Winner! Winner! Cookie Dinner!

After logging in everyone’s name who put Breaking Books in their social media, random.org has chosen us a winner!  (Huge guitar riff with a side of drum roll.)  The winner is:


You are the proud owner of The Airborne Toxic Event themed cookie package.  You can decide if you would like it delivered to San Francisco or mailed to your home.  Please contact me to claim your cookie prize.  You will be receiving one of these:

anna new pickI only did that to highlight the cookie again.  I love it that much.

Thank you to everyone who entered.  I really appreciate the blog support and hope to send you some cookies soon.


Anna’s New Pick

Here’s Anna Bulbrook’s new guitar pick:

Here’s her new cookie:

anna new pick

<Drops microphone>

Breakthrough: Hiding Heartbreak

It’s come into my consciousness lately that we are expected to hide our heartbreaks.  This might seem contrary to popular belief with people airing their dirty laundry on Facebook or the musician who creates a best-selling album based on it.  I’m talking about something different.  A little more personal.  (Although the musician might say it’s the same thing.)  I mean the crushing pain from loss where you wonder if you can ever get up again but are to remain stoic on the outside.  It seems we’re shamed for giving love a chance and we curse ourselves to never speak the topic when it fails.  Even more, we are never to admit how much it hurt.  How much it changed us.  Detoured us from one path and started us down another, for better or worse.  Today, I’m breaking through that old idea to explain why we must change this perception and embrace our relationships.  Heartbreaks and all.

Aren't we all so good in the front row with our hands in our laps.

Aren’t we all so good in the front row with our hands in our laps?

My daughter entered 4th grade this year.  I’ve been especially dreading this grade because it marks the pivotal year where my best friend in the whole entire world turned against me and broke my heart.  I didn’t know to call it “heartbreak” at the time.  Instead I thought she was a monster who tormented me for pleasure.  I cried for the loss.  I seethed with anger for being so stupid.  I never admitted how bad it hurt to other people because I didn’t want to look like the fool; labeled the one who cared too much when she obviously cared nothing at all.  Even the other night this girl, now a grown woman, showed up in my dream.  (I haven’t spoken to her since about 4th grade.)  In my dream she said “I always thought you hated me” and I could only respond, “I do.”

I never said I was cool.

I never said I was cool.  Check me rockin’ the flower dress and pink bow.  (For the record, we were just friends for everyone who knew my date.)


Is it worse with boys?  I think it amplifies the stupid feeling factor.  I never questioned my 4th grade friend, whether our relationship was all a lie.  I knew we were friends at one time.  Even after it ended badly.  With boys (or girls if you swing that way), sexuality brings in an even more crippling silence.  Did he ever feel anything?  Was he only using me?  Was it ever real?

My smokin’ hot and super cool single lady friend fell in love.  The boy seemed to love her too.  He made promises.  Then he took them back.  It hurt.  She hurt.  She doubted herself for even giving love a chance.  She mentally punished herself for being stupid enough to believe him.  It was easy to see reality from my point of view.  I know she’s worth loving even though she didn’t believe it in the moment.  I wrote her, “You were great when you were honest, vulnerable, and raw.  When you opened yourself to love him.  You’ll be great again.”

She was brave to love.  We all have been if we’ve dipped our toe into that murky water.  We put ourselves out there to care for someone deeply without regard to how bad it could hurt when taken away.  We should be proud.   We shouldn’t be scared to share our heartbreak.  We might be daring with our trusted friends, but why stop there?  Why not admit it if the conversation comes up with acquaintances?  Instead of avoiding eye contact and pretending like our past didn’t really mean anything, we should tell people, “I really cared for someone and they broke my heart.”

Photo booths were always to be shared with someone meaningful.

Photo booths were always to be shared with someone meaningful.

A harder question is should we tell the heartbreaker?  Could we tell the originator about the pain we created?  (Because no side in a relationship is void of responsibility.)  I know I have a problem with this.  It’s a power problem.  I don’t want to feel like the chump all over again.  Maybe he/she has a wooden heart mounted where he/she notches each crushed soul.  My attempt to save face by never admitting the importance of the relationship does the exact opposite of my intention.  I’ve made myself a victim by being embarrassed about something I should be very proud.

We shouldn’t forget it’s their story too.  Maybe they gave up rights to it when they stopped calling, but can’t we be the bigger person?  Wouldn’t it be a great if we told people they meant a lot to us even if it didn’t work out?   Although I’m pretty sure I haven’t broken any hearts, if I did I would want to know.  Even explain it really did mean something special to me as well.  We both were impacted by the relationship we once shared.

