Ask Nora: How Can I Help My Teen Daughter Learn to Love Life Again?

by Nora McInerny

"Should you be in love with your life when all your friends ditch you at your most physically awkward and emotionally vulnerable?"

My daughter is having the worst time in high school. She's 15, and has lost a lot of friends this year. You've been through some hard stuff, but you love your life. How do I make her fall in love with her life again? Yes, she's in therapy.

Do you remember high school? I mean, really remember it, not just in a nostalgia-drenched longing for the days when you were rich in collagen and could look gorgeous and dewy even on three hours of sleep.

My own recollection was a little hazy, so I dipped back into my yearbooks and my diaries from age 15 and all I could think was HOLY CRAP WHY DIDN'T MY PARENTS PUT ME IN THERAPY? By the way, you are an excellent parent for making sure she has mental health care access. +5000 Parenting Points to you!


My Late Husband Had the Same Cancer as John McCain, and Health Insurance Was a Godsend

by Nora McInerny

Aaron's excellent insurance took a weight off our shoulders.

Aaron was 32 when they found it. Or, as the doctors said, when the tumor “presented itself,” pushing into his brain until it triggered a seizure at work, his body crumpling to the floor of his cubicle, his coworkers watching in horror. They didn't know that their carefree jokester of a colleague was being temporarily hijacked by a stage IV glioblastoma brain tumor.

Google glioblastoma at your own risk—it’ll just make you sad. But if it sounds familiar, that may be because on July 19, Senator John McCain's office announced that he, too, has a glioblastoma. It was discovered when he was in surgery to remove a blood clot, and he and his family are now "reviewing further treatment options," the statement says.


Ask Nora: How Do I Stop Replaying My Most Embarrassing Moments?

by Nora McInerny

In high school, I fell down the stairs in front of everyone. I mean, everyone. And to this day, I think about it all the time. If that sounds pathetic, well, there are plenty of other horrifying things that have happened to me in the past 15 years since graduation that I also choose to re-live, over and over and over again. My question is: how do I let this, and all of those other embarrassments, go?

I recently got a message from someone I hadn't seen in at least 15 years. This person was apologizing profusely for having put their foot in their mouth. They'd been unable to sleep thinking about how they'd offended me. They wanted to make it right. They understood if I could not forgive them for what they'd done, but they wanted me to know how absolutely sorry they were.

I had no idea what they were talking about. None.


My Son Is A Hashtag

by Nora McInerny

I was born in the ’80s, and my parents did their best to document my young life. They stood around flapping Polaroids in the air, waiting to see if I’d actually looked at the camera when they’d asked me to. They dropped rolls of film at the drugstore and hoped for the best. Sometimes they even ordered doubles and got twice the number of out-of-focus photos to place in boxes in the basement.

But today’s children are products of the social age. A world where baby albums have been replaced by Facebook albums. A world where every wedding hashtag is followed by a baby hashtag.

Read more on Today's


Photo by Nora. Illustration by Stephanie Han Kim. 

Photo by Nora. Illustration by Stephanie Han Kim. 

I'm Terrible, Thanks for Asking

by Nora McInerny

Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. Fine.

In 2015, I was totally fine. Finer than fine. And why wouldn’t I be? Just a few months before, I’d lost my husband to brain cancer, my dad to cancer of the everything, and my second pregnancy. By “lost them,” I mean that they died. I didn’t lose them at sea, or in the dairy section of Costco.

Everyone from close friends to Internet strangers wanted to know how I was doing. And everyone heard the same thing: "I’m fine.” “I’m fine.” “I’m fine, fine, fine.”

If you can believe it, I was not actually fine. Watching as my husband’s brain tumor reduce him to a thin, gray replica of himself? That had a negative effect. Having our second child vacuumed from my uterus? Made an impact. My dad going from a healthy to dead in five months? It took a toll.

Read more on Buzzfeed. 

My husband died of brain cancer in his 30s. Thanks to Obamacare, it didn't bankrupt us.

by Nora McInerny

What would we have done if he’d gotten sick in an America where the AHCA was the law of the land?


Aaron and I had been dating a year when my phone rang at work — his co-worker wanted to know if Aaron had ever had a seizure. I said something along the lines of, “Of course not! Who has seizures?” and rushed to the hospital to meet his ambulance. Aaron seemed fine, but the doctors weren’t so convinced, and soon I was pushing him in a wheelchair down to an MRI machine, where doctors took pictures of Aaron’s brain and I took pictures of him in an MRI machine for Instagram. The results were some mediocre social media content and a giant brain tumor that needed to come out immediately. The brain tumor was stage IV cancer.

It was 2011, a year after the Affordable Care Act passed.

Three years later, Aaron died in my arms of brain cancer at age 35, leaving me a widowed mother to our young son, and you know what I think? I think we were lucky.

Read more on Vox


Ask Nora: My Boyfriend Has a Brain Tumor. Should I Marry Him?

by Nora McInerny

I'm taking your questions about life, love, and lizards. Starting with this one, which is kind of a doozy.

