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Broken Heart

Dear Anonymous:

You reached a new low this weekend – trying to contaminate my quiet day of mourning for a dead girl.

Telling me it was too bad it wasn’t ME that died instead of a writer I worshipped and was lucky enough to spend a joyous, incredible summer with.

What exactly is UP with the hate mail?

Are you trying to intimidate me?

Look, I’m no Sarah Connor, cinematic badass and pullup queen extraordinaire.

sarah-connors-o

root of my pullup obsession

But it’s going to take more than emails to get drive me off WordPress.

 

It’s actually the height of irony that I AM in fact, still alive.

I grew up in one three white families in one of the shittiest housing projects of the five boroughs of New York City.

Which, to quote Wu Tang, “Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’Wit.”

There were three reasons to stop playing outside:

1. Your mama called

2. Outside lights came on

3. Gunshots

A bullet to the knee cap really fucked up a Skelly game.

skelly

bottle cap game played by inner city kids

 

So, guns and death threats don’t particularly scare me.

I find it amusing when people cross the street simply because a large African American man is headed their way.

You know who’s really scary? Not Leroy.

Leroy’s FUCKING WIFE.

When he gets home and she starts in with that NECK ROLL, and SUCKS HER TEETH at him, in that way that only black (and Dominican) chicks do really well, and gets up in his grill,

“Motherfucka, you jumped a turnstile for WHAT? To brang me this cold fish dinner?!”

Leroy starts quaking in his green Osiris. True that.

Yeah, I could jump a turnstile back in the day

Yeah, I could jump a turnstile back in the day

 

And those fierce black housing project princesses used to chase me down and beat me up every day. Because I was what? Skinny? Nerdy? White?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

They’d lean over their desks in those nasty portable classrooms that were NEVER warm in the winter, and mouth at me “just let me get you.”

At 3:00 I’d RUN. Or try and find one of my brothers.

Usually, they’d be getting their asses beat, too. We’d get home and brag about who got beat up the worst.

 

In college, I didn’t start off roommates with my BFF freshman year.

She was a tough-ass housing project girl from the South Bronx who knew cinder block and gun play.

We had lame Midwestern girls for roommates, girls who listened to Milli Vanilli and used sanitary napkins instead of tampons, for fuck’s sake.

We met at a dorm social. And when we locked eyes, we were like Tony and Maria in West Side Story.

Every one else fell away. We murdered those lame bitches asked for a transfer and moved in with each other.

And we played Russian Roulette with our lives on a regular basis.

Why should we finance Greyhound when we could just stick our thumbs out on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx and hitch hike back to school?

Jump in a van filled with five guys? Yay! We got ourselves “The Real World!”

“This is the true story of seven strangers picked to drive COMPLETELY DRUNK in a van…

…Find out what happens when they do hallucinogenics and break out into a game of quiddich.”

We’d get them to drive us straight to our town – to our door.

And invite them IN. Where they’d stay, sometimes for DAYS.

 

Once, we got into a car with a cowboy from Montana.

We’re somewhere on Route 80, and Cletus McPigFucker very nonchalantly reached under his seat.

And pulled out a shotgun, placed it on the dashboard, and continued to chat with us. While he stroked his gun, like a penis.

Or a dog.

Or a penis.

We took off running at the next rest stop, hopping over the guard rails and bushwacking through the high grass.

For the rest of my life, I will remember the sight of my BFF running like an escaped convict, high jumping the guard rails.

 

At least when I got jumped on the platform of the D train, I could SEE who my opponents were.

One brother held me while the other put a knife to my throat and snatched a gold chain off my neck.

I don’t know what would have happened next if my Guardian Angels hadn’t saved me.

Not the spiritual Deep-pockets Chopra kind, the Curtis Sliwa kind.

Rocking the whole uniform; the beret, the red jacket over tight white tee with that Guardian Angels logo.

