Are you there, Kate? It’s me, your immunosuppression.

At the beginning of this year, I had had enough.

It was January 29, 2021: The Capitol had been attacked; Biden and Harris had been sworn in; the COVID vaccine that promised a return to “normal” was slowly but surely trickling its way down the essential worker and health care professional chain to the rest of us; and I was sitting for the 49th time at the hospital in a plastic-coated armchair with an IV attached to one arm and a blood pressure cuff wrapped around the other, very aware of the pitying eyes of cancer patients around me who didn’t know why a vibrant 20-something (at that time) was also getting a bag of meds poured into their system.

A couple chairs over there was a woman in a bright headscarf getting receiving her own sack of chemicals. She was talking with the nurse about how she hadn’t seen some of her family members for a year because no one was willing to stay out of restaurants or stores for two weeks so they could safely visit her. By this time, my IV aperitif of Benadryl was kicking in and the room was getting fuzzy, but my brain was on full anger mode on behalf of this woman.

Like any well-adjusted millennial with hospital WiFi, I took it to Instagram.

Under a rather eye-catching (or so my Bennie-brain though) photo of my outstretched, IV-attached arm, I put this caption, which was my first true social media admission to having Crohn’s disease:

“Now, I *know* no one who follows me on here thinks COVID isn’t a serious threat, but on the off-chance one of you has someone in your life who does…
Any time I hear someone wrongfully say that COVID has a high survival rate and the only people who die from it are over 60 (that’s not that old, folx) or already sick, what I actually hear is that people who are older or disabled are expendable. As I type this, I’m sitting in a chair on an IV drip I get every 8 weeks to keep me from having Crohns symptoms. The trade off is that it makes me immunocompromised which…turns out not to be so great during a pandemic. But rather than go back to stomach aches that crippled me for a year and a half before diagnosis by skipping treatment, instead I remain exceeding careful and implore everyone else to remain smart, even as we start to open restaurants, schools, etc. One of those people at the highest risk is me, and I don’t care if you miss sushi bars and beer on tap. I love those things too, and I’d like to survive so I can enjoy those things when it’s safe again.”

What is Crohn’s, anyway? Samantha Irby succinctly explains it in her first essay collection, Meaty:

“Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract….the cells in my body that are supposed to protect against infection don’t recognize food and the normal, harmless bacteria that are in my intestine.”

Put simply, our immune systems are confused overachievers — and there’s no cure to their mania. None. Sometimes it goes into remission, but for the most part you’re always just waiting for a flair-up that will probably come at the most inconvenient time. For Irby, this means days of diarrhea, nausea, bread-and-water diets, etc., and, according to her own extensive research, it always hits when she has a new toxic boyfriend in her life.

For me, it means that I get knifed in the stomach by an invisible stranger every 7-10 minutes (the intervals change just to keep things interesting), and the only thing I want to eat is boxed mashed potatoes. The kind with the bacon bits and cheddar, preferably. I also lose my period (not a huge concern when you’re a 21-year-old virgin who hasn’t been visited by any archangels, but terrifying otherwise); my hair starts falling out from malnutrition and the blistering hot showers I take to feel better; my shin bones and calf muscles feel like they’re being pulled apart; and you’ll find me lying face-down on cool bathroom tile floors like a cat in the summer, trying to find some goddamn relief.

I’ve only had one flair-up since my diagnosis in 2013. It was summer 2018, and I remember it starting while standing in my nontoxic then-boyfriend’s kitchen. The room fuzzed out and I tried to put all my focus on watching him submerge a pork tenderloin in a sous vide bath while wondering who the fuck was shoving the carving knife between my ribs. A couple tests and six-week Prednisone regiment later (stay tuned for a mini-post of how fun that is), and I was back to normal.

Suffice to say, anyone who knows me personally knows that I don’t make a big deal of my Crohn’s because it never has been a big deal — to me, anyway. To a lot of people, Crohn’s is a near-death sentence; to some, it is death, because you essentially can’t eat without your immune system trying to kill you in the slowest, most painfully way possible.

