left for work, and, in the amber shade of the bedroom, fashioned it into a knot that slipped up and down on itself. It took me a long time to do this, because I was poor at knots and had no idea how to make a proper one. Then I hunted around for a place to attach the rope. The trouble was, our house had the wrong kind of ceilings. The ceilings were low, white and smoothly plastered, without a light fixture or a wood beam in sight.

Sylvia, I respect and salute you, girl.

I’m genuinely sorry I didn’t read this sooner.

I give The Bell Jar 5 stars and promptly put it on Staff Picks at the library.


black_line.gifNedra chose this guy.


He gave us Blade Runner, The Minority Report, and Total Recall.

In fact, his novels and short stories are the most adapted sci-fi classics in recent film history.

This is Philip K. Dick.

And poor Nedra had to call him PKD so as not to illicit giggles. For all our intellectual pomp, we really are perverted 12 year olds. At least I am.

But I digress.

Back to Dick.

PKD was plagued by vertigo as a teen.There were also signs of schizophrenia and eventually, visual and auditory hallucinations, likely caused by drug addiction. He managed to keep writing even though hospitalized. And at one point described a “beam of pink light being transmitted directly into his consciousness” and believed this light a spiritual force which granted him access to esoteric knowledge.


Nedra chose this author because he’s universally regarded as a badass.

A Scanner Darkly is about an undercover narcotics agent who finds himself addicted to the very drug he’s trying to eradicate.

“I chose this book because it was less sci-fi than his others, about this agent going undercover and eventually losing his identity to drug addiction.”


Did she like it?

“It was confusing to be honest. The main character plays two parts, split between two worlds, so it was hard to tell who was talking — which may’ve been the point. But Dick’s drug use is very evident in this book. I’ll also say his author note makes me want to read the book again.”

Drug misuse is not a disease. It is a decision. Like the decision to step out of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgement. When a begin to do it, it is a social error. A lifestyle. In this particular lifestyle, the motto is “Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying.” But the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. —– Philip K. Dick


A Scanner Darkly: 3 stars.

Dick was found unconscious on his floor and died five days later, having suffered multiple strokes. He was 53.

 Petra chose Leo Tolstoy.



Tolstoy was born wealthy and lost his parents at a very young age. He suffered clinical depression, which worsened as he aged. Reportedly obsessed with death, he was critical of himself for not having the courage to commit suicide. He wrote in one letter, “The possibility of killing himself has been given to man, and therefore he may kill himself.

Let me just go ahead and publicly admit I’m a super big chicken-weenie when it comes to Russian literature.

I imagine the likes of  Anna Karenina and War and Peace heavy tomes of depressing, icy darkness and always impressed when people read them on purpose.

But Petra really enjoyed her books.

Tolstoy actually wrote several short stories, so she picked two:

The Death of Ivan Ilych and The Cossacks.

Unknown-1.jpeg     Unknown-2.jpeg

The Cossacks is about a wealthy, young Muscovite who joins the Russian army in search of a more authentic life.

“Tolstoy wrote it in his 30s when he was still okay. It was autobiographical in that it was about a guy tired of society life,” Petra explained. “But The Death of Ivan Ilych, he wrote in his 50s. By then he was critically depressed and obsessed with death, which to me, was apparent in this book.”

The Death of Ivan Ilych is one man’s profound reflections on life when faced with his own mortality. It was written during Tolstoy’s spiritual crisis — the nine year period following the publication of Anna Karenina — which saw him give up meat, hunting and smoking, give away his copyrights, denounce his earlier writings as immoral, and embrace Christianity.

The Death of Ivan Ilych is considered a masterpiece on the subject of death and dying.

“I feel like writers are hyper-aware of everything around them,” noted Petra. “Every little thing is stimulus. It must be overwhelming.”


The Cossacks: 3.75 stars.

Death of Ivan Ilych: 4.5 stars.

Tolstoy died of pneumonia in 1910. He was 82.

