Once in a while, you get shown the light. By a dog.

by renegademama

I’m not entirely sure, but I think I like my dog better than everyone on the planet except my kids but even that is questionable. Did I say that out loud?

We have a blue heeler named August West. We call him Auggie. When we  got him, our Labrador had just passed away and because my husband and I are ruthlessly devoted to questionable decisions, we got another dog right away and consequently I looked at Auggie as a rude interloper and pathetic substitute for what I really wanted.

Trying to understand my feelings, I googled “Getting a new dog after your dog dies” and read about 900 articles suggesting that one shouldn’t get a dog immediately after a dog dies because the new dog will seem like a pathetic substitute and rude interloper.


So then I was grieving both my dog and the addition of a new dog who I low-key hated, which added guilt and shame to my already mountainous guilt and shame surrounding the sudden death of my Labrador.

In short, I believed Auggie was an astronomical mistake, and yet, one I could not, or would not, ignore.

He was this round black and white spotted little thing with soft, floppy ears and keen, engaged eyes. We said he looked like a fat seal. George noticed one of the markings on his side was in the shape of a heart.

And he is a fucking working dog. I knew if I didn’t train him thoroughly, giving him all kinds of jobs, he would find himself a job, and it would probably be Eat The House.

So, against a large portion of my desire, I devoted myself to training our August West, who, in case you aren’t familiar, is the alcoholic in the Grateful Dead song “Wharf Rat.”


So there I was forcing myself outside with this dog multiple times a day, taking him to puppy training where he would leap for the sky in pursuit of other puppies while I stood on the leash (as directed by the teacher), thereby causing him to occasionally do these gravity-defying acrobatic flips in the air.

I was convinced Auggie was the worst pup in the class with the worst parents.

But I kept going on account of the house-eating situation.

And one day, I noticed something. I noticed the fat seal learned commands by about the tenth time we did it. I noticed he looked at me and cocked his head to one side, waiting for the next command. I noticed he followed me around the house like a duckling behind its mama.

He appeared, in a word, to exist just for me, and I noticed.

I taught him to sit, stand, go down, and wait. I taught him fetch and “leave it” and “catch it.” I taught him to shake hands, sit on my right and my left. I taught him to go around behind me and come to the front of me. I taught him to walk on a leash, stop when I stop, go when I go, sit when I pause.

And as we worked together, I noticed that when I was with him, I was free of the pain in my brain. He came a few days after my dog died, six weeks after my grandmother was murdered, and 12 weeks after my grandfather died. He came in the middle of me writing my memoir on alcoholism and motherhood.

He came when I was enduring a pain I had never known, and reliving through my writing a pain I believed would never be surpassed.

I noticed that when I was with him, I was in my body, on the ground – outside of the swirling mess in my brain — communicating with an animal intuitively connected with me. It was so simple, so loving, so tangible:

Sit. Correction. Sit. Correction. Sit. Success. Treat.


It wasn’t vague or complex or twisted up in emotion. It felt clean, direct, and pure.

It was a dog watching me, observing me, learning me, and me, learning him, committed to teaching him, and what I noticed is that one day I looked at that fucking dog and realized he was healing me.

After I’d write a section of my book that tore my heart into shreds, I’d head outside with Auggie and sometimes I’d give him whole strings of commands with signals only. No words. No sounds. Just a couple of friends working together.

The way he watches me. The way he sits in front of me, waiting, observing, at the ready. The way he jumps on my bed when I’m resting, puts his paw on my chest as if he’s patting me. The way he wags his tail when I say his name, and sleeps on the kitchen rug while I cook.

I have never loved a dog like this. (Don’t tell my last dog, who I loved, too. But this is like WEIRD.) I didn’t even know this was possible, and I wonder if it’s because he came when I was pissed off and broken and full of terrified rage, and I was committed to protecting myself from humans, from the violence and agony they cause, and here comes Auggie as if to say, “Okay but you never said anything about fat seal pups. Can you let me in?”

