This is what it feels like when it’s over and you have to feel it, every bit of it.

It feels like every corpuscle of blood is drained out of your body and you can’t move

or like your body is filled with shattered glass which stabs at your insides

and you can’t numb it, not with the usual suspects. Because you’re clean now, and you won’t throw that away this time.


This is what it feels like when you dream of them holding you

When in reality you never got to feel their arms around you, not once

and you feel so safe engulfed in their arms you weep bitterly when you wake


This is what it feels like when you can only remember that last phone call

And how you strained to say everything that needed to be said. And how impossible that was

The journey between you so complicated that by the time you get to this place

the twisted helix of your relationship snakes around and around until you end up

exactly where you were before

there is only so much that can be said in words


This is what it feels like to finally know you’re crazy.

Because when your neighbor found you in the street wild haired and barefoot

in pajamas and a tee shirt in 45 degree weather

she put you in her car and drove you home while you babbled that you just needed some air

But couldn’t tell her what day of the week it was.

She said you were in shock. which is the polite way of saying, “you are crazy.”


This is what it feels like when you try to remember the good times

And there were far less of them. Mostly you remember the bad

You struggle to remember that yes, there WAS love.

And you battle the ugly memories out of your brain because you want peaceful closure

Not anger. Not now. Not anymore


This is what it feels like when you try to etch out who you are

From what they made you into

You will not be that person. You are evolving into something much higher

You are only the product of what they did to you in that

it gave you a road map of what you will not be


This is what it feels like to not be a mother to your son

Ignoring his pain because you’re lost in your own

You hear him sobbing and can’t even go to him because you’re frozen in time

And you fail him.



This is what it feels like to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling

And tell yourself, THIS is where you will live now.

It’s really just a room in your brain but you have no reason to leave

Keep the shades drawn so the sun can’t get in and remind you that everyone else is still alive

After the sun goes down, pretend to sleep with the television left on all night long

Volume turned off

And replay your own series

of every time they hurt you or made you feel special. Sometimes simultaneously.


This is what it feels like when you can’t eat

Food tastes like ashes

So you drink tea

And wish it were Jack Daniels. At 8 am in the morning.



This is what it feels like when you’re cooking dinner for your kid

And planning his birthday party

That now he won’t get to have

And blasting the Black Keys

And dancing with him around the kitchen

And the phone rings

And your brother says

“mom just died.”

Out of nowhere. She wasn’t even sick.

This is what it feels like

It feels like

It feels.


It feels.


It feels.


I love you all for reading. But comments are closed
I can’t listen today. Another time, okay? 

frustrated-college-student 2


Not YOUR teenager, of course. Your kid can read.

Are you sure? Stop reading this right now. Call your high school kid in, grab a book, and ask him/her to read it aloud.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.




One out of four of you will be heartbroken.



Your first mistake was assuming school took care of that.


Today, I sat with a boy who is going into his senior year of high school. He struggled with word recognition. He couldn’t pronounce or understand most words over 2 syllables.

Before you assume he’s a minority living in a low socioeconomic area, he’s a very white child in a very upscale suburban neighborhood. His father is an attorney. He goes to an exclusive private school.

He is functionally illiterate.

He was never fully diagnosed with a specific learning disability, nor was his reading concern addressed. He does get extra time for all school and standardized testing, but how will that help him? You could give him an entire day, and he still won’t be able to pronounce nor recognize the word “adequate.”



What can you do at this stage? If your reading impaired child is preparing to apply to college? (Applications that you, no doubt, will be heavily assisting with.)

I really don’t know.

The sad truth is, most kids who are really not “college material,” still go. Even if your kid can’t read, he or she will still likely to be able to attend and graduate college, providing it’s not a top-tier university. How is that possible? Again – I  don’t know. I’m not there. Maybe, the same extensive cheating that enabled them to pass all required high school subjects?

You could save that money you put aside for his education, and perhaps buy him a Jiffy Lube franchise. People will always need their oil changed. I have a friend who owns 108 of them. He’s a bazillionaire.

If she’s a girl, maybe sending her off to college is not such a terrible idea. Do a little demographic research, and ship her off to a school with a wealthy incoming freshman class. Invest a little money in her grooming and wardrobe so she looks cute all the time. Hopefully, she’ll snare a rich husband and this whole “not reading” thing will become a moot issue.

Because basically, at this stage of the game? In terms of your child becoming a proficient reader? Unless he or she really WANTS it, you’re screwed.


And You Have No One to Blame But Yourself

In theory, it’s the school’s job to make sure every student is reading proficiently. But in reality, there are 25 or more kids in an elementary school class where I live. It’s impossible for one teacher to keep tabs on every student.

