Archives For Stapelton Projects

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The real title to this blog entry is “How Reading Saved My Life.”

Fat chance you were going to check that out, Sean and Don.

I’ve decided to embrace the whole “Google search term” thing.

No use fighting it, or trying to class it up with highbrow intellectual titles.

Nope. I’m giving EVERY BLOG POST a lascivious title.

Otherwise, how will I continue to attract the meritorious people of the Interwebz who are looking for,

“wife is always dry with me but if she reed sex stories she gets wet.”

(this is just a guess, pal – but maybe she would be a little moister if you weren’t a complete illiterate).

But now that you’re here, stick around. I promise to jazz up the story with the pottymouthed language and sexual innuendos you come here to read.

Because I led you on, I’ll provide sordid details of  my deflowerication at the end.

Which did not happen, contrary to the post image, with the Wu Tang clan “en masse” (French for gang-bang.)

I wasn’t always the Happening Chick you see in my saucy gravatar.

saucy gravatar

saucy gravatar

I grew up on Staten Island, the forgotten borough.

The New York subway system doesn’t run there.

You get there via the Staten Island Ferry, which is like the Love Boat – only when you get off, you find out you have herpes.

I've always thought the ferry looked like the cover of a Doors album

I’ve always thought the ferry looked like the cover of a Doors album

I lived in one of the worst housing projects in all of NYC – The Stapleton Projects.

I had this lovely view just outside my front door.

So cosy- like Auschwitz.

So cosy- like Auschwitz.

We were one of the very few white families residing there.

Stapleton was made famous as the birthplace of the Wu-Tang Clan.

They were a hardcore 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.

Staten Islanders believe the Wu Tang symbol is their own private bat signal

Staten Islanders believe the Wu Tang symbol is their own private bat signal

In case you’re wondering why we grew up there – my dad was a cop, and we moved there when the projects were built for city workers.

Unfortunately, dad died, leaving mom with six of us.

The projects morphed into Section 8 welfare housing, and mom couldn’t afford to move us out.

So there I was… a skinny nerdy white girl growing up in a gangsta rap video.

Pippi Longstocking meets Ghostface Killah.

Even I long to beat this child up.

Even I long to beat this child up.

I got my butt kicked on a regular basis.  Learned how to project fight – “hit them hard, fast, and FROM BEHIND.”

Being tough – awesome.

Feeling like an outsider your entire childhood – not so much.  I was desperate to find an escape.

So I read.

Constantly, because we were poor and books were available.

Fuck you, we had an elephant.

Fuck you, we had an elephant.

I didn’t know it yet, but I was actually working on one of the defining characteristics of my life –

RAISING MY CONSCIOUSNESS.

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

A bizarre science fiction masterpiece of Inter-dimensional time travel, quantum physics, and plucky heroine Meg Murray fighting the iconic battle of good vs. evil.

Meg – trapped and unseen in a family of brothers, wild curly hair, braces, glasses. too smart for her friends, alienated at a young age by her lack of patience for utter BULLSHIT.

She was ME. My literary doppelgänger.

Reading A Wrinkle in Time is similar to taking a hit of really strong blotter acid.

This book twisted my mind up to where 35 years later, it has still not fully recovered.

download

But in a GOOD way.

A New York City program allowed poor slum kids to obtain their working papers at 13.

Yes. Isn’t that enviable? Instead of attending rainbow parties at 13,

Yeah, No.

Yeah, No. Not this kind.

like the entitled brats where I now live, I was told,

“Happy birthday! Now get a job!”

My first job –

The Public Library. Surprise, surprise.

The library owned every banned, highly coveted  book – but did not circulate them.

The banned book has a longstanding and ludicrous history.

Did you know that the innocuous Where’s Waldo was banned?

Amongst those thousands of characters a tiny woman on the beach showed microscopic side boob.

Some degenerate with a magnifying glass and a propensity for comic book erections actually found this.

The library sequestered all illicit books 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 by Jack Kerouac. It’s an American classic of crazy adventure and freedom.

It’s positively riddled with drugs, jazz, drugs, sex, and drugs.

I tore through Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

Naked Lunch? This isn’t really 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.

Awesome.

I’ve decided to go the next school board meeting and demand that they put these on high school reading list.

Naked Lunch must be made part of the new “Common Core.”

common-core

The ONLY reason to see “The Notebook.” There is no reason to read it.

We finally moved when I was in high school.  *sigh of relief*

Were you hoping for the happy ending?

Not. So. Fast.

Back in those days,  if you were “bright,” you got “skipped.”

The misguided educators actually put you a grade ahead with kids a year older, forgetting about social, emotional, psychological and physical (especially physical) development.

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, guess what I did to heal all those psychic hits on my ego?

Yep.  I read.

Alongside Holden Caulfield, I gave “phonies” the metaphorical finger.

I still do. Some things never change.

I found a new doppelgänger in Lorraine in The Pigman – zero self confidence, intense desire to write, compulsive pathological liar…

(Am I? There’s lots of speculation in the blog world on THAT one hehe).

I knew the loss and alienation of “Anonymous,” the 15-year-old author of Go Ask Alice.

SHIT GOT REAL WITH THIS BOOK, YO.