Not my Angels - but they kept NYC subways safe

Not my Angels – but they kept NYC subways safe

 

And I ended up dating one of them, too. But mostly because he was a drummer and because the uniform was HOT.

I wasn’t always so lucky.

Wattie, the lead singer from a death metal hardcore punk thrash band from Scotland- The Exploited – swaggered into the record store near my apartment and invited my fishnet stockings and mini skirt to watch them perform that night, as his guest.

Wattie in the men's room (none of your business)

Wattie in the men’s room (none of your business)

 

So, I brought Lisa, my coke dealer Harold’s 16-year-old girlfriend, who I was stuck babysitting, while he did coke

Unfortunately, we were enraging all the territorial death metal hardcore punk thrash chicks – particularly Lazar, the leader.

A scary creature with upside down crosses tattooed on her face.

How does one get a job with ink like that? Is that not an issue?

And when we left the club, Wattie invited us into the van to continue the party at their hotel. I peeked in – 10 drunken band members and roadies.

Hmmm, this didn’t look like Bay City Rollers Scottish,

this looked like Gang Bang Scottish. We declined the ride, said we’d catch a cab and turned around

To face Lazar and her pack of rabid dog women from hell, who “demanded our leathers” (a British punk thing; they rob your leather jackets),

and then PROCEEDED TO KICK THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF US.

Back then, Doc Martens didn’t come with girly roses on them,

Yeah  - NO

Yeah – NO

They were BLACK and had fucking STEEL in the toe.

We ended up in the hospital with broken ribs, a busted collarbone. a concussion and black eyes.

Harold was pissed.

 

My point is, I’ve been in some actual scary situations.

So, excuse me if my first reaction to your emails is to break out the red pen of my cerebral cortex and start correcting.

What language are you WRITING in? Yellow LEDBETTER?

You don’t seem to know a “you’re” (contraction) from a “your” (possessive pronoun) and my son already knows that. And he’s ten.

Now I totally lost my train of thought

Now I totally lost my train of thought

 

Oh, right-

I’m sorry it bothers you that I have so much to write about. I guess that’s why I’m a Hot Bitch On the Internet.

My blog is my HOME. I’ll write what I please.

If I want to write that I was ass-fucked by Kris Kringle in Macy’s window (34th St side), I will.

You no likey, you no read. Click. That’s what your opposable thumbs are for.

You’ll find they come in handy, once you step down as captain of the “USS WHAT THE FUCK” and do something useful.

Besides hurling CPS threats at me, which are getting as OLD as your snatch hair.

 

Your factually uncluttered hyperbole regarding the details of my life makes me wonder, why me?

You know nothing about ME.

Or about ANYTHING. I’ve been surrounded by YOU by whole life.

Idiots who think they can wax philosophic about Haile Selassie because they know how to tie on a Jamaican flag bandanna as a doo rag between huge bong hits.

 

But really, why ME??

I’m not well known.

I don’t have a huge following.

I’M NOBODY.

I’m a faceless cog pushing a cart in Whole Foods.

I’m a nameless mailbox in the frozen tundra of suburban wasteland with school cancelled yet ANOTHER snow day.

With a sniffily ADHD 10 year old, hopped up on so much Sudafed, he’s Breaking Bad in my family room.

If he doesn’t stop talking through Full House I’m going to have to remove his larynx with a blunt spoon.

I’M NOBODY AT ALL.

Tapping at her computer when I can. My kid just blew his nose and presented me with the contents of his tissue – that was the “Big Event” of the evening.

And the hottest thing that’s happened to me in the last month was getting a lady boner over the fact that Anthony Kiedis is still immensely fuckable at 51.

 

To accuse me of being an “attention whore” is to make no accusation at all. WELCOME TO WORDPRESS.

Aren’t we all spreading our proverbial legs open just for a fix of attention? Isn’t that the point of blogging?

Exactly what is it you want from me??

If you want me to leave, I’m not. Writing is how I breathe.

