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Out of all of the books I thought I would review in 2019, I really wasn't counting on this one. Cecelia Ahern recently announced the sequel, Postscript, and I knew I would want to read it, so here I am with P.S., I Love You, a story I have a complicated past with.

I didn't know it would be so hard to read, even harder to write about.

Let me take you back to fall 2008. I'm in my first year of college, running the student newspaper, eagerly awaiting the birth of my niece. I'm eighteen, in love, and I'm on an old white couch next to the guy I am convinced I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. It's a Sunday and we're bored, idly flipping through cable channels, desperate to find something to watch.

P.S., I Love You has just started. He looks to me and says, "have you seen this yet? No? It's so great, you'll love it. Let's watch it."

He puts his arm around me and we watch Holly mourn the loss of her husband, Gerry,  to cancer. Over the next year, she gets a letter a month from her dead husband, who uses the medium to help her to move on and embrace life - even if it is a life without him. Their relationship isn't perfect, but he loves her in all of the best ways, and that's the warm blanket she wraps herself in each night for that first year.

Halfway through the movie, the guy I'm next to looks at me and says, "You know that's us, right? I love you that much, that's us in a decade. Probably not dead, though."

And this is the promise I hold onto for the next few years in our relationship. I turn a blind eye to the cracks that begin to form several months later, I sail through our first holidays together without letting my disappointment show every time he lowers my place on his to-do list, and I go all out for our anniversary. Later, when I am balancing caring for my niece, college, two jobs, and trying to keep up the brave face I put on to hide my growing fears and concerns in my relationship, I hold on to his promise that he'll be there.

That he'll continue to love me just as deeply, even though all of the signs are pointing to something else.

That the things he says and does are normal, we're going through a rough patch, every couple has one.

And sure, every couple has rough moments, but not like those. Never like those.

When this mess is finally over in 2010, I graduate with my A.A. in Journalism as barely a shell of a human. Every bright, beautiful thing about me has been lost to circumstance, to this boy who may not have truly understood the damage he was doing - or maybe he did and just didn't care. I'll never know, I never want to know. A cancer had grown in our relationship, taken over every good memory we ever made and replaced it with moments that have fueled years of nightmares for me.

Summer of 2010 I was mourning the loss of someone I thought had defined me. I didn't know who I was, if I ever did. Like Holly, I was going to have to start all over again, but without even half of the help this character had...and I resented her for it. I couldn't watch the movie, somehow the beautiful memory of it had become tarnished, and I didn't want to face it. If I couldn't watch the movie, why on earth would I read the book?

A few years later, I found it on HBO and I spent a day watching it. Over and over. I huddled up in my blanket with my cat, and I cried. I let it all out. And then I never watched it again.

Here we are, March 2019, and I am not where I thought I would end up...but I am precisely where I am needed right now. The promise of that sequel was looming over me like a shadow, and I knew I would have to face this monster before I allow myself to conquer that one. It's a DBT technique, I think, opposite action? Could be CBT. I keep mixing up my therapies, I just go through them and find new ways to help myself every day.

I started this book yesterday, and it hurt in ways I hadn't truly anticipated. I am no longer mourning the loss of what was, in the end, a terrible relationship I spent nearly a decade paying for; instead I am grieving the me I lost to that metaphorical cancer, while trying to celebrate the woman that took her place.

Cecilia Ahern is a fantastic writer, and to think this was her debut novel. Book-Holly is infinitely more engaging than Movie-Holly, even though I think Hilary Swank is the tits; Book-Holly has more room to grow, to mourn, to show you the light peeking through the blackout curtains of grief. Perhaps it has more to do with my age than anything else: I'll be 29 in that strange cusp of summer and fall, closer to Holly's age, with infinitely more experience with life and love and men than I had when this began.

Holly picks up the pieces with more grace than I managed - not hard to do, being a fictional character - but she finds a way to reconnect with and support her family and friends that feels very realistic. It's hard to live with trauma, even harder to live through it, but Holly takes it in small doses in a way that's very doable.

And it's funny! There's a dry sense of humor to it that's oddly comforting, but I suppose that's the part of me that still longs for England - even though the story takes place in Ireland, I find the humor seems to be a regional thing. It's an easy book to love, the scenes feel like they flow effortlessly together, and you find yourself awaiting Gerry's next letter just as eagerly as Holly does.