As they go up in grades, this benign neglect transforms into something more toxic. In high school, the only kids who get any attention are at the very top and the very bottom of the class. The boy I discussed at the beginning of this story? He’s a B student, and not the focus of anyone’s attention. All the kids in the middle are just nudged through, one grade at a time.

If they did detect a problem at school, then there are services provided for the students. But if they didn’t? Or if you didn’t?

These kids just got pushed through.


Making sure your kid can read is YOUR responsibility as a parent.

I’m sure many of you have your hackles up over that one. Considering how much of your tax dollars go towards education, why should YOU take over this job?

Because, look what happens when parents don’t manage their child’s education!


It has to be SOMEONE’S responsibility. YOU birthed them. At the end of the day, at the end of the year, at the end of the 12 years, they leave school. But they’re your kids, full-time, for your entire life.

So I am hereby delegating every one of you who has a child to take an active role in whether your child can read.



When Little Dude was a really little dude, I read to him every single night. From the time he was an infant, actually, up until he was about 9 and started reading on his own every night. I essentially turned him into a little reading machine, which I plan to write about in detail.

I’m not some kind of super parent. Trust me, I’m fucking him up in all sorts of ways. Just not when it comes to reading.

So many of my friends complained that they simply couldn’t do this, what with having three kids. And perhaps only parent present at bedtime.

These are the same parents who have to juggle those three kids in 18 different after school activities. Someone has to get Johnny to his private golf lesson while Katie trains for her equestrian trophy and Spencer practices underwater hockey. When it comes to extracurricular activities, parents will enlist anyone – grandma, a neighbor, frenemies – to tote these kids around.

Get creative when it comes to getting your little ones read to at bedtime! Do it in shifts.


And if they don’t like books, and reading? MAKE THEM LIKE IT.

Act out the characters. Engage them.

it’s not just about doing well in school, although reading is everything there. It’s about nurturing their imagination, building their creativity, and expanding their understanding of everything around them.

Teach your kids that through reading, that they can be inspired, and enchanted. They can travel the world; explore the galaxy –

one book at a time.

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

–Neil Gaiman



Have you encountered this kind of situation?
Why don’t people read to their children?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

My Origin Story

November 10, 2015 — 110 Comments



If I go back to the beginning, if I start all the way back…

maybe I can figure it out.




I wasn’t always the happening chick you see on social media. I was a skinny unattractive nerd, a white outcast in an all-black neighborhood who got her ass kicked on the regular.

I grew up on Staten Island – the Forgotten Borough. The Land That Time Forgot. It’s the only borough the New York subway system doesn’t run through, and this isolation from civilization has turned it into a caricature of itself.

Staten Island is like, New York lost a bet to New Jersey, and was forced to house douchicles cloned from the characters on The Jersey Shore. The amount of hairspray used on Staten Island is solely responsible for the hole in the ozone. It houses the world’s largest dump, the receptacle for all solid waste in New York city, so all of Staten Island smells like a rotting volcano with irritable bowel syndrome.


I grew up in one of the worst housing projects in all of NYC – The Stapleton Projects. My mom was a widow with six kids, and we were poor as fuck.

Fuck you, we had an elephant.

But fuck you, we had an elephant.


Mom did the best she could raising the six of us, and that best included beating the snot out of us. Mom was like Elasti Girl – her fist was attached to an arm that could reach around doors and under beds.

I got my ass beat inside and outside the house, so I suppose my childhood wasn’t very safe. I wasn’t aware of it then. Who has time to process psychobabble when you’re scrambling around, dodging beatings?

I do know that my mother’s approval was sacred to me, and I never got it. Nor any attention, unless it was at the receiving end of her fist.

This was how I began to mistake abuse for love. This was how I learned that if I just tried hard enough, if I did better, was better, I could make abusive people love me. 


You know how kids just LOVE hearing about their parents’ childhood?

Little Dude’s favorite anecdote of mine?

The time I was walking down the dark, dank staircase in my building. I was 7. As I rounded the corner, holding the railing, I felt something furry and warm. I focused in. There, sticking up out of the banister at the foot of the stairs, was a dead cat’s bloody dismembered head. Still warm.

Ah, memories…


Stapleton was made famous as the birthplace of the Wu-Tang Clan. They went to school with me and NO I DO NOT KNOW THEM.

Wu-Tang was a gangsta rap group, back in the day when gangsta rap meant you had a prison tattoo and an unlicensed gun, not a trust fund and a beach house. I was a flat chested nerdy ginger growing up in a gangsta rap video.

Pippi Longstocking meets Ghostface Killah.