There’s that Dead song that says “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”

For me, I guess it was a dog I wasn’t ready for.




“Fiercely talented word-warrior Janelle Hanchett grabs your guts with her frank, brutally funny, and moving memoir of modern motherhood and addiction. You won’t want to let go of this book.”

Ann Imig, editor of Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now

27 Comments | Posted in I fucking love my dog. | January 28, 2018

Since your friends eat laundry detergent, I’m revising my parental expectations.

by renegademama

Look, I know they’re not technically your “friends,” but they’re your generation, and thus, in my 38-year-old mind, you’re all basically the same.

Sure, I want to believe I raised you to answer “no” to the question, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” but I’m a conscientious realist and as such, I need to play it safe here.

Please understand that when I was 16, peers pressured you into smoking weed and dropping the occasional tab of acid after chemistry.

Your friends eat Tide Pods.

When I asked you what the fuck does this even mean and WHY?!, you said, “Because they want ‘clout’ on the internet.”

Okay, so eating toxic soap now makes a teenager “cool” – I suddenly understand Donald Trump’s election better – and it isn’t even necessary to add a deer Snapchat filter. Just the mere act of eating toxic chemicals wrapped in plastic is sufficient! 10K retweets! Hallelujah!

What, pray tell, is the point of poisoning yourself without a psychoactive benefit?

Oh, how I miss mushrooms.

Enough about the lost paradise known as “the 1990s.” I’ve rethought my expectations and possibly life and I’m ready to lay out a new plan for you.

Here we go:

I used to hope you’d go to college, and that would still be cool, but mostly at this point I’m just hoping you don’t light your own face on fire.

Good health was always a goal – smart food choices, limited fast food, lots of fruits and local vegetables. But honey, mostly, I’d like you to try not to gargle Pine Sol no matter how good it smells, or drizzle toilet bowl cleaner on wheat toast as a snack (even though it’s that pretty blue and would look stunning on Instagram). Just trust me, sweetie. I’m older and more experienced.

I’ve always read to you a lot, trying to expose you to critically compelling literature in the hope that you’ll develop a curious, inquisitive mind. Today I’m really just hoping you don’t hog tie your own limbs together and jump into a lake.

It’s fine. I can change. We can all adapt to changing surroundings. And really, should I be surprised? We have a President who Capitalizes his racist Twitter Rants randomly and lies more often than you get angry at me for eating a cracker incorrectly.

So really, haven’t all my hopes already been annihilated?

Fuck it. Eat Tide Pods.


Buy a house. Whatever. Or maybe just concentrate on not running into houses in a stolen car with a toddler unbuckled in the backseat.

Get married and have kids, or you know what? Just don’t vote for a child molester in a senatorial race. I had that hope before and I have it now because really, I can’t figure out how to get lower than that, really, or dumber, actually.

This is getting kind of sad.

There was a time when I would instruct you to nurture solid friendships with people who understand, support, and love you, but I’m thinking I should stick with the old adage of “DO NOT MARCH WITH NAZIS.”

God, Grandma would be so proud.

It’s fine. I like this new form of parenting, where we aim for the absolute bottom in a cesspool of a country where nothing makes sense, kids don’t even take normal drugs anymore, and an illiterate misogynistic oligarch is in office while people on Twitter claim Jesus sent him (praise hands!).

I’m proud of you, honey. I know you’ll navigate this new bottom-of-the-barrel existence quite well, and I, for one, am fucking rooting for you. I got your back, kid, and always have.

And if you ever have a bad acid trip, at this point, I’d be happy to help. It might actually make my day because at least it gets you high.


This is my book. You can preorder it. —>

If you plan on buying it anyway, or it sounds fun to buy shit at random, I’d really appreciate it. I think it’s pretty good. Although, I spent about a year holed up in a cheap motel room writing the fucker, so I’d probably tell myself that anyway. Incidentally, for part of this book, I am also holed up in a cheap motel room. Although, I wasn’t writing. What was I doing? Better read to find out! Cliffhanger!

