I Bleed Therefore I Am

August 14, 2014


I’m part of a loving family that runs a blog called Stories That Must Not Die.

Rara left us this blog as her legacy. She wrote, “This is a place for the stories that are too sad, too strange, too big, too angry, too fierce, too everything. They don’t fit in normal places, so I made this one.”

You’re all my family, too. So I’d like to share it with you.



*Comments are closed; please comment over at the Stories blog.

Originally posted on Stories that Must Not Die:

wanna die

When I was a girl I was terrified of my mother.

She wasn’t a malicious person. She was just completely ill-equipped to live the life fate had created for her. She had no education past the 8th grade, didn’t know how to drive, and had no marketable skills. Her 46-year-old husband walked out of the door a healthy man and dropped dead of a heart attack a few hours later. He left her with 6 children, aged 2 – 12.

She was an orphan who grew up in a group home. There was no love there, only beatings. So she relied upon corporal punishment to discipline us. I have long forgiven her, because as Maya Angleou said, “You did the best that you knew how. Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”

She worked 3 jobs, 70 hours a week and was rarely home. So, if you provoked her…

View original 823 more words

Author’s Note: To honor Robin Williams and his struggle with depression, I’m re-running an old post.
I had been blogging 6 weeks and had 30 followers. I decided to air my family’s mental illness dirty laundry to my little blogging family.

The post got Freshly Pressed and I went bonkers. I stayed up many nights, trying to answer page-long comments. My friend Rara stayed up many of those with me, gently reminding me there were more comments in my “queue.”

There are still 60 unanswered comments on this post in my dashboard. I’m going to answer every single one of them.

ADHD symbol design isolated on white background


When you have a kid who’s “challenging” (euphemism for “major pain in the ass”), receiving a phone call from his preschool teacher at 8:30 at night is NOT a good thing. You know she’s not calling you at that hour to gush over what a little darling he is.

At 3, my son was defiant, intense, uber-intelligent, willful and aggressive. And while the meek may inherit the earth, in a room full of preschoolers – around my son? They. Were. Fucked.

“Is there a problem in your family?”

Mrs. Katz, Little Dude’s preschool teacher, was clearly burned out; all out of Romper Room demeanor.

Mrs. K – in your vast experience educating 3-year-olds, you’ve never encountered this type of kid? Even the best 3-year-olds make you want to drink in the daytime.

I’m sure it’s hard to be an underpaid, overworked preschool teacher with Little Dude in the room, making his weird-ass noises and destroying furniture and what not. But, lady – this is your JOB. Nobody put a gun to your head and forced you to play Mr. Rogers.

So, figure out how to redirect, distract and socialize my kid. That’s why you’ve extorted these ridiculous prices from me, isn’t it?

Instead, I get a phone call from this woman prying into my personal life with that question. Did she really think I was going to sigh with relief, and say, “Oh YES, there IS a problem in my family. And you’re EXACTLY who’d I’d like to talk to about it?”

I’d explained, in detail, to the the director of the school that my son had already been diagnosed with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and other concerns that went along with an underdeveloped central nervous system.

And I worked on these things with him constantly, thank you very much. So, please don’t give me shit about “is there a problem in my family?” We’re fine.

Or are we?

In 1990, I lost my eldest brother, who raised me. My Protector. My knight in shining armor.


His legacy to me, in fact, is to be as inappropriate, edgy and rebellious as I can muster. He was the funniest, kindest, gentlest man anyone ever knew, and when he died,

I curled up into a little ball and died with him.

I stopped eating and sleeping and when it became apparent I would soon need hospitalization, my uncle took me to a psychiatrist who treated me for severe depression.

The psychiatrist spent 18 months having me guinea pig every anti-depressant on the market, looking for the one that would give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. He eventually unearthed the right psychotropic cocktail to help me regain the feeling in my arms and legs, which had gone numb from the depression.

I got out of bed, showered, and went back to work. Better living through chemicals.

