“Will I die if I do this?” I whispered frantically into the phone from a toilet stall in Long Branch, New Jersey. “This” meaning the little packet of white powder I nearly dropped into the bowl. 1970. 1990. 2020. Some things never change. People are still clumsily dropping little packets of white powder into toilet bowls, especially after several double shots of Don Julio.

“This guy is crazy,” she said. “It’s a Tuesday during a pandemic. I’m frightened for what he’s like on a Friday.”

 “I don’t think it’s his typical Tuesday,” I said, although how much do you really know about someone you met a half-hour ago? On Tinder?

“What happened to the anesthesiologist? Did he dump you for yelling GET ME THE MICHAEL JACKSON DRUG”

 “No, and that was a joke. He’s on his boat. He’s always on his boat.

This boating thing is like a rich white people epidemic. All summer, I was turning down boat invites. I get seasick and not in a cute “baby, please get me a ginger ale” way. In a “horking over the side of the boat while praying for death” kind of way. I didn’t understand half of what these guys were talking about anyway. Boat-speak sounds like Klingon. The only thing I know is, “I like the cut of your jib” and “Chips ahoy!” which I’m pretty sure doesn’t even count.

I had just started dating again, after taking off 18 months. Anyone who online dates will understand why I needed a break. It’s emotionally draining. For every fifty people you match with, you will find one plausible candidate. Online dating, however, is quite convenient during a quarantine. You can lose your faith in humanity in the privacy of your own home.

Online dating hadn’t changed, only this time I was different. I was selfish about who I gave precious free time to. I won’t spend time with douchebags, when I have important things to do like watch Mark Maron talk to his cat on Instagram.

Now when they annoyed me, I deleted them rather than date them. They revealed themselves early in the conversations:

“Are you bikini ready?” – Sexist asshole. Delete

“Let’s meet at Home Depot” – Is this a date or an episode of Design on a Dime? Delete

“What are you cooking?” – For a second date? Delete

“There really is no pandemic. This whole thing is a hoax.” – Scary Tinfoil Hat Conspiracy Guy. Delete and Block.

“I think Trump is fantastic” – Block, delete, and wish him dick cancer.

The man I was out with hadn’t said or done anything annoying, and furthermore, he wasn’t afraid to make dinner plans. So many men are scared they’ll get stuck picking up a dinner bill for someone who isn’t Playmate of the Month. That’s a man’s biggest online dating fear – that the woman will be 20 pounds heavier than her pictures. My biggest online dating fear is that I’ll end up in trapped in a cage by a psycho who’s dancing around with his dick tucked in while cutting a McCall’s sewing pattern to make a dress out of my skin. But this guy made reservations at a swanky lobster place on the beach, and although he didn’t know it, it was the night before my birthday.


My date was funny, confident, talkative, just like someone with a snout full of cocaine should be. He threw around hundred dollar bills like they were condoms at Planned Parenthood. He tipped the waitress $100 before we even ordered. He’s that guy. I know, I know, things are really BAD for people these days. I shouldn’t be condoning such a vulgar display of reckless extravagance, but I found him highly entertaining. He had that “joie de vivre,” which is French for “Republican tax loophole.”

When we first sat down, I ordered white wine, but after he ordered a double shot of Don Julio tequila with lime juice, I caved. Tequila is my kryptonite. Over dinner he showed me a bag of edibles he had gotten in California (did he fly home with those? Are edibles easy to smuggle? Asking for a friend). He also presented me with my own little baggie of cocaine (he had 10 of them) and suggested I go into the bathroom to powder my nose.

The problem with being a degenerate is that it’s impossible to turn down drugs, even when you’re middle-aged and at a five-star restaurant. No one would ‘just say no’ to blow while watching the sunset over the beach, eating lobsters the size of puppies. Well, maybe some people would, but those are people with 401k plans. My financial plan is “work till I die.” Which brings us current to my phone call from the restaurant bathroom. No, gentle reader, I did not have a heart attack. What I did have was a trickle of white snot dribbling out of my nose onto an upper lip I couldn’t feel, and the ability to drink myself senseless without passing out. Remember those days?