I feel like I’m pretty good at this, aren’t I? Also, FYI, I was doing unhealthy things I cannot recommend doing while in a motel room or not.

Not quite eating Tide Pods, but close, honestly, CLOSE.

To my son who doesn’t give a shit about school

by renegademama

A couple of days ago as we drove to school I asked you about your math assignments. You were behind by three. I asked you about Monday’s homework, which you didn’t do. You had told me you’d do it at recess on Tuesday.

In the car that morning, you told me you didn’t do that either because you wanted to hang out with your friends.

My thoughts pummeled me: HERE WE ARE AGAIN. No homework. Behind on assignments. Goofing off in class. Zero initiative. WHY DOESN’T HE CARE AT ALL.

I got mad. I yelled. I knew the torrent of words pouring out of my mouth were useless – because I was being an asshole, and you’re 12. And I was yelling.

You walked away. I called your dad.

“He doesn’t care,” I said. “I don’t know how to make him care. How do we make him care?”

I thought about how I always cared about school, about grades, about being the best in the class.

Why can’t he be like me? He should be like me. That is what I thought until the truth settled in.

When I went to school, I fit. When I went to school, I was lifted. I was told I was smart, capable, one of the “good” kids. I spoke well in front of others and read well and wrote well and I could focus easily. When I did the work, I earned good grades. When I tried a little, I earned awards.

But you, son, are dyslexic, and you try harder every day than I ever tried in the entirety of my grammar school life and what you get is last, lowest, special ed. What you get is confusion, not fast enough, illegible. You get “hurry up” and “focus” and lower grades. Sometimes you nail a math test, but you know your spelling lists are shorter and I do too and you know the other kids do it faster, and we all know what that room is, and why you go, and how most kids don’t.

When you speak, it’s hard for you to find the words. The more impatient people become, the more you freeze. Your brain and its “rapid naming” “disability.” When you write, it takes nine times longer than it “should.”

And reading, oh, fuck reading. Am I right? Just fuck it all the way to Christmas.


When I went to school I got teachers who loved me and I helped the “lower” kids and nobody could have told me school wasn’t made for me.

You have teachers who love you. You’ve also had teachers who can’t stand you – dismissing you like a fly that keeps circling their dinner plate. You had a teacher once who actively sought holes in your accommodations. Any chance he got, it seemed. I had to fight for every single basic, logical extension of your accommodation.

At the conferences, I could see he couldn’t stand you. I felt it. I saw it.

You lived it. You knew it.

We told you he was an asshole, but that you had to “keep trying,” because sometimes in life you have to function alongside people who don’t like you, who don’t want the best for you, who frankly don’t give a shit about you.

But I suppose that day sitting across from that loathsome man who should have retired many years ago, who looked at my son as a bother, a dumb kid, a lazy kid, and wished he were somebody else’s problem—I suppose I knew somewhere that this is how you would always be viewed by some, and someday, you may view yourself that way, too, and give up.

Because nobody at school cares about the way you build or understand engines. There’s no test for building complex Lego designs with working parts and tying crazy ass knots, cooking and baking and loving your family. There’s no assignment to demonstrate the way you never forget directions to a place, even if we only go once, and it’s really far away.

You told me when you were five you were “born with maps in your brain.” Everyone in the family – EVERYONE – asks you first, “Where are we parked? Was this the place? How do we get there again? Is this the exit?”

You tell us how you know. We don’t understand.

But that isn’t the intelligence that races to the top at school. It isn’t tested, viewed, understood, or praised. Nobody even knows you have it.

So what do I do, son?

Do I punish you? Ground you? Force you? Do I use mighty force?

Do I babysit you each and every night? Do I hold your hand every goddamn moment?