Call it privilege of the greatest kind: I grew up in a middle-class home with access to incredible health care and a father who had already been diagnosed and somehow found the greatest gastroenterologist on the planet who, upon retiring, referred him to the runner-up. So the minute I finally, begrudgingly, told my parents I was feeling like shit (I thought it was bad Chipotle eaten the night before we dropped my first magazine issue as chief editor, but a burrito bowl consumed on Oct. 17, 2012, shouldn’t still be causing stomach pains on June 25, 2013), Dad got me an appointment with his doctor. Three blood draws, a barium series, a colonoscopy and an endoscopy later, I received for my 22nd birthday a chronic illness diagnosis and prescription for a bimonthly Remicade drip — a drug that tells my immune system to chill, which works wonderfully…until a fucking pandemic happens.

Which brings me back to January 29. (I heard that sigh of relief.)

When I woke up after my treatment two hours later, my Instagram showed that I had upwards of 50 likes and several comments from people in my life who I never knew had Crohn’s disease. The burlesque singer whose gigs I used to stalk — I mean, track — around the city? Crohn’s. My coworker out in San Diego? Crohn’s. The IT & Data Analytics director I worked with in London last spring? Almost died from COVID that December and I had no idea. Something about my post made them all feel more comfortable with talking about their own experiences, and to this day I thank them for it.

We’re not all like Samantha Irby, writing out our experiences for everyone to read. Sometimes I wish more of us did, though, because I spent half of yesterday laughing, then pondering, over her bluntly honest exploration of a different, far more severe experiences with the disease. It made me think harder on how my rather minimal experience with Crohn’s has shaped the way I view its effect — or, rather, lack of effect — on my life.

For one, apart from having to take time off for treatment, I’ve never missed a day of work because of Crohn’s. I’ve never had to say “I can’t eat that” because I’m not sure my immune system will allow my digestive system to tolerate it. I’ve always had good health insurance — either courtesy of my parents or my cushy corporate job — that not only approves my Remicade prescription every year but also pays for most of each $10,000 treatment session. You read that right: The meds I’m on cost half-a-newish-car every eight weeks. Our health care system is fine. At my sister’s wedding, guests were telling my mom how healthy I looked, like they expected some waif hobbling down the aisle instead of a gleaming bronze yoga goddess. That’s a joke, as I’m still pasty and had by that point accrued my winter insulation despite daily vinyasa practices, but it’s also not, because that’s what Crohn’s does to a lot of people: It wears them down into joint-pain soup or brittle skeletons.

In 2018 my company happened to assign me the internal communications project for a disability self-ID effort among our employees. Leadership wanted to know how many people have disabilities so we could better serve them with accommodations (and put the numbers into our growing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report), and as an ad hoc HR Communications teammate, I was the go-to for it. When I pulled up the ADA list of covered disabilities, my eyes went directly to it: Crohn’s disease. I’d been living for five years with a disability and didn’t even realize it, mostly because my experience with it has been so milquetoast — milk and toast, two things that people with a severe Crohn’s flair-up need to stay away from, by the way, but not your eat-everything-and-anything girl! — compared to the scary connotation that the capital-D Disability caries with it.

But then COVID happened, and I had to hear every armchair epidemiologist under the sun talk about how only the already-sick die from the virus. And I thought about all the people I’ve seen when I go for treatment. I thought about the people over 60 like my own parents. I thought about all the people who I didn’t even know had a disability like mine. And, finally, I realized that hey! I’m one of those people! I’m immunocompromised and immunosuppressed, and COVID could actually kill me! My underdeveloped sense of mortality suddenly graduated college and got its first apartment.

It’s been almost a year since hearing the conversation at the infusion center that launched the Instagram post that told the world — meaning 270 followers — I had Crohn’s disease. Maybe it’s just the kind of people I attract and retain in my life, but everyone understood and shared words of concern and encouragement. A lot of them have taken hold of my “I’M IMMUNOCOMPROMISED BUT EVEN IF I WASN’T YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT IMMUNOCOMPROMISED PEOPLE’ banner (a long tag line means a long banner and plenty of room for fellow carriers) and carried it into their own battles with people who don’t view disabled people as worth protecting, either as immunocompromised people themselves or using me as their poster woman. And I love them for it.

If my story changes the mind of just one person to be a little more compassionate, a little more understanding — or if it makes a fellow Crohn’s disease diagnosee (aka a Crohny) feel seen or less alone — then the last hour I’ve spent at my kitchen counter nursing day-old cold brew while typing this out will have been worth it. Putting my weird-ass arm photo on the ‘gram in January will have been worth it. Continuing to navigate around the small but loud group of inconsiderate Americans denying COVID safety precautions will…still be annoying.

