Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's to You, Anita Howard

A few months ago, I was feeling rather low. I was consorting with worms, and sticking my head into the compost bin to drown out the harsh and awful daylight.

The words "pull yourself together" could not be more apt for a person like me who struggles with panic and anxiety on a frequent basis. At its worst, fierce panic makes one feel like one is literally "falling apart." These clichés were born of truth.

I had days that were not good. Sometimes I had maniacal thoughts: that my kneecaps would just plain fall off my legs, or that my teeth would fall out into my soup. It's called "personality disintegration" or "depersonalization."

I tried many things, including fancy lights, tinctures, pills, breathing through only one nostril.

I also had what's called "derealization"--that funny sensation that the world is not real. I swam out into the world wearing fogged and hopeless goggles. I forgot how to get home, sometimes.

(The story of all this is being told in a book I'm writing called PURSUED BY BEARS.  I hope it will one day have a spine, rather than a blinking cursor on a screen.)

Then one day a fellow writer named Anita Howard visited my blog from Query Tracker, and left me one of the nicest comments I have ever received. I had been keeping this blog for a long while, but hadn't even bothered to tell my neighbors about it. (It is a pity that I've told them now, because now I can't write about them as freely. Oh neighbors, I wouldn't say a thing about you, and you know that!)

Some friends had read my blog, sure, and they said awfully nice things as well. But Anita was a stranger. And she talked to me like she was an old friend. I knew right off that she was a good egg.

You probably know her. As another blogger recently said, "she knows all the cool kids." If you don't, go and visit her. I'll bet she'll say something nice to you, too. And she'll mean it. No fakies.

I wanted to say thanks, Anita. Because one never knows when that kind gesture, that thoughtful word of hope, that effort to take time out to reach out to someone will matter. It's true online and in our everyday lives. Smile at a dour person you pass on the street and say hello, and see how his or her face changes. It's magic, ain't it? (Unless they are touched in the head, in which case they may bite you with razor-sharp fangs. Best to be warned. It's not my fault if this happens.)

Here's another fat cliché: Ray of sunshine. And another: Ray of hope.

So yesterday Anita gave me this blog award--one of many that she has given to some other wonderful writers on this Bloggy Wonderland post. It sort of says that I am mad as a hatter. In fact, that's exactly what it says.

If I'm mad enough to startle when a butterfly flaps its wings in Tibet, or despair at my own lurching heart, or count and multiply the ceiling tiles in an effort to avoid staggering into a ditch of my own making, then I am also mad enough to dream, to write, to run for the far borders of my imagination.

Thanks for the reminder, Anita. Oh, and you get the Bacon Award AND the Hot Buttered! I don't suppose you want the sebaceous cyst award? Didn't think so. Damn it.


Robin Weeks said...

Madness is awesome. Embrace it. Channel it. Tell me when it has a spine so I can buy it!

Anita said...


This is soooo unbelievably sweet of you. :) I'm BEAMING! I wish you could see my SHINY WHITE TEETH (I put the razor-sharp fangs away just for you).

And for the record, I'm the one who's been blessed by our friendship. Every day you make me laugh and smile, and that's such a unique gift to bestow on people.

I think your book is going to have both a spine and really menacing feet that can KICK BOOTIE in the publishing world. Based on all of your posts here, it's going to be an amazing read!

And if you ever need someone to help tie up your threads on days they're unraveling, I'm your gal. ;)

Thanks, dear friend. And I humbly accept your very unique and side-splitting awards, and will be pasting them on my side bar, POST HASTE. LOL

I'm sooo glad we met here in the blogasphere. You inspire me always.

Anita said...


BTW, you are one of the strongest and most grounded people I know. While working through your anxieties, you've honed a sense of humor and sharp wit few others of us could ever hope to attain.

So, the Mad Hatter award? Figurative all the way, baby. Just like you said, you're mad enough to dream. That makes you a friggin' genius. Something we should all aspire for.

Marewolf said...

It's true. Anita Howard is amazing, I had many of the same thoughts when she stopped by my blog (just recently) like, is this lady for real??

And, yes, she is!

She's also right; you, my friend, are hilarious.

Sometimes I read your blog posts and I think "this is so funny! Why couldn't I write something this clever and witty?"

I totally have blog envy :-)

Bethany C. said...