The psychiatrist articulated for me a childhood of feeling lost; a feeling of abandonment that I filled with overachievement and a quest for constant perfection and approval. A deep abyss of sadness that I covered with a comic facade and a sharp wit.

Is there a problem in my family?

I have 4 other brothers.

One of them lives in Florida with my mother. He is a brilliant patent attorney who graduated first in his class from NYU Law School. He was the poster child for “the best and the brightest” but somewhere along the way, the delicately constructed wiring inside his brain short-circuited.

He suffers from bipolar disorder with a crippling depression that can keep him bedridden. Strong chemical concoctions designed to elevate his mood may become a Molotov cocktail that spiral him into out-of-control manic behavior.

His last manic episode distorted into a frightening psychotic break.

He changed personas daily, eventually becoming convinced that he was being persecuted in an elaborate government conspiracy. His illness took a frightening turn when he decided our family, including our 75-year-old mother, was part of the conspiracy.

He threatened us in extended, hostile, middle-of-the-night telephone messages. He told us he was part of the Mossad, the Israeli overseas intelligence agency.

Fleeing faceless demons, he drove up and down I-95 at 130 miles per hour, burning out his transmission and enough brain cells to land him in two different psych wards.

His doctors, fearing any further breaks with reality, no longer try to medicate him out of depression.He remembers nothing of his psychotic fracture.

He now spends most of his days in his bathrobe, watching “The View.”


Is there a problem in my family?

My third oldest brother has a relaxed, likable personality. He laughs easily and makes a fabulous uncle/playmate to my kid.

He is retired military. He was in the army over 20 years and was deployed to Somalia.

He NEVER discusses it.

If pressed, he will shrug it off. The outward casual manifestation of his attitude towards his time there is summed up in the ironic tee shirt he brought me back which is emblazoned with “Hard Rock Cafe Mogadishu.”

When he visits, he pretends to sleep on the fold out couch in my den, but only dozes.

Wakes up. Has a cigarette. A soda. Watches some TV. Dozes again. I hear him downstairs, moving around all night.

The sound of the patio door sliding open, then closing; the refrigerator door opening, the swoosh! of the soda can opening. The sigh when he settles back on the couch. The TV channels changing, changing, changing.

He has been diagnosed with PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder – which is a convenient way for the government to say, “We sent you to war, you saw unspeakable things, and now you’re completely fucked up.”

He toughs it out without meds or therapy.

He’s never been the same.

He has an impenetrable shell of nonchalant behavior, acting normal when nothing is normal.

The man has not slept in 10 years.


Is there a problem in my family?

My youngest brother is a lung cancer survivor. He works too hard, plays too hard, and even after losing a lung, still smokes.

He’s a frustrated musician masquerading as a Vice President at JP Morgan Chase. He earns a lot of money, and spends it quickly. He’s a confirmed bachelor because he cannot deal with intimacy or relationships.

He has bottled up rage against every single member of my family. His grudges date back to events that transpired over 30 years ago. No one but he can remember what he’s talking about. His list of transgressions never end.

He’s brilliant, erratic, emotional, fiercely loving, and astonishingly gifted.

He can listen to a guitar solo ONCE and duplicate it, note for note.  All he’s ever wanted to do is play guitar, and somehow he ended up in a corner office, his essence rotting like moldy fruit.

He takes all sorts of anti-anxiety medication to cope with a life that crept up on him when he wasn’t looking.

I am certain that his lung cancer was caused not by cigarettes but by the fact that he’s an acutely lonely man who spends all his time alienating those who would love him.

A frustrated artist emotionally eroded by spending the last 22 years at a job that’s killing him.


Is there a problem in my family?

As parents, we all hope for the best – and fear the worst.

Did I bring a child destined to mental illness into this world?

Did I selfishly ignore the familial signs so I could give birth to an amazing child – who struggles with heightened emotions and diagnoses full of letters?