Do I yell FUCK THE SYSTEM and just let you fade into the dark, simply accepting you just aren’t a school guy? Some of us aren’t. There isn’t one path to genius, to “success,” to a good life.

Do I talk and talk and talk? We’ve done that so many times. The promises. The tears. We beg. We explain.


But what really kills me, my love, is that I remember the day when you walked into your classroom for the first time with your squared shoulders, carefree hope, and tiny backpack. Just like the other kids, you bounced to school. I remember your confidence and delight, you willingness and engagement – before you knew you were different, before you knew school wasn’t made for you.

I remember when reading didn’t quite matter yet (though those days were numbered). And as it slowly dawned on you, as teachers grew “concerned” (but oddly, strangely, infuriatingly, wouldn’t test for dyslexia until second grade, thereby simply letting you slip slip slip into oblivion right from the start), I remember the way your step slowed, your shoulders fell, your body folded in half on the bathroom floor as you felt the physical manifestation of unbearable anxiety and stress.

But you didn’t give up. And you wouldn’t give up, and something about your spirit kept you fighting, harder than me, than them, than I’ll ever understand.

Back then, by the time we got to the freeway after school, you were asleep, your head resting on your shoulder, or against the window. I’d watch you and think, Wow, how tired he must be after such a day of work.

And now, you’re 12 years old, in sixth grade, and I wonder if that spirit has been beaten out of you, or if you’re just a boy who’s bored. Have you given up? Have you screamed fuck this and fuck these people and fuck feeling stupid but most importantly FUCK THIS LEVEL OF WORK?

I want to tell you to try simply because you’re doing it. Because anything worth doing is worth doing well. Because every day you show up at that school, so do your goddamn best, right?

But when I think about my past, about something that was excruciatingly humiliating and difficult for me with virtually no returns whatsoever, I think about sports. God damn how I loathed PE. I was two left feet. I could never touch my toes. PE teachers glared at me from afar, wondering how I could possibly be that bad at literally everything. My softball coach hated me with a fiery passion. The useless, throw-away, non-player player.

I quit. No, I flipped it off and then quit. I didn’t care about sports and I would not try because the entire process was miserable, embarrassing, uncomfortable, and it was so obvious my talents lived, um, ELSEWHERE, that effort seemed pointless and futile.


Is that what you’re doing?

So here we are, the year before seventh grade, and a few days ago you were three assignments behind and I was an asshole.

Because I am afraid, son. I’m afraid and I cannot see the way. Where is school bullshit and where is it vital? Where do I push you and where do I hold back? Where does your dyslexia end and standard kid laziness begin?

God damnit where do I end and you begin?

How do I help you?


I guess what I’m trying to say is I love you. I’m here to learn. If I could take your hand and lead us, I would.

But what I really want is for you to take mine, though I wonder again if that’s how this sort of thing works. They say it’s on me. They say it’s my job to make you fit. I believe more it’s our job to carve some new way – you and me – into a world not quite ready for you.

After all, you’re the one with maps in your brain. Show us the way.



I wrote a book, and you can preorder it now.

And I’d really appreciate it.

Look what Publisher’s Weekly said about it:

“Hanchett offers a startling account of her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in this raw and riveting memoir….Readers will cheer Hanchett toward her triumphant recovery.”

Raw and riveting! Yay! I promise there aren’t that many exclamation marks in the book. Nobody likes that many exclamation marks. Okay bye.

After 16 years as a mother, I’ve learned they all lied.

by renegademama

They are a bunch of liars.


You know, “they.” The ubiquitous “they.”

The ones who “wrote the book” on parenting literally and figuratively, whose narratives we repeat like mantras though perhaps we aren’t totally sure why, or from whence they came, or whether or not they’re true. The ones who tell us what to do and how to do it and what will happen if we don’t, but somehow remain faceless, nameless – although there’s always that one in mom groups and internet threads who appears to be their proud spokesperson.

I’ve been a mother for sixteen years to four children, and what I’ve learned above all is that they fucking lie.

