Small Confession, Big Adventure!

Hey everyone!

So you might have noticed that I’ve been extra quiet lately. I haven’t been posting as much on social media or discussing my writing or—and I do feel truly guilty about this—responding to messages from my absolutely amazing fans.

I wish I had a good explanation that would justify all of this, but the truth is that I’ve been lost in my own head lately. And not in a fun, oooh-I-can’t-wait-to-write-this-scene way. Nope. I’ve been stuck in self-doubt internal panic mode for the past few months. I couldn’t bring myself to edit a project that I’m passionate about because fear kept me from even opening the file on my laptop.

I felt like I was stranded in the middle of a frozen lake, wearing tennis shoes with absolutely no slip-resistance, and thinking, “Uh oh. This doesn’t bode well. One wrong step and I’m going to land right on my butt. And then I’ll be sore and wet and cold and embarrassed and maybe I should just wait for the ice to melt.” 

So I just stood there.

But the fear didn’t thaw. If anything, it grew even thicker. The list of tasks I wanted to complete grew longer and my embarrassment at my own lack of action made it that much harder to be productive. I bargained with myself. If you edit today, then you will be worthy of responding to the incredible readers who you somehow tricked into thinking that you are cool, and well, would a cool person accidentally scare a UPS deliveryman? No, because normal people don’t do that, Marni. You shouldn’t answer the door. You always make it weird. Like that time with the pizza delivery guy. Remember that? You opened the door and told him it was disappointing and then you rushed to say that he wasn’t disappointing—he’s probably very nice!—and no, you don’t actually have the cash because it’s not your pizza. Not that you are opposed to pizza. Quite the opposite, actually! Hence the disappointment.

Yeah, that wasn’t awkward or anything.

Mmmm…pizza. Okay, I’ll edit right after I make a little snack.

Except I kept making up distractions and excuses instead.

And I kept my mouth shut because I was afraid I might promise something that I couldn’t deliver.

That’s why I stalled on sharing my big news until right now. You see, I’m not actually going to spend the rest of February and the first half of March in Portland, Oregon.

I’m not even going to spend it in the United States of America.

I am writing all of this in the Seattle airport as I wait to board my flight to Southeast Asia. I’m embarking on a brand new adventure. One that right now feels equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.

I’m going to Vietnam. For three weeks.

I will be backpacking for three freaking weeks.

Did I mention that part of this backpacking trip will be spent climbing the highest mountain in Vietnam? Scratch that, I will be climbing the highest mountain in Indochina. Mt. FancyPants.

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Okay, so technically it is called Mt. Fansipan. But whatever. It’s totally Mt. FancyPants.

And I will be climbing it.

I refuse to let fear control my life. I refuse to let self-doubt or the potential for public failure keep me from exploring what this incredible world has to offer.

I refuse to remain frozen on that stupid lake of ice.

I will be finished with these edits before I land in Hanoi, Vietnam. I will be better about responding to all of your messages, as long as I’m not…y’know…climbing a mountain. Or paddling a kayak around Halong Bay. Or…okay, let’s just accept that my Internet access might be a bit limited for the next few weeks. But I really do mean it!

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This is Halong Bay! I can’t wait to see it in person!

And when I return to Portland, Oregon, I will be a FancyPants author at my very first Cedar Hills Powell’s book signing!

You can read a bit about the event here: http://www.powells.com/?startday=01-03-2017

(It will begin at 7pm on Monday, March 20th, 2017! I really hope I will see some familiar faces in the room because it is going to be a blast!)

I’m also very happy to share that my first KBOO radio interview with the incredibly sweet Bethany Grabow for her show Between the Covers will air on Thursday, February 23, 2017 from 11:00am to 11:30am!

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Here I am with Bethany inside the KBOO recording studio!

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Bethany was even willing to stand outside in the freezing cold to take this picture with me. She is awesome.

I believe this link might be helpful. 😉

http://kboo.fm/media/55246-marni-bates-dial-em-murder

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The mural has even more information on it! I love it.

On that note, I think it is time for me to find my boarding gate.