I grew up with a personality as confused as a homeless guy on house arrest. I possessed a white-hot rage, a desire to love and be loved, fiercely;  a profound appreciation for the underdog, and a project girl’s survival instinct. If you fuck with me, or my kid, I will Take You Down. My Stapleton instincts have quelled some, but not entirely. You can take the girl outta the projects, BUT.

Just last night, a friend posted online about a sixth grade boy who was frightening her 11-year-old daughter with talk of rape. Everyone advised her to contact the school. Me?

Not so much.

stealth 3



As I kid I was desperate to find an escape and an outlet. So I read. Constantly, because we were poor and books were available.

At 9, I tried to wrap my brain around “A Wrinkle In Time.”

A science fiction masterpiece of Inter-dimensional time travel and quantum physics. Reading A Wrinkle in Time is similar to taking a hit of really strong blotter acid. This book twisted my mind up to where 37 years later, it has still not fully recovered.


I came from a family of overachieving geniuses. Five brothers, all brilliant, all obsessed with music. My older brothers gave me an invaluable education in music, forever putting all the best of the best to my ears.

I also began writing at a young age. I filled notebook after notebook with ideas, fantasies, poetry.

And then-

In one of the true defining moments of my life, my older brother put a copy of Patti Smith’s debut single “Hey Joe,” into my 11-year-old hands.

Patti Smith. Skinny, brainy, gangly, unpopular, unattractive (by society’s standards – I think she’s smokin’ hot).



In the 1970’s, Patti Smith put her poetry to punk music and was eventually crowned Godmother of Punk.

The B side of her first single is “Piss Factory,” an ode to New Jersey factory work, and the experience of getting her head shoved into the toilet by the other workers.


She became my idol. She gave me hope that I could escape, and transform into someone other than the strange nerd people used as a punching bag.


The only public transportation to get to Manhattan is via the Staten Island Ferry, which is like the Love Boat – only when you get off, you automatically have herpes.  Although now refurbished, when I was growing up, the ferry was seedy and dilapidated. It also sells beer and used to allow cigarette smoking. At 2 am on a Saturday night, it was filled with homeless people and drunken degenerates.

The summer of 1982, I was going on 13 and about to enter high school. I fell in with a group of older kids and we starting taking that ferry into Manhattan, the gritty, grimy, pre-gentrified graffiti-ridden city of the 80’s.

The Village was our playground. We bought loose joints and hung out with street musicians. We carried a boom box the size of a suitcase and blasted it as we roamed downtown.

We had a THEME SONG (don’t judge):


The following summer I enrolled in a New York City program that allowed poor slum kids to obtain their working papers at 13.

My first job – The Public Library.

The library owned every banned book – but did not circulate them. All illicit books were sequestered away in a super-duper top-secret file named “Banned Books.” I cleverly unearthed these nuggets of literary rebellion.

And read every motherfucker in that file.


I discovered On the Road, an American classic of crazy adventure and freedom, and riddled with drugs, jazz, drugs, sex, and drugs.

I tore through Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

Naked Lunch? This isn’t a novel; it’s a twisted series of disturbing, drug ridden, sexually explicit vignettes. Burroughs wrote it while living in Tangiers, in a one-room apartment above a male whorehouse, strung out on smack and male prostitutes.

This was the shit I was feeding my 13 year old brain. 

Are things starting to come together?

I thought they might.


We finally moved when I was in high school.  Were you hoping for the happy ending?

Not. So. Fast.

Back in those days, if you were “bright,” you got “skipped.” I also have an end of the year birthday, so I was almost 2 years younger than most kids in my grade. Get the picture? No more scary gangsta projects.

Instead, we’re talking TRAINING BRA in the GYM LOCKER ROOM. I think my pal Ghostface Killah did less damage to my psyche.

So, to heal all those psychic hits on my ego? I read. I listened to music. I wrote.

And I planned my escape.


I eventually got out of the projects when I left for college. The very first summer, I decided I would stay in my college town instead of going home for the summer. What was there for me?


I never went home again.



If I go back to the beginning, if I start all the way back

maybe I can figure it out…


To be continued. 


Have you ever tried to figure out how you came to be who you are? 
I want to hear from you, but promise not to tell me how plucky and brave I am. Make me laugh, or tell me about your childhood. 
Just talk to me. I’m listening.

dog at table

My ex sister-in-law hated me on sight.

It wasn’t because she felt no one was good enough for her brother. She just hates everyone. She’s an equal-opportunity hater.

The first time I met her, I was dating my Ex and was invited to spend Thanksgiving at her house.

Thanksgiving 1999. I walked in and Bang! CHAOS.

She was flapping around the tiny kitchen, which smelled like a skunk fucking a burning tire. She was wild-eyed; furiously puffing on a Marlboro Red and screeching at her husband and two-teenage daughters. Her two dogs were barking incessantly. Nothing was even close to ready. Pots and pans were bubbling and threatening to boil over on the stove.

