Is your middle schooler one of the popular kids? Then he’s an asshole.

Oh, not YOUR kid. YOUR kid is popular because he/she is a genuinely nice person – supportive, generous, always has a kind word for other kids, particularly the socially inept. He/she never makes fun of anyone for how they look – they know it’s what’s inside that counts.

He’s a goddamn Unicorn Kid, and your child is the only one in middle school who is popular for the right reasons.

Because for the most part? Show me a girl who’s popular in middle school and I’ll show you a backstabbing bitch whore from hell.

 

Jocks have the best shot at popularity. This does not mean all middle school athletes are assholes. It merely provides the platform. From there, a child must use true dickish behavior to catapult themselves into preeminence.

Middle school has a social structure closely paralleled by that of wolves. Popular kids maintain social order by establishing pack dominance. In the wild, fighting to the death is the time-honored way to express dominance. However, it is frowned upon in today’s suburban world.

Instead, here’s how the popular kids get and stay popular in middle school:

  1. Ridicule less popular kids; zeroing in on undesirable physical traits like being overweight or short.
  2. Make fun of kids who aren’t as wealthy.
  3. Bully kids on social media; gather groups together to do this as shitty little collective.
  4. Jeer at smart kids because getting straight As is lame.
  5. Disrespect teachers.
  6. General dickish behavior towards everyone but those exalted members of their clique.
  7. Taunt kids who love Lord of the Rings so much they perform traditional Dwarven Mining Songs for their music class project (okay, I probably had that coming).

 

Here’s other obnoxious behavior that makes kids popular. These traits don’t necessarily make them assholes, but SERIOUSLY WHY ARE THEY GETTING AWAY WITH THIS? ARE YOU HIGH?

  1. Not giving a crap about school.
  2. Get into LOTS of drama with other kids constantly.
  3. Hidden Instagram accounts with sultry “come hither” pouts. (we’re talking about 13 year olds, remember?)
  4. Drinking; doing drugs.
  5. Sexy times.

 

 

Little Dude has always been firmly tucked into the “Nerd” category at school. He was popular among the nerds, if such a thing exists. I was comfortable with him there. I knew these were the kids whose parents would not be getting phone calls from the police station.

This year, in seventh grade, he somehow stumbled into a friendship with a popular boy.

This boy, let’s call him “Dylan” because that’s his name, engaged in behavior that I found anywhere from annoying to appalling. He watched YouTube videos in class because he found the curriculum boring. He was always in a confrontation with SOMEONE. His idea of being entertaining was to make fun of other kids.

Gradually, LD grew disenchanted with Dylan. He didn’t find it funny that he openly mocked their Spanish teacher’s attempts to teach them. He wasn’t thrilled that Dylan was constantly ribbing him for only having 4 pairs of sneakers when he had 40.

Things went downhill from there.

LD came home one day, upset because he and Dylan had gotten into a fight. Dylan had amassed a posse of kids to harass an unpopular kid on Snapchat – for no reason at all.

OH HELL NO. Not on MY watch.

Their friendship ended that day. Kids KILL THEMSELVES over being tormented on social media. I didn’t bother calling this kid’s parents. I knew from prior experience that they had – let’s call it – a different world view than I did.

I went scorched earth on this little penis wrinkle. I notified the school, the school board, and the superintendent. He was suspended, which of course makes him even more popular among the losers  popular kids.

 

Things are a bit tough for LD socially right now. He finds himself stuck “in between” – not cool enough  to hang with the popular kids (thank GOD) but not quite content with the (lack of) social life of his nerdy friends.

I do what any responsible mom would do – I lie to him, and tell him it will get better in high school. I don’t want to scare him and tell him he might be like his mama, and have to wait until he’s middle-aged to hit his stride.

 

 

I wasn’t the least bit unhappy to find out that the “cool” kids in middle school are more likely to turn into adult losers. Being cool requires edgy, unpleasant behavior that doesn’t bode well into adulthood

If your kid is one of the popular middle school kids – observe their behavior in a pack when they don’t think you’re watching. You will be VERY surprised, and not in a good way. I’m sorry, and you’re welcome.

In the meantime, you may want to dismantle the pedestal they have themselves on. Once they enter the real world, it’s a long, long way down – and the splat at the bottom is a bitch.

 

How bad was middle school for you?
Are your kids in middle school now? Can I offer you a Xanax?

