Supporting Trans Kids Means Finding Empathy

I haven’t posted in SO long! Mostly I’ve been writing about transgender stuff in private. But it’s Pride Month, and I’m feeling full of pride. And I need something fresh on this blog!

Most of my private writing has been about exploring sadness–something I’m not used to feeling, let alone writing about. It seems to be a thing that happens to people in midlife. We become softer. Things seem to move us more easily. At least, that’s how it is for me. I’d like to think this is the beginning formation of wisdom. Wisdom is definitely on my list of goals as I tiptoe into old age. One thing I’m beginning to grow wise about is Empathy. Having a transgender kid has unlocked layers of empathy in me that I didn’t know I lacked. So, here is my first post in around two years. If you like it, and want to read another post I wrote about being the parent of a transgender teen, read this one, too, called Love In the Time of Transition.



At first, Empathy came at me like a fire tornado. I’d given birth to my first child and my world suddenly filled with the sounds of an inconsolable screeching baby. Warm baths didn’t help. Car rides didn’t sooth my child. Fresh air and long walks only served to alert my neighbors of my baby’s discomfort. One thing that would work for about five minutes was holding the baby tightly to my chest as I jumped on my bed—queen mattresses stacked on the floor of our small apartment. Those 5-minute increments were so precious that I jumped for hours a day and eventually broke two box-spring mattresses in the 3 months of colic. Changing my diet seemed to help, too, though I could never pinpoint the hows or whys of it.

But mostly nothing I did would make the baby quiet down or fix the problem. My child was much more than a problem to be fixed. My child was too real and too human. Too suffering of something the world called Colic but didn’t understand enough to treat effectively. I cried along with my child, desperately wishing away this thing my baby was suffering. Then, exhausted, I had that eye-of-the-storm moment of quiet amidst chaos, where I closed my eyes, let go of my struggle, and accepted that this wasn’t my fight. I wasn’t a terrible mother. Sometimes babies hurt and adults couldn’t intervene with solutions. At best, I played a supporting role. While I held my baby and whispered that we were in this together, my crying moved from frustration and anger and willful desperation for change and became crying because my baby was hurting. It was pure. My child hurt. I hurt.

Weeks later, I rocked my baby to sleep. The screeching had waned to a general fussiness to an eventual general calm and overall well-being. I felt moved by the way my child had grown into a healthier happier baby. Perhaps it had to do with how I changed my diet and held him close, but mostly it seemed that he did it on his own, in my general vicinity. I felt moved that a human so tiny could have that much independence, will, and strength. I was incredibly proud to bear witness.

Seventeen years later, when this same kid came out to me as transgender, empathy would whisper uncomfortably in my ear as I quietly struggled to call my child by a different name and use different pronouns. I was that new mom all over again whose role was to hold my child close and give reassurance that we were in this together even though mostly I cried and secretly wished it away—a bias I’d face later. A trans life is not a lesser one. That’s wrong thinking.

Once again, my child suffered. This time in silence. It was something the world called Transgender and again didn’t understand enough to treat effectively—not physically, socially, or politically. Suddenly my world was filled with the sounds of a name and pronouns that felt like lies every time I said them. It was a stranger’s name. It was a stranger’s pronouns. I messed up all the time, which I knew hurt my child’s feelings. I worried about the weirdest things: Did putting my child in gender-neutral clothing cause this? What happened in Utero? Did my diet screw up my child’s hormones?

When my child came out as trans, the bathroom bill in North Carolina had just become newsworthy, which added to my worries. Indiana was introducing it’s own bill. And now my in-laws were coming to town for Thanksgiving. I asked my child what name and pronouns to use when family came to town. My child wasn’t ready to come out to them yet and asked us to go back to the birth name and birth pronouns while they were here. Though the name and pronouns were incorrect, the relief I felt was akin to when my baby was colicky, had cried for hours, and had finally fallen asleep. It washed over me fully. I knew it was temporary, but man it felt so good.

When family left town and I had to return to my child’s gender-affirming name and pronouns, my anxiety set in again. But I could sense relief washing over my child. Oh, I thought. I get it. It was a very small but real understanding of the incongruity my child felt. It wasn’t an eye-of-the-storm moment this time so much as quiet nudge that reminded me I wasn’t a terrible mother—that sometimes children hurt and adults can’t intervene with solutions. So my crying moved from ignorance and willful desperation for change and became crying because my child was hurting. It was pure. My child hurt. I hurt. I don’t presume to fully know what it’s like to be trans, but I felt the truth of my child’s identity for the first time that day. He was my son and always had been. Empathy had crept in.