I enjoy cooking and I’m the kind of guest who walks in, rolls up her sleeves, and pitches right in.

“Can I help you in here?” I offered.

“NO!” she barked at me in her gravely, man-sounding smoker’s voice. You know, like frog bones in a blender?

“You don’t just THROW a meal like this together,” she snapped at me, waving her arms in a grand sweeping gesture over her kitchen. It was jam-packed full of junk normal people throw out. Hoarders, The Thanksgiving Edition.

She then proceeded to whip potatoes like they stole something from her. She set the bowl of mashed potatoes on the table WHERE IT SAT FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS UNTIL WE ATE. At that point, it had one of those nice “protective coatings” on top, and tasted like hobo urine.

My ex’s sister, aka Satan’s daughter is not only the Queen of Mean, she’s manipulative, jealous, castrating, hypochondriacal, and LOUD.

I haven’t heard her husband talk in over 15 years. Her crazy has muzzled him to where he communicates in hand gestures.

She’s obsessive about her dogs. She refers to them as her “non biological” children, and demands that they be treated as such. She expects Little Dude to refer to them as “his cousins.” YES, SHE DOES.

She has closets full of clothes for them. They go to temple wearing Yarmulkes. As soon as one yappy, bitter little dog dies, she replaces it with another. She has a seemingly endless supply of tiny mentally ill dogs who NEVER STOP BARKING NOT EVER NEVER.

She is obsessed with Elvis Presley and her latest non biological child is named “Miss Elvis Presley.” It’s a girl dog, dressed in little pinafores, that she carries around town and refers to as “Miss Elvis Presley.” She doesn’t like you to shorten the name, either. When you refer to the dog, you have to say, “excuse me, but Miss Elvis Presley just took a shit on my living room rug.”

She will not go anywhere without them.

Well, she doesn’t go anywhere. She is chronically ill with some mysterious ailment that prevents her from leaving the house ever, unless Macy’s is having a one day sale. She has missed every important family occasion, including (I SWEAR TO GOD) her own daughter’s wedding. An enigmatic bowel affliction leaves her unable to get off the toilet.

Two years ago, when I was still married, we had Thanksgiving at my house. I love to host holidays. and my Ex  sister-in-law’s turkey tastes like sanitary napkins. She’d pick at my food and pretend not to like a thing I cooked. Then she’d pack enough leftovers to save a starving Ubangi village and stuff her face with them the next day. According to her husband, who told me in sign language, she licks her fingers and murmurs to herself the entire time she’s eating them.

That particular year, her beloved dog was dying. He was gravely ill with only days to live. She lives about 20 minutes from us, but refused to come to my house unless she could bring the sick dog.

I understood. I wouldn’t want my dog to die alone, either.

However once at my house she insisted that he join us, and laid him on a pillow under the dining room table. His eyes were jaundiced; his breathing ragged and irregular. He bleated like  Chewbecca having an aneurism.

I prayed to God that he would live, at least through the meal. “Please God, I beg of you, do not let this dog die under my Thanksgiving table in front of my 10-year-old. He will never get over it.”

We did our best to enjoy the meal, but it’s hard to really dig in and celebrate heartily when you’re housing an outtake from Pet Semetary. Thankfully, her doggie lived through the meal and the next day, he went to the Great Kennel in the Sky.

The last time we all got together for a family occasion was about a year ago. My two nephews, (well, technically the Ex’s nephews) were now grown and able to drink legally. These are the other sister’s kids, and they have always known their aunt was kamikaze crazy.

But now, we were able to create a drinking game around it. Yippee! Every time my ex sister-in-law said something bizarre, offensive, ridiculous – we had to take a drink of wine.

We. Got. Schmammered.

And had to go back to the liquor store THREE TIMES to buy more alcohol.

This year, I may host an open house for Thanksgiving. You’re all invited, provided you leave any dying pets at home.

Do you have a crazy in law? What’s the weirdest Thanksgiving you ever had?
Will you bring lots of dessert to my house for the holidays?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

Please follow me on Instagram! I sometimes take pictures in superhero underwear but only because I crave validation.



After all this time as online friends, it was time for us to meet.

And meet we did!

Yes, they were two of the most fun days I’ve had in a long time. But it was more than that.

These women are the family I chose.


It was a pretty intense couple of days. There was a blood moon. Beth won a major book award. Facebook broke.

And The Sisterwives finally got to meet one another and spend time together.

Don’t tell me these things aren’t all connected…

If you’d like to read the highly amusing tale (I wrote it!) of what happened when we took over Dallas, click here!

I’m closing comments, so you’ll head over to Sisterwives to read and comment. See ya there, okay?