They told me if I keep my baby in my bed, he’ll never get out. They said he’ll grow so dependent on me he’ll pretty much literally never leave the crook of my arm.

Well, let me tell you something: Last week, my three-year-old looked me in the eyes and announced that he would like to “sleep in his room with the other kids” and now, sure as shit, the little fucker abandoned me. My last baby.

Even naps.

You think I want him out of my bed? Of course I do.

Until now that he’s out. Now my bed feels empty and I miss his sweaty little head and somehow his absence reminds me of my own aging body and the fact that it’s all going to end and also I’m going to die and my spring chicken baby birthing days are over and I WANTED MORE TIME. Perhaps I’m taking this a little far.

Nonetheless, my plan was to have him in there next to me until whenever the fuck he wants because he is my last baby, and all of my babies (okay fine, except George because she hates human near her at night) have been tucked against me at night, and I loved it, and I hated it, but this one? This one I was never kicking out, so I just let him be there, unquestionably, and now he’s moved out before he can thoroughly wipe his own ass.

They lied. Goddamn scam artists.

They lied about having 18 years with kids. You don’t get 18 years. You get like 12 years – or maybe nine years – because they change, okay? They CHANGE. They become these weird, somewhat distant hormone people who don’t play on the beach anymore. They sit on their phones and eat Doritos and complain about your parenting.

Another lie.

They promised if we did right by our kids we could save them from becoming self-centered, myopic teenagers who think they know every goddamn thing even though they’ve never paid a bill and somehow can never, ever, find the motherfucking cheese in the cheese drawer or remember to pack a toothbrush.

Wait. Maybe I invented that.

At any rate, that too is a lie. Even the really fucking good kids (as opposed to, say, me as a teenager) turn into know-it-all specimens of glory who occasionally run like tornadoes through the house, sucking the life out of all humans around them while you write a check for their iPhone bill.

They’re there in body, but gone in so many child ways – and it’s exactly as it should be, and it’s fucking excruciating.

I also seem to recall them promising that the difficulty of teenagers will result in everyone feeling totally ready for said teenager to move out. I don’t want her to go. She’s “supposed” to go in less than two years. (Who made that rule? Is that a lie, too? Probably.)

The concept of her departure feels like getting my teeth yanked out of my head without anesthetic. Or somebody removing my lung for no apparent reason. I liked that lung, alright, assholes?

Until those tornadoes happen, and I look at Mac and say, “Imma kill your kid.” But mostly, I lie awake at 2am thinking about two years. Two years. Two years. And I think my heart may shred into oblivion.

She looked at us on New Year’s Eve and said, “I can’t ever be away from you guys. How will I ever be away from my family?”


Oh, it feels like lies. All of those rules and stories and guidelines. It all feels like a wilting Band-Aid over a gaping wound, a pathetic attempt to contain the un-containable, and I don’t believe them any more.

Did I ever?

Maybe I did. I used to have these voices in my head: Don’t use bottles. Don’t strictly breastfeed. Don’t introduce more than one food a week. Don’t pick them up whenever they cry. Don’t hold them constantly. Don’t yell. Don’t hide your feelings.

Don’t be the broken human you definitely are.

I did all those things, and didn’t do many more things, and with every child, it changes, and I change, and I don’t change at all – and they still, no matter what, leave my bed and then, I guess, my home.

I wish I could hold the faces of every woman just becoming a mother and look them straight in the eyes and say: “They lie. Do motherhood the way you do motherhood. THEY. DON’T. KNOW. YOU.”

You don’t have to kick them out of your bed. You don’t have to not hold them. You don’t have to sleep train or not sleep train and you don’t have to nurse or not nurse (on a schedule!) and you can do the Santa thing or not and still, always, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the weirdness and glory of your own little family and the way it keeps going and going into tomorrow.

Your fucked up ways. Your perfection. Your destruction.

