How to Trick Yourself into Being Yourself

I’m a month into the new year, and on my way towards my goal of writing one short story a week.

And already I’m learning a lot.

First, this is not easy. I love writing (duh), but this is exhausting.

People always want to know “where I get my inspiration”, but that has never been my problem. There are hundreds, thousands of stories in my head: voices, characters, conundrums, settings, situations, variables, snippets all colliding and colluding up there. Neil Gaiman once wrote about the many worlds in every living mind, and, boy, do I feel that.

The problem for me isn’t turning on the hose, so to speak, but rather controlling the torrent of water that threatens to overwhelm me.

So I’ve come up with a method of self-delusion.

I’m not doing anything, I tell myself, I’m just writing one short story today. That’s all.

It’s a method I’ve used in the past, willfully ignoring what I’m doing so that I can set about actually doing it.

When I moved to California, for example, I told myself over and over again, while I was preparing, packing, riding in the car across the country, I’m not doing anything. I’m not moving to a new place where I don’t have a job or housing or know anybody. I’m just putting things in boxes. I’m just getting into a car. I’m just getting out of the car.

Because if I told myself what I was actually doing, I’d have a nervous breakdown.

That’s the secret, I guess, to being really brave, don’t let yourself know what you’re doing.

So, yes, I’ve written five short stories so far this year. And if all goes according to plan, I will write forty-seven more. But I’m not telling myself that.

And, yes, I’m planning a solo trip to Europe in the spring, with a limited budget and little knowledge. But I’m not telling myself that either.

I’m just buying a plane ticket. I’m just writing a short story. I’m just living a life.

It’s a new year.


2017: An Unpopular Opinion

As stated above, I am going to write something that most people I know will disagree with: 2017 was pretty good for me.

Or let me put it like this. There’s a thing called free-fall, when a body is moving only under the influence of gravity. That’s what 2017 feels like to me. In context, yes, I’m definitely in trouble. Going to get slammed by this tax reform, persecuted under anti-LGBTQIA laws, probably won’t have health insurance in the future, family troubles, lack of direction, friends in trauma etc etc

But, if I look only at myself in a vacuum, just me as a body moving through space, it’s been pretty great. The feeling of air rushing past my ears at high speeds.

Here were my highlights from the year: marching in January, eating 3/4 of a giant doughnut, jumping into the Pacific Ocean, meeting David Beckham, participating in my first reading, seeing Hamilton, adopting Scout, moving jobs and houses, family reunion, seeing the Decemberists, visiting Reno, dyeing my hair, cutting my hair, dyeing and cutting my hair, writing a novel, crocheting a floor-length dress, and sharing way more writing than I ever have before.

I accomplished nearly all of my 2017 goals: visited a new state, applied for a writing fellowship, and strengthened friendships.

And beyond this, I had a feeling this whole year, that I was moving towards myself. Was it challenging? Yes. Disappointing? Yes. Terrifying and frustrating? Yes and yes. But still I felt that I was on my way, traveling towards who I want to be.

If I have any major take-aways, I guess it would be this, that even when the world is falling to pieces, living as we are in a kleptocracy armed by a police state dedicated to eradicating people of color and a patriarchy that seeks to punish women and gender-non-conforming people of all variety. But we can continue living life, continue fighting. To quote my third favorite LOTR movie: there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.

I feel guilty most of the time, especially when I am happy. I think that in order to create change or to participate in the resistance, I must be suffering. But I’ve begun to convince myself, that I may be strongest when I am happy and fulfilled. That perhaps one of the greatest forms of resistance is laughter. So, I continue loving my life and loving the people I am lucky enough to have in it.

So, free-fall or no free-fall, I loved 2017. And here’s to a better and stronger 2018.

The Blog at Three

Yes, three years have passed (Three?? And only three???), and this blog is still in existence. And I have to say I’m at more of a loss than ever to quantify or explain it.

This clearly isn’t a lifestyle blog. Unless that lifestyle is living paycheck to paycheck in the most expensive area in the country.

It isn’t really about politics although I’ve certainly ranted a fair amount.

It’s not just about updating my family, although that’s a large part of it.

And until recently it wasn’t even about highlighting my fiction.

