"This Sick Little Heart of Mine" Fun Fact

Little known fact: "This Sick Little Heart of Mine" was originally titled "Take My Hand Across the Dark," which is a line from Zbigneiw Hebert's famous poem, "To Marcus Aurelius." I don't know why, but the first time I ever read this poem (1999, at the Monash University library, waiting for my boyfriend to finish his computer science class), it moved me, and I thought of that line years later when trying to come up with a title for my book. I thought about how depression wants so badly to be recognized. Ultimately, however, the title wasn't as buzzworthy as "TSLHOM," so it was cast aside. Here's the poem:

Good night Marcus put out the light
and shut the book For overhead
is raised a gold alarm of stars
heaven is talking some foreign tongue
this the barbarian cry of fear
your Latin cannot understand
Terror continuous dark terror
against the fragile human land

begins to beat It's winning Hear
its roar The unrelenting stream
of elements will drown your prose
until the world's four walls go down
As for us? – to tremble in the air
blow in the ashes stir the ether
gnaw our fingers seek vain words
drag off the fallen shades behind us

Well Marcus better hang up your peace
Take my hand across the dark
Let it tremble when the blind world beats
on senses five like a failing lyre
Traitors – universe and astronomy
reckoning of stars wisdom of grass
and your greatness too immense
and Marcus my defenceless tears

My Youngest Fan Sings A Song Inspired By "This Sick Little Heart of Mine"

NEW EXCERPT, "You'll Never Interview in This Town Again"


And in honor of the upcoming release, here's s little snippet titled, "Sometimes You Are Your Own Worst Enemy."

Remember when I confessed that I fell in the gray area of being “detail-oriented?” Here’s the perfect example: a top company in Austin needed a technical writer. After reading about the position, my heart went into excitement overdrive. Cool company, awesome product, great location. I meticulously filled out the online forms and attached my resume. I spent hours working on the Cover Letter to End All Cover Letters, revising it over and over until it was a perfect blend of professionalism and wit.

It was only after I pressed “send” that I realized I had misspelled the company’s name.

I’m sorry, good people at Spredfest (not Spreadfest). It would have been really fun working for you. But I promise, no hard feelings. Your instant rejection was well-deserved.

Other factors outside of the random typo might have crippled my chances too. Like attitude. Not on the surface (I could schmooze with the best of them), but perhaps a hint of my true feelings leaked out from underneath the strategic alignment of my words; appeasing answers betrayed by the subliminal wanderings of subconscious gestures. A blink. The nervous crossing and uncrossing of legs. The clearing of the throat. Alone they were nothing; combined, they held up a mirror to my interviewer's probing eyes, exposing my lies.

Not that I lied about anything big. I certainly never lied about my work experience (although in hindsight, maybe I should have). It was other things. My feelings about Austin, for example.

“How do you like Austin?” was a popular question, and one, I came to realize, that was not only aimed at discovering how well I would fit into a company's "culture" (more on that later) but also helped the interviewer determine my longevity in the city, and by proxy, with them.

I tried being diplomatic with my answer. “I liked it better ten years ago,” was my standard reply, and sometimes I expanded on that and sometimes I didn’t need to. If the interviewer was over thirty (and occasionally they were), he or she would usually agree with me and we'd become engaged in a long discussion, airing out the usual grievances: population overflow, the closing of historic landmarks to make way for skyscrapers, the untimely death of Leslie Cochran, and of course, the traffic.

The younger interviewers would greet my answer with a raised brow or a flippant laugh, as if saying, "Yeah, that's what all you old-timers say," and move on to the next question.

But I wondered if, on more than one occasion, my answer, although acceptable (if not necessarily preferred), had been the only proof they needed to hold me back from advancing further—that the interviewers, even the whippersnappers, could somehow sense the true extent for which I had fallen out of love with our adored city, sense my detached joylessness at its mention, and thought to themselves, no way.

She's over it. She's looking to leave. Flight risk!

I wasn't looking to leave. I couldn’t. I shared custody of my children with my ex-husband, and he wasn’t going anywhere. Still, I dreamed about it: a place with four seasons and a decent transportation system. Intersections where I could stare straight ahead without being confronted with my unwillingness to feed a hungry person. Grocery stores where I could ask for plastic bags without feeling like a nihilist. Events I could attend without wearing a wristband or 800-SPF sunblock.

Logically I knew that within a week of living anywhere else, I'd probably kick a nun in the teeth for a P. Terry's veggie burger, but on some days in my private "grass is always greener," world, I swear I would have traded the moon just to see my children play in the snow or thrash about in vibrantly colored leaves.

In some ways Austin suited me. I was, after all, a left-leaning, vegetarian white person who listened to Band of Horses. But in other ways it didn't. I wasn't what you called outdoorsy, for one, and concerts weren't my thing. I didn't enjoy listening to music around others mainly because I had God-awful taste. I only listened to half of the songs on my iPod. The rest I added as if they were conditions in a provisional peace treaty, sacrifices for the hipster gods to keep my Austin zip code. The White Stripes’ complete discography, for example, existed merely as a sort of weighted equation, negotiating the existence of the "Best of" Whitney Houston tracks listed just beneath.

