Flora is 18 today. It feels like victory – over fate, genetics, the universe, God, whatever you want to call it. She’s made it another year, we’ve made it another year – she made it to 18, dammit, and you can all 18 just a number but socially constructed milestones matter. She can vote, drink legally in most jurisdictions, be tried in adult court, and possibly own a gun.

My girl is 18. She made it.

My joy and relief are, and always will be now, fragile. The demons that started to ravage her life four, five years ago will never leave. They are part of her DNA and for the rest of her life she needs to work to keep them controlled, contained, and the people who love her need to stay aware, vigilant.

But when the meds and therapies are working, we can relax, at least a little, and rejoice.

Celebrate this 18th birthday for all that it’s worth.

If you see my beautiful, confident daughter today, you’ll be blown away by her poise, style – and, as soon as she opens her mouth, you’ll be blown away, and likely intimidated, by her intelligence. You never see what it costs her to get there. Not in some distant time in the past, not in the time she spend in hospitals, clinics, with armies of doctors and therapists, but that morning, every morning, an hour ago, every moment of every day.

Maintaining her health and well-being is, in effect, a full-time job that she fulfills while going to school and working to spend time with friends, have fun, live a life.

In her university applications, she’s had to reflect on her youthful milestones and accomplishments, to tell the gatekeepers who she is and why she’s worthy of admission. She’s told me and her dad that the questions are had to answer. Retraumatizing in some ways. At a time when most teenagers are supposed to do the teenage thing, find their first selves, and also party a little, have their first crushes and broken hearts, all of her energy was focused on battling her illness, staying alive.

“I don’t know who I am,” she says, writes. “I’m just starting to be able to ask that question.”

She’s 18. She’s alive. Beautiful, smart, tough. A little cruel and unforgiving, but I understand. Surviving her illness made me cruel and unforgiving too. Perspective is actually a terrifying thing.

She’s 18. Every functioning day a gift. Every hard day that she sees to the end and to a new beginning a victory.

Happy birthday, my most beloved. Keep on fighting.



Why I document

Kick like a girl, April 28, 2019

Her story, my story, our story, June 22, 2019

“You are amazing” — you are partly right, June 25, 2019

Suffering, living, loving… home , January 5, 2022

Happy birthday (the war’s not over), January 9, 2022

40 is… self-absorbed. Criminally so. But that’s probably not just ok, but inevitable, necessary…


Today, I am 40.

Thank you.

It’s kind of fabulous.

Frightening, too, because… promise not to tell anyone under 40? OK. Frightening, because… well, I thought that by 40, at 40, I’d have things more figured out. You know? I’d be… all grown up.

Oh, don’t press me; don’t make me be specific. I know I’ve done a bunch of all the things… children, marriage, career (sort of). I have no complaints and no regrets, very, very few “I wish I had” U-turns…

I just thought—when I was 10, 20, and even 30—that by the time I reached this particular number, four decades on this earth, I would be more… enlightened. More “done” this whole growing up thing.

That’s all.

Instead… here I am. So very, very flawed. And unfinished. And uncertain. And not sure what next, where next, how next…

And you draw me into yourself and hold me and ask me… do I know anyone who’s “done”? All grown-up, you mean? I ask… Yes, you say. Do I know anyone who’s… got it all figured out—or at least says/presents as if they do?

(Always, you and I, with the qualifiers.)

I think.

Yes. Yes, I do.

And what do you think of them, you ask…

And there is only one thing to say, isn’t there? They are either boring or insufferable, these rare people who’ve got it all figured out, who are “done.” More often: both.

There, you whisper into my self. And you’re neither. So. What next, where next, how next—that’s what’s so very exciting, yes?



Today, I am 40 and I am feeling very reflective, pensive and utterly, utterly self-absorbed. Perhaps even more so than in adolescence when SELF was emerging from CHILD. And now, SELF is emerging from/fighting with/playing with/contradicting/stretching/breaking/building SELF, and wow. What next, where next, how next?

I think… let’s go this way. This way—yeah, there, that-a way. For a while, anyway…


And, because, 40 is so very, very self-absorbed—criminally so, ridiculously so, in a most frustrating “needs a hard slap upside the head and yo-princess-you-are-utterly-insignificant-in-the-grand-plan-of-the-universe-so-why-all-the-angst” kind of way—here is what my 40 looks like, is. In pictures and words. Because. Writer with an iPhone.* Lethal combination for the self-absorbed year. And, go:


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PS “Jane,  so… self-absorbed?”

“Utterly. Pretty sure, my love, temporarily. But here, in my play-space, where I can do whatever I want.”

PS2 This, here? Naked? Not so much. It’s always, always a performance. Even when it’s an utterly self-absorbed one…

*Most of the “self” images are from the #365feministselfie project. Because. Power.