The doctors say no. They assure me, each baby is born his own soul; with his own temperament. His central nervous system is what it is.

Which is genetically linked to MINE.

He is my child. He is my heart.

I want him to be HAPPY.

At night, we cuddle and talk over the day.
“What was your ‘sad’ today? Your ‘glad’ today?”

Our ritual for years. It’s his safe place to open up to me about his world.

He tells me about things that are quite benign, and I breathe a sigh of relief. His “sads” – innocuously fixable.

But are they?

Is he really in touch with his sadness? Is he anxious? Depressed? Lonely? Can he feel those things?

If he felt them, would he recognize them as such? And even still, be able to articulate them to me?

Dear God, I want to know,

Is there a problem in my family?

We walk home from school; he chatters happily about his day.

It’s hard for 10 year-old-boys to sit still all day; at least, for mine it is. We both prefer for him to blow off steam before he sits down to his homework.

Today, it’s out to the trampoline in my backyard. He loves that trampoline.

It’s so important for his sensory issues; the compression for his proprioceptive; the movement, for his vestibular. He craves it and it helps him release all that bottled up energy.

Today I want to talk. Today, I am writing this, and I am troubled.

Today I need to know that he is having a having a happy childhood.

Today, I want to know,

Is there a problem in my family?

I go out back.

But he’s not talking.

He’s not saying anything.

He’s just jumping.



arms outstretched,


so high.

It looks like he’s touching the sky.

Yes. Like this.

Yes. Like this.

Do you have a child like this? Siblings like mine?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

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I recently came upon an article, “21 tips On How to be a Perfect Girlfriend for your Guy.”

I had really important things to do, like look for a house to live in, so of course I had to stop to read this.

Women already work full time for less money than men, made the diet industry worth a gazillion dollars and spend our formative years watching porn to learn how to completely suppress our gagging reflexes.

I’m in a sharing mood this morning. Want to know how painful it is to get ass fucked without lubricant? Read these. I even took the time to respond.

1. Look great for him. Men are visual.

Yes, he’s visual. That’s why he’s addicted to YouPorn. Unless you have another chick and can deep throat a python, you lose. And what about how jacked up he looks? Splashing your dick in the sink to get a blow jay does not count as hygiene.

2. Smell Great for him.

Never mind that sleeping in the same room with my Ex was like Weekend At Auschwitz. Welcome to the Gas Chamber. Between him and my son I risked asphyxiation daily.

3.  Stop nagging and complaining.

Yes, I’m sure you’d love it if the only tine I opened my mouth was to fellate you. I wouldn’t nag you if the garage didn’t look like we stumbled onto an episode of Hoarders, what with that important paperwork from the 80’s and all.

4. Love him. More than anything.

Ohhh, now we’re trapped in an Erectile Dysfunction commercial. The gorgeous mature couple are laughing and frolicking on the beach and it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t slipped her the high hard one since the Bush administration. Fuck that. Smother him in his sleep and sport fuck the 25-year-old trainers at the gym. They get hard ons when someone opens a can of tuna.

5. Love Yourself. Be secure and radiate positive energy, smile every day.

Why not add to this “walk on the moon?” Psychotherapy is a billion dollar industry. You want the economy to crumble just because you popped Xanax to imitate an escaped mental patient?

6.  Be devoted.

That’s right, focus your energy obsessively on him until he’s at the point where he fantasizes waterboarding you. Blind devotion is creepy. The next thing you know you’ve given away all your worldly possessions, shaved your head and you’re dancing around Los Angeles International Airport playing your karatala with Hare Krishnas.

7. Like his friends.

Even if they’re imbeciles, like his best friend who tried to finger fuck you in the kitchen during Super Bowl Sunday. And then peed on your floor. Oh, goody! You found someone to urinate all over your house without even looking on Craig’s list.