If you’re trying to get me to not believe in myself, it’s been done already. This is, at best, an amateur effort.

 

I don’t know whether to slap you upside the head, cradle you to my breast…or cook for you.

I suppose,

love you is what I have to do. I just blogged about that, right? That love is the answer.

To do anything else makes me look like a hypocrite.

Love is the the universal force that unites us all.

 

You just make it so damn hard to love you.

 

Deep breath.

 

Regroup.

I know food. I know music.

So, come in. Wipe your feet.

We’re listening to the blues today. If Little Dude wants to play air guitar to “Lonely Boy,” he has to know Muddy Waters.

I hope you like beef stew. There’s enough for all of us

IMG_1391[1]

 

And homemade biscuits. Pull up a chair.

IMG_1399[1]

 

 

Seriously, I got nothing, people.
But you can talk to me. I’m listening.

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PART 2

The Real Me sent Pretend Me on a mission: go through the motions of my life. Phone it in.

The Real Me was back in time, drifting through
“The Land Of Horrible Ways I’d Fucked Up My Life”

Welcome back. So good to see you again.

Would you like some drugs?

—-

College BFF got the pathology report back from the surgery.

“What do you mean, Stage 3 aggressive? You said Stage 1!”

I argued like a petulant child.

She stayed calm, like I was the sick one.

“Yes. But there was another lump in the lump they removed.”

“What does that even MEAN?”

It just meant she was much, much sicker than we thought.

—-

The Ex is professionally unemployed. He watches our son while I work, but not for too often or too long. He lacks patience.

One day I came home to find Little Dude crying bitterly. The Ex had kicked him.

My son’s favorite hobby is torturing us. BUT. DON’T. HIT. MY. CHILD. 

EVER.

Two days later, we sat opposite my son’s absurdly overpriced ADHD therapist.

He’s the best in the state – particularly with keeping his eagle eyes trained on the clock. Your time is up. So sorry if you’re caught with your life down around your ankles.

I said, “You need to learn how to deal with him without putting your foot up his ass.”

Dr. Interloper says, “You kicked your son?”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to have to report you to Child Protection Services.”

The Ex handled it well.

Called me a cunt, threw my car keys at me and stormed out of the room like a maniac.

I begged Dr. Interloper not to call CPS. I just knew the fallout would be epic.

I waited for the inevitable, walking around with a bruise on my left cheek from where the keys had landed.

Just like old times.

—-

The next night two social workers appeared in my driveway, out of the dark.

They rematerialized, like from a Star Trek transporter.

They were wearing government pins that resembled United Federation of Planets Badges that read,

We look harmless but we’re here to destroy your life.”

They spoke with my son alone, and he charmed and reassured them. They looked at every room in the house.

They inspected my refrigerator.

I’m guessing they didn’t mind that there was only heroin and tequila; no food.

We passed inspection.

Have a good night, and don’t let the door hit you on your cloaking device on the way out.

—-

A few days later, the call came.

I was under investigation.

They had asked me if there had ever been any domestic abuse in our home.

I lied.

I said there hadn’t been.  I was floating somewhere back in my failed past.

I didn’t realize they would check this out so thoroughly.

The local police department had records of domestic violence.

Two emergency room visits.

I’d had a restraining order against The Ex five years ago.

I had lied. What else had I lied about?

I was now under investigation.

They informed me that, for the time being, he could stay in my custody.

I stopped breathing when they said “stay in my custody.”

This isn’t happening.

Please tell me this isn’t happening.

They arranged to interview his teacher.

The guidance counselor.

His pediatrician.

His dentist.

His mother fucking dentist.

 

I wondered how far back they would investigate; what would they find?

Oh my God, the things they could find if they poked around enough.

I had stabbing panic attacks constantly; unexpectedly, vicious ones.

 

I called the case worker. I groveled.

Where my kid is concerned, I’m not above groveling.

I dialed her office. “I was the class mom 2 years in a row.”

