Thankful for Mental Health (With Bonus Literary Analogies!)

I joke about my anxiety and depression and OCD here quite a bit, because most of the time I’m in the right frame of mind to view those diagnoses as just another part of me, like being ridiculously near-sighted or having hay fever. When the meds and therapy and the planets are aligned, I can just shrug off my, um, quirks and make it through each day without dreading the next.

Last Thanksgiving, nothing was aligned. This Thanksgiving, I’m on an even keel because I finally did something I was terrified to do before.

I asked for help.

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More History Geekery: The 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Why am I geeking out about a Civil War battle, you ask? (I know you’re wondering, admit it….)

Pvt. Edwin Atkinson

Pvt. Edwin Atkinson, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry

This is my great-great-grandfather, Edwin Atkinson, age 22, on the day of his mustering into Company D, 2nd Wisconsin (part of the famous Iron Brigade), in December 1862, in Madison, Wis.. Six months later, he was critically wounded during the first day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg.

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My Bookshelf of Actual History with Little or No Smooching – The Brit Edition

I bought myself a few Mother’s Day presents. Because Santa didn’t bring me anything from my wish list.

These arrived on my doorstep this week….

Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Fashion in Detail - V&A MuseumWhat People Wore When - Melissa Leventon (Editor)The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt

The obsession started with watching the (wildly inaccurate) movie Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett. Then I found the book I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles at the library, and then I discovered Jean Plaidy, and the rest is…um…history (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The new additions will take their places of honor alongside….

Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail - V& Museum Lost Mansions of Mayfair by Oliver Bradbury London: Life In Maps by Peter Whitfield

The English Town by Mark Girouard Royal Palaces of Tudor England by Simon Thurley The Regency Country House: From the Archives of Country Life by John Martin Robinson

And I read history without pretty pictures too!

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Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

Last week I had to make a phone call that I knew was inevitable, but one I desperately wanted to avoid.

Jackie (199?-2013)

Jackie (199?-2013)

Jackie was a mutt from the shelter. Dog Snobs might call her a “mixed breed,” but she was A Mutt. A bit of pointer, lab, some kind of terrier, maybe cocker spaniel, who the hell knows. No clue how old she was either, but we brought her home from the shelter in June 1998. I’d never had a dog before, and we didn’t have kids yet, so she was my first pet and my first baby.

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My 2012 Whatever Lists

I decided not to do a full-on Best of the Year list because there’s a bunch of 2012 stuff I haven’t read yet (sorry, Sherry Thomas, I have my entire New Year’s Day reserved for you) and I know many of those would be candidates.

So this is a Big Fat Disclaimer that these are books I read and reviewed in my inaugural nine months of blogging, but not necessarily published in 2012.

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Dear Santa….

I have been a very good girl this year. Please bring me ALL THE BOOKS.

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David E. Coke and Alan Borg

Vauxhall Gardens: A History
by David E. Coke and Alan Borg

These are just a few highlights. My full list is available on Pinterest for your convenience. And in the interests of efficiency gift cards are welcome as well.

Love, Kelly

Medieval Mania: Cultural Appropriation, ca. 1960

This is what you get when you do a Google search for “medieval maiden.” Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

1960 Maidenform Bra ad - detail of dog

A high-maintenance dog.

1960 Maidenform bra ad - detail of monkey

A monkey with a roll
of paper towels.

1960 Maidenform bra ad - detail of bunny

A bunny.

2960 Maidenform bra ad - detail of unicorn

A pervy yet submissive goat-unicorn.

1960 Maidenform bra ad - detail of model

Nope, nothing offensive here. Move along.

In all this visual ecstasy, let’s not overlook the all-important ad copy:

I dreamed I was a medieval maiden in my Maidenform bra

I dreamed I was a medieval maiden in my maidenform® bra
The past was never quite this perfect! I’m a legendary figure in STAR FLOWER,
Maidenform’s newest work of art! Genius idea: petal-patterned circular-stitched cup,
underlined with twin elastic bands (upper band expands for
custom fitting cups; lower band expands for comfortable give-and-take).
White cotton broadcloth, A, B and C cups. A collector’s item at just 2.50!

Yeesh. Just the words “broadcloth bra” make my boobs itchy. Let us now praise the inventors of Lycra®, even though they were men.

The Holiday Haul of Half-Off Harlequins

I hate you people. This is ALL YOUR FAULT.

The Spy Who Saved Christmas by Dana Marton Spy Hard by Dana Marton Protective Measures by Dana Marton

Back to the Good Fortune Diner by Vicki Essex The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry Canadian Mounties Bundle by Kate Bridges

All Roads Lead Home by Christine Johnson A Dangerous Seduction by Patricia Frances Rowell Forbidden Lady by Anne Herries

Warriors in Winter by Michelle Willingham Virgin Slave, Barbarian King by Louise Allen A Stranger's Touch by Anne Herries

The Alchemist's Daughter by Elaine Knighton Ice Maiden by Debra Lee Brown Unicorn Vengeance by Claire Delacroix

Hero count:

5 Mounties, 4 Vikings, 3 spies, 2 knights,
bodyguard, barbarian, mechanic, chieftain,
engineer, earl, farmer & Templar soldier

Let’s take a closer look at that last one, shall we?

Unicorn Vengeance by Claire Delacroix - original 1995 cover

Drawn Together By Destiny

Genevieve de Pereille’s music echoed in the hollows of Wolfram’s heart,
pulling him into an unfamiliar world where his knightly vows faded
to a distant murmur. The secret heir to an ancient legacy,
she held him fast with the timeless power of love.

With silver hair and fierce pale eyes, Wolfram stirred something raw
yet beautiful deep inside Genevieve’s very being.
Yet the handsome warrior was responsible for her brother’s death,
and she swore he would never escape her righteous vengeance.

And just in case you didn’t catch the subliminal messaging:

Unicorn Vengeance - original 1995 cover (sharpened)

Not just a unicorn – a STARRY UNICORN