If this story speaks to you, please share it 🙏

*Will update post with video soon*

Hi, I’m Kailey. 

This video that you decided to watch 

         is something I’ve been avoiding for…

         A long time.

I know there’s a lot of us talking amongst one another right now,

And we’re all quite upset about the recent attacks 

         on our right to privacy

         and bodily autonomy

So yeah, this is another one of those videos –

So if you don’t make it to the end, thanks for stopping by –

         And if you do watch all the way through, thank you –

Because I’ve been suppressing all these feelings ever since

Something happened to me in back April 2020.

*Sensitive Content Warning*

Most of you probably haven’t seen this news story:

“Naked Man Wearing Only Homemade Face Mask Invades Kirksville Student’s Home”

which was published after midnight following the incident 

on April 7, 2020 in Kirksville, Missouri.

That Kirksville student? 

Yeah that was me.

It was my first semester as a Master of Arts in Leadership student

         at Truman State University, where I was specializing in 

Intentional Writing and Creative Nonfiction.

*Spring 2020*

And WHAT a time to decide to go to grad school!

Most colleges and universities in the country, including mine,

had just made the decision to close campuses and 

         move to virtual learning for the rest of the semester –

And I was sort of rocked by that in general at the time –

My introductory & foundational coursework for Leadership was

         focused heavily in organizational theory & decision-making,

Which quite frankly became both fascinating and absolutely terrifying

as each and every system and body I was studying was absolutely 

just like – ripping apart at the seams:

I remember starting a lot of writing assignments in those days like

         WHAT EVEN IS A DECISION? 

         WHO IS MAKING DECISIONS??

         HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT TO WRITE RIGHT NOW???

Anyway, my professors were great, 

and they gave us all a LOT of Grace, especially in those first days

. . .

April 7th was a Tuesday. 

I was just getting the hang of Zoom,

Which all of us understand Now,

Was so utterly new and alien to most of us,

No matter which generation was dealing with it 

#Millennial

And it was sunny, and 72-degrees,

         and there was a light breeze,

         and I spent all afternoon pumping myself up,

         sitting in the sun on my front porch,

         talking with classmates about our Reading Journals –

Here’s an excerpt of mine from that week

Definition of Literacy in a Digital Age” expresses NCTE’s position on a variety of developing curriculum standards. They say that, eventually, “learners need to move from content consumers to content curators to content creators.” I think that’s why there’s lots of us feeling shook right now: we have no idea what to do, but we know that we all have to step up soon, most of us whether we want to or not. This isn’t the school we hoped for, but at least we chose to be here; there’s agency in that. I think about those K-12 kids and the questions burn. It’s time to get loud. Now what do I say?

I’m rambling, I know. It’s just that I can hardly stand the people who keep acting like there’s nothing frightening about all this. […] I’m a graduate student and barely know where to look for answers. Can you imagine being nine?

By Kailey Ann, ENG 507G – Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing | March 31, 2020

That Tuesday was a good day.

I was just getting the hang of things.

I talked to my parents later that evening,

         first my Dad and Bonus Mom,

         then my Mom on FaceTime. 

I had asked my family to share some stories about our family 

         because we were practicing writing memoir and 

         biographical texts in that class, 

         Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing –

And on that FaceTime call, 

         Mom and I talked about my Great-Grandma, 

         Mamaw Maggie,

         While I sat on my front porch in Kirksville,

         and we laughed,

         and after all that,

         right at 9-0’clock,

 I told Mom I was going to pick up my books and crap 

         and then watch AJ (my husband) on the News at 10 –

*Hoosier love you, love you, love you too, talk to you soon, okay love you bye*

That’s the closest TikTok sound I could find to what I heard

         right after hanging up –

I whipped my head around, and there was Buck

         (that’s what I call him)

Standing in the shadows – A complete and total stranger

         BUCK ASS NUDE

Sneaking up behind me in our side-yard.

I stood up at once, turned square to face him –

         I was roughly 3-feet off the ground on the porch –

Balled my fists, and hollered, 

         “HEY!”

Buck Ass took off running through my back yard.

I called 911.

So it all happened very fast.

I hung up on 911 in panic and 

Ran out of the house through the front door –

I made sure to slam it tight behind me –

And listen, in that state of mind,

         Survival Mode: Fight or Flight,

I was able to analyze things very quickly.

I shut the door tight because I knew it was hard to open:

         It had one of those old latches so to open it from the inside,

[You had to turn the knob and the latch above it at once]

         For it to open – And I knew that would give me more time –

I was just deciding which way to run –

         That decision took milliseconds –

         I was Captain of the Track team in high school –

         I know how to TAKE-OFF –

When, to my utter horror, I heard the door opening behind me –

Remember realizing Buck Ass KNEW how to open my front door from inside –

And I decided to turn around and face him instead of running into the dark street –

FIGHT or FLIGHT

FIGHT was the right decision because

         As I pivoted I saw Buck Ass – Full Frontal – 

         Light blue mask covering the lower half of his face –

         Hurtling with his arms wide –

He meant to tackle me but I dropped to my tailbone like a stone –

         I broke it actually – 

But that was better than Buck tackling me 

         BACKWARDS off the porch –

I pulled my knees and elbows to my chest to kick him,

         But at that point he was on top of me,

I mean,

         Bare balls on my knees,

         Face-to-Face,

         And he locked his arms around my shoulders and

         Tried to pick me up.