We closed down the restaurant at 10pm, and he said,”LET’S GO TO ATLANTIC CITY,” and because I’m me, I said “SURE” Which is how I wound up hurtling along the New Jersey Turnpike at 11 pm on a Tuesday in a spaceship disguised as a Mercedes. When we got in his car, we face-timed with his two teenage sons so I would know he was not a serial killer, but don’t serial killers have families? I would have gone anyway. Who am I to turn down an opportunity to gamble in Atlantic City in the middle of the night with a cokehead Tinder date on a random Tuesday? You don’t just walk out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. 

On the two hour drive down we ate edibles, and he was playing Grateful Dead live concert tapes, which, if you know the Dead, contain no songs. Just long drugged-out jams which went perfectly with driving 90 miles an hour on a deserted highway in a posh Benz he had taken back from his ex-wife after she fucked the pool boy. The seats were massaging me – did you get that? The SEATS WERE GIVING ME AN ASS MASSAGE –  and the instrument panel was flashing and beeping like we were on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. The whole experience reminded me of tripping my ass off at college, except in a car that cost more than my education. Very surreal.

Midnight, speeding along the New Jersey turnpike at 90mph, and I fantasize myself as Jackson Pollock. Drunk, angry, careening down the road in East Hampton, losing control at a curve, car plunging into the woods rolling over and over. Pollock at the driver’s seat, decapitated. A death like that is cinematic enough to suit me, except it’s only an artist’s death if you’re an acknowledged artist when it happens.

1:00 am on a Tuesday, and the casino was packed with debauched gamblers. Why? How? For what reason? I was filled with questions that I answered by ordering more double shots of tequila. “I’ll only blow a thousand dollars before I call it a night,” he said and began stuffing fifties into the slot machine.

And that’s how I wound up playing Wheel of Fortune in an Atlantic City casino till the sun rose into a gray milky dawn, the morning of my birthday. By that time, the edibles had kicked in, the room was breathing, and I was certain I’d find the meaning of life in the patterns in the carpet.

Please don’t think I have an exciting life. I was so bored during lockdown I started teaching my dog to do new tricks, only I don’t have a dog, so what was that about? I spent the last six months quarantined with a teenager. With a TEENAGER, people. The most dangerous thing I did was eat a gently expired cantaloupe.

This was a night reminiscent of the old days before I’d moved out of the city and become a Mother and a Responsible Human Being. It was an attempt to recapture something that I know is long gone, if only for a night.

I’m friends with my date, who I affectionately refer to as “The Human Snowblower” but I haven’t continued dating him because I don’t want to die. We text occasionally and when he mentions getting together, I make excuses, like “I can’t because I don’t want to die.”

But damn, that night was fun.

And I’ll never be that young again.

It’s been a minute, and I’ve missed all of you. Talk to me. 
I’m listening…

As parents we know the fear of sending our kids off to school every day, never sure if they will come home safe; that bloodcurdling chill every time we hear about another school shooting.

But for the first time, I got a glimpse of the other side – the mind of a kid who makes a threat like that. And I know now that gun control is not the answer to this problem.

It’s HATE CONTROL.

 

Am I defending kids who make threats like that, including my son? NO. Am I rationalizing why people commit these heinous crimes? NO.

If you think that, then stop reading this right now. You obviously are here to attack me, and I’m not interested in what your small mind produces when you read this. So LEAVE.

 

What I am saying is, I understand why some kids might make threats like that. If you’re interested in my insight, please keep reading.

 

Although I write candidly and without a filter, many topics, particularly about my family, feel as though they are a violation of privacy and I won’t expose them.

It is with my son’s full permission that I write that he has been suffering tremendously with a debilitating chronic illness for the last four years. This story is not about that; just understand that he has been in and out of hospitals for years, undergone serious surgeries, and has handled it with a grace and a determination that I absolutely KNOW I would not be able to muster.

 

Until this year. At fifteen, he is a gnarly teenager, with all the unpleasant hormonal changes that come with his age.

And his illness has left him isolated, despondent and many days, devoid of hope.

My son, despite all the odds against him, gained entry into one of the most competitive high school programs in our county. It’s in a town half an hour away from where we used to live, which, in the suburbs, might as well be in another country.