P.S., I Love You is an ode to letting go, to living through love, and rediscovering yourself in very weird places, sometimes with very weird people. If I had a nickel for every person I've met on my own adventures that have helped me or taught me or changed me, I would have a lot of nickels. Those are always the people you didn't know you needed: the stranger in the grocery store, or at the bar, or on the Tube around midnight who wants to know why you're crying. There's a sort of innate goodness in the human spirit, a desire to help that you don't really notice until years down the road, and I think this book captures all of that.

Even though I'm typing this with a knot in my throat, I'm happy to tell you that P.S., I Love You is worth reading, no matter what season your life is in. I'll be picking up Postscript when it comes out, I'm interested to see where we go from here.
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Today is a rough day.

It didn't start that way. I woke up at seven, I got dressed, and started the forty-five minute drive to work. About halfway through, I could feel the monster creeping in. I put on loud music to drown it in, I got coffee, and busied myself with work.

I accomplished everything I needed to accomplish before 9 a.m., so I had no choice but to sit with it and let the whispers in:

"Nobody ever really wants you for you, you know. They want you for what you can do for them, they want you for your support, they want your love but they don't really love you back. No one will ever really love you back, why would they? Look at you, you're not much, what could you possibly have to offer anyone?"

These are the lies my brain keeps on a loop, and that's not even the worst of it.

I've been in therapy since last year, trying to tackle the monster hanging onto my back: PTSD. Depression. Anxiety. Things that will never truly go away, but I am trying to learn to manage them. It's difficult, there's so much that has happened in my life that I never told anyone because I didn't feel like I could.

Because I thought the person who claimed to love me was supposed to protect me, and then when they were the one causing the damage, I turned that on myself. My fault, my fault, my fault. It had to have been my fault, I had to have done something to deserve this because why else would it be happening to me?

I internalize a lot in my personal relationships. I have a hard time letting people in because it hurts to be emotionally vulnerable. People I have loved have mocked my passions, have told me I would never achieve my dreams unless I changed _______ about myself, have ignored my pleas for help until I stopped asking. I try not to rely on anyone because so many people have let me down.

But I don't want that to be my story anymore, I don't want to carry these things around with me.

I'm trying to re-teach my brain that it is okay to want or need people. It is okay to talk about the things you love and the things that hurt you. It is okay to want the people in your life to embrace every part of you, and if they don't then it is okay to let them go. It is okay to be who you are.

Today I am dealing with a crippling sense of loneliness, and that is okay. It is a temporary state of being, and I have the tools to cope with it. I don't have to try and stuff it behind a mask to fester, I have the tools to deal with it. And I'm getting better all the time.

I know this isn't usually what you guys come here for, but I haven't read or watched anything that's inspired me enough to write about it. I just wanted to put this out there: if you're having a rough day, it's okay to embrace it. It is okay to not feel okay all the time. It is okay to have emotions, we are not robots. Our flaws are just as beautiful as our positive traits, they make us who we are.

Just...don't give up on yourself, okay? You're worth all of the effort you're putting in, someone will see it, I promise. Hang in there, we'll get through this, and someday "I'm okay" won't be the lie you tell other people to keep them from asking hard questions.
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The last twenty-four hours have been wild, my friends.

I don't even know where to begin, except...well, the beginning.

Last year was a rough year for me; in fact, spring 2018 saw me barely holding it together. I put on a brave face because, well, I'm good at it - I've always had to be good at it, but I couldn't read, I couldn't write, I couldn't think. Ultimately, I needed a distraction.

My sister and brother-in-law had been playing D&D for a while, and were in the middle of a campaign to get me to play with them, when Mike said to me one day, "Have you heard of Critical Role?"

I had. Everyone said it was good. I'd tried to listen to the podcast for Vox Machina at the end of 2017 while I was painting, but I just couldn't get into it. This was going to eat hours of my life! I didn't have four hours for one episode!

Or did I?

With a little pressure from him and my sister, I sat down and gave The Mighty Nein a shot - and I fell in love. I had not laughed so hard in my life, the actors were equally as engaging as their characters, and the world they were creating together blew my mind. They were telling stories in a way I hadn't been able to in years!