I think if this blog is about anything it’s about the power of words to connect. Across distances, across time, across barriers of any kind. The best responses I’ve gotten have been from people saying that I managed to capture something they had been feeling, and that, consequently, they didn’t feel so alone.

That’s what this blog is about. To let you know that however desperate or depressed or poor or lonely or bitter or angry or tired you are feeling, you are not alone.

You are capable of great things, even if you struggle to believe that right now.

Friends, I’ve been down. I’ve been to depths where I thought I wouldn’t survive to twenty or twenty-one or twenty-two. There were days, months, years, when I thought I couldn’t continue, couldn’t take one more kick in the teeth. But I could, and I did.

When I was seventeen, I flew on an airplane for the first time in my life. I got on board, buckled in and watched as the sun rose above the Atlantic. And I cried.

Because a few weeks earlier I had tried to kill myself. And I believed that I would die without having ever been on a plane.

But we survive.

We survive even when we don’t want to. We survive even when we think, we know, it is impossible. Because stronger than the voice telling us that we are weak and useless, is the voice telling us we are beautiful, fragile, imperfect and wonderful.

We are human and therefore capable of change. We are human and therefore capable of growth. We are human and therefore capable of love in the face of adversity.

We are human. And I love you.

We are human. And you are not alone.

Happy 3rd birthday, blog.


Things Taken, Things Found

It’s been a couple of weeks now since two young men jumped out of an unmarked SUV to relieve me of my purse and backpack.

Since this event, I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot and from quite a few angles.

I think about the physicality of it all. The physical objects taken: a worry-stone, a little pink bear, two apples, and a month’s worth of journals. And I think about the physical bodies in play. And specifically about my body, once again, not my own.

It is not a little thing, this past election. And it is not unconnected. The highest office in the country is held by someone who is on tape bragging about sexual assault.

So, no, I wasn’t hit. I wasn’t stabbed. I wasn’t shot.

But I still felt violated. To have someone so close to my body without my permission. And to have someone take my innermost thoughts, my little fluttering hearts, and dump them who knows where.

So. I am okay. And I am not okay.

I have been thinking, since this event, how I feel about the people who did this. I cannot tell if I am angry at them or not. On the one hand, people, I believe, have free will and are responsible for their actions. On the other hand, there but for the grace of God go I.

I do not believe this was personal. I didn’t know these people from Adam (not my brother, of course). I believe that I was only one of many that these people have robbed. And isn’t it saying something that there are people in this society who believe the only way to make money is by stealing my worthless crap? That money is more important than someone else’s right to walk to work at 6:00AM on a Saturday?

These are the claws of capitalism, a society that disparages and demeans its component parts until they feel compelled to prey on the seemingly weak.

I am trying, in the aftermath, to find what hasn’t been lost. And as usual I fall back on gratitude.

That for all the people on the planet who are there to steal my silly little purse, there are also people willing to buy me lunch, take me to get my bike fixed, and give me their old phones.

For all the people who are there to harass and belittle me, who make me feel weak, unwanted, and alone, there are people who make me feel strong, who lift me up, who tell me that I am important, I am worthwhile, I am alive.

I am so incredibly lucky. So lucky to know these people.

And I can only hope the people who took my backpack and purse can meet people like them who will challenge, inspire, and uplift them.

And I hope they ate the apples.

On Being Human and Eating Doughnuts

People frequently ask me why I do things.

“Why are you cutting off all your hair?”

“Why are you moving to California?”

“Why are you biting my leg?”

And quite frequently my response is “I don’t know. It just seemed like the thing to do.”

As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, I’ve come to fully appreciate my time on earth and to understand on a personal and physical level that life is finite. I don’t want to waste one precious second of it doubting myself or my decisions.

Which is why when people asked “Why are you trying to eat a giant doughnut in under three minutes?” I just smiled and said “I don’t know. It seems like the thing to do.”

It started on a late-night doughnut run to Bob’s Donuts, a paradise of fried dough and simple carbohydrates. Staring at me from the window was a gorgeous behemoth, sugary, quiet, waiting.

“There’s a contest,” my friend told me. “If you can eat one of those in under two minutes, you get your name on the wall of fame, plus a free doughnut.”

