On Not Sleeping

I have not been able to get out of bed since August.

I’ve had insomnia for years, and fatigue forever, but it was August when I stopped working full time and consequently fell into this hazy, open space. Freelancing allows for my situation; for that I am grateful.

But I am still searching for the reason I have been so tired lately, so needy for my bed that when I am out and away from it, living, I fantasize about the sleep I so rarely get.

I suppose it started with the medicines I take, how awful the prednisone is. It certainly has to do with my illness, how so much of my time in bed is spent rocking back and forth in silent pain. It has to do with how much water I drink and how that lends itself to waking from a dream to pee and then padding, barefoot, back to my bed, where the dim light of my computer on the bed stand appeals to me, if only just to check the time.

But once the glow has captured me, my brain repsonds to the light and I have checked Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, nymag.com, the Times and looked at an entire photo album of a long-forgotten friend’s baby. I am tempted to leave comments here, at this time, 4 in the morning. I ‘like’ things instead, my brain fully jolted awake but my fingers unwilling to type, to write, to make use of this time.

So many of my nights lay in this vast wasteland of time that does not really seem to matter or count because I am not doing much. I read sometimes, articles and beautifully rendered essays recommended by the writers and friends on Twitter. I have at least ten open tabs with stories willing to be read, but most of the time I am too tired to do that.

It is easier to click like than it is to comment and it’s easier to watch three hours of 30 Rock than it is to read something I should read, because it is right and plus, everyone else has.

My days are lost too, now. I sleep but not until the morning sun has invaded my room, lighting up my bed, its tangled sheets proof of my kicking and flailing in my sleep. The pain is easier in my sleep, but it all leads to here, this consciousness that does not fade until seven or eight am. And so I sleep until mid-afternoon.

I’ve been called lazy but this is not just laziness, not all of the time. I wish it was just that, because that, perhaps, is easier to fix.

But I am sick, and I have proof of that to show you, if you wish. I don’t want to show anyone, or explain blood tests and what having lupus and missing a thyroid will do to you. I’m tired of explaining this to people who should know better, and I’m tired of not being the person I want to be, the person who reads more and drinks in moderation. The person who somehow says less and in doing that, says more. I want to be her, the best version of me, the me I am sure is possible, with some coffee and some self-awareness...

But first, I’d really like some sleep.


Dan's Favorite Things of 2011! (He's just like Oprah.)


I totally helped Dan do this.

(I cannot believe he didn’t include the members-only fan clup EP that Hanson released.)

Honorable Mentions: The First Day of Spring, Noah and the Whale; The Whole Love, Wilco; Bon Iver, Bon Iver; Rome, Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi; A Creature I Don’t Know, Laura Marling

10. Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Fitz + The Tantrums

9. So Beautiful Or So What, Paul Simon

8. Whokill, tUnE-yArDs

7. The Harrow + The Harvest, Gillian Welch

6. I Am Very Far, Okkervil River

5. Strange Mercy, St. Vincent

4. Let England Shake, PJ Harvey

3. Barton Hollow, The Civil Wars

2. Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Girls

1. Helplessness Blues, The Fleet Foxes (“We couldn’t get enough of these guys.”)

FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2011 (In Dan's Words)
Time for @UffishL’s + my 2nd annual top 10 films of 2011. (Actually not our 2nd list of 2011—our 2nd annual list. But I bet you knew that.)

Our strict criteria: We had to really really like the films. If we didn’t agree, @UffishL threatened me. Anyway, the list: Honorable mention: Martha Marcy May Marlene; Midnight in Paris; The Way; Weekend; Young Adult
10. Buck 

9. The Trip

8. The Double Hour (La Doppia Ora)

7. Certified Copy

6. Hugo

5. Win Win

4. Higher Ground

3. The Artist

2. Project Nim. 

And our favorite movie of 2011; 1. Tree of Life. (Editor's note: Kelly concurs!) 

It had Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, dinosaurs—and the meaning of life!

FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2011 (In Dan's Words) 
My #top10books is my fave list from 2011, so @julieklam + I have saved for last the list of books that captured our hearts, etc this year:
Honorable mention: 1861, by Adam Goodheart; Helvetica and the New York City Subway System, by Paul Shaw; State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett; The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht; Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

10. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
9. Mr. Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi
8. The Wilder Years, by Wendy McClure
7. The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson
6. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
5. The Tragedy of Arthur, by Arthur Phillips 

4. Starting From Happy, by Max Patty
3. Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante
2. Zone One, by Colson Whitehead
1. Say Her Name, by Francisco Goldman (Editor's note: KELLY CONCURS AGAIN! READ THIS NOW!)


In Which I Brag That I Can Read

Inspired and a wee bit intimidated by Elliott Holt's 2011 reading list, I sat down today in avoidance of a deadline and set upon the arduous task of listing every single book I read in 2011.

At the start of the year, I hoped to read 70 books. A quick look at my Netflix queue might have you guess, correctly, that I failed. I truly believe the list would be a lot longer if I hadn't wasted four hours watching the Kardashian marriage, if "articles about Zac Hanson" counted as books, if I hadn't watched the entire run of Family Ties on Netflix, and if I hadn’t wasted all that time reading Mormon mommy blogs working.

I reread a lot of old books. Some I revisited out of nostalgia; some out of that itchy feeling that I couldn't remember exactly what had happened. I reread a few childhood favorites when I was in the hospital and recovering. (I ordered a Judy Blume set off Amazon when I was sad/drunk one night.) I made quite a few lifestyle changes this year; that should excuse the two self-help books on the list, both by Kris Carr, cancer pioneer.

I’m a firm believer that what we read shapes and changes us; that investing our time in literature and nonfiction not only makes us smarter, but better, too; that we very may well be what we read. (In that case, I’m an adult child who loves depressing memoirs!)

And with that said, I present everything I can remember reading in 2011. The items in bold are my favorite new reads that came out this year or last. The books are listed in no particular order, except the last few that are currently being read.

I command thee to go forth and read!

  1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling
  2. Henry IV, William Shakespeare
  3. The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach
  4. Bossypants, Tina Fey
  5. Blueprints for Building Better Girls, Elissa Schappell
  6. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor (reread)
  7. Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Susan Jane Gilman (reread)
  8. Everything is Wrong With Me, Jason Mulgrew
  9. Half a Life: A Memoir, Darin Strauss
  10. Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares (Don’t judge. I had to see how it ended!)
  11. Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan
  12. The Long Goodbye, Meghan O'Rourke
  13. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
  14. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (reread)
  15. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn
  16. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  17. The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman
  18. Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett (reread)
  19. Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy (reread)
  20. Say Her Name: A Novel, Francisco Goldman
  21. An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken
  22. Love at First Bark, Julie Klam
  23. Great House, Nicole Krauss
  24. Just Kids, Patti Smith
  25. A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
  26. The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson
  27. This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
  28. Love and Obstacles, Aleksander Hemon
  29. A Widow's Walk, Marian Fontana (reread)
  30. Are You There Vodka, It's Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Handler (Okay, judge me.)
  31. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume (reread)
  32. Other People We Married, Emma Straub
  33. The Ticking is the Bomb, Nick Flynn
  34. Crazy Sexy Diet, Kris Carr
  35. Crazy Sexy Cancer, Kris Carr
  36. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee (Shit, I read a lot about cancer.)
  37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling (reread)
  38. Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose, Adrienne Rich
  39. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Raymond Carver (reread)
  40. Blue Nights, Joan Didion
  41. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  42. Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead
  43. The Summer Before, Ann M. Martin (I wasn’t kidding.)
  44. Fudge-a-mania, Judy Blume
  45. Superfudge, Judy Blume
  46. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (much better than Chelsea)
  47. [sic]: A Memoir, Joshua Cody
  48. The Two Kinds of Decay, Sarah Manguso (reread for the millionth time)
  49. Complications, Atwul Gwande
  50. Swamplandia, Karen Russell (in progress)
  51. This is Not Your City, Caitlin Horrocks (in progress)
  52. Zone One, Colson Whitehead (in progress)


In Which I Am Thankful

Warning: this is another one of those awful end of the year blog posts. My apologies. There’s a new FAQ section up top that is potentially more entertaining than the following.