When the cast took a brief hiatus to, you know, have a life, I dove into Vox Machina. And that's where the real love set in. I adored the M9, I'd laughed with them and cried with them, but I wasn't prepared for the way I felt about this foundation story: by the time we meet this original band of adventurers, they're already larger than life.

Larger than life, but not indestructible.

I watched the way these characters banded together like a family, like my own family, and I watched them face every impossible challenge together. I think I got through all 115 episodes before the fall, that has to be record time, right? I couldn't stop watching because I found echoes of my own flaws in these characters, and my own triumphs too. Believing in these people and their story taught me a little about believing in myself and my own struggles too, so I got back into therapy after nearly a year-long break, easing my way towards treating the monster hanging onto my back: PTSD.

This disorder has taken a lot from me: my peace of mind, my ability to sleep for longer than a max of four hours at a time, my passion for life; like the trauma that birthed it, it took me apart in pieces, but I was regaining my sense of self. I was learning to enjoy things again, I was figuring out how to stand up for myself, and really express my passions. Things I had always preached at my friends to do.

Then on November 6th, my ten-year-old nephew died.

And my world stopped.

If you've never lost a child that you have loved, then you can't comprehend what comes next. I didn't go to work for almost a week, I developed a pretty constant tremor as I sat with our family, and whatever sleep I had been getting went out the window...and even writing that, those seem like such minor complaints in the face of that loss. Tomorrow will be four months to the day that he's been gone, and even now I sometimes feel like the grief might to overtake me.

Between grieving for Jaden and trying to process my own trauma, I felt like I was facing down a horde of dragons with my back against a wall and nothing but a stick to defend myself.

Luckily, the cast of Critical Role had taught me how to fight dragons.

And death.

And loss.

And grief.

I leaned into the struggle, and leaned on my friends and family. I told people what was happening, what had happened to me, and together we've created the tools I need to fight these dragons. I'm in the middle of my fourth re-watch of Vox Machina, and I'm not out of the woods yet, but I am re-learning how to enjoy living my life.

I'm working on my own novel. I'm planning a trip. I'm preparing for my new niece at the end of the month.

And this group of nerdy-ass voice actors playing D&D have seen me through it all.

Yesterday they launched a Kickstarter to animate these characters I love so much, something Mike and I have talked about wanting for a while. We backed it instantly, no questions asked, and in twenty-four hours they had about four million dollars. The Kickstarter doesn't end for another forty-four days. My story isn't unique, there are thousands of people on Twitter talking about how Critical Role picked them up when they were lost or struggling, and that's why they've made as much as they have in such a short amount of time.

They taught people how to believe in themselves, so we in turn believe in them - and that kind of faith is going to pay to bring an incredible story to life in ways we hadn't thoroughly imagined.

I, for one, can't wait to see what comes of all of this.

If you want to see what's going on with the Kickstarter and back it, go here. You'd be funding an independent company and giving them the means to tell their story the way they want to tell it: without cutting corners or sacrificing a lot of creative freedom. We all want to get behind indie artists and pay them what they're worth, and this is one way to do that.

People don't gain success in a vacuum: when they rise, they enable others to rise with them. Giving Critical Role this exposure is granting a potential platform to give voices to smaller artists. When we all band together, look at what we can accomplish.

The stories we tell matter, that's part of the reason I spend so much time reading/reviewing books, and this is just one more way to get them out there. I hope you'll at least join me in cheering these people on, they've given me so much that I think writing this blog post is probably the least I can do to spread the word about their project.

It's just a drop in the ocean...but an ocean is just a collection of drops, right?

Take care, I'll see you,

Tamarah
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As we addressed in my last post, I am snowed in. I have tackled the first book on my pile, and now I'm bringing you book two: The Girls At 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib.

The way these two books are related: they're both kind of about food, and I feel them both on a personal level, for very different reasons.

Small Potatoes was a celebration of food and life, of living authentically and being comfortable in who you are. The Girls At 17 Swann Street is what happens when your love for food turns against you, when you see your body as your enemy, and when the all encompassing desire to be perfect overrides even your most intimate relationships and good common sense.

I am no stranger to disordered eating.

My entire life, my weight has fluctuated: I have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, and it basically means my hormones are really out of whack, my ovaries are really shitty at doing their job, and I can gain weight like no one's business. I also have PTSD and major depression, which also tends to work against me, but with medication and therapy, I'm currently winning that battle.

I'm aware that can change at any time.