 

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

 

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I was born into a family of musical impressarios. My oldest brother sat down at the piano when he was only three years old and delivered a perfect rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” At 3, my son was still pooping into a diaper and the only thing he would have done at the piano was give me a splitting headache.

I’m the least musically talented person in my family. I wouldn’t even go so far as to call myself a musician. The brother who is closest to me in age argues that I “am musical,” which sounds like the spoken equivalent of a participation trophy.

That particular brother and I have a multi-layered relationship regarding music. I have always been in awe of his talent; envious, proud and completely daunted by it.

When he was just 11 years old, he picked up a guitar and musical artistry poured forth. He was able to hear things the rest of us didn’t and could recreate songs note for note. He could rock 2-chord simplicity, making the song “Horse With No Name” sound amazing, but he could also carve out complicated, curving, epic solos.

HOW DID HE DO THIS? It seemed ludicrous for me to continue. His genius was too strong a contrast to my mediocrity and I gave up playing instruments.

That’s what happens when you are born into a family of musical geniuses. To be average is intolerable.

 

About a year ago, I started playing guitar again. I’m not great; I’m not even good. I’m fair. If I play a song, its recognizable.

It’s common for people over forty to take the “fuck you” pill. I’m heavily medicated on that prescription, and consequently, asked my brother to come over and jam with me.

Have you ever googled “what it’s like to be a musical genius?” There are no first hand accounts. People are loath to speak about themselves this way. But one night when we were jamming, my brother divulged to me the story of his musical genius.

He knew the minute he picked up the guitar that this was some kind of “gift from God.” He almost felt as if he was channeling. A force he couldn’t control took over, guiding his hands to greatness.

And therein lies the rub. He couldn’t control it.

He was in bands most of his life, but none worked out. Most of his childhood friends were incredibly talented musicians, and many went on to pursue careers in music.

But people shied away from playing with him on musical projects because his “gift” was so unpredictable.

He’d be in the middle of an extraordinary guitar solo onstage, the kind that people tout as ‘legendary’  – and then hit a sour note. Or three. He never knew when it would happen nor how to fix it.

He tried to harness his gift and devoted himself to the mindful execution of music. But musical training seemed incompatible with the “gift.” To work in this way would make his head ache to where he could not continue.

At one point he studied guitar with a prominent NYC jazz guitarist, a man who required an audition to even study with. During the audition, his musical voodoo poured out and the  jazz guitarist thought him much more advanced than he really was. After a handful of lessons in which my brother had no idea what was going on, he quit.

My brother’s entire life he never discussed his “gift” because he felt that talking about it would jinx it. It took him 40 years to tell me how he felt that day when he picked up a guitar and the heavens opened up.

 

 

He’s able to finally talk about it, because these days, he’s no longer afraid of jinxing outside forces. At 50, my brother has decided that he needs to start over and learn music from the ground up.

Yes, it’s grueling and draining, but it’s also feeding his soul, to finally reconcile technique with genius.

 

I always knew there was something magical about my brother; about all of them, in fact, when it came to music. Like most things, it was terrible and wonderful. They intimidated me, but I was raised with a love for music so profound that without it, life would be monotone. One long, silent birthday celebration with just candles.

To hear that this gift I’ve always envied was in fact a curse, something that has prevented him from pursuing his dreams of playing out in public his entire life, was an epiphany.

We’ve both arrived at our own musical epiphanies; simultaneously, but independent of one another. He’s starting at the beginning. And I’m finally playing again.

I stayed up all night the other night playing guitar.
My hands ached; my face was smeared with fatigue but my heart was buoyant. As the room was bathed in the streaky light of dawn, I finally realized that all that matters is how I feel when I play music, not how I sound to other people.

And that’s MY gift.

How much do you love music?? Do you play?
Doesn’t it suck to have a sibling SO much better than you at something?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house.

 

I was engrossed in a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ episode when I heard the rustle of paper sliding under my bedroom door.

I picked it up. It was a note from my son: “I can’t find my band hoodie.”

 

In my house, we have a rule. I mom the fuck out all day and night – until 9 pm. Then, I officially close shop. I go into my room to chill. If my kid needs to speak to me, he can slip a note under my door.

Don’t judge! I got this idea from my therapist.

She also is responsible for me letting my kid have ice cream with all the toppings for breakfast on Sunday mornings – as long as HE DIDN’T WAKE ME UP.

Little Dude used to wake at the ass crack of dawn. To keep him occupied for a few hours on a weekend morning, he was allowed to fix himself an ice cream sundae for breakfast. When I got out of bed at 8 am, the kitchen was a disaster and it was worth EVERY BIT OF MESS.