Vietnam is waiting for me!

Love always,

Marni

BRAND NEW BOOK DEAL! DIAL EM FOR MURDER!

Hey lovelies!

I have some incredibly happy news to share with all of you today. My new YA book, DIAL EM FOR MURDER, is going to be published by Merit Press!!!!!

I have an official press announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace and everything!

Children’s: Young Adult
Marni Bates’s DIAL EM FOR MURDER, humor and mayhem ensue when a teen girl gets caught up in the death of a hi-tech hitman and must try to stay one step ahead of the killers lurking in the shadows of an exclusive prep school, to Jacquelyn Mitchard at Merit Press, for publication in summer 2016, by Shannon Hassan at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (NA). Rights also sold to Mora in Hungary, by Lex Copyright Office. Foreign: Taryn Fagerness Agency

Now I could technically end this blog post right here (okay, not right here. At the very least I need a few celebratory gifs, of course!) but Emmy wants me to share more of her story with you. So here is a small behind-the-scenes look at this project.

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The beginning threads of DIAL EM FOR MURDER began tugging at me shortly after I finished writing AWKWARD. I couldn’t get Emmy out of my head. For years. And I can honestly say that writing the ending to DIAL EM FOR MURDER was the first time I’ve ever done the Happy Dance of Author Joy in Starbucks, gone out for celebratory ice cream, and wanted to start working on the sequel before I’d even finished eating my cone. It was my passion project. My obsession.

It still is.

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This book taught me about blind faith and unconditional love and self-doubt and conviction. I think it takes a certain amount of all the above to be a creative person. You have to be willing to break your own heart with every rejection. Willing to believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that someone else will love this beautifully maddening creation as much as you do. You have to  acknowledge all those doubting voices in your head, but not let them paralyze you. And you have to love the project so damn much that you know writing it was the only option.

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At least that’s how I see it.

Words can’t express how excited I am to work with Jacquelyn Mitchard at Merit Press. I can’t wait to share this story with all my fans. And yes, it will be translated for my Hungarian readers! Thank goodness! I dropped some hints about the boys in Emmy’s life during my recent adventures abroad. Because my fans are very sneaky. And they fill my heart with so much joy that I suddenly can’t keep a secret…

My agent Shannon Hassan worked tirelessly on this project with me. I can’t thank her enough. Truly. She’s absolutely amazing.

My friends and family helped me battle the self-doubt monsters. They cheered me on every step of the way. You know who you are. You know that I love you. A special thanks to my housemates who witnessed the full glory of a Marni-can’t-sleep-because-her-characters-are-scaring-her adventure. I’m pretty sure that handy man will never forget it either…

*smiles innocently*

And I’d also like to thank my fans. You know that part about unconditional love? Well, your letters/messages/pictures/drawings/muffins/general awesomeness made me smile on days when the doubt monsters were winning. Your passion and enthusiasm inspire me daily. I love each and every one of you.

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Now I think it might be celebration time!

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(This one is for you, Tija!)

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*continues geeking out*

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

The Craziest Thing (By Far) I’ve Ever Done…

Hey everyone!

So the craziest part of being an (almost) adult is probably doing the things you always said you were going to do, but never thought would actually happen. Or if you did think they would happen, you always pictured a much more mature version of yourself doing them.

Not, y’know…you.

Case in point: Traveling the world with a single backpack.

For two months.

Alone.

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Did I mention that I was doing this alone? Because yeah. Alone. It’ll be me, my laptop (Amelia Airheart), and my loaner backpack (Victor Hugo).

Yes, I name inanimate objects. If I ever find myself stuck on an island like Tom Hanks in Castaway, I will have have a billion Wilsons to keep me company.

So here is the game plan:

May 31st–Fly out of Portland, Oregon.

June 2nd–HOORAY! LAND IN BUDAPEST!

June 4-7–BOOK WEEK IN BUDAPEST! (Meet fans! Geek out like whoa!)

June 8-10–Stay in Budapest, but take some fun day trips.

June 9–Day trip to Győr. (Hopefully do a signing/meet fans!)