I stared Buck Ass dead in the eye,

And he never made eye contact with me – NOT ONE TIME.

And I was bellowing “HELP!” –

         I got it out five times when –

I watched his eyes shift up – to the road

         and he let go, straightened, and leapt off the porch,

Ran straight past the group of five fellow Truman students

         who responded to my shouts from the house across the street –

And Buck Ass plowed straight down S Fible Street,

         Never To Be Seen Again.

*Deep Breath*

Hey, I’m Okay.

I’m Alive Today.

The Cops came and AJ,

         who was the evening news anchor at the time,

had heard our address on the police scanner at the station

and was home like, right after the police got there even though

         he drove quadruple the distance –

AND…

That’s what happened.

Scary, I know.

But the worst is what came after, because I was…

Wrecked.

Not many people know that long before all that,

I battled with PTSD — For reasons unrelated to the Masked-Invader event,

         and that I’m not lead to share at this time 🙂

And the reason that’s significant to me is,

         I had just completed 9-months of CBT

         *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*

         Which thanks to my counselor was

         A wildly successful experience for me;

         So I started grad school feeling Powerful, Healed, Metamorphic –

         Feeling like this fully functional, capable, joyful person –

         The person I’ve always been and had been trying so hard to 

         Get back in touch with –

I was ready – To study. To learn. To apply myself to the great challenges facing our nation and world as the first wave of the Pandemic wrought so much havoc – Feeling so properly placed, so grateful to have chosen the program I did – 

And then some Naked Guy had to go and ruin it all.

It wasn’t just that it was my first semester in grad school; it wasn’t just that I was totally new to virtual learning; it wasn’t just that there was a Global Pandemic so, all the businesses, schools, and public spaces closed; it wasn’t just that I had nowhere to go so I sat feeling trapped where *Something Worse Might Have Happened*; it wasn’t just that all my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy didn’t prepare me to get stuck in FIGHT when I’d only ever warred against FLIGHT; it wasn’t just that when news of the break-in spread, people made cruel jokes in the comments on Facebook like how ‘defenseless and stupid I must be to just curl up and scream’ like that’s anything like what actually happened it’s just how certain people read “fetal-position”; it wasn’t just that I couldn’t fall asleep without the distinct feeling of being struck by lightning – which I have been before actually; it wasn’t just that the President was Impeached in the House but not the Senate, or that our Government was so busy with the Trial that they missed the Planning stage of COVID-19 Crisis; it wasn’t just that every time I tried to get on the Zoom class and read the books and write the papers, I just kept running to my typewriter and hacking out the ever-storm of thoughts and flashes tearing me limb-from-limb internally 

*I had some psychosis at that point in time*

as all the stress of everything exacted too-high a tax on my mind and my body and my spirit —

In April 2020, I weighed somewhere-abouts 140-pounds. I remember that because I was so, so proud of myself for getting healthy at the Dunes all 2019, losing 70-pounds over the course of the year, eating better, hiking, traveling to see AJ and our cats on the weekends while he job-transitioned to Missouri, and I finally joined him full-time to pursue my Masters degree –

But that last thing didn’t happen; I had to drop out.

By my 27th birthday in July 2020, I weighed only 107 pounds. 

That’s when I said DAMN TO ALL THE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS because I HAD to go home and let my parents cook for me because I COULD NOT EAT, I COULD NOT SLEEP, and I was WITHERING AWAY and felt absolutely, completely powerless to stop it. 

I wasn’t helpless. I have a loving hero of a life-partner named AJ, 

And we survived this.

And I have avoided talking about all this because

I didn’t know what I wanted to say

Trauma rains; I’ve overshared on many occasions

But never had it all out like this –

I’ve dismissed a lot of early drafts I’ve written

         addressing topics like violence against women and stuff

Because, I never felt like I was saying enough,

Never felt like it was really adding to the conversation,

         Like I was really helping others understand that as women,

         The issue we face is that the world isn’t safe,

And it places undo burden on us, who

         Now, factually in the United States

Don’t the same Equal Rights as… many of you.

IT’S THE 21ST CENTURY!

See, I hate to play the ‘What Might Have Happened’ game –

It can be dangerous for people like me,

         Who suffer things like

         hyper-sensitivity, heightened anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and

         Let’s say, ‘Baggage’

         Like environmental and situational triggers,

         worsened by stress, and rest, and everything else –

To tread down the “WELL IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE” road –

Even so.

It could have been worse.

Buck Ass could have tackled me from behind if I hadn’t turned to fight,

         and I might have fallen face-first off porch,

         three-feet down into the bushes,

         on a dark street in Kirksville, Missouri,

And Buck Ass could have done a lot worse to me.

Praise J, it didn’t go that way.

But I don’t think it’ll take that big of a leap for most y’all to get that,

         I’ve already walked down that “What If” path more than was good for me,

         And my hope here is that others will think about how,

When Systems We All Tend to Agree Are Broken

(We Just Don’t All Tend To Agree On the 5 W’s and H)

Make Backwards Decisions About What Half Our People are Allowed to do

         to Safeguard Our Own Mind, Body, and Spirit…

Well, We ALL have to STEP UP and FIGHT.

Because losing protections like we just did with the Supreme Court’s overturning

of Roe vs. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022

Does not ‘save lives’ no matter what Five out of Nine Justices said.