 

My kid is a chatterbox, and that can be exhausting. By 9 pm, I’ve been up for 15 hours, dealing with all the interactions that are necessary to make it through a day of being a human. I’m spent. By 9:00 pm, I find myself getting irritated by conversation, unless it’s “mom, you’re so pretty.” While other jobs have a more clearly defined endpoint, the mom gig does not. It’s 24/7. Which makes it the shittiest paid job in the multiverse.

So began our 9 pm rule. At 9 pm, I need to relax to Gemma Teller stabbing Tara in the head with a carving fork. If you absolutely must speak to me – slip me a note.

 

I should have said, my kid WAS a chatterbox. Because the times, they are a changin’.

At 13 and a half, Little Dude is firmly entrenched in his teenage years. He’s changing, and it seems to be happening at warp speed.

He sleeps later now, sometimes til 9 am on a weekend.

His hair is cut in a trendy style, shaved down on one side with a deep groove cut into it.

He is obsessed with sneakers, and how he looks at school.

He’s really into basketball. Hashtag Ball is Life. He plays on the rec team and we watch it a LOT. This is one thing we have in common, although he makes fun of my Big Love for the Knicks, because he wasn’t alive for the golden era of Patrick Ewing.

He uses Axe body spray, which is nauseating. I won’t even buy it. It’s like an insidious Google redirect virus; it just keeps showing up no matter what I do.

He speaks in slang. (“Okay mom, that’s Gucci.”)

He hangs out with co-ed groups now. They go to the mall, to someone’s house. Often mine.

He’s on his phone constantly, face timing, often with girls.

He isn’t so anxious to talk my ears off every night. Many nights, he’s in group chats and laughs uproariously at the ridiculous memes they send each other. (Yes, I look. Hell yes.)

He has a girlfriend. 

This one really threw me for a loop. A few weeks ago, he asked my permission to start dating.

I was happy he chose to ask me, but all I could think of was how this truly is the end of his innocence. Will she break his heart? I’ll KILL her. How long before they start exploring sexually?

I told him that I prefer he see her in group settings; that he respect her and not take it to a physical level yet. I told him he is not allowed to go to the movies with her BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE ALL THE KIDS START GETTING BLOW JOBS okay I didn’t say that, but that’s where it happens. Ugh, my head hurts.

He was always a reluctant tooth brusher and his breath could melt my eyeglasses. Saturday, when he left to go to the mall with his friends, he breathed on me and asked me if his breath was fresh.
It was.

“Fresh enough to kiss a girl?”
Ugh why why whyyyyyyyyy

 

When my kid was little, we used to cuddle at bedtime and he’d share with me his “sads and glads” that day.

Now his bedtime is around 9 PM. As a lingering vestige of that ritual, he’ll occasionally ask to snuggle with me and tell me a tidbit or two from his day. 9 PM be damned, I want those moments now. So as of last week, I officially lifted the 9 PM rule. I’ll let him watch a little SOA with me, while he remarks on all the ways in which I remind him of Gemma Teller Morrow.

He’s got one part of that right (besides the similarity in our wardrobes and our love of tats) – like Gemma, I’ll go to any lengths to protect my son. The irony of that is, at the exact time when I feel the need to protect him more than ever, he wants to take care of himself.

We’ve always been a tightly knit unit; he always chose to be with me above anyone else. Now, he would rather be with his friends or even alone.

My son is more his than mine, now. I know this means I’ve gotten it right so far, preparing him for independence.

But who prepares me?

 

Is your kid growing up way too fast?
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

Come hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house. 

I woke up with my ass covered in a sunset of bruises, ranging from angry red to purpley-blue. My neck was sore and my scalp tender from having fistfuls of my hair pulled. My lips felt swollen and torn and my throat was streaked with finger marks.

It had been a fantastic night.

 

I like rough sex. I’ve been a pain slut for as long as I can remember, all the way back to college when my then-boyfriend used to tie me up and whack me with a hairbrush.

I need a partner who is dominant to my submissive sexual nature. I’m not into it as a lifestyle; it’s just a kink I like in bed. I’m not even sure how kinky it is, given some of the shit I’ve stumbled on while searching tumblr for cupcake recipes in the wee hours of the night.