June 10–Day trip to either Tatabánya or Gödöllő. (Feel free to tell me which one I should pick in the comments section!)

June 11–Train to Debrecen. (Hopefully do a signing/meet fans!)

June 13–Bus to Oradea. (A signing is in the process of being booked! Huzzah! Can’t wait to meet my fans!)

June 14–Train to Cluj-Naopka. (Do a signing? Meet fans? Convince my fans to check out Hoia Bacu forest with me so that I’m not abducted by aliens?)

June 17–Train to Sighişoara! Visit the foritified churches with my fans? See Vlad the Impaler’s birthplace. 

June 19–Train to Brasov. (Do a signing? Meet fans? Visit Bran castle! Hike the Seven Ladders Canyon with fans who won’t let me quit after four ladders…)

June 22–Train to Sinaia. Visit Peles castle and Sinaia Monastery!

June 24–Bus to Bucharest! (Another signing, perhaps? Meet more fans?)

June 28–Fly to Istanbul. (I’m so excited to stay with an awesome Hungarian blogger!)

July 3– Um…

I.

Have.

No.

Clue.

(Hang out on a Greek island, maybe? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!)

July 16–Fly from Athens to Rome!

July 20–Fly from Rome to New York City!

July 22–HELLO ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA CONFERENCE!

July 26–Fly from New York City to Portland, Oregon.

Sleep for an eternity.

That’s the plan, guys. That’s all I’ve got right now. I might even show up in Budapest with a bunch of it still unplanned.

Now I have been thinking of trying something that could be crazy or incredibly cool!

See, throughout this trip process, I’ve pretty much let my fans pick my destinations. The original plan was to visit Croatia, not Romania! So what if we took it a few steps further…

If a fan wants to meet up with me for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sightseeing, etc….I’m game. I will post every step of my journey and leave the rest up to them. But they should consider this an open invitation to hang out. I hope by posting everything on my Facebook author page right here, I’ll be able to interact with my fans in a very real, meaningful way.

Obviously, I’m going to use my best judgment with this. If I ever start feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, I’ll have to cut the experiment short, or at the very least, restructure it with more ground rules. But I’m willing to give it a chance!

I think the trip will be even more awesome if my readers go on mini-adventures with me!

I can hardly wait to see everyone!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

P.S. No readings/signings/school visits have been booked yet for Romania. So if my fans would like to contact libraries/bookstores/schools about setting up an event, that would be great!

Szia mindenki!

Tehát a legőrültebb része, hogy egy (majdnem) felnőtt Valószínűleg csinál a dolog, amit mindig azt mondta, hogy ezt fogja csinálni, de soha nem gondoltam volna ténylegesen meg is történik. Vagy ha nem hiszem, hogy meg fog történni, hogy mindig a képen egy sokkal érettebb változata magad csinál velük.

Nem, tudod … te.

Példa erre: Utazás a világ egyetlen hátizsák.

A két hónap. Egyedül.

Mondtam már, hogy én ezt egyedül? Mert igen. Egyedül. Ez lesz velem, én laptop (Amelia Airheart), és az én loaner hátizsák (Victor Hugo).

Igen, nevezze élettelen tárgyak. Ha valaha találom magam megragadt egy szigeten, mint Tom Hanks a Castaway én lesz egy milliárd Wilson, hogy engem cég.

Tehát itt van a játék tervet:

Május 31. – kirepülnek a Portland, Oregon.

Június 2 – Hurrá! LAND Budapesten!

Június 04-07 – KÖNYV héten Budapesten! (Meet rajongók! Geek ki, mint a hé!)

Június 08-10 -, akik Budapesten, de némi szórakoztató kirándulások.

Június 9. – Day kirándulás Győr. (Remélhetőleg nem egy aláírási / megfeleljen rajongók!)

Június 10 – Napos kirándulás vagy Tatabánya vagy Gödöllő. (Nyugodtan mondja meg, melyik kéne felvenni a hozzászólások részben!)

Június 11. – A vonat Debrecenbe. (Remélhetőleg nem egy aláírási / megfeleljen rajongók!)