I was hooked.

I won’t lie and tell you that I dreamt of the doughnut, but it was a close thing. The day I had decided to make the attempt, I woke up with a pit in my stomach. No good. I needed that thing empty. I spent the morning doing quiet breathing exercises to calm my nerves.

Then there was the matter of stomach-stretching. I did a quick Google-search for food competitions and discovered that I was already behind schedule. But so it goes. To make up for it, I spent the day eating bags of goldfish followed by cups and cups of water to expand the belly. For clothing, I wore a loose-fitting dress with plenty of room in the gut-region.

And so the day passed.

At last, accompanied by two brave compatriots, I wound my way through the streets of San Francisco under the growing darkness to Bob’s Donuts. The sign glowed red against the setting sun, the door yawning like the maw to hell. Or maybe I was hallucinating.

We entered. A quiet shop. A few commoners purchasing their daily dozen. Family Feud playing on the television.

I approached the counter with as much moxie and vigor as I could.

“Um, hi. Do you, uh, still have those really big doughnuts?”

“We’re just cooking a fresh batch now,” the woman said. “You can wait here if you want.”

So we did, that tantalizing and aching fifteen minutes. During that time, I was able to reflect on just about everything. Including how goddamn big that doughnut was.

Nine inches by nine inches to be exact.

I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life. Flown to Peru on a whim. Jumped in some bodies of water. Written a novel in a month. Ate a stick of butter in ten minutes. Moved across the country without a job. Trapped voles in a tall-grass prairie. All sorts of things.

I like doing crazy things. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile, one leap at a time. But eating this doughnut might be the final doughy straw.

Before I had time to second-guess myself, though, the doughnut had appeared in a pretty pink box. It was larger than my head.

The helpful fellow behind the counter explained the rules, got out his phone, and said, “Okay you can start.”

And I was off. That first bite was incredible. The doughnut still warm, delicious, and way chewier than I imagined. The second bite was like gnawing into wet sand. The next few minutes flew by in a whirl of nervous giggling and furious chomping and, at last, when the dust had settled and the three minutes were up, the doughnut was still sitting there.

Or half of it anyway.

I had failed.

In addition to attempting a lot of crazy things, I also am accustomed to succeeding at crazy things. I got into my first-choice college, the only one I applied to. I was accepted on the study abroad program of my dreams.

Yes, mostly because I’m incredibly privileged. But also because I’m too stubborn to quit before I’ve even tried.

So, here I was, staring my failure in the face.

It was incredibly freeing.

For so long I’ve tried to be the best. The best partner back when I was dating people. The best ex after I wasn’t. The best friend. The best student. The best barista. The best writer. The best activist.

But you know what? I’m not any of those things. I never will be. I am a human being, and that means I am incredibly flawed. I make mistakes. I send drunk emails. I think mean thoughts. Some days I’m tired and I don’t even leave my house, never mind showing up to that protest or calling my senators for the umpteenth time.

Some days I don’t eat the whole doughnut.

And that’s okay.

I am human. I like to do crazy things. And sometimes I’m going to fail.

It is okay, sometimes, between those bites of doughy goodness, to take a breath.

I don’t know. It just seems like the thing to do.


I Am 23 Going on 24

Sung to the tune of “The Sound of Music”, of course.

I know I just wrote a post, and now I’m posting again, but that’s kind of what I do. And maybe someday someone will pay me to do it if I come up with a fancy job title.

Laura A. Freymiller: Psychiatrist for the Human Condition.

We’ll see.

Anyway, my birthday is on Saturday.

If you couldn’t tell, I love my birthday, and I love making a really big deal about it. Maybe it comes from being a middle child. Most days I was satisfied with taking the backseat, literally and figuratively, but when March 11 rolled around… man that was my day.

The first birthday I remember, we had just moved to Indiana. I woke up from a nap and there were a bunch of strangers in the house. I was cranky at first (as anyone who has made the mistake of waking me from a nap can attest) but then people started giving me presents. So I decided it was okay.

Since then I’ve had a lot of great birthdays: from the lamb-shaped funfetti cakes of yore to the free beer and balloon courtesy of that one birthday club in Madison (can’t remember the name…).

