What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Creek and the Stings May 11, 2018

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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I grew up in a very old house in the country. We had three-ish acres of land, and my family left most of it wild. Trees, blackberry bushes, and tall grass all leading up to a creek.

I would run wild through the back for hours at a time. As long as I stayed within our property and didn’t go swimming on my own, my parents just let me go. My mom had this giant antique school bell, and when she rang, it was time to head back toward the house. It was a crazy amount of freedom.

One day while playing way out toward the back of the property, I stepped on a hive of ground bees. I don’t even know how many stings I got, only that my leg hurt like hell.

I did the only thing a child used to running wild would do. (more…)


Well… That Happened (Or A Night at Casa Bonita) September 13, 2016


I’ve had the amazing opportunity, along with camping this summer, to go and visit my mother in her new western home. It was a great trip.

We saw huge and beautiful mountains.


Found some great animals



Drank tea, saw flowers, and… went to Casa Bonita.

Yep, that’s right, the Casa Bonita of South Park fame and home of “eatertainment.” It was an experience. (more…)


A Rehashing of the Teddy Trial March 21, 2016

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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A long time ago my sister gave my beloved stuffed puppy a swirly. I thought the matter was over and done with. In fact, I even wrote a blog about it. But it seems the matter is far from over.

The way I remember it my sister gave my stuffed puppy a swirly. After a lot of crying, I decided to take revenge. And not just any revenge. A horrible revenge that can only be executed by the likes of a little sister.

My sister had a teddy bear that she loved very much. Since my big sister had hurt my puppy, I would take revenge on Teddy. While my mother was Lysoling the toilet germs out of puppy, I found my sister’s teddy, fastened a very impressive noose for a child, and hung Teddy over my sister’s bed with a note that read something along the lines of —

You smell. I cannot take living with your awful stink anymore. Goodbye cruel world. (more…)


From Ballet to Books December 8, 2015

It’s happened! It’s finally happened! All those years of ballet classes finally paid off!

My Christmas novella has finally arrived!


The plan was simple. Get to Portland, dance The Nutcracker, and don’t murder your dance partner. And most definitely, do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with him.

A snowy road trip strands Elle Grant in a tiny cabin better suited for serial killings than rehearsals for two professional ballet dancers. With no one but the incredibly talented, excruciatingly handsome, and notoriously terrible Zachary Benson and a few taxidermy woodland creatures for company, Elle’s Christmas plans are officially ruined. Can she and Zach learn to like each other enough to dance together? And can Elle get home without losing her heart to the Christmas Cavalier?


When I was just a wee little thing who thought that ballet was the best thing ever and hadn’t yet realized the my turnout and bust size would negate me from ever being a ballerina, I harassed my mother until she put me in dance lessons.


And now look! That awkward, little, turned-in child is a musical theatre actor and writes about ballet dancers, which hurts a lot less than actually putting on pointe shoes! Winning!

Please check out Nuttycracker Sweet this holiday season! Make the dreams of the little girl with the giant bangs come true!

Nuttycracker Sweet on Amazon
Nuttycracker Sweet on Barnes and


Start with the Socks December 7, 2015

When I was little, I was terrible at cleaning my room. And I mean beyond normal little kid, “I hate cleaning, and I don’t want to do it.” I would look at my messy room and panic. There was too much mess. It would never be clean. There was no point at all in trying.

Whenever I was told to clean my room, I would inevitably end up running to my mom crying and overwhelmed. Why had she assigned me such an impossible task?

My mother would very calmly tell me to start with the socks. Just pick up all the socks.

I would run to my room, pick up all the socks, and then once again be stumped the impossibility of having a clean room. But my mother would name one more thing to pick up.

Just get the dolls.

I would run back to her over and over again. It would take time and a lot of work, but low and behold, finally the room would be clean.

Now follow me for just a minute.

Me and my phobia of picking up socks is a perfect metaphor for what is happening with the terrible amount of gun violence in this country.

It feels overwhelming. It feels like we’re meant to live in this mess because it’s just the way it is and there is no way out.

Whatever your personal political beliefs may be, I’m sure that we can all agree that mass shootings are a terrible tragedy that need to stop. But it feels impossible. The personal ownership of guns is more deeply entrenched in this country than the Barbies were under my bed. But we don’t need to worry about the Barbies. Let’s worry about the socks first.

Let’s start with background checks. Making sure that if you’re on the No Fly list, you can’t buy a gun. That’s a reasonable and easily defined goal. If you’re too dangerous to let fly, no gun for you.

Then once that’s done we can pick another project. Move on to the books on the floor. Find a way to screen for mental illness in potential gun buyers. I know it’s harder than the no fly list, but it could be done.

From there it would get harder still. Making sure that those who own guns are properly trained in how to use them. We all have to take a basic test to drive a car, why not to use a gun? There are horror stories of small children getting their hands on guns every year. We keep children safe with car seats, why not gun safeties?

For the big guns, and yes, I mean that quite literally, we could look at more stringent licensing. Truck drivers and bus drivers have bigger, more powerful vehicles that have the potential to do a whole lot more damage if something goes wrong. Why not have stricter protocols for the background checks and licensing on guns above and beyond handguns for household safety and hunting rifles for sustenance?

And none of that would be removing the right to bare arms.

My mother never made me throw my toys away. I had to organize them. To keep them safe, me safe, and my room a safe and habitable place.

Right now it feels like we’re all standing at the bottom of a pit staring up at a mess that is impossible to clean. But if we take it one thing at a time, then with a lot of work and a bit of compromise, we can get through this.

We just have to start with the socks.


A Tree to Love for Me November 30, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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Since I grew up in an inn, Christmas for us usually began way before Thanksgiving. Decorations for the inn went up Thanksgiving weekend, and Christmas programs started shortly thereafter. It even got to the point that the local Christmas tree farmer knew that the season had begun when my mother showed up wanting a Christmas tree.

But of course they didn’t have any Christmas trees cut and ready yet. So they would load my mother into their truck and drive her back into the farm until she saw a tree she liked. Then they would stop, and if she was with a nice person they would cut the tree for her, if not, she would take a handsaw to the tree herself.

A tree for the hallway, tons of evergreen bows for the mantels and big windows. Ribbons and valances galore. It was quite a feat to get the inn ready for Christmas. By the time we got to set up our personal Christmas tree three days before actual Christmas, it felt like we had been living in a Christmas vortex for our whole lives. (more…)


A Tacky Turkey November 25, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 1:46 pm
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When I was super little, my mother was still quasi-determined that we spend time with our extended family. And Thanksgiving is a time for family.

We would drive over to my grandfather and step-grandmother’s house. My step-grandmother was not the maternal type or a good cook. One year, she tried to microwave the turkey. Yep, you read that right: microwave the turkey. I ate only olives that Thanksgiving. It was a sad, sad day in my little life.

The last year we attended Thanksgiving, I was sick. So sick that I was allowed to sleep on the couch instead of being forced to spend time with my cousins.

My nap was eventually ruined by the police pounding on the front door. My cousins had gotten bored and decided to break into my grandfather’s garage to see why the garage was locked. Of course they set off the fancy alarms and the cops showed up five minutes later. There was lots of yelling. My grandfather was furious. But on the upside, my mother decided that we didn’t need to attend the family meals anymore. We started eating Thanksgiving dinner at home. My mother never once tried to nuke the turkey.