Goodbye for now, Chicago <3

This past May, I bought this beautiful old house in Cleveland Heights, Ohio!! I move there for good next weekend, when my Chicago lease is up.

The Chicago flag has four red stars on it. I love that Chicago is a place with the balls to give itself its own flag. (But I get it. Even earlier today I accidentally typed, “The state of Chicago is…”) These four stars represent pivotal events that forged Chicago as we know it, for better or worse. The Great Chicago Fire is one star, for example. The World’s Fair is another.

When I moved here, I was only a few weeks sober. In hindsight, that seems v stupid and dangerous. They say not to make any big life decisions in early sobriety, but I think moving to Chicago is what made it possible for me. I had a completely clean slate. I was open and raw as hell and the city rewarded me in kind.

People who don’t know Chicago can jump to the conclusion that it is a violent place, but I healed here. I came alive to myself here. This city’s indifference and challenges and charm were exactly what I needed. It was hard but it was not cruel.

I had a few months of overlap owning my new house in Cleveland Heights and renting my apartment in Chicago. I made a list of Chicago things I still wanted to do before I moved. (My friends and I called this the Last Dance Summer bucket list. If you know you know. 🐂) As I made my list, I realized I didn’t have much to put on it. I’d done so much already. Even with a year spent doing nothing during a pandemic.

My favorite thing about Chicago has always been the physical experience of it. I love riding the L like a puppy loves riding in a car. I feel no shame when people visit and I’m like, “LET’S RIDE THE TRAIN!!!” My love for it is so pure. I mean, there’s nothing better than seeing the city unfold before you, the built neighborhoods like petals of a beefy flower. Yes, even if the train car you’re on smells like smoke and piss and there’s a shifty woman wearing head-to-toe gold sequins at 2 pm. (*Especially* if there’s a shifty woman wearing head-to-toe gold sequins at 2 pm.)

I also love that in Chicago you can walk. Everywhere. That sounds so simple, but this was new to me. Walking was something I used to do to *get* somewhere. In Chicago, I walked to *see* somewhere.

My first apartment here was a shitty little studio in Lakeview and I would walk the Lakeshore every morning. One, two hours of just walking around, soaking in my new life. During my divorce, the thing that kept me sane was walking the Old Irving Park neighborhood at night. Three, four hours of just walking around, releasing my rage.

But rage is not what I’ll remember about Chicago. It’s love.

I love the skyline and the Bulls and Dennis Rodman. I love Chicago hot dogs with the sport peppers and Pequod’s pepperoni. I love the miniature rooms decorated for the holidays at the Art Institute. I love the bridges and the boats. All that corny ass out of towner shit, I LOVE IT. I also love the things and people and best friends you only get to know if you live here.

And while love brought me to Chicago, sustained me in Chicago, love has now called me away. My heart is in Ohio. I am SO excited to be closer to my family again and Doug. I am excited to own my first home and I genuinely can’t wait to root myself down after decades of spiriting around to wherever, whenever. My definition of freedom has taken a new form.

I have this certainty I’m on the right track. Like I’m exactly where I need to be and heading exactly where I need to go. Even as I leave it behind, Chicago enabled a path for me that led to a remarkable degree of self-faith.

This city is a star on the flag of my heart.

Pretty in purple

Come home soon.

// || // || // || // || // || // ||

“Under the Lilacs” by Jackie Mantey // Original image info: Russell Lee, 1941, “Old brown stonehouses, Chicago.”

  • Embroidery floss on photo paper
  • Comes in white picture mat with bevel-cut core
  • 11 inches x 14 inches in mat

New watercolor works!