He began high school knowing no one, but joined Marching Band and made a couple of friends.

 

And then, as it does, his illness took a turn for the worse, and he has been unable to attend school since December. For those of you not familiar with this, he is then put on “home instruction”: teachers come to the house weekly. I’m grateful that this option exists but for a teenage boy at a new school with barely any friends, it’s a death sentence.

He’s had months of isolation. He has no interaction with his peers. He sees therapists (yes, plural) to help him navigate his life though chronic illness. And although I do my best to supervise him, sometimes my best just isn’t good enough.

I have not been monitoring his online activity as diligently as I should have been. He mainly plays Xbox online and watches YouTube, but he also participates in group chats via Discord, and frankly, I have no idea what he says in these groups.

 

My son has been chatting in one group with his two friends, but there are a couple of other kids in the group who harass him about being Jewish.

My son said nothing to me. He says nothing because he doesn’t view this as “bullying.” To him, it’s part of life, and he shrugs it off.
Just let that sink in a minute.

 

In the area of New Jersey where I live, people have money instead of empathy. They have material things instead of intelligence. I’ve had the head of the PTO tell me to “watch that woman with the cash box” at a bake sale –because she was black. I’ve had people tell me which schools to avoid, because my son would be “going to school with Mexicans.”

His first best friend in elementary school was with him daily – until he came to our house for Hanukkah. After watching my son and his father don yarmulkes to light the menorah, he never spoke to my son again.

After years of listening to Christmas stories at his elementary school holiday parties, my kid begged me one year to be the class reader. I was told that the Hanukkah story we picked out was not appropriate, and to pick something “seasonal.”

 

So anti-Semitism just rolls off my kid’s back.

Usually.

 

A month ago, he was in a group chat. That one boy started in with the anti- Semitic garbage, posting pictures of Auschwitz victims and Orthodox Jews. My son responded by calling him names, and it escalated.

My son wears hoodies to school. We all know that people wearing hoodies have been discriminated against. This one boy then nicknamed my son “school shooter” because of his hoodies, which led to more taunts and anti-Semitism. He egged several other boys to call my kid “school shooter” and in a darkly joking manner, my son posted a picture of a gun and said, “When I come back to school, I won’t be empty handed.”

Do you know the difference between a student who makes that threat idly, and a student who intends to carry out said threat?

You DON’T. No one does. These incidences cannot be taken lightly.

 

The other boy screen shot it. Interestingly enough, he said nothing to his parents, the school, or the authorities for a month. He had no idea when my son would return, but still said nothing.

He waited a month, and after my son was back at school for two days, reported him.

I understand the importance of reporting EVERY SINGLE threat like this. In this instance, I question this kid’s motives.

 

My son was immediately suspended. He was not allowed to return to school until he was evaluated by a psychiatrist.

He told a full and truthful account of what transpired, and the school immediately opened an investigation into hate speech and anti-Semitism.

They found nothing. All evidence of the chat hat been erased. The other kids in the chat, life long friends with that one boy, don’t remember seeing anything.
Shocker.

 

My son is lucky that criminal charges were not pressed. You CANNOT EVER make statements like that.

He is paying for what he did dearly. School suspension is no joke. Being investigated by the police and school authorities is intense.

He will likely not be able to return to the program he worked so hard to get in. He has not been disallowed, but if the hallways are filled with whispers of “school shooter,” “Jew trouble maker,” he will be miserable there.

I have suspended all his online privileges. He is blocked from going online except to sites that are required for schoolwork.

 

 

All you parents out there fighting the good fight for gun control –  gun control will mean nothing if we don’t crack down on HATE CONTROL.

Kids don’t just become racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, xenophobic, in a vacuum. They learn it at home.

WATCH YOUR WORDS.

Don’t complain about your Jew boss. Don’t talk about how Mexicans milk the system. Stop telling your kids that if they ever came out as gay, you would be mortified.

 

And how about taking it a step further?

Your son or daughter who is so popular – can you not urge them to befriend the less popular? The less attractive? The sick kid? The misfit?