The past few years have been a bit rocky to say the least. I graduated, I went through the worlds longest and stupidest break up (DON’T DATE PEOPLE WHO ARE TWENTY-TWO AND IDIOTS), and moved from state to state and job to job with the intention and tenacity of a Laura-shaped pinball.

But, you know, for all that I’m really happy.

I’m in a job that I enjoy with people that I love. I have time and space to read and write as much as I want. I get to explore the greatest city in the world (COME AT ME, BRUH) and tomorrow I’m going to jump into the Pacific Ocean.

It started, as most things in my adult life did, in Australia. I was about to turn twenty-one and felt the need to do something momentous. (Come to think of it, I was going through a break-up back then, too…) So, with the encouragement and accompaniment of a friend, I went to the hotel’s pool and jumped in fully-clothed at midnight.

And it became a tradition. My senior year, I jumped into the good old Cannon River (with a piece of human trash, but we’re all young once). Last year I went alone to a pond not far from our apartment in Fitchburg. It was cold and I forgot to wear socks.

I felt at the time, trapped: in my life, in an emotionally abusive friendship, in the Midwest, and I made the promise to myself: this year a pond, next year the Pacific Ocean.

My life thus far, for all of its precious inane twenty-four years, has been a series of disasters and miracles, monsters and saints, and on the whole I cannot help but feel lucky.

I am lucky that I met a kid four years ago, and lucky that I fell in love, lucky that he broke my heart and my sense of self so that now I can begin again the process of creating myself.

I am lucky that one day as a child I picked up The Lord of the Rings, lucky that I read it during some of the worst times of my childhood, lucky that its words inspired me to become a writer.

I am lucky that I have depression. Not because having depression makes me special or deep or any of the romanticizing and misunderstanding that goes into our conception of mental health, but lucky because my experience with it has made me grateful for every second that I am still alive.

I make such a big deal about my birthday, because I feel every day is a gift, and every year that passes is another success story for me. However much a mess it has been, I am still alive.

I am alive to pursue my goals, whether as small as jumping into the Pacific Ocean or as all-consuming as making the world a better place. And I am lucky.

Thank you for being in my life. As always, I am sending my love.

I Can’t Sleep

It’s been a rough year. Again.

They all seem to be pretty rough recently.

This year, I was in and out of an emotionally abusive friendship/ex-relationship. Found out one of my exes had sexually assaulted multiple people. Was groped while wearing an Easter Bunny costume. And remember that time when Donald Trump became president?

I’m a hopeful person, which I guess is why I keep dating assholes, but I’m having a hard time feeling hopeful.

I always believed that if I worked hard, I could achieve anything.

My whole life I’ve been working hard. I worked hard in school and got good grades. People, especially males, called me lucky. I worked hard at my jobs, starting when I was seventeen and every summer, school year, winter break, all the time since. I’ve been writing every single day for the past three years believing that if I put in the work, someday it will pay off.

But I’m a woman. And now I fully believe that no one in the United States will ever see me as more than a pussy.

I have always believed in justice.

I thought that we were working together to achieve a more equitable society. I hoped that through my writings and through voting and through donating and through rallying we could move towards a country that supported black people, Indigenous people, Asian Americans, immigrants, LGBTQA+, Latinx, and all the people who don’t fit in any of the neat little categories.

Now I feel as though I’ve failed them all.

And myself.

I’m bisexual (pansexual, whatever you want to call it, the point is I’m not straight). I haven’t come out yet, not even to my family, because I’ve been afraid.

The fear was clearly justified.

I have been traumatized as a woman. This election result has further traumatized me. I know that many of my friends are even worse off because they aren’t white or cis-gender.

Let me just say this, if it was ever unclear.

I support trans-people.

I support Indigenous peoples.

I support lesbians.

I support black people.

I support immigrants, whatever your documentation status.

I support asexuals.

I support people with disabilities, mental or physical.

I support Muslims.

I support queer people of all flavor.

I support sexual assault survivors.

I support Asian Americans.

I support gay people.

I support Latinx.

I support women.