Weeks later, I would stand at a rally, and watch my son give a speech on the Statehouse steps asking his community to fight for his rights. He was counting on us since he was too young to vote. I was moved that this now healthier and happier teenager could have that much independence, will, and strength. I was moved by the confidence he had to tell his community that he was proud to be trans and that someday he hoped he’d be proud to be trans in Indiana. Perhaps his bravery and confidence had something to do with how I found empathy and supported him, but mostly it seemed that he did it on his own, in my general vicinity. And I was incredibly proud to bear witness.

We know support of Trans youth matters. A 2012 study found that 57% of transgender youth who did not have supportive parents attempted to commit suicide in the past year, while just 4% of transgender youth with “very supportive” parents did. I learned at the National PFLAG Convention in October that our LGBTQ+ youth still overwhelmingly come out to their families via text, letter, email, or third party because they are scared they may have to live with the memory of their parents non-affirming reaction. Support can come in many forms, but it must first come in the form of empathy. Our transgender kids—like all kids—can and will grow into incredible adults with or without us. If we parents don’t show up with empathy, if we don’t choose to bear witness, we’ll miss out on their most dignified and courageous moments of growth.

I Have a Son

transgender_symbol bw
His name is August.

It’s strange to read it, I know. It’s strange to write it, and I’ve had months to get used to the idea.

A lump rises in my throat as I write it. I’ve asked myself many times why I struggle to look forward to being around the (freer and happier) son who’s been there all along instead of grieving the daughter, Eleanor, I thought I had. But it remains a struggle. It’s going to be a while, I think, before the strangeness melts away.

It’s hard to know how to approach my community with this. I’ve been working on this post for days. August’s coming out isn’t as simple as just telling people I have a transgender son on a need-to-know basis because we’re all going to have to adjust to using a new name and new pronouns. It’s going to feel strange for all of us. We’ll probably all have more questions than we’re comfortable asking or maybe we won’t know what to say to each other or to August at all.

Personally, I envisioned myself the parent that says the hardy, courageous, and inspiring thing to her suddenly-more-vulnerable kid who’s on a path the world hasn’t embraced, a path many won’t acknowledge is even there. I want to say to August, “BE YOU no matter what because you’ll give the world your best talents and your best love when you’re honest about who you are.” But this time it’s just harder to say it. Not that he even needs me to say this. He’s confident enough without my cheerleading. But wouldn’t life be so much easier for August if he didn’t have to get people on board who knew him as a girl? If he didn’t have to worry about legalities and additional oppression? If he didn’t have to worry about medical decisions and insurance? If so many things…?

As if hiding who he is and pretending he’s a girl for the rest of his life would be easier.

Is that what I want for my kids: an easy life? An easi-er life? An easy-ish life? Well, that’s naive of me.

So I’m putting that aside to face August’s transition, which is really more of a transition for us. What we will now see on the outside is what has always been locked in August’s heart and mind. It’s a complicated, emotional human experience. So is coping with cancer or getting pregnant at the exact wrong time or losing a pregnancy or going through a divorce or shedding a religious belief or any number of things that involves losing love and finding love–sometimes at the same time.

It’s what we humans do.

Any of these complicated, emotional human experiences can be wholly awkward to deal with.

So, if you feel strange or don’t know how to feel about August transitioning, we get it. We’re a mix of “Yay!” and “Huh.” and “Eek.” And “Are you sure?”

Yes. He’s sure. It’s us who aren’t.

So we’ll say awkward things to each other and to August (that are born of respect and kindness but may get lost along the way), but the important thing is that we say them to each other–that we’re all vulnerable enough with each other that we allow each other to roll around in the awkward of love, loss, and change and come through to acceptance together.

That being said, I’ve turned off the comments on this post to keep the trolls away. Friends and family members, please feel free to interact with this post on Facebook, by email, or in person if you’d like to.

We understand that a lot of people don’t really get what it means to be transgender. We’re still learning about it, too. What follows are some good transgender resources (articles, comics, videos, etc.), which August and I found together. They range in depth, scope, and perspective.

One last thing. Our family is so incredibly appreciative that there are resources available right at our fingertips: to learn about transgenderism, to find support groups, and to interact with people who have similar stories. The Internet isn’t always a place for shaming or bullying others. Thanks to all those people who wrote the articles, provided support, and shared their stories so that we could find them.