Well, you nailed that one on the head! Like you, Anita welcomed me into a world I was sort of tip-toeing through, too. I'm terribly protective of my writing--showing it only to the safest people in my life--assuming that most people would agree w/my inner Big Green Monster and tell me that I sucked--and then I met Anita.

Perhaps she's a really good liar, but I don't think so. I think she's just genuine, supportive and incredibly loving. She's helped me venture out of my shell. Turns out, it's a pretty nice place out here.

Sophie Li said...

*waves enthusiastically* Ms Anita is just THAT special ... not the window licking kind of special mind you ... but she seem to just know when others can use a pick-me-up no?

Jenny Phresh said...

@Robin: Yes, I should be grateful! Thanks for your support.
@Anita: See, that's why you are amazing. Look at all the kind words you just gifted me with again! You deserve all honors and bacon soaked in butter awards!
@Marewolf: Now you make me blush. No blog envy! Your blog does helpful things and useful things! My blog just dances about in a clown hat, most of the time. So we all have our strengths.

Jenny Phresh said...

That's it--YOU'RE ALL GETTING THE BUTTER! You people are hot buttered goodness!


I have gone mad, I think?

Anyone who posts here gets BUTTER.

Bethany C. said...

Um...I don't do well with butter. My tummy is pretty sensitive. Seasoned pepper, perhaps?

Angela said...

Now, see what you did?! You got me all teary eyed, darn it! I'm such a sap . . .

That was a BEAUTIFUL ode to the amazing Anita Howard. She's like a little fairy who visits us on our blogs and leaves us sweet and tasty words of goodness :o)

I love all the wonderful people I've met via my blog and twitter. It feels so awesome to finally feel like I "fit in" somewhere. :o)

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog all those months ago. Your words bring joy to a lot of people :o) Don't ever stop doing what you do best!

Kalen O'Donnell said...

Right? Isn't it weird how she makes you feel like you've been friends for years, when you've only actually known her a couple months?

I think she's a witch.

Only explanation.

Dark juju.

cherie said...

Jenny, here's something for you to chew on, dear pony.

There I was, waiting in the car for my daughter's dance class to end. It's a full hour of twirling and spinning which I hardly watch because my nose is up in a book. A published book.

So anyway, there I was trying to read this PUBLISHED book, and I just couldn't because I had my iPhone with me and I was going through your previous posts. (The grocery carts made me snort my drink all over said published book. I'm so in trouble with the librarian.)

SO there. You owe me $0.15 now for book damage. Btw, I didn't get to finish the book. It's your fault, missy.

Keep writing. ;)

LisaAnn said...

Yay! Meeting a fellow QTer outside of QT is kinda like meeting a celebrity... Woohoo to Anita for laying the groundwork, and I'm stoked to explore your site further... :)

Anita said...

I read what you said, Kalen. Actually, I WATCHED you type it through my crystal ball--um, I mean, my imagination.

I'm hopping on the next available broomstick--cough--airplane, and we're going to clear up this little misconception.

Witch my foot. Speaking of feet, does anyone know where to find fresh frog toes? I need some for a spell--er, recipe. Yeah. That's it. A recipe.

Oh, and I could really use a boiling caldron, so heads up if you know where they sell them.


Anita said...

And Cherie, I know right??

Did you know that was the second post of Jenny's I read (I went back through her archives after reading about how she got the name for her blog--you must read that one!) and it CRACKED me up! Big Red. Sigh. A tragic ending for such a magnificent creature, no? Sniff

Anita said...

This is the link! This is the first post of Jenny's I ever read, and it was LURV at first sight. *literary swoon*


Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

Youve lost your MUCHNESS. best line ever.

EEV said...

Yep, Anita has been on my blog sometimes too, and gosh, she has nice words to share, I felt really blessed :)
P.S. I know a bit about anxiety - thanks to that I never got a driver's license. I just freak out, and I kind of gave up on it. And the thing the world isn't real? Totally get it. Rest easy, we're all mad. LOL


Bethany C. said...

Kalen's on to something

Anita said...


I'll get you, my pretty! You and your little blog, ho-ho!

Sam Southworth said...

The first time I met Jen one of the things I noticed about her was that she was wearing a black watch cap WITH EARS sewn on it. I thought "This is NOT your everyday personage."