Can’t you spend a little time with them talking about inclusion? Would it be SO GODDAMN TERRIBLE if your popular kid befriended the transgender kid? The kid with Asperger’s? The new kid who just moved here?

 

I don’t have the time or the energy to investigate the psychological profiles of all the teenage kids who shot up their schools, but I guarantee you they were made to feel like discarded garbage.

You can argue for gun control until you are blue in the face, and I tell you IT WON’T MATTER IF WE DON’T EXERCISE HATE CONTROL.

 

I am by no means a perfect parent  – I suck, obviously, or my son wouldn’t be suspended right now. But I have always encouraged him to befriend that transgender kid no one speaks to, that fat kid everyone made fun of – and he has.

 

For GOD’S SAKE,  can you not do the same?

Teenage brains are not fully developed. They are filled with hormonal fluctuations and they are experiencing emotions they cannot process.

They cannot navigate through baseless hatred as well as we adults have learned to do.

 

I’m not even that observant of a Jew, but I am so SICK AND TIRED of the anti –Semitism aimed at us, I hope he DOES leave that program and we can move far, far away.

 

Parents. You really want to cut down on school shootings?

STOP. THE. HATE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have no more words. But you can talk to me. 
I’m listening. 

 

Common Core Math is a part of a conspiracy which subdues children into drone-like states as part of an agenda to destroy the institution of public education. Although It has not yet been proven as an attempt to actively promote a homosexual lifestyle, many people believe it IS a Communist attempt to dismantle the federal government.

The common Core emphasis is on comprehension, not memorization. The wrong answer is the correct answer if you use 74 steps to get there! Getting the question right is so 2014. But you probably didn’t know Festive Beard Lights were a thing, either.

Here’s an example of Common Core, used in multiplication. In ye olden days, we lined up numbers neatly and carried over. Let’s multiply 26 times 39, Common Core style.

1. Round up 39 to 40, which is easier, because it’s a multiple of 10.

2. Now multiply 26 times 40, then subtract 26. But wait – you can’t just multiply 26 by 40. You want to multiply 26 by 10. Common Core folks are obsessed with the number 10. That’s not creepy or anything. So, 26 times 40 is really 26 times 10 times 4, which is 260 times 4.

3. But hang on, make it 250, which is far superior to stupid random 260. Isn’t this easier than the old timey way? Wheeeee! 250 times four is 1000, then add in that 10 you left out when you turned 260 into 250. So that’s 10 times 4 equals 40.

4. Now add that to the product of 250 times 4, which is 40 plus 1000, which equals 1040.

5. Oh, but WAIT!! You were supposed to subtract 26 because you multiplied it by 40 instead of 39!

 

Common Core is part of a conspiracy to ruin our children’s minds with strange new ideas. It’s a 20-minute-deep dive into a simple math problem meant to take 30 seconds, because we need more excruciatingly long and dragged out projects in today’s frivolous Insta-Pot world.

 

I have provided for you a sampling of Common Core math problems. Judge for yourselves.

Students at a university in China had to solve this for the WiFi password in a dining hall. Did they have to kneel on rice to gain access to the bathroom?

Was that racist? Because of the rice? Look, I’m not the one making students solve math to get a password. I like a good Hangzhou-Style Duck Pickled in Soy Sauce as much as the next person, but I’m not going to contribute to the misrepresentation of Asian people in the media.

 

You can’t add cherries and shamrocks. Cherries are small delectable globules of juicy red sweetness that make delicious pie filling. Shamrocks are for drunken Irish people.
And what is that thing with the green leaf toupee? Is that an orange, or a drawing of Donald Trump?

This picture disgusts me.

 

3.

Again, with the Chinese? This is racial profiling. Although if an Asian person wrote the question, are they racist? It’s very confusing. The Chinese woman who owns the drycleaners referred to herself as “Oriental” which we know is politically incorrect. But the dry-cleaning ticket has my work pantsuits listed as “lady pants” and that’s the best thing I’ve seen all week.

 

4.

As you can see, goats are a hugely popular retail item. This is due to the new trend “goat yoga”, which is a bunch of white people (shocker) doing yoga with goats.
I’m all for being nuzzled by furry creatures, but goats love to urinate on their own faces. Hard pass.