I suppose I always knew they were full of shit, because though their voices whispered to me, I ultimately did whatever I felt deep in my bones was right for us. I noticed quite quickly that the entire game of parenthood changes depending on who you’re talking to, and it isn’t a matter of truth or rightness, it’s a matter of, um, who you are talking to.

I was told I had to have an epidural because I was “too young to handle that pain,” and couldn’t nurse on demand or co-sleep or hold them literally all the fucking time because I want to – because I would “spoil them” and “make them dependent” and now, funny thing, everyone tells me how “independent” my kids are – but that’s not why I’m glad I did it.

I’m not glad because it is right or true or good, but because it was in my heart to mother that way – because it was how I was mothered – because it was how my husband fathers, and it turns out “they” were wrong anyway.

My way isn’t right, but it’s mine. And your way is yours.

So can we all, please, for the love of god, just trust that? On the day their fuzzy heads fall on pillows in another room, or another house, it feels good to know you led them there with your heart, with all you ever had, not as the best mother, but as the mother you are.

In a world of screaming demands, it’s a powerful thing to simply be who we are, to let the whole of our lives drive the show – everything we want, value, challenge and know.

And to my friends about to have babies: I trust you.

(They’re just trying to sell us shit anyway.)

Fuck ‘em. All of them. Those kids aren’t in your family for nothin’. We get to be the beautiful freaks we were meant to be. It feels, at the last, like truth.





Sorry for yelling, but want to join me in September on Cortes Island in British Columbia for a writing retreat? Of course you do. I am absolutely delighted and honored to have been invited to teach at the wonderful non-profit Hollyhock.

We’ll be staying four days together in a house on the ocean, eating food grown right there on the island, spending our days talking about writing, walking in nature (the co-founder of Hollyhock was also a founder of Greenpeace, largely inspired by this land), and doing yoga, if you’re into that sort of thing – maybe this will the be the year I become a yogi. Ha.

I’ve been told it’s like standing on the edge of the world. Maybe it’s heaven.

Also, please note that scholarships are available.



39 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | January 4, 2018

2017 is over and I’m still confused

by renegademama

I’ve tried six times to write something to you today. Something about 2017. Something funny, maybe. Or something heartfelt. You know, all deep and hopeful and shit. But it all felt wrong.

Everything I wrote felt wrong—an infuriating feeling—when words simply cannot say a goddamn thing and it all feels forced and pathetic. The humor feels flat. The depth, fake.

Nothing but frustration. Nothing but irritation. Nothing but wanting to walk away.

Eventually, I did walk away, and went about my day, finally realizing hours later: “Confusion, Janelle. That’s what you feel. That’s why you can’t write about 2017. Because 2017 was a year of confusion. So of course you’re confused trying to write about it now.” Fucking confusion.

That was 2017 for me.

Mind-numbing, dizzying, whiplash days of utter confusion. It isn’t spectacular for the creative process, I’ll tell you that much. I try not to write unless I have something to say (weird, I know), but 2017 was characterized by a million attempts to contain the incomprehensible, by the feeling of “tomorrow, maybe tomorrow something will make sense,” only to find in tomorrow a bigger hit than today’s.

Back into the maelstrom of where the fuck am I?


2017 began for me with a tragedy that felt like the cruelest, most unnecessary slam against my family – like a kick straight to the jaw when you’re already bleeding on the ground.

I woke on January 1 to my husband standing in my bedroom doorway, saying, “Janelle! I went into Ava’s room and Laser is dead in there.” Our five-year-old Labrador died on New Year’s Eve during the night by suffocating in an insulated lunch bag that had a single candy wrapper in it.

A fucking lunch bag killed my dog.


Beyond the cruelty of the death of our pup was its timing. It happened six weeks after my grandmother was murdered by my cousin, which happened five weeks after the natural death of my grandfather.

My grandmother. Stabbed. Gone. She was old, but she wasn’t done.