         Stripping away a woman’s right to a safe abortion is 

         Not an Act of Valor –

         I mean it’s ludicrous –

If something like what happened to me –

         That whole thing about the MASKED NAKED MAN who

         Targeted and sexually assaulted me I just told you all about?

– happened NOW to someone else in Missouri –

         A State where, like many states,

         There were pre-existing Trigger Laws in place,

         Which took effect between ‘INSTANTANEOUSLY’ and ‘DAYS-LATER’

         Making the practice of medical abortion ILLEGAL,

         EVEN IN THE CASE OF RAPE AND INCEST –

It is alarming to me if the audience can’t make the jump to my point from here.

I just want to share a few things I’m thinking.

I think that women should reserve the right to their own Personhood.

“What a tragic thing” is not an appropriate or adequate response 

         to a survivor of sexual violence; 

Prioritizing the ‘personhood’ of an unborn fetus 

         over the life of a fully-manifested Person bearing the injuries of their survival 

         before their healthcare provider, is despicable; 

We need Agents and Allies for Change,

Because we need to address the problems we’re really facing,

And guys, this is just one win for the Evangelical State,

         Who are at this moment threatening the lives and safety of our People

         Here in the United States – 

In the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, No Less.

I must confess,

If it weren’t for my PERSONAL SAVIOR, J –

         There’s no way I’d be telling this story,

         Or saying any of this for that matter.

I ain’t trying to SAVE anybody,

         In fact, 

and this is as humanly tactless as I can be:

There are Radicals in the Christian Church,

and there are ‘Christian’ organizations and leaders

who are responsible for making grabs

at Our Free Peoples’ Entitled Rights & Liberties,

         and these Actors manipulate slews of folks in pews,

using ill-conceived notions of Righteousness,

and FALSE teachings and meanings of Scripture,

to make $$$ and force their agenda on people who,

despite a Constitution which MAKES PLAIN

THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

Seek to install Government Leaders who’re ‘ON THE SAME PAGE’

So that Church&State become one and the same,

So their beliefs are upheld before any ‘divergents’

In spite of the fact that our Founding Fathers 

who were undeniably also ‘Christian,’

Expressly wrote that the separation of these systems was vital

To our very survival.

And it seems to me if THOSE FOKES like MOST OF THOSE WHO CLAIM

         TO PRAISE THE NAME OF JESUS

         WOULD KNOW THE GOOD BOOK WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT

THE POINT OF READING IS TO LEARN

         HOW TO HEAR HIM ON YOUR OWN.

I hear, loud and clear.

         I’ve got the Holy Spirit INSIDE of ME, MY Person, heard?

         So I’ve got any and all conversation on-lock.

And I do not require assistance our outside review.

.

.

Thank you all for listening to my TEDtalk.


Author Made in Indiana, USA.

Follow @bykaileyann on social media for frequent writing updates!

FAN KAILEY ANN SUSPECTS ‘TRUE’ ‘SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE’

Since I learned practically nothing new from viewing The Secrets of Dumbledore, the Wizarding World’s third installment of the Fantastic Beasts film series, here’s what I hypothesize:

Trails of evidence –

  • The Elder Wand (theory): “The wizard who controls the Elder Wand controls Fate.”
    • Between 1932 (Secrets of Dumbledore) and 1938, Albus’ phoenix (Fawkes) gives two tailfeathers to Ollivander the wandmaker. 
    • In 1938, Albus Dumbledore meets Tom Riddle at an orphanage and tells him he’s a wizard, then invites him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
      • Tom Riddle is chosen by a wand in Ollivander’s shop with a phoenix-feather core (Fawkes).
      • From 1938 to 1945, Riddle attends Hogwarts; Grindelwald collects him at some point and tells him lies about Dumbledore; Riddle turns spy inside of Hogwarts, learning Dark Arts, Legilimency, Unforgivable Curses, and great secrets hidden inside Hogwarts Castle from Grindelwald. 
    • Dumbledore defeats Grindelwald in 1945 and wins the Elder Wand; he wields the Hallow from that point through the time of his death in 1997 (>50 years).
      • Albus is cursed when he takes ownership of the Elder Wand from Grindelwald.
      • Tom Riddle emerges as ‘Lord Voldemort’ amongst his growing followers, many of whom fall into his circle in grief over Grindelwald’s defeat and seeking someone to lead – Voldemort is Grindelwald’s natural successor.
        • *Voldemort never knew about the Deathly Hallows; he wanted the Elder Wand because he knew the ‘Death Stick’ belonged to his former master, and he couldn’t stand Dumbledore claiming it as his own.
    • For the second time, Albus finds himself unable to strike against a powerful foe; because Voldemort’s wand contains Fawkes’ tailfeather, Albus is unable to move against him.
      • From 1945 to 1981, Voldemort builds his army of Death Eaters, makes eight horcruxes: the diary, the ring, the locket, the cup, the lost diademNagini, and quite unintentionally and unrealized, HarryPotter. H
      • Dumbledore continues his quest for the Deathly Hallows in absolute secrecy; he discovers the Invisibility Cloak between 1971 and 1978, while James Potter was attending Hogwarts; he comes to possess the Cloak in 1981 after James and Lily Potter were killed.
      • In 1991, Harry Potter learns he is a wizard and visits Ollivander’s wand shop, where he is chosen by the wand containing Fawkes’ second tailfeather.
        • The wand recognizes Tom Riddle’s soul inside of Harry and chooses him again, tying Harry’s destiny to Dumbledore’s directly.
        • Albus returns the Invisibility Cloak to Harry in 1991, deeming him pure and brave enough to become Master of Death one day.
      • Albus’ search for the third Deathly Hallow (the Resurrection Stone) continues until he uncovers it in the summer of 1996 at the Gaunt house; Dumbledore destroys the horcrux inside the Stone but is left cursed, yet he succeeds in returning the Stone to its former, unpossessed state; Albus then hides the Stone inside the first Golden Snitch Harry ever caught for safekeeping.
    • Albus is disarmed by Draco Malfoy and killed by Severus Snape on the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower in 1997.
      • Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave but is never its true master.
    • In 1998 (>50 years after Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald), Harry Potter becomes Master of Death receives Albus Dumbledore’s Legacy.