Június 13. – Bus Nagyváradra. (A aláírása folyamatban van a elkönyvelik! Huzzah! Alig várom, hogy megfeleljen a rajongók!)

Június 14 – Vonat Cluj-Naopka. (Van egy aláírási? Találkozz rajongók? Meggyőzni a rajongók, hogy nézd meg Hoia Bacu erdő velem, hogy nem vagyok elrabolták az idegenek?)

Június 17 – Vonat Segesvár! Látogasson el a foritified egyházak a rajongókkal? Lásd Drakulát szülőháza.

Június 19 – Vonat Brasov. (Van egy aláírási? Találkozz rajongók? Látogatás Bran kastélyt! Kirándulás a hét létrák Canyon rajongók, akik nem engedik, hogy kilép, miután négy létrák …)

Június 22 – Vonat Sinaia. Látogassa Peles kastély és a Sinaia-kolostor!

Június 24. – Bus Bukarestbe! (Egy másik aláíró, talán? Találkozz több rajongó?)

Június 28. – Fly Isztambulba. (Olyan izgatott vagyok, hogy maradjon egy fantasztikus magyar blogger!)

Július 3– Um …

I.

Van.

Nem.

Nyom.

(Tarts ki egy görög szigeten, talán? Nyugodtan hagyja javaslataikat a magyarázat!)

Július 16. – Repüljön Athén Rómába!

Július 20. – Fly Rómából New York City!

Július 22 – HELLO Romance Writers of America KONFERENCIA!

Július 26. – Repüljön New York City to Portland, Oregon.

Aludni egy örökkévalóság.

Ez a terv, srácok. Ez minden, amim van most. Talán még megjelenni Budapesten, egy csomó még mindig nem tervezett.

Most már gondoltam próbál valami, hogy lehet őrült, vagy hihetetlenül jó!

Lásd, ez alatt a kirándulás folyamat, amit nagyjából hagyja a rajongóim vegye a célpontok. Az eredeti terv az volt, hogy látogassa meg Horvátországban, Romániában nem! Tehát mi lenne, ha elvitte néhány lépést …

Ha egy rajongó szeretne találkozni velem a reggeli, ebéd, vacsora, városnézés, stb …. Én játékot. Én is hozzászólok minden lépését az utam, és a többit hagyja az ő dolguk. De érdemes ezt a nyílt felhívás lógni. Remélem, a kiküldetés mindent az én Facebook szerző oldalhoz itt leszek képes kapcsolatba lépni a rajongók nagyon is valós, értelmes módon.

Nyilvánvaló, hogy fogom használni a legjobb belátása ezzel. Ha én valaha is indul érzés kellemetlen vagy veszélyes, nekem kell vágni a kísérletet, vagy legalábbis, átszervezését, több alapszabályokat. De nem vagyok hajlandó adni neki egy esélyt!

Azt hiszem, az utazás lesz még fantasztikusabb, ha olvasóim menni mini-kalandok velem!

Már alig várom, hogy mindenki!

Ügyetlenül tiéd,

Marni

P.S. Nem Olvasás / dedikálások / iskolai látogatások került lefoglalásra még a Romániában. Tehát, ha a rajongóim Szeretném felvenni a kapcsolatot a könyvtárak / könyvesboltok / iskolák beállításával kapcsolatos esemény, az nagyon jó lenne!

Marni on the Move!!!

Hey everyone!

I have some news. Big news. Enormous oh-my-god-what-am-I-getting-myself-into-right-now news!

I’m heading off to Europe on June 1st!

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Specifically, I’m going to a book festival in Budapest, Hungary (!!!) where I will get to meet my incredible Hungarian fans (!!!) and totally geek out over all the awesomeness (!!!). I’m still working out the details–and will be for the next few months–but I’m already trembling with excitement.

Okay, and some of that shaking is nervous energy. Because I’m not just going to Budapest. I’m going to be–wait for it–backpacking through Romania, flying to Istanbul, and then adventuring to Greece.

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And then I will spend five days in Rome before flying to New York City.