I’m not going to give up. As much as I want to. I’m going to keep working hard. I’m going to keep writing every day. I’m going to keep voting and rallying and donating and radicalizing as many people as possible. I’m going to keep believing that a better future is around the corner.

I can’t sleep.


I’ve recently accepted the position of barista at the esteemed Blue Bottle Coffee Company. I am now officially too hipster to exist. I need to go out and buy a beanie. And grow a mustache. And probably wear at least seven bow-ties at any given point.

And I’ll also now be speaking about mouth-feel and fruit-forwardness. You’re welcome world.

Long story short: now that I’m a barista, I’m too cool to use the term Oaklandish. So I’m making my own term: Oaklandic. Again, you’re welcome.

So, I moved to Oakland about three weeks ago. Crazy world. Crazy life. I still don’t really believe that I’m living in California. Living out my exact dream of being a barista and getting free coffee and also being able to write. I feel like at any moment someone’s going to swoop down from the sky and sirens will go off and they’ll put me under arrest for being too darn happy all the time.

Until that day comes, though, let me talk to you about Oakland.

I am straight up in love with this place. I love San Francisco, too, don’t worry. OH MAN DO I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO. But that’s a different sort of love.

San Francisco is that quirky person your parents absolutely adore. San Francisco always shows up on time for every date. And they cook you meals. And yeah, sometimes they shout crazy things at your window, but at the end of the day they mostly just want to cuddle.

Oakland is the person who always smells like marijuana and is constantly talking about weird stuff from their childhood and they maybe steal twenties from your purse if you aren’t careful, but they’re so damn real and they love you so damn much that you can’t really say no to their apologies. Oakland is the person you hate to love and love to hate.

Oakland is the sound of gunfire in the night that turns out to be fireworks.And fireworks that turn out to be gunfire.

Oakland is the kitten with the broken neck dead in the road.

Oakland is the smoke from the taqueria down the street and kids walking to school in their heavy navy uniforms.

Oakland is the chuckling of roosters at six in the morning. And five. And four.

Oakland is a children’s coloring book scrawled with swear words.

Oakland is seeing “Justice for Oscar Grant” spray-painted on the sidewalk and taking the BART from the station where he was murdered.

Oakland is your neighbors yelling at one another across the street and then offering to let you use their hand cart.

Oakland is an independent press featuring local artists and its old men speaking in Spanish about the wonders of Zumba.

Oakland is all the beautiful things, all the horrible things, all the worlds and places and none of them, a city all its own.

My whole life I’ve never really known where I belong. I didn’t belong in Indiana. I didn’t quite belong in Minnesota. I was only ever a visitor in Wisconsin. But Oakland feels like home. It’s rough and weird and scary and flawed and deep in its core, it loves. And what can one do but return love when you find it?


Moving Words


Someday I’ll be a mature “adult” writer and let my jokes speak for themselves. But that is not this day.

This day I tell you about my move to Oakland!

Part 1- The Journey (External Edition)

Sunday I moved from Palo Alto to Oakland. It started out with me riding my bike to the U-Haul center. And the following auspicious interaction:

Laura gets off her bike at the corner and walks it down the sidewalk towards the U-Haul Center. She passes a woman with a suitcase. Laura smiles at the woman because Laura is from Indiana/Minnesota/Wisconsin and is still learning. Woman says, “You shouldn’t be on the sidewalk. You should be in the street. I’m sorry but that’s the way it is.”

Good to know the anti-bike sentiment is alive and well in the USofA.

I got my U-Haul anyway. And then I was in my U-Haul.

Fun fact: no one should be allowed to drive a vehicle that large. I felt indestructible. You should not allow people to feel indestructible. We should always be reminded of the fragility of our human bodies. We should not feel like transformers. I felt the urge to go monster-truck on a bunch of parked cars. I didn’t, but the urge was real.

I drove my small planet back to the house.

Side note: If you didn’t know it, Carol Milstein is a saint. True story.

Anyway, I arrived and started loading all my worldly belongings into the U-Haul. About half an hour later I was done. As it turns out I have a lot of things, but they are all very small and squishy.