Called again. “Did they tell you I run the PTO Trunk or Treat bake sale every year?”

I stayed up all night, searching through photos and keepsakes.  

Tears streamed down my face as I looked for evidence that I was a worthy mom.

I found pictures of the party I threw when my son started kindergarten.

We had invited 24 complete strangers, and their parents, to our home for a “Welcome to Kindergarten Party.”

I’d enlisted students for face painting, tumbling lessons, toy fencing lessons, quad rides around my backyard.

Little Dude and I had painted a banner that read:

WELCOME CLASS OF 2022!

welcome 2022

At 2 am I texted the case worker the picture.

It didn’t go through. It was an office number.

I texted it over. And over. And over, all night, anyway.

—-

I had constant pain in my chest.

It was my heart breaking.

One night, my student said, “Um, Samara? You’e not making any sense.”

I went home and took my temperature. 104. The pain in my chest was bronchitis.

The doctor gave me antibiotics. But my body refused to get well.

What if they took my son away? He’d never survive a group home. I was such a piece of shit.

 

The investigation continued.

I was reliving the past, only the more intense version.

The one where you lose your child, instead of your dignity and self respect.

 

One night my heart ached so badly, it shot through my rib cage to my back.

I couldn’t breathe without terrible pain.

I thought, “This is what Kurt Cobain must have felt like right before he shot himself. Utter heart break.”

And then I fainted outside the supermarket, and the shopping cart kid called an ambulance.

 

The stabbing pain was pneumonia.

I must have looked BAD.

If the hospital got my insurance to approve a 4-day stay, I must have looked like Samara from “The Ring.”

 

My other dearest friend came to me. My New York BFF.

She’s a writing professor. And a gifted playwright.

She left her family, and her classes, for 4 days and watched my son because we have no family nearby.

She is extraordinary.

So is my son. He’s asleep upstairs.

As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m gonna go smell his little sleepy head.

CPS decided I was an okay mom after all.

—-

People often do what feels good in the moment. A fleeting connection – it’s all good, right?

But: what if that brief encounter jams something horribly loose in the other person, and rolls around inside them like a stray bullet?

And damages a vital organ?

Their heart, maybe?

And they bleed out?

 

I live in an area where I don’t particularly fit in.

And I SO want to connect with others.

But. I cannot be someone’s entertainment for the week.

I’ve felt unsafe most of my life – and I suppose, I’ve always searched for that safe haven.

Sometimes my search has taken me to all the wrong places.

 

There’s a light in my eyes that’s gone now.  Little Dude says, “Mama, sometimes, you look so sad.”

I lost something last fall that I’ll never get back.

I keep going back to find it, and it’s not there. Because it never really was.

I’m going to get a new light.

 

I’m a survivor.

I’ve survived addiction. Sept 11. A horrible childhood. Domestic abuse. Rape.

I’m a single mom to a soulful, brilliant child with a fuck load of issues.

The Ex has done damage to me; divorce does that to the best of us.

And right now, I’m fighting to keep my best friend of 27 years alive.

—–

I’ve made mistakes with my son, but I’m still the best mother I know.

No one can take that from me, no matter what 4 out 5 dentists say.

I am not just someone’s favorite new person.

I am not the number of followers I have.

In homage to myself, as a writer, I will never again let anyone quantify my talent.

I can’t look back at squandered opportunities anymore.

I HAVE TO BELIEVE,

I MUST BELIEVE,

THAT MY BEST WORK IS AHEAD OF ME. 

What other choice do I have?

 

This is “All Apologies,” Nirvana, Live at Leads.

Considered to be one of their top 10 all time best shows.

I loved Nirvana live. This is classic Nirvana; Kurt Cobain is so high he completely forgets the lyrics to the second verse.

I love this video.

Look at the closeups of Kurt Cobain’s face. His eyes.

Despite his fame, he looks like a lost, frightened child.

There are worse things than blowing your career after going on a tour, like I did.