Don’t think I’m keeping this purely in theory.  I’m taking action.  I’m telling past loves, where we lost touch or had a falling out, about how they helped me discover the person I am today.  Being honest about how much the person meant, even if I meant nothing to them.  I’m not going to search anyone down with some kind of heartbreak hit-list to scratch off one name at a time.  But if I ever run into my 4th grade friend and she asks if I hated her, I’ll let her know it was quite the opposite.  I loved her and she broke my heart.






Countdown Contest

We have now broken through the “in the same month” mark until I travel to San Francisco to see The Airborne Toxic Event’s three-night concert extravaganza.  Fans from all over are meticulously planning the details to make sure they absorb the full experience.  I’m incorporating some of my other loves by researching excellent restaurants, dropping in on renowned bakeries, and seeking out the best lemon drop I can find.  It’s going to be a party.

What about the fans who can’t make it, you say?  The poor saps who decided their kids’ college funds were more important than gallivanting around town to check out macaroons by day and sweatin’ it up in the pit at night?  Don’t they get to celebrate in this momentous event too?  It would be downright unfanly of me not to make sure they get something sweet out of the deal.

We’re going to have a little contest.  From September 1st thru September 14th, anyone who wants a TATE cookie package only needs to tell people on social media about the contest to be entered.  That means if you Tweet, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or use any other social media device to get the word out by linking Breaking Books or tagging me, you will have an entry thrown into the hat.  The more you do it, the more entries you get.  You don’t do social media?  Who are you?  Hubs?  Okay, you can leave a comment at the bottom to get an entry.  Refer your friends, have them mention you, and you get another entry.  At the end of the two weeks, I’ll draw a winner who will get a collection of The Airborne Toxic Event themed cookies.

It will include things like this:

adrian2 copy


mermaid2 copy


mikel guitar 2

anna viola

Even if you don’t listen to TATE, you will still have a box full of cookies.  What can be wrong about that?  Go ahead, get started.  Your cookies are waiting for you.  And don’t worry, I’ll have a lemon drop in your honor when I leave my heart in San Francisco.

**Contest ships in the US only because international shipping is the enemy of good cookies.  Contest ends 6:00pm PST on Sept. 14th.

A Little Eye Cookie

The Airborne Toxic Event fans, are you ready for some more cookie love?  Something a little sweet and a whole lotta sexy?  One lovely fan Instagramed, “It could arguably be said this is the 6th member of the band.”

The day is finally here where Mikel’s Gretsch guitar makes its cookie debut.  I can write more words about it, but I don’t think I will.  Instead, lookie at the cookie.

mikel guitar copy

mikel guitar 2

Do you want to get your hands on one?  Just wait.  Your chance is coming soon.

Choosing Today

Since I was young, I’ve wanted to be brave enough to color my hair some bright color.  The bleaching commitment was too much for me to make the leap.  What if I ruined my hair in the process and it all fell out?  Would it turn out as badly as the time I asked the lady to give me a style with the same length and she layered it all the way to my scalp?  The more time I waited, the more fear crept into my mind.  What would my job think?  Would people doubt my parenting ability?  And the worst fear of all, what is an almost forty-year old doing with that colored hair?

I’d made some meager attempts along the way.  In high school, I bought some temporary blue color.  I think it was made to tint grey.  A concept I really didn’t understand at the time and one now I’m way too familiar.  I’m not sure which old lady was actually using blue, but the point is the flaw in my thinking.  I slathered the stuff over my head like shampoo and washed it out a few minutes later hoping for awesome.  It mixed with my mousey brown to create some blah gray grossness.  I spent the rest of the night in the shower condensing the wash out time.

In college, I went a little more brave.  I choose a semi-permanent color.  My dorm-mate and I each picked a color for a wild time on a Saturday night.  She was going from blonde to brown, while I wanted a maroon-ish red.  We read the box, poured some drinks, and colored away.  After the first application I didn’t think it was bright enough under our fluorescent lights in the middle of the night.  So I did it again.  I ended up with some almost black color which did have the hint of purple in the sun.  It looked kinda cool, but completely washed me out into vampire like status.

I’d learned I couldn’t do it on my own.  I needed a professional to help me pick the right color and apply it the way it should.  Lucky for me, I found a terrific professional about ten years ago who has become a great friend.  The best part is she’ll tell me like it is.  If it’s going to look like crap, she won’t do it.  I finally had the perfect set-up.  So why couldn’t I pull the trigger?

When I’m with my bestie who has a bright color under black, we get stopped constantly with “I love your hair.”  I’ve been jealous for years watching her cycle through the rainbow.  So I made goals.  I’ll do it when I get an agent because when people ask “why did you do that to your hair” I’ll say “I got an agent Mo-Fo.  Shut it.”  Then when I realized I might want it sooner, I thought I’d do it when I reached a goal weight.  If people made a cringed face I’d proudly tell them how hard I worked to get to a particular size.