I've also been working with a coach, exercising, trying to get my body back one pound/inch at a time. When I was younger, I was very active and could go days without eating. I loved dancing, gymnastics, and cheerleading (though the girls on my team taught me to hate it and, most of the time, them)...but I lost that desire to depression when I hit late middle school/early high school. Exercising became a lesson in humiliation, so I tried to keep my body in check in other ways.

All of that stayed with me into adulthood.

When I picked up this book and realized it was about a French ballerina with anorexia, I paused for a second. I struggle with food even now, on the cusp of my thirties, and like Anna I feel displaced, stranded in the Midwest with only the barest hope of escaping the hellscape. You know I have no love for Kansas, though she seems to try and find something redeemable in Missouri.

I feel for her.

This is contemporary fiction at its finest. The book shakes up the format a bit, quotes are in italics and you really have to be paying attention to know who's talking. There are no long, flowery descriptions or big paragraphs.

Everything is bite-sized, perfunctory, cut into chunks for easy consumption.

This book is written the way Anna feels about food, if that makes sense.

Here's this Parisian dancer who loved pastries and cocoa and life, who lived through her trauma until she had to sit with it. Meals all alone, waiting for her husband to come home, stranded in a country that is not her own...food turned into a demon fer her, it morphed into all of her trauma and anxiety and guilt.

I love Anna, I want to hug her, but this book also taught me more about myself than I want to admit. For all of my exercising and restricting, I see something I have to fight against on a regular basis: the argument over whether or not this gummy bear is going to undo my progress, looking at bread and potatoes as though they're my enemy -- to be fair, I have a definite sensitivity to bread, but death before dishonor.

The story has a happy ending, and it's a good one. All of the characters are likable, when something bad happens to one of them you feel it in your soul, and there is a commentary about women's bodies and the validity of them that is definitely worth the read. Yara Zgheib is an excellent writer, I need to read more by her.

Verdict: If you do not have an eating disorder, definitely read this book, I think you may understand it better if you do. If you have an eating disorder and you aren't easily triggered, read this book and appreciate how far you have come.

But if you have an eating disorder that you don't have a good grasp on, do not read this book. Don't do it to yourself. Whatever progress you have made is good, I'm proud of you.
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I have been snowed in. Whenever they start talking about snow in Kansas, I like to call the weatherman's bluff. "Give me snow, I dare you!" I yell at my phone, usually as I'm getting dressed or putting on mascara. "They always call for snow, but they never give me snow! Nooo, it's always freezing rain." So, like I normally do, I called the weatherman's bluff yesterday.

And at about 1:00 p.m., I received big, white fluffy flakes that I watched float to the earth with unbridled joy. I hate sleet, I hate driving on ice, but I do love snow as it's happening. Those flakes began to accumulate, I went home, and when I woke up I realized that my car wouldn't be able to get out of my driveway.

I am trapped in my house.

You may be asking why I'm telling you this story as a way to begin a book review. I'm constantly complaining about not having time to write. You know what I have plenty of, since I couldn't go to work today? Time.

You know what else I have?

A to-read/to-review pile that's bigger than my head.

I decided I'd tackle the smallest (and funniest) book first: Small Potatoes by Sarah Hunt. It's 115 pages of anecdotes, life advice, and food. Mostly food, if we're honest, and this is not a bad thing. My sister told me about Sarah, who was looking for book reviewers, so I decided to peruse her Instagram profile and I knew.

I knew I needed to read this book.

Because Sarah and I are very close to being the same person: short, loud, and highly opinionated. I had no idea what she did or why people followed her, but I reached out and after a small-but-charming exchange, Sarah sent me her book. That I put at the top of my to-review pile, and then proceeded to have a rough/busy week; but as we now know, I'm snowed in with only these books and my inner demons to keep me company -- okay, that's a lie, my bird and dog are also vying for my attention.

I digress.

If you like nonfiction autobiographies, you'll like this book. It's a third of the size of those books, with all of the punch: Sarah walks you through parts of her childhood, her life as a stepmom, and some party tips that are super on point. We don't serve ants on a log at parties, children, no one is comfortable eating them and they're only good if you're trying (and failing) to be healthy.