Here’s a basic FAQ of Trans Questions and answers from PFLAG (New York chapter). What is PFLAG? Learn about it here. Our family is a member of this tremendous organization (Indianapolis chapter). If you’re interested in coming to a meeting with us, let us know.

To understand more about the gender spectrum and gender identity, explore this site: but these pages are especially good: and

Some more trans basics in video format (annoyingly blurry, but good info) explained by transgender male, Tony: Trans 101

A quick word from transgender teenager, Alex, about gender identity

Hear transgender teenager, Benton, answer the question “When did you know you were trans?”: HOW DID I KNOW I WAS TRANS?

Benton Coming Out (live)A really cool video where he comes out to his class and explains the difference coming out made to his quality of life

Listen to transgender male, Chase, explain gender dysphoria

Understanding the difference between your child’s sex and his or her gender identity with parent, Jodie Patterson: Mom, I’m not a Girl I love this mom! She’s my new hero.

More from Jodie Patterson on accepting our kids for what is in their heads and hearts, not for what their bodies look like: Raising Penelope

Read about some transgender misconceptions

Here are some tips on How to Respect a Transgender Person 

Here’s a comic about what not to ask a transgender person: Trans Trip-Up; Read also: No, you may not ask about my son’s genitals

Words from some other parents of trans kids: 8 Things Parents Want You to Know



Throwback Thursday with Shannon Lee Alexander

Given the trendiness of Throwback Thursday, I’m re-branding my beloved series of guest author posts called “Self-Deprecating Sunday.” Self-Deprecating Sunday started because I’d written a YA novel about a girl in R.O.T.C. in high school. I was looking for photos of myself in my uniform–had to get the description of the uniform just right. I found some of those photos. I’m the one in the ridiculous glasses,  on the right. EPSON MFP imageEven beyond R.O.T.C., it really cracked me up to look back on all the outfits I wore and what I knew was hip and cool, so I started showcasing some of that on my blog. So much of being a teen is about exploring your identity; it’s partly why I love writing about teens. We all get through the awkward years–some of us with more flair than others, and it is fun to look back. Young adult authors around the Internet joined in with me to celebrate their youthful escapes.

Today, I’m thrilled to have my friend and Critique Partner (Capitalized because she’d just that good), and debut author, Shannon Lee Alexander, join me for our first installment of Throwback Thursday! Her wonderful novel, Love and Other Unknown Variables hit shelves Tuesday and is getting some beautiful reviews.

So without further ado, here’s Shannon Lee Alexander doing her Throwback Thursday thing:

My family moved to a small southern town when I was in fifth grade. I immediately met two amazing friends, my Em, to whom Love and Other Unknown Variables is dedicated, and Avery, who was the kind of friend you could just be with. Also, her mom had a shiny tiara and a scepter encased in a glass table in their living room, which I always thought was pretty cool.

My parents were Yankees. They’re totally southerners now, but back then, we were all somewhat confused by southern customs. For example, barbecue did not mean cooking out on the grill. It was some strange, vinegary, shredded pork concoction that southern people would go to war over if someone were to question its honor.

And then there was cotillion. Everyone assured my mother that every proper southern young lady should be attending cotillion. And while I was not so good at proper, I was desperate to fit in, so I begged to go. Basically, at cotillion, boys and girls at the awkward age of thirteen are forced to learn ballroom dancing. I was slightly tall, and hated sticking out, so of course, EVERY SINGLE TIME I’d end up paired with the shortest boy in class. It was unpleasant for us both.

I think maybe etiquette was taught, too, but by that time in the evening I was too overwhelmed from having to dance with a boy to pay attention. I just wanted the watered down lemonade and cheap cookies that were calling to me from the refreshment table in the corner of the room.

Today’s picture is of Avery and me dressed for the first shannon TBTcotillion. My dad was pretending to be grumpy about us going off to dance with boys. We’re laughing, but inside I wanted to cry. Growing up is a strange Tango of wanting to be grown and wanting to stay small.

As a fun aside, Avery and I fell out of touch during college, but recently rediscovered our friendship. Our shared love of reading brought us back together. Her blog, Flutters and Flails, is even featured on the back cover of Love and Other Unknown Variables, which was a fun surprise to us both!

Thank you, Shannon, for joining me. I’m so happy you’ve stopped by the blog. Readers, check out Love and Other Unknown Variables, a beautiful story of love, hope and ache of growing up.