It’s 75 and sunny as I write this atop my roof, staring at mountains and the Los Angeles skyline. It is Thanksgiving weekend, but it feels like July. If I could say one thing about this year, I would say it feels like July. Time has stopped, the weather is hot, there is suntan lotion on my face: it must be July.

But the turkeys doth protest! It is November. The year is coming to a rapid close.

I am ashamed to note that I have been writing this blog for three years, three years worth of billable hours and insomniac ramblings. At the end of each year, I usually say something to sum up the year. "Well, this year sucked but then everything was okay."

An honest disclosure and then an "it's okay", just in case anyone thought I was ungrateful for my good fortune, or that I failed to realize it could all be so much worse.

I wrote that "everything was alright" even if I was unsure I believed it, because I was in denial, and denial is so very cozy.
Hi Denial! So nice to see you. Is that a drink in your hand?

I've been sick since I was ten months old. I actually don't know anything else. But until a few years ago, I had cried approximately three times about the isolating cycle of doctors, specialists, hospitals and extreme pain. I just didn't cry. It wasn't allowed. I didn't even cry to the shrink my parents sent me to at 16, when they discovered pot under my bed. (I still maintain the marijuana was not mine.) 

Instead of crying, or showing normal emotion, I was a secretive mess of anger and sadness. Three cheers for healthy coping habits!

Sicker than I've ever been, I spent much of the past 18 months bitter I could not relate to the easy, loping gait of my healthy friends and peers. I was jealous of what seemed to be an easy existence. I envied the way they walked quickly and without feeling, how they lifted their legs and moved without pain.

I believed that stoicism equaled strength; that crying constituted weakness; that by divulging the secret that illness devastates, I would not be the Kelly everyone knew. I would not be funny, happy-go-lucky, strong.

It sunk me, this anger and depression. It affected my work, my relationship, my friendships. And my Duane Reade, who got a boost in Xanax sales.

I sought to anesthetize. I drank a lot. I said and did stupid, mean things that I am still struggling to understand and apologize for. I nearly ruined friendships that took years to build. I hurt the person closest to me. I was brutal to myself and I see now that I was brutal to others. (This post should actually be titled: “This year, I’m thankful I was forced into therapy.”)

In August, I moved out of my apartment in New York and came home to recover from July's hospitalization. I went on a trip to Colorado, a trip with fellow cancer survivors that quite literally changed my life. A trip that opened me up to the possibility of living a full life with illness, without denying its existence. And that changed everything.

Living your life twice is no easy feat. But I guess that's what I am trying to do. To remove myself from the past me--the Kelly who dealt with this illness in a shitty way, the Kelly who used it as an excuse for bad behavior, the Kelly who hid. 

I am trying to live again so I am still myself, but a better version of me, someone who does not run headfirst toward self-destruction.

This year I found a good way to go down in flames and then I turned around and found out how to stay away. And I wouldn't have done that without you.

So as the year comes to a close, I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful I live here in LA, a place I need to be. I’m grateful to Solo Survivors and Tracy Maxwell, who sent me on that trip down the Colorado River. I’m thankful for everyone who reads this blog and for the daily encouragement I get from you. The cards, emails, tweets, gift baskets--I am thankful for the love that sailed me through the sick this year. I’m also thankful for Friday Night Lights, just because of this:

Thank you to everyone who tried to be the change I desperately needed, who saw when I was flailing and calmed me. I hope to pay all this love forward.

Into the brightness we go.  


Couch to BENGAY: In Which I Plead for Help

I've been running* on and off since August, when I was beginning to recover from my last hospitalization.

I ran for awhile Monday and then I took Tuesday off because I had to work go eat Mexican food and drink margaritas. (They were only a dollar!)

But for the past two days, I haven't had the energy to continue with my routine.

I am aware that it is hard to get back into shape. And the non-denial part of my brain is aware that this may be harder for someone with my, um, colorful medical history.

HOWEVER, I'm extremely competitive and want to be as good or better than everyone else participating in this stupid 5K! Which I am admittedly only running because there's a pancake breakfast at the end.