And with that, I’m off to yell at anti-maskers at a brew pub. (Cue “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead.)

Scene of the Write: Observations on a train to St. Louis

The following are observations made from a late June train trip from Chicago to St. Louis.

Just outside of Chicago: A boat graveyard, shells of old hulls and schloops tagged with graffiti inside a barbed-wire playpen. A shredded down comforter dangles from the wire, grayish-white stuffing droopy like mid-February snow drifts.

About an hour later, we’re stopped because they “have an issue on the train” they need to deal with. Anti-masker, perhaps — we just picked up some people in Joliet — but my brain is concocting a number of Mission: Impossible scenarios. Just outside the window is a country road flanked by stone pillars. The inscription is too small to read from here, but it’s fun watching as the drivers of cars are getting out and socializing while they wait for us to move out. There’s a man in a white sedan taking selfies, and a white limo with a driver dressed to the nines, taking his chances on getting out into the humid air.

On the way to Bloomington we pass a barn that looks like a drunk giant stepped into it, splintering half the roof and one wall down while the belfry still stands, weathered but intact.

Shortly after 5:15, the man sitting next to me — the one in bright green Chuck Taylor high-tops, with a copy of Reza Aslan’s Zealot that he’s halfway through, with a kid on the way and a weekend at the Cards game with some friends before he becomes a dad (all of which I learned by eavesdropping on his phone call for the first two hours of the trip) — offers me a shot of Bulleit Bourbon from a sealed bottle. I decline and watch as he proceeds to make a bourbon and coke in a thermos mug.

It’s happy hour on a Friday in the tiny towns we pass, too. A group sits in lawn chairs next to an above-ground pool in Macoupin County, a couple igloo coolers warming in the low evening sun. It makes me wonder what would be different about me if I had grown up in a town with a grain silo next door and Amtrak route cutting through my subdivision. Or if I’d be one of those people knocking back a Bud in the summer evening, watching the train from Chicago click-clack past, wondering what life would be like if I was on it.

I see you shiver with antici…

Tim Curry wakes me up with that line some mornings. It’s just tucked into the folds of my brain, in that rolling enunciation he has:

“I see you shiver with antici—

—pation.”

I’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show maybe twice in my life, thought a midnight dress-up show is on my bucket list. But there’s something about that line: About the onomatopoetic joke that combines a creative sense of word play with Curry’s incomparable delivery.

I can’t even say it wakes me up on mornings where something big’s happening. It didn’t wake me up this morning, but I’m thinking about it tonight as I’m waiting for something really wonderful to happen in just a couple hours. I’d say more but…this isn’t that kind of blog. Winky-face emoji.

Instead of shivering with anticipation, here’s the scene, written out as the biggest cheat of a blog post I think I’ve ever written:

Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure album is spinning on the turntable. The cheap Victrola suitcase player doesn’t do justice to the depth of this album‘s production value, but after months of searching and waiting for Best Buy, then Amazon, to cancel my order of a vinyl copy, I finally got the album from a tiny record shop in Chicago. Buy local, buy indie. The song that’s playing is “Step Into My Life.” Every song on this album is good, though. This and Rina Sawayama’s SAWAYAMA kept me sane during Summer of My Suburban Pandemic.

A candle from Burke & Hare Co. is burning. It’s the Nevermore scent — tobacco, teakwood, vanilla and black pepper, like a high-line cologne that covers up the smell of the brownies I baked earlier.

Instead of reading the biography on Gypsy Rose Lee that’s waiting for me on my bedside table or watching the third episode of Halston on Netflix or god forbid doing more online shopping, I’m waiting for Sims 4 to finish updating so I can build a house and bulldoze it. That’s what I do now, I’ve learned. Sims isn’t fun as an adult: The excitement of building a person, giving them a house, finding them a job, make friends when you’re a barely a teenager completely dulls when you realize that your little virtual person is just as damn tired as you are, juggling the house, the job, the friends. So now I just build and demolish, like a kid constructing sandcastles at the beach.