Unknown-1.pngblack_line.gifOur next author ran a garden hose from an exhaust pipe through his car window and died, aged 31.

An envelope marked TO MY PARENTS  was discovered in the car, the enclosed note later destroyed by his mother, who never divulged its contents.

His mother also found an unpublished manuscript atop an armoire in his room.

That manuscript — sent to various agents over the next five years — eventually won The Pulitzer Prize.


This is John Kennedy Toole, most famous for A Confederacy of Dunces, posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1981.

Emily had already read (and loved) Dunces. So she chose Toole’s only other novel, The Neon Bible,  written for a literary contest at the tender age of 16 (!)


The Neon Bible tells the story of David, a young boy growing up in rural Mississippi in the 1940s. Readers share his awkward, painful encounter with first love and meet his pious, bigoted townspeople.

“It’s kinda Southern Gothic, about quiet people dealing with isolation in a small town,” said Emily. “I definitely felt evidence of the author’s sense of loneliness. And the book ironically ends with a bang.

Did she like it?

“I loved it!”

The Neon Bible: 5 stars


Everybody doing okay?

You sure?

Okay . . .

Moving right along.


Raise your hand if you read Slaughterhouse Five in high school.


Anna chose this guy.


Kurt Vonnegut died at 84 from head injuries sustained in a fall.

He had a grandfatherly reputation. But he suffered depression, PTSD, shocking fits of rage and temper, and also attempted suicide.

Vonnegut witnessed MUCH tragedy in his personal life.

His mother committed suicide on Mother’s Day, for example. That same year, Vonnegut was captured by Nazis during the Battle of the Bulge and sent to Dresden as a prisoner of war, whose job it was to collect and burn bodies.

This ordeal continually popped up in his work, most notably in the book that made him famous.


“My high school English class was divided in two,” said Anna. “Half read Slaughterhouse-Five and the other, a Brave New World. I was the Brave New World group, but distinctly remember the discussions about Vonnegut. That’s why I chose this book.”

Did she like it?

“I don’t know how he managed to combine war, spaceships, aliens, and time travel. But he did,” she laughs. “Knowing what he suffered at Dresden, I really did feel his deep well of despair. This book was very well done.”


Slaughterhouse-Five: 4.5 stars



Now finally,

this old sport.


F. Scott Fitzgerald, alongside wife Zelda, are THE poster children for glittering excess in the Roaring Twenties. In their Paris years, he and Zelda were drunk for days at at time, their lives a gilded blur of manuscripts and champagne, fueled by ego, and funded by Gatsby.

Tecla (our celebrity guest this round) openly admits she never liked The Great Gatsby.

“I tried and tried and tried to love that book. I gave it so many chances. But I just couldn’t finish it! Still. I wanted to see what I was missing. So I decided to try Tender is the Night, which took him TEN years to write.”


Tender is the Night is the tragic love story of a stylish American couple.


Sounds a little familiar.


“The husband is a brilliant psychiatrist, and his beautiful wife lives in an asylum. The main character spends a lot of time writing letters trying to make people understand what they’re going through. Zelda was institutionalized in Switzerland at the time, so the story directly reflects the Fitzgeralds’ downward spiral. Also, he wrote it on stimulants.”

Did she like it?

“I did. But I could only read it in small doses because it read like a 1920s movie. Still, I’d recommend it.”

Tender is the Night: 4 stars.

At the time of his death, Fitzgerald was reportedly drinking several pints of gin a day.

He suffered an alcohol-related heart attack in 1940, and died believing himself a failure.

He was 44.

Zelda perished in a fire 8 years later, locked in a room in her asylum.



And so it goes.

Mental illness is a silent creeper.

A shape shifter.

It cuts. Overeats.  Gambles. Takes pills. Drinks. Lies. Steals. Vomits. Snorts. Injects. Blames. Hides. Makes excuses. And lashes out.

I’m of the mind we’re all in this together.

So be aware.

And be kind.


To everyone

and everything.


National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Hotline: 1-800-662-4357