And, if you’re a YA writer and wish to be featured on Throwback Thursday (formerly Self-Deprecating Sunday), please contact me at jody(dot)mugele(at)gmail(dot)com, or leave a comment.

Ebola–Close to Home

Here’s the thing: my husband could’ve been Kent Brantly. He stood in JFK Hospital JoshuaMugelein Monrovia, Liberia while their first Ebola patient came in. My perspective as a wife was first to be angry and irrational–why did you go back to Liberia? Holy shit. Get out of there now. Et cetera.

He did get out of there. His incubation period passed, and I knew he’d be fine. Obviously I was relieved.

Then Kent Brantly’s story hit the news. I felt for his wife. I wondered if she’d be a widow. I wondered a lot about what it would be like to be a widow.

As these wifely thoughts percolated, Josh filled in details about his experiences in Liberia. We often have our morning coffee on the porch together. And Josh brought back some wonderful coffee from Dr. Brisbane’s plantation. As we sipped our rich coffee, Josh frowned at how the nurses rationed gloves. His brow pinched together as he wondered if JFK would have to close down, and how would people get their medicines?, and think of the pregnant mothers who can’t get to the hospital. (As of today, the hospital had closed, but was reopened.) Josh speculated about the doctors and staff getting Ebola. His eyes became teary. “There aren’t enough doctors, already.” He didn’t say anything about regretting leaving Liberia because that’s not something you say to your wife.

Then we got word that Dr. Brisbane had indeed gotten Ebola. Soon after, word came that he died. I never knew him, but I’ve been there while Josh grieves his friend, so I’m sure Dr. Brisbane was a wonderful man. (I still can’t seem to brew that last pot of Monrovian coffee from Dr. Brisbane’s plantation.)

Then another Liberian doctor died. And some of the staff.

The news crews came. Josh was interviewed five or seven times, I think. I was struck, but not surprised, by how much was edited down–the parts about real people dying and about a Liberian hospital in need of things as basic as gloves and power cords–while the fear that Ebola could come to America was reported over and over. It’s a valid fear, but only one part of the story.

In other news, Kent Brantly and Nancy were coming home for treatment. I was happy for Kent’s wife. She wasn’t going to be a widow. America can contain and treat two cases of Ebola.

But what about the Liberian doctors? What about the Liberian widows?

All my thankfulness that my husband was home safe got wadded up with the realness of people dying and the unfairness of white vs. brown and rich vs. poor and educated vs. uneducated. It’s a strange, sad entanglement. I’m married to a man who has an important skill. He’s promised to his family–a husband and father, and he’s committed to skillfully treat sick and dying people and manage disasters. It has suddenly become harder to ask him to choose the family–harder, but not impossible. I’m selfish for me and my kids. I do not wish to be a widow.

Dr. Brisbane (and many others) made a choice to keep doctoring the people of Liberia. He could’ve retired to his coffee plantation. But he went to work at the hospital. And it cost him his life. His wife is widow. Fourteen kids lost their dad.

Josh was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He wrote an essay about Dr. Brisbane and his sacrifice. It is a beautiful and well-written essay. You should read it.

There are things we can do. We can help Liberian nurses get gloves. We can help Liberian doctors get equipment they need to stay safe while treating patients. There can be fewer widows and orphans. Please consider donating to The Dr. Sam Brisbane Fund. (If you want to hear Josh discuss how the  money will help, watch this video.)

Donate (YA) Books and Boost Adult Literacy

IndyReadsAd1So, I posted on Facebook yesterday that I’m excited to be a teen “shelf curator” for Indy Reads Books, and got a “What’s that mean?” response. So, hey, why not blog about it?

Magnolia and I started volunteering at Indy Reads in June. Besides being a beautiful and inviting bookstore with a friendly staff (and the only bookstore downtown Indianapolis), it’s a not-for-profit business. The majority of books sold come from donations and support Indy Reads, an organization with a mission “to promote and improve the literacy of adults and families in Central Indiana.” It’s been really fun to sort books, organize and shelve books, and see them find lovely new homes.

And given my love for teen literature, I volunteered to help curate the teen section. This means I get to review stock and pick the best YA and teen books to shelve in the store. I also get to recommend awesome books to shoppers–and recommend awesome books for management to purchase new because Indy Reads Books sells new books as well as used books. And if you don’t see what you want in the store, they can always order it for you at a discount.