I told a friend last night that I didn’t know what to do with myself now that my beta reader team has a copy of the first half of my novel: The logical thing would be to start the second half, but I’m far from logical with a can of Dark Horse wine in my system. He suggested I put on music and dance around the apartment.

Jessie Ware just started singing “Mirage (Don’t Stop).” Seems as good a time as ever to get on my my groove.

Leave the ghosts behind

Every box I packed last week, I made sure that none of the infected things were in it.

Nothing that had your memory on it made it into a box. Nothing that you had given me with a card, or shipped me in those polka-dotted sacks that Amazon uses to specify that someone half-dead on their feet put into a bag for someone who didn’t order it. None of the empty vases from my birthday flowers; not the crumpled business card or shotgun shell on a chain or the event wristbands curling into itself on my counter after your last visit; none of the burned CDs you left in my car — remember when we’d tear down silent suburb streets in that 2003 Impala, Nate Ruess and Janelle Monae declaring that we were young?

Instead I held a funeral at the garbage shoot: My own memorial to the people who had come and gone — or, rather, the times I had to the people who had come and gone. A wake for the person I was with them, and the parts of me that they had taken with them as souvenirs.

And I thought it would work. I really did. After all, we always say at the coffin’s edge “They’re in a better place.” And I’m sure all of you went to better places with husbands, wives, children, functioning livers, fulfilling careers. And, truth be told, I myself am in a better place than where many of you left me — a new apartment with in-unit laundry and a private balcony.

But when all the boxes were packed and taped, then untaped and unpacked, it became clear: I could set afire the love notes and friend notes with a bundle of smoking sage, but it wouldn’t burn the memories of you out of my mind.

So I guess I took you with me. I’ll try not to bother you.

Hope you enjoy the fresh air and sharp dryer buzzer.

The first paragraph of my autobiography

Today the vice president of my department gave everyone on our team an assignment. She usually sends a TED talk or think piece out on Fridays as “Friday Inspo,” and oftentimes we all read it, comment, and move on. But today was different: She asked us each to write the first paragraph of our autobiography.

I had two things each working simultaneous for and against me. The first is that I am relatively new to our team. Although I’ve been with the company for more than five years, I haven’t worked a job like this or with almost any of my current teammates before — so this assignment was a way of introducing myself as much as it was a way for me to learn abou teveryone I hear on weekly or daily calls.

The second was that I am a writer, and sell myself/have been sold as such, which means there’s a considerable amount of pressure to turn in something that will knock all their contact lenses out with its powerful prose and turn-of-phrase. I practice enough that I should be good at it, but I also work with incredible wordsmiths in their own (w)right, which means even more pressure was on during the four hours I spent reading the prompt, some of the paragraphs my peers were submitting, and crafting my own version.

If I was being a bit more honest about it, I might have explored my two greatest fears: The first, that I become boring. COVID has severely impacted the effort to avoid this, but between NaNoWriMo, Dungeons & Dragons, my friend launching a media business and naming me her unofficial executive producer, this blog, etc., I’m hoping that I’ll squeak by until a vaccine and solid injection of common sense make its way into the world’s populace. The second, that I become incapable of supporting myself. Daily fitness routines and smart spending are my antidotes to this one, as of today anyway.

Instead, I decided to sink fully into my reputation as an outlandishly inventive writer who’s still trying to figure out exactly who she’s supposed to be. It took a deep dive into my past writing projects (including a few key omissions), but after approvals from Cody and Hannah, I submitted this:

When I was 11, I was a teen pop sensation. Then, at 14, an identical twin with secret agent parents. Two years later, a high school student returned from the dead to settle an unfinished score, then in college a barfly conscripted into a city-wide mob war. Around 25 I became a brain-chipped assassin sprinting through abandoned Chicago streets, and two years later got a job as a press agent for a state-sanctioned superhero, accidentally killed my client, and started wearing the cape and cowl in her place. Lately I’ve been switching between voyaging the mystical seas as a half-elf haunted by demons and traversing the Wild West as a rancher’s daughter who joined a train robbery gang to avoid marrying the undertaker’s boring son. I’ve been all of these before turning 30, but I’ve never shot a gun or saved a city; never performed on stage or returned from the afterlife; never had a computer chip installed in my brain (I don’t think…) or spent much time in the western half of the U.S. And yet I’ve pulled these personas on like second skins over my own, creating complex characters on page after page, if only to avoid having to figure out my own true identity. I guess it’s time to do that here, so I’ll do it the only way I know how: Pen to paper, fingers to keys, one chapter at a time.

