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Crawl Like Ivy Up My Spine

Chris Cornell ended his life in Detroit Wednesday night, close to where I live. Farewell to another voice of my youth.

Here he is performing just last year in Michigan.



At times like this, it's easy to fall back on "Black Days" and all the other lyrics and quotes that seem to portend the suicide of the artist. It's easy to grieve that way. And I suppose it isn't wrong either. Our demigods of grunge were able to vocalize human pain so poignantly because they called out from a deep pit of mental illness and addiction. These weren't people who ever enjoyed the expectations of bright futures or lingering happy ever afters.

Yes, this loss is tragic and heartbreaking, and the inevitability of it feels hopeless. But there's another way to look at suicide after 50 by an artist working through intense, lifelong suffering. I guess it's a life expectancy half-fulfilled vs. half-achieved philosophy. With some struggles, every day of survival is a triumph. In some…
Recent posts

Underwriting My Writing Space

Noveling is a long game, so I've taken this whole week off to work on refinancing my house! This place is, after all, my favorite place to write.


Apparently, the "odd" qualities that Justin and I sought in a home have become hot on the market, and some things that weren't perfect about our location have improved over the past 10 years. This has resulted in the equity fairy coming by and leaving a low mortgage interest rate under our pillows while we slept. We are therefore trying to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to reduce the duration of our loan, which will pay off big for us around the time our daughter graduates high school.

We've learned to appreciate long-term investments.

Just a week ago, we celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary. We reflected, with affection and humor, upon the ways in which we are still the same and the ways in which we have evolved since the early days of our relationship. This long-term commitment thing has turned out …

A Good Romance: 10-Year Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 10th wedding anniversary!


Justin and I met in high school and started dating in college. When we were kids, it seemed like we had known each other foreverrrrr before we started dating and had been together foreverrrrr before we got married. (Back then, "forever" meant a few years.) Now we have a six-year-old daughter and homeowners insurance. How'd that happen?
Justin and I have always valued fun, creativity, and authenticity over perfection, and I'm happy to say that, looking back, our party/prep/wedding pictures display those values. Our photos were taken by photojournalists, which means less Photoshop magic and more silly candid shots. Prettiness is inevitable in a crowd of young people in the springtime, but our photographers did truly beautiful work capturing the excitement and raw emotion and true memories of the events.
We started the festivities with a coed bachelor[ette] party in our downtown slum apartment, which also served as the accommodati…

A Bad Romance Starring Till Lindemann, Sophia Thomalla, Gavin Rossdale, Simone Thomalla, Sven Martinek, Andy LaPlegua, and Leila Lowfire

To misquote Gaga, "I don't speak German, but I can look at foreign tabloids and guess what's going on if you like."


I guess it would be more professional and ladylike for me to be above this sordid celebrity gossip, but I'm not. I'm so not.


So let's see if I've got this straight. From what I gather...


Metalgod Till Lindemann, 54, and model Sophia Thomalla, 27 (upper left) recently exited a five-year, on-off, opennish relationship, which began when Sophia's actress mother Simone (upper right, in the center) and Simone's then-lover (between her marriages to nubile young athletes) actor Sven Martinek (lower left, in the center), who is famous for his lead role in German TV show Der Clown (lower right) thought it would be cute to set Sophia up with their pal Till. Apparently, the 22-year-old Sophia was not repulsed at her parental figures setting her up with a drinking buddy significantly older than her mom, which absolutely makes sense when the d…

Have a Grimm Earth Day (and World Book Day) with Kilian Schönberger Photography

Kilian Schönberger is a German landscape photographer who takes glorious nature shots in many lands. He recently released a book showcasing the results of his "Brothers Grimm Homeland" project to capture the moods of the settings of German folk myths, sagas, legends, and fairy tales.


Sagenhaftes Deutschland: Eine Reise zu Mythischen Orten (Fabulous Germany: A Trip though Mythical Places) is now available for purchase to adorn your coffee table.

Kilian also posts gorgeous photos online to pretty up the internet. Just gazing at one of these shots for a few seconds de-stresses and inspires me while I'm working on the computer.

Earth Day is April 22, and World Book Day is April 23. It's fine to explore the beauty of nature and literature online, but also be sure to hug a live tree and read a dead one this week!

The Magic Nutshell in a Novel

I have begun outlining a new novel, featuring the magic nutshell, the folkloric object for which this blog is named.


My new project is historical fiction, not fantasy, though it will draw from folktale traditions, like The Grove of Thorismud. My new work will not be a retelling of well-known fairy tales that have passed through the Disney canon, and the only "magic" in the story will be the wonder found within the chaos of ordinary life. Although the setting will be similar, I'm painting it with a different palette.

This story will be a brother-sister transformation journey along 11th century trade routes between the Baltic Sea and the Silk Road, from the wilds near Prague to Constantinople. The main characters will be runaway children on a "road trip" via water. Its plot and characters will draw from folkloric gender-twins "Allerleirauh" (German) and "The Widow's Son" (Norse), with elements of overlapping tales "Princess Mouseskin&…

Taking Several Seats

When I was an honors student, I learned to pay attention by talking. If that sounds counter-intuitive, it is. I was so sleep-deprived in high school that I knew I would fall asleep if I had to listen to someone else talk for more than a few minutes at a time, so I stayed awake by participating relentlessly. I asked questions, spouted off random opinions, and argued jovially with teachers and other students. The strategy served me well, especially in honors English, where word count earns points, independent of content quality. (Of course, this extends into some realms of university academia, with hilarious/infuriating results.)

After my junior year, I managed to score a bullsh*t senior year when I took only one real high school class along with some community college courses. Sometime during that year, I re-learned how to listen. I remember realizing, somehow, that I was becoming insufferable in conversation. And once I had succeeded at eliminating busywork and dramallamas from my eve…