@bykaileyann

Fear for Queer

Fear for Queer

Quit finding lines and crests
Betwixt others’ thighs and chests –
Search for the person right off –
Request and recite all given names, honorifics,
I-pronouns, and epithets –
She’s Jane
He’s John
They’re Jack Doe –
Bother to be certain whom and speak to –
Permit eyes to hold gazes –
Realize hunting for sex grazes
And lingers shameless
Leaving traces of baseless assignments and conscripts –
It’s defining defiance of the purpose
For objective terms and phrases –
How might fixed body types and expectations change
The shape of human-being,
Or make shallows of new-thinking?


@bykaileyann
04.19.22

Dear Emmanuel 2

SECOND, My Authority to Write on Behalf of the Spirit –

And just who might I be, to claim Authority of my own Word?

Truly, one who is instructed by the SPIRIT to do so.

It is the Word of my Testimony which gives me license to write freely,

Because the LORD knows my intents as well as my shortcomings,

And still the SPIRIT enlivens my hands to tell the Whole Truth.


I wonder, as one might who makes a living by writing:

How many drafts did Matthew go through?

And how many scribes might he have employed?

I am no copyist; I am an Author –

A call I have always feared,

For it is the SPIRIT’s own Craft I wield.

I did not understand my role at the start,

But Grace has been a good shepherd through age.


I am not yet wise, though I do actively aim to be kinder;

Because I recognize my Word has power,

I strive to raise chins and meet eyes

So others know I mean them no harm

When my language fails to rise to the *Occasion.


Isn’t it true that I am called to give Testimony?

For what purpose otherwise am I baptized in the WORD?

Some will definitely hear this work and shake their heads,

But then this message isn’t meant for them;

I write because it is the mode the LORD chose,

Bestowed to me with Purpose in mind:

How to describe what it’s like – 

Inviting the divine SPIRIT inside –

So my skeptic neighbor who thinks my ‘faith’ or ‘religion’ are well and fine

For me, but believes there’s no Science in it;

The SPIRIT didn’t charge me with convincing others of my Existence,

But said to do good in his NAME and to go tell of it.


I am urged to write by the same SPIRIT who stirs the sermons,

Where many of late have squirmed in their seats

Leaving confused and discomforted.

They are restless with repentance and none the wiser,

Mixed-up with a sense of missed context, 

But unable to put their finger on Why.


Right and Wrong are not expository facts,

But become known through resolution:

Plucking Scripture from its place is therefore 

Inhumane,

As well as tasteless,

Because it robs the audience of the Whole Truth – 

A lot of folks don’t know what prompted the SPIRIT to say 

This, that, and the other’

But rather trust Pastors and Leaders who read the WORD more

To provide meaningful summary and draw conclusions

Rooted in relevant Evidence from the Bible.


I write to remind You of LIVING TRUTH:

Even so withheld in our Versions,

The WORD is Unbound:

I am writing Now.


———–END (Part 2 of 7)———–

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

THIRD, My Confidence in the Gifts of the Spirit –

———–(Soon To Follow)———–

Dear Emmanuel

So help me LORD,

I wish to do you Justice in the telling.

Will you please lead my keystrokes

So I might do Just that?


FIRST, My Testimony of the Spirit –

My name is Kailey Ann, and I am Saved.

I am Saved by the Spirit of Jesus,

Who over the course of Three Key Events1.) 2.) 3.)

Made me just as I am.


1.)

At age Eleven I ‘Prayed the Prayer’ toward the end of one Sunday Evening Message,

Holding a hardback copy of Order of the Phoenix on my lap.

I said to the LORD, “Please come into my life and make me more like you,”

But I didn’t look up when Pastor Eddy asked me to –

I was afraid – even though I thought I prayed the prayer right,

I didn’t wanna admit how many times I’d prayed it already in my life –

Always wondering whether it counted if

I doubted right away

Or if I kept asking for Proof.


2.)

I was Baptized in 2006 right after my little sister –

We got dunked in the Name of the FATHER, SON, and HOLY SPIRIT by Pastor Marion,

Who’d performed my parents’ wedding ceremony that very same school year.

I was wearing a maroon gown which could’of fit three of me,

And a silver cross necklace my Mom put around my neck that morning,

And my hair was in a ponytail because it always was –

I tried not to feel shame about the fact that I was older,

And my little sister was getting dunked first –

My parents said being Baptized was my choice,

And I’d said, “If she’s ready, I am!”