“These are my roaring, roaring 20s”

He looked like John Mulaney, and I kissed him — not at midnight on New Years, but sometime around 12:38 a.m.

At least, I think he looked like John Mulaney. That could have been the gin martinis making my eyes thirstier. He was taller than me, even when I stood out like a sore toe in a thigh-high stiletto boots, and had the same long, 1940s face with the added charm of a small gap between his front teeth. Dark V-neck sweater. Clear liquor in a glass. Can of Red Bull because he asked the bartender for it. A medical degree in the works.

I though he was named Ken and from Philly, but when he gave me his number, learned he was actually named Phil and from Kentucky. Blame the gin and the number of times he twirled me around the dance floor like it was 1920, not 2020.

That’s what happens in a time machine. Through a subtle entrance sandwiched between a CVS and parking garage, down a flight of stairs, and we had slipped a century away. A big band greeted us from the main stage upon our arrival. Charlie Chaplin illuminated the library wing as a woman swung from a suspended hoop behind a popcorn vendor in plum brocade. Tasseled burlesque dancers performed behind crimson curtains in another side room. The stage was flanked by “Adults Only!” peep show nickelodeon boxes — dip your face into the viewing window and see Mae Dix slide off her stockings. Lift your face up, and three women in beaded flapper gowns might tickle your nose with their cigarette holders as they pass by, balancing delicate coupe glasses in their silk gloves.

Follow one of those women, and she was likely to lead you to the barber in a black vest and wax mustache, prepped with a straight razor and cream for any lady who’d like to get the closest leg shave imaginable while reclining in a chair in the middle of the main dancefloor. Exhibition at its finest, as the women would tilt their heads back with a smile, drop-pearl headpieces dangling in the light, as the barber ran the blade up their shins (though never past their knees).

At 1:30 a.m. the overhead lights came on, reminding us that we had rung in 2020 and had to return to the world of rideshares, drunken text messages, braggadocio Instagram posts, disposable fashion, Monster energy drinks, microwaveable breakfast sandwiches, scheduled blog posts, Netflix accounts, Venmo requests, yoga classes, allergy pills, teeth whitening, chipped nail polish, and Lululemon merchandise exchange lines. I had lost track of Phil from Kentucky — or was it Ken from Philly? — and had gained clear consciousness of the pain in my feet from five solid hours of dancing.

One 30-minute Lyft ride in a Nissan Altima, and I was home, about 10 minutes from the speakeasy supper club on a normal night, ready for the roar in my ears to subside for just a few hours so I could get some sleep and start 2020 well-rested and ready to dance the nights away all over again.

A flapper in black and pearls sits in a barber’s chair in the middle of a club dance floor as a 1920s-styled barber shaves her legs.

A flapper gets her legs shaved at Untitled Supper Club’s “Bootleggers Ball” on New Years Eve 2020

Vignette: Patrick Bateman is my neighbor

I’ve got a confession to make. “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins is not on my phone.

That is why, when I woke up to the iconic bah-dum-bah-dum-bah-dum-bah-dum-dum drum riff at the 3-minute-and-16-second mark at 5:15 a.m. on a Saturday, I knew it wasn’t my alarm waking me up. That would have been the bink-beng-bum-bink-beng-bum-bink-beng-bum-bink-bink-beng-bum guitar of “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone.

A quick scan of my apartment confirmed that the poltergeist who had knocked one of my framed pictures off the wall two nights before hadn’t continued its mischief by turning my stereo on, either.

“You don’t know who this is?” slurred a voice as loud as the music. “How do you not know who this fucking is?”

Of course I knew who this was, but apparently my neighbor’s guest, a girl cackling with liquored-up laughter, didn’t, and was now enduring his wrath as he continued yelling over Phil’s echoing, ethereal eloquence.

And then — silence.

Maybe he’s murdering her with an ax, I thought during the absence of sound. Seems a high price to pay for not knowing a song, but Patrick Bateman killed over business card stock after explaining Huey Lewis and the News to Paul Allen in American Psycho, so anything’s possible.