I also love porn. In the pre-Internet 1990’s, the Ex and I had to drive into the Bronx like degenerates to buy our porn from sketchy porn purveyors. We had a sizable collection. My personal favorite was a 19-tape cheesy fake-lesbian series called “Where the Boys Aren’t.”

I have never publicly expressed my predilection for being sexually submissive, and I have only touched on my fondness for porn, because I often questioned my own desires. I was afraid that I was colluding with misogynists to objectify and dehumanize women.

Is my love for porn enabling an industry that is incompatible with feminism? An industry that profits from debasing women, forcing them to do things they would never otherwise do? I have read some chilling accounts of former porn stars who claim just that.

Even now, with this article – am I writing from a place of privilege about how I can ‘choose’ to be oppressed, when so many women face that in real-world scenarios, sexual and otherwise?

Does BDSM and porn contribute to the inequity of women?

I think not.

Women everywhere get off on the power play that sexual dominance and submission represents. Many may feel guilty about admitting it, but it’s pervasive. Long before ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ (which isn’t even a true BDSM story, but seems to have been mistaken for one), BDSM culture has been eagerly consumed in film, literature and music. Sexual power-play tropes were packaged in Harlequin romance novels your mom bought at the supermarket decades ago. #YourMom #ThatsRightYourMom #DealWithIt

And why do you think the “smokey eye” look is considered to be so sexy? It looks messy, smudgy; reminiscent of having been up to naughty things, like having a dick smeared all over your face.

 

Sweet tender lovemaking doesn’t do it for me, never has.

I dated a man I referred to as ‘The Cop’ on social media. He was a great guy; in fact, he was a favorite among my Facebook friends to the point where a gaggle of them were planning our wedding (???). When the relationship ended, I attributed it to our vastly different schedules, but in truth, we were sexually incompatible. He was passionate, but always tender and gentle, and when I wanted him to spank me, he said he was too much of a pussy protector to ‘hurt’ me. He didn’t care for my filthy language in bed, either.

Every time we were together, I left with my stomach knotted in sexual tension. I was craving creamy chocolate mousse cake and being fed a dry Triscuit. I would leave him and end up sexting with an online friend I know affectionately as “Hot Buttered Sock Puppet.”

To be clear: the degradation and debasement of women is not a turn on for me. I’m picky about what sites I go to. I look for sex positive behavior where two (or more) people are together as equals. I object to women being used as demeaned receptacles; I prefer porn where her pleasure is every bit as important as his. Some people refer to this as “feminist” porn. I only know that if I am watching rough sex on-screen, I have to know that it’s consensual.

 

In light of the recent election, I am not being extremist when I say I fear a bleak future for women, one in which we have been stripped of all of our most basic rights. I believe there has never been a time when it is more important for women, for people, to stand together. I have become almost paralyzed, to the point of not wanting to write.

I’ve finally come out the other side of this. My declaration of feminism is more important that it’s ever been. To that end, I refuse to hide my brand of sexuality. I am who I am, and I like what I like. And I am a feminist.

I am wholly self sufficient. I have not now, nor have I ever been, financially dependent on a man. I have been supporting my child since he was born. I raise him without gender stereotypes. I’m his mom, and I’M the one who taught him to ride a bike, play basketball, throw a punch. I believe in the power of women to create world change. I champion women emotionally and artistically and in every way I can. I do not view other women as competition, but as comrades.

I know that there will be anti-porn feminists who disagree, who purport to speak for women, but I don’t fall within their victim narrative. The fact that I love porn, and that I enjoy being sexually submissive, is not a backtrack from equality. As a rape survivor I can state unequivocally that consensual sexual fantasies are not rape. They are FANTASIES, which by definition, makes them NOT REAL.

My sexuality is not a brochure for my political views: it’s how I fuck. It doesn’t model my values; it just gets me off, and it gets me off no where other than the bedroom.

 

Are you kinky? Fess up!
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

(I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from people wondering how I am. I’m GREAT! I will try not to disappear again! I’m working on several writing projects, some music projects, and busy with several life changes but I don’t want to stop blogging. I love you guys!)

When my therapist advised me to check into a treatment center for a month, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be to go somewhere restful and sleep abundantly.

It’s exhausting fighting for every second of your life.

“Treatment center” is therapist jargon for “mental hospital.” I prefer the romance of “loony bin.” It comes from the word “lunatic,” derived from “luna.”

There’s something comforting in the antiquated notion that I, like vampires and werewolves, am simply the victim of changing phases of the moon.