This book had been banned for its graphic depiction of homelessness, prostitution, rape, and a stint in a mental institution,

everything this girl endures once she becomes addicted to drugs.

Her family finally rescues her.

And then…the Epilogue.

The frickin’ Epilogue (SPOILER ALERT) tells us that 3 weeks later, she’s found dead of a drug overdose at her parent’s home.

I was shattered.

The only chance you have of surviving the pain of being different is to find like minded souls- even if they only exist in books.

The true gift is this – reading will raise your consciousness.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting society determine your values.

No one wants to be the one who doesn’t fit in.

I know – hell, I live that shit.

So, you can do/look/be/act like everyone else.

Or you can RAISE YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS.

And possibly make a difference in this world.

You can expand your mind, one book at a time.

Luckily for me, I shed the nerdy cocoon in college. Or maybe, it was just cool to be nerdy.

Either way  – in college, I really hit my stride and began my outward development into the deeply hip woman you now see before you.

Just remember – I created her.

One book at a time.

Oh, right!  The virginity thing.

I promised if you stuck around, I’d get into it at the end.

I lied, perverts.

Go read a book.

Were you a nerd, or a cool kid? Did you “fit in?”
What were your favorite books when you were growing up?
Talk to me.  I’m listening.

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Thankful for the Suburbs???

November 28, 2013 — 10 Comments

Wha?? Did Samara just write that? She, the curmudegeonly anti-suburbia wench?

I did. Please stick around. It’s Thanksgiving, and I bake. Yet another side to my many personalities. Add “Betty Effing Crocker” to my resume.

Once upon time, Gentle Reader, there were great stretches of land which grew up in symbiotic relationship with urban settlements. Then, Satan took over.

Lives in the Suburbs

Hmm- I need a place to live…

Created the Land of Life-Numbing Stupor.  Made the suburbs, a place devoid of independent thought. A place that lacks the spirit, community, creativity, individuality, the FIRE (ironically, since he’s Satan and all)  that make up the urban settlements.

And I worry for the future of my child – that what I thought was a move to ensure the quality of his education is actually going to inundate him with conformity and boredom. Even worse, entitlement and wealth where I live breed a generation of teens who are not kept in check by the realities of daily life.

My oldest and dearest friend, my roommate from freshman year of college, has been stricken with “The Big C.”

Last month, she had to have a radical mastectomy. She lives alone, and I traveled to Boston to spend the week and care for post-surgery.

She has been my sister-of-the-heart for 27 years. We met freshman year. We were not originally roommates. But it was arranged by fate.

By the second day, we recognized that we were each other’s counterpart. It is still so, to this day. But 27 years ago, there were no other girls like us in the dormitory.

To start, we were both from New York City.

I grew up dirt poor, on Staten Island, in what was notorious for being one of the worst housing projects in the five boroughs.  A white girl in a black world. No father. Absentee mother who worked all the time.

She was a Puerto Rican girl from the South Bronx projects.  A housing project is a housing project is a housing project. Ghetto cinderblock is the same no matter what borough. Dirt poor. Product of a broken home.

And there we were, on full scholarships, to a prestigious college.

We offed our existing roommates and buried their bodies in the arts quad so we could room together. (But actually just pawned them off on each other. Did they like one another? We didn’t give a shit.)

One day, I will write our adventures in college, for they are truly OUTSTANDING. Not at all academically. But in the width and breadth of chances we took – the things we did because we were New York City bad ass chicks-

While taking care of her, we reminisced about these times. Were we really so crazy/trusting/stupid/stoned that we did such things?

Like standing on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx with thumbs outstretched, hitchhiking our way back to college in upstate New York after Thanksgiving break?

Get into cars with strangers? Yes, and blithely so! Especially if there were 2 or 3 cute guys in the car.  The more, the merrier. Our own naiveté functioned as well as Psalm 91: God’s Umbrella of Protection.   For we got into not just cars, but vans, with groups of young men, and hitchhiked our way upstate and downstate many times.

We merrily recalled how several times we were  chauffeured all they way to our college town, right to the front door of our off-campus apartment, and “come right in, thank you very much”.  Wipe your feet. continue the party. Crash on the couch. Pick it up the next morning.

At one point, my college BFF was telling a story about her childhood, She said, “and I leaned out the window, and all of sudden, there was a shot, So, I stuck my head in, really fast. Cause back then, there would be gunplay.  You know.”

And I did know. It’s how I grew up. It’s what drew us together, 27 years ago, this past September. We were the only two people in that dorm who would know what that felt like.

27 years later, we’re still the only 2 people in each other’s lives who would know what that felt like.

And so today I give Thanks. Because as much as I despise the suburban aesthetic, I am so very grateful that my child is not afraid when he steps out the door.

He never has to worry that he will be chased home from school and beaten up routinely. His sibling will not get mugged on a paper route.  He will not come home to find his apartment burgled, his brother tied up on the floor. He will not watch another brother beaten with bicycle chains, and scream hysterically for help that never comes. His mother will not be forced at gun point to leave her car in a supermarket parking lot in broad daylight.

He is not growing up the way I did. He feels safe. He is safe. Thank you, God.

Oh, the pie. Here you go:

Think this looks good? – you should taste my cupcakes

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. I know you feel gratitude for all that you have. Please add feeling safe to the many gifts you have been afforded.

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