I mean, I'm so competitive that I once threw a Monopoly board out my second-story window when I lost a game to my cousins. At age 8, I chucked a Ouija board at my sister's head when we failed to bring John Candy back from the dead. I'm basically like Sydney from this week's Parenthood.


And so when I lose a couple of days to, you know, LUPUS and swollen joints and possible kidney problems (more on that later), I get pissed. And whiny.

I need your help, fellow new runners. I need some inspiration. A video of a three-legged dog running a marathon, or a sweet running playlist. (My current one is all Paul Simon, which contributes to the tears streaming down my face, which I lie and say is sweat.)

So please, dear Internet. Gimme what ya got. Show me what runners are made of.


*My 'running' is really me talking/jogging while screaming WHY GOD WHY and SKINNINESS IS THE ONLY WAY TO WIN MOTHER'S LOVE! (JK Mom, love you.)


Things I Said While Watching Beauty and the Beast

  1. This was totally my favorite movie as a child. I am sure Walt Disney wasn't a misogynist!
  2. Aw, look. Misogyny.
  3. Gaston: not bad. I'd hit that.
  4. Maurice definitely had Alzheimer's, right? Aw.
  5. Do NOT go in the wood, dumbass!
  6. Belle had a one hell of a case of Stockholm Syndrome.
  7. Wait! The Beast is only supposed to be 21 years old!?
  8. THAT is four years younger than me...
  10. Man, Belle’s hair is better than mine. Them some chestnut locks!
  11. Aw, Chip. I totally had a crush on Chip, A CARTOON TEACUP, as a child...
  12. Which explains my current crush on our blender, Bob.
  13. Oh God. It’s midnight on a Saturday. The wine store is closed!
  14. So Belle just falls in love with him even though he kept her captive. Yeah, that's some Patty Hearst shit right there.
  15. This is not as romantic as I once thought--
  17. This is the most beautiful movie ever.
  18. You know, aside from the Beast’s mullet, and misogyny, and that really scary tower scene...
  19. Oh God. I'm going to die alone.


    Four Weeks, One Day: a Non-Poem

    Things have changed
    so I suppose
    I have changed them.
    And maybe
    I have changed too.
    This year's theme might just be change.

    The night gets cool here
    and smells crisp,
    like home.
    I'm often without a coat,
    because the days are so warm.
    I was sunburned yesterday sitting outside,
    writing at a cafe,
    looking at celebrities.
    Or their husbands.

    There are a lot of beautiful people here,
    but I do not resent the effort it takes to live here,
    the way I did in New York.
    And it does take effort!
    Effort to truck across town,
    to wait at a light for twenty minutes.
    The traffic here is as bad as they say,
    but the moments between moments
    are savored.
    Forced quiet
    forced thought
    forced optimism.

    There have been bad days,
    and last week I was so sick and delirious
    I almost booked a flight home.
    In the thick of the sick (ness),
    I forget life on the outside.
    Those days, it doesn't mean anything to me
    to feel the burn of the sun marking your skin.
    It is forgotten.

    But I'm back outside now,
    and breathing this different air.
    This new air snaking through my body,
    whistling and moving.
    It feels like my body is
    finally settling
    into itself.
    The house that creaks has history.

    I am glad to be here.
    and feeling
    in Los Angeles.

    That being said, I miss the shit out of NY. Especially after watching this:

    A Year in New York from Andrew Clancy on Vimeo.


    Kelly California?

    Exactly three weeks ago, I arrived at LAX with sixty pounds of overweight baggage and two unnecessary fedoras.

    The past three weeks have brought about such change that I could not possibly reflect on it now. The best way to begin writing about an expanse of time that you don’t quite understand yet is to make a list. 

    So for you, dear and loyal readers, I have drafted these two little lists as a way to pose the greatest question this blog has ever asked: have I gone California on you?

    Ways In Which I Am Different In Los Angeles

    1)    I use a toothbrush made from old yogurt containers, because I am trying to be a better person and that means caring for Mother Earth and shopping at Trader Joe’s, a responsible supermarket.