I think it's a pretty good first shot, if I'm honest. It doesn't necessarily have a plot or one singular point it's working towards, and it's not really linear, but I liked it because I felt like I was sitting on my best friend's couch, listening to her tell me stories with a bottle of wine between us while we wait for dinner to cook. It is a nice Sunday evening of a book, you don't want it to end because then you're going to have to return to a sea of Mondays, but it's nice while it lasts.

Also, she said on page 11 that we're now best friends, and I'm holding her to that because we both appreciate a good, weird snack, and I need new recipes.

Verdict: buy the book. I'm going to lend this one to my sister, who has been wanting to read it, and I realize that I may never see it again.

So it goes.
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Oh, hello there. As you can see, I'm horribly congested and feel like I'm on the verge of death, but! I have returned from Kansas City. I had a weekend away with my sisters where I got very little rest, but I still managed to have all the fun. We got to town at a reasonable hour for having left after two of the others got off of work, so naturally we went to Bo Lings.

Now, if you're not from the Kansas City area and you're unfamiliar with  Bo Lings, let me help you out. It's some of the best Chinese food I've had in my life (and yeah, I'm counting Mings in south Wichita on this list). What I love is that each restaurant looks different to fit the vibe of the area it's in, but the food is solid across the board. I have absolutely never had a bad experience at Bo Lings. We never have much of a wait, the servers are always friendly but efficient, I just love it there.

Look at that honey walnut chicken. Look upon it and weep, because that's pretty much all I want to do when I see it. I had a mango martini (well, two) and I almost cried, it was so good. Clearly there was a lot of crying going on in that restaurant that night. I didn't take any pictures of the interior because, well, I was starving and distracted - but this was taken at the restaurant in the Plaza.

The next day we pried ourselves out of bed and tried to decide on breakfast. After a failed attempt at a nearby restaurant, we headed to The City Market for a place called Beignet, which is as N'awlins themed as you can imagine. It's tucked away inside an entirely-too-small location but the food. Oh, the food. I had one of their scrambles with shrimp and sausage; I really don't like eggs, but I can't eat much gluten anymore, making this the safest choice I had - and at that point I'd never been more excited over eggs in my life. It was savory and rich, served with a cold bean salad and cornbread that rivals my mother's. For about thirty minutes, I actually missed living in the south.


And then that moment passed.

We explored the market a bit, none of us really knew what it was - which is weird for as much time as we spend in Kansas City - and I instantly fell in love. It took me back to Borough Market in London, but with more of a warehouse vibe. I loved the mishmash of cultures, you can find just about anything there, and the buskers were phenomenal musicians.

If I had to recommend any of the shops there, first on my list is Dragonfly Tea Zone. Their lavender milk tea was soft and sweet, light and refreshing. The next time I'm in K.C., I'll be pretty adamant about stopping there because it was so delicious. They also make crepes! I didn't have one, but they looked delicious.

Next, Becky and I wandered over to Dutch Flowers, an eclectic array of gifts/lawn ornaments/other random stuff. Outside seems to be a haven of lawn ornaments, statues, and super nifty wind chimes - something you may not know about me is that I have a thing for wind chimes, but only if they're tin or glass. Once you weave through the mishmash of stuff, you find your way indoors and it gets weirder. It's a lot like a vintage thrift shop, but I don't know how much of it is actually thrifted. Either way, it was super cool, and if I had the money to blow, so much of that stuff would have been mine. When I'm looking to redecorate in the future, I'm definitely making a trip back.

 

While we were exploring Dutch Flowers, the other two broke off and found Candy Wizard and Level One Game Shop. If you've been following me on Instagram for pretty much any amount of time, you'll swiftly figure out that I and my family are a bunch of nerds, so of course they'd pick those two things off a sign and go for them. Candy Wizard is worth a stop in, it's really cute, but Level One is one of the better gaming stores I've been in.

Naturally it has the scent of unwashed dudes, so that takes some adjustment, but once you're in then the staff is super friendly and there's a surprising amount of space. Their selection is great, there's room for people to go and play without being on top of each other, and their dice selection is A+. My only real request is that they invest in Febreze or some candles, something.

Maybe free deodorant.

I digress.

By the time we got out of there, it was almost time to head back to the hotel. We grabbed some coffee and eventually worked our way back, because if you've ever had to get ready with women who like makeup, you know this is gonna be a hot minute. We took an Uber to the Sprint Center because, you know, we're not dumb enough to try and find parking with an event of that size, and then we waited. About an hour and a half. I've stood in line for six or seven hours for smaller bands, so in the grand scheme of things, this wasn't a bad wait.