Why am I not flying directly back to Portland? Funny, you should ask…I’m going to be in NYC for the Romance Writers of America Conference from July 22-25th, 2015.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about taking such a huge international trip all by myself. I mean, I have trouble using the cork-opener thingies. My upper body strength? Zip. Nada. Nonexistent. But soon, I’ll be carting around everything on my back and trust me, that’s scary!

But I also think I’m ready to scare myself. To challenge myself. To see what I’m capable of with only a backpack and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

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Enthusiasm has never been a problem for me…

I would also like to give an enormous thank you to my Hungarian publisher for flying me out to Budapest. This trip wouldn’t be possible without them. I’d still be staring wistfully at pictures of Hungary in Portland instead of gleefully cataloging everything in my closet and evaluating the travel worthiness of each item. I’m an incredibly lucky girl.

If I had told High School Marni that one day she would be traveling to Budapest to meet her fans…she wouldn’t have believed me. It feels too good to be true. This trip is composed entirely out of my wildest dreams.

I can’t wait to share this adventure with you!

All my love,

Marni

Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2014!

Hey everyone,

Let’s be honest, shall we? 2014 straight-up sucked. Sure, there were plenty of good moments, too. But nearly everyone I know had a rocky year. If 2014 was a person, it’d be the cute guy you see at a party and think, “Oh yeah, I am definitely interested in you!” and then you hear him say something offensive and you try to run away, but it’s a small, crowded space, so you just stand there thinking, “Nope! Nope! Nope! I want to leave!

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But looking back, I have to admit, 2014 involved a whole lot of change for me.

I was definitely struggling at the beginning of the year. I’d just moved from L.A. to Portland and my body didn’t adjust to the cold right away. There were some awesome victories–I bought and assembled my first bed!

Sure, that process started out like this…

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But I eventually turned my bedroom into this2014-01-05_1388911350

Twinkle lights!

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Even more twinkle lights!

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ALL THE TWINKLE LIGHTS!

2014 also began with the worst writing dry spell I’ve experienced since…middle school, I think? There were a few weeks when I considered 300 words a day a huge success. Huge. 

I lost sleep over one of my projects. The final confrontation scene creeped me out so badly, I was too scared to sleep. Of course the next day a repair guy showed up at the house and my eyes were bloodshot, my hands shaking from a potent combination of sleep-deprivation and adrenaline, and my housemates were all, “Ignore her. She’s afraid of her own characters right now. It happens all the time.” The repair guy was surprisingly cool about it though. He just wanted to have a long chat about writing and the publishing industry as a whole instead of, y’know…fixing things.

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When I did finally pull myself out of my slump, I started writing with a single-minded purpose that blocked out almost everything else. And somehow, I managed to write three full-length YA manuscripts and a proposal for another project this year. Don’t get me wrong, two of these manuscripts still require serious editing, but I’m rather proud of that accomplishment.

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New personal record happy dance!

I wrote two of these manuscripts while rejections from publishing houses trickled in. That alone is a source of pride. It’s hard to stay in a creative headspace when you are on submission. Really hard, actually.

And for the past three months, I’ve also had a day job.

I’ve been reluctant to mention this publicly, because people can act weird when you tell them that writing isn’t the only way you pay the bills. Mostly they imply that writing must no longer count as a career, simply a hobby. Or worse, they act as if seeking out something else means that you’ve failed as an author.

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I didn’t want to have to deal with any of that nonsense, so I kept the news to myself.

But not mentioning my day job feels dishonest, especially because I really enjoy what I’ve been doing. I love spending time with my coworkers. I love having a job where you clock out and your work there is done. I love having regular paychecks. I love walking over to the bank and personally handing over the check, but I’d be lying if I said it was an easy adjustment. The learning curve was steep. The pace was demanding. Gone were the days when I could wake up whenever I wanted. Hello alarm clock!

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As strange as this might sound, I’m kind of glad 2014 was hard.

It needed to be hard. I wanted to know if I could finish working at a normal job, pull up a chair, crack open my laptop, and write until exhaustion tugged on my sleeves.