I started to ask myself why I was waiting.  Why did I need a justification to do something I wanted to do?  How silly was it to prepare my defense to a person I probably didn’t care about what they thought?  So I did it.  I pinned a bunch of hair looks to my friend and told her I was going for a bright red.  Under it I wanted purple peek-a-boos.  I showed up a week later and she delivered a most daring red and purple (for me).

I love it.  It’s bright, kinda different, and a little bit rock n’ roll.  The purple was too muted and will be corrected the next time.  Yes, the next time.  There’s been many opinions.  People have told me they love it and some have even said they hate it.  One person did what I feared the most.  She grimaced and said, “Why did you do this to your hair?”  I straightened my shoulders, grinned from ear to ear and said “I did it for me.”

Swimming in the Deep End

With the recent suicides of the missing Oregon mother and Robin Williams, there’s been an outpouring of people acknowledging depression as a disease.  I have to admit before my mother-in-law committed suicide, I thought I understood depression.  I thought I was pretty in tune with people’s feelings, I worked in the mental health industry for a bit, and had watched my mother-in-law go through many ups and downs.  I was expert enough to make comments about mental health or say I kinda understood.  I thought so until the moment I was told she was dead and then realized I didn’t understand shit.

As an adolescent I watched the after-school specials where they talk about suicide and the devastating mark it leaves on the people left behind.  They looked shocked, analyzed the note, figured out the subtle clues, and solved the “why” mystery in record time to find closure.  The story usually revolved around someone who worried they wouldn’t be loved or felt alone in a moment. Love the person, I thought.  Tell them how special they are and all those dark monsters hiding in their head will disappear.

Which guy do you think commits suicide?


Survivors from a close suicide have to live with so much afterwards.  I knew my mother-in-law was mentally ill even though we never spoke about it out loud.  She made jokes about being crazy and had worked hard to keep her thirty-five years of sobriety.  As her husband became more ill, the alcohol made its way back into her life to numb the hurt.  We begged her to go to AA or try counseling.  Something to fight the monster inside.  I thought I could counter the isolation by repeatedly telling her how much we loved her.  How we needed her every day in our lives.  Her grandchildren needed her laughter and love.  I thought we could be enough if we loved her more.  That’s the funny thing about being naive.  The innocence behind the thought is laughable to someone who knows better.  It’s a disease, not a choice.  Would I ask someone to recover from cancer because I loved them a lot?  Suicide survivors understand this like no other.  They put in the countless hours listening, talking, begging to find it doesn’t change anything.  We were never enough.

The day after she died, we took the kids to a local pool to take their minds off the sadness.  They peeled off their shirts and raced to the edge.  I called them back to warn them about swimming in the deep end.  “Be careful with the slide.  Don’t swim near it.”  They dove in and had great moments.  There was laughter and smiles even with the pain heavy in their heart.  Hubs and I watched with hopes they wouldn’t be scarred for life.

My son swam closer and closer to the deep end where the mouth of the slide poured into the pool.  Racing bodies shot from the plastic tube and torpedoed the water.  I watched a giant kid climb up the three stories of stairs to get to the entrance.  I looked down to watch my son bob his head barely above the water to catch his breath.  His body squared in front of the slide’s opening.

“He’s gonna get hit,” I said to Hubs.  I wished my son to swim faster.  Mentally screaming at him to move his body out of harm’s way.  When I knew he wasn’t going to make it, I stood from my seat and started yelling at the water.  His ears were submerged under the water line and I couldn’t catch his attention.  I yelled louder.  He couldn’t hear me.  Not even when my voice turned from a shrill scream to a pathetic begging.  I tried turning my attention to the giant who was about to throw all his weight down the slide.  An unstoppable force.  Something completely out of my control.  Maybe I could alter his course.  Tell him to wait five minutes.  Then he disappeared.

The large kid shot from the tube like the weapon I knew he could be.  His feet crushed against my son’s back and pushed him under the water.  I almost dove in to wrap him up in my arms and make sure he was okay.  My son pushed up through the water and choked on chlorine and tears.  He got out, I cuddled him, and whispered warnings about swimming in front of the slide.

This is a the closest comparison I can share with watching someone you love battle depression.  (Please note, this is only my account.  Every person’s experience is unique and their own story.)  No matter how loud you scream, their demons flood their ears to keep it out.  They try to keep their head above water until some force is too much for them to take.  Unfortunately, they don’t always come back up.

And while everyone’s situation is different, this isn’t the afternoon special I was sold.  One person tweeted about how if only the Oregon mother knew how much her family loved her maybe the ending would’ve been different.  I countered with, it didn’t matter.  Because for the survivors who lived around the depressed person, we saw it coming all the way.  We hoped we could stop it.  We wished them better.  We begged for them to stay for us.  Which only confirms how naive we all are.


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