Everything I thought I knew of my family, of safety, of living on earth, was gone. Between moments of terror and crushing grief, I felt confusion.

How? Why? HOW?

The year of confusion.

I spent the first day of 2017 pacing my house almost in a fugue, repeating the words, “Not our dog, too…not our dog, too…”

I knew then 2017 was going to be bullshit.

But I didn’t need the death of my pup to know that. I knew Trump was coming, and I knew it would be horrendous. And it was. It is.


Watching a man that evil run our country – a racist, misogynistic, ignorant, compulsively lying bully – but even worse, watching people support him. Watching the sycophantic GOP kiss his ass to make sure their tax scam passed, watching them fall in line through all his juvenile, dangerous, insane tweets and attacks of the free press – the sacred America institution of the motherfucking free press. His obvious guilt. His ignorance. His manipulation. His obvious racism and misogyny and threats to democracy.

He claims absolute right over our judicial system.

And they do nothing.


Money. Oligarchy. Here we are. I want to scream HOW DO YOU NOT SEE? WHY DON’T YOU CARE?

I get why the GOP doesn’t care, but what about everyday people? Family members. Trump supporters I know.

How do they not see?


Dizzying, mind-numbing, stunning confusion. How. Where. What. No.

I watch women and men fight and fight and kick and scream and call and write their representatives. Nothing. They don’t give a fuck. We have no power. We have no power. Why do we try.


I watch my hope dwindle. I watch it fade into damn near nothing. I wonder if I care anymore.

I read James Baldwin’s words on hope. I feel the weight of my own pathetic nature. I don’t even remember what he said. I only recall how his words made me feel.

White middle-class woman with healthcare in California. Oh, get over your fucking self, Janelle. Who are you to get all despondent? Who are you to lose hope?

But what do I do?


My words were gone.

And yet, they weren’t. I wrote a whole goddamn book in 2017. I wrote 320 pages of sentences. I wrote them one word at a time, for hours, weeks, months at a time. Rewrote them twenty times. Wrote them again. I wrote a book I had in me for eight years.

I’d rent a motel room for the weekend and write for 18 hours. That was how I did it. That was how I wrote. I left my family. I left it all. I hid out. It felt weird and wrong and wonderful. It was joy and excitement and creation.

And that, too, was confusing. Because here I am in hell living my goddamn dream. Here I am in hell with a pocket of heaven carved out just for me. A book? Fuck. Nah, not me. Not my life.

And yet, there I was. Here I am. All at the same damn time.


But a book is different from a blog. I got lost in my book, in the story, in the sentences fading to the next, in the tinkering of the grammar, the arc of the narrative, the woven themes and the problems I just cannot figure out. I could hide there. I could forget I was even on earth.

But the blog? Shit. That’s a conversation. That’s what’s going on right now, each day, and all I had for that was confusion.

And I still don’t have anything funny to say, anything profound or helpful about 2017. It was a bullshit year, but I learned some things.

I learned I can write through unimaginable pain. I learned meaning is not “found,” it is created. It doesn’t drop from the cosmos in one glorious bubble. It is sculpted and molded with our hands, maybe because we’ll die if we don’t make something out of the seemingly meaningless pain of our lives.

I suppose, too, what I learned is that there are times in life when your footing is removed, when the path is obliterated, when your feet can hardly see where to land at all – and shit gets weird there. It gets tense and terrifying and exhausting, but goddamnit it gets wild, it gets creative, it gets resistant and pissed off and somehow, through the din of the lies and basest nature of humanity, rises the sound of a few million people making meaning, looking to tomorrow, refusing to accept the confusion is for nothing.

So Happy Fucking New Year, friends. Good Riddance, you piece of shit, 2017, and while the pain may be our confusion, it will never be our undoing.

And that’s something almost like hope.

Mac and I saw this a couple weeks ago on our 17th wedding anniversary. It didn’t suck.

12 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | December 31, 2017