 

5.

This fresh hell is known as the “Rhieman Sphere.” Drawing this requires the use of a mathematical compass:

However, most schools have discontinued the use of these with the introduction of Common Core, because students were using them to gouge out their own eyeballs.

Common Core Geometry is especially useful for those pursuing a career in professional quilting.

 

This is what happens when you legalize marijuana. Just saying.

 

7.

Here we use a Common Core math proof to demonstrate that 1 actually equals 2.

Next, we’ll go over another Common Core proof which confirms that looking into the microwave while it’s running will deform all your future babies.

 

8.

This is clearly the work of Satan.

In fact, the Bible states, “And the devil said onto Methulea, I will take you up into a high mountain, to show you all the evil of the world in a moment of time, and it shall be Common Core Math. And on the 7th day, you shall listen to Black Sabbath.”

~Corinthians 25: or 6 to 4

 

9.

Why is Skylar measuring in metric? This is AMERICA! Metric measuring tools are not easily available in the US, which is a pain in the kazoos for my friend Olaf, a Swedish amateur woodworker, but getting back to Skylar – he identifies as a boy? Skylar is a girl’s name – a girl who goes to prep school with Piper and Sloane.

Also, don’t talk to me about measuring a maze. I’ve seen Children Of the Corn.

 

10.

I feel sorry for Ben’s parents. Those poor people spent a fortune on Ben’s education, and for what? So they can tell people their son is a “dynamic branding consultant?” Even worse, he makes 12 dollars an hour more than people who work at Walmart, and they actually DO something.

 

11.

This Common Core word problem is part of the “No Child Left Behind Without A Gun” Act.

 

It seems that money taxpayers trusted would be spent on education is being siphoned off by asset plunderers and money exporters on Wall Street. Has it been developed by a fringe group who worship the devil and plan to create a New World Order?

Let me get on my tinfoil hat and think about it.

Is Common Core Satanist, Communist, or connected to terrorist organizations?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook so I can have friends without leaving the house

 

It was 102 degrees the day the air conditioning crapped out on our tour bus. Mid August, somewhere between West Virginia and North Carolina.

20 writers trapped on a scorching hot bus. We drank to block out the oppressive heat. We were off the next day, so we showed no restraint. Not that we ever showed the slenderest thread of restraint.

It was the 90’s. We were in our 20’s. Do the math.

 

In the mid-90’s, spoken word poetry was HOT. The in-your-face nature of it, attacking gender, racial and economic social inequity, was perfect for that time. Which is why Perry Farrell decided to add a Third Stage to Lollapalooza for spoken word.

 

Slam Poetry

Slam Poetry is spoken word on steroids. A brutal poetry competition where judges quantify your talent with numbers on cardboard signs.

The New York City slam venue was a ruthless arena. You were heckled mercilessly the minute you stepped on stage, and if you wanted to stay on, you’d better be good.

I was.

Skinny little girl with a big fat mouth. I was featured in a documentary about the NYC slam scene and won a highly coveted spot on that ‘94 tour.

 

Lolla’s 1994 lineup was stellar. Nirvana. Green Day. Beastie Boys. George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars. Cypress Hill. A Tribe Called Quest.

In April, Kurt Cobain put a shotgun to his head, and Nirvana was replaced by The Smashing Pumpkins.

A massive let down.

 

Tequila at Twelve

We opened the Third Stage at noon, blasting War’s “Low Rider.” I got things going, dancing onstage in my Lolla uniform, daisy dukes and combat boots. By 12:30, I was pouring bottom shelf tequila into the mouths of teenage babes from the jug I kept behind the sound booth.

We performed several sets of poetry a day. Our teen audience, enraptured by the spoken word scene, stalked us between sets, asking for autographs. It was heady stuff.

 

The downside was, the Third Stage was sponsored by MTV. We were expected to run moronic crowd participation skits, like “The Dating Game” and “Oprahpalooza.”  As our youthful rebellious response to the commercialism of MTV we decided to jack up the skits.

 

Girl-on-Girl Porn

I ran the Dating Game.