Once we were inside, we had a mission. Find The Amazing Beebo and get our fortunes told. There are only 500 given out each night and two of my sisters went to the Tulsa show, so they knew what was up. There was some fast paced walking, I may have gotten yelled at by security when I was trying to catch up but whatever, we made it. The video's on my Instagram if you haven't seen it yet, but it's the best $5 of my sister's money I've ever spent.

I never have cash. Every time I mean to have cash, it magically disappears into something else, but that's my cross to bear. Anyway, we got our fortunes, two of the four of us got their beers, then it was down onto the floor to find our seats. Where we ended up was actually pretty perfect, not super close to the stage but close enough to the other cool things that happened that night.

The opening acts were Betty Who and Two Feet, people I'd never heard of until they walked on stage. I looooved them. Betty Who is fun, her music's kind of sexy, she looked like she was having a great time on stage. I haven't listened to her much since I got back, but you know who I have listened to? Two Feet. The dude behind this music seems pretty down to earth, his music has this earthy-jazz vibe with a drum beat you can feel in your soul, and I was so, so into it.

If I had to recommend songs from either of those bands to give you a feel for what their overall sound is like, I'd recommend "Human Touch" by Betty Who and "Had Some Drinks" by Two Feet. If you like either of those songs, you're gonna like most everything else they have to offer.

Then we moved on to our main event.

After a ten minute countdown that left the entire arena buzzing, the stage (and crowd) exploded in a flash of color and sound as Panic! At The Disco took the stage. I've been a fan since 2005, though less active in the last several years because I've found new bands/my tastes have changed a little bit/sometimes I forget to check in on people. I can tell you right now, teenage Marah shrieked in a way adult Marah has never managed the minute the lights went up and "(Fuck A) Silver Lining" came on.

The first fifteen songs spanned every album except for the first one, which kind of bums me out, but I get it. They don't feel like those songs work as well live as songs from later albums do - I mean, I disagree because I'd personally love to hear "Time to Dance" or "Camisado" live but, you know, maybe I'm a minority. Maybe the songs are about fifteen years old, but they are alive and well in my heart, man. I can't go for a run these days without those songs.

But what I did like about the selection was it reminded me how much I loved Death of a Bachelor and Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, in spite of my gripes from years past that their sound had changed. I really do love the jazzy, broken-spirited-20's vibes they give off. Pretty. Odd. will always largely be a miss for me. I appreciate what they tried to do with it, it was a massive departure from the sound they had established about three years prior, but it was not my thing. I think there's a specific kind of novel bouncing around in my head, waiting for me to use that as its soundtrack, but I'm not there yet.

Now the lighting for this show is absolutely incredible. I'm short and the people in front of me were tall, obviously I couldn't see the show, but I could see the lights. At smaller shows with general admission seating, I'm always squirming to be at the very front so I can see, but I love being part of the crowd because there's an energy in it that can't be replicated anywhere else. This concert was like a party with thousands of your friends, everyone was dancing and screaming along to the music - it was everything a show of that magnitude should be.

And Brendon Urie brought it, man. I'd never seen him perform live (I was always too broke or busy when a tour came close enough), so I wasn't aware of how good at it he is. He's a massive ball of bright, beautiful energy and the man can sing. From what I could see on the handy, dandy screens framing the stage, he was having a fantastic time, and I live for a musician who loves what he's doing. I've been to some shows where it felt a little phoned in, where the singer obviously wasn't feeling it as much as they could have been, but this was not one of those shows.

It was halfway over before I could even comprehend how long we had been there. My oldest sister turned to me and said, "You're gonna wanna have your camera ready for what comes next." I've never been more grateful for a warning like that in my life. At this point the show, Brendon came down through the center of the crowd, shaking hands and giving hugs on the way to the center platform, and I was absolutely crushed in the frenzy of people trying to get closer, trying to get a picture. They were climbing on chairs, on people, there was so much screaming I thought my ear drums would actually burst. This is the picture I got:


And if I'm completely honest with you guys, I feel like this picture is kind of dark. This is a man who has sold out an arena based on his amazing musical ability (and that of his band, I don't want to leave them out), but if he didn't have his staff there to keep him safe, I'm not entirely sure he wouldn't have been swallowed whole. This is the price of fame. There is a lot of love there, a lot of devotion, but there's also a lot of inappropriate touching or kissing that happens during this walk, stuff his staff have to warn against on Twitter before they're ultimately going to be forced to shut that part of the show down.

