A Day In The Life – Jessie Chandler

Photo courtesy of Jessie Chandler
Photo courtesy of Jessie Chandler

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Siren, Wisconsin, a teeny berg about 90 miles northeast of Minneapolis. My mom spent the school year teaching in the big, bad city as a media generalist at Northport Elementary in the Robbinsdale School District.  I stayed home in Siren with my awesome grandparents, and pretty much had the run of town, until I literally ran into a cop car when I was four. Mom brought me down to the city to live with her when I was six, and enrolled me in District 281. I went through the same elementary school she worked at, and let me tell you, she heard about it if I ran down the hall or didn’t eat my peas. It was a huge adjustment, but I wound up having the best of both small town and big city experiences.

Where do you live?

In St. Joseph, Minnesota, about 10 minutes north of St. Cloud on I-94.

Who do you live with?

My wife and I live with our partner and best friend Angel and her daughter, Kayla. Along with three dogs, three cats, and what had been two, but is now one, Betta fish.

What is your occupation?

I’m a person of many hats. First and foremost, I’m a writer. I have five books in a long-standing humorous mystery series—the Shay O’Hanlon Caper Series—and the first books of two other series published as well. The most recent release was my Covid baby, Quest for Redemption, which came out in March of 2020, exactly when everything was shutting down. 

Along with authoring novels, I deal pull tabs at Jimmy’s Pourhouse in Sauk Rapids a couple times a week, sell books at Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore (the best mystery bookstore with the best boss ever) once a week, work three overnights a week as a night auditor at a hotel up here in St Cloud, and help with our online home business selling decals for car windows, laptops etc., which we cut, prep, and mail out in-house. Then, in the summer and fall, we travel to Pride Festivals selling all kinds of Pride merch including my books and some of our decals. Holy cow. Looking back at all that kinda wears a person out!

When did you come out?

I came out officially at 27, when I told my mom I fell in love with a girl on the Internet who lived in New Jersey. I’d known I was gay for probably four years, but never admitted it to anyone, and barely to myself.

How’d that go?

It was a rough road to hoe. My mom threw up, wondered what she’d done wrong raising me, thought it was a great thing I’d been involved in sports all through school, but maybe that had been a huge mistake. She told me not to breathe a word of “this” to anyone in the family, because she was sure none of them would understand. For about five years it was pretty touch and go. Then something amazing happened. Her attitude completely changed, and she embraced Betty as her own. She proudly outed us to waitresses, friends, and suddenly, family. I never had a really close relationship with my mom, but we were finally finding our sea legs when lung cancer snuck up and stole her away from us. On the bright side, my family accepted Betty before I’d ever said a word to them about being gay, and when I officially told them in 2010 because we were going to get married, not one of them blinked an eye. In fact, my beloved aunt threw us a wedding shower. 

When do you wake up?

As late as humanly possible! I am NOT a morning person. Seriously though, my alarm is all over the map. It might be 7:30 am one day and 11 am the next. Or later if I’m working at the hotel. My best snoozing comes between ten and noon. I love my sleep!

Phone alarm or old school alarm?

Phone alarm all the way. If I hear one more old school alarm, I’m going to throw the clock radio or whatever is blaring so rudely right across the room. 

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I shower to wake my groggy self up.

Breakfast?

Usually a light Jimmy Dean Egg and Sausage sammy. Along with a banana. Sometimes. 

Coffee?

Yuck. I only drink it as espresso when I need a real caffeine fix. 

Cream, or no?

I’ll definitely dump a boatload of cream in the espresso shot and throw it back, fast. 

How do you spend your commute?

I commute to a number of jobs, and the ride time varies. But generally, I love listening to podcasts, especially true crime ones like Best Case Worst Case, Truth and Justice with Bod Ruff, Wrongful Conviction, and Undisclosed, and then I like to lighten the mood with The Moth, Psychic Teachers, Chelsea Handler’s Dear Chelsea, and plenty more. 

What do you nerd out for (gaming, music, history, etc.)?

Collecting Breyer horses, cool notebooks, cool pens, and mostly, painting intuitive, abstract mixed media art. I can’t tell you how much I love smearing paint, pasting collage, making marks, and basically creating a delightful mess, both on the canvas and on myself. 

What music have you been digging lately?

I really am into NF, who raps about big things like battling mental illness, depression, and yourself. I feel it’s so important to talk about those buried-under-a-rock kind of things. He’s great and gut wrenching. Ed Sheeran, Melissa (yeah THAT Melissa) 80s rock, classical, Celtic, Latin American music. I guess I’m kind of eclectic. 

Is your work space tidy or a hot mess?

Half a hot mess and half neat and tidy. My desk is usually a disaster. But my decal-making area is usually pretty darn neat. 

What’s been your favorite job?

Hands down, selling books at Borders Bookstore. I worked for them for ten years and went down with the ship when they closed. 

Favorite weeknight meal: Go out, take out, or cook in?

Take out. I am an instant gratification kinda girl. 

On a usual weeknight, you are doing what?

In a perfect world, sitting on the couch bingeing some Netflix or Hulu. In my very messy and not at all perfect world, I’m probably working on decal sales, or thinking about writing. I think about writing a lot when I’m busy doing everything else. 

Bedtime?

One or two in the morning is a perfect time for me, but it can range from ten in the evening to seven-thirty in the morning. 

Favorite weekend activity?

Sleeping! Looking for rocks and agates in the spring, summer, and fall. Finding a new place to eat and new foods to try. Traveling. 

What are you most proud of, and why?

I’m most proud of the 26-year relationship I have with my wife. She’s an amazing person who’s been through so much and has thrived despite it all. Even after all this time we are still two peas in a pod. 

Words of wisdom to share:

Follow your heart. Do things that are good for you and good for others. A little kindness goes a hell of a long way. Hug the snot out of everyone close to you and tell them you love them. Because love really does make the world go round, even if sometimes, especially in the last few years, it doesn’t feel that way!

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