How I Helped Kill the Personal Essay

2 years ago, I achieved minor internet fame for publishing a personal essay on XoJane. You can Google my name if you want to read it, but just be warned that it’s full of of intimate details about me that just might scar you for life and if you’re a cat lady, you’ll never look at your bedsheets the same way again.

internet fame
Thanks for the internet fame, Donut!

If I am related to you by blood or marriage, please do not Google my name and stop reading now

After my personal essay was published, it got way bigger than I ever expected. I should’ve known that it’d spread like wildfire since it had everything the internet loves: cats, a vagina, body horror, and the opportunity for the kind of voyeurism that leaves you feeling all high and mighty because you’d never let anything like that happen to you.

It’s cool, I get it. I ain’t mad. But god damn it’s stressful to wake up one morning not realizing that your piece has been published until you get a phone call from a friend saying “Hey, um, I think they’re talking about your sex life on DC101…”

Cue full-blown panic attack.

Now that I’ve had a few months to process the insanity that comes with sudden internet fame, I finally have the mental energy to respond to some of the most common questions I get about my piece. Seriously, this thing WILL NOT DIE and writers and TV producers still contact me on a pretty regular basis asking for comments. I gave 2 interviews the week that the story ran and I vowed never to do it again: There’s nothing scarier than giving up your autonomy and letting a stranger control the way your story gets told.

So here are my answers to a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten.

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Project Problems and the Power of Perspective

I never thought I’d write a thousand words about a fence, but when you own an old fixer-upper, project problems have a way of taking over your brain.

See, we recently decided to replace our old, ugly, and damaged chain link fence with a beautiful new 6′ wooden privacy fence. Here’s why:

*Just look at how ugly our old one was.

Good god that's ugly.
Good god it was ugly.

*Taco is a ball of snuggles, but even we can admit that she looks like she could rip out your throat. When she’s outside and people walk on the sidewalk next to our fence, she charges and barks because she’s a good guard dog. It sucks for everyone.

Photo of Michelle, Conrad, and Taco, a brindle pitbull with cropped ears whose coloring makes her look like a tiger.
She’s cute, but kinda scary cute

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The Great Cricket Caper

This is Cricket. I’ve known him since he was a few hours old. For the past 5 years ago, he’s been my #1 boo (sorry Conrad).

Cricket

Act I. The Beginning

I never planned on adopting a kitten. I knew I wanted a cat eventually, but I always thought I’d adopt a full-grown feline. Then my friend’s boyfriend took in a very pregnant street cat who later had 5 beautiful babies and my plans went out the window. I fell in love with all of them and went to visit pretty regularly. When they were old enough to be weaned, I knew I had to take one home.

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Practical advice for the old at heart