Like blowing your brains out before you even make it on that very same tour.

Which is what Kurt did.

 
And I’m still here.

 
I’M STILL HERE. 

 

 

Do you know what it’s like to  rebuild your life after a fall from grace?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

 

Part One Click here

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Part 1

“I PUT YOUR FROG ON THE BIRD’S DESK!”

“WHAT?”

Jess stood in the doorway, calling out to me on the front lawn. I was practicing The One Handed Vortex on her hula hoop.

Little Dude took pictures that day. Jess had borrowed my favorite tee

Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.”

She was my ex- student turned summer intern. Social media guru.

“I put your blog on WordPress!”

There was no “blog.” I had written an “about” page on my company’s website. Whatever.

She took the hoop. Performed an expert Twin Revolving Door. Little Dude came out and snapped the pictures. She chased him, both of them laughing.

Beautiful Jess. Champion Babysitter of the Universe. Little Dude adored her. Everyone does.

 

She was nursing a killer broken heart this summer. While TA’ing, interning, busting her ass at school, she still found time to write her boyfriend Brian’s papers. Do his take-home tests.

While he screwed some girl from community college.

Some days, her eyes were swollen from crying.

 

“Hey, Samara, after we finish LinkedIn, wanna go get Fro Yo?”

I had a better idea.

“No. Let’s go to Moore’s and key Brian’s car. That asshole.”

She started laughing.

“Are you serious?”

“Nobody fucks with my girl and gets away with it.”

“Oh my God, it’ll kill him! He just got a new paint job!”

Even better.

—-

I didn’t actually blog on WordPress. I made snarky comments. Me and writing – we don’t mix.

When I write, bad things happen. I get addicted to heroin. Stuff like that.

I started getting emails from bloggers.

How the hell did they get my email address?  I’d made some provocative comments. Some of the emails were creepy.

“Dear Samara,

Would you mind masturbating and mailing me your panties?”

Sincerely,
Franklin Horshucer, Serial Killer

I could hear his heavy breathing. He sounded like Darth Vader with a sinus infection.

This is what happens when you behave like Slut Bags McFuck Stick on WordPress. I ignored them.

Wait. What’s this?

“Dear Samara,

May I email you privately? Only if you don’t mind, M’am. If you do, I promise never to bother you again. But I am a Nice Guy and I do not breathe like Darth Vadar.”

Signed,
Sweet Midwestern Boy

I liked him. He was a good writer. And he was very sweet; the antithesis to my terrible year. Like balm to my battered soul. And he called me “M’am.”

Is it weird that turned me on?

Don’t answer.

 

Midwest Boy had urged me to hit “Publish” for 2 weeks, in his comment section.

I was terrified.

But on WordPress, I wasn’t a Had Been Ex-Junkie Never Was.

I took a deep breath.

Hit Publish.

Midwest Boy read it. Commented. “I loved this.”

 

My heart lifted. After years of bad creative mojo, I had another chance.

His email I answered.

We emailed constantly for several days. I had a new friend.

He said I was a kindred spirit.

And I met someone who also made his child his top priority.

Someone who considered me a WRITER.

My entire life changed.

The Ex’s constant haranguing, his ongoing battle for alimony. Whatever.

My bankruptcy. The financial damage to my company by a former employee. Who cared?

My best friend of 27 years, my college roommate, diagnosed with cancer? We could beat this.

My son’s draining special needs; his 23-year-old horror of a teacher who demoralized him daily. I could handle it.

After a 2-DECADE HIATUS.

Barring the birth of my son, it was the happiest I’d been in 10 years.

My feet never touched the ground.

UNTIL

I came plummeting down. Hard. Because what goes up. must come down, right?

Abruptly, silence. No more emails.

I panicked. What had I done wrong?

—-

In 3 days I was headed to Boston to take care of my college BFF post mastectomy. She was vacillating between depression and anger.

