the pleasure of re-reading

I have friends who never re-read books, sometimes due to a lack of time and sometimes because the mystery/thrill has gone out of the story for them after the initial reading.  While I agree that there is nothing quite like that pioneer perusal, re-reading to me is like returning to a precious memory, rejoining a conversation.

Books I re-read most often:
The Chronicles of Narnia (I re-read these almost continually, sometimes up to a dozen times a year!)
The Book Thief
Deathly Hallows
The Last Unicorn
Peace Like a River
poetry by Billy Collins

Sometimes I re-visit old favorites that I’ve not picked up in years, and this is delightful too.  I just finished re-reading Anne of Green Gables, a book I haven’t read in over ten years but which used to be my absolute favorite.  What a joy to listen to Anne’s imaginations, to run over to Orchard Slope to see Diana, to crack that slate over Gilbert’s head, to delight in puffed sleeves, and to watch Marilla soften over the years!  I think I’ll start in on Anne of Avonlea next.

Do you ever re-read books?  If so, which are your favorites to revisit time and again?

dressing up

As a reminder, I recruit high school students, many of whom are my Facebook friends.  These days, when I log into FB, my newsfeed is positively littered with photos from … what else … PROM!

I never went to prom!  I had this idea that if I went to prom it needed to be with a boy I really, really liked– now that I’m 30, I see that I should have just gone with a friend.  It would have been a great excuse to dress up and have fun.  I can’t say that I regret not going to prom– trust me, I don’t waste a lot of energy on re-imagining high school– but seeing all these pictures makes me wish I had an opportunity to get all dolled up.

So– don’t judge me, ha!– I went online this week and looked at prom dresses.  Here are my favorites.  What do you think?


The PANDAS that I’m talking about has nothing to do with these guys …






… and everything to do with childhood strep throat.

PANDAS = Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections

Say what???

PANDAS describes a set of children in whom an ordinary bacterial strep infection can turn into a neuropsychiatric disorder.  The strep seems to cause the body’s immune system to build up antibodies that – who knows why – turn traitor and attack the basal ganglia in the brain.

In other words, a simple case of strep throat gone to hell.

Sometimes a child gets strep throat, and the body gets confused– instead of fighting off the bacteria, it attacks the basal ganglia … which leads to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The first time I had an intake with a psychiatrist, she asked about my past medical issues.  “Ummm … I broke my elbow twice,” I said, thinking how a broken bone had nothing to do with my head issues.  I reached: “And I’ve had strep throat like a million times.”  I felt a little stupid and way too thorough.  Keep it to related issues, I thought to myself.  Duh.

But my psychiatrist perked up.  “Did you know there’s a strong connection between strep throat and OCD?” the doctor asked me.

Apparently, this is a little controversial, and some doctors aren’t convinced.  But come on– how many cases of strep-followed-by-rapid-onset-of-OCD do you have to see before you raise an eyebrow at the connection?

My doctor– Dr. Suck-Won Kim, the absolutely brilliant OCD expert at the University of Minnesota– believes there is a strong correlation, and I’m in his court.

A scene cut from my book:

“You have heard of PANDAS?” he asked.

            “I have,” I said, although I couldn’t remember at the moment what it stood for.  “It’s when kids get strep throat and then OCD.  Or something like that.”  I realized that I probably sounded stupid, explaining PANDAS to an OCD expert.

            “So many PANDAS studies … it has to be solved because far more OCD cases are strep-linked than people know.”

            “Yes, I had strep a lot as a kid.”

“YOU DID? YOU SEE?!”  Dr. Lee became animated as if a moment ago I’d said no such link between strep and OCD existed but now he was proving me wrong.

“The first time I met with a psychiatrist, she asked about my medical history.  I didn’t have a lot to share, but I happened to throw it out there that I’d had strep throat a lot, and she said it was probably connected.”

“She knew that?” asked Dr. Lee, impressed.  “That is uncommon.  Most doctors have no clue.” 

For more information on PANDAS, feel free to check out

I think I had strep throat nine times as a child.  Can anyone beat that?  Leave a comment!