So if you’re into books, or into helping support a great local Indianapolis business, or want to help improve adult literacy in Indiana, check out the store and buy books. And if you’re into helping me create a really fantastic teen section for young adult readers in my community, consider donating your young adult and teen books. Stop in to the store on Mass Ave., email me, or message me about book donations.

Book Review: Noggin

I loved this book! Noggin was my first John Corey Whaley novel, and I will certainly be reading more after finishing this funny and nogginbittersweet story that is the perfect follow-up to The Fault in our Stars by John Green or Love, and Other Unknown Variables, by Shannon Lee Alexander, or any other book that  takes you on a journey of loss and grief and teenage love and leaves you with a longing to make the most of life.

Noggin is a story about a teenage boy who has died of cancer but had his head cryogenically frozen until the day when doctors can attach a new body and give him a second chance at life. That day comes only 5 years after his death–much sooner than anyone could’ve hoped for and just long enough that everyone has grieved him and seemingly moved on, including his girlfriend who is now engaged. His parents are acting strange and his best friend isn’t acting himself either. But for Travis, it’s like he’s just had a nap. Adjusting is hard to say the least. And anyway, Travis knows that he’s been given a second chance for a reason, so he does everything in his power to get his old life back. Good idea, Travis. What could possibly go wrong?

I wish I’d thought of this plot. It is such a good metaphor for resisting all that adulthood brings with it–the thing that our beloved characters in The Fault in our Stars and Love and Other Unknown Variables will miss out on. And while we know that our friends in these books would have loved to have had the ache of adulthood, Travis must actually go through it before he’s ready, willing, and able. He does so bravely and stupidly–as you’d expect–and is all the more lovable for it.

I’d love to see this be nominated for the Printz this year. I’ve read a few tremendous books so far this year, and this is certainly one of them. So if you’ve just bawled your eyes out after reading The Fault in our Stars or Love and Other Unknown Variables, pick up Noggin.

The Dog who Loves Selfies

Magnolia has adopted Instagram as her preferred social media platform, and I’m committed to not getting my parental funk all over the site by joining it. She didn’t specifically ask me not to, but it’s an easy enough gesture. So, I’m sharing a few of the selfies she took with Eleanor and the dogs. Because they are cracking me up so bad!

If you don’t know our dogs, allow me to introduce them:

Marlowe: A crotchety, old retiree who wants nothing more than to enjoy his early bird special at precisely 5 p.m. and then yell at the young pups from the sunny spot on the porch. Smelling the sweet stink of squirrels is also a welcomed treat, taking this hound back to the days when the chase took him on such adventures as “How did I end up at the Safeway dumpster again?” and “Hey Jody, have you met your neighbors at [xxx address]?”

Dandy: An eager, vain, bow tie-loving tramp ready to sneak your shoes into his stores. When confronted, he won’t admit his fetish. “No, no, I just missed you,” he’ll plead. Riiiiight. Your name is Dandy, son. We’ll love you no matter who you are! It’s no wonder he’s confused about who he is; he’s a mix of the smartest herding breed and dumbest retrieving breed. Also, a neat freak, this one hates messes so much, he cleans up after himself (and Marlowe), giving you a literal shit-eating grin after a long day picking up in the yard. If only he had the manners to cover his mouth when he belched.

Can you guess which of these sons of bitches loved the camera?


Book Review: Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park gets filed under: Books I wish I wrote. It is easily a new favorite. It won a Printz honor award, and I boldly declared on some social media site that it should have won, admitting I hadn’t read the others. I’ve read another of the honor books, which I’ll review soon. I did love the other one, Maggot Moon, but Eleanor and Park still holds a special place in my heart.

ImageI picked up Eleanor and Park in a local bookstore in Frankfort, Michigan, in the summer of 2013. It was in the window display. Since I have an Eleanor, I immediately scanned the jacket and became even more interested in the story, and of course, I was excited to see that it was YA fiction.

What captured me was the characterizations. Eleanor was insecure and somehow it didn’t annoy me. The awkward truths that bubbled out of her were remarkable yet simply stated. Park was equally awkward, but his earnestness was endearing. Rainbow Rowell took wonderful care in delicately and indelicately building Eleanor’s and Park’s relationship with each other, reminding us exactly what it’s like to fall in love for the first time when you feel like the worst version of yourself. I loved following them through their wonderful terrible days. Rowell gives a nod to Shakespeare as Eleanor and Park discuss Romeo and Juliet in class and hits us clearly on the head that this is–at its heart–the same story. Just look at the cover, and it’s clear that Eleanor is our Romeo and Park our Juliet. Park wears the eye liner in the relationship and Juliet remarks more than once that “Park is the sun.”