Because I Twelve and not ‘Out’

And I could not bear the secrecy

Of seeming Unsure whether I was Saved

Any longer.


3.)

In July of 2008, It Happened:

I spent the summer saving money so I could go to Supercamperific,

And my Mom spotted me half the funding I needed to go because

She loves me, and Thirteen isn’t old enough to make minimum wage.

At the tail-end of Pastor Terry’s first Evening Message, he explained:

“Salvation is a Gift: All you have to do is take it.”

And then, Out of Nowhere –

Terry Foster called My Name:

“Kailey, would you come up here for a minute?”

The Camp Nawakwa amphitheater

At McCormick’s Creek was abuzz –

I stood in front a great sum of campers,

Joined my church camp pastor center-stage,

And he held out his hand:

And I saw –

In his upturned palm:

A face – Sakakawea smiling:

At me!

Her eyes flashed:

Made contact!

And Terry said to Me so All could hear:

“It’s a Gift: All you have to do is take it.”

So I did * I have this token of Wisdom with me always, wherever I go.

———–END (Part 1 of 7)———–

SECOND, My Authority to Write on Behalf of the Spirit –

———–(Soon To Follow)———–


@bykaileyann

The Power of my People | A Call to Crowdsource

I can hardly believe I’m two days into a month-long fundraiser for my Book In-Progress, and I’m already almost HALFWAY to reaching my fundraising goal of $500.

That speaks volumes about the incredible people I have in my circle.

“Thanks” feels like too small a word to describe the impact this has had on me personally.

Why is MILY THE MILLENNIAL so important though?

Well, for those who may not know, I experienced a very tough period of writers’ block for about eight years. I published my first book when I was 16, having been selected to take a leading role in a collaborative children’s book project which, unquestionably, changed my entire life. After that, I set some very big goals for myself – If I wanted to really be a career novelist, I decided I had to keep up that early-publishing trend.

So, I published my first solo novel at 18. I wrote that book throughout my senior year of high school. Two books in my teens was cool. But I didn’t realize the pressure I had put on myself to maintain that kind of insane pace.

And, for what it’s worth, I vastly underestimated the amount of change I’d go through from 18 to 28.

I started a lot of books. I tried to collaborate on another one, but that ended badly as I later learned my prospective co-writer and I did not share much of the same vision for the work itself as I originally thought. I entered writing contests. I started a dozen or so books. I could never get past the first or second chapter, always feeling like my work was lackluster, or I was missing the mark somehow.

So, even though I graduated college with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing, I sort of gave up on ever being a full-fledged fiction writer. I thought I’d proven to myself that despite my aspirational youth, I ultimately didn’t have whatever that ‘thing’ was that all the writers I admire had.

I never said that out loud. Part of that is probably because I knew it wasn’t true. But I was definitely fearful that it was true.

But guess what! It wasn’t.

I’m back, baby – and feeling better than ever.

But wait WHY is THIS BOOK so important though?

Right, I was getting to that part.

In the going-on ten years since I published my last novel, I’ve done a lot of things professionally – all of them centered in writing. I worked in Tourism for two years, learning to work through local, state, and federal partnerships to raise awareness about ecological preservation and educate all kinds of people from all kinds of places about what makes a SPECIFIC place uniquely beautiful and significant.

After that, I realized I had dreams I never considered in those early years of adolescence. As it turns out, the thing I love most about writing is that I can use words to empower people to do good, incredible, challenging, exciting, meaningful, impactful things. I can use my middle-kid superpowers of Observation to show others things they may have never really SEEN fully before. I can encourage people to embrace different ways of thinking, to strive for common ground and resolution, to go after the things that make them happy.

So this book is really, really important to me because writing Mily’s story has helped me remember what makes me happy and rededicate my life to sharing that goodness with those around me.

Cool, so it’s about you…

Got me there. Writers – and I’m speaking VERY generally here – are almost always a little self-absorbed. I’ll call myself out for being a total Cancer. Reflection is my primary mode of being. So in that, yeah, I can’t write something that doesn’t have ME in it.

That’s called VOICE.

My voice is direct. It’s graphic, though not in an obscene sense hardly ever. I unlocked my voice in 2020, which by and large was either THE BEST or THE WORST year for creatives in general. Lucky me, it was good year for creativity. It was also the hardest year of my life.

After deciding to leave my Tourism job and go to grad school to study Leadership, applying specifically to a program where I would be given the agency to direct my course of study in a way that would best-serve my long-term goals. By specializing in Intentional Writing, I had the amazing opportunity to be in class with future politicians, medical professionals, coaches, and English teachers. I was very, very serious about discussing the foundations of “Organization Theory” and “Decision-Making” with individuals with HIGH aspirational goals (AKA, future leaders) as well as VASTLY different professional fields to draw perspective.

I knew that my Intent in writing books was to reach BROAD audiences and BRIDGE gaps between groups of people who are often separated by polarized politics.

My Intent was good. The Pandemic felt like a terribly-timed challenge under the scopes of “ORGANIZATION THEORY” and “DECISION-MAKING” specifically. I’m a great student, I don’t mind saying. But school was harder than it had ever been for me because of the uncertain and constantly changing environment we all suddenly found ourselves working through.

Then, just when I thought I was finally on the right track, I was assaulted by a naked stranger on the front steps of my own home.