 

I have an ongoing fantasy of electroshock treatments cauterizing the endless loop of negative voices in my brain. A high voltage solution to cleanse myself of stockpiled pain, almost primitive in its simplicity.

Insert rubber mouth guard, flip a switch, incinerate the past.

 

I long to spend a month in bland, sterile surroundings which provide no distractions. There, I can knit together all the holes poked into my psyche by the circumstances of my life, and the even bigger ones torn raggedly by the self-destructive ways in which I coped with those circumstances.

But life relentlessly beckons. I am not able to take a month off from the very same daily minutiae that I find crippling.

Instead, I’m doing intensive outpatient therapy, four times a week. Two individual sessions and two groups.

The course of treatment is 8 months; maybe longer.

Yesterday, despite it being November 2, I wore my Harley Quinn costume for a third day, including to group. As I entered the building, I wondered if the need I had to wear it three days; to the gym, supermarket, work; constituted being crazy.

 

Yes. Probably longer than eight months.

 

 

I didn’t expect my new therapist to be so adamant regarding my diagnosis, and even more so about how much treatment I needed to address it. Our first session she told me I was PTSD embodied in human form. She was surprised I don’t short-circuit even more than I do and lobbied strenuously in favor of checking me into the loony bin.

My therapist listed for me the major causes of PTSD, aside from active duty in the armed forces – terrorist attacks, natural disasters, rape, domestic violence, violent death of a loved one, childhood abuse and neglect…

On paper it scared me to see how many I was able to cross off an anti-bucket list of things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

 

Before finding her, I did the responsible thing and typed my symptoms into WebMD. I either had PTSD or systemic yeast overgrowth. I went with PTSD. I located a support group through an online network.

This is how I found myself, one Saturday morning, in a smoky room filled with grizzled war veterans. It was as if Pippi Longstocking had mistakenly stumbled onto the set of “Platoon.”

I told the story of how I lost my oldest brother, the gentle soul who raised me, to a brutal murder two decades ago; his brains and blood splattered all over his LA apartment.

As I spoke the room grew eerily silent, the kind of silence that only happens when people aren’t shifting in their seats or even breathing. The stoic faces around the room softened with the one thing I cannot tolerate – pity.

Afterwards I fled, never returning.

 

 

Last fall, my mother and a different brother died the same week.

I imagine I will die alone, since I am opposed to marriage. But I hope not to die alone surrounded by uncaring strangers in a bustling airport; clutching at my chest and dead before I hit the ground.

It was in this way that my brother died; ironically, on the way to my mother’s funeral. His death was so viciously unexpected that I went into rigorous denial. I invented exotic stories to explain his absence.

He was on an archeological dig in Papua, New Guinea. He was hiking the Peruvian Andes. I eventually floated so far away from the truth that I no longer felt connected to my own body.

One day I watched my disembodied hands typing at the keyboard and poured boiling water all over the right one, charring it with a third degree burn.

When I was younger, I self-harmed because my world view was derived from a damaged foundation. I’m renovating it, and it becomes sturdier all the time. But occasionally, the faulty misalignment at the base of my existence wavers, and I weave precariously out of control.

Now I go to therapy four times a week to somehow make sense of the unfathomable.

 

 

I have a steel cage around my heart.

My closest friends don’t know my real name.

I dare not hope for love for fear of being deeply, painfully disappointed. I date many rather than loving one. I ricochet giddily off one date onto another.

I am no longer the ugly bucktooth kid she left to rot in a group home. I’m not that desperately lonely teenage misfit. I’m the motherfucking prom queen.

I slip out of their houses in the wee hours to avoid the harsh reality of morning in the presence of another.

Sometimes I need someone to hold me so badly I think I might die.

My fear of abandonment is like a bomb suspended in the forever right before it detonates. I build walls to keep people out, convinced that once in, they will only leave, and days I am the cheeriest are usually the ones I feel most dead inside.

 

 

And thus I dream of the sizzle and snap of electricity rearranging twisted neurons and giving me a start as fresh as a child’s.

We are but specks in the infinite universe, finite and limited, but every action we take is to somehow create meaning despite our own brokenness.

This world was not meant for perfection. It is broken dishes; shards of glass. Fractured memories coated in shame and smoke and soot. Shattered life.

Despair and hope are yin and yang. One cannot exist without the other. Hope without despair is hollow and dishonest. Despair without hope is bleaker still.

And so I stumble forward.

 

Talk to me. I’m listening. 

 

Come hang out with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so I can have friends without leaving the house.