Most nights, I stayed up all night with her on the phone, watching the sky turn to milky dawn.

Friday became Saturday. Saturday I was teaching.

The sun shone brightly into my Saturday classroom, reflecting off the glittery purple case of my buzzing IPhone.

My cousin’s number came up.

My ice-cold reaction was as involuntary as a sneeze. “Oh my God, my cousin.”

My students chirped, “Answer it! He’s just calling to say hi!”

They’re so impossibly young.

When you have an 80 year old uncle, and your cousin calls you on Saturday at 7am, California time, it’s NOT for a casual chit chat.

 

After class, I played the message. My uncle had fallen, was in a coma on life support. He was no longer a person. He was biomedical engineering.

My cousin asked, did I want to fly to Florida and say my goodbyes before they let him go?

I couldn’t. I was Boston bound. I would not even be able to attend my uncle’s funeral in New York.

 

My uncle. My father’s brother. The only connection I ever had to my father.

I was unabashedly his favorite niece. He never tired of bragging that I had made it out of a housing project into an Ivy League school. I downplay this in my life.

But I surreptitiously basked in his attention.

My mother, who never went past the 8th grade, worked 70 hours a week feeding six children. She dwelled in survival mode, where the nuances of higher education are lost.

For 40 years, my uncle fed me anecdotes of his beloved older brother.

I never grieved my father’s death. Never knew him. Never spoke of him.

Who cared?

So why was I suddenly shattered by the loss of him?

It was my uncle I had just lost.

But now – for truly and forever, my father.

There would be no more stories of him, ever. All that remained of him was buried under 6 feet of cold earth at Mt. Lebanon cemetery.

At a funeral I wasn’t even able to attend.

—-

While in Boston caring for my college BFF, I emailed Midwest Boy.

Apologized for anything. Everything. I was desperate to have my writing friend back.

A day went by. Two. Three days later, he sent me a brief, dismissive email

I never heard from again.

—-

Home.

Exhausted. Confused. Broken. Scared. Grief stricken.

My life was fragmenting; the different shards juxtaposing irrationally.

I checked in on MB’s blog.

His blog was bleach on an open wound. He’d found new flavors of the week. He called another blogger his “favorite new person.”

That’s exactly what he’d called me. I realized this was his pattern.

Pick a new favorite, and discard the old. But why me?

I knew.

THE TRUTH

had found me out. I was a HACK. I was no writer. I couldn’t even sustain his interest for more than a week.

He never spoke to me after he realized I was a fraud.

It was 1994 all over again.  FAILURE.

I relived the horrible mess I’d made of my life.

I stopped sleeping. Couldn’t eat. Talked to myself. Judged myself brutally.

His realization of my deception and talentlessness opened an incessant screening of home movies in my brain:

Now Playing:

Samara’s Childhood: An Abyss of Feeling Unworthy and Unnoticed.

“Mommy, I won the spelling bee. Mommy, please. I’m begging you. Notice me. I’m working so hard so you’ll love me. I got the lead. I’m Valdictorian. Please, mom, just look at me. Just once. I got a full scholarship. Please tell me you’re proud of me.”

My father my uncle my writing my life midwestern boy my mother my career my sick BFF my opportunities

everything became intertwined.

 

Midwest Boy, during that precious week when I thought I’d been given another chance, called one of my blog posts “brilliant.”

My head hurt. I remembered a review I’d gotten long ago…no.. it was a.. it was.. an interview?

“audacious… provocative…frequently brilliant.”

That was…the The New York Press? No, the Village Voice.

No. I never bothered showing up for that interview.

Even worse. I had.

I spent it nodding; fucked up on potent Hellraiser brand smack. Shit was fire.

 

After 72 hours straight of no sleep I had an epiphany.

This whole thing happened:

To punish me for past mistakes.

To remind me that I was a failure.

Before this, I wasn’t writing. But I lived life as contentedly as possible.

Now I was a ghost.

 

Tomorrow: Part 2

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