One watercolor painting = two cool new things 💧💧















Surprise hello, sad goodbye

Over the weekend I made a last-minute trip back to Ohio for two things: 1) The impromptu Columbus Alive farewell gathering and 2) my nieces’ dance recital. My visit was a surprise for all but about three people I saw that weekend, and man, I gotta make more surprise visits because the reaction was amazing. I felt so loved! Thank you guys. <3⁠

I’m bummed Columbus Alive newspaper closed. That job validated to me that I am a writer. It gave me so many experiences, discoveries, and friends. Alive’s end is a loss for a community I once loved and I hope the professionals still there find a way to fill the hole left in its wake.⁠

My top two Alive experiences came at the beginning and end of my time writing for it: ⁠

2) Seeing Nina West perform while covering Drauma for the paper early in my tenure and returning to the newsroom with a mission: Convince everyone we should write about her AMAP because baby was a S-T-A-R. Shelley was more than game. Covering drag and affirming it as an Arts subject area and creative pillar in the city was a big deal to us 12 years ago, especially under the ownership at the time.⁠

1) Getting to know Alix Reese was an honor and writing about her changed my understanding of writing. I always felt insecure about my extreme disinterest in chasing down a lead or ASKING THE HARD QUESTIONS™. In journalism school I once had to go cover a fire at a movie theater and I thought the whole time, “I’m in the way. I really hate this.” I wasn’t cut out for hard news. I do not have the right kind of emotional stamina for it.⁠

But I recognized with Alix’s feature that what I brought to the table was important too. My emotional stamina is built for a different kind of writing, and the storytelling it generates can be just as valuable as the hard-nosed journalists getting the scoop. ⁠

A newspaper needs both.⁠

Alix’s feature showed me that when I put my own understanding of life into a piece of writing — particularly about a story as powerful and moving as hers — I can do something meaningful. It’s less obviously important than breaking news, but it still mattered. ⁠

So did every version of Alive and its many contributors. ⁠

Farewell, friend.

May the flower crowns be with you

This guy is from Augustus Sherman’s collection of Ellis Island portraits. The photo is dated 1906. He’s listed simply as “Romanian shepherd.” 

I looked up the May Day celebrations and rituals of Romania (nearly every country’s got some), and this apotropaic one charmed me:

“The entries to the animals’ shelters are adorned with green branches. All branches are left in place until the wheat harvest when they are used in the fire which will bake the first bread from the new wheat.”

To be clear, the fire is to bake the bread. 

Definitely only the bread. 

Definitely not the sad American co-ed’s bad boyfriend dressed in a bear suit. 

Midsommar’s ending explained by Screenrant


Women Getting Coffee for Themselves

A new collection of art mugs has arrived straight from my brain to your lips! YUM!

  • Ceramic 11-ounce mug with black rim, handle, and inside
  • White outside printed with collage design art by meeeeee
  • Dishwasher and microwave safe
  • $20 (that includes taxes, and shipping is always free xoxo)
  •  Bottomless refills*

* (of cool, not coffee)

Al Fresco

Strong Pour

Coffee Forever

Cheer Cafe

From the Saucer

Breakfast Time

Coffee Table

My 36th birthday was siiiiick

I had food poisoning the day before my birthday, so I’m just now catching up on life and everyone’s super kind greetings from March 15, usually the best day ever (just ask this little party animal circa 1988).

THANK YOU! It was, shall we say, not a great day this year, BUT, I’m grateful for it all the same.