That was the toughest battle I have ever, ever fought in my life. The experience derailed my study completely. It rendered me incapable of extended concentration, fearful of indulging in my studies because of an overwhelming hyper-awareness of my surroundings. It gave me a sense of one being hunted, watched, made me angry that all I felt for many months was rage, pain, despair, or numbness. It made me wonder if the world was in fact punishing me for pursuing a dream I should have given up on back in high school.

But I couldn’t let go. I didn’t finish grad school… But I did discover the story I’ve been trying to write for most of my life.

That story is Mily’s.

So what now?

Now, I am taking tomorrow off in respect for those lives lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Our lives were forever impacted by that day in History. That day was traumatic no matter how near or far we were from the incident itself. That day will never leave me. But I believe that reflecting on that Day has the power to change people for the better. And that, ultimately, is what Mily’s story ended up being about.

Millennials like me were set on a course unseen in human history because of the events on 9/11. I realize more and more every year how much that one day shaped me into who I am today. I was eight when it happened, just like Mily is in this book. I remember being afraid of airplanes, and wondering who terrorists were, and wondering why on Earth anyone would want to attack the United States. I WAS EIGHT. I am empath, I was then and I am today – but back then I didn’t have words to describe how it felt to constantly sense the stress, fear, anxiety, hurt, anger, grief, and ever-present confusion of the adults around me. I knew my parents were different than before it happened. I knew my teachers were too. My pastors. My coaches. Everybody.

I wasn’t afraid of another attack. I didn’t understand war. I didn’t know a lot of things that I do or am just starting to now, twenty years later. But my lack of understanding has led to a lot of questions over the years, questions I think most Millennials share. About what went wrong. About how to prevent catastrophe. About how to be better people, make better societies, and forge ahead through fear of the unknowable and unthinkable happening again.

Mily is eight. She trips into a patch of Pitcher’s thistle which leads to magical bugs nesting in her brain. And the infestation, the powers of overhearing and sightseeing they bring, gives Mily knowledge that will empower her to keep moving forward, most especially when she doesn’t understand why her world had to change so much, so quickly, so permanently.

Looking ahead…

I plan for this book to be in readers hands before winter. Fall is the season of shedding skins, bright colors, and corn mazes. Writing this book has gotten my life back on the right tracks. I’m not afraid to stand and consider a Crossroads anymore – That’s where I’m from, it’s who I am.

I hope this book gives every reader at least an ounce of the courage Mily has given me.

We have the power to create a better tomorrow. I believe we can do it. I trust that most of us will try. And if even half of us do, I have no doubt that we will live to see a beautiful, healthful future.

Wanna partner with me?

Check out my fundraiser?

https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8CJOAc3pVo

The Good Example, i.e. Hermione Jean Granger

A microessay in-response to a prompt sponsored by RandomHouse

What has reading taught you about navigating the world? What is one story that has most impacted your worldview or way you move through life?

Prose. Challenge. 300 – 500 words allowed.

I’m inspired by what is, quite controversially, my favorite book of all time: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My literary hero is Hermione Granger, who is both an exceptional intellectual and super-savvy communicator. In Order, Hermione teaches her peers about democratic leadership by simply starting a conversation. During the first meeting of a secret student Defense Against the Dark Arts group, Hermione suggests that they all “ought to elect a leader” and “ought to vote on it properly.” Harry Potter may have been the ideal, presumed selection, but Hermione insisted on a vote to manifest consensus. She used plain language to encourage their participation, leaning into proven decision-making methods like inclusive polling to “make it formal” and “establish authority.” Reading this scene at the early age of eleven, it became clear I wanted to be that kind of leader: a person who would speak with great wisdom but communicate using common sense.


Hermione had a certain knack for making good decisions, a fact which points to certain insight, yet she kept her mind sharp by not bending to the ‘fragrant guesswork’ of the divining arts. She was a known rule-enforcer, an ally to proper procedure (as am I), but Hermione Jean’s record of rule-breaking is directly correlated to the numerous courageous decisions made in the face of crisis, danger, and emergent peril. She’s a good egg, hard to crack; she can be trusted. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione appealed to the leadership at Hogwarts School at age thirteen to expand her magical studies and was presented with a “Time-Turner,” a magical device which allowed her to take more classes, even when the lessons were scheduled for precisely the same window of time. Her thirst for knowledge matches mine, and her bravery stands as a pillar of magical realism I can lean on when I’m in a tough spot. I trusted Hermione to the very end because she said things like, “I also think we ought to have a name. It would promote a feeling of team spirit and unity, don’t you think?” I read, I remembered, I gleaned. Words are power, just ask Dumbledore (Rowling, 391).


@bykaileyann

An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling

Addressing Your Misperceptions of America


Dearest Teacher,

My name is Kailey Ann. I’m 27 as of writing this, and I’m a Ravenclaw through-and-through. If you’d asked me even back in 2015, I’d have told you proudly I was a Gryffindor, but wisdom has a way of revealing itself through the Spirit in time. My aura bleeds blue and brawn, as it were. 

I’m writing to you because quite frankly, I’ve been thinking about doing it for nearly my whole life, and I’m pretty sick of chickening out at this point. I figure, there’ve got to be lots of people like me who, in light of your recent points-of-view, finally said to themselves, “Ah th’heck with it! She ought to know what I have to say.”

