Thank you, Powell's.

Thank you, Powell's.

2017 Book of the Year in Creative Nonfiction, Chicago Review of Books.

Press is here.

That incredible cover was designed by Joanne O'Neill. 

Aimee Levitt at the Chicago Reader asked the people I write about to write about what it feels like to be written about me. 

A woman on Twitter named Janet asked if there was a playlist with all the music mentioned in the book. I made one for her. 

Below are some reference materials for each of the essays. 


I Am Still Fighting With My Big and Small Fears

"I Am Still Fighting With My Big and Small Fears But Lately I Seem To Be Winning," by Jasmin Siddiqui of Herakut. I love her work so much. Patrick at Vertical Gallery in Chicago first showed it to me.

Sky Above Clouds IV, Georgia O'Keefe.

The Counted: People killed by police in the US, The Guardian.

"The Trump Effect: The Impact of the 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation's Schools," Southern Poverty Law Center.

ten, or The Little Girl Character

The Incredible Hulk opening credits 1978.

"Ten Meter Tower," by Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson for the New York Times Op-Docs. This scared the shit out of me.

Here is My Heart


If I Had a Boat, Lyle Lovett.

Look For the Helpers, Fred Rogers.

The oddest package.

Maybe We Can Make a Circle, by Nicole Piasecki for Hippocampus. This is one of the best essays I have ever read. It is poetic and furious and difficult and breathtaking. 


Stand Here To Save Lives

"Step into my film school! The importance of casting in breaking open movie stereotypes," Jennifer Peepas for Feministe.

Exercises for Rebel Artists: Radical Performance Pedagogy, Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Roberto Sifuentes.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, bell hooks.

"To Establish Justice at the Gates," Justin Campbell for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

"How Universities Embolden White Nationalists," Marcia Chatelain for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

twenty, or Good Lord, It's Me Jane

PJ Harvey's "Me-Jane," off her 1993 album Rid of Me (bonus: here she is doing "Rid of Me" live)

Me and my mom in Florence circa 1994. She's a fox, right?

Me and my mom in Florence circa 1994. She's a fox, right?

"We Asked Men How They Learned About Sexual Consent. Their Answers Were Predictably Disturbing," Marisa Kabas for Fusion.

"Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker," Katie J.M. Baker for Buzzfeed.
... to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. 

The Build Up To and Takeaway From

This Essay is Done

"If You Want to Carry a Gun on Campus, These States Say Yes," Nick Anderson for the Washington Post.

"University Presidents' Perceptions and Practice Regarding the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College Campuses," Journal of American College Health, volume 62, issue 7, 2014.

"How They Got Their Guns," New York Times.

"This is How Chicago Gets Flooded With Illegal Guns," Tom McKay for Mic.

"Igor Volsky Shames Politicians Who Send 'Prayers' and Accept NRA Contributions," Heather Dockray for Mashable.

thirty, or Come Here Fear

Here is Joy Harjo reading "A Poem To Get Rid of Fear." I have read this piece a thousand times. It has saved me a thousand times.

Me and Jeff, circa 1997?

Me and Jeff, circa 1997?

Me and Lott, 2000-ish. We are teaching something, I think? I am hitting myself in the head with a water bottle?

Me and Lott, 2000-ish. We are teaching something, I think? I am hitting myself in the head with a water bottle?

Me and Dia. 2003?

Me and Dia. 2003?

Course of One's Life

"The Great Shame of Our Profession: How the Humanities Survive on Exploitation," by Kevin Birmingham for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Some Rules For Teachers and Students, by Sister Corita Kent for the Immaculate Heart College Art Department, via John Cage, via Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.

What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain.

"Troy," Sinead O'Connor.


The Blogger's Wife

"If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS," Lindy West for This American Life.

"The End of Empathy," Stephanie Wittels Wachs at Medium.

"Under the Influence of Ideals," Mary Jo Bang at Fence.

"Is Your Boyfriend In The Band? Critic Airs Tales of Music Industry Sexism," Amanda Holpuch for The Guardian.

Symphony No. 9 in D minor: Ode to Joy.

"The Girl in the Cabinet (I Read What You Wrote and I Hate You)," Melissa Chadburn for Electric Literature.

"A Poem to get Rid of Fear," Joy Harjo.

What Belongs To Us

This is the greatest photo that has ever been taken.

This is the greatest photo that has ever been taken.

Here is my essay about healing from postpartum depression by stalking my neighbor with a wireless video baby monitor. I first wrote it to perform with 2nd Story. It was first published at The Rumpus and later selected by Cheryl Strayed for the Best American Essays. I recorded it for Radio National Australia and Snap Judgment and talked about it for The Longest Shortest Time. 

"Thirteen," Big Star.

The Ragdale Foundation has supported me several times with the gift of time and space. It's a dream. Apply!  

I started this book at a workshop with the 2nd Story storytelling collective in Chicago. Most people spend their lives looking for an artistic home. This is mine.


Real and Imaginary Ghosts

Postpartum Progress is a great resource for women with postpartum depression. They talk about symptoms here.

I wrote about writing the baptism scene for Poets & Writers.

"Please," The Nylons.



We Say and Do Kind Things

sophia 2.jpeg

Sarah and I performed this essay together for 2nd Story. I love this version. I love her voice. I love her. 

Here is more information about Sophia and her journey, and ways that we can help kick pediatric cancer in the ass.

Since the book came out, I've received hundreds of emails asking about Sophia and her health. Thank you for those emails. I wrote a follow-up for Tin House for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month about what it means to be aware. 

Here is Little Bad Wolf, the bar where Sarah and I go drinking to talk about things that aren't cancer. Thank you to the staff who takes such great care of us.

Thank you to Chicago writer Sheila Quirke at Mary Tyler Mom for sharing the story of her daughter, Donna. I'm also grateful for the work of Michelle Mirsky about her son Lev, and Emily Rapp Black on her son Ronan.  

The Wrong Way to Save Your Life

Sam Alden  drew this illustration of us for the New York Times.

Sam Alden drew this illustration of us for the New York Times.

"The Burning House: What People Would Take if the House Was on Fire," Foster Huntington via Maria Popova at Brainpickings.

"My education has done me great harm," Diaries 1910, Kafka.

Tools or Weapons Depending On Your Translation

I add to this list all the time.