8. Be a sex goddess.

Did they really tell you to fulfill all his fantasies? Do they know he’s into acrotomophilia? (sexual attraction to amputees) Are you gonna chop your legs off for this motherfucker? And never shoe shop again? And you forget you chopped off your legs, and you wake up Friday morning, all, “Hey, it’s the weekend, I’m gonna go dancing!” and then you are like, “Ohh. That’s right. I can never dance again because I have no legs.

9.  Cook well. Or at least try.

Whew, it smells like the 1950s in here. Okay, I happen to love to cook. It relaxes me. But my BFF says it stresses her the fuck out. So here’s what you do. If he’s an asshole,  poison him slowly, over a month. Just put traces of cyanide in his food as he grows progressively weaker. Then one day, he keels over. Bon appetit, motherfucker.

10. Love is in the details. Give him gifts, massage and pamper him.

I’m not gonna massage your hairy back, Sasquatch. If you’re nice I’ll give you a handjob – that counts as a massage in my book. And YOU buy ME the gifts. You don’t need an occasion. It’s the grand opening of a pack of cigarettes. Boom.

11. Appreciate him.

Yes, because it’s so nice of him to hold your hair back during his morning blow job.

12. Stroke his ego.

Because his narcissism has only partially destroyed you. Let’s feed that monster until your soul is crushed irreparably.

13. Make him feel like a man.

Really? I have a better idea. Why don’t you just come fully formed as one already? How long do you get to be a boy? Isn’t there an expiration date on that shit? You get to put your dick in my vagina. If that isn’t manly enough for you, then go build something. Or kill a deer.

14. Help him grow by being his partner, not his enemy. Help him fulfill his potential, maybe even his destiny.

Well, aren’t WE lofty. You neglect your dreams and ambitions and pour all your energy into someone who will exploit you. This is straight out of the Ike Turner “How to Treat A Bitch” handbook.

15. Have a life and a passion.

Not so that YOU can flourish. But to be a better girlfriend for HIM. Hear that horrible creaking death rattle? That’s Betty Friedan rolling over in her grave.

16. Be better than all of his ex’s combined.

Okay, this isn’t too creepy. As if women aren’t competitive enough. Now you have a reason to justify stalking all his ex’s on social media. But you’re the new and improved version. Which means you have to pay the price for every crazy bitch his dick ever fell into.

17. Give him space.

Sure, give him space, give him the whole galaxy. Just know that what he’s doing with that space is fucking your friends. Especially the one who comes to visit from out of town, because, you know. She’s in the house and all.

18. Have a pleasing personality.

Is it just me, or does this one just makes you want to bludgeon him to death with your own amputated leg? (see #8) How about If I stick you in a cage, cover you in birdseed and let a bunch of agitated birds peck the shit out of you. Does that please you?

19. Don’t take him for granted; don’t be lazy.

Never mind that his toenails are a deadly weapon and his inner ears are dotted with sexy blackheads. Or that he thinks a date is him belching to Netflix.

20. Work out regularly.

Guess what? This has everything to do with me wanting to be strong and nothing to do with looking good for you. Doesn’t this work both ways? I don’t appreciate having to lift your stomach with both hands to find your dick.

21. Be feminine.

How about I put on some lingerie, and grab this girly feminine pink pistol I purchased and shoot you in the throat? I’m pretty sure that’s legal in the South.


There was actually more advice, but I can’t continue. I need to do something less excruciating, so I’ll be giving myself a urethral catheter.


Do you have other suggestions on how to be the perfect girlfriend?
Does this article make you want to projectile vomit?
Why do I waste time on the Internet when I have a million pressing things to do? 
Talk to me. I’m listening. 



I blame this play for EVERYTHING.


I met her in an acting class in New York city.

Do you know how many stories I could start like that? I met some of the most fascinating people of my life in acting classes.


I met the other serious love of my life in an acting class. He was 5’3″ tall and 15 years older than me. Don’t JUDGE! He was also famous. He had been in a hit band in the 80’s, and I’ve always been an unmitigated star fucker attracted to musicians.