I’d pick an extremely hot, intoxicated Lolita to be the “Bachelorette” on stage, along with three guys. Right before she chose one, I’d yell, “Forget these losers! Pick ME!”

Then I’d start making out with her. I had a built-in radar that always found a girl who dug it. We’d end up rolling around on the stage, grinding and groping each other while the audience went completely bat shit crazy.

Word got around that there was live girl-on-girl porn on the Third Stage at 4:00. By mid-summer, it was one of the hottest tickets on the tour.

Thank God there were no responsible adults around.

 

 

 

Rock Stars and Poets and Bears, Oh My

The cool thing about Lollapalooza is that everyone, musicians, roadies and poets, milled about backstage together, ate together, partied together. Gradually, most of the musicans came to the Third Stage to check us out. As the tour wore on, some of us collaborated. A horn player from Parliament Funkadelic dug me and my poetry. He would come to the Third Stage to accompany my performances.

The dark, rich sounds of his trumpet wove around my words, letting the audience feel both the story in my poetry, and the story of how he and I felt about each other. Those seductive, late afternoon renditions of my spoken word were the pinnacle of my performing career.

For many, for most, it was the summer of love.

 

Okay. It was a total fuck fest.

On tour, everyone’s single. You never knew which musician would wake up on our bus, crawling out of the coffin-like sleep bunks. I won’t name names. I’m a star-fucker, not a name-dropper.

 

 

Some of my favorite tour moments took place after we closed the third stage at 6:00.

Every evening, I raced across the venue to Main stage to catch Parliment Funkadelic and worship at the altar of George Clinton. Clinton was an icon who dominated my R&B project girl childhood. I don’t get stupid about musicians, but I’d watch the P. Funk All Stars from backstage and fangirl the fuck out.

 

After, we’d, head to the Beastie Boys’ trailer where they set up a basketball court outside and played as their pre-show warm up. My horn player played against them every night. The Beastie’s were dope white boys from Queens, and I was fond of them, but I took perverse pleasure in watching my horn player stomp their asses across the court.

We drove through the night to the next city. No showers, no sleep, no exercise, no healthy food. Touring was grueling, so we bolstered ourselves with alcohol and drugs. We only checked into a hotel if we played the same city for more than a day. Then we had the luxury of a shower, but still, no one slept. With all of us set loose at a hotel for the night, neither did any of the other guests.

I chronicled the tour by talking into a hand-held tape recorder which I carried with me everywhere. I have the entire experience on tape. I recently moved, and unearthed the whole collection of cassettes.

I can’t bear to listen to them.

 

Returning Hero

I came back to New York victorious.

Clips from interviews and performances had been splattered across MTV. We had crossed over, melded performance poetry with rock and roll.

One MTV news clip was 10 seconds of me, my flaming red, 90’s hair bigger than my body, standing on the Beastie’s basketball court. All full of myself, and lots of tequila, I proclaimed “Spoken word is ROCK AND ROLL POETRY!” At the moment, my horn player stole the ball from Ad-Roc and made a running layup, and I screamed, “That’s what I’m TALKING about!”

It was played repeatedly.

I had offers to do articles. Books. I had performances scheduled. My phone rang incessantly. Managers wanted me. Agents wanted me.

Unfortunately-

I had acquired a bad habit. Without the tour, without the whole carnival of lights, sound and music…

My 10 seconds of fame so overwhelming, I could not handle it…

Or knew I couldn’t sustain it?

Something.

I lost myself.

 

I missed deadlines. Blew off performances, or showed up so high on smack, I’d stumble through a shit show and think I was spectacular.

I pulled the phone out of the wall, for days at a time. Heroin makes you antisocial.

A popular female journalist (I’m not going to say her name; she’s still around) interviewed me for a downtown New York City weekly newspaper (yes, that one). I showed up high, junkie girlfriend in tow. To the bemusement of the journalist, we spent the interview nodding off, waking up to bicker about my writing, the meaning of art, and who used up the last of our drugs.