So I guess I’ll start by saying this: I’m an American. That means in my own fantasy-reality, I really never could have been a Ravenclaw. Unless, maybe, I happened to be one lucky winner of an international student exchange program to Hogwarts, somehow open to American students of magic who did not attend Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry—which of course, any American knows would be the case for the vast majority of young witches and wizards in the United States, given the nontraditional nature of our decentralized, state-run systems of education. So, even though the old Pottermore sorting test said I’d be a Horned Serpent, the frown I wear now thinking about it is the real thorn in my side I’d like to tell you about. 

Hear me Teacher, because I keep deepest respect for you, even in spite of the pitiless disagreements you and I now share. I’ve been attending midnight premieres and book releases since I was eight, so it’s coming up on twenty years of things I’ve thought about saying to you one day. I’m not just a fan (though that, I am). I’m a writer. I write because I hafta. It’s always been that way. When I was young and began reading your books, I didn’t know yet that words had that same kind of hold on you, too. I have faith that you, the very greatest writer of our time in my eyes, will do your best to use your words for the good of others until the very end.

But I’d like to take you back to when I was ten, even then pretending to be a magical kid at schools in America we thought we might attend. My best friends since birth were as big of fans of the series as my big brother and I were, and we spent long hours in our childhoods dreaming up people and places who fit into our idea of the Wizarding World from right where we were in the center of the Midwest of the United States.

Up till the end of the summer in 2003 when I turned ten, I had been living in Northwest Indiana at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. There, nestled along shores of singing sand in most northern reaches of my home state, are the Indiana Dunes: a place so full of magic that I can only wish that statement is enough to inspire you to come and see it one day. Living dunes, mountains of sand standing 60-meters high in some instances, some moving over a meter every year. Over 350 species of birds migrate through the interconnected web of ecosystems on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. The weather quite literally can change any minute. I was living there again in 2019 when the Polar Vortex hit, and for two days the winds blowing off the Great Lake made it a breathtaking -48°C outside. But in the springs, when over 1,100 flowers and plants bloom, and the summers, when monarch butterflies voyaging across North America settle there for the milkweed, I can’t imagine a more beautiful place. Most winters are unimaginably gorgeous too; have you ever seen shelf ice in real life?

All that to say, that’s the wondrous land I explored everyday, just steps beyond my backyard, when I first discovered Harry Potter. On June 20, 2003, my big brother’s twelfth birthday (exactly a month before my tenth), he and I stood in line with our dad at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore for the midnight release of Order. My brother had been waiting eagerly for the next book for a lot longer than I had because he was older; he’d already read most of Goblet by the time I was literate enough to pick up Sorcerer’s Stone in second grade. But he’d made me promise to finish the fourth book before the fifth came out, and by that time—I was almost a fourth-grader—I’d become something of a reader. My brother and I had talked for nearly a year about what dangers Harry would encounter next. That night I wore a black OOTP ballcap, a special souvenir for us kids whose parents were cool enough to preorder the book. Our parents were the coolest; they’d preordered copies for us both. 

I remember diving right into it that night, but unlike my brother (who finished reading it in under a week), I didn’t fall into it right away. I attribute this to the anticipation I was feeling of our family’s upcoming relocation. Our parents, recently divorced, had sat my brother, little sister, and me down to tell us that at the end of the summer, we’d be moving “back” to Central Indiana. That was where both my parents were from, and where I was born, but I didn’t remember it like that. The Dunes was my home, and that town 280-kilometers south just passed Indianapolis was only a place I went to see family on Memorial Days, Thanksgivings, and Christmases. As I’m sure you’ve heard in bulk over the years, the tone of book five didn’t give me that spark I’d gotten used to in books one, two, three, and four. 

But when I got to my roots in Central-IN at the age of ten, I had never felt more like Harry Potter in my life. Like I said, both of my parents were from there, and I was instantly overwhelmed with the number of strangers who knew my name and seemingly everything about me. It was the start of a new school year, and I was the new kid, and I’d always been a middle-kid and natural introvert, so I didn’t like being shoved under the spotlight so much. That’s when I put my time back into Order to help myself acclimate to the new environment. 

Everyday in my new fourth grade class, we were given twenty-minutes for silent reading. Most kids hated this part of the day, but naturally I found the minutes always flew by too quickly. I’m a good reader, but I’ve never been fast; by then I was reading about 200-words-per-minute, which meant I could almost never get through an entire chapter in the twenty minutes I was given. One Wednesday, that really screwed me over.

I’ll never forget closing my copy of Order on page 805. My heart was hammering in my chest. My throat constricted, twisted, ached—I choked on the word No as my eyes came to the end of the sentence, “The second jet of light hit him squarely on the chest.”

I blinked a few times to clear my vision, so blurry with tears that I couldn’t quite read, “The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock.” Before I was through blinking, my ears burned at the sound of students around me giggling—I looked up and met sets of eyes staring right at me, smirking, gazes jumping between our teacher and me, sitting at my desk with rigid shoulders and both sides of my open book clenched in my fists.