Now, here’s where I admit that my own Eleanor had to point out to me that Park was Juliet, noting the references to Park as the sun. Eleanor is a far more insightful reader than me, and this is the book where I learned that. It was one my favorite moments with my daughter, ever. Rainbow Rowell, if you somehow ever see this, thanks. You not only touched me and my daughter with your wonderful book, you gave us a connection through it.

But back to the book, our Romeo and Juliet here have an expectedly sad ending, but there are sparks of hope for them as individuals that make the story perfect for young adults looking to understand what it means to be an individual, looking for love, and trying to navigate the nuances of happy and sad, ugly and pretty, good and bad, permanent and transient, comfort and hurt.

Rainbow Rowell gets bonus points for the gym suit scene. It is my all-time favorite scene in a book, ever. It is perfection. And I’ve recently learned that the movie rights were sold on this book, so they better not screw up that scene! Hell, I may not even watch the movie; the book was so raw and rich and perfect. However, it does help to know Rainbow has been asked to write the screenplay. If you haven’t read this one, you most definitely want to before the movie hits the screen!

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

ImageI have this prejudice against “dying child” books. Basically, I feel like it’s cheating. Dying children is a sad topic; and as an author, you don’t have to work very hard to make me cry. If I’m going to cry, I want to be moved by a depth of character or deeply complicated plot that leaves me wishing I’d written the thing. I’ll still read a “dying child” book, but it’s going to have to work extra hard to make me love it.

That being said, Jesse Andrews didn’t try through typical means to give his main character, Greg, a meaningful connection to the dying girl. The connection between them wasn’t the point. The way he went about trying to be friends with her (his mom forces him to) put Greg in an increasingly brighter spotlight at school. This is Greg’s greatest fear. This unique way of pushing Greg to be something different and better by book’s end kept me engaged. And I left behind my prejudice for the “dying child” plot device.

The plot was piled over by a long and windy trail of descriptions of people, back-story, and self-deprecation by Greg as he tells his tale. And while the voice was admirable and probably very true to teenage boy, I found it at times distracting. He often referenced how bad a writer he is. Occasionally, I grew antsy and impatient with Greg telling me I probably wanted to punch myself in the face. Overall, the voice was funny and the whole reason I read it was because my 15-year old cracked up the whole way through this book and begged me to read it next. I’m glad I did. I was a great book.

One last thing: I especially like that the characters were carefully unique–misfits without knowing they were misfits, or at least no one was shouting or overtly angsty about not fitting in. Their qualities and traits felt real. Both my teenager and I love a book that makes an outsider so quietly accessible.

The Little Perfections

bedJosh and I often marvel at the wonder of how good our bed feels. It’s not a special bed. We don’t have fancy sheets or expensive pillows. But climbing in after Josh’s busy shifts is one of his favorite things in life. For me, it’s watching him wind down and become downright giddy about the escape he’s about to make from the toughness of the day (or night). Hard work and exhaustion look good on a man. And I think we are both in one of our most content moments when we are together on the brink of sleep.

It also makes me feel like the wealthiest of people. So much comfort and happiness must only be for gods and kings. And in this modern world where I’m well-fed and educated and own property and pets and have the love of my children, I’m aware of the golden age I’m in.

You know what else makes me feel like that? Reading! I’ve missed it so much. This weekend I’ve read two books, critiqued a short story, and begun critiquing a novel for a critique-mate. It’s the most sustained reading I’ve done since surgery, and I’m not without the weirdest little zips and zaps of nerve pain in my head. (Not my face, though. It remains pain-free!) But, the point is, I feel back to my reading self. I can hole away for three days and quench my thirst for reading. I’m trying to pinpoint the satisfaction of it. What is it that is so sweet? I think it has something to do with how I daydream. I don’t know about you, but when I daydream, it tends to be a mishmash of images and memories–frustrations and delights strung together in the most random of ways. But fiction focuses my imagination, and my daydreams and imaginings as I go along become a full organized worlds of wonder, beauty, heartache, and hope. And when I’m done with a book, I feel that same feeling as getting into my bed. I am part of something little and perfect in a world that is better than it has ever been before.