Everyone in an acting class is screwing everyone else. It’s a more incestuous sexual hotbed than WordPress, even. If you’re not hizzit the skizzins with another actor, then you’re swacking the teacher. That was usually me, because I’ve always had raging Daddy issues liked older men.


In 1990’s NYC, I was studying acting with Betty Buckley. She was a “big deal;” you had to audition to be granted entrance to her class.

Betty Buckley won the Tony award for Cats. She was the original Grizabella, the shabby, decrepit old feline who plaintively meows her way through the song “Memories.”

She’s starred in a number of Broadway plays and a whole slew of movies. Before Cats, she spent several years portraying the stepmom in the television equivalent of swallowing ground glass, a banal series called “Eight is Enough.”


She was an amazing teacher but incredibly strange.

She began every class with a new-agey group guided meditation. You know, so the Solar Logos would take us on Astral Flight and we could all experience a Paradigm Shift. That.

Once, in the middle of it, she came up behind me and whispered, “I don’t know what you have going on with your mother. But if you’re going to be an actor, you’d better go into therapy and get in touch with it.”

I spent the next 5 years in psychotherapy. Thank you, Betty.


Nicolette distinguished herself from the rest of the class instantly, by the sheer scope of her physical beauty. She was stunning.

Her hair. I could write a whole post just about her hair. Her glossy chocolate brown hair spilled down beside her face, framing it perfectly. It was a curtain of brown silk.

She had enormous blue eyes, cupid bow pink lips,  and the golden proportion of perfect white teeth. Her body was cartoonish perfection with a tiny waist and oversized breasts.

Betty zeroed right in on her. She was known for having young female protegés who do all her errands, and take a lot of abuse from her. Nicolette quickly became her new handmaiden, which later irritated me to no end. She once sported a torn up lip where Betty’s insufferable bird bit her, while she tried to feed the feathery fucker.

Nicolette was so sweet. I couldn’t believe anyone THAT beautiful could be so sweet.

She wasn’t.

We were assigned to do a scene from “In the Boom Boom Room,” a renowned play about go go dancers in a sleazy night club.

Betty was relentless when it came to scene study. Every week, you’d perform in front of the class. When it was over she’d call “Scene!” and crank your self esteem through the meat grinder of her critique. She demanded we bring in the same scenes repeatedly.

The scene Nicolette and I had been assigned took place in the dressing room, as one dancer, played by me, tries to seduce the new girl – played by Nicolette.

Because I was a method actor, I convinced Nicolette to perform the scene in our bra and panties. Method, schmethod. I wanted to see her in her underwear.

In the scene my character asks hers, “Have you ever made love to a woman?” I was so smitten with her I decided to do something not in the script. I decided to grab her and lay a big old kiss on her. And because I wanted her reaction as real as the character’s – I didn’t tell her I was planning to do that

We rehearsed together all that first week, sans kiss. And then, we brought the scene to class.

When walked on stage in our underwear, mine jet black, hers, blood-red – there was a collective sharp intake of breath.

Actors are FREAKS. But still. Two nubile 20 somethings, in almost nothing? And Nicolette, with her breasts spouting all over the stage.

When I leaned in and kissed her, I thought her character would jump back in surprise.

Her character probably would have. Nicolette didn’t. So we just stood there, sucking serious face, for waaaay too long. Like, absurdly long. Like, “this isn’t even about the scene” long.

The kiss started from the neck up. A minute in, our bodies were pressing together.

And kept pressing…

“SCENE!”  Betty pussy blocked me and ended a kiss that tasted like dessert. Bitch.


And that’s how I found out Nicolette was a lesbian.

I felt like I had won the motherfucking LOTTERY.


The next time I went to her apartment to “rehearse” we did absolutely NO rehearsing.

How do women have lesbian sex? Ohh. I didn’t TELL you?