And then write a paragraph more.

The knowledge that I can receive a rejection in the morning, return from work in the evening, and still create until late into the night? Priceless. And when I felt like I was floundering the most, I had amazing friends and family members who were there for me. I had the world’s sweetest, most incredible fans telling me how much they enjoy my work. There was still Thai food and laughter and excitement and adventure. 2014 and I did have some very good times together.

 

But mostly, I feel stronger, more resilient, and ready to begin this year on a completely different note.

2015, you look super cute. Please don’t let me down.

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Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Hungarians and my Visibility Vest for Losers!!!

Hey everyone!

I have some seriously awesome news!

Decked with Holly is going into a second printing in Hungary!

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And yeah, I did this when I found out the good news.

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That isn’t all! My Hungarian publisher just showed me the cover art for Invisible because *drumroll please* they will be releasing it in October!

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VISIBILITY VEST FOR LOSERS!!!!

That is really the translation for the title. And you know what? I LOVE IT! I love absolutely everything about it!

And I give most of the credit to my Hungarian fans for making this happen. (Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think I could possibly love my Hungarian publisher more than I already do. I’m so grateful for all the hard work they have put into this!) At the end of the day, my Hungarian readers proved to the publisher that they really wanted to read Jane’s story. They told their friends about my books who told their friends about my books…

They are the reason Awkward and Decked with Holly are both in second printings!

Which is incredibly exciting because it makes it even more likely that Notable will be translated next!

I know. I know. I’m getting ahead of myself. But can’t you picture Chelsea maneuvering her way onto bookshelves in Hungary like this….?

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And then she could shake off the haters like this….

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No? Too geeky? Fair enough. Maybe Chelsea is just imitating Mackenzie…

My point is that your purchases can make a world of difference! Oh, and did I mention that most of my books are on sale right now? Because they are $2.99 on Amazon right now…

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You might want to bunny-hop over there and buy them now…

Last but certainly not least: I did an interview with Bitch Magazine recently! I sat in front of a fancy microphone and discussed writing and everything. You can catch my interview (Oh yeah, and listen to P.C. and Kristin Cast and Malinda Lo, which is just…they are so awesome! *mind explodes*) right here!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni

Losing Sleep

Hey everyone!

I don’t remember the last time I slept through the night. Now this could be because, y’know, I’m not thinking all that clearly right now. Still, I suspect it was…last week? The week before that?

My incredibly patient housemates could probably tell me. They’ve grown accustomed to seeing me emerge from my bedroom around 8pm with a serious case of bed-head and a chipper, “Good morning!”

So why am I not sleeping?

Well…I don’t really know. It’s not like I’ve decided to boycott one of my very favorite things.

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Trust me, I would really like to be able to keep normal people hours. It’s just that every time I close my eyes at night, anxiety washes over me. I start thrashing around in bed, overwhelmed by all the things I have to do, all the goals I haven’t met, all the people I totally meant to email.

After an hour or two of this, I decide I might as well try to get some writing done. Because no matter how crappy my words are at 3am, it has to make me feel better than this. 

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I briefly debate trying to email my fans but realize that I’m not entirely coherent and it’s entirely possible that my grammar will be so bad that all my friends will send this Weird Al song to me!

This song is so great!

So instead of emailing/tweeting my lovely fans, I hide out at Starbucks. I write as my skin grows increasingly clammy and my heart feels like it is pounding in my throat. That’s when I force myself to pack up my things and go home. I’ve covered my window with a thick blanket, but the sun still insists on pestering me.

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At this point, I pretty much pass out. It’s around 9pm when I wake up…just in time to spend another sleepless night attempting to decorate my dresser.

Rinse. Rise. Repeat.

I’m not entirely sure how to break the cycle, although I will be going to a pharmacy today. Sleep aids have always been my very last resort. Unfortunately, I’m there. I walked to Starbucks with two different shoes on my feet. I’m scared that if I try to cook the results will look like this…

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Anyhow, if you are waiting for a response from me, please be patient. It’s not that I don’t care. I just need to get some sleep first!

Awkwardly yours,

Marni