Which would be a shame, because look at what comes next:




He gets on this platform and starts playing the piano as the damn thing just lifts into the sky. I haven't been to a lot of big shows like this, I don't have a precedent for things that happen when the band is this magnitude of famous, but this was an incredible thing to see. He got up from the piano and wandered around the platform singing, looking directly into the crowd below him. This is a man who appreciates his fans, this is a man who wants a way to safely connect with the people who have boosted him to this level.

And I would be so, so sad if he didn't get to experience this kind of joy in every city he plays; I would be sad for the fans who wouldn't get to experience just how awe-inspiring this is, because it really is something you don't see every day. And the Bonnie Raitt cover was absolutely incredible. Better than Bon Iver's, and for the record, I freaking love Bon Iver.

When he made it back to the stage, it was a bright, beautiful fever dream to the end. The effects for each song were on point, though the only shots I got that came out decent were for "King of the Clouds", one of my least favorite songs on the album that is actually a joy to hear live. I wish I could add the picture of it in here, but it makes the entire blog layout kind of weird, so I'll probably use it as my Instagram shot (unless I can find a better one).

Right at the encore, we were treated to a farewell speech that gives any other artist's farewell speech I've heard to shame. It was heartfelt and genuine, I did a lot of crying while my sister laughed and hugged me. I've been going through some stuff lately, man, and for a minute and a half I felt extremely validated. Life has a way of making sure you hear the things you need to hear when you need to hear them, you just have to be paying attention. Anyway, the shot I have next to this is from earlier in the night, but I think it gives off enough of the vibe from the encore to fit here, and my confetti shots from the end of the night can't top this one. "Say Amen," "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," and "Victorious" were a wonderful way to end the night because I finally got to hear a song from their first album sandwiched between two high energy songs, all of them managed to make me feel a little hungover when the lights went up.

I don't have any pictures from the return trip, it wasn't very exciting. We went to The Majestic for brunch, and if you've been reading this blog for the last few years then you already know how I feel about it. We had to stop in at the Oak Park Mall for Lolli and Pops because I needed my sparkling rosé gummy bear fix, and Lush because they've been dragging their feet coming to Wichita (if you think we can't support a Lush, I assure you, I alone would keep them in business here).

And that's it! That was my weekend. I have another incredible trip planned for this spring that I can't wait to share with you (but I'm keeping that under wraps until it happens). My next review should be Uzumaki by Junji Ito, I just have to bust open the bottle of wine I bought to write it and get into it.

See you,
Tamarah
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I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I was going to read Storm Front, the first novel in The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I procrastinated, I've waited until the last possible week to read this  book because I've been working on my own novel - but I found myself yesterday with nothing to do. Nothing to work on.

So I started it.

It's not the worst thing I've ever read - oof, do I have a lot of books that fall near that category - and it's funny, I'll give you that. I think that's its redeeming quality. The main character is Harry Dresden, an oh-so-moody-and-cool wizard P.I. filled with quippy comebacks, who is definitely every nerd boy's fantasy man (in one sense of the word or another): he's good looking but he doesn't know it, the ladies love him but he's juuust this side of oblivious, he's quick on his feet and with his tongue. I got halfway through this first book and thought, "Oh boy, I just don't know if I could cringe any harder."

But you know what?

I think this is going to end up as kind of a guilty pleasure thing for me. Hear me out: urban fantasy has always been my jam. This is set in #supergritty Chicago, the perfect place for a fantasy crime novel; I've been to Chicago, parts of it really are as seedy as you think, but that's the case with just about every big city I've been to. Their history with the mob is also kinda what makes this work, it just lends itself to the overall gumshoe out of time vibe I'm getting off of Harry Dresden.

And I really do admire Jim Butcher's creativity when it comes to building this world. He seems to have put a good deal of time into establishing his governing system and his characters are seemingly well-rounded. I'm only through book one, so I guess we'll see how this goes.

Obviously my verdict is love it. I'll let you know how the rest of the books pan out, but for now I'm invested.
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