I think the rest of my 36th year is going to be awesome.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • At the beginning of the year I got accepted into StoryStudio Chicago’s Novel in a Year program. They only accept 12 writers per cohort AND I GOT IN. I have been too shy to apply for years, wary of my fledgling fiction-writing skills, but I finally got the courage last fall and am honored to now get to study under the author Abby Geni for 12 months. The program is giving me the final push I needed to finish this manuscript I’ve been tinkering away at for years. (It’s fiction about two people trying to save their hometown roller skating rink. That’s all I’ll say for now, but I love the story, the characters, and the rink.)
  • Justin and I are moving to a much bigger new place in the same Chicago neighborhood we’ve loved living in the past few years. It has enough room for us each to decorate our own space of the apartment (a divisive issue in our last spot, because Justin’s style is very 90s hip hop music video house meets minimalist chic and my style is very OMG DOLLY PARTON AT GRACELAND meets “never met a shag carpet or a cheetah print I didn’t like”). I’m turning the sunroom into my office and I can see Metra trains cruise by on the treeline and above the rooftops as the sun sets and, fuck dude, I die everytime I see it because it’s all I imagined a sunroom to offer. The best part is that a dear friend of mine found the spot for us randomly on Next Door and it feels like friend-fate/ the power of my home-is-inside-yourself approach to life coming to fruition IRL.
The minuscule overlap in the Venn diagram of our styles = a blue velvet couch.
  • My new-ish job is chaotic but overall great. Did I post about this last June? Anyway, I got a new fully remote, full time senior writing and content strategy position at a creative studio last June and I’m doing a lot of tech writing. It’s a fun challenge to flex a new writing muscle and learn about computer science and engineering on the clock. I still pinch myself that I get to make such a great, intellectually stimulating living through writing. Writing has paid my bills for the last 18 years. Eternally grateful for the natural talent and the hard-driving teachers who got me here.
  • Making lots of new art. Last year I started incorporating acrylic and watercolor paint into my practice, and I’ve been obsessed with making collage animations in PhotoShop recently.- Still crushing that auntie game! I love all the little babies! I feel like kids just need a lot of “Yes, and…” when they play and I am excellent at that. I get a lot of joy out of getting to know my nieces and nephews as they grow up. Such cool people my people made!
  • I finally learned how to make orange eyeshadow work on my dumb face!
  • It’s worth repeating ad nauseam: My narcolepsy diagnosis a few years ago was life-changing and the medicine I take now to fight my extreme fatigue has been life-giving.
  • Six years sober in April, baby. My second birthday, as my anonymous friends like to say. 😉 Fingers crossed I won’t be sick for that one this year too. ❤

Introducing the Peekaboo Collection

The journals your mother warned you about!

  • Spiral notebook with printed front and back cover of a mixed media collage
  • Metal wire-o binding
  • Soft-touch coating cover
  • 5 inches x 8.5 inches, 140 dotted pages
  • Sourced from the U.S.
  • $20
  • Sexy and cuuuuuute


Sweet dreams.


That’s kid stuff.


Gimme a ring.


A perfect angel.

Cat Lady



It’s only natural.


Squats! Squats! Squats! Squats! Squats! Squats!


Saved you a spot.


Who’s the smartest of them all?

Introducing the Rosa Collection

The Rosa Collection is a series of spiral-bound notebooks with printed front and back cover collage designs I made, inspired by the 1799 botanical etchings of Mary Lawrance.

  • Metal wire-o binding
  • Soft-touch coating cover
  • 5 inches x 8.5 inches, 140 dotted pages
  • Sourced from the U.S.
  • $20 (shipping cost and sales tax included in price)

These soft-touch cover notebooks are hard to resist.

Pink + Tangerine

Spiral notebook with printed front and back cover of a collage design by Jackie Mantey. Flower etching: Mary Lawrance, 1799, “Rosa Damascena.”

Orange + Goldenrod

Spiral notebook with printed front and back cover of a collage design by Jackie Mantey. Flower etching: Mary Lawrance, 1799, “Rosa Lutea-Bicolor.”

Burgundy + Blush

Spiral notebook with printed front and back cover of a collage design by Jackie Mantey. Flower etching: Mary Lawrance, 1799, “Rosa Centifolia.”

White + Blue

Spiral notebook with printed front and back cover of a collage design by Jackie Mantey. Flower etching: Mary Lawrance, 1799, “White Provincialis.”

Yellow + Mint

Spiral notebook with printed front and back cover of a collage design by Jackie Mantey. Flower etching: Mary Lawrance, 1799, “Rosa Sulphuria.”