So with a tear in my eye and a song in my heart, I drove out of Palo Alto, managed not to side-swipe anyone (that I know of), crossed the Dumbarton Bridge and did not drive off into the Bay (wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles), sang and cursed loudly to myself, repeated the phrase “Okay, Laura, just don’t hit this car” over and over, didn’t get lost trying to find my way through East Oakland, and then I was home.


Did that just happen? That just happened.

Part 2- The Arrival

The following conversation took place as I pulled my U-Haul up to the house:

Neighbor 1: You got new neighbors.

Neighbor 2: Yeah, they’re okay.

Neighbor 1: There they are, the new neighbors.

Neighbor 2: Yeah, they’re okay, long as they aren’t haters.

Laura: I’m not a hater.

Neighbors 1&2: *Blank stares*

I’m good at making friends.

Our house has red trim and is on Harrington Avenue, so I’m unofficially dubbing it the Red Harring. It’s happening.

Part 3- The Journey (Internal Edition)

Look, I have the privilege of being the author of my own difficulties. The most recent case being when I got too tired to refill my anti-depressants, missed a few days, got so depressed that I couldn’t go to work, may or may not have left a really long rambling message on someone’s phone about how sad I am that we aren’t friends anymore and how I probably am making it worse by calling and on and on and on… So… that’s on me.

I mess up my life all on my own. I moved across the country for really no reason at all. I quit jobs because I get depressed or because its just too existentially wearying to be taking out the trash as people stare disapprovingly at you and complain to your manager about your smell because you’ve been too tired to maintain proper hygiene.

So… that’s on me, too.

But I’m also really strong. I mean, body odor aside. I am capable of doing things. I get jobs, I make moves, I lift furniture. I’m such a mess, but I’m working on it.

Because I have these incredible people in my life. People who texted me or called me or ordered a pizza to my new address. People who give me love and support and encouragement at every turn. Even the act of liking my desperate, needy status is a reminder of the people in my life. You, you wonderful, beautiful people.


Avery Johnson: a wonderful, beautiful pizza– I mean people!

If I am the author of my struggles, you all are the authors of my survival. If I accomplish anything worthwhile in life, it is because of you. So, as always thank you. It will never be enough, but thank you.


California, Dudes

Been here about a month and a half, and IT. HASN’T. RAINED. ONCE.

Just a gentle reminder that I’m now living in a desert.

My whole life I had dreams of moving everywhere, running across the continent, doing BIG things, leading a BIG life. And wouldn’t you know it? I find myself both accomplishing those dreams and realizing how different it is from anything I could have imagined.

A case in point.

Every day on my bike to work, I see mountains. Mountains are important to me, they remind me of reaching, stretching, climbing, things I’ve been attempting to do my whole life. They are vast and humbling and inspirational, and as I fly past them morning after morning, on my wending way through eucalyptus and towering palms, past the statuary of Stanford, I find my heart soaring along with my bike tires.

Then I show up to work at a fast food restaurant where I man the deep fryer and listen to people complain about how I overcharged them twenty cents (I didn’t) or why there shouldn’t be a tax on to-go food (take it up with the government?) or how they want a burger but with no burger and no bread and with cheese and pickles and why don’t we have mayonnaise and gouda cheese and wait they just want the salad… but no lettuce. Some days it feels like a cross between the “Doublemeat Palace” episode of Buffy and Bon Qui Qui.



It’s this weird feeling where I simultaneously feel that I’m doing everything I need to be doing and also doing everything completely wrong. Here I am with my biology degree and my years of job experience, cooking fries and getting criticized for my Caesar salad mixing.

There are many highlights, of course. My co-workers are lovely. And the customers are for the most part a joy. Today I made a little girl giggle for about ten minutes just by opening my eyes really wide at her. The other day a couple of German girls came in, their faces when I started responding in German were priceless.

I believe I am going somewhere. I know that I am somewhere. A place I’ve been trying to get to for a long, long time. It’s just that there’s that saying somewhere about what you wish for and being careful or something something cliche with cheese.

I’m learning so much though: like how Californians walk SUPER slow, even by Midwestern standards. And how to use the word “hella” unironically. And how to grow succulents. And how to nonchalantly visit the ocean. It’s an amazing time to be alive.

Follow your dreams, kids. It’s kind of worth it.