    2)    I use toothpaste that tastes like utter shit just because it has no chemicals and that insane Crazy Sexy This Diet Is Going To Kill YOU chick advised us to do so. 2.0!

    3)    I run sometimes. Not every day—in fact, I haven’t since Friday but that’s totally because I’m sick and not lazy—but I do run now. And by run, I mean jog while holding my boobs up. The stuff of sports legends.

    4)    I signed up for a 5K. A 5K that promotes DARE and NO Drugs! and all this stuff and all I have to say is I’m glad the 5K doesn’t run a drug screen pre-run. (Kidding, everyone! I don't do drugs.)

    5)    I’m driving. Sure, it’s Rachel’s car and I have yet to get my own car but I’m driving and it’s with a non-expired license and I went to the DMV all by myself.

    6)    While at the DMV, I saw that Jake Gyllenhaal goes to the same DMV as me and I didn’t even screech or ask the cranky DMV lady to take a picture of me next to Jake….’s signed Prince of Persia poster.

    Ways In Which I Am Exactly The Same In Los Angeles

    1)    I’m working at home, which unfortunately ingrains in me the same exact habits as office bee Kelly 1.0. In case you were wondering what these habits look like, find a YouTube video of a woman spilling coffee down her shirt and watch it on loop.

    2)    You know that toothpaste I told you guys about five seconds ago? Yeah, after using that non-toxic crap for three days, I made up an excuse about it not getting my teeth clean enough and threw that shit out. Kelly Two Point NO.

    3)    My unhealthy obsession with Hershey’s milk chocolate bars did not magically disappear when I crossed the country. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. I bought a family pack of the bars yesterday that is clearly meant for some family to make s'mores with while they camp and don’t die alone. In other words, they are not meant for me.

    4)    Despite my vow to become less sarcastic about life and run toward happiness, I am still as awful as ever. I joked that my running mixtape is my mother’s voice asking me if I’ve gained weight. I made fun of the fact that I often wear my too-tight gym shorts while I run to remind my body why we’re running. I even tweeted that my new CA license picture makes me resemble Rosie O’Donnell. I can’t escape the snark!

    5)    I mentioned above about how I’m different because I choose to shop at an environmentally friendly supermarket, but I really went to that Trader Joe’s because I read on Twitter that Jake Gyllenhaal shops there. I WILL MEET HIM.

    6)    I had to write out an inspirational quote and tape it over my TV today so I could get some work done/write this blog.

    So--does Kelly 2.0 really live in Los Angeles, or is this just a slightly more likely to get skin cancer tanner version of Kelly 1.0?

    Do tell.


    In Which I Prepare For My First 5K

    So even though I've been juicing cucumbers like the 2.0 I am and staring in the mirror every morning saying: "God and a man probably love you", I hadn't actually been running much.

    Enter Emily Posts. You guys know Emily, right? She's on Tumblr and is so sweet and nice and has these cute dogs and then...

    she proposed that we all run a 5K in a few weeks. A bunch of people joined (you disgust me, you fitness types!) and Emily even told me about a 5K I could join here in LA.

    (UGH LA! I hate you, what with your fit people and delicious burgers and HILLS!)

    But I signed up. Even as it crashed my computer, which I took to believe is a sign from Steve Gods Jobs that OBVIOUSLY I SHOULD NOT DO THIS.

    I paid the fee and I've been "running" ever sine.

    Here's a breakdown of me "running".

    Minute 1: "Oh, cool. I can do this. Yo, I can totally do this. BITCHES CAN'T STOP ME!"

    Minute 5: "Why is...why...this hurts."


    Minute 15: (The hallucinations begin) "George Clooney is at the end of my treadmill. I can see Lake Como! And his arms are open, waiting for me!"

    Minute 19: "One minute until I'm George's!"

    Minute 19 and a half: "I may have a thing for old guys. File this for therapy later."

    Minute 21: "George, I'm here!"

    And then I collapse on the treadmill. If there's other fitness types in the gym, I skip the collapse. I immediately leave and lay down in the elevator that takes me up to my apartment.

    8 more weeks, guys. Eight more until I run my first 5K and cure cancer.

    They are both equally improbable.

    Wish me luck.