We did rehearse, on subsequent visits. Betty the big dyke made us rehearse that scene for 2 months. Finally she could find no fault with us.
“What do you say, girls?” she asked. “Should we call it quits? Or do you think you want to bring in back in one more week?”

“No, Betty,” I answered. “I think Eight is Enough.”


I was besotted with Nicolette. She was the first ultra feminine, girly lesbian I’d ever known. She was actually more of a girly girl than I was.

She was flowery mini dresses; I was a black leather skirt. She was brunch, I was “Is this breakfast? Lunch? Fuck you!” She wore her lustrous brown hair in a French braid. I dyed my hair to match hers but when I put it up it looked like a Hefty bag with a twist tie.

She was a talented dancer. I played drums in a punk band, without knowing how to play drums.


But vive la différence, right? We became a Thing.


Nicolette’s personality was no flowery dress. She was a BITCH. And not your Basic Bitch, either. A prize-ribbon wearing, Grade A, Queen Bee DIVA bitch.

She was completely self absorbed. If I was sick, she would whine about missing a pedicure to bring me soup. She was a half hour late for every thing, every time. With NO apologies. She constantly one-upped me. If I had a headache, she was dying of a brain tumor. She was rude and impatient with waiters and waitresses. If we were out to brunch God forbid she didn’t get a bread plate. She was programmed to receive attention, and expected all of mine.


We might have survived all of this – had it not been her refusal to accept I wasn’t a lesbian.

Lesbians invariably try to convert sexually ambiguous women. According to Nicolette, I was a full throttle lesbian in unequivocal denial.

Yeah, NO. I like penis too much to be a lesbian. Sorry. I wasn’t quite ready to drive a U Haul truck to Lilith Fair.

We ended our relationship amidst of storm of emotions, talked about it until my ears bled, and eventually parted friends.


Nicolette and I lost touch for the next 15 years. Maybe, I just didn’t want her to know I’d gotten married, moved to the suburbs, had a kid.

Maybe,  I didn’t want to know I’d done that.


A few years ago, she found me on the Book of Face (where else?) and eventually we made plans to get together.

We had dinner in Manhattan. Nicolette was still beautiful. Maybe more so? And BITCHIER, if that’s even possible.

She was now running an ultra trendy club which cuts a wide swath in the currency of bitchiness.

After dinner we went to a club to scout some acts she was thinking of featuring.

We ended up on the dance floor, because some things never change. Neither of us can be in a place with a dance floor and not dance. There was also alcohol involved. I get drunk off of half a drink. Many of my bad decisions have been alcohol-fueled.

“When I’m Small” by Phantogram came on.

Oh, C’MON! That song sounds like the soundtrack to two women grinding on a dance floor together, kissing passionately.

I am NOT suggesting that happened. Her list of neuroses make me look like a stable, calm individual. And that’s scary.



So, she’s in my life again, this lesbian She-Devil. Demanding, critical, self-centered, spoiled.

Gorgeous. Charismatic. Brilliant. Effervescent. And those breasts…


I’ve tried to end this post for a few days now. I can’t. I just realized…it’s because, the story hasn’t ended. 


“I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. You’d be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavors.”
~ Bjork



“I’d rather die, than to be with you…”
Perfect lyrics. She’ll eat my soul, this woman. Who, incidentally, looked exactly like the woman in this video when I first met her.


Have you ever had a friend who was impossibly bitchy? Do gorgeous people get away with that easier?
Can someone like women and not be a lesbian? 
Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

Actually, it’s 2 minutes and 44 seconds.

Laurie Works witnessed the murder of her 2 sisters. Yes, these things that seem like tragic and distant television news stories, happen to people we know.

Today, on the SisterWives blog, she posted a video of the spoken word poem, “Shell,” she wrote about their death, and her life without them.

It’s raw and unedited. Vulnerable and brutiful. Probably the bravest and most intense thing you may ever see on WordPress.


Please give her your support, and your love.





Comments are closed. Please talk to Laurie. She’s listening.