I currently rented a place in SoCo, in a tiny shotgun house nestled between a McMansion and a meth lab. The location was ideal but it had its drawbacks. Grocery shopping, for instance, was a scary experience, being that it was mostly done at the HEB circus freakshow freakfest at the corner of Congress and Oltorf (which was only outdone by its freakier freakshow freakfest cousin on Riverside). Also, the increasing crime rate meant my kids couldn’t play in the front yard. Shittier people kept moving in, and yet the rent kept rising. And there were cockroaches. Tons and tons. Every morning, I’d wake to find a new cockroach on the rug, face-up, shell-down, antennae still moving like flags waving their final farewell to friends waiting inside the walls.

SoCo never felt right to me, but neither did anywhere else. Each time I found myself driving around a residential area in a different part of Austin, I tried to picture myself living there, but my imagination refused to follow. Nothing fit. Even if I could afford buying a decent home in the gentrified inner-city neighborhoods, I’d have to pick between a maimed fixer-upper or one of those modern-wannabe abominations with their hexagon windows and wire staircases, their trendy minimalist designs regurgitated from other cities.

I could move east, but it depressed me, how cemented the poverty seemed to be, unfolding in all directions.

I could move to the northwestern suburbs, with their Edward-Scissorhands neighborhoods of a thousand houses and only five floor plans, but they depressed me too. Sure, they had safety appeal and blue-ribbon schools, but I have lived in them before, had been sucked into their regime of fresh-cut grass worship and wine therapy preambles, a meta heaven soundtracked by the high pitch voices young mothers used to correct their children, and had learned the hard way that crime was not the only form of violence. Downtown and the East Side were dangerous, but the suburbs wielded their own violence too—more subtle, more gradual. Both could  harm you in different ways, I think. Guns and knives were deadly, true, but barbeques and playdates, book clubs and carpools—maybe those could kill you too.

Perhaps that was why I was having a hard time finding a job. I wanted too much in my workplace the same way I wanted too much in my neighborhood. I longed for a neighborhood in a great location where I could shop at a non-scary HEB; a little slice of heaven devoid of cockroaches and crime, where my children could play outside, but where the quality of their childhoods didn’t hinge on how well I got along with their friends’ mothers, just like I wanted a workplace that was traditional but innovative and fresh but not pretentious. I wanted the best parts of different places to come together and join into one utopia. I wanted it all, and so I had nothing.

Here's Some Pussy For Your Valentine's Day

Which Austin Business Journal's "Best Place to Work" is Right for You?

In celebration of the upcoming launch of "You'll Never Interview In This Town Again," (February 23, better recognize!), I've created a little quiz on Buzzfeed. Which Austin Business Journal "Best Place to Work?" is right for you? If you're job hunting or if you're just bored, this is the quiz for you!

Kaya Sings Spongebob Squareparents *This Post Is For Grandparents Only*

Woman Wakes Up In Her Apartment With a Headache...You Won't Believe What Happens Next!

...she takes a Tylenol.

Seriously aren't Buzzfeed headlines the worst? But it's not just Buzzfeed anymore though, is it? All online media seems to be copying this "make it as ambiguous as possible so they'll wanna click" crap. I suppose it's great marketing. I just wish I didn't fall for it so much.

By the way, my memoir, This Sick Little Heart of Mine, is out. It's basically about me losing my shit, destroying my marriage, and catfishing my ex-lover, who, if you read the book, you'd know he isn't worth a crank call, much less creating a fake Facebook account and going through all the shit I had to go through to keep up the deception. My publisher subtitled it, "A Memoir of Love Gone Wrong," which I think isn't really the best way to describe it. Maybe for marketing purposes it is, but it's way more than that. It's more about looking at the world around you and thinking, "Wait a minute. This isn't me. How did I end up here?" and then proceeding to knock it all down in the worst way possible before finding atonement in ways you never saw coming. Forgiving others is a POS transaction. Forgiving yourself is a re-baptism.

My second book, You'll Never Interview In This Town Again, is about the utter fucking ridiculousness a person goes through when interviewing for software jobs in Austin. If you live in Austin and you're in the tech community, you should read it. You should also pass it around to people who don't live in Austin, so they'll be discouraged from moving here. I am self-publishing it, not because I couldn't find a publisher (I didn't try) but because the relevancy of the story makes it important to publish it immediately. Even after a publisher accepts your book, you're still waiting a year or more for it to come out in bookstores. I couldn't wait that long. But YNIITTA is a Kindle-book only because I don't have the benjamins to print hardcopies (But hey, if you're reading this and you're looking to invest, hit me up. I might have a sweet proposition for you.).

If you write a blog that more than ten people visit a day, or a Twitter account that hundreds of non-robots follow, or you're a journalist or wannabe journalist- if you think you have any influence over the human race and their reading decisions, email me and I will send you a copy of my book for free. With the condition, of course, that you promote it or review it, and that you don't stick it on piratebay. BTW follow me on FB if you like, or be a fan of my Goodreads page and I'll love you forever. The only people who follow me on Goodreads are other writers who are always trying to get me to read their shit. It's so annoying. (Yeah, I'm a hypocrite. So what?)

What else? Oh, London and I had a goofy photo shoot the other night. See pictures below. She is so hilarious and beautiful and wonderful and magical. I'm a lucky mom. It's amazing how much I love that child.

Oh yeah, one last thing, can you comment in the Comments section just to let me know that someone is reading this? Even just a "hey" will do. I've been angry at myself lately for not writing more on my blog. But if there's no one listening, then maybe I'll just keep it limited to posting cool quotes I find on Pinterest.

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