Silent reading was over. Evidently, our teacher had said so two or three times, but I was the only one who hadn’t looked up yet. I was a good kid, but when she told me for the third or fourth time I guess to close my book, I’d replied, “Can’t I please just finish the chapter?” The answer was no, and after a great round of laughter, I spent the rest of the day in a dark cloud. Every few minutes I’d get a painful bolt of hope that I’d somehow misread the colors—I remembered red and green, but did I get the order right? I knew the answer already, but I held on for the rest of the day, trying hard to convince myself that Sirius Black wouldn’t be dead when I flipped to page 806.

I called up this memory because I think it gets the closest to this standing-at-the-edge-of-the-veil feeling that’s been swelling in my gut since I went to the midnight premiere for the first Fantastic Beasts film in 2016. A bit of writing wisdom every teacher I’ve ever had shares is simply, “Write what you know.” It’s taken some time for me to find the words to describe how I’m feeling, but today I think I’ve finally got enough gumption to just say plainly: What gives you the right to write about life in America?

No offense Ms. Rowling, Ma’am, but you have no idea what you’re talking about.

In 2018, I took a job back up in Northwest Indiana, returning for a brief two years to live in my magical Dunes. During my time there, I had the privilege of working daily with the National Park Service, which is how I was introduced to some important local partners: members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi, who are actively finding ways to “revive the knowledge of [their] clans” in their native lands in and around the Dunes region. That’s how I learned that the Ojibwe cultural histories contained not one, but two miraculous beings which were familiar to me because of your Wizarding World: the Thunderbird and the Horned Serpent.

Like many of my fellow Americans, I’m now faced with a moral reckoning in the fact that my History education was quite lacking in inclusive perspectives. So, I’m not going to spend more than the next sentence whining about how the white Americans depicted in Fantastic Beasts are boring, two-dimensional caricatures that I know for a fact you could have written better. I had been so excited to discover a magical United States as I faced the first wave of fear in November 2016 wondering, “What happens next?”—only to leave the midnight premiere at the movie theater thinking, “All that could have happened anywhere, what does it have to do with me?”

More importantly, what does the Wizarding World have to do with the Indigenous peoples of North America? I wonder if you spoke with any of my neighbors before turning the main figures of their Creation stories into magical creatures kept in a suitcase by a British man named Newt Scamander. I doubt it because I’ve only just now been able to swallow my own pride and admit that I marvelled over that stupid CGI bird for more than a year before I realized I’d been daydreaming in sheer ignorance. 

And here I stand, not about to chicken out on writing this, or writing lots of things I’ll probably think of that I ought to say to you down the road. I have a lot to learn as a person, and being a writer is the set robes that helps me be the best me. Isn’t it the same for you? Don’t you put on your thoughts on paper so you can see yourself plainer? I’m standing under the archway of Cancel Culture hoping that you haven’t yet fallen beyond the curtain. I’m rooting for you to just suck it up and admit that you’re no alchemist and that you don’t know the secrets of life and death just because Harry died and rose again in your fairytale. Go on, take a big swig of your bad brew and swallow it down. I believe you can transform your vision of what makes the United States such a magical place. 

While assembling my closing thoughts on all of this, I returned to page 806 of my well-read copy of Order of the Phoenix. There I read the screams of fifteen-year-old Harry Potter as the deepest, most desperate desire of his heart cries out, “Get him, save him, he’s only just gone through!” 

Words are, in fact, our most renewable source of energy. You, Author, have wielded the written word to an astonishing Historical place of power. Until recently, I never thought Sirius Black’s special brand of arrogance was really your style. To tell you the truth, when all the time-turners went berserk in Cursed Child, I thought it was your way of finally saying, “Go forth, all ye fanfic dreamers: Your will be done.” Like it was a step towards opening up the Wizarding World not just to new places, but new people and writers, or something like that. But staring straight up at Fantastic Beasts on the big-screen in my mind, I’m hung up on the depth of your lack of research and the chasm of cruel objectifications of others’ cultural heritage and lived experiences. 

Because you’re the person who wrote the story that’s given so much of my life meaning, I am not through with you. The thing about Dolores Umbridge that really twists the thorn in my side is her privlege—she had too much influence to be bothered when students called her on her predjudices. Don’t be a Toad, for gosh sakes Ms. Rowling! Be a good Badger and go find the right answers so you can go on being your best. I still dream of showing the kind of selflessness as that wizard kid named Harry Potter, who once looked on the great Mirror of Erised and was found worthy to receive the Philosopher’s Stone.

And if you must continue staging my country as a main setting in your story, would you consider what I’ve said here and then…

… if you’ll humor this admiring writer just a teensy-bit longer 😉

Maybe give this wacky exercise I just whipped up a quick whirl:

A gang of chattering girls separated Snape from James and Sirius, and by planting himself in the midst of the group, Harry managed to keep Snape in sight while straining his ears to catch the voices of James and his friends…

“Did you like question ten, Moony?” asked Sirius as they emerged into the entrance hall.

“Loved it,” said Lupin briskly. “‘Give five signs that identify the [woman].’ Excellent question.”

“D’you think you managed to get all the signs?” said James in tones of mock concern.

“Think I did,” said Lupin seriously, as they joined the crowd thronging around the front doors eager to get out into the sunlit grounds. “One: [She’s] sitting on my chair. Two: [She’s] wearing my clothes. Three: [Her] name’s Remus Lupin…’”

Wormtail was the only one who didn’t laugh.

“Chapter Twenty-Eight: Snape’s Worst Memory,” Order of the Phoenix, pg. 643

I am, yours most sincerely,

@bykaileyann