The photographer snapped a picture of me asleep at the café table, coffee cup raised to my lips. Instead of writing about the spoken word movement, the journalist focused on downtown druggie nihilism masquerading as art. She made me the poster child for 1990’s drug-addled self-sabotage in a hatchet piece called “How to Destroy Your Writing Career.”

They never ran that story. I faded, mercifully, into obscurity.

 

Most of the poets I knew from that tour are successful writers.

I never discuss it. People who know me today don’t even know it ever happened.

Maybe it didn’t.

 

 

When I first wrote this story in 2013, I ended it with an homage to the genius of Kurt Cobain. I quoted “All Apologies” and loftily asserted that I needed to forgive myself for squandering my opportunity.

Five years later, I see the truth. The story that journalist wrote IS my story. I am a master of self sabotage. I fear success more than failure.

There is nothing else in the world that I want to do more than write, yet it brings up every fear I have about not being good enough.

I wrote an essay about mental illness, and when I was honored for that essay at a writing conference, I was ironically so anxiety-ridden I never left my hotel room.

Paradoxically, I see myself as both magnificent and inadequate. If I achieve any level of success as a writer, it creates such cognitive dissonance that I need to massage my psyche back into alignment with drugs, with sex, with bad decisions.

I am the Queen of Bad Decisions – I may go down, but it will be in beautiful fiery flames of my own making. I get to control my own failure, rather than let it blindside me.

The book that lives inside me goes unwritten. Surely I would be exposed to the writing community as a fake. The belief that I am a fraud is called Imposter Syndrome. It (along with massive Daddy Issues) has bought my therapist her beach house, but I’m certain it will be rooted in me until the day I die.

 

Here I feel safe. Here, I have a small, fiercely devoted group of followers, and your love for me and my words does not scare me. It’s a sweet miracle that every time I hit “Publish,” there you are.

Thank you.

Talk to me.
All this self-awareness has given me a giant migraine, but I’m listening.

I got a voicemail from a guy who had heard I was a singer and invited me to sing a few songs with his band at a gig that Saturday. In case you’re wondering how he got my number, I don’t know. This past summer I was practicing to perform some songs with the ex-boyfriend’s band, which never materialized. I did, however, tell everyone that I now sang with a band, including the dude at the post office who was helping me track down the “Good Morning I See the Assassins Have Failed Again” mug I had ordered from Etsy. Which apparently had been delivered to the wrong address so Post Office Dude took my number and I think he gave it to a guy who gave it to a guy.

Or something. Who the hell has time to play Inspector Gadget when fame and fortune come knocking at your door?

I was initially hesitant. I haven’t sung in front of an audience since college when I fronted a punk band called Freddy Fetus and the Coat Hangers, but in MY MIND I’m a singer. In my car and in my shower, I’m a goddamn singer. This guy I was dating, whom my friends referred to as “Mr. Atlantic City,” said “You’re gonna go sing with some band you’ve never heard, without rehearsing, and just WING IT in front of an audience? That’s a terrible idea, you’ll be TERRIBLE” so of course now I HAD to do it.

Atlantic City is Las Vegas with a yeast infection. Mr. AC owned a weekend house there, so for the last few months our dating consisted of cavorting around town until 5 am. There’s so much more to DO there than there is in the suburbs, what with the casinos, the cash for gold places, the tranny prostitutes and getting shot. His house has an elevator, and in case you’re wondering if the very rich are indeed different from the rest of us, yes they are. In a recent study which I made up, scientists concluded that 100 percent of men who drive Bentleys with vanity plates “are jackholes.” Mr. AC wanted to do only what HE wanted to do. He was furious with me for cancelling our weekend casino debauchery to go sing, even though I invited him along. No dice. (see what I did there?)

On our first date Mr. AC declared “I’ll pay for you to get a boob job, but only if they’re HUGE” and I hadn’t even mentioned wanting one. But fuck yeah, if you’re buying me titties, I’ll take three. He was also pissy because in two months he had wined, dined but not yet vagined me.  Rich dudes don’t expect to wait for sex. Every time we spoke on the phone he ended the conversation by saying “GROW THAT RUNWAY BABY” which is surprisingly less charming than it reads. Did I mention he had an elevator in his house?

