One of the last books while in prison that I finished was It’s Okay to Laugh, Crying is Cool Too. My sister sent it to me after reading it, knowing it would hit home for me and it did.
I finally read the obituary that all this chaos stemmed from, now that I am out of prison and can Google things, and it is amazing.
Also, my creative writing teacher was super confused and he may still think that Aaron used to be married to Gwen Stefani. I wish Ralph the best of luck on his journey to avenge his father’s death.
The similarities that I found in the book between you and me are uncanny, between shows and music, we might be related.
Some of the things that kept popping up in the book that gave me the chills were, every time you mention a band or singer, it’s not just that I listen to them but that my MP3 player has a large amount of memory dedicated to them. I knew you liked Bright Eyes and Taylor Swift.
The album I’m Wide Awake and Its Morning is my go-to whenever I feel like shit, and I want to embrace it, which happens quite often in prison.
My roommate said he hates Bright Eye’s whiny voice and now I hate my roommate.
Taylor Swift has been my jam for a while; I used to be too self-conscious to admit it as if it made me less of a man. Then I would catch other inmates singing to her songs on the radio, and eventually, we all just came out together. I was so happy when she allowed her material to be sold on the server here because I was sick of listening to Ryan Adam‘s covers of her songs.
The prison let me send a video recording of myself to my daughter and I sang on it because that’s what I do. I mashed together three songs, a 90s hip hop song, then “You Need to Calm Down,” and a Christmas carol.
My daughter still tells me all the time that I am a terrible singer, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. So don’t feel bad when Ralph tells you to stop, you are not alone.
Then you threw out Explosions in the Sky, Chromeo, and Beach House, and I was like WTF, who is this chick. Then you started talking about Arrested Development, and at that point, I started to feel like you were writing to me.
We also both like to pick on people that lie about how tall they are. I used to claim 5’10, just to mess with them.
Then there is the loneliness and sexual frustration, I certainly feel your pain here, because this defines prison life. As I am sure that is exactly how you felt when you lost Aaron and couldn’t move one, and even after you moved on. You must have felt so trapped, second-guessing your every move and thinking everyone is talking about you.
Life is tough and sometimes things get thrown at you that seem unfair, but it’s how you react to those moments that define who you are. That’s why I like you and why your book is amazing because you handled it like a boss!
I do have a bone to pick with you, however, while you were on the hunt and trying your hand in online dating you mentioned and I quote, “By thirty-five, an unmarried Midwestern man is clearly defective.” Ouch! That means I don’t have much time to find someone after my release, as I will be turning thirty-five in December of this year, challenge accepted! I am glad I covered my dating profile in my reflection of No Happy Endings.
The thing is Nora, you have inspired me. There is one thing I know for sure and that is I want to be a writer. My amazing sister is giving me that opportunity, and I know she appreciates everything that you do for us and I hope you keep supporting her brands.
Chapter 11, “How I Met Your Father” inspired me to finish writing “An Act of Love,” which is how I met my daughter’s mother.
I also learned (how to reveal my thoughts or additional information I think is witty, in my writing), so thank you!
What I read in this book I was able to relate to my experience in prison and that goes for the methods you used to get over your loss. Laughing and crying are both such powerful actions that can help you cope. Even though we are both going through terrible experiences, in our own ways, we can find ways to be happy and also, ways to be sad.
I have been told, in prison, that I smile too much, that I am too happy. As if I am supposed to be stoned faced, don’t feel anything, because that might make them feel something too.
Crying in prison or in the world for that matter is considered even more repulsive. A sign of weakness, when really it should be a sign of strength. It’s a release, and up until lately, my release was using drugs, fighting, or freaking out.
As for the reader, why would you read It’s Okay to Laugh, Crying is Cool too?
Because the book makes you feel alive. It will make you cry and it will make you laugh, just as the title suggests, and sometimes all in the same sentence.
There is nothing that Nora is scared to talk about, and that is awesome. She has an honest voice, and I am convinced she is the same person in real life that she is in her books, which I’m guessing doesn’t happen very often in this day and age.
Life is ugly, people die, people break your heart, and people judge the shit out of each other, and with all this comes, guilt, shame, and confusion. It’s Okay to Laugh, Crying is Cool too breaks down some of those walls and exposes the truth that lies underneath, and that is if you haven’t been through it and you don’t have something nice to say, then shut the hell up.
Thanks for inspiring and making me feel alive again this last year of my prison sentence.