I got a message from a 22-year-old who was planning to marry her boyfriend, who she'd been dating for ages. Her boyfriend has a brain tumor. A cancerous one, that can't be fully removed. And suddenly, the parents who were so excited to have a new son don't want her hitching her wagon to a star that is going to burn out too soon. They assumed that the diagnosis meant that any wedding plans were off. Their 22-year-old daughter certainly didn't intend to marry a man with brain cancer, did she? Well, uh, she did, actually. Her parents weren't movie villains, forbidding her to marry her beloved, but they didn't understand why she still planned to say "I do." It seemed crazy to them, which made it seem crazy to her.

"You married a man with a brain tumor," she wrote me. "Do you regret it? Would you do it again? Am I CRAZY for wanting to marry him still? Help me."

The short answer is: I did. Not for a moment. A million times, yes. You're not crazy. And, I can try.

The long answer is this:



I Got Micro-Bladed and Permanently Said Goodbye to my '90s Brows

by Nora McInerny

The only people who knew were every single person I encountered that day because I told everyone in earshot.


Say the words "face tattoo" and most people picture Mike Tyson, or perhaps Lil Wayne. Say the words "permanent makeup" and most people picture little old ladies in church with blue-black eyebrows that look like faded Sharpie drawings. Say "microblading" and people...have no idea what you're talking about, even though you're talking about the lovechild of face tattoos and permanent makeup. It sounds crazy and stupid and impulsive and too good to be true. Which is exactly why I did it.

Like many of us in our early-to-mid-thirties, my eyebrows have been recovering from a beating they took in the late '90s, when a pencil-thin Christina Aguilera brow was the epitome of sophistication and modern beauty (at least to this Minnesota girl). Hair on our faces? No thanks! My friends and I spent hours ripping these tiny hairs from above our eyes. We had no idea what a huge mistake we were making, even as we wore our mistakes to school. One girl in my class unintentionally shaved her eyebrows into what can only described as an upside-down Nike logo. Another showed up to a dance with a right brow that had been reduced to a small, horizontal line just above the middle of her eyeball. She'd tried to even it out, she explained, and took it too far. Was it noticeable, she wondered? Only if you looked at her face


Photo by  Kylee Leonetti

How I Accidentally Convinced 100 Strangers to Get Matching Tattoos. Great Women Think Alike.

by Nora McInerny

Great women think alike.


Today, I woke up with a Mitch McConnell quote tattooed on my forearm. That is not a sentence I ever imagined writing, but so far, 2017 has been full of sentences we never thought we’d write and situations we never thought we’d see.

When Senator McConnell said, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” he didn’t exactly mean it as a compliment to Senator Elizabeth Warren. Republicans had used a really old rule to stop Warren from reading a letter by Coretta Scott King during the debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General, and McConnell defended the silencing of Warren. He surely did not mean the phrase to have the effect that it did: echoing through social media as a rallying cry for women, finding its way onto Tshirts and mugs and eventually, my skin.


Photo by  Kylee Leonetti

The New Generation of Breast Pump Might Not Actually Suck

by Nora McInerny

And it looks like a pretty lil' round thing that could disguise itself as a smart home device with an unclear purpose.


I chose to breastfeed primarily because I knew in my heart it was the best for my baby. Just kidding, I breastfeed because I'm lazy. Mixing a bottle in the middle of the night is far harder than just rolling over and lifting up my shirt. I'm a person who has been known to forget the diaper bag, even when the diaper bag is just my purse with diapers shoved into it. But I can't forget my boobs.

As a mother whose infant son recently needed to borrow a dress from another baby at mommy and me yoga when he pooped through his clothes and I hadn't packed an extra outfit, I am clearly the perfect person to test a very fancy and expensive breast pump clearly designed for women who are used to the finer things in life. The Medela Sonata, new to the market, bills itself as a smart breast pump that tracks your pumping sessions and your baby's growth with the help of a custom app and some Bluetooth magic.



Why I Quit Everything and Started a New Life After My Husband and Father Died

by Nora McInerny

Quitting is the most important thing you'll ever do.


This is not a story about how I quit my job to travel the world and scrub toilets in paradise, and how I’ve never been happier and our cubicles are coffins and you deserve an unconventional life that brings you bliss.

This is a story about a girl named Lucky. Just kidding, but now that Britney song will be in your head all day.

Like nearly all of us, I was not raised to be a quitter. Quitting was probably the worst thing you could do, according to most motivational posters hanging in our gym locker rooms. Quitters never win. Winners never quit!



by Nora McInerny

If you don't post your pregnancy on Instagram did it even happen?

A few weeks ago I spoke at an event in front of about 100 people where I talked about some formative experiences in my life. How in 2014 I miscarried my second child. How my dad died 5 days later. How my husband died six weeks after that. The point of my talk was about owning your own story, not letting other people define you by what they think your life is like. When it was over, everyone clapped and there was time for Q&A. A woman's hand shot up.

She wanted to know if I was pregnant.

Silence filled the room, and like I was Angelina Jolie or something, I just said, "next question."

I could say a lot of things about this. Like, how I know it was asked from a good place but why are women asked that? Like, if you wanna tell 100 strangers, you tell 100 strangers! Or the irony of having a stranger demand a story about me when I'd just talked for an hour about personal narrative.

Instead, I will tell you that I was indeed pregnant with a baby I would have a few weeks later and I didn't want to talk about it with 100 strangers or even 100 of my own friends.

I didn't want to talk about it with anyone.