The next morning I ran into her as she left his apartment, heels in hand and mascara dust powdering her cheeks. She had the flush of someone who had had a good night. Thank god I wasn’t awake to hear that part.

We stood waiting for the elevator, with her flipping through social media on her phone so she doesn’t have to acknowledge me. And I wasn’t going to say anything until she almost ran me over in an attempt to get into the empty elevator that had just arrived.

As we descended 20 floors, I began to whistle “In the Air Tonight.”

Scene of the write: Colectivo Coffee

I envy how little kids can fall and get back up without blinking an eye.

An almost sickeningly cute child in glasses just took a nosedive off the bench outside the window, tucked, rolled, and resumed eating his perfectly in-tact, cartoonish pink-frosted donut like nothing had happened. Meanwhile, little sister in white tights and black vinyl Mary Janes looked on, absentmindedly patting the head of her minature beagle mut mix of whatever.

Last time I took a spill like that, I bled through the knee of my jeans during an entire Colts-Dolphins game at Lucas Oil Stadium. A blend of blood and leaking ego turned the denim black.

There are two women down the row from us. One just announced she couldn’t decide whether to buy something in a size two or four. Then she continued picking at her avocado toast.

What I thought might be a coffee first-date next to me turned out to be a few friends meeting up. That’s why I like coffee shops on Sunday afternoons: A lot of times you get first dates between people who met at the bar on Friday and knew they’d be too hungover the next day to be first-date worthy. But no, these are just a couple mix-matched grad students from DePaul trading stories of where they studied abroad: Peru, Sweden, Texas.

Of course, I don’t even know how many people have eavesdropped on my conversations in these places before. I’m sure it made someone’s nght when The Man With Time on His Arm and I discussed Taco Bell Cantina’s presumable house wine as a fermented version of their taco sauce. Or just now, with Frannie and I talking about starting a Tindr-like app for people who want to spend just an hour with a dog on their lap while watching Judge Judy.

Oh, the conversation snipets we leave behind, like skin cells and donut sprinkles smeared across the pavement outside this window. 

 

#NaNoWriMo2018 Day 26: The city’s ribcage

For being called “The Oculus,” it looks more like a ribcage than something that can see — especially in this February fog. Its bones splay out, opening its spine up to the sky and exposing the invisible heart that floats within. It’s the heart that holds all of the memories of what used to be in this spot before that Tuesday in September, so no wonder the ribcage is open: It’s trying to let out some of that agony.

The Oculus building stands in New York at the World Trade Center

The Oculus in New York overshadowed by a February fog.

Writespiration: Birthing a story

Maybe I heard this somewhere else before and am just stealing it now. If that’s the case, please tell me. If not, read me out:

Writing a story is like giving birth.

I say this having never given birth myself, but knowing several people who have. No birth is the same. Some are somewhat easy — Mom says she practically sneezed my sister out — and others require scalpels and spinal injections. But in the end, writing anything leaves you feeling tired, accomplished and relieved, with a beautiful future of shepherding the work throughout the rest of its (and possibly your) life.

The same goes for writing. Some stories and poems exit fairly smoothly: Not too smoothly. That means they’re not done being told yet: And these premie stories require a lot of nurturing before they can stand on their own. That’s not to say they’re bad or nonviable. Most National Novel Writing Month stories are this way, sliding out tactlessly only to mature on the outside when an editor’s pen goes to them. They’re just deceptively slippery and too anxious to land on a page.

Then there are the 12-hour labors, the stories that leave you sweaty and exhausted but proud when they’re done. They can be reluctant to leave the warmth of the womb-like imagination, grappling at the walls with their little fingernails to stay inside just a little longer, using plot holes and unclear transitions like handholds. But eventually they, too, squeeze themselves onto a page.

And then there are the Cesarean sections of stories — the ones that a writer has to cut themselves open to extract because of a deadline or misguided promise or pressure from readers. I’ve read too many books by authors that took a knife to their brain, ripped it open and plopped the story onto a page without much more care, Sadly, the stitches used to close their brains back up often heal wrong, making it impossible for them to ever write another thing that doesn’t read forced.

If I’m being honest, Omaha was a C-Section of a book because I had a literary agent waiting to read it. But my newest project goes from easy to laborious and back again — completely enjoyable the entire time as I leisurely let it make its way from brain to page.