Breaking the date was the end of our relationship. He was fun, and good-looking, especially from certain angles like when he was reaching for his wallet, but it was for the best. On our last casino romp he’d won $600 at the craps table, which he’d tossed at me and said “use this for something sexy to wear the next time you see me” and I was struggling to figure out how to make my utility bills look sexy.

The gig was in South Jersey, which is so white-trashy it should be a separate country from America. They have a completely different world view down there;  the number one recreational hobby is aggravated assault and “MILF” is a career objective. The entire southern tip of New Jersey smells like the inside of a fake leg. The minute you drive south of Exit 100 on the Garden State Parkway, you can hear the twanging of dueling banjos. The gig, coincidentally, was in the same town where the ex-boyfriend lived. No, I did not invite him. We haven’t spoken since we ended our relationship amicably, and by amicably I mean I was screaming ‘YOU LIMP DICK MOTHERFUCKER” on his front lawn.

I went to the band’s website to look at their song list, and I decided to sing ‘Brown Eyed Girl’and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.’ Yeah, I know, you think of me as all punk rock and Nirvana but schmaltzy lounge music is SO my jam. You haven’t lived until you’re heard  Robert Mitchum mumbling his way through “Mama Looka Boo Boo.” In the privacy of my home, I wipe off the heavy winged eyeliner, throw on some Bonnie Bell Lip Ssmackers and rock the fuck out to the Fifth Dimension.

I got to the club and it was packed. PACKED. I met the bandleader, a bearded, portly HIspanic dude. I knew I had made yet another of my famous bad decisions when he asked me what key I wanted to sing in. What KEY? Is this a gig or are we taking our fucking SATs here? I tried to deflect him by playful responding “oh you’re such a troublemaker” and lightly smacking him in the jowls which is what people in South Jersey do to show affection. Beat one another.

That’s when I began drinking shots. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. As a matter of fact my superpower is turning tequila into crippling regret, but hey, I was at a bar in South Jersey and when in Rome, right? Since it was too late to get a bad tattoo or develop adult acne I started pounding shots of Patron.

A bleached blonde who’d known these guys for 20 years was sitting up front with her husband and decided she was my new best friend. She bought me shot after shot and told me all about her affairs and her 2 grown kids in rehab. Once I’d drank enough tequila to let my brain cells leak out my asshole, I completely forgot the words to ‘Brown Eyed Girl,’ and she was kind enough to write them for me on a napkin. When I told my bestie about this, she asked, “a sanitary napkin?” but NO, a cocktail napkin. Although looking back I wish I HAD gone on stage with a sanitary napkin because that would have been like in 1974 when an inebriated John Lennon stuck a Kotex on his head at a nightclub and John Lennon is a GOD.

When I got on stage the band leader dude handed me a tambourine. I was all SMASH THE PATRIARCHY WOULD YOU HAND ME THIS IF I WERE A MAN? so I said, “Don’t give me this, I don’t play the tambourine! FUCK your tambourine, man!” And then I said “that’s actually the name of that song. People think it’s ‘Tambourine Man’ but it’s really ‘FUCK Your Tambourine Man’”and I cracked myself up so much the band had to play the intro a very long time until I could stop laughing.

That went so well I decided to do a sexed up version of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.’ It was less a song and more me dry humping the band leader. My friends on Facebook were disappointed I didn’t get video of this but imagine, if you will, a drunk Jessica Rabbit with one bad leg giving a clumsy lap dance to Puerto Rican Santa Claus.

When it was over, my new best blonde friend said “Well, you LOOKED good” and some chick gave me her card and told me she was a vocal coach and that I should call her. Like, immediately. The band didn’t invite me to sing with them at their gig next month but I’m gonna show up anyway. I’m getting my sanitary napkin ready and practicing the Fifth Dimension’s ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ and that’s a string of words I never thought I’d put together. But there you have it.

 I present me singing, unironically, “Can’t Take  My Eyes Off Of You.” Recorded live this morning in my bathroom so please excuse the clunking sounds in the background as I got ready for work.
The recording ends abruptly, but so do many things:

https://www.smule.com/recording/frankie-valli-cant-take